A perfect spring morning; the sky a clear and sunny blue above the vibrant green of the fields. Catkins dance on the hazel trees and snowdrops blaze purity at their roots. The south of England basks in sunlight as I drive its winding roads. I could have taken the quicker route up the motorway, but I have time and I prefer these gentler ways. The aggression of time-constrained travel does not apply here. Time, for once, is my own to spend as I choose… and I choose to meander.
A distant tree seems in early leaf… until the leaves rise as a huge plume of feathered smoke. Hawks greet me, perched overhead or swooping down as if to peer into the car to gaze at the lunatic within who is leaving this pleasant morning behind and heading for the north, where reports of snow, rain and ice remind me that it is, after all, only January.
The counties go by beneath the wheels; Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire… each with their own distinctive character, it seems. Buzzards replace the kites in the air; Osiris looks down; a hawk perched on a wire looking exactly like the Egyptian painting on the card I had been sent. I am skirting borders… dipping my toes in Warwickshire, Staffordshire… then finally the one that welcomes me to a place that feels like home; Derbyshire.
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