Nevertheless, at the close of business, I still try to squeeze in some time out walking with Monty, and so the moors between Dunnockshaw and Crown Point have become our destination of choice. Well-surfaced paths abound there and so, as the ground generally hopefully starts to dry out, those tracks and paths offer an excellent means to access the great outdoors without floundering through mud.
On familiar ground the idea of venturing onto the moors does not intimidate me so long as I have all my torches and stuff, though I would not recommend it for the inexperienced. For Monty, of course, low light levels do not seem to bother him as he shows little interest in landscape and is always my eager companion. In fact it is quite a busy area as folks take their dogs up there perhaps after completing their day’s work. Nevertheless it is big enough to feel uncrowded.
I was up there one recent tea time, striding towards the distant horizon, when I met a chap and we had a brief conversation as we passed. Despite the definite nip in the air, we both concurred that the day had felt, for the first time, like spring had at last arrived. The day had not felt like winter but more like the start of a new season.
We are more than capable of having some pretty cold weather yet, but there are the first signs of spring all around. The snowdrops have been out for some weeks and catkins have started to appear on the hazels and willows. In my own front garden, primroses are coming into full flower. There is a definite sense of the start of the spring season.
Another sign, of course, is the fact I have returned to work at Reedley full time and am now busy handling all the new spring stock as it arrives. Bulbs are busily pushing up fresh shoots, pansies and violas are coming into bud and flower, and of course the primroses (primula), that stalwart of the spring garden, are now showing their first flush of colour.
In the meantime, Wifey likes to get busy sowing seeds. Her particular forte are vegetable seedlings, and she loves to vanish into her little potting shed to listen to the latest episode of the Archers while she sows tray after tray of veg. These then get transferred into the greenhouse and the miracle of creating new life begins. Already the early hardy stuff is showing green and starting to fill the pots.
So, as time allows, I hope to continue to go for twilight walks with Monty as the night draws in. Frosty nights are still more than likely. But make no mistake, the first signs of spring are with us now. This presents me with a dilemma. The moors or the garden? Problem is I like doing both in pretty much equal measure. Monty (unfortunately for him) has no doubts where his interests lie.