Four women in their thirties pass me near the junction box that has been vandalised with the slogan ‘WALTER SCOTT IS A BATTY BOY’. They walk two abreast, arms folded tight and the hoods of their bathrobes pulled over their heads against the driving rain. The old man whose garden smells of chives is putting out his bins. He watches the women pass and rolls his eyes, blood from a nosebleed congealing thickly on his top lip.
Out in the sticks: the sun comes out and there are dog walkers with ski poles, gaiters and fleece jackets. Only the pony’s head is visible above the sea of yellow in the buttercup field. There are rhododendrons, striped lawns, BMWs, Range Rovers, and those panelled front doors that look like enormous chocolate bars. Queues of men in shorts and t-shirts stand outside the Sandwich Barn—pumped up torsos and skinny legs—and the old man in full motorcycle racing leathers pulls off his helmet to reveal a somehow immaculate and astonishing 1970s hairdo.
Right out in the sticks: the sun is out but the cow-parsley lined roads are still littered with leaves and twigs after all the wind and rain. Crows scatter as I approach. There are broken Zafiras, Vitaras, ancient Land Rovers and mucky trainers. There are midges too, and I think I saw a lone oystercatcher down by the reservoir. Puffs of pollen explode from the pine trees and I definitely heard a cuckoo.