A shoal of jackdaws swells overhead as the line of geese that are scouring the field off Hall Lane edge forward in unison like policemen in overalls conducting a fingertip search.
Ten years ago, the pair of plastic ornamental bay trees either side of the door were quite an authentic ‘bay’ green but now they have faded and bleached to a kind of washed-out ‘toothpaste' turquoise. In the garden, Mr Walker is making the most of the spring weather and is carrying out some maintenance. He has balanced the frost-severed head of the stone tortoise on top of a statuette of a baby rabbit. The head has thereby been raised to a height and angle that has allowed Mr Walker to realign it with its headless body and create the illusion that the tortoise is still whole. I can hardly see the join, and the result is a touching tableau in which the tortoise appears to be glancing over the baby rabbit’s back to keep an experienced eye out for predators.
The temperature is into double figures, shag pile moss covers the top-stones, there’s not a cloud in the sky, and the man in the heavy duffle coat with the hood up wants to know what the hell it is I think I’m doing.
“Come in! Come in!” shouts the old man at the manor house on the moor as I approach the door, “I hear you’ve grown a beard!” he says, mistaking me for somebody else.