As much as I love my forays overseas, it is always a joy to be back in the English countryside. The Sumatran rainforest was full of exotic delights yet it is so welcoming to feel the cool, crisp air on my face and to slosh my way through familiar mud and puddles.

In the short time I’ve been away, January has been and gone and the coming of February brings small hopeful changes: there are primroses, fresh clean snowdrops, and magenta catkins on the alder trees. The sun is higher on the horizon and casts a clear vibrant light, and as I stroll through the fields and down to the river bank, there is a hive of activity: A flock of chaffinches stealing the corn on the farm, pigeons with their awkward flight, a buzzard slyly moving through the wood, a green woodpecker foraging in the churchyard, a heron moving off of the river bank to gain some distance from my footfall, a secretive tiny gold crest, a small flock of long-tail tits flitting above in the hedgerow trees and the squeaky bicycle pump call of a great tit. It is like being reacquainted with old friends, I am pleased to be with them again.

I walk past the old owl oak tree and the reeds that line the river bed, past the old mill and over the marshy ground where I look for snipe; alas, none today. There is time to stop and take it all in: it is good to be home.