Here I am, a little sand-blasted, resting on the sofa just before I started writing this. We had a wonderfully lengthy run this mornng, as insurance against another bout of appalling weather which is due later on today. Although it’s been a peaceful week, free of visits and outings and dashing about, weather-wise we have endured the strongest winds in our experience up here and they have certainly taken their toll, even on one of our chimney pots. On the beach we found the body of one of the family of swans from the mere the other side of the road from the dunes. Buffeted beyond belief, driven down despite its wide and wondrous wings, it was still too puny to withstand the forces sent against it; exhausted, out of control, an ungainly and dramatic fall had shattered its beauty and broken its body in two. I could not resist carrying the snow-covered head gently in my mouth for an exhilarating couple of minutes and considered hiding it in the dunes, as I do with tennis balls: such is the pride of spaniels, for whom the shooting field is always more than a collective memory. I soon forbore to run, and began to ponder. This poor creature was probably one of this year’s babies, of which there were three, now indistinguishable from their parents. Day by day we would see them swirling around the mere, sometimes rustling in their nest-site, always within sight of each other as they feed on the neighbouring crops, undisputed aristocrats among all other water creatures. Content with their lot, they are a close-knit family. Or, rather, they were. Now that nature has dealt them a terrible turn how, I wonder, do they account for their loss? Are they as reflective as we, pondering on the changing colour of our landscape? Yesterday morning, a windless respite from recent drama, the remaining four flew in an effortful arc over our heads: it was just after dawn and the horizon was streaked with blue and peach as the foursome breasted the dunes, way above the body of their dead relative, and drove on towards the castle, in effortful flight. We watched in silence, hearing their cries: they said it all.