‘How do you feel?’ asked the doc. ‘I don’t think I’m ready for the Olympics yet.’ ‘Don’t worry. You have four years to get fit.’

The river at the bottom spread itself across the fields for the first time in months. They tried to put in the 80 hectares of melons adjacent and one wept for the work gang as they lurched across the field carrying a couple of kilograms of clay attached to each foot.

Most of the summer migrants are here, although orioles and swifts still have to show. And only one tentative nightingale. The winters seem tougher and longer than they were but I may just have forgotten the endless dark months in Scotland. Here it’s six months sweaters and CH and six months shorts and t-shirt. Transition from one to the other and you instantly forget what it was like beforehand.

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