This roe deer fawn sprinted into the garden with its mother and a sibling this morning. The fields round here are now 'set-aside' and they provide good cover for roe deer, but this was the first time we'd seen one in the garden. The mother left her offspring behind when she jumped clear over the garden wall, leaving them terribly upset.I never realised they could utter such sad little cries! We did our best to chase them back into the field so that they could re-join her. We hope they don't become too frequent visitors as they can kill trees and lay waste to vegetable patches.
The Daily Mail, like most of its stablemates, is gripped by another bout of Harry fever. The revelation that the carrot-top royal is soon to be an ex-air traffic controller in Afghanistan is accompanied by acres of perfectly posed photos of the pin-up prince on patrol with the Ghurkas. Tragic that for him it's "a dream come true" to take part in a ghastly conflict in a country that's been wrecked by a poisonous cocktail of religious extremism mixed up with centuries of outside interference.
What's more Harry hasn't "really had a shower for four days, haven't washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal." The prospect of slightly whiffy Prince who has only had unreal showers lately doesn't entirely do it for me. Our obsession with endlessly rubber-necking young royals and now with their bathing habits strikes me as daft and intrusive.
The other day I was at a concert where I sat next to a young soldier the day after he got back from active duty in Iraq. After talking to him, and seeing him twitchy and alert to attack even in a concert hall in an English village, I have huge admiration for any young person brave enough to put their life on the line for their country.
It started with a low, distant rumble, somewhere to the north. It was 1am and I was wide awake and I thought I could hear rocks being ground together somewhere far, far away. I was wrong. The sound was not man-made - it came from deep down beneath the earth's surface: it was an ancient and utterly fundamental sound.
Then everything - me, my bed, the whole house - seemed to quiver slightly and it got faster and louder and ornaments were knocking and I knew this was my first experience of an earth tremor. After a few seconds the shaking died away. Then the only sound was the roar of water pouring over the weir and the call of a frightened blackbird, - 'pink, pink, pink', darting away in the darkness.
Apparently around 25 earthquakes are felt in the UK annually. At 5.2 on the Richter scale this was a one-in-30-year event, last matched by a 5.4 in Wales in 1984. It happened 15km beneath the earth's surface. The last time where was major earthquake activity at the epicentre, in Market Rasen in Lincolnshire over 100 miles from here, was in the 12th century. The seismologists say an old geological fault has opened up and may now become more active.
The unfashionable Cornish poet and playwright Charles Causley died in 2003. At an Advent service in Dorchester Abbey I heard what may be one of his greatest poems, 'I am the great sun':
From a Normandy crucifix of 1632
I am the great sun, but you do not see me,
I am your husband, but you turn away.
I am the captive, but you do not free me,
I am the captain but you will not obey.
I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.
I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,
I am your lover whom you will betray.
I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,
I am the holy dove whom you will slay.
I am your life, but if you will not name me,
Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.
In this wonderfully simple devotional sonnet, Christ speaks from the cross, full of compassion for human inadequacy.
An essay by Dana Gioia analyses Causley's powerful work. You can also hear Causley himself reading 'At the British war cemetery, Bayeux'. Poets' own voices often seem inadequate, but Causley brings his rythmic and incantatory lines to life.
Almost seven, my niece sits with me, reading. I hold her close. She holds a postcard sent from Australia: "We have arrived at a small town famed for its statue of a dog on a tucker box" Her eyes are so perfectly blue, they seem like crystal. Her concentration is absolute - she is unblinkingly in the moment. No worries about the cat or the milkman, death or taxes. Just 5x3 inches of card from halfway round the world, and a small child, at perfect ease in my arms, at the dawn of experience.