With the family are still clustered around the home fire, we were able to bring in the New Year together and even better celebrate Ben and Berengère’s engagement!

With careful planning and secret phone calls Ben had organised a romantic night away for the two of them while I looked after their baby daughter, Camille.  Berengère believed she was going to spend an afternoon sale’s shopping in Exeter and had no idea that a marriage proposal was in the air. She accepted!  And the happy couple returned in a rosy glow awash with exciting wedding plans!

The first day of the New Year we went walking high above a mesmerizing turbulent sea, in a restorative wind, the clouds pierced by tantalizing fingers of January sun.  Dogs, wind under their tails, run helter-skelter, chasing flighty thistledown-blown foam tumbling along the North Devon cliff edge. As the sun dips we plunge down into a narrow valley and turn inland following an energetic stream. The atmosphere changes, the wind drops:  in the valley’s sheltered secrecy ferns, mosses and lichens belie the winter in the singing-sighing dampness.

Turning a corner I catch a flash of delicate pale yellow in the dimpsy light. As my eyes adjust I realize with a start it’s a primrose!  Surely not, wild primroses on the first day of January?  What does it mean?  What does this too early appearance of the first rose of spring foretell?