There are no woodpeckers in this corner of Tunbridge Wells, but an old friend emails me to say that one has arrived in his Hampstead garden,
"and at around 9 o'clock begins rata rata rata, a dull but pleasant sound that tells us there is still hope and to get on with the the day. But every time we hear him (why do we always say him?) I think of you and know that you would mention him..."
Well, Tom, now I have. My bird book tells me, incidently, that yours is almost certainly a great spotted, rather than (the rarer) lesser spotted woodpecker. It says that in recent years great spotted woodpeckers have spread to central London parks and in some districts even visit garden bird tables. It could also be a green wood pecker.
The two buds of the Camelia that began to open when it was still January, their green sheaths become a gentle pink, have now, like a drama unfolding, become flowers, braving the February wind.
The sight and smell, and subsequently the taste of two golden, freshly baked loaves, standing on a rack to cool off.