On Saturday, H and I went for a walk on Wicken Fen. Wicken is pretty unusual, for a bit of fenland, because it lacks that operatic bleakness that generally characterises the breed.
First we took a spin through the little National Trust shop and tearoom, festooned with nest boxes and baskets, bird-feeders, handy polar-fleece rugs for the back of the Rover, postcards of ringed plover and fantastically cliched yet totally fabulous wildlife photographs with limited edition numbers pencilled importantly on to them.
In one corner were the wares of a certain Nadine Anderson, Basketmaker. (Sidebar: I am completely, utterly seduced by these sorts of identifications. Lawyer. Poet. Ninja. Philatelist. Antiquary. Seamstress. Basketmaker. As soon as it has a name, I want to be one. It is a deadly combination of the power and romance of Words, and the endless desire for Identity. I'm suckered in every time. But I digress.) So Anderson, Basketmaker's things were lovely beyond belief, and infinitely lovelier because they're made of the Fen. Willow stems and cherry wood cut straight from the mud and magicked into something with a handle. (Sidebar #2: I also have a thing for handles. See previous psychology about names. I don't think Freud would have needed to get very deep into an analysis of "I can't handle it", n'est-ce pas?)
H bought me a gorgeous willow and black maul basket with a curved cherry handle in very much the style of Red Riding Hood, which I slung over my arm and off we went into the forest. I mean fens.
I was an insanely gorgeous day, with a crispy wind that tasted like a gimlet and cinematically buttercup-coloured sunshine bouncing off everything. Of course, this had brought out more wilderness punters than just ourselves, and the view over the reeds was alive with red and blue and green North Face fleeces and puffer jackets along with a couple of hardcores toting half a king's ransom in birding optics.
We saw gulls and partridges, widgeons, teals and bluetits, a merlin and a short-eared owl prowling for dinner, a pair of stone chats flirting from the tops of the reeds. We faced off good-naturedly with the Highland bull, with his fantastic Muppet horns.
A yearling pony blew thoughtfully on our hands with his fuzzy apostrophe nostrils. H and I blew back.