Finally I have to face it – no more excuses. It is time to do an autumn clear up in the garden. Now normally I really enjoy doing this; there is something very satisfying about burning all the old runner beans stems, fallen leaves and hedge cuttings.

But not this year, everything is so wet, soggy and heavy and, because of constant rain or thick mist, my normal inspiring view of the moor is hidden by low cloud or driving rain. I can only a view of damp cattle look fed up and bored, gazing over the  brick wall from next door’s farm. I tell them to push off as I start a sluggish reluctant bonfire with some old hay. “Go away!” I splutter through the spiralling acrid smoke.

“You’ll choke you stupid animals.” The cattle just stare back, blinking through the smoke. I know that cattle are notoriously curious but I now seriously wonder about their levels of intelligence; in similar circumstances you wouldn’t have seen our ponies for dust.

Piles and piles of accumulated leaves, dead vegetation and the last remnants of the greenhouse tomatoes go on the few stuttering flames. Another bale or two of musty hay is added and suddenly the whole fire takes off and as a few rays of weak winter sunshine struggle through the grey cloud life feels good. This late year ritual is all part of nature’s pattern.

I am clearing away the debris from this year to leave the soil clean and free for the winter frosts that will cleanse the ground ready for next spring, when the whole cycle begins all over again. Just as it has been for centuries and no one can change, or control the gentle rhythm of rural life that has anchored the human spirit since time immemorial