The tomatoes and potatoes have succumbed to blight; the lettuces have benefited from the rain, but then so have the slugs feeding on them, some of which are the size of mice. All in all, it hasn’t been a vintage year in my vegetable garden. However, the orchard has been a great success. Having put the go into our goats last year, the trees have escaped their attacks that have ruined all previous crops, and Charlie’s efforts at thinning the crop in June have provided fruit the size of tennis balls.

But the greatest thrill of the orchard is not the apples, but the mistletoe. After Christmas 2005, I saved the festive boughs until February, before planting the seeds in small grooves cut with my penknife. Since then, nothing seemed to have happened, but while I was picking the first of the apples to make a crumble, I noticed an odd leaf on the tree. It was mistletoe. Closer inspection showed three other seeds had taken. I was thrilled; I love the way mistletoe stands out when all the other leaves have fallen off. I look forward to watching it grow as the light thickens into mid winter and it alone stands out proud and bright.