Country mouse moves house

This is it. Today, we are moving from our little house, a few (precious) miles from Basingstoke. Anna, aged 10, has known no other home; the boys can barely remember another. But they don’t seem to mind: new is better. For me, the parish of Ellisfield has been an inspiration.

The animals and plants have been the source of much of this column, whether it’s the arrival of red kites, the hares boxing in March, the wicked goats or the ever-changing hedgerows. Our first dog, precious Lucy, killed before her time, has her ashes scattered on her favourite walk. My orchard, planted on arrival, now bears stupendous amounts of fruit, and the apple trees are full of mistletoe planted from sprigs saved from family Christmases.

Everywhere is full of memories. I will miss the endless calls of the owls at night, the jays picking up acorns beneath the big oak tree each October and the partridges promenading down the Tarmac road, through which tufts of grass somehow grew.

A little of me will never leave Ellisfield, but it’s time to move on. Our new house is in an even wilder place, high on the South Downs, and I’m sure I’ll come to love it, too.