As the mornings regularly greet us with a light frost and a chill wind, it seems hard to recall the feel of warm sun we had just a few short weeks ago in Italy. A couple of the highlights included a walk in the high alpine meadows of the Sibillini mountains, where large butterflies flitted across our path, thriving in huge numbers. We even came across this Swallowtail caterpillar - something I've never seen even though we live close by their Norfolk heartland.
But our last morning there gave a last moment of contact with the local wildlife. Strolling down to our usual breakfast spot, looking across the rolling, lightly wooded slopes towards the high mountains, a blue sky above and a gentle sadness at our imminent departure inside, I noticed that amongst the grass, in the shade of an olive tree was resting this beautiful hind. Our eyes met for a moment as I clumsily took a photo before she clambered to her feet and, unsteadily at first, trotted off into deeper cover. It was one last taste of the bucolic idyll that had surrounded us for the week. Something in the set of the landscape, in equal parts wild and settled, gently animated with sun-kissed life, just seemed to resonate with something deep inside me - was this a more 'natural' way to live? Maybe it was just the beauty of the place, but there seemed to be a deeper connection, a more equitable balance between man and nature in those hills, so long settled by man but somehow treading more lightly than in intensively inhabited southern Britain. Of course, being a casual holiday-maker one is in a privileged position not least in the ability to merely soak in and enjoy such moments. But the privilege continues - I can hold that moment in my mind's eye and know that it will sustain me until I feel the warm sun on my back again.