After weeks of wind and rain, a January period of high pressure is a blessed relief. The news on the Shipping Forecast raises the spirits with its promise of respite from the worst drabness of winter.

The days dawn clear and bright with thin stripes of pink and orange cloud to the East.  The ground is crisp with frost and the grass crunches satisfyingly under foot. The air is cold and sweet. As the sun comes over the horizon the skies turn to the palest of grey-blues. The colours of the trees, the bracken on the hills, the rich winter green of the fields, even the rich, red-brown mud in the gateways all seem sharper and brighter.

Along the footpath the first primroses are in flower on south-facing banks, pigeons heavy with ivy berries rest on the ash branches above. A cackle of rooks fight noisily on their perches further away on a sycamore. A buzzard sits aloft on his vantage point on a telegraph pole. His eye for prey dulled, he is enjoying the thin warmth of the winter sun on his plumage.

Along the river, at Beam Weir, the old heron who normally perches on the edge of the weir, watching sharply for passing fishes, ready to dart into action at the slightest provocation, has moved his station. Now he is on the shore, standing on one leg in front of a dry stone bank. Enjoying both the reflected warmth from the Devon bank and the sun’s rays direct, he stands, eyes relaxed closed.

This rare high pressure, bright sunny weather in the depths of winter, is not a harbinger of spring, which is still many weeks away, but a respite, an opportunity to recharge and reinvigorate before the inevitable storms and rain return.