It was a day of very, very small things. I love the small things. I am in severe danger of becoming a small thing bore. People will start avoiding me at parties, on account of my banging on and on about how it is the things which are almost invisible to the naked eye which really matter.

I’m not quite sure where all this came from. I can’t work out if it is a natural function of middle age, or whether I was always a secret hippy and it’s just that I don’t have the energy to hide it any more. My small things are all in the love and peace category, so that I feel like one of those people in tie-dyed t-shirts from 1968. They often revolve around trees, and sometimes hills. Sod the books, I think; as long as I have planted enough trees, I shall be able to go gentle into that good night.

Today, among the things that lifted my heart, were the antic cries of the oyster catchers. They have been very subdued this spring, as the weather continued frigid and unfriendly, and the snow gates slammed shut on the high roads, despite it being May. Usually they sing and cry like drunken sailors, all night long, but this year they have taken a vow of omerta. This morning, suddenly, as if someone gave them a secret cue, they broke into rowdy song.

The HorseBack swallowThe HorseBack swallow

Up at HorseBack UK, where I went for my daily visit, a pair of swallows was dancing in the corral. They swooped and flirted and soared, making their own little swallow cries, so delicate and tuneful compared to that of their heftier cousins. I watched them for a while, and then lifted my eyes to the hills, where the entire herd was grazing gently at the good spring grass, which is finally coming through. There is something about watching a herd of horses at rest which soothes the spirits like nothing else. If I did not have a manuscript to write, I would stand and watch them all day long.

Back at home, the old farmer went out to bottle-feed one of his lambs in the south meadow. He makes a special cry as he approaches them, which sound like ‘yup yup yup’. Lambs normally run like crazy things from moving humans. But they know and love this human, and the chosen one skipped happily towards him and took the bottle. Even at a distance, I could see the tenderness and care in the simple act, and I smiled like a loon.

The Amazing Jumping GirlThe Amazing Jumping Girl

I wrote my daily number of words and then went down to ride my mare. Every single thing she does makes my heart expand, from the merest wibble of her lower lip to the faintest flutter of her aristocratic eyelashes. Today, though, we actually jumped a jump, which was fairly headline-making, in my own private newspaper. She raced on the flat and then played polo; almost certainly she has never leapt over an obstacle in her life. Admittedly, the jump was about eight inches high, and cobbled together from old trees, but still. ‘Ha,’ said the remarkable trainer who comes and helps me, ‘it’s the Grand National.’

Out in the world, the news is bad and frightening and very very big. There are stories of hatreds and massacres almost too huge for the puny human brain to take in. But here, in my own minuscule world, the small things stacked up like existential dominoes and gave me solace and joy. I don’t know quite how this works or even if it should work, but that is how it is with me now. The smaller the thing, the more profound the pleasure.