"Do I need gloves?"
"We need to take the torches, it's already going dark."
We set off but stop before we reach our gate.
"It's definitely dead." We look up the garden. The tree we spent all yesterday afternoon cutting free of strappy sycamore sapplings and leggy holly trees that had grown up round it was bare. It's bark wrinkled. That part of the garden had become overgrown. Sycamore and holly grow like weeds. It is almost a full time job pulling them up and for a few years we hadn't take much notice of this part of the garden.
"I thought it was supposed to be like that" explained the Webmaster.
"What, with no leaves? It's a cedar tree. It's supposed to be evergreen."
"Er, well, er a sort of boabab tree. Anyway until we cut the other trees down we didn't know it didn't have any leaves."
"Apart from the top sticking up, where that song bird sat. It needed light and water and it must have been choked by the other trees."
We set off and turn right, down the lane. For a while we walk in silence, thinking about the dead tree.
"We can leave it there, it still looks quite impressive, and it will keep that bird happy, or we can try to take it down."
Our neighbour is working in one of his fields. We exchange greetings as we pass.
The neighbour's hedge rows are newly trimmed and his verges mown. Neat and tidy. All the faded, seeding wild flowers gone. Our hedges opposite have a year of growth and the fast fading plants still just about standing.
"I'm torn between the neat and tidy look and leaving nature to take its course for a while, a year or two. Like the fields. We're conditioned into thinking the uniform green, lush grass fields are best, but unless you keep dairy cattle which need the high nutrition grass, are they? Can we use re-wilding as an excuse?"
"Sheep and goats seem to eat anything. They don't get lush grass."
"They aren't kept to produce milk. Producing milk takes a lot of energy."
"There's sheep and goat cheese. At least in France, I don't think you get it here."
"Yes you do. Go and look in a supermarket and you'll see it."
We are walking up the lane.
"You distracted me so we could stay in the road. You don't like going up the steep end of the hill."
"It will be boggy. I don't want to get wet feet. Car behind."
We move to the edge and squash ourselves against the wall as a large van tries to pass. It is still light enough not to need torches.
"The hour goes back on Sunday so it will be dark next week."
"Spring forward, fall back" said the Webmaster as though to check.
"I don't think the hour changes at the same time in the US. We'll have to check."
"Ask the Student."
"I think it will be better to consult Google."
We reach the top and begin to head down towards the village before turning left onto the lane. It is very quiet tonight. No one walking dogs, no one jogging.
"The Scotish and Northern Irish ministers weren't happy with their meetings with the prime minister today."
"No, and according to press reports the Irish are getting alarmed too."
"Yes. I can't believe we have a government that will deliberately crash the economy, and for what? Ideology."
"I saw a tweet saying that careful analysis showed there was no logical reason to vote for Brexit. Someone replied disagreeing, saying he voted leave based on logical reasoning. I said the government needed him. They had no logic of their own and his might help them formulate a plan. He said he was always willing to serve. He's probably got more practical ideas than the three Brexiteers."
"They need somone to help them come up with a plan."
"There isn't even a strategy nevermind a plan. What do you think May's strategy is? Drag it out until the economy is so bad 'the people' will demand a rethink or until one of the three Brexiteers admits defeat, or until an election can intervene?"
"Well secretly I'm like the Student and hope they will give up on the whole thing."
"She's young and ideallistic. You are old and cynical, do you really think that could happen?"
"What happens if there is an election? Would the parties stand on an anti Brexit policy. Is there a pro-Brexit party apart from UKIP. I thought the Tories were pro-EU. At least before the referendum. What was in their manifesto?"
"Well they offered the referendum but I don't think they covered anything of the possible consequences. They thought Nick would be in coallition and stop them holding it."
We reach the climb up the stones and over the stile. The horses are off in the distance.
"It is still light. It hasn't changed much since we set off."
"Let's go that way, rather than straight back up the road. We've got time."
We cross the road and through the stile. "Are you sure this is a good idea. It's likely to be wet."
It isn't wet in the first field but it looks muddy as we approach the next stile. The stile appears to be falling apart and getting worse each time we see it. The Webmaster begins to complain but the mud isn't as bad as it looks and we pass through easily.
"This is a bad idea. I knew coming this way was a bad idea" complains the Webmaster. "This field is like a swamp. There is nowhere to walk. Look, its waterlogged. With surface water." The Webmaster steps off the path in search of drier ground but sinks in further. His feet are definitely wet.
I continue to follow the path which soon becomes drier and firmer. The Webmaster is still sinking into the sodden ground away from the path. "Get back on the path. It's OK." He groans.
We soon reach the road. It is still light enough not to need the torches. A car comes up behind and another is heading down towards us.
"Idiot" exclaims the Webmaster. "He could have waited up there."
"That car coming down should have waited where it was wider to let the car going up past, but no, it carries on and then they have to squeeze past each other in the narrow part. There is only just room for two cars to pass." The Webmaster is very critical of other drivers and cars ignoring the wide passing points when they can see another vehicle already in the narrow section is one of the things that really winds him up.
When we get to the car park the light has faded. The man with the key will be out to lock the gate soon.
"I think I might have a wee when I get to the post" mused the Webmaster as we walk up onto the hill, "then again I might wait until we get back. But it will be my last chance before your birthday."
"You'll sound derranged when I write about this in my blog."
"Pity I've not got the camera... oh wait, I've got my phone."
We reach the post and the Webmaster decides to take a wee. I think of the rambler we saw yesterday. If only he knew about the Webmaster's habit he would not have been so embarrassed.
I try to unlock my phone but it doesn't respond to my gloves. I pull them off and take a picture but it is too dark and the flash doesn't go off. I try to change the settings but I don't have my glasses. The Webmaster is chuckling to himself. By the time I have sorted out the phone camera he is heading off down the path, pleased with himself.
"You usually stand there for ages. You were quick because I had my camera."
"No, it's the way my bladder works," he defends himself. He explains the workings of his bladder, but because I want to stay married to him (and I love him really and don't want to embarras him or alarm his doctor), I won't relay it here.
We head down to the lane and switch on the torches. A car comes along behind, as it passes us we see that it is the Rider with the Grand Master. They are coming to feed their horses.
We speed up for the last pull back up to our house. The Rider and the Grand Master are in the yard.
"Hello" they come across to speak to us and we discuss a plan for mending fences and strimming docks and thistles out of the top field.
We don't talk for long. We turn in through our gate.
"I can take that tree down if you want" says the Webmaster illuminating the dead tree in the beam of his torch. The novelty of his new chainsaw hasn't worn off.