"First thing"...that's what they called it down on the farm. Dawn, daybreak, sunrise or, if you like "first thing". That very precise time of day when, as it was once explained to me, "You goes down the yard and falls over sumthink in the dark and, by the time you gets up, you can see what it was!"
So that's what I was thinking about as I got my bike out of the shed at half-past-four this morning (!) and cycled off down the village street. The weather here has been so unusually warm recently that I reasoned that early morning was the only cool time of day to get some exercise.
The breeze was deliciously chilly just like it used to be when cycling to the farm on a summer's morning and I managed to arrive near the crest of Chapel Hill just in time for sunrise.
Chapel Hill would scarcely get a mention on the maps of most parts of the world, but here in the flat lands of Cambridgeshire it's a famous and fearsome incline that opens up views for miles around.
I took dozens of photos - enough to make up for all the other mornings when I stayed in bed - before walking back down the field edge to where my bicycle leaned against the gate.
The light from the early morning sun was lending a rosy glow to the apples.
At the bottom of the hill there stands an old cottage where every year there's a show of pelargoniums in old terracotta pots on this window ledge. I've meant to photograph them before but never have. It looks like I might be just in time too as there's a SOLD notice on the house. Time moves on.
The sky was now putting on a more subtle show of greys and pastel colours. The strange object on the horizon is part of the Radio Astronomy Observatory at Lord's Bridge where they look into deep space for I know not what. At roughly the same distance from the other side of the picture you might be able to make out the tower of the University Library. And further to the right, if you've got very sharp eyes, are the spires of King's College Chapel.
A little later the sun began to shine over the band of cloud and send its rays heavenward.
From the sublime to the agricultural as I'd found a rather battered farmyard door. No need to replace that for a year or two!
And here's today's quaint thatched cottage standing by the roadside in the early morning light.
On the opposite side of the lane the sunshine was illuminating the wild oats and grasses at the side of a field.
I then followed the farm track back through the recently harvested fields. The straw has been baled into the huge square bales that they favour nowadays. Pretty soon there won't be many of us left who know how to build a straw stack out of the old small bales. That lane doesn't look as though it rises much at all but....
....you soon reach a point where you can gaze back over the way you've come with something approaching smug satisfaction.
"That were lovely first thing. Best bit o' the day - and most people missed it!"