For much of the last year or so, Northumberland has looked like the land the gods wanted to destroy: ceaseless rain, thunder, floods, landslides, unseasonal cold and lashing winds; a varied arsenal of destructive forces was mercilessly discharged on us.
But not today. On this day the gods are looking down on us with gracious smiles, telling us that we are their children and this is the promised land. The sun shines bright and the birds sing hymns of praise. The colours are intense and the breeze gentle. The sheep hardly move for fear of disturbing the warmth. The lambs, usually quite loquacious, are mute now; what’s more, instead of their habitual frisking around they lie on their side, giving the scene an unnatural stillness. There is disbelief in the air; no-one dares do anything that might stir away the state of grace.