Have we ever seen a more glorious spring? I don’t recall one, and that not because we have more leisure to enjoy it. The miserably wet winter has resulted in a profusion of wild flowers, blooming earlier and more abundantly than ever. Now, paradoxically, the warm sunny days make us look for rain to sustain the growth.

With the ground dry and firm we continue to get machinery across the fields to clear the big trees which came down in storm Ciara. The ash and oak will find a use in the sawmill, the cupressus will go for firewood, while the big alder trunk will be left at the side of the field as a home for bugs and beetles. A horse chestnut, taken down last month by our tree surgeons because it was leaning dangerously across the road, has also been left in the wood to rot.

We have intentionally left the estate open for visitors but one group who came this month were most unwelcome. Robyn Boffey, who now looks after Staunton church on behalf of the National Trust, arrived to find that thieves had stolen the lead from the roofs of the chancel and south aisle. Jacqueline and I feel vaguely guilty; our bedroom overlooks the church and we’d several times remarked that our presence probably kept it safe. Not this time, their lorry had driven along the lakeside, parked behind the church wall, and the lead was taken from the two roofs out of sight of the house.

This is the third local church to have had lead stolen recently. The police will have given it a crime number and then gone back to pestering walkers. They have lost the connection with the communities they serve. Lead is a bulky item which cannot be traded without documentation, and needs to be smelted before re-sale. A competent detective with his ear to the ground should be able to nail this gang. And, yes – I’d love to be proved wrong