A late autumn day, and despite the bright sun, the temperature is only a few degrees above freezing. A day for full winter cycling kit. Belgian style merino hat, long bib tights, windstopper jacket. It's a Monday and I've got a few hours free. Plodding along the quiet back roads that zig-zag across this part of Northamptonshire. Single track in places. Almost car free, except for some farm traffic.
I'm not going far, just looping through local villages. They are places I know well, but usually by car and as always you see a different place on the bike. The hills seem steeper (of course) and the red-brown fields on the other side of the hedgerows look heavy. Waterlogged and uninviting.
The rain gets heavier. It's time to head for home, luckily I'm not more than a few miles away from a warm shower and hot drink. I get my head down, peddling in the small ring, almost home.
All over the rolling hills of our part of the world, the fields are a riot of bright yellow. The rapeseed is in full bloom, lighting up the horizon and providing a contrast to the dark browns and greens that are the wet mud and fields - the result of the recent wet weather.
It's beautiful, but it’s also a reminder that our countryside is the result of human intervention, and in the 21st century that often means monoculture on an industrial scale. What and who the countryside is for is an increasingly complex debate. This is clearly an effective crop for local agri-business and is tremendously uplifting to the soul - so perhaps in this case a win-win situation.