Night in the shepherd's hut

June 21st, midsummer's evening.  We decide to sleep in the shepherd's hut,  a night away for the sake of walking across the field.  Inevitably there is some football on the television so for much of the evening we are in the house as Ian watches while I potter about the internet.  Then at around ten o' clock I gather up my reading glasses and my book.  I am rereading, for perhaps the fourth or fifth time, "Notes from Walnut Tree Farm" by Roger Deakin.  It is a book full of snippets of Deakin's writing, notes and diary entries, some several pages, some only a couple of sentences long.  Some are musings about writing or nature. He walks, he works on the land, he writes about what he sees.

I put my boots on as the grass is already wet with midsummer dew and close the house door behind me.  I should be bathing my face in this dew according to folklore, not padding through it in my wellies.  The sky is still light and the swallows are still flying although the shadows under the trees are dark. Night is starting to seep into the day.  I climb the steps and open the door of the hut.  Inside the air is warm with the day's sun.  I open a window and the top half of the stable door to let the air move gently through, a tiny breeze which just stirs the flowered curtains.  I look out across the field, over the valley and up to the skyline.  There is still sun on Moel Arthur although it fades even as I look at it.  The sky moves from pearly blue to soft grey.

In the holly trees behind the hut a bird is singing.  A solitary crow flaps slowly up the valley, out late.  The bird falls silent.  It is very quiet.  There is a whispering as the breeze stirs the leaves of the rowan tree.  From the farm next door I hear a dog bark, once, twice, then quiet.  Across the valley a car moves on the lane but it is too far away for me to hear the engine.  There is no noise, no hum from a fridge or a laptop, no central heating boiler or the sound of water running into the tank, none of the familiar background sounds of home.  Our house is quiet, with no traffic noise and very little noise from our only neighbours at the farm.  Visitors always comment about the quiet and the dark.  But the hut is silent, gloriously, deeply silent with no sounds other than the natural, the rustle in the hedge, the scurry by the step.  I hear a quiet tread and Ian arrives and pulls off his boots.

It is properly dark now.  The shapes of the trees on the field boundary show up against the pale grey sky, their silhouettes revealing who they are: the great domes of oaks, the shaggy upward fling of ash, the piling cumulus cloud of the sycamore.  We light a couple of tea light lanterns and switch off the lamp.  There is not enough light to read by, just enough for a tiny glow to reflect a pinprick of light in the dark glass of the window.

It is very quiet and very dark.  We sleep.  I wake briefly at dawn to find the hut aglow with sunlight and birds singing from the hedge.  I lie listening for a few moments and then drift back to sleep again.


  1. 'Sounds' wonderful and restorative. I think we've become too accepting of modern day noise. Good to get away and hear how life used to be years ago. No photos of this little getaway?

  2. oh... reading the previous post, now I see the Shepard's Hut. :)

  3. That sounds absolutely marvellous. For ages I could hear a noise in this house, I thought I was going mad and that it was in my head. When I opened a window it wasn't there, but inside a regular pulsating noise/vibration. Eventually I tracked it down to the fridge. Even the other end of the house I could hear it, resonating through the walls. It is so difficult to find true silence.

  4. Bliss. Silence is much under-rated, as is the darkness of a night away from light pollution.

  5. What fun to spend an evening in your shepherd's hut, with dark skies above and only a rustle in the hedges as you dream.

  6. Such calm and peace in this scene you've so richly described.

  7. Heaven! How lucky you are to have such a bolt hole.

  8. A life well-lived.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  9. Marvellous. We camped out in our garden on the same evening, I slept better than I have for months.

  10. I completely get it now. What a genuine luxury. Loved the trees.

  11. Lovely! I could feel myself relaxing as I read your beautiful description.
    Teresa x

  12. Beautifully woven words. I was there. I too have a wee tigeen on a hill, I must spend the night there.
    I must.


  13. Elizabeth, you and yours found a beautiful place to spend a special summer day. The way that you described the light and sound really let me have an idea of a particular atmosphere.

    Here in my NYC zip code neighborhood, I admit that one of my joys is the quiet that seems to gather itself into my street after sundown. Yes, those streetlights still send out their pink overnight glow, but truly, it is a peaceful urban place. The sounds of nearby Broadway seem very far away.

    Bird sounds do wake me along with sunlight. Wish I had a garden to wander into after waking up.


  14. What a marvelous retreat in your own yard! That sounds like the best way to welcome summer - with bird song instead of fridge hum.

  15. that beautifully answers my question. You DO still enjoy your Shepherd's Hut!

  16. Blimey! I'm packing my bags and coming to live with you. That sounds gorgeous. I crave your calmness over our madness...... x

  17. Another beautiful post. I love your shepherd' s hut. It must be fun to sleep in it, like being a child again. There is something really magical about a warm midsummer night, you just don' t want to be in the house. In your shepherd' s hut you are surrounded by nature. Wonderful.

  18. Another beautiful post. I love your shepherd' s hut. It must be fun to sleep in it, like being a child again. There is something really magical about a warm midsummer night, you just don' t want to be in the house. In your shepherd' s hut you are surrounded by nature. Wonderful.

  19. A lovely, interesting post. I like your writing style.

  20. Your shepherd's hut is such a treasure - especially with your busy life. I can see that you've created a place of true peace and quiet, and I'm a tad envious. Pondside is very quiet too, but there is always the hum of the fridge and other bits of and pieces of electronic gear. True silence would be a treat.

  21. What a lovely post and I really like your blog!
    Have a great sunday, take care...

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  23. We stayed in a hut just like this a few years back for our anniversary. The thing I remember most is also the quality of the sound. Waves and seals. We live quietly here as you do there. Bless you for the beautiful silence.

  24. Coincidentally, tonight I shall sleep in the shed with Dylan and watch rubbish on the ipad and read stories and eat snacks - magical times that will never come again.

    So envious of your hut though - elegant luxury.

  25. How lovely your hut sounds. I love the quiet of the countryside.


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