BACK home from Scotland to face the usual pile of holiday washing and eternal question as you unpack as to “why did I take so much stuff in the first place?” After all this was a holiday with close friends, no need to dress to impress.

The cottage we rented was set in the middle of a beef and arable farm. The stubble fields presented a huge draw to migrating pink-footed geese, stopping off for rest, recovery and recuperation after their long flight from Iceland. The sight of the birds circling overhead before touching down is awe-inspiring and accompanied by a mournful honking.

We spotted not only pink-footed geese but Canada geese and greylags. Literally hundreds in spectacular groups of geese, going round and round in the sky before dropping down in a synchronised plunge. Amazing.

Rooks too came to gorge on the grain. They flew in using a most peculiar up and down swooping flight. Almost as if they were climbing an invisible set of stairs.

High in the sky other skeins of geese flew overhead in what was for the time of year, beautiful clear blue skies. It was fascinating to see the leader flapping frenziedly in front while behind the other geese flapped in a far lazier, languid motion. Presumably in each other’s slip stream, whilst the poor old goose in the front had to fight his way through the air. But after a time, the leader dropped back and another goose took up front of house position. Very democratic in the goose world. They, even to my ears, seem to be honking out directions and I am sure I identified three honks for going right and then two for a left turn.

The holiday finished with yet another visit to an auction mart for a Stars of the Future show. The fun on our side of the ring (where we were protected by extra high fencing to stop the Stars of the Future doing runners if they did not fancy their futures if not judged as potential champions) was judging the judging to see if we agreed with their choice of champion or not.

The breeding of many of these cattle is very different to the au naturel method we employed with our beef herd. Here it is all about embryo calves and very selective breeding. But to win and catch the judges eye, it is the same format as any beauty pageant judging by the gear in the stock pens. Hairdryers, shampoo, hairspray, even “limmo" shine to add that extra glossy sheen. May the best beast win.