For reasons which will become obvious, there are few words in this post.

Some days are just made to be magical. This one, May 10th 2024, began as one of those days that only happen at this time of year – clear blue sky, warm sun, a blue poppy in the garden and the beginning of The Green. Magic moment number 1.

Blue Poppy, Ballat Smithy Cottage, Loch Lomond, Scotland I met a friend for lunch at Blairmains Farm Shop & Coffee Bothy. Blairmains is a short distance east of Stirling, in a spectacular location at the foot of the Ochil Hills. The steep, craggy hills were ablaze with yellow gorse against the mid-day blue sky, and as I returned to my car the distinct call of a peregrine falcon rang out from high on the cliffs. Magic moment number 2.

The weather forecast for the weekend, in addition to promising the most perfect weather imaginable, also included an alert – a very strong possibility that the Aurora Borealis would be visible once darkness fell.

Just after 10.30pm, my brother sent a text: ‘Northern Lights!’

I looked out of a north-facing window. It wasn’t quite dark, so there was nothing to see yet – except the silhouette of a hunting Barn Owl, bobbing and floating against what remained of the light. Magic moment number 3.

A short time later my daughter called me, and I hurried outside to the front of the house.

Words are unnecessary.

‘The strongest solar storm in 20 years.’ Unforgettable.

Come and stay at Ballat Smithy Cottage. You never know what magic might unfold.