JUST when I thought I had escaped the winter without a sign of a sniff or sneeze, a sharp raw sensation in my throat signalled the onset of a latent lurgy.

So for the last four days I have sniffled, croaked, wheezed, gobbed, drowned and sneezed explosively. The virulent attack of a late winter cold. Where did it come from?

My friend Steph had had to curtail her holiday when overcome by an unrelated infection on holiday, so it wasn’t her unless sneezes and diseases transfer across the internet. And anyway she didn’t have a cold.

But, another friend who has just come back from India, and who we went out with at the weekend, has been suffering from a very similar combination of symptoms.

And because he was so concerned about my well being, my lovely husband curtailed his fishing holiday in Scotland to come home and look after me.

At least that is what he is trying to convince me is the reason for his early return. I can read the weather reports. Too much rain. Water too stirred up for fishing. And only one kelt caught.

So the lure of home cooking rather than a few more days self-catering was strong. Pity that the last thing I feel like is eating anything, least of all preparing a meal.

But at least, through the debilitating nature of my ailments (need to lay it on very thick for John to even notice I’m ill), I have kept things afloat at home.

The sheep and I have struck up quite a rapport. I promise to fill their troughs with sheep nuts if they promise not to knock me flying when I am carrying their bag of food.

None of the feeders down in the woods have been emptied by the pheasants so I haven’t had to top those up, and the hens are popping out eggs at such a phenomenal rate that if we are not egg bound in the next few weeks I shall be amazed.

Plus, all visitors are only allowed to leave if and when they take a carton of eggs with them.

Despite this last threat of winters’ ailments, it is wonderful to see that spring is here. My troughs and pots are bursting with colour round the yard or they were until one naughty spaniel decided that they created an ideal digging environment for an afternoon’s diversion.

I’m sure she thinks that me replanting them all again for her to scrat out on another day, is all part of the game.