The bright, shiny, fake modern world makes us forget just how enveloping and dark real darkness is. Once, caught in a power-cutting storm while going to fetch the Grey Mare for her dinner, I was reminded of just how total it is. It’s surprising how much difference light from the village makes in the middle of a field. When they’re all switched off, you’re bent double against horizontal rain and your only illumination comes from the occasional flash of lightning, it would be very easy to become disorientated. Just the searching beam of a car’s headlamps on the coast road and the comforting three red buttons of the Chatton Mast at the foot of the Cheviots keeps you grounded.
Another more pleasant elemental experience also happened to me while walking back through a New Year horse field about two winters ago: my first, and so far, only view of the Northern Lights. The shifting and stretching colours dancing across the darkness left me transfixed. For once, I felt that over-used soubriquet awesome was justified.