Last week we made a trip up north to a remote ranch near Ukiah. It was beautiful; rolling grassy hills with clovers of red and purple and pink and white. There were bright California poppies and pale checkerblooms, blue and yellow irises and tall lush grasses. In the lake nearby, tiny silvery fish gathered in the shallows and their graceful sludge-coloured neighbours glided around in the deeper water. Max and Oli showed little enthusiasm for exercise. Is so much effort really needed for such a little walk? I admit it was hot. Even by ten in the morning the cicadas were chirping loudly from the trees, like so many flicked elastic bands. Luckily the lake provided a stone-throwing entertainment that could pass for physical exertion and of course sticks were in plentiful supply for poking, proding and as pretend fishing rods. The other day Max told me with excitement that he knew the kind of job he'd have when he was bigger. His job would be collecting sticks. It makes sense, he gets a lot of practice. By the sounds of it, it will be a global search and supply company, he told me he would have meetings in Penzance and Denver.