A dramatic grey and pink dawn this morning, presaging the thunderstorms that are due to hit us on a daily basis this week. Yesterday evening the skies boiled and rolled but all around us, without a drop of rain. When the rain finally came it was soft and heavy – real summer rain. The combines were hard at work all weekend, taking the barley and the field at the end of our lane is now full of bales, looking like a giant installation. The taking of the first cereal crop marks high summer in this area – it will be followed by oats, wheat, colza and – at the start of autumn – maiz. Today’s threads are grey and pink cotton perlés no 5 and straw-coloured Romanian six-strand embroidery cotton. The stitches are double threaded running stitch for the heart, kantha stitch for the stubble, back stitch for the sides of the bales and spider’s wheel for the bale ends.