By Mike Russell
As put downs go, ex Tory MP (and Strictly contestant) Ann Widdecombe's comment about a colleague that he had 'something of the night about him' is a memorable one. But whereas whilst there may be much to concern us about political figures, I don't think we should be scared of night time.
Now the clocks have gone back, I actively enjoy walking in the twilight. It is surprising how your eyes adjust to the diminished light. What I really like is that it makes you feel alive and alert to the slightest sound and movement.
In the autumn, you can get such lovely evenings, with a beautiful golden dusk and a full moon slowly rising ahead of you, creating an ethereal atmosphere.
A slight breeze might rustle the oak leaves, crispy brown. You can hear the alarm calls of Blackbirds, implying something is afoot. A Fox or an Owl perhaps, or even me. Sometimes they noisily accompany you as you stroll. Some small, dark birds might fly out of the thick Hawthorn bushes, their soft but audible 'seeps' identifying them as Redwings. A few clumsy Woodpigeons might clatter noisily from the same bushes.
I love hearing an Owl. You often get Tawny Owls in the woods. But once I heard a short, sharp almost terrier-like yelp - a Little Owl - which is not a common species. I couldn't see it but it was comforting to know it was there.
I love it when my way is lit by the moon. Shapes and shades of the vegetation changing as clouds scud across it. An undefined shape moving slightly to reveal a Roe Deer, which slowly turns away and un-hurriedly moves towards the wood, cream rumps a dim glow in the gloom.
By the time I arrive home, the moon may have risen and the clouds disappeared.
I look at the moon though my binoculars, because the detail you can see on the surface is incredible; craters, ridges and valleys are all startlingly visible. One of nature's great treats.
There is no need to fear the night as such, as with all things, you have to be sensible. Understandably there will be many who won't feel comfortable on their own, but if you do go out walking at night, spend some time in silence and listen to the nightlife that carries on, unseen, around you.