And when she steps out from behind the ­steering wheel, I do an embarrassingly obvious double take.

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We’ve both driven down a bleak ­country road — he in his red Postman Pat van, me in my ­photographer’s slightly battered saloon car — and parked in a tiny Northumberland hamlet three quarters of an hour’s drive from the nearest town. Emma doesn’t live in this tiny settlement 30 miles from ­Newcastle.

There are ten houses plonked at the end of the road, along with a payphone that doesn’t accept cash and a small postbox. She lives deeper still in Nowhereland, four miles up treacherous track that is all but unnavigable in anything but a 4x4 — indeed most other cars leave with punctured tyres.

She has tumbling auburn curls which have been loosely pinned back to reveal the most striking blue eyes I’ve ever seen.

You can’t help but think she would be more at home in the pages of a glossy magazine than chasing sheep around an otherwise deserted field.‘So they’re saying they won’t deliver my ­letters,’ she says with a disarming giggle. I’m sure they’ll change their mind.’ It would take a much harsher man than me to refuse this gorgeous ­specimen anything she wanted.

‘Well, actually, nothing to do with me, but we’ve just ­written to her to say that we are going to stop delivering to her door,’ says the postie.

Emma has arranged to collect us in her off-road pick-up as a result.As things turned out, she needed to call on those reserves of enthusiasm from the first moment she stepped foot on the farm. She was due to move in the following month — but the farmhouse was snowed in and it was impossible to reach it. And I had to leave all the taps running all the time, because running water doesn’t freeze. ‘Then spring came, and everything began to look a lot better.’Gradually, she set about putting the place right.She tried again twice and got stuck in the snow each time. It’s still a work in progress — the house is messy, unpainted, not yet warm and homely — but at least ­everything now works, and Emma can sleep snugly at night. And what drives a friendly young woman to live in such isolation?As we rattle violently along the track to her grey stone farmhouse, I wonder what on earth possesses a bright young thing such as Emma to take up a gruelling job like this.But then I’m sure she hears such proclamations of surprise all the time.‘Well, I’ve always been a girlie girl,’ she admits.She’d been helping out on her ­parents’ farm since she was a little girl, so finding her own land felt like the natural next step.‘A friend who lives down the road rang me and said: “There’s a place coming up, it’s really rough and ­isolated, but I think you should go for it.” I went along on the viewing day and there were around 25 cars parked outside.