Early morning mayhem

Just a few signs that the winter greyness will soon be gone. No indication of the mayhem occurring so close by.

This photo might give the impression of early morning calmness. A chance to breathe. To carefully crouch down and take a few moments to stop. Soak up the quietness and stillness of a village still to wake up. Truly experience the beauty in nature. Meditation and reflection.

In reality I was trying to snap the yellow buds using a mobile held in my outstretched left hand while the right hand grimly held onto the dog lead. The said lead being stretched to breaking point by a mad dog excitedly trying to pull in the opposite direction. The next tree was calling him. Try taking a photo while one of your shoulder socket is being ripped out. The village peace ruptured by a dog barking at 150db and me rather sheepishly trying to tell the Captain to shut up. Not so much meditation as acute pain and social embarrassment.

You see those perfect dogs walking quietly and obediently next to their serene looking owners. Are they really the same species as Captain Chaos. A dog expelled from dog training classes for being too disruptive.

Never a quiet moment with him. Which is exactly the point. No finer remedy for a house which had become empty, cold and lifeless. A place which was becoming more about loss than life. Hard work YES, but still one of the best calls made during our grief journey.

Galapagos

So no new animal photos this New Years. A year without the holiday zoo trip. So we replaced it with a few hours watching a David Attenborough DVD. Which worked out quite well and significantly cheaper.

Dad I’d like to go to the Galápagos Islands

Your mum went there on one of her adventures. I must find the photos she took.

What did she think of it.”

She really loved it. Well until one of the volcanoes had a minor eruption which restricted where she could go and then she caught a minor tropical disease as she left.

What happened.”

She ended up being holed up in a hotel room Ecuador. She missed her flight back.

Didn’t you fly out to check on her?”

What do you think. If she’s had a tropical pesky then she could keep it to herself. 6000 miles was as close as I was getting….

Yes I’m with you on that Dad”.

**********

15 years after that tropical virus the ‘avoid the pesky’ strategy is in overdrive here. It has been for 9 months. It will be for many months to come. I’m fairly relaxed about things but Hawklad most definitely isn’t. So we batten down the hatches. Get ready for the long haul. It might be an idea to stock up on those Attenborough documentaries. They are probably going to get some hammer during 2021.

Start with a change

It’s still a little cold here. Definitely a cold start to 2021.

We have a family tradition. For the last 7 years I’ve taken Hawklad on New Years Day to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Set off at 8am. Get there for when it opens. Spend a few hours wandering round the animals. Then grab a burger and leave before the real crowds arrive.

It’s a lovely tradition that Hawklad loves.

But life happens. Only essential journeys are recommended. Avoid out of area travel.

AND

Hawklad just isn’t in the right frame of mind to go. He is seemingly a million miles from venturing into public places.

So no Wildlife Park visit this New Years Day. So we improvised. A homemade burger and a Pepsi, just like he would have had. A hot donut replaced with a warmed up cake. Then we sat and watched a David Attenborough wildlife TV series.

Not quite the tradition but a decent replacement given what was available to us. 2021 feels like a year for making the best of it.

Disappear

Those snow blizzards are intensifying here. Not sure I will be able to keep digging us out. Tough winters here in Yorkshire. Need to but some ski boots……

I realised something this morning. Apart from Hawklad I’ve not actually seen another human since last Wednesday. Ok I’ve seen people in videos and movies but not actual seen anyone. Not even someone in the distance. No one. No dog walkers. No neighbours. No one walking on the street. No postman. No delivery people. That must be a record for me.

It just shows how easy it is to disappear these days.

It’s going to feel really odd when I finally bump into someone. Maybe even talk to them. Wow that’s a thought. What will I say? Probably need to practice a bit just in case. Practice holding eye contact. Better practice with the sheep first. Maybe work on a different conversation opener though

Hi. You are cheeky. Do you fancy a biscuit….”

Sheep

The sheep are back. Winter can now officially start.

For those with good eyesight you can see the city in the distance. Well you can just about see the cities stunning cathedral. That’s the only evidence of city life. That’s how it should be. No sprawling high rise cityscape here thankfully. Feels reassuringly old school. Apart from the power lines this view will have stayed the same since The Minster was completed in 1472.

So the sheep are back. That means our biscuit budget will be busted. They come for a daily biscuit. That’s a lot of biscuits. Thankfully they are not like our household pets and are not picky. Any biscuit will do. Even the really cheap ones. The farmer recommends Rich Tea or Digestives. So that’s what the sheep get.

It’s a two way process. The sheep get treated and Hawklad gets time with animals. That’s special time to him. Any time with animals and birds is. They relax him. They fascinate him. He feels at ease with them. He loves being with them. All animals.

Well almost all. English Cattle and Giraffes spook him. They always have. He is relaxed with Swiss Cattle just not English ones. When he goes to the Zoo he loves getting the chance to hold spiders and snakes. Will confidently handle Birds of Prey. Wants to get as close as possible to the big predators. But gives the Giraffe section a wide birth. He just doesn’t feel as trusting with them and English Cattle.

But Sheep are definitely on the trusting list. He would happily have all the sheep move in with us. Probably move me out to make room.

I know my place….

Who you looking at ….

Here is a regular nighttime visitor to our garden. Will come to within a couple of feet of the front door. The badger is surprisingly big and muscular. A few times we have had standoffs in the garden. Stopping a badger attack on a hedgehog or when the badger has decided to try and dismantle the bird feeder. The badger stands his or her ground. Definitely chased me off a couple of times. Clearly no regard is given to vegetarians. In my defence I am a city boy and a massive coward. Wasps send me scurrying for cover.

But now I find the The Badger has no musical taste. Last night I forgot that I had left a delivery outside. Our son likes deliveries to air outside for at least a few hours as part of our pandemic protocols. Anyway I had bought myself a really cheap second hand cd and a brush. I was in the kitchen cleaning up when I heard a right racket outside. Had to be the badger. I assumed the bird feeder had been destroyed again. But no. The delivery packaging was strewn all over the lawn. No sign of the brush but near the bird feeder was my cd. Clearly The Badger had no interest in taking my music.

Not liking Alice Cooper. What a philistine.

A thought

Wonder what these cows are thinking?

Hawklad has always loved listening and making stories up. One particular story line has been a common theme. We call it the Mr Mole Stories. It’s a world we’re talking animals live alongside humans. The story started back when Hawklad was a toddler. He was not the greatest of travellers and when he looked out of a moving train window – it was asking for trouble. It came to a head one particularly train journey. In a full carriage Hawklad decided to be sick. I took the full impact. Amazingly everywhere else was spared. I remember my walk of shame up the length of the crammed carriage to our suitcases. A now very distinctively marked black T-shirt needed changing urgently and wow did it stand out.

We needed a plan B as we soon had a long train journey from Geneva to Bern to navigate.

A plan was hatched. I would distract Hawklad with a story. A random story was told. A taking mole was walking down a street. He would happily talk to the various humans he would bump into. Problem was that Mr Mole had a spectacular sneeze. Tornado Force Sneeze. So when he did sneeze things happened. Clothes would be blown off washing lines. Cakes would fly through the air and hit people in the face. Umbrellas would take to the air. The poor postman even lost his trousers. Hawklad loved it – he nearly wet himself with giggles. For two hours Mr Moles sneezes caused increasing levels of mayhem. The Mr Mole Stories were born.

Since then the stories have moved on from sneezing to a self contained world filled with various weird animal characters. Over time the stories became increasingly Hawklads. He would help frame and tell the tales. Over the last 10 years I dread to think how many stories have been made. Hawklad can remember virtually all of them.

Last night was no different. A wild tale was told. Mr Mole with his friends Mr Cheetah and Olive the Ostrich we’re trying to explain wrestling to the legendary Mr Crocodile. A very special Crocodile. A vegetarian. He is scared of water. Actually scared of most things. A crocodile who finds most things confusing. A crocodile who does not always comply with the general laws of space, time and physics. A couple of actual wrestlers had been enrolled to help. Sasha Banks and The Undertaker.

Then the thought hit. We live in a world of over 7 billion people. With almost incalculable numbers of other living creatures. At that particular time. With such a bizarre story. Almost certainly we were the only 2 living creatures in the planet telling a story about talking mole, a mad crocodile and wrestling. Maybe the only 2 living creatures thinking those thoughts in the entire Universe.

That is such a cool thought. It really is.

Pond

A brief moment of colour before the next band of rain arrives. And yes it’s still two jumper (sweater) weather.

As a child my Dad created a reasonably large pond in the garden. He filled it with little goldfish. It was a haven for wildlife. A protected haven. It had its very own guard dog. Our large family dog called Mick. Mick was lovely but he had issues. He took his guarding the ‘family and the garden’ role very seriously. He bit a postman. He then bit a policeman. It’s amazing how quickly some people learn to understand the meaning of a garden gate sign. Do not enter – Dog who will bite strangers beyond this gate……So he was not a chap to be messed with. And the garden pond fell under his care. Fish, small creatures and small birds were most welcome. He would even let the small birds drink from his water bowl. Unfortunately the same privileges were not granted to larger creatures and large birds. So strangely they quickly learnt that Darwin might have a point and they had better quickly adapt. Adapt meaning give that particular garden a wide berth. A policy which was also observed by the postal and police services.

That garden pond is a long time ago. Since then I have never had a pond. That is until last week. Bad weather interrupted a garden tidy up session. So the wheelbarrow contained a few pulled up weeds. However the rain has transformed the scene. The weeds are doing rather well in the slightly damp conditions. I’m calling that a pond. Just lacking some goldfish and a guard dog called Mick.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for our weekly virtual visit to beautiful Switzerland.

This week let’s find the usual alpine landscapes mixed with a few animal ones as well. All from wonderful Switzerland.

As a toddler son loved animals. He still does… One day he would love to have a falconry or zoo. I so hope he does.

Every visit to Switzerland gave him an opportunity to get close to animals.

AND as we always arrived on a Saturday a trip to his favourite shop in the world on the Sunday. A shop in Interlaken with a huge range of Schleich toy animals.

He would get to buy 4 new ones. He was always careful to pick toys which he couldn’t get hold off in tour Yorkshire shops. Then the new members of the team would then get a 7 day guided tour of Switzerland.

A guided tour which would take in at least one zoo.

Happy days and definitely hungry work….

Not my berries

Wild strawberries get everywhere. Now they have found a way into the large tub which contains the old blueberry bush. This raises one of the great life mysteries. Wild strawberries are cropping up all over the garden. Even on the stone drive. Yet I find it impossible to grow them when and where I want them to. Nothing ever happens with my strawberry seeds. Most frustrating….

So officially no work until September at the earliest now. I guess it gives me more time to tend my strawberries. But we are SO fortunate compared to many others. We have beautiful memories. We have a nice (if slightly chaotic) garden with a lovely view. We are relatively secluded. Son can feel safe here. We can scrape by and pay the bills. We can still have fun and enjoy life. Yes another 3 months of this self contained world can at times seem a claustrophobic thought. But that thought is there only if I let it exist. In reality I’m losing a few brief encounters, some knee jarring runs and an occasional trip out. Counter to that – Son is gaining a feeling of security. For that security I can more than cope with a few inconveniences. Everyday we still have the ability to create memories and live out our dreams. Maybe not my frequent night dreams featuring talking cows and dinosaurs. But you know what I mean.

So let’s be thankful for what we have. Let’s use what we have. Let’s remember to live.

Let’s take the time to watch the wild berries grow…

The other thing about the wild strawberries is that they don’t last long. The are stripped bare by our frequent garden visitors. That’s fine with me. I guess they were the ones who brought the seeds here in the first place. So they grew them, so why not let them enjoy the rewards. And the answer to the great life mystery. I should leave the gardening to the experts. The wildlife. Having said that – they don’t seem very willing to cut the lawn.