Hunting

Everyday a large bird of prey has decided to spend some of its hunting time in the field next to us. A free nature cinematic thrill ride. Now if it would just come a little closer and not fly so fast then I might get some closer shots.

Hawklad (son) is so happy that this can now be seen from the safety of his garden. This is such a bonus. With it looking like a few more months of isolation we look to nature to bring the world to us. With patience it never lets us down.

Names

This little thing lives in our roof. Currently he or she is unnamed….

I’ve had a few names over the years and not just the obvious one.

  • A really good friend labelled me Superdad,
  • Bagpuss – goalkeeping related,
  • TJHooker – golf related,
  • Goochie – bad early 20s moustache related,
  • Dr Banner – I had a habit of the red mist setting in when playing rugby and also when trying to unwrap one of those cd cellophane wrappings,
  • Harry Potters Dad – apparently I looked like him,
  • Veggie – diet related,
  • Hippy – diet related,
  • Gareth – no idea why,
  • Viking – I was the only Northerner in a cricket team based in the South of England,
  • Pidge – mum called everyone Pidge so she didn’t need to remember names,
  • Geordie – because of the so called football team I support,
  • Columbus – due to my appalling navigation skills when climbing,
  • And a few others which are unrepeatable……

And let’s not forget BereavedsingleDad. Here’s the funny thing about that one. It was a mistake. When I suddenly decided to set up a blog those three years back I hadn’t thought about silly details like a blog name. I filled out a box which I thought was for a user name – just something I used when logging in. It was the first thing that came into my mind when I was trying to think of something which didn’t include my real name. Rather taken by surprise when suddenly it was displayed as the blog name. Never got round to changing it. Maybe one day.

So I guess it’s time to name the bird. Now what shall it be….

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….

Just better

Yes an excuse to sneak in a Switzerland photo when it’s not Sunday. A country which just does things better than here in England. When the Swiss organise a bird lineup it is always going to beat ours.

I was racking my brain to think of stuff my country can do better than Switzerland. It’s not an extensive list so far,

  • Queues,
  • Road pot holes,
  • Darts,
  • Football hooligans,
  • Classic Rock,
  • Rust,
  • Stuff being late,
  • Crap customer care,
  • Cheaper basic drugs like cold remedies,
  • The NHS, a big plus……
  • Charlatans like Boris Johnson,
  • Litter,
  • Royal Family (depends if your a republican or not)
  • Nigel Farage,
  • Katie Hopkins,
  • Fox hunting,
  • Badger culls,
  • Over fishing,
  • Child poverty,
  • Mental Health Crisis,
  • Care Home Crisis,
  • A shocking pandemic death total,
  • A Government proud of killing so many people,
  • Becoming insular and xenophobic,
  • Key service cuts,
  • Large school class sizes,
  • Navies,
  • Seaweed,
  • Inability to speak a second language,
  • Shouting and swearing,
  • Cricket,
  • Morris Dancing,
  • Fish and chips,
  • Potato Crisps,
  • Rhubard,
  • And raspberries.

Will stop now as the longer this list gets the more depressed I get at the thought of living in England. Yes we have some things we can be rightly proud of but the list of not so good stuff is rapidly expanding. Bring on my weekly Swiss Sunday…..

Where’s the shed

Here once stood the garden shed. But then an ageing Oil Tank had to be changed. The new rule was that flammable items had to be at least 6 feet away. A wooden shed just 3 feet away just didn’t cut the mustard. So it had to come down. I remember the day so well. My partner organised the skip. She took the first swing with the sledgehammer and then left the rest to me. It was a tough fight. Eventually I won the contest on a split points decision. Yes the shed was down but most of it now appeared to be imbedded in me.

We never did get round to putting a new one up. Actually we didn’t need one. The area became a little bit more green. A place to randomly put those potted plants which we have collected over the years. A nice home for a 90 year old wooden bench which has long since served its purpose and has been retired. It’s also a bit of a magnet of our sons footballs….

It so needs a good weeding but actually yellow poppies and wild strawberries are starting to grow here. Well that’s my excuse.

I’m not sure what my partner would make of it. Maybe a bit too chaotic for her. She liked organisation. The new shed was high up on my list of things to do before the world changed. But then she left our little world. Then every weekend her mum would pop over for an hour or so. She loved it. When she came over at the weekend she would often sit and look at it while drinking her coffee. Thinking about life. Watching the birds make use of it.

I’m writing this at about the time her mum would have been visiting. I’m sat in the chair she would be sat in. Yes I do think the little green area works. Maybe that new garden shed can wait for a few more years. Sorry my love…..

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.

Bouncing

Blue sky… That was a few days back. These roses are about 14 feet high. Yes the hedge needs some attention when the birds finally fledge. So how do I take a photo of high up roses. Being one half inch above average height rather limits my reaching capacity. Can’t use the ladders. They are loaned out to someone for a few days. That was just before a pesky pandemic broke out. So might see them again in 2021. So what to do.

I tried standing on a plastic garden chair. Even on my tippy toes, no where near high enough.

I then tried to rig up a DIY selfie stick. The long pole window washer makes a surprisingly fine temporary solution. And yes it did generate enough height. One Tinnie Winnie technical problem. Once the mobile phone is 14ft high, how do you press the record button. Get another pole! Yes I actually considered this for a few moments. Didn’t really think this one through.

I even dug out Son’s toy drone with its onboard camera. A brilliant solution let down by one thing. We both can’t fly it. I carefully positioned the drone below the rose. All I had to do was gently lift the drone off the ground. Get to the right height, hover it for a second while I pressed the camera button. That was the plan. Unfortunately my gentle liftoff was more akin to a NASA rocket launch. Within seconds the drone had screamed over the roof of the house and was heading towards the road. Thankfully when the drone did come down on the street it had not hit anyone. I bet the landing was as graceful as a Dodo jumping off a cliff.

So time for Plan X.

Thankfully the trampoline is kinda close by. So yes I’m not proud. I bounced and tried to take a photo on the way up. The photo above was the best one out of an understandably out of focus bad bunch. But given the effort, yes it was kinda worth it. Although I particularly liked this effort.

I can hear the cries. You only had one job, take a photo of the roses. Probably best not become a wedding photographer just yet.

Evolution

It’s a hard life being a much loved dog toy. Life is a real chew.

Somedays even a Grumpy Cat has to hide. I so felt like doing that today….

Dad v Trampoline…. that’s absolutely no contest.

A desperate attempt was needed to get son bouncing on one of his favourite things again – a pigeon and chicks decided to build a nest right next to it. To heavy to drag I attempted to dismantle the metal object of torture. After one hour of trying to prise apart the first two metal poles, Son helpfully pointed out

You are not making much progress. Actually NO PROGRESS. Come on Dad, you are at the head of an evolutionary chain stretching back millions of years. Think of all the biological progress which has led to you. Surely a pigeon and a chunk of metal isn’t going to beat you.”

NO IT IS NOT. The pride of my species, THE DADS will triumph.

A truly brilliant plan was hatched. My Archimedes moment. After much searching in the garage I returned with 8 wheels taken off an odd bed (waiting to be scrapped). I had attached the wheels to blocks of wood. With all my strength I managed to lift each corner of the trampoline and force the wheel blocks underneath. Suddenly I have a trampoline with wheels and with the appliance of a little pulling force …. IT WILL FINALLY MOVE.

That was the plan. A brilliant plan. Unfortunately in practice the plan had one or two minor issues. The weight of the trampoline just embedded the wheels into the ground. When I say embedded, the wheels disappeared completely into the ground and must have been buried inches below the surface.

After Son had stopped laughing he left me with this gem of wisdom.

That’s my Dad he is a muppet. The man evolution forget about”

Get my head round

The sun is shining. It’s still cold but we will settle for this.

So it’s almost official. School has emailed parents to say that looking at the latest government guidance – which apparently isn’t much – only some Primary pupils and those sitting final exams next year will get any direct teaching over the next few months. The earliest Son will be back in school is going to be September. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

Looking at the government’s plan for the economy – doesn’t take long as it’s basically wrote on the back of the PMs hand – probably means the company I work for won’t be operating anytime before September. That’s being extremely optimistic and requires an awful lot of good fortune. Being realistic there is a high probability it will not survive. So it’s time to get our heads round this.

It’s also time to get my head round the likelihood that I won’t be seeing my brother and sisters much in 2020. If things improve then maybe visits at Christmas might be a possibility. Realistically meet ups are not happening anytime this side of September. Already one Government official has said Summer family holidays and meet ups are cancelled, as these are unsafe – but apparently getting on a packed bus and going to work is completely safe.

AND WE HAVE TO GET OUR HEADS ROUND TWO EVEN MORE PRESSING MATTERS.

  • How are we going to celebrate my partners birthday in just over a weeks time. We had been planning on doing a camp fire party. Unfortunately the fire pit didn’t survive the Yorkshire winter. Yesterday I tried to pick it up to clean and the metal just crumbled, leaving me holding just two wooden handles. At least they can be used as fire wood. The other idea was to have my partners favourite meal – Chinese. Unfortunately the local takeaways are still closed and the local supermarket is completely sold out of Chinese food – apart from crispy seaweed. Which brought the response “well the gerbils will eat well then….”. I did offer to cook Chinese from scratch, but that brought the response “I’d rather suck on a gooseberry….”. So we are in plan F territory.
  • Dad I am so missing not going on my trampoline.” A couple of months back our garden pigeons decided to nest right next to the big bouncy thing (thats not my tummy before you say anything….). When I say right next to, I mean within 10 centimetres (not using inches will really upset Boris). Well the pigeons and chicks are showing no sign of moving, so I have two options. One is to dismantle and then rebuild somewhere else. Problem is that it’s in the only flat part of the garden and it’s like trying to assemble a Super Tanker. The instructions helpfully explained that you will need three reasonably fit adults to assemble. They failed to mention at least one of those adults must be an expert in structural engineering and the other two will need to have the strength of The Hulk. The other option is to try and drag the complete trampoline. We tried yesterday and after 30 minutes had shifted it 1 cm (up yours Boris). So we are also on Plan F here as well.

But at least the sun is shining.