Hills

I know the lawn needs sorting out….. I will try as our gardener is clearly lying down on the job.

After ‘school at home’ had finished for the day I managed to drag the broken toe Hawklad outside for a while. Normally that means him pacing around the garden. So it’s an odd feeling just getting to sit in a garden chair. I was starting to worry about Hawklad getting bored and frustrated with being so immobile WHEN….

Dad did you just see the mole hill move…..”

And yes it was. The mole was clearly active and soil was being pushed to the surface. Lots of soil. It went on for about an hour. How exciting. That hour rushed past. It almost felt like we were observing some majestical big wildlife event. All we needed was a camera crew and the wonderful David Attenborough. Even Captain Chaos became transfixed for a time until he was sent inside as he had decided to help out the excavation work.

Just goes to show. You might feel hemmed in by life but if you keep looking you just might start to see some of that real world come to you.

Romeo

As dark as the view may seem if you keep looking hopefully you will eventually see a few rays of light. WE can do this.

I was stood outside surveying the grey skies. Definitely feeling low. Hemmed in and a bit beat up. Thinking about life’s many constraints. Then to the west I saw a few rays of light. That reminded me of just how fortunate I am. In my low moments I seem to be better at remembering the bad stuff. Yet I am so fortunate to have really special things in my life. That thought made me smile.

Then my attention switched to our two daily visitors. Our two lovebird pigeons. Everyday at this time they meet up on our fence and basically DO IT. They don’t seem to mind an audience.

Well today I watched Romeo and Juliet move slowly together. The big moment came and Romeo FELL OFF the fence. Landing in a heap on in the grass. By the time he had recovered his poise and flown back up to the fence ….. Juliet had flown off. If I could understand Yorkshire Pigeon I think I would have heard a loud cry of PANTS.

I think I know what Romeo was feeling. Many of us have kind of been there.

Feathered Romeo you have given me a much needed chuckle. You have more than earned some extra food scraps today. I think you could do with that.

Birdbrain

Our little part of the world has been rather cut off from civilisation. The occasion delivery person and the daily postie have been our only visitors really for months. Well that’s not strictly true. We have daily visitors. The birds.

Well when I say daily there was one exception to this. The weekend of the national Birdwatch garden survey. We sat for hours and guess what. Our daily visitors decided to give us a miss that weekend. No amount of food could tempt them. Yet as soon as they Birdwatch was over they flocked back again. Pesky characters they are.

But I will forgive them for messing my survey numbers up. They provide so much joy. Over the many months you start to recognise the individual birds. Many having really unique personalities and habits.

One really odd thing is the ‘pecking order’. Small birds first, big birds second. As soon as the food is put out the small ones arrive. The larger hooligan gang start to gather in the trees. After the small ones start to fly off the hooligans arrive. Then it’s about an hour of them squabbling. A few wiser ones just feed while the others are distracted.

That happens like clockwork everyday 363 days a year. Rain, sun and snow…. They obviously take two days off for the Bird Survey. I will grant them that especially as they like my baking. That’s got to count for something.

Transformation

When we first moved into our home all those years ago one of the first things I did was I hung a bird feeder onto the Apple Tree. It was well used until our pets moved in. Suddenly a bird feeder, cats and a permanently hungry dog didn’t become a great mix. So with the bird feeding now safely relocated to the front of the house this feeder has hung unused for years. Now it has become indistinguishable from the old tree. It is part of the tree now.

Yesterday’s snow didn’t last long. But it was wonderful while it lasted.

I often look at the old feeder and think about my life. Will the same happen to me. If I hang around here not venturing far. Increasingly tied to a house, a garden and a couple of farmer fields. With only the occasional essential journey beyond that small world. Will I become blended into my surroundings. Absorbed into the background. Camouflaged. Largely invisible to the outside world.

How knows. Maybe the first sign of that happening will be me wearing green wellies and green trousers. Bits of undergrowth interwoven into my clothes and hair, just like a sloth.

Actually the last time I fell off the ladder and landed in the hedge I was picking bits of nature off me for days. So the transformation may have started.

There’s a thought.

Cobwebs

Tis the season for cobwebs here.

I made a huge mistake last night. A mistake the spiders seized upon.

Minutes after the national lockdown started our tumble dryer died. So it’s been all about trying to dry washed clothes, towels and bedsheets outside or on radiators. Not ideal when son’s anxieties are requiring frequent changes in these items. So the last few days have seemed like a constant fight to get stuff dry while stopping the house from getting too damp. Deep joy.

Anyway late afternoon I put some towels outside to dry in a brief break in the weather. And then somebody forgot.

So this morning I ventured outside to discover the forgotten towels. All completely sodden, cold AND covered in cobwebs. I counted 4 spiders enjoying their new comfy hunting grounds. So as I carefully removed the final arachnid I was struck by a thought.

Spiders are the such an adaptive and resourceful creatures. They focus on a task without an ego. They can produce such beauty. Have such patience and resilience. Have been fine tuned over millions of years.

I wonder if we could convince one of these little fellas to run our country until we finally get round to electing a decent and competent leader.

Just a thought.

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.

Mole

My neighbours little tree ready for winter. It’s one of the local mole’s favourite places.

So we don’t feel left out, the Mole has made sure a present was left for us as well…..

Feels like autumn is already passing here. It looks like winter. It most definitely feels like winter. I am trying to get the garden ready for the coming dark months. Hopefully that will be finished this week. Getting ‘me’ ready for the dark months is more of an ongoing process. Needs much work….

Some people think that moles hibernate in the UK. That’s not the case. The underground tunnel structure is far enough down to avoid the frost line here. So they can continue to be active and thrive. The hope is that we(I) can do the same.

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.

Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.