Hard life

It’s a hard life…. And yes that sofa has been shredded by cat claws.

It got just a little harder, certainly on the hands, knees and back of the trousers…..

The only trip I get out a day is to walk the dog on the back farmers field. It’s normally just me, a dog and the sheep. But over the last few days one or two other walkers have appeared. This has changed the dynamics for Hawklad. Now he is not comfortable with me walking with the dog down the short, narrow alleyway to get to the field.

So the only way to keep venturing out is to climb our back fence AND then deal with the barbed wire obstacle.

Too high to step over. Do I jump or crawl under it.

Yep life has just got that little harder. Definitely more risky for the back of the trousers and what they are covering…..

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.

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.

Red

Definitely red, definitely a blueberry plant. It’s quite a few years old. I bought it from a local garden centre about 13 years ago. It was heavily discounted and looking very damaged. Clearly it was close to being binned. I kinda felt sorry for it. Since then it’s been a plant that keeps on giving.

It’s nice to have those things that give you so much in life. I tend to find that the best of these often come from quite unusual routes. Not the way I would naturally imagine they would come from. That kind of makes them even more special.

This blueberry came into my world at about the same time as Hawklad. Both were about 1ft tall. Thirteen years later the plant has trebled in size – Hawklad is now double its size. Well at least I’m still taller than one of them….

This morning I was thinking about some of the other changes the plant has seen. Yes the obvious one with the loss of a key team member. Aspergers. Much less visitors. Much less hair on my top. Too much hair on top of Hawklad. A mad dog. The Apple Tree is more unkempt. A mole and badger have become nighttime visitors. Some nutter starting doing yoga next to the poor plant. Far too frequent storms battering it these days. The nutter sitting outside talking to the plant but now with a decaf coffee – just not the same. People walking their dogs in the farm field but now wearing masks. Hawklad talking about 4 generations of Xbox’s now. Four different cars. Three different lawnmowers. A sandpit replaced with a football goal. A garden shed replaced with a weed patch.

Yet the blueberry plant is still here. Still giving. Not bad for something that was close to getting rejected and binned.

Definitely red, definitely special.

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.

Scary creatures

A good blogging friend was taking about finding a big spider in her garden. That friend is on a different continent. A place where you get spiders that are big, scary, poisonous and they even jump at you.

Did I ever tell you that I am not great with spiders.

So the prospect of scary spiders brings shivers down my spine. A movie comes to mind – Arachnophobia. Give me Jaws and Sharks anytime. Sharks need our love especially as Trump has decided to bully them as well now.

Scary spiders. No, no, no.

Hawklad loves to go to the zoo and handle spiders. The bigger and more deadly the better. The last trip I just about heard him say as he handled a Tarantula- ‘Isn’t she lovely….’. It was difficult to hear him as I was stood 30 yards back, hiding behind a wall. That’s great parenting……

Fortunately for me I live in Yorkshire. The land that time forgot. We don’t really do scary animals. Those cows can look at you in a funny way. Ferrets can nip a bit (especially if they are in your trouser pockets). Don’t get in the way of a squirrel and his nuts. Those Scarborough Seagulls are hooligans when you have a bag of chips. Get on the wrong side of stick of rhubarb and it can very awkward.

But we don’t really do scary spiders or insects. A few small and timid spiders. This is as big as it gets. A Daddy-Long-Legs. The most delicate creatures going. We end up desperately trying not to hurt or damage them. Even I can get up close to them. That’s the kind of spider and insect I like. Friendly and most definitely not one that is going to eat me.

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….

Angry clouds

It’s just been days of angry weather.

When I see this type of stormy clouds I remember back to my childhood. As you got older you started to realise that in our seaside town the weather would always seem to come from over the hills and follow the river to the sea. For us that would mean the weather would first appear to the north west. That was in the direction of one of our neighbours gardens. So the following weather expression was frequently heard from my parents.

It’s luking black ower Mr Homans Potting Shed, aye get thy washing in.

When means you have just a few minutes more footy before your summoned in as the heavens have opened. If the weather ever came from over Eddie Cook’s Pigeon Loft then it was time to get the paddling pool out.

Strangely parenting forecasting from the 70s was far more accurate that the current UK Meteorological Service best guesses. Currently the weather scientists are telling us that we have light cloud and less than a 10% chance of light rain. Well tell that to the paving stones which are currently being jet washed in the nonstop monsoon.

So let’s ditch the UK’s dodgy weather science and go old school. So here are a few other old weather laws that were passed down to me.

  • Red sky at night fisherman’s delight, red sky in the morning fisherman’s warning,
  • Mackerel Clouds in the sky then the weather is going to change,
  • The Sun or Moon saying hello means that rain is on the way (saying hello means having a halo around it),
  • The greener the Rhubard leaves the worse the weather will be,
  • Wet seaweed means rain is coming (I never bought into this one as surely that just means the tide has been in recently),
  • Rain at lunch will be gone by tea (basically saying the UK weather is changeable),
  • When rain is coming the spiders will disappear,
  • Rainbows before lunch tells us that rain will be here all day,
  • Cows sit down when rain is due (must admit this is clearly true as I was watching an episode of Ben & Holly where the wise old elf foolishly took shelter under a cow when it started to rain),
  • When smoke rises the weather will be good. When it fails to rise them bad weather is due,
  • Expect a bad winter if the hedgerows produce loads of berries,
  • If you want a dry day best to have dew on the grass in the morning.

One last weather law. I had a friend whose dad was a complete nutter. So funny. I remember him telling me once about his rabbit. He explained that his rabbit would only eat carrots when it was raining. I asked what it had to eat when it was sunny and he told me with a smile – I don’t know, will tell you when we get the sun, patience lad I’ve only had the rabbit 3 years.

So that’s me out of weather law. Can anyone add to my knowledge?

Looking at this photo I think I can confidently predict no need for sun protection….

Kinda day

Surely it’s that kinda day.

The alarm rings and I drag the body out of bed and stumble towards my gym kit. Before exercise the important stuff. Feed the pets.

Start with the Gerbils. They will only eat one type of small animal feed and strangely it’s not the cheapest. Trying to change the food and water is always a challenge when you have three little white chaps scurrying up your arm.

Then it’s the big boy cat. He suffers after years of substance abuse. He has had far too many trips to the vets after sampling various harmful items – usually from the farm. Now he’s banned from going out and has to go on a strict diet. He can only eat gluten, grain and dairy free food. Special food which happens to be three times the price of normal cat food. He’s far from impressed and he is surprisingly fleet of foot which he eyes other food opportunities – usually my dinner.

At least the dog has cheap food tastes. He will eat anything. So he dines out on cheaper branded food. Anything works for him. Cat food, our food, vegetables from the garden. His favourites are particularly healthy options

Yorkshire Puddings

Chips and crisps.

Although cheap to feed he does have his very own foible. He can’t and won’t eat food direct from his bowl. He picks up each individual biscuit and carries it to a chair or the sofa. Munches it there and then returns for the next little piece of food. The process repeats for hours. Takes him ages to eat anything and the mess…..

Here’s the key thing. Yes the pets cost money, add workload and create so much mess.

BUT

They bring so much joy to our son. They bring life to the house. Bringing them into our world was the best parenting decision ever.