Saturday 28 May 2022

Peak daisy


We have reached peak daisy here at Above the River Towers. The front gardens in our street are, as usual, a mix of solid concrete, plastic grass, a touch of rewilding and one or two beautiful patches of flowers grown for pollinators. The message doesn't really seem to be hitting home in most places. 

Down the back lane, men with strimmers and trimmers and too much time on their hands are hacking back the undergrowth as if their mission in life is to eradicate anything wild. I am grinding my teeth and working out how to politely bring it up in conversation.

There has been a casualty in the garden. I found a dead blackbird and I'm concerned that it's one of the cats that was coming in through the hedgehog hole. I haven't seen any since and I am on high alert now, poised to gallop out there and be frightening. A couple of frogs have also passed on, but that is fairly normal for this time of year. Dead frog scooping is one of my very worst things though.

My neighbour's garden is delightfully overgrown in places and between us we have loads of birds. A new family of sparrows was out there yesterday, with the babies fussing round the parents, pestering them for food. They were utterly adorable. 

Blue tits and great tits have been all around, picking juicy things off of the greenery. The snail damage as usual is vast. All of the beans that I grew from seed (from bean?) have gone and masses of dahlia has been eaten. The big dahlia reaches a point where it grows so fast that even the snail army can't keep up though, and all is well. 

The two biggest urchins are in the middle of A-levels and GCSEs. I am surprisingly calm and collected. Other than exams, they have pretty much finished school for now though. They will have a very long summer break indeed, I fear it may be expensive.

The dog is rather skinny, having been ill and then been sentenced to a low-fat diet. I think I underestimated the amount of food that he was being given by way of snacks by Someone. So I am trying to fatten him up slightly, while not actually giving him fat. He has also had a (much-loathed) haircut, which has made him look extra thin. He hates and fears the dog groomer so much that I have to carry him almost all of the way there these days. She says that as soon as he is in the bath he's fine and good as gold. It's all in the anticipation.

I feel that I need to do Something for the jubilee, it's such an amazing occasion. In my mind's eye I can see an outside table and red, white and blue bunting and lots of cake and strawberries and cream and maybe a scone or two with jam and clotted cream. Perhaps a jar or two of flowers from the garden and something fizzy made from elderflowers or lemons. And a proper floaty summer dress and maybe even a hat. It all sounds wildly unrealistic, given how much work I have on and the fact that I don't actually own a floaty summer dress or a hat, but still, it looks pretty inside my head. I can definitely do the clotted cream bit. Any plans at your end?

Saturday 7 May 2022

Hedgehog week


In case I haven't said it before, I absolutely love this time of year. The green is all so new and astonishing, I find it requires a lot of looking out of the window every single day to adjust to it all. 

Mostly photos from the garden, but not the squirrel. There are loads of squirrels down on the streamside walks where there are happily lots of trees, but none at all in the garden. I have my hedgehog house in place now and there is a neat hedgehog-sized hole in the back fence (five inches square in case you were wondering), although there has been a slight snag with that. Much to mine and Bertie's horror, a small cat has come into the garden through the hedgehog highway hole. This is not the wildlife we were wanting at all. Although to be fair, I'm not sure the dog is entirely on board with Operation Hedgehog-Friendly Garden, he is more of a Mine, All Mine sort of a dog. 

I am not particularly in favour of cats. The RSPB estimates that they kill at least 100 million things each year, of which 27 million are birds. Plus the creatures that escape but subsequently die and the ones that are killed but not brought home. Up until I made the hedgehog hole, the garden was pretty much cat-free during the day at least. On the rare occasion that one did appear, it had to come over the fence, meaning it was more visible. The small cat can just sneak in on silent paws and creep up on things now. There are loads of birds in the garden and they are often on the ground picking up stray seeds.

The day I first spotted the cat, there were lots of feathers on the ground. No body though, so I am hoping that the cat just got a mouthful of feathers. The next time I saw the cat, Bertie and I trotted out to have a word. I kept Bertie on a lead, not wanting an actual confrontation. The littlest boy has suggested that we put up a sign over the hoghole saying 'Hedgehogs Only'. 

Bertie had a bit of a shout and the cat left in quite a hurry. Bertie's chum a couple of doors up joined in as well. Sometimes Bert just goes out into the garden and calls out, 'Oatie, let's bark a lot just in case there's something in the back lane.' And Oatie goes, 'I'm on it Bert,' and gets into huge trouble for being too loud. Don't worry, we're not as anti-social as I make us sound, Bertie only barks sometimes, and mainly to make people go away in case they were thinking of invading. 

I am currently reading Skulduggery Pleasant, which is recommended reading for 8-12 year olds. The littlest boy has read them all and was very keen for me to read it. In fact, I may have inadvertently said  that I'll read all thirteen when I was trying to get him to go to bed one night. ('Yes, fine, I'll read them all IF YOU WILL JUST GET INTO BED AND GO TO SLEEP.") I'm hoping he forgets that. It's actually quite a ripping yarn and a pretty fast read though, so hopefully I'll be back to more grown up murders before too long. Although maybe when I get to the end of volume one I'll want to read volume 2 and on it will go. It's certainly an escape from the real world. An actual walking talking skeleton!

How is all of the reality at your end? CJ xx