Storm Crows…

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Yeah… I’m watching you…

How many of you out there have that friend – we all have one, I’m sure – that is a wonderful friend, a good friend, but somehow always manages to carry an air of drama with them…

Let me explain. I first met this particular lady about three years ago, and although by nature I am quite solitary and don’t actively court friendship, I felt a natural affinity to this lady, as she did me, and from a few tentative ‘hello’s’ we developed a friendship. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a genuinely nice person, caring, funny, a good friend to have, but on every occasion I have spent any length of time with her my day afterwards has gone steadily downhill. Nothing major, just a series of little incidents that all coalesce to make what set off to be a good or at least an ordinary day into something you’re glad to see the back of by the time you climb into your bed and seek refuge under the duvet.

I’ve heard enough about “psychic vampires” to be aware of the steps to take to “protect” yourself against them – I am generally rattling with crystals and surrounded by an aura of essential oils – patchouli is my favourite at the moment – besides which I am usually quite a cheerful person. But it doesn’t seem to matter where we meet or how long we are together, the day spirals steadily downwards after our meeting.

The worst incident culminated – indirectly through her – with me having an enormous row with my partner, triggering my first ever migraine attack and a worrying spike in my blood pressure which had my concerned doctor monitoring me for a week.

After that, I am afraid to say I consciously avoided my friend, shocked as I was by the fallout and attachments she carried with her, like tin cans tied to the tail of a stray dog…

Perhaps I am just not a very good friend to have, but I met someone else who regarded her in somewhat of the same light, and we agreed the title of “storm crow” was an apt description. Apparently the tradition of seeing crows as harbingers of misfortune may have its origins in Greek mythology, where a crow brought bad news to Apollo and he turned its feathers black in punishment…

So then. What to do when faced with a friend like this… run stealthily away (roaring optional) arm yourself with the power of positive thinking…or chuck a handful of birdseed at them?

LOOK! “Mr. Sagittarius is Here!”

Mr-Sagitarrius-Mallon-FB“Is she here yet Lily?”86183695_3180852228628363_3708799058614157312_n“Yes! I can see her now!””Thank you Lily – wonderful!”Look everybody! I would like to welcome a special guest to our blog today, the lovely Marje from Kyrosmagica. It’s great to have you here, the first stop on your new book blog tour!img_20170205_090149_185-author-photokyrosmagica-black-on-white1-e1523295724272Thank you very much for stopping by to tell us about your new book – help yourself to tea and cake!84089025_1531202207027206_2373041625145278464_nWe’ve known Marje a couple of years now, and I know Lily in particular has been looking forward to seeing you again.86188645_1569892723177481_1101913631185960960_nLily and Marje were first introduced by our friend Gary, from “Fiction Is Food” blog, when Marje needed a black cat model during the creation of her first Y/A novel, “The Curse Of Time.”Lily’s picture and one of a tourmaline crystal, taken by Alex is featured, among other things, in Marje’s new book, “Mr.Sagittarius.” Please will you tell us a little more…”We’re listening!”86177135_173845187276092_7426235506913968128_n[Marje reads:]

Who Is Mr. Sagittarius?

And what is his connection to twin brothers, Harold and William?

When Harold dies, he leaves a simple memorial request

Will his sister Annette honour it?

Or, will the magic of the garden ensure that she does.

A magical story expressed via poetry and prose with photographic images.

It sounds fabulous!Being a cat mother I sometimes come into contact a little closer than I ever really wanted with the Natural World, but I know that you have a wonderful eye for detail and a way of capturing the beauty in even the smallest creation of Mother Nature. Likewise, living with a family of four sister cats I am interested in reading about the sibling relationships – please don’t slap Ting, Tooty, not while we have guests… so I am very much looking forward to reading “Mr.Sagittarius” for myself!Ooh – could I ask anyone who is on “Goodreads” to add “Mr.Sagittarius” to their “To Read” list and I must also mention that Marje is very kindly donating the first month’s ebook royalties to the Australian Bush Fire Appeal, please follow the links at the end of my post to buy your very own copy.Marje – I hope you don’t mind, but the Girls wanted to ask you a question, and as the oldest -“And most intelligent!”- Charlie felt she should be Spokesfeline…85090693_2587970881491009_6472501507320184832_n

Charlie asks :
“I notice there is a poem called ‘Life Lessons From Cats’ with my sister Lily’s picture. What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in Feline Philosophy?”
Marje :
“Hi Charlie.
Your sister Lily’s photo with Buddha is really cute. That’s such an interesting question regarding feline philosophy. Cats teach us much about the world in which we live. I’d say the most important lesson they impart to us daft humans is to nurture a curious spirit. Without a curious spirit, life would be very dull.
Unfortunately, having a curious spirit can be dangerous sometimes, so I’d say don’t forget to combine a curious spirit with a state of awareness, so no harm comes to you when you’re crossing them pesky roads. That’s especially true as I lost my dear ginger tom cat Chester to a road accident.
Chester
Chester was as curious as any cat can be. I miss him so much. He was such an adventurer and very popular with everyone, probably because he had lots of fascinating feline tales to tell!”
That’s a lovely answer, Marje, thank you very much!
It’s been wonderful to see you – no, Lily, you can’t ask if Marje would prefer a sparrow or a mouse to take away, something sensible – please take our good wishes with you for the next step in your tour and every success with your new publication!

Follow Marje’s tour:

Happy New Year!

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Perhaps a little late, but here we are – 2020, perfect vision, a new decade, the Roaring Twenties again… and I find I have taken the roaring part quite literally to heart.

Regular readers may recall I was searching for that little je ne sais quoi, the little added extra, a flourish, if you will, to add as I get off the bus and run away. The running away part is definitely catching on, I’m pleased to say.

On my journey into town the other day I noticed several ladies leaping off the bus and running onwards to their next destination. Not so much men though…come on chaps! Where’s your spirit of, um, adventure!

Anyway. I was with Alex in Asda, just before Christmas, actually, and it was packed. Thronging with desperate last minute shoppers – “Well, why won’t she eat that? She ate it last year!” – “Please stop doing that, Mummy’s very tired and Santa won’t come if you carry on being a little s&*t!”- and all I wanted to buy were the staple supplies of any conscientious cat owner, three different types of wet food and four packets of treats for the Girlies’ stockings, and I found myself welling up with frustration at the mass of humanity seething around me.

I couldn’t help it. I let out a little roar. Alex looked at me, concerned and more than a little alarmed at the unusual noise I produced. So I did it again. And was mildly gratified as one family shot me a wary look and moved to another queue…

I opened my mouth again, preparing.

No Mum, don’t! Look! We’re here now!” Alex interrupted hurriedly, and we paid for the shopping and left.

Then I added in a roar as I ran away from the bus and actually found it quite liberating… Alex was … horrified. Then my mother came for dinner the other week, and afterwards, Alex, his boyfriend and I walked her to the bus stop.

Having seen her safely aboard, I began to run off. Puzzled, Alex’s boyfriend gamely followed me, as did Alex with a look of grim resignation on his face.

Why are we running?” his boyfriend enquired.

No reason,” I replied, then I gave a bit of a roar too.

Ah! I see!” he said, giving a bit of a roar too and throwing himself wholly into the spirit of things…and although Alex ran with us, he declined to roar…

So. Happy belated New Year, everybody, and may you enjoy the new “Roaring Twenties” in every sense of the word!

                                                                                  *

Look what’s happening next week – we have a guest! The lovely Marje from Kyrosmagica is coming for a chat (and maybe tea and cake) to kick off her blog tour with us and tell us about her new book!  We’re looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about it as it’s a magical mix of short stories, poems and photographs… and perhaps even a cat!

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Organite And Organisation.

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That came out of nowhere… readers – they got me. Just when I thought I had successfully escaped the onslaught of germs a chest infection crept up and got me, gleefully destroying all my carefully laid plans, trampling all over my neatly written lists and positively p—-ng all over my timetables for blog posts, shopping, relative visiting…

Oh well. Man plans and God laughs. Perhaps I should invest in some more Organite. This combination of resin, crystals and natural materials is reputed to help balance and strengthen a person’s energetic field, giving protection too against EMF’s.

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Thank you Liz for the models x

Organite can also help to intensify meditation, boost plant growth and disperse negative energy, giving strength and purpose to intentions and visualisations. Orgone energy was originally discovered in the 1930’s although the idea of a Universal Life Energy is obviously not a new one.

Everything – from a teacup to a tangerine to a terrapin – is made of energy. Wilhelm Reich established the idea of orgone in 1930’s although in Chinese traditional medicine it is known as “Qi”, in Ayurveda it’s “Prana.” Reiki, of course, uses these energies to help heal and repair imbalances in the body.

Organite can come in any shape, as long as it contains a mix of organic and non-organic materials to simultaneously attract and repel the bio-energy. It generally contains a mix of flowers, crystals, metal shavings – all encased in a petro-chemical resin. Then these shapes can be used in healing and maintaining good health. Different people respond differently to Orgone as some feel it immediately as a warm tingling sensation where others may notice an improvement after sustained use.

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Basically though, Orgone can help with better sleep, higher energy levels, balanced moods, increased resistance to illness and spiritual and psychological growth so Life can progress in an orderly and organised fashion. Allowing for cats, of course…

On the night before Christmas Eve, Charlie was thoroughly over excited and spent her time chasing either Ting or Tooty up and down the stairs to the extent they were sick…Lily became strangely obsessed with the parsnips, who were just sitting innocently on the side minding their own business till she started rolling on them…Charlie had to sit on my knee to open her present and got thoroughly over excited again on Christmas Day and when my mother joined us for dinner Ting decided she would rather spend the day in silent contemplation in my bed.

Tooty disappeared on private business – I think she moonlights as a spy, possibly – and despite feeling like I’d been kicked in the chest by a rhino I managed to cook the dinner, make a beautiful pumpkin pie and an extremely nice trifle thanks to a recipe by the amazing Queen Mary of Berry.. as well as managing to enjoy half a glass of red wine and my rescued parsnips – which were very nice, roasted with herbs, salt and covered in gravy…

So. Now I just need to extend this organisational ability a little further…polish one completed manuscript, finish a second, catch up with my WordPress friends, redecorate the bathroom and – breathe!

But here’s to 2020 friends – love to you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me! xxx

In Sickness…Theirs…And In Health…Mine….

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I don’t know how the present weather is affecting the rest of the country, but here in the East Midlands, the rain has not only flooded the surrounding farmlands and countryside, but also seems to have created a fetid fug of soup like flu symptoms that just seem to be trapped in the bowl created by our natural geology, just circulating endlessly…

Now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not unsympathetic to people who are ill… but I do feel quite strongly they should keep their germs to themselves. It started with a hat trick of grandmas… my mother, a confirmed and dedicated smoker, generally has a smoker’s cough, but on this particular day it seemed a little more…vehement than usual.

You’re going to be ill, aren’t you,” I observed, with trepidation.

My mother is a retired nurse and a Yorkshire woman to boot, consequently she is as stubborn as hell and the worst patient ever.

No, don’t be – hrgghhh! – stupid Samantha – bleughhh-ahh!- I’m fine!”

The dogs laid back their ears and retreated to the kitchen. I did likewise.

Then my partner’s mother had the flu jab and promptly caught flu. I had just run home from getting off the bus, contemplating how to add an extra flourish to my run away with a squat, or a forwards roll, perhaps, when-

SAM! SAM! MAM’S NOT WELL!”

What do you mean?” I enquired, more than a little alarmed because she is getting on a bit and has had a few health problems.

“’ER EYES ARE ROLLING AND SHE’S BREATHING FUNNY!”

I decided this necessitated further investigation and trotted round, curbing an arbitrary impulse to attempt a vault over the gate, and ran upstairs to have a look at her.

Are you all right?” I enquired cautiously, poking my head round the door.

Hrrhhha wahhggrr!”

Ah. Let’s sit you up a bit…”

I helped her sit up and her chest eased a little and I sent my partner back to our house for eucalyptus oil.

A cup of tea, essential oil inhalant and a laugh later, I am very pleased to say she was looking a lot better.

Then, although not known to me personally, I heard that Alex’s partner’s grandma was ill too – I spent some time with the Wishing Tree in my garden, asking for help and healing from the Appropriate Places.

Then I went to my mother’s yesterday for dinner, we were watching “Countryfile” and I asked her for the television guide so I could check something. She sneezed in it, closed the pages and offered it to me.

No, I’ll let you keep that,” I said politely, as the dog sneezed in Mum’s face, triggering another coughing fit.

I returned home to be greeted by the mournful face of my partner, mouth breathing, wheezing and coughing… I thrust paracetamol, honey and echinacea at him, seized my sage and thyme infusion and ginger capsules and fled upstairs.

So. I have been taking powdered ginger in capsule form for about a month, I gargle with sage and thyme infusion, have a spoonful of honey every day, a pack of sanitising wipes to hand and I have anointed myself liberally with patchouli and lavender essential oils, hoping that their overpowering scent will fox any particularly persistent germs.

Just in case though – I have my lovely doctor on speed dial…

*

On a serious note, friends, look after yourselves in this season of illness, and I hope you’ll join with me in wishing my wonderful friend Jean at The Canadian Cats all the very best for a speedy recovery back to full health. Get well soon, Jean, love from all of us here xxxx

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Theatre…”

 

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Sometimes I actually do feel as though the stuff that happens in my life is part of a Universal vaudeville routine… I try to console myself with encouraging platitudes like Oh well, it could be worse, it could be raining…

Alternatively, I think: “F&#$k it that’s an absolute b#@%ard”… I swear quite appallingly so I’ve been told, although personally I think I do it rather well, having a flair for the more , um, earthy side of our language… but anyway, generally I just laugh.

For example, the other day my morning began at 5.00am with a sound guaranteed to make any cat owner react with lightning fast speed – I awoke to the sounds of Tooty vomiting copiously down the side of my bedside cabinet. I leapt out of bed, a little too late unfortunately to prevent drippage on to the handles of the cabinet, wondered momentarily at the cat’s ability to run and vomit at the same time, but cheered myself with the thought Well, it can only get better…

On the bus to my appointment with my psychologist – yes, I have a psychologist, yes, I have now managed to instil a level of anxiety in him concerning random issues that he has never previously considered, like doorhandles, and should beans and chips really touch on the plate if you’re eating them together – but I happened to overhear a weary father talking to his little son on the bus as the child burst into a bellowed rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

No, buddy, that’s not a star, it’s a snowflake,” the father patiently pointed out yet again.

But it looks like a star!” the child insisted. Then, a little defiantly: “Well, I’m going to sing every time I see a star or a snowflake!”

A look of hopeless resignation settled across the father’s face…

Then, as I was coming back, I noticed a man leaving the supermarket who clearly had his life’s priorities sorted. He was carrying a tray of cans of beer and a large pack of toilet rolls – I shudder to think how he was going to spend his weekend, but mentally I applauded his ingenuity, for, he had the toilet rolls on his shoulder first, then the beer on top, thereby creating a soft and comfortable pad to carry the items home.

I also recently seem to have adopted quite an interesting habit as I disembark from the bus…I leap off and run away…not quite sure where that’s come from, I know that “Mission Impossible” left a lasting impression on me…but the puzzled look on the other passengers’ faces is quite rewarding to see as I speed away… Try it…

A Bit Of A Re-Blog…

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I just seem to have had one of those weeks where I have run out of time, not been able to catch up with anything and I have been using the same shopping list for the past ten days…consequently we have plenty of cat kibbles, a bewildering preponderance of frozen peas, pepperoni and vegan pizzas and an advent calendar for Charlie. The others don’t bother so much but Charlie loves the daily thrill of opening the little doors…

Anyway, I was trying to catch up with my NaNo when I found this little story from a few years ago, and it made me feel a little sad at how bleakly it read, although the original idea was actually sparked by a charming dinner service I saw in our supermarket, with all manner of fanciful beasties…have a read and see what you think, friends, and I will try to be more organised and catch up with everybody…

Alice Updated.

Don’t worry, you’ll make friends once you’ve settled in.”

Don’t forget to work hard, we know what you students are like, out drinking all night!”

These words fell on frightened ears as her parents left her. They left her, in the hall of residence in a nameless, faceless block in a city she didn’t know and she was afraid.

It was bleak, it was dark, it was autumn and she longed for the golden days of summer when she had been at school. The city was brutal, it was dark and it rained. She didn’t know where she was or how she felt to be so tenderly abandoned. She was not equipped for this.

The gentle county of her youth, her kind teachers and thoughtful friends, the lessons, the plans, the routine, these were things she understood.

Scornful tutors mouthed incomprehensible words in echoing lecture theatres and people laughed. She couldn’t eat, she didn’t know how. And yet, and yet, she was touched with kindness as others saw her and were drawn to this sad, lonely girl, “Alice of the Otherworld” as the darkness called her.

Here, come out with us, have a drink, you’ll feel better!”

The tall dark boy with knives in his eyes laughed like a maniac and pushed the glass towards her.

She drank, and was transported. Down and down she fell, tumbling down a smooth golden tunnel that smelled enticingly of childhood and weepingly of home.

When she opened her eyes, she was lying in a field. The day was golden and dusted with sunshine, the old oak tree she reclined against felt warm and comfortable, as comforting as her bed at home.

She sat up and her hands touched grass, grass that slithered through her fingers as soft as silk and as warm as blood. A winged rabbit fluttered by, its delicate wings etched in green, flushing pink as it startled at her presence and shied away.

And as she looked, and looked again, what at first she took for flowers beat their wings and flew away in a chattering flock, and she heard the swallows singing at home as they prepared to fly to Africa.

She sighed and laid down again. This was not home, but it would do, the echoes were familiar and some of it was comforting. She drew this atmosphere around her, like her duvet at home, and shut her eyes.

*

Ally! Ally! No! Ally, wake up! You bastard, what did you give her?”

The dark youth smiled uneasily and slid away, as her head lolled and a trickle of thin, yellow vomit escaped her smiling mouth, while the one who would have loved her grabbed his phone and cried.

Murder By Moussaka…

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Not moussaka… 

Now. Regular readers might remember I have a few issues around the subject of food. Don’t get me wrong – I love food, am an avid watcher of cookery programmes and enjoy myself cooking and baking when I have the opportunity.

No… it’s the reverse. The older I get, the more foods I find that dislike me. The other day I went to my mother’s for dinner – I am aware that she thinks my food foibles are pretty much in my head, but I also get extremely anxious whenever I discuss food and what I can and cannot eat with her. She comes from a generation where you show your love and appreciation by eating whatever is put in front of you, clearing your plate and asking for more… it took me twenty years to pluck up the courage to tell her I detest Brussels sprouts…

Look!” she said, gesturing proudly and a little defiantly towards the oven – “I made moussaka!”

Ah.” I said, a little hesitantly. “Does it have-”

Only the tiniest amount of cheese in the sauce, but you can’t expect me to eat it otherwise!”

I subsided, duly chastened and already worried… my stomach rubbing its nasty little paws in anticipation.

Mother served the moussaka, and it lay there, on my plate, plumptious and tempting. Savoury layers of aubergine and courgette, chinks of onion, like little pearls, interspersed with nodules of seasoned brown mince, glistening like the sweat on a lover’s brow, and over all this, billows of creamy white sauce, smooth, subtly beckoning, flowing sensuously over everything…

Reader – I ate it.

And managed to make it all the way home before the roiling indigestion, knotting stomach cramps, nausea – well, you get the picture.

Lying pale and limp on my bed, surrounded by sympathetic cats (well, vaguely concerned if I’m honest) I got a text from my mother.

Hope you enjoyed dinner – see you tomorrow xx”

I can only conclude she was setting up her alibi…

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A butterfly. Butterflies are good.

The PenIs…Mightier Than The Sword!

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Of course…whatever did you think I meant… made you look though! And that’s my point – words are powerful things.

I was in town a couple of months ago, sneaking in furtively to fulfil my latest craving… violas. Yes, those sweet little spots of floral colour that provide a pleasing range of hue in the garden in those dark few months between autumn and spring. The lady on the plant stall laughed when I said they were very “more-ish” but she knew exactly what I meant.

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I sped away, clutching my new garden friends and decided to call in at the crystal shop, Lizians. That day, Ian was at the helm and we launched into, among other things, a discussion about literature and the actual art of writing.

I love words, the music they create as they flow from your pen, the pictures they paint in your imagination… it’s like a three-in-one hobby. We both like to actually physically write, put down initial thoughts, words, ideas, so we both have notebooks and pens always at the ready. Laptops are obviously more convenient for sheer volume but sometimes my fingers trip over themselves and both myself – and my laptop – have absolutely no idea what I was trying to say…

I find connecting with pen and paper very organic, an emotional action that helps layer flavour and imagery, a useful way of capturing a string of words that chimes in the mind like a musical note…I am possibly too wordy, and a bit of a grammar stickler, but Ian and I both agreed that when you write, your aim is to make your reader feel without getting too bogged down in spellings and so forth. These are the sort of weapons people use to put aspiring writers off, intimidate them, when really, the action of writing is very important – a way of immortalising yourself, and your surroundings as the very first artist realised in the caves at Lascaux when they turned an abstract projection of rock into the figure of a horse…

I hope you get what I mean…or am I waffling? A lovely crisp baked treat…or pointless meanderings of words. That’s their beauty – words can be used to describe, punish, communicate, immortalise or obfuscate, but some of the simplest words are also the most beautiful!

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Ambivalent About Birds…

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Although I welcome birds to my garden – and sometimes my house, usually courtesy of Lily – as part of my wildlife-friendly environment I have endeavoured to create, I have decided I don’t really like them. They’re quite rude.

Alex had a budgie, who was a much loved and sadly missed family member, but even he had issues – a small yellow and green bird with the heart of a lion and the temper of a wolverine.

But yes, birds outside. I was planting some dianthus and violas in the back border when I heard a scream of raucous laughter.

Rude,” I thought, “I’m just minding my own business.”

I heard the laugh again and looked up, prepared to make a cutting remark like “Go away!” when I saw a magpie, perched on a tree branch above my head watching me. It opened its beak and gave another yell of unrestrained laughter at my gardening efforts and flew away.

Then the other afternoon, I was calling Ting. Every time the word “Ting” left my mouth it was echoed by a chuckling rasp, like nails down a blackboard. I looked up, and sat in the ash tree on the park was a jackdaw. It cocked its head on one side and laughed derisively, glaring at me with its pale blue eyes.

Ting! Hehehehehe!” it bellowed, and flew off in a flash of silvery black feathers.

We have a park at the back of our house and I can look out over it from the one of the back bedrooms, and I often see crows and seagulls diving and whirling like fighter jets, executing such tight turns and spins a Red Arrows pilot would be envious. Usually they battle each other, but sometimes they will unite in the face of a common foe and mob the peregrine who flies across every so often in search of food, screaming and laughing like demented banshees.

I don’t mind the little robin, Mr.Gibbs, who is part of the Avian Quality Control team in my garden. He will sit in the honeysuckle and make politely encouraging remarks. I also have a pair of little wrens, charming tiny brown birds that flicker in and out of the hedges, although they have a terrible, booming alarm call if one of the cats wanders too near their territory:

Cat! Cat! CAT! CAT! CATCATCATCAT!”

Now. I have a herb garden, which I planted earlier this year, and I am quite proud of it, not least because I recently introduced my partner to the pleasures of cooking with herbs. I was gazing absently out of the kitchen window – the back door was open – when I heard the most terrible scream.

Uh-oh, Lily’s got a bird!” was my first thought.

I ran outside to find the source of the enraged screaming and fluttering, fully expecting to see Lily at least dragging a pheasant, when a black feathered ball of rage shot past me.

There, in my lovely herb bed, was a battle royal. Two male blackbirds were having a massive punch up, going at it like professional wrestlers. One seized the other by a wing tip and flung him into the parsley- which was flattened by the force of his landing. He rebounded off the sage and dived for the other, grabbing him by the leg and upending him into the lemon balm. The other one retaliated with a solid body blow that knocked him into my thyme – I’m very fond of my thyme as it has therapeutic benefits as well as flavour – and that was when I decided enough was enough.

Oi! Get out of it you little b$%*&@*s!” I shouted – most unladylike, I know, but I had glimpsed what they had done to the chives.

They turned and looked at me.

Fair cop guv!”

And fled.

For such little birds, they fought with surprising ferocity – easy to see they’re descended from dinosaurs!

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Now – butterflies I like!