Walk!

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As I no longer have my own dog and the girls pretty much take care of their own exercise regime, I help my mother walk her dogs.

Not only is this practical – she had a fall at the beginning of winter last year and lost a lot of confidence – but it also gives me a chance to poke about in Nature in our local country park, draw creative inspiration and my mother to do some training with Rocky while I occupy Erin.

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It should be a serene, calm time… but Erin generally has other ideas. The dogs know their walk time, and as I set foot on the garden path I see two eager faces appear at the front room window.

Then the drama starts. I’m trying to put my walking shoes on, Rocky is thundering about and Erin is jumping up and down screaming – literally –

YAROOO – AH! Wah! Wah! GRRRR!!”

This last growl at Rocky as he ventures too close…

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Dogs safely on leads, we are on our way. We have to walk down a particularly narrow, steep flight of concrete steps. A Staffordshire bull terrier lives in the house to one side and regards the whole area as his property. Rocky objects to this and consequently I am pinged back and forth between the two sets of fence like a pinball.

Mum and Erin descend in a generally more sedate fashion, Erin resembling a Victorian lady lifting up her skirts and tripping daintily down the stairs.

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Having reached the bottom and asked to sit, the dogs are given a biscuit each and allowed off the lead, and armed with plastic bags and more biscuits we set off.

I enjoy these walks as they are also an opportunity for me to practise my photography on my phone camera. I like to look at things in miniature and see the wonder of all creation in tiny scale, trying to capture it so I can share.

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However, I have discovered that photography and dogs don’t really mix. Well. Rocky and photography to be precise… I was tracking the flight of a beautiful butterfly, hoping it would settle for a photo – SNAP!

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No… not me. The dog. A tiny yellow flower, that caught my attention… SNAP! An empty pigeon shell, carefully nestled in the grass… SNAP!

But how can I be irritated, as despite my howl of anguish, Rocky beams at me cheerfully:

Come on! Let’s WALK!”

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Round To It… Or Getting Things Done

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Once upon a time there was a fairy, and her name was Roundtuit. She tried to be kind, and she tried to be good, so as a result of this, people were always asking her to do things for them.

She didn’t mind – how could she, for she was nothing if not a good-natured and pleasant fairy. Consequently, every passing squirrel popped in for a manicure, every travelling hedgehog, a haircut, and the neighbourhood foxes, a regular shampoo.

Added to this, the fairy villagers were forever popping by asking for help with little odd-jobs, like brushing the mushrooms and beating the dust out of the moss. All the poor fairy could do was say cheerfully: “Oh yes, I’m getting round to it!”

Her own house fell into disrepair, her neatly painted shutters began to flake and warp, while her garden became overgrown and unkempt.

After another day of helping everybody – she had re-varnished some ladybirds so they were bright and shiny again and helped several sparrows with their dust baths – Roundtuit came in, looked at her formally pristine and sparkling home, now shabby and dirty with piles of washing up left in the sink growing mould, she burst into tears.

And so it was, half an hour later, her friends found her sobbing on a heap of broken promises, spoiled dreams and dirty disappointments. Her friends’ names were Help, Hope and Reachout.

In no time at all, Roundtuit’s little home was sparkling and cosy once again, and all her jobs for the fairies and creatures of the community had been completed.

So, the moral of the story is: don’t always say you’re getting Roundtuit – Reachout in Hope and Help will be found.

Trees, Ting… And Tinkerbell!

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I quite like trees. We don’t actually have that many in our garden, there’s four miserable looking leyllandii, that my partner insists are his topiary project, which to me just smell of cat pee… We have an apple tree that he grew from a pip, which obligingly puts forth a fantastic display of beautiful, delicate blossom every year and produces apples as hard as bullets and that are the sourest thing that Mother Nature has ever made.

We have a lemon tree, lovingly grown by my partner from a pip. (But we won’t talk about that…) My son likes trees and has spent a lot of time photographing them, drawing them and painting them.

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But none of the trees in my garden are particularly large. Our house has a park adjoining our garden, and right next to our boundary fence, we have two large trees, I think they’re ash trees. They make a mess, anyway, dropping dead leaves into the garden, the sticky bud cases get in between the cats’ toes and only the most determined plants will grow in their shade.

However, they can come in useful, I suppose. The squirrel uses them as a quick getaway route, goldfinches and blue tits sit in them and pigeons fight in them. Ting likes to sit on the garden table and watch them.

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Now. Our neighbour has a cat. Nothing wrong with that at all, apart from the fact she’s a bit dim… the cat, not the neighbour that is. She’s a beautiful cat, a Chinchilla, but she just has no concept of boundaries, or personal space, or danger… The neighbour is forever retrieving her from under cars, other peoples’ houses and so on… The other day, the cat, Tinkerbell, thought she would investigate our garden. Luckily for her, my girls were having their afternoon siesta, as my partner – never one to resist a pretty face – made friends with Tinkerbell and accompanied her on a tour of our garden. Tinkerbell thought she would repeat the visit the other day… this time, however, Ting was awake. I never thought Ting was a particularly fierce cat – she tends to flirt with passing males:

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Ooh, you’re a big boy…” and apart from her sister, has little to do with the other girls. Well. She took one look at Tinkerbell and CHASED her… right out of the garden and straight up the larger of the two ash trays… trees… Freudian slip there.

Charlie told me what happened. Not that she’s a tell-tale, but she obviously witnessed the whole incident and as the responsible adult, felt she had to come and warn me. Ting sat at the foot of the tree:

Hi Mum, look! I’ve chased that funny coloured thing up the tree, let’s leave it there…”

Tinkerbell looked down at me miserably:

I only wanted to be FRIENDS! Where’s that nice man from the other day?!”

I went to fetch my partner. He looked at the tree and looked at the cat.

I’LL NEED MY LADDERS FOR THAT!” (He’s quite a small man, and it’s quite a large tree, and the cat was quite far up…)

I looked back at him impassively. Charlie and Ting looked at him. Tinkerbell chose that moment to change position and balance on one of the thinnest twigs…

He fetched his ladders. He wanted me to video his heroic rescue, but I felt I had to hold the ladders. Large tree… small bloke… wriggly cat… I managed one picture though, to show the neighbour. Although Ting suggested I make a ‘Wanted For Trespassing’ notice from it…

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Iolite And Impressions

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A lot can be learned from first impressions. Generally I am a reasonable judge of character, but sometimes I just get these… feelings. I would hesitate to claim any psychic ability, but these impressions have been strong enough, or made a lasting enough impression on me to the extent where I avoid the person or place.

An ex-neighbour is a case in point. My partner thought he was all right, one of the lads. I hated him. Wouldn’t give him house room. My partner couldn’t understand this, since the man was always perfectly pleasant to me; but we later found out that he’d been arrested for domestic abuse.

Another instance of impressions… my son’s class were doing a performance in a pub in the city so of course I went along to support and watch. It was actually taking place in an old music hall that had been restored – there has been some sort of public house on that location since the 1400’s. I was uncomfortable from the word go… the whole place felt like a musty old jacket from a charity shop… too many echoes, too much going on, too many voices to process…

Iolite – pronounced “eye-OH-lite” – ( I didn’t have any on me that day!) is a vision stone… it switches on your ability to tune into your surroundings, your gut instinct, if you will. Not surprisingly then, it’s a crystal of journey and insight, often used in shamanic ceremonies. Iolite can bestow the understanding and clarity of a clear night sky, which it so closely resembles, dark blue with paler flecks.

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Thus it helps with the clarity of thought, banishing negative ties and releasing your true self. It makes you aware of yourself and your place in the Universe, a kind and gentle stone to help with spiritual growth and creativity.

Always trust an animal’s first impressions… that’s what people say, although if I trusted my cats’ first impressions of people who come to our house I would spend a lot of time a) up in the apple tree b) running across the park or c) under my bed… nothing would get done…

It’s always interesting to watch an animal meet someone new. I remember the first time my old cat, Walter, set eyes on our new next-door neighbour, a tall, good-looking man à la Sidney Poitier… Walter couldn’t stop staring. To the point where I was so embarrassed I had to get up and remove my cat from the room, in case he asked for an autograph…

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Impressions then… knowledge and hints from others and our surroundings, built in responses and learned behaviours… Nature vs. Nurture, almost as we impress upon others our own self-images and interpretations. Listen, learn, absorb, but always trust your own self, your own judgement.

From the moment of conception our feet may be placed on the path we choose to lead in this Life; walk lightly, my friends, and be aware of every step.

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Country Ways and Castles…

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I am an advocate of the old ways, the old knowledge, lost things and forgotten truths… our eyes do not always see what was there and what still is, but hidden from the general 21st century scrutiny.

Consider our island, (the U.K.)… at one point in our past, the vast majority of this country was covered by ancient woodlands, home to wolf, wildcat and boar. Alongside these animals, so it is said, nature spirits lived… we could call them fairies, the Fey Folk, the Little People… They could be possibly be off shoots of our wilder ancestors… but as man grew and modernised so our ancient connections retreated and receded into the depths of our countryside where they remain undisturbed.

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Part of me longs for these old times, where Man lived closer to Mother Earth, in tune with her rhythms; yet as early as the Romans and their persecution of the Druids, as early as 1066 with William the Bastard, our land and the wild ways were chained and bound, held down by fortresses of stone.

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Gone were the wooden Motte and Bailey Anglo-Saxon constructions, longer still the Romans, although some of their roads remain as does a little of their DNA. Interestingly, I think I read somewhere that something like 0.5% of our current population carries Roman DNA from those long ago times.

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My mother’s family came over with the Normans… this was part of our family lore for a long time, until my wonderful uncle, when he retired, spent time and money to validate this claim… and yes, a distant ancestor did indeed travel with William from Normandy to invade England.

The Domesday Book is a fascinating piece of this country’s past, a thorough documentation and perhaps a warning of what was to come as everything was written down and described within an inch of its being.

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To complete his conquest, William threw a ring of stone castles around our edges to contain and dominate. And although as man encroached the wild ways retreated, I cannot help but appreciate these stones who have their own story to tell and their own place in history.

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Nottingham Castle is my local… although it resembles rather more the fortified manor house it became round about the 1700’s you can still see ancient parts that hold secrets, and who knows, maybe Robin Hood could have walked this way.

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There are still bullet holes visible from the English Civil War in this building, an unhappy time for the country as brother fought brother. Earlier, Good King Richard is said to have spent the night here on his way to Bosworth; and although there are echoes and imprints, Richard is long gone, his body in an alien place, his DNA an exhibit, an experiment, a project in the county of his death.

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Newark… the castle is now a romantic and picturesque ruin, another king another night… More echoes of the past from a castle that was once the centre of a thriving community.

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Some remain, some are preserved and restored but others crumble and die, the castles and great houses dying and long past preserving as the 21st century edges them away, modernity sweeping away past in progress supposedly.

And so I find myself responsible for my own destruction of the past… it was my mother’s side of the family who came over with the Normans. A DNA chain that has remained unbroken for ten centuries, a mother bloodline that is passed from mother to daughter only – mitochondrial DNA.

I have no daughters, so in a way I am responsible for the death of a family that’s been here since 1066. And although I feel a little guilty, sometimes these things just have to come to an end. The 20th century with its Industrial Revolution and all the rest of it tried to finish the job of those who went before and eradicate the wild ways, to control and landscape garden… but now.

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But now, it is time to walk hand-in-hand with the 21st century; a new age of love, of understanding, of kindness, of partnership between Man and Mother, Mother Earth.

Quick – look to your past and you might see a Fae, one of the Sídhe, slipping away in the turn of a leaf…

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Small Boy… Large Puddle

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This happened a good few years ago… more than I care to remember really. Suffice it to say, my oldest son was about two years old.

We are fortunate to live near a large country park which is a favoured spot for dog walkers and has been the scene of quite a few adventures for me…

The park has undergone a few alterations, including the installation of a BMX stunt track; but on the whole it remains a palatable chunk of green space in my otherwise urban surroundings.

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There are treasures to be found… cobnuts and blackberries, wild raspberries, hawthorn, hops and fungi. One year, we had an invasion of giant puffball mushrooms, like perfectly round alien eggs laid at regular intervals amongst the dewy hillocks and tufted grass. Apparently, you can slice them and fry them in butter like steaks… wouldn’t know, never tried… don’t like mushrooms…

There is a wonderful woodland walk where you can hear and sometimes see jays, and at the top of the hill, there are flat, broad fields with great swathes of unmown grass, left specifically for the insect life.

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Mini beasts… beetles and butterflies gather, and because of the heavy clay soil, water gathers, creating miniature lakes. It’s quite boggy land anyway, so the standing water doesn’t often drain away or dry up, resulting in large puddles.

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The dogs love this walk… Mum had her two dogs, Rosie and Rebel, while I had my little dog and eldest child safely strapped into his pushchair. He was wearing his brand new Wellington boots. His shiny red Wellington boots of which he was very proud… what kid doesn’t love Wellington boots…

My mother thought she would up the fun gear a little and said:

Oh, let him walk a bit! He can try his new boots out!”

Child duly released from pushchair, my mother exclaimed:

Ooh LOOK! Go and run in that big puddle!” which lay, balefully gleaming, like a giant’s eye…

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My son took a moment to smile at me in childish excitement then ran …. full tilt … into the puddle.

The next sequence of actions remain, even to this day, indelibly etched in slow motion in my memory … I reached out my arms and roared;

N-O-O-O….”

as my son fell flat on his face. He lifted his head and opened his mouth, ready to start bellowing in outrage …

A tiny tidal wave of muddy puddle water rose up and slapped him in the mouth… my mother rushed forwards and attempted to haul my son out of the puddle, helped/hindered by the three dogs dancing excitedly around the edges of the liitle lake…

Yes! Small human has right idea! Let’s swim and get muddy!”

I laughed.

My son’s clothes were drenched. I had to take my jumper off and hold it out for my mother to insert my screaming child into…

Here we are! A baby in a bag!”

she said, attempting to distract my son …

Well. That finished me off. We walked home, me, snorting and staggering, choking and weeping with laughter, my son retreating into sleep, a tide mark of mud staining his cheeks as a reminder of the afternoon’s adventure…

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Rubbish

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This poem was originally part of a set of five that I called ‘Cameron’s Quintet’, and is basically a reflection of the state of some of our streets. There is so much generated each year and the festive period usually sees an upsurge in this…

Please. Think twice before throwing something away… re-cycle… re-use… re-purpose… Donate…


Gangs of cans loiter in corners
Cheek by jowl with fast food wrappers
Sweet papers and pizza cartons jostle by the bins
Cushions of chewing gum trap the unwary.

Cigarette ends huddle in gutters,
Lost sheep looking for their shepherd,
Blotches of blood outside the chippy
Carpet the way forward.

Shattered shards of glass like
Dragon’s teeth glimmer
Mysteriously, beckoning to the
Lone plastic bag tumbleweeding by.

These random remnants
Signpost into the dark.
#CleanForTheQueen

Hedgerows and Hares

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I grew up in the county of Lincolnshire, which even today, in the 21st century, is still mainly agricultural. Its flat fields lend themselves well to the mass production of crops with little natural land remaining as 90% of it is used for farmland. Compared now to my current city life the county seems very reminiscent of times gone by…

As a little girl, I remember witnessing what was almost a second agricultural revolution as the flat open fields made for easy industrialisation methods, large machinery such as harvesters, being gradually introduced. The patchwork system of fields gave way to rolling fields of uniform yellow, oil seed rape, and green, sprouts and cabbages.

As I am sure you’ll know, Britain joined the European Union in 1973. For farmers, this was supposed to guarantee the stability of food production and reduce price fluctuations in farming production, ensuring that farmers received a minimum return for their labour and produce.

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This didn’t really happen. I remember seeing gallons of milk being flushed away, some years ago, and everybody must remember the more recent “cows in the supermarket” news item.

With the farming revolution we lost what came to be an important part of the British countryside, the hedgerow.

Hedgerows… similar to the garden hedge but a country variety and integral part of our British countryside, providing both habitat and border…

The Acts of Enclosure, roughly between 1720 and 1840 (must learn to Google rather than relying on memory…) meant that open land, that had previously been available for all to use, for grazing livestock or foraging for food, since mediaeval times and before, was gradually removed from use. Landowners wanted to build bigger and better, more harmonious to the eye and pleasing to the soul and the last thing any designer wanted were flocks of scruffy sheep or inconvenient villages…

To this end, round about 200,000 miles of hedge, mainly blackthorn and hawthorn were planted and mediaeval methods of farming, the strip and patchwork appearance of the country gone. These little smallholdings and former fields are only really visible from the air, ghost traces of footsteps left upon our land.

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These hedgerows became home to a whole host of creatures that are now in decline as the cycle of Life turns again. We may think the sparrow population is plentiful enough when we look at our bird tables, but in actual fact, the tree sparrow, distinguishable by its chestnut coloured head, has steadily dropped in number since the 1970’s.

This is due to the habit of now ploughing in Autumn rather than Spring. There is no over-Winter stubble to provide food and shelter, also putting one of our most magical native animals at risk: the hare.

The EU recognised the devastating effect these changes were having on our wildlife and introduced a system of subsidies that meant the farmer could afford to leave some of his hedges in place rather than ripping them up to utilise every square inch of space just to make ends meet.

As the countryside became commercialised, ‘social knowledge’ became lost. I must thank Gary of Fiction is Food for this wonderfully descriptive phrase. It was no longer necessary to wait for the first frost before ploughing as the mechanised drills would tear up the Earth with ease. The simple rule of crop-rotation, one field fallow, one with peas or beans and one with potatoes was no longer heeded as the Earth was battered with chemical fertilisers.

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During the 1940’s, the excessive use of herbicides eradicated some of our native wildflowers that had been with us since the Stone Age and which would have been recognised and used by Neolithic farmers. A gentler system of social knowledge, how people could work hand-in-hand with Mother Earth with the seasons, rather than against them, was swept away during the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

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Hedge laying and coppicing, basic blacksmithing and make-do and mend. The use of Nature’s bounty to heal and care – time was when every housewife could whip up a cough remedy from elderberries and thyme… Again, nowadays, chemicals rule and these little bits of knowledge past are preserved only by the few, like the lovely Gillyflower of Wood So Wild. Please go and have a look at her blog… wonderful things…

However, as we move further into the 21st Century, people are becoming more aware of what is going on with the Earth. Lost social knowledge is being retrieved in the 21st Century guise of ‘re-cycling’ and set forth again.

We must look to the animals though, as our native British wildlife no longer thrives. Hedgehogs are in difficulties – although the one at the bottom of our garden is fine! Bird populations are altering – witness the parakeet colonies in London.

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Perhaps the most potent symbol of change for me is the hare, a creature of myth and magic, fable and witchcraft… I have been lucky enough to see a hare, both in the wild and in my father’s surgery.

Different somehow and wilder than cuddly bunnies, magical and fierce, hares were thought to have been first introduced in England by the Romans… truly magical creatures, long eared and long legged, graceful symbols traditionally associated with the moon, femininity and by extension, witches. I remember my first sight of a hare was when I was younger, about ten or so, when we were out with the horses. It was lolloping, loose limbed and effortless across the field and although I’d never seen one before it was instantly recognisably different from a rabbit.

Then, not long after this, my father had one brought into the surgery (he was a veterinary surgeon). It had been hit by a car, and was, surprisingly, unhurt, just stunned.

It hunched, fiercely, in the kennel, rolling its great round eyes imperiously and scuffling its long, powerful hind legs. My father soon pronounced it free from concussion or any other injury and delegated its release to one of the nurses.

Hares are not so common now, another victim of the changing face of our countryside; but they live on in myth and folklore, their essence captured in jewellery and ornaments and sketches of memory.

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Oh How Lovely! One Lovely Blog Award

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I would like to thank the truly lovely ladies Shoko, Kali and Jean for nominating me for this award. Please visit their blog, Canadian Cats, for humour, art, entertainment… well what more can I say, they’re just lovely!

Now, I must confess, I’m a big fan of the word ‘lovely’, but sometimes, ‘nice’ just isn’t enough… here are my facts:

  1. I love cats. Oh. That’s not particularly random is it? Ah yes, I currently have thirty seven pieces of Rose Quartz… how’s that?

  2. I love a good cup of tea, a cure-all for most ills, my brand of choice at the moment is Yorkshire Tea.

  3. My favourite colour is white, a wonderful choice when combined with varying shades of cat hair and muddy paw prints.

  4. The John Lewis Christmas adverts generally make me cry…

  5. A lot of adverts generally make me cry… I have been told I am over-emotional!

  6. My favourite vegetable to eat is asparagus (with a lightly poached egg and toast…)

  7. My all time favourite band is The Rolling Stones… amazing music for an era I really wish I’d been a part of.

_mg_8131A lovely view over the lake in the grounds of a local stately home

The rules are:

Thank the person who nominated you

Post 7 random facts about yourself

Nominate 7 blogs…

Let your nominations know how lovely they are!

This is where I have a problem… I’ve been here before… WHO do I nominate… All the blogs I follow are lovely. I love them all for different reasons and they are unique for the ideas they express, the talents they show or the friendship they offer…

Listen, to all of you who have been kind enough to stop, and have a read, a like, a subscribe, thank you. Take away a share of loveliness with you… to say thank you, as always.

_mg_9917My lovely cat… on my lovely clean sheets, with her lovely dirty little paws…

A Lucky Save

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It was one of those perfect late summer mornings, where the sky is sapphire blue, gently cradling a few fluffy clouds. My oldest son was away with the Army Cadets so my younger son and I decided to take the dog for a walk, and meet up with my mother, who had two dogs at the time. My little dog, Lulu, was sister to Mum’s dog Rebel, and she also had her beautiful German Shepherd dog, Rowan.

It was one of those mornings where there was just a hint in the air of Autumn ahead, a crystalline quality to the light that showed the sun was nearing the end of the Summer Equinox. There was a light breeze, just enough to necessitate a thin jumper, with pockets, loaded as always with dog biscuits, tissues and poop bags. Most of the regular dogs knew I had a ‘magic pocket’ and I remember being alarmed yet pleasantly surprised, one day, when an extremely large Rottweiler raced towards me one day, then stopped abruptly in its tracks to sit at my side politely, yet hopefully, nosing the ‘magic pocket’.

The biscuits were both a bribe and a reward for my dog. She was elderly and a little dog, so she tended to wander too far ahead. Consequently she had already had one trip to the vet to remove a blockage from her gut as she had run ahead and eaten a dirty tea towel someone had left. As I could not rely on her to not eat rubbish, I had to muzzle her, not the very tight sleeve types, but the basket ones, that allowed her to move her jaws freely, drink, and eat a biscuit posted through the front. Just not rubbish.

It was a lovely morning. The temperature just right, not too hot, not too cold, with a gentle breeze to lift our hair and stir the fur on the dogs’ backs. As we strolled, my mother and I chatted amiably about what to have for dinner, and noticed the strands of blackberry bushes, prickly cages that held imprisoned orbs of dark purple sweet juice. We would have to come back without the dogs, we decided, to go blackberry picking, as they got bored and couldn’t really see the point of what we were doing in the bushes for so long. They weren’t even particularly interesting bushes, as far as the dogs were concerned… just fruit smells and spikes, not even a hint of fox or mouse.

A few leaves on the trees were starting to turn yellow at the edges, and slide from the trees to the floor, to gather in little groups at the side of the path, along with the discarded and empty husks of beech nuts, thorny on the outside, yet lined with the softest golden velvet on the inside, to cradle the precious seeds. We were walking past a stunted little apple tree when one leaf detached itself and fluttered to the floor, about ten paces in front of me.

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“Oh look!” my son cried eagerly. “It’s a little bird!”

“Don’t be stupid,” I replied, making a mental note to get him to the optician’s before school started, “It’s a dead leaf!”

“No, no, look!” my son said, more definitively and darted off ahead. Lulu, noticing his sudden interest was way ahead of him and beat him to the spot where she pounced, and held the yellow leaf between her paws. Luckily, she was wearing her muzzle, or she might have had a bonus bird on top of her normal biscuit treats…

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The two other dogs approached Lulu with interest, wanting to see what she had found, and my little dog, normally the gentlest and most fun-loving of dogs, growled fiercely, hunching aggressively over this dead leaf. But was it? No, my son was quite right, it was a little bird, a budgie. A budgie? We were accustomed to seeing sparrows, blackbirds, wrens and even a few jays, but a budgie was absolutely not your usual resident of this park.

“It is a bird! It’s a budgie! Can we keep him?” my son asked hopefully, face alight with excitement at this added twist to a pleasant dog walk.

“Well, I really don’t know, you’ll have to let me see if I can catch it first…” I replied somewhat reluctantly. I had previous experiences with budgies and had learned to my personal cost that they are not the sweet, cheerful companions of dear little old ladies; rather, they are feathered and feisty balls of fury, only too ready to lash out with curved beak and hooked feet…

I retrieved the dog, and passed her lead to my mother to hold, while my son danced about anxiously, keeping a careful eye on the budgie.

“Hurry up! We can’t leave him here… he’ll DIE!” my son stated with suitably dramatic emphasis.

The budgie, meanwhile, relieved from the grasp of dog paws, was pecking about listlessly in the dust at the side of the path, fluttering a few aimless steps, then dropping to the floor again. I gathered my courage, crept forwards, leaned down and – carefully cupped my hands around the despondent little bird.

I stood up. The budgie and I regarded each other, suspiciously. He made no attempt to bite me, or claw his way out of my hands. I knew he was definitely a “he” as the cere at the top of his beak was just starting to turn blue, a sign that the bird was, indeed, male. Now what was I supposed to do?

As if sensing my indecision, the bird made one last attempt to regain his unlooked-for freedom, pushing his feathered head between my fingers with some force, then subsiding as if too weak to put up much of a fight. That decided me. My mother’s house was nearer, and she had a cockatiel. The budgie could stay there until this afternoon when we could pick him up, having gathered the essentials, like a cage, seed…

“Oh PLEASE can we keep him!” My son cried, dancing in anticipation at my side.

“Well, I suppose so, I’ll have to ring your father, but let’s take the bird to your grandmother’s until this afternoon.”

Leaving my mother with three dogs and, a bewildered air, “You can’t have a budgie, Samantha, the cat will eat it!” (despite the fact that my cat at the time, Walter, was gentle and somewhat elderly and had never caught a bird in his life, caged or otherwise.) Nevertheless, we set off, budgie carefully enclosed in my hands back towards my mother’s house. The cockatiel actually belonged to my oldest son, and lodged quite happily at my mother’s, screaming every so often in some sort of avian rage… He seemed quite pleased to see the budgie. We poured some bird seed into my son’s hand and he pecked desperately at the seed.

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“Poor thing, he was starving!” my son cooed tenderly, before leaving to find a suitable water dish. We left the bird safely enclosed with seed and water, the cockatiel screaming amiably at him every so often, to return to my mother and collect the dog.

I rang my partner. “Hi, it’s just me, we found a budgie on the dog walk and Alex wants to know if he can keep him.”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN, A BUDGIE?”

“You know, one of those little caged birds that tweet.”

“YES I KNOW WHAT A BUDGIE IS! WHY HAVE YOU FOUND IT?”

“It was lost, and it just came flying out of the trees, and it just came flying out of the trees, and the dog – oh never mind, I’ll tell you when we get back.” Having explained in great detail exactly how we found the budgie and yes, it was definitely a budgie, I, too knew what one looked like, and no, we didn’t know who he belonged to as he was in the middle of the park, my partner agreed my son could keep him.

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Cage, sandsheets and all the avian paraphernalia duly purchased and installed, we returned later that afternoon with the budgie and introduced him to his new home. That was eight years ago. During his residency with us, this bird has cheated death no less than three times… The stray cat we adopted, Billy, decided one day, to pad his cat kibble ration with a little meat on the wing, so to speak. There was a loud crash from my son’s bedroom so en masse, my partner, two sons and I all rushed upstairs to see the bird cage lying on the floor on its side, the budgie half out the door, half in the cat’s mouth, my youngest son screamed in rage and fright at the cat who released the budgie and left hurriedly…

“Really, gov’nor, no need to take on… but when a bloke’s hungry what is he supposed to do?”

The budgie was soothed and checked, no injuries other than a somewhat chewed tail. Next my partner in a fit of thoughtless ‘kindness’ gave my son’s budgie to his mother, while I was out, without asking me or my son, just assuming, that it would be fine to give my son’s pet away to entertain his mother. I was enraged.

“BUT I CAN’T TAKE THE BUDGIE OFF ME MAM! SHE’S LONELY!”

“Not my fault and not my problem.” was my retort as I comforted my son. A week passed. His mother gave the budgie nothing but millet. The budgie had diarrhoea and looked poorly and thin.

“Oo, ‘es gone right miserable ‘e ‘as. ‘e don’t tweet, he bites me when I want to take him out the cage…”

I replied somewhat sharply:

“He’s probably dying , because he misses my son, he was his pet and his father had no right to give him away.”

I got the budgie back. My son was overjoyed, as was the bird, he sat on his shoulder and murmured confidingly into his ear about the terrible time he’d spent away from home…

Another close encounter with a cat, this time just the cage was pulled off the stand and upended, seed and feathers everywhere, alarmed cat, angry budgie:

“Woman! What have I told you about those fur beasts! Keep them out of my room!”

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And yet he developed a fondness for Charlie, my cat. When, accompanied by me, she was little, she would come and play in Alex’s room. The budgie, perhaps enchanted by her antics, edged closer to the bars so he could see her better and made an odd creaking sound, which I assume to be his version of a laugh. She is the only cat he will not scream an alarm for, and if I lift her up to look in the cage, he will come closer and tweet to her.

This budgie is the bane of my life sometimes, with the tweeting and screaming, the seed throwing and careful directing of crap up the walls, but my son loves him. What else can I do but put up with it….

The name of the budgie? Why, Lucky of course!

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