Sunday, 5th September 2004
11 a.m. We see a single goldcrest searching amongst the needles of my Mum's conifer.
It's unusual to see just the one and soon we spot a second.
Between probing the needles they'll give a quick flick of their wings.
|A hour later, they're still checking out the branches.||One flits down to try and catch an insect in mid-flight.||A young blackbird, perched on the fir tree, fluffs out its feathers and sunbathes.|
Sam the Spaniel
|Sam, the springer spaniel, is staying the weekend with my brother,||We're sitting having coffee up the garden . . .||. . . so I thought that he would soon settle, allowing me to make a study of him.|
|When he does settle it's under the small picnic table, which barely accommodates him.||He chooses a pose which is far from the 'best of breed' Crufts' ideal.||Any noise from a neighbouring garden and he's up again, taking notice.|
|He keeps going off to rummage around my Mum's large back garden.||There are so many interesting scents he can follow.||He trots at quite a pace once he's found a trail.|
|Like many middle-aged spaniels, he's now a bit portly and he reminds me of the pigs in France that are taught to sniff out truffles.||Really he's been waiting . . .||When my brother's wife Michelle gets back from church with the girls he's a different dog again . . .|
|. . . running around and jumping up in ecstatic greeting.||It's Bill's teenage daughter Sarah who gets most of the fuss:||She's the one who feeds Sam and often takes him for a walk.|
A Slug in the Sun
A large brown slug (the size of a small cigar) has left a yard-long glistening trail across my Mum's back lawn. Me being the one who's interested in such things, I'm the one who is asked to remove it.
Refusing to condemn the unfortunate creature to a fate worse than death in a plastic bag in the dustbin (my Mum's zero-tolerance remedy), I attempt to persuade it to climb onto the end of a garden cane. I notice that it has an orange stripe around the edge of its 'foot', like a stylish trainer (but much slower).
It soon falls off the stick and my Mum hands me a paper towel, which I use to gently pick it up, then I deposit it in the shade of some ivy growing over a rockery.
I think this is a slug got that caught out out in the open: early today
it was a cool misty morning and, no doubt, that was when it wandered a
bit too far out onto the lawn. When the sun burnt the mist and then the
cloud away, by ten o'clock, it must have decided that it was time to hunker
down as best as it could in the short turf. By midday things were hotting
up and it must have realised that it would have to make a life-or-death
dash to find some cool, damp shade (a dash in slug terms that is: to us
this looks like the gentlest glide, the movement almost imperceptible).
Richard Bell, email@example.com