My friendly Blackbird. In truth, he is a belligerent character, set on defending his territory as any good cock bird should. The problem is that the interloper he spies advancing onto his patch is his own reflection as the sun shines onto the mirroring French window. The dirty white marking is from his  fluttering up a foot or so from the door handle in his challenge. The photo above is part direct image and part his shadow on the glass.


I have tried to get a picture of him in his full challenge attacking the window, but his flurries are too quick and sudden for my camera. The slightest movement in the room gives me away and he is off. This is the second year he has taken post on the door handle.

The commotion he causes is a frequent interruption to my working in the next door study. It took a long time for me to realize the distraction was coming from outside and not from some bird trapped in the sitting-room. I’ve taken to long periods sitting tight in one of the chairs, camera at the ready, aiming to get the perfect picture. Of course I am ‘working’ during such periods rehearsing the current writing in progress.

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ask how many miles

had this relict run before

nature took it in

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Early morning light

reflects a woodland sparkle

spring buds will soon come



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Hokusai ZX

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We coppiced the tree

Sweet Chestnut growing too tall

Winter sleep cut down


We had to coppice the Sweet Chestnut tree as it was growing under the power lines, planted in the wrong spot almost nine years ago. 20171205_121724I had been reluctant over the past few years as it was the best growing tree of all the nine hundred we planted in our small woodland, but now it wasn’t so dominant as many of the other trees are reaching up to a good height. The tree will spring up again building out from its coppiced stool; maybe in ten years we will have to take the same action, unless some future technology has removed the power lines in favour of a future alternative method of power distribution

This picture of the growing tree (‘before’ the chainsaw) is  a fudge – it is a neighbouring Sweet Chestnut tree, not so tall and not directly under the power lines.


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The last leaves are falling, a few beech boughs hanging on to golden leaves that have 20171129_075443resisted the gales.

The open woodland has a few treasures to reveal such as the near perfect woven nest of dead grass and moss placed on a young crab apple branch two feet off the ground.

Hidden both by leaves and the rough grass and nettles that grew in summer round the tree. Bare now, whose nest was it? A diameter of four inches, it was small, fit for one of the tiny birds that flit among the woodland branches. 20171129_075645Probably a warbler, maybe a Willow Warbler, we see those about. I wondered about a Goldcrest, but the book suggests they nest high in a tree. This nest is low and in a small tree.

Now we have sheep in our field, a large flock from a neighbouring farm, eating off the last of the summer grass. Ewes, all colour marked in blues, reds or brown, from the IMG_1544rams. They wait out the winter building up their strength for their spring lambing. Now it is winter with a night time temperature falling below zero.

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An affair years ago leads Meg into an adventure ending with success and catastrophe.

The quiet pace of life in an English University town clashes with the harsh regime of a tropical island dictatorship.

Danny’s Island, my 10K word story, is published by CUT this month.


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