West Midlands was basking in sporadic sunny spells and spontaneous cloud bursts as the rest of the UK splashes and squelches its way through what was turning into the wettest June on record. My thoughts goes to those who were affected by the floods. We didn’t do anything this weekend because Babe wasn’t feeling too good.
As usual I pottered about in the garden and did more weeding. I clipped the grass around the shrubs which the mower can’t reach. Quite a back breaking process. The roses and poppies were blooming beautifully although a bit battered by the strong winds and heavy rains. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and peas were starting to flower. I sowed more chard, pak choi and rocket seeds. I’d harvested the kale and they tasted divine, simply stir-fry with garlic and lashings of fresh pepper. Yum…yum. We were quite worried because we’d not seen Mr. Prickly for a few days. I was glad that he turned up and started grazing. Another surprise was when Mr. Foxy was seen in the same frame. I guess there was plenty of food that they ignored each other and started feeding. It was amazing to see 2 great enemies together.
On a lovely Sunday morning, I did a brisk walk around the housing estate. Everytime I walked, I tried to walk a little bit further. Then it was a leisure breakfast of cheesy mushroom omelette with toast, reading the Sunday papers, listening to the local radio station with the patio doors open. From where I was sitting, I could see what was going on outside.
The starlings were making a ruckus. I went out to see what was going on. A juvenile starling was screaming its head off, begging for food. It was standing beside the suet rack but still needed the parent to pick the food and put it in its mouth.
Then a House sparrow and a juvenile flew onto the feeding station. The younger waited patiently for its parent to feed first, watching very intently. Then it started feeding the baby. It was such an intimate moment to see how a bird looked after its young chick. I spent hours watching and photographing this beautiful behaviour.
“A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song”
~Paul Laurence Dunbar, ‘The Sparrow’~
In the afternoon, I had a brisk walk to Sainsbury to get some bits and bobs. Crates of beer and bottles of wine were stacked by the entrance in anticipation for the football match later. I bought 2 packs of seedless grapes, a tub of glazed cherries because I was planning to bake a cake, 2 packets of Fairtrade instant chocolate, a tarte aux pommes which was on offer and a container of fresh cream for the tart. I also nipped into The Range and came out with a container of green leaf red Begonias which was BOGOF offer. I was halfway to the casa when the heavens opened and it poured. Thankfully, I’d my raincoat on. I walked past dozens of people who looked like drowned cats.
The rain stopped as soon as I entered our driveway. After putting the shopping away, I started planting the Begonias in the front lawn. Then it was back into the kitchen to start baking. I’m baking an upside down pineapple cake. I’d made one a week ago and this time I’m adding cherries. While the cake was baking enveloping the casa with delicious smell, I got myself ready for the England-Italy encounter.
What did you think of the game? There was despair in pubs, clubs and living rooms as England’s penalty curse struck again. I thought the Three Lions played well during the first half. They had a lot of chances. It was just that they couldn’t kick the ball into the goal. I’m no fan of Terry but the number of times he used his body as a defending board against the Italian attack was incredible. In the end, Hodgson’s barmy army crashed out of the Euro quarter-finals in a dreaded shoot-out, in scenes reminiscent of the disappointment of Italia 90, EURO 96, EURO 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. Why are we so useless at penalties???
I took leave on Friday to accompany Babe to the hospital. We left the casa at 10.40 am for the 11.10am appointment. It was raining and there was already a queue outside the entrance barrier. A sign saying that the car-park was full was on. This meant that the barrier won’t be lifted until there was an empty space. We can’t reverse because there was a line of cars behind us. we can’t make a u-turn because we were in the lane. We waited for about 10 minutes before we got through and then to drive around to find that empty space. Whose bright idea was this? Babe said that if we couldn’t find anywhere to park, we are going straight home. Thankfully, after about 10 minutes, we managed to find a parking space.
We rushed into outpatient clinic, confirmed Babe’s presence and took a breather. About 10 minutes later, Babe was called in and we walked through doors and corridors into another waiting room. The nurse told Babe that he was going to do a hearing test. What??? We asked why and she explained that it was what she was asked to do. Babe did the tests in a very noisy room which we felt was wrong. After the tests, we waited for the consultant who told us that he’d no idea why Babe was given another appointment!!! He couldn’t find anything wrong before. What a waste of time, money, my holiday plus the anxiety that we;d to face. And it costs us £2.80 for parking. But at least, we know that there was nothing wrong with Babe’s hearing :-).
After all that excitement, we went to Asda for a bit of retail therapy. I got another lovely stripy cardigan for my collection. I must have nearly 50 cardigans of assorted colours and patterns. We also bought a few bits and bobs. After a simple lunch and coffee, we went to our favourite playground for a bit of fresh air. As soon as we entered the reserve, a pair of kestrels were riding the waves above the reed-beds.
As we walked along the path, I was amazed to find the place literally awashed with Common Spotted Orchids. Babe told me that he knew there were also Bee Orchids in the reserve but we didn’t spot any. We checked out Baldwin Hide and the Terns were no longer sitting on eggs. The lake had risen quite high and the island in the middle was partially covered. Fingers-crossed, most of the eggs would had already hatched. From East Marsh Hide, we spotted a pair of white ducks, escapee we think. A pair of Oyster-Catchers were chasing each other. with their shrieking calls echoing around us. A few Swallows were out and about, flying low above the waters. We continued wading through the very muddy path towards the very empty Carlton Hide. Nothing was about and we waded to the screen and still nobody home. As we walked back to the car, we saw a kestrel hunting above us. A lovely sight before we headed home. This week was also the summer solstice but looking out of the window , we were still dreaming of summer. As the wheel turned,
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald~