Not so little tits

It has been a while since I mentioned my garden birds, most recently I was showing off about our friendly Robin who I got quite close to. He even ventured into our kitchen one sunny morning. Back in May I posted about the baby blue tits that had been visiting my bird feeder. See little tits. For months we were visited by these blue tits, starlings, Mr & Mrs blackbird, many sparrows, the occasional greater spotted woodpecker. We also have regular visits from a couple of pigeons and from time to time a dove.

Over the summer we saw fewer starlings and eventually the blue tits stopped visiting too. The blackbirds had gone, we were left with the sparrows and pigeons. Then Mr robin began making his presence known. He would keep Owl company while he worked in the garden. He would keep me company whilst sat in the sun or hung out our washing etc. A few weeks ago I saw my first gold finch. Then I noticed some tits on the feeder. Getting out my binoculars I discovered that although there was a blue tit feeding there were also three great tits. Not only are they larger and darker in colouring but I noticed that they behave differently too, darting around.

We also have the blackbirds are back and it is impossible to miss the squabbling starlings. This morning I have seen the tits again both blue and great. I am looking forward to the next six months to see who else might visit.

Valerie has got a secret

Earlier this week I was at our local writing circle, it was ‘Manuscript night.’ I am not in the middle of writing a novel, I have not written any short stories lately. What should I take with me? I could cheat and take along the folder that my mother had recently lent me. It contains stories that her mother had written.

My Grannie was my idol when I was growing up. I hadn’t read much of her work before she died way back in 1983 at the young age of 67. Before she died I had dabbled in writing short stories for children. After her demise I found it very difficult to continue writing. That is until about 8 years ago.  A month or so ago my mother handed me his folder containing some of her writing, much of it had won writing competitions in the WI, some had been included in women’s magazines over the years. I had brought the folder home anxious to delve in and read the gems within. Somehow I just have not been able to find the quiet time to devote to this. I don’t want to be rushed or interrupted while I handle the delicate sheets of paper, mostly typed but some handwritten.

I could take the file with me but firstly it wouldn’t be my work, secondly until I have looked through the pieces properly how can I choose which to read. Instead I picked up my hard backed A4 notebook that I had used during my creative writing classes with June Hampson 7 years ago. I can’t believe it has been so long since those classes. Among the worksheets and advice sheets were a couple of my old stories. I selected  ‘The New Receptionist’s secret.’ I hadn’t looked at it for years, this would do.

So having listened with interest to some of the other short stories that were read out, taken on board some of the comments it was now my turn. I must admit that although nervous and I could feel the heat in my face and my eyes did begin to water from time to time, I did find it easier now than I had done previously at the classes.

The comments I received were positive, although it was suggested that I should perhaps try writing it in the first person and maybe set it as a retro piece.

Today I have edited my story slightly, I might develop Valerie’s story further just to see where she takes me.

I wanted you to be the first people to meet Valerie. Tell me what you think I should do with this, even if it is just put it back in a box and forget it.

 

 

It’s nearly 5.30pm and I know it won’t be long before I’m released for the evening. Bringing myself back to the here and now, Julie is explaining how to turn off the switchboard at the end of the day, yes this Company is still operating in the past. Tomorrow I will be on my own. I had started this new job as receptionist at the Surveyor’s office a day early so that Julie could show me the ropes. Julie was leaving to have a baby. As we were putting on our coats we wished each other ‘good luck’ I’m not sure which of us will need it most.

I had done this kind of work before, but not in an office this size. Usually I preferred to work in a busy office where I wouldn’t have time to think. It’s good to have enough work to keep my mind active and my hands busy. You learn more when you are in a busy environment and I liked to treat each day as an opportunity to learn. But this time I know that I am not likely be busy in this office. There would not be many visitors and phone calls through the switchboard would be minimal. I knew a little about the Company before I got here. There are two senior surveyors, Conrad Jasper and Marcus Bentley, between them they own the majority of shares in the Company. Then there are the other surveyors, Davies, Wheeler, Thompson, Taylor and Cartwright. There are others but as yet I haven’t worked out what they all do. Oh well I will soon learn who they all are. One person I had come across very early in the day was Cora Baker. Cora was PA to both Marcus and Conrad, she was very protective of her two bosses and you crossed her at your peril. Julie had told me Cora has been here all her working life.
I had taken this job partly because I need the money to bring up sons Jamie and Tom, but it would also give me time to keep up with my studying during the quiet periods throughout the day. I have recently begun a proof reading course in the hope of increasing my income. There is another reason for taking this job in this particular office, but this is my secret.
Earlier in the day I had been in the post room sorting through the day’s outgoing post ready for collection. I had heard two male voices the other side of the screen separating the post room from the open plan office behind it. I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I heard these two, as yet unidentified voices in hushed whispers. The younger voice was telling the other that he thought  

‘The new receptionist is hot. Those legs! Surely, they must be in stockings, not tights under that tight pinstripe skirt and those heels made her legs appear to go on forever.’

The other man, he had a much older voice told his friend.

‘You’re wrong, women in their forties don’t wear stockings to work. Anyway’

He told his younger colleague.

‘You don’t know much about women, it isn’t the legs you look at, you need to check out her breasts and if I’m not mistaken the new receptionist is all woman. Curvy in all the right places and those boobies straining against the buttons of her white blouse have just got to be fabbie dabbie.’

I cringed inside, I can’t abide words/phrases like ‘boobies’ and ‘fabbie dabbie’, they make me think of adolescent public school boys. Which I am sure Marcus was, still is in a way.

I am brought back from my wondering thoughts when I hear the younger man ask.
‘Marcus, whatever is the matter with Cora today? Did you see the looks she gave the new receptionist, Val, Valerie or whatever her name is, when she came in with the coffee this morning? That’s not like her.’

‘Oh you know Cora, how she feels she has to protect me and Conrad. She’s worried I will run off with the new gal, thinks my eye was on her too much, not like Conrad he hardly noticed her at all. Funny that, she is about his age. I guess he is settled at home, although I was worried about him a few months ago.’

‘Why were you worried about Conrad?’
‘Oh, you know when he sent all the staff a text wishing everyone a happy new year? He had got himself in to a right muddle, sent some of us the wrong message, including Cora. Upset her I can tell you. It would appear that our Conrad is not exactly all he seems to be. He had been having a steamy affair an accidentally sent us a text that should have gone to his mystery woman. Cora vowed to get to the bottom of it.’

I can’t help smiling to myself as I slide the crisp white envelopes into the sack ready for the post man to collect.

That’s day one in the new job over, this could be interesting I tell myself as I climb behind the wheel of my aging black Ford Focus and start the engine. In ten minutes I will be through the door of our new flat. I should just about have time for a shower and put on my favourite new sexy, pale pink lingerie before he arrives.

Standing in front of the mirror I can’t help grinning to myself, I had known as soon as I heard the voice this morning that it had been Cora who had called anonymously last week with her veiled threats.

Well Cora will not get intimidate me. After all Conrad is not Cora’s husband but he is my lover.

On other news I have seen Robin a few times today but not close up, I have been busy pretending to be domestic.

We also have yet another person interested in our car, we now have to wait until after work tomorrow to see if he actually turns up to have a look at it.

Saturday surprise

This morning I was making my breakfast when I saw my friend Robin swoop down into the garden. He was feeding when I went outside to greet him. I thought I would sit in the garden to eat my breakfast, just to see if the Robin would come any closer. He flew  away but I stayed where I was, drinking my tea, munching on my marmite toast, reading my book. All the while my phone on the table set to camera in readiness for that photo opportunity.

I must have been out there for about half an hour but there was no further sign of our Robin. Eventually I gave in and took all my breakfast paraphernalia indoors. It was when I was at the sink that I noticed a movement in the corner of the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hurriedly I grabbed at my  phone. Skater came running into the room to see what was going on. Being taller than me he was able to get closer than me to take this photo.Indoor Robin Yes this was our Robin, not in the garden where I expected to see him but in the corner of our kitchen. He panicked and tried to get out of the window which was closed. He must have come in through the open sliding door, but I hadn’t seen him even though I was sat just a few feet away from the door. I went outside to see if I could get a better photo from the outside, this must have spooked him as he then managed to fly towards the open door and escape.

 

I can but wonder what my next Robin experience will be.

Just a little sunshine

They promised us a warm September week, which to a degree it has been. The temperatures have hovered at around 20 degrees for most of the week. The skies have been more grey than blue. I have though found a couple of things that have brightened up my days.

In our back garden we have two yellow standard roses. One of these has been flowering on and off all summer the other has done nothing. Yesterday I was gazing at the flowering rose and noticed that one of the new flowers was not actually yellow. apricot rose  closer standard rose doesn’t this bring a smile on a grey day.

There is one other little bit of sunshine I would like to share with you.

When I came home for lunch earlier in the week we were standing outside chatting about our morning when I noticed we had company. On the flat roof of the extension was one of our little feathered friends. He/she was singing away almost within  touching distance. As I watched he/she flew down onto our table before running around on the decking. Finally he/she came to rest on the corner of a plant pot. Would you like to see who our visitor was?

Robin  I waited a few seconds before taking this next photo. Robin 1 Can you believe I was standing just a few feet away from him/her. This will give a better idea of how close we were.Robin 2 I am hoping that over time we will become better acquainted.

Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that the other morning we had another visitor. It was Owl who spotted it first, just as he called out ‘look’, I saw a flash of yellow landing briefly on the rail by the shed. I didn’t have time to take any photos before it flew off again. I did get enough of a look to be able to identify our new visitor as a gold finch. The first I have seen that close up.

 

Little tits

Recently I have been watching them in the mornings whilst I munch on my cereal before heading out to the office. It has lightened my mornings just to see them. The first time there were two and they were being fed by their parents on my feeder. It was a pure delight to see these two balls of yellow feathers sitting almost motionless on one of the arms. Their parents fluttering back and forth from the half coconuts, filled with suet and seeds, to the metal arm where their babies waited.

Two mornings in a row I witnessed this natural event. The next day was very windy, the chicks were nowhere to be seen but the adults were flying in and out of the garden. Watching them I soon realised that as they flew off over the hedge to disappear into the trees outside our land, it was two not just one tree they were heading for. Could this be two different families I was seeing?

A few mornings later I noticed a lot of activity on and around my bird feeder. I managed to count 7 blue tits at one time. With all the activity of these tiny birds darting in and out of our cherry tree, our magnolia tree and our hedges as well as landing on the feeder it is not easy to keep track. It would appear that whilst still being fed by their parents, the little ones are now trying to feed themselves. The suet balls and the peanuts seem to be popular, not so much the seed feeders.

The little ones no-longer appear to be  fluffy balls of yellow feathers, they are taking on the more muted colours of the parents. This makes it harder to identify which are adults and which their chicks until I see them being fed.

Yesterday after my return from work, I noticed that one of the feeders had fallen. I went out into the garden, armed with a bag of feed, to retrieve the missing feeder. Before I stepped outside there had been several blue tits out there. Now there was just one solitary little bird, I expected it to take flight as soon as it saw me.

Approaching slowly I got closer and closer still it continued to feed. I could hear the warning cries from another blue tit high up in the magnolia tree, another on the hedge but still this little one continued to peck away at the peanut feeder. one little tit feeding

To my amazement not only did this one stay put but a second arrived, landing first in the cherry tree before joining the first brave little soul on the feeder. Still just moving one slow step at a time I continued to move towards the feeder. I couldn’t have been more than three feet away.two little tits on a feeder can you see them both here? I could almost reach out to touch them before they took flight. I then replenished the now retrieved feeder before heading back inside. After my delightful experience I decided to sit out on the steps leading from the decking down to the lawn. I wanted to see if the blue tits would return whilst I was there. Would they get used to me being in the garden with them? I sat for several minutes before there was movement in the ailing cherry tree. Soon they were going about their business not worried that I was sat just 9 feet away from them. I stayed where I was for about 5 minutes before I left them to it.

Not much later I saw a lot of wing fluttering beside the tree, it was the male greater spotted woodpecker that I have now seen 5 times in our garden. Unfortunately he shot off into the distance as soon as I stuck my head out of the door.

As I sit here now I can seen the blue tits flying around.

 

Plastered

This morning as I listened to the radio I heard a song I hadn’t heard for a long time. It got me thinking about one of my philosophies in life. The song was this one by Ralph Mctell  . The streets of London tells you to stop feeling sorry for yourself because you really don’t have much to complain about compared to the people living on the streets of London.

My life has never been easy, it has been a struggle right through my adult life for one reason or another. I might at times write about the things that have or are happening in my life but I usually manage to laugh it off rather than complain. The reason being that no matter how bad things might get, I know, there is always someone worse off. 

When I lived with my first husband who was an emotionally abusive alcoholic, life was difficult and at times unbearable I was grateful that he never hit me or my boys.

When I had stage three cancer, I was grateful that I was treatable, 13 years on I am still here to tell the tale.

When I was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, I did at least have a roof over our heads and our health even if there was very little money for heat or food. We still had each other.

During the difficult times in the first year of my second marriage, my husband’s ill health (both physical and mental)  were made easier by the support of family and friends.

I do know people who always see the negative in everything, I feel sad for these people who never seem to be able to allow themselves to be happy. People who live their lives as victims of life make me feel mad. Yes there was a time when I felt like one of those victims where nothing in life ever seemed to go right. Then I realised that there was only one person who could change my life, me.

Coincidently this morning the girlfriend of my son Pug, posted this quote on her facebook page. ‘We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it’

Now, when things don’t go right I count my blessings instead of my problems. When I am feeling my lowest I think of the things that make me smile.  I remember my wonderful sons, I surround myself with flowers, music and laughter. I watch the birds as they go about their day.

From where I am sat writing this I can see sunshine through the windows, there are four vases of flowers in the room and when I look through the kitchen to the back door I see one of the pigeons, that frequent my bird feeder, strolling  around as though he owns the place.

A few days ago my husband had a fall when he was crossing the road, a kind man, who happened to be walking near by helped him up and got him home. He had blood on his hands, arms and more worryingly on the back of his head. I left work to take him to the hospital. He was assessed and taken to ‘major injuries’. We were left in the corridor with a growing number of others for about 1.5 hours (it could have been worse). Finally he was checked by a Dr, x-rayed, put on a drip and sent to the observation ward where his broken hand was plastered.  After much deliberation and conversation the Dr concluded that my husband needs treatment for his alcohol intake. This is something my husband is in full agreement with.

He may be in pain and having to learn to cope with being one handed whilst his hand is in plaster. The cut on his head was merely a graze which appeared worse than it was due to the amount of blood. However his fall has led to something being done about helping him to stop drinking. If he manages to complete the treatment on offer and stops drinking he should be able to get his strength back properly and maybe he will be fit enough to actually work. He will then be able to earn some money as well as save money by not buying drink.

Now here is a little something to lift your spirits The Corrs

Surprise visitor

I was sat eating lunch in our kitchen today when I turned to look out of the window. I had seen some sparrows on the feeder when I came in from work but they had gone. Sitting on top of the feeder was a brown bird. I couldn’t believe my eyes for a second. This bird was much much bigger than the sparrows that had been there earlier. I grabbed my phone with the intention of taking a photo, but before I could set it up the bird hopped across to the hedge. I watched as this large bird made its way through the hedge in a downward direction. Normally if I look carefully I can see sparrows moving around in among the branches but not on this occasion.

I always keep a book of garden birds on the breakfast bar where I was sitting. Thumbing through the pages I didn’t expect to find this bird which we both agreed was obviously a bird of prey not a garden bird. Much to my astonishment I did find it, we now know that our surprise visitor was a female sparrow hawk. No wonder the sparrows were nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t long before I had to return to work and it was dark long before I returned so I didn’t see the sparrows returning.

I wonder if we will see the sparrow hawk again.

sparrow hawk