12 September 2010

Good morning.

Chapman School SwiftsPenelope and I were speculating the other day on when our swallows would make their way south for the winter. We were remembering, with great fondness, the gathering of the Chapman Primary School swifts in Portland last September and while we don’t have the extravagant and flamboyant spectacle which takes place there every evening, we were wondering when ours would be departing and whether they also had a convenient gathering point to meet up with all their friends and relations for the long journey to the South.

They are still here, as we “speak” but it won’t be long. I was walking Molly the other day across the fields at Edgcote and, while I don’t imagine that she noticed much, there were indeed swarms of swallows flying in a figure of eight formation just in front of the woods above the cut fields gathering insects and bulking up for the trip. I don’t know whether these were all from Edgcote House (a considerable number nest in the eaves there each year) or whether they represented any sort of gathering from a variety of places but there were certainly a significant number and clearly they were gearing up for the great expedition.

I don’t think I mentioned the tale of Ms Playchute’s rescue of the swallow chicks from the previous brood. Sometime this summer (I’m afraid I can’t be more specific than that but it was certainly before we left for the States), Sally from next door was looking for something in our garage and came across two swallow chicks on the floor. These were relatively new chicks as they had very few feathers and it was clear that some disaster had occurred. It turned out that their nest had broken for some reason and they had been dumped fairly unceremoniously on the garage floor. After much discussion and debate about what we might do to help, Penny eventually climbed a ladder and put them back into another, old nest which had been unused this year. I have to confess, we were not optimistic about their chances, imagining that the parents would not visit them in a different nest. However, they certainly did visit them and the chicks clearly survived judging by the mountain of swallow poo on the garage floor just below the nest and their favoured launching off point.

Before we went on holiday, Ms Playchute fixed up a dentist appointment for some time shortly after our return. It had been something like three years since her last visit and necessitated a change of dental practices – our previous dentist decided to no longer treat National Health patients. I had made a similar change of practice about a year ago and eventually Ms Playchute decided to follow suit. So, I provided her with the details of the practice I visit and she made an appointment.

Unfortunately, when it came time for her appointment she couldn’t quite remember the precise details but she was fairly confident so off she went. She presented herself at the practice at what she imagined was the appropriate time but surprisingly the receptionist could not find any record of her appointment or, indeed, of her. As this was her first visit it wasn’t too surprising that they couldn’t find any of her details but she insisted that she had made an appointment and they kindly agreed to squeeze her in for an initial check-up.

When she returned and told me this tale I did ask whether she had gone to the right practice. Investigation subsequently revealed that not only had she presented herself at the wrong practice, she had arrived on the wrong day. So, our future strategy for making doctor or dentist appointments is clear. Turn up whenever you like and simply insist that you had made an appointment.

Knutsford Penny Farthing Cycle RaceFinally, following last week’s article describing the rise of the Mamils, another example of the amusements which the eccentric British cycling public indulge in from time to time, the Knutsford Penny Farthing cycle race held once every ten years.

Special added feature for this week – click this link and see where it takes you! You may need to turn your volume up.

Love to you all,

Greg