7 September 2014

Surprisingly, it’s been a pretty good week. After one of the coolest Augusts we’ve had in many years, September has started warm, dry and mainly sunny. We’re still waiting for the arrival of a proper Indian summer but this will do in the interim.

Penelope was out in the front the other day and noticed a veritable bombardment of swallows – there were probably around twelve to fifteen swallows performing aerial acrobatics above our driveway. I am guessing that this was the third brood of our resident swallows having been fledged and learning to fly and catch their food on the wing along with all the previous brothers and sisters. I imagine they were getting their instructions straight for the upcoming migration to South Africa.

“OK, has everyone got that? We’ll meet on the twelfth above the cricket pitch and then set off on the following day. Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush because once we leave we aren’t turning back!”

Unfortunately, this gathering did result in another swallow inside the house. I think we’ve done fairly well this year, only two or three “intruders.” We are generally most vulnerable to swallow incursions when a brood is just learning to fly – the parents get them out of the nest somehow and the chicks perch on the beams in the garage. Then, the parents swoop in and gather them up, one at a time, for a little flying and presumably food-catching practice. Then, they come back, deposit that particular youngster and take another one up. It’s when the novice pilots are coming back to the garage for landing that they sometimes go astray and, if our front door is open (as it often is in the summer to allow Molly to come and go as she pleases), one will occasionally fly in and then begin to panic as it can’t easily find a way out. You’d think it would be able to retrace its steps and fly out the open door but, hardly surprisingly it generally doesn’t work that way. They fly up to the ceiling toward the skylight trying to get back outside. This initiates a well-rehearsed procedure on our part as we quickly (a) shut all the doors to all the rooms upstairs so that not every bed spread in the house gets shat upon and (b) opening the sky light in the entrance hall so that the intruder can eventually find his/her way out. This inevitably involves a bit of crapping on the floor and occasionally, as in this week’s incursion, a streaky deposit down the wall, generally just out of reach. Still, it’s a relatively small price to pay for such amusement and entertainment – we always miss them when they go.

Last week I included a photograph of the posts at the recreation ground which gave Molly such conniptions as we wandered past them. Over the week she gradually came to accept that these posts were not designed to disturb her equilibrium and did not require a vigorous barking at each passing. So, I was somewhat surprised when she starting yelling at the posts again this week until I noticed that there had, indeed, been another change in the landscape – they have erected a football/soccer goal just in front of the posts. I’m still no nearer understanding what the posts are for – they’re certainly nothing to do with the football goal – but I guess whatever it is about the changing landscape which has Molly so preoccupied will eventually pass and we can restrict our barking to every dog we encounter, every human we meet and her perennial favourite, the bright red dog litter bins.


I had a nice note from a very good friend this week “congratulating” me on the anniversary of my surgery for prostate cancer – its three years last Friday that they strapped me to the operating table at the JR and did the business. I was touched by his kind thoughts, especially as I had more or less forgotten that the 5th of September held such significance for me. As the surgery recedes in my memory so too do the recollections of what was for Penny and me, initially at least, a pretty dark and worrying time. I must try to be better at reminding myself how fortunate I am – not just at the beginning of September each year but all the time. I have a wonderful family, an astonishingly gorgeous and brilliant granddaughter, loyal friends and a magnificently wonderful wife. Sometimes I am probably guilty of taking such things for granted!

And speaking of my wonderful wife, she had a day out in London yesterday. For some reason she thought meeting up with some friends and acquaintances from her Loretto Convent days in east Africa would be more enjoyable than the way I spent the afternoon – stretched out on the sofa catching up on the football and baseball. Oh well, her loss.

Finally, the Guardian had some splendid photos of the Tomatina Festival from Bunol near Valencia which took place last week. Looks like fun!


Love to you all,