"Look at this Gordon!" Mum settled herself on a straw bale and we gathered around to look at the photos and hear about The Big Day Out. Not sure of what we were looking at, but far too polite to ask, we waited for the explanation.
"This is a picture of London just before we arrived at Victoria Station taken out of the train window. But a train came past from the other direction just as I was taking it"
Aaah. We could see it wasn't exactly going to be photos the quality of those in Hello or OK magazine.
"I met Mandy at exactly the right time and I was in the right place!"
An achievement indeed, we thought.
"Golly there were a lot of people on the train! And some were wearing Chelsea Football shirts." Mum took a breath.
"This is a picture of the sweet stall at Victoria Station."
Things were looking up.
"So we looked for the 24 bus stop to take us to Leicester Square where we were meeting Bella and Pauline as we were in good time and thought we could see a few of the sights on the way. But we couldn't find it. And how would we know it was going in the right direction if we had found it?"
"So we headed back to Victoria Station and caught the Underground. We had to change at Green Park and then get on the Piccadilly Line."
That Pekin again.
"And guess what, Gordon?"
I had no idea.
"At one point we were heading towards Cockfosters!"
Not a particularly favourite lager of mine. But heeey.
"And we met Bella and Pauline at Leicester Square!"
I'd say that was a miracle personally.
"Bella had maps. That was a great help. She led us into Chinatown. It was amazing. The very first shop sold beautiful scarves and Bella bought me one to match my top! I wore it all day. Mandy and Pauline chose some really pretty ones too. Not sure if they will be Christmas presents or they will end up wearing them themselves! Then we looked at the food shops. There was some pretty unusual fruit and veg for sale. This is a photo of some Moolis."
Looked like a box of batons for the 2012 Olympic Games to us.
"Mooli cames from the Japanese Daikon which means 'large root' - it is a mild flavoured, very large, white East Asian radish."
"There is a competition this month which is looking for budding photographers. It says: 'London’s Chinatown is looking for your incredible photos of the area to feature in our online hall of fame! Whether you are a passing snapper or a seasoned camera pro, why not show off your photography skills to the world?'
What do you think Gordon? Shall I enter the Moolis?"
Let's not beat about the bush here. No.
"Not sure if you'll like this one much, Gordon."
Like it? What?!! Has Mum finally taken leave of her senses? Like it? It is abhorrent!
"I didn't go in there. Of course," and Mum gave me a sympathetic look.
At this point Harvest the duck decided it was time to read the final chapter of her Library Book and ambled off to her stable.
"So we went and had lunch in a very nice pub and nattered and nattered and nattered until we had caught up on a year's news!
"With Bella to put us on the number 24 bus (going the right way), we eventually said our goodbyes and Mandy and I tottered up the stairs and sat on the upper deck.
"It was a lovely sunny day and there were so many people. Look - this is a picture of The London Eye and The River Thames. The London Eye is a 443 ft tall giant Ferris wheel. It has 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules, attached to its external circumference, each capsule representing one of the London Boroughs. Each 10 tonne capsule holds 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided."
That's as maybe. But you wouldn't get me in one!
"So we caught the train home again and I said goodbye to Mand as she continued on her way to the deep south, and Kizzie brought me home from the station. Still wearing my scarf! What an exciting day it was! But glad to be home with you all."
Pleased to see you home too Mum. Could you please get our breakfast now? Gordon xxx
Today Mum is off to the Big City on a Train to meet her Old School Buddies. It has become a sort of annual reunion and all four of them journey in from their respective corners of the field. We thought we heard Mum mutter that she had to catch the Pekindilly Line and we were very excited at the thought of who she might see in Birdcage Walk. Us boys urged her to call in at the Cock Tavern in East Poultry Avenue and have a half of Quail Ale, but the girls wanted her to visit Petticoat Lane. Mum isn't very 'au fait' with Trains as Harvest puts it, and Kizzie has to put her on the right platform at the beginning of her Big Day Out. Then Mum waits for Mandy to hang out of the window and Mum clambers aboard, as instructed. They will meet Bella and Pauline in the middle of the Big City - we hope. We do wonder if we will ever see Mum again and wished her Bon Voyage and Farewell, just in case. Fortunately Dad is staying at home and getting our food - which is a great relief to us all. Gordon and Sylvia xxx
As it is half term this week we all try to keep the cockerels and pullets occupied as much as possible, making sure that they do their homework in the mornings and then arranging outings and activities for the afternoon. After the hard frosts of last week the sloes are ready to pick and we decided to make the Sloe Gin yesterday. I think the sloes looked plumper before the frosts as they are now a bit withered and wrinkley, but much easier to pick - or in our case - to shake off or jump in the air and swipe off.
Mrs Black and Truffle organised the picking of dock stems in order to make little baskets. The stems are a lovely deep russet colour and still very strong. We weaved them into little carrying pouches and off we went to the hedgerows. The cockerels shook the branches that they could reach and the pullets gathered the sloes - being sure not to pierce any with their beaks as they still taste very bitter. We brought our cache back into the barn and pricked the berries with a sharp quilly feather. Then we mixed them with some sugar that Mum had provided and put them in a jar. Mrs One Eye, with practised deftness, dropped a cinnamon stick into the mix and Gordon topped up the jar with some Gin (Mum had also bought that for us). We tightened the cap as firmly as we could and made a rota for turning the jar from time to time. Next April we will strain the mixture into a bottle and we can celebrate our Birthdays in style! Sylvia xxx
P.S. There is a picture of my Uncle Godfrey on page 12 of the new issue of Practical Poultry! Gordon xxx
It is now pouring. It is still dark. Mum threw our croissants and bananas into the dustbin and tried to give us the old bag of rubbish from the kitchen bin. The sky had bubbled pink and then pale dusky orange from the south west and it looks as if we are in for a wet and drearsome day. Neddie and Seagoon flew down from Jack's horse chestnut tree and were soggy. They roost up there now - we have offered them a nice dry perch in the barn, but they firmly declined. That's kids for you. Harry roosts high in the Oak tree and he does still have a covering of leaves - but looked hunchy and miserable as he tried to dry out on the top of the pens. And Harvest sat squarely in her sandpit of water with the drops running across her feathers and declared "Tres bien!" Gordon x
This is the Paddock. It is the most perfect of paddocks. A post and rail fence runs down one side with a hunting gate halfway along. It was from here that the young and inquisitive heifers found their way into the garden and proceeded to eat the schoolchildren's picnic. On the other side are rather tall Christmas Trees. I think St Pauls Cathedral would be the only place big enough to have one of these at Christmas. They are more reminiscent of The Black Forest. But they do afford a lovely degree of shelter from the westerly winds. We are allowed to play in the top part and Dad has put an electric fence around this area so that we can mooch happily around without Mr Fox eating us. There is a gate from this Upper Paddock to the Lower Field. It is about 3 acres and surrounded by ancient oak trees. It is a long way from any road and is just idyllic. There is a Field Shelter in the far corner where the horses used to hide from the flies in the summer. Then the cows used it after the horses were no longer alive. I was going to say no longer with us, but they are in fact all buried in that very field. It was in the days when you could bury cows and horses on your own land - providing it wasn't near a water course and was deep enough. Mum used to sit in that Field Shelter too when she was a pullet. Her Dad had bought her a Saxophone and it was far enough away for her to practise without disturbing anyone! There is an old pear tree down there too, which was a favourite with Mum's first horse, Finn. Harry The Peacock wanders off each morning and picks at the grasses in the Lower Field. Then he heads back towards the yard and if it is sunny stops to preen himself in front of the Christmas Trees. Gordon xxx
First light on Monday morning
I peered out of the barn door with my beady eye at the first light. Almost an hour passed before the sun appeared as a huge flaming orange ball. It was the colour of a yolk that the girls could only dream of creating. The contrast between the Oak and the Ash this autumn is quite amazing. The Ash is totally bare, the Oak is fully clothed and all the other trees are somewhere inbetween.
The Oak and the Ash
We had mused earlier in the year about which would come into leaf first and why this might be. And we remembered that the Oak hung on to her brown leaves through all the snow and frosts of last winter. What does it all mean? What is this winter going to bring? It is very dry and we have had hardly a drop of rain for a month. And the Holly is full of berries. Will we have a cold winter - or a wet one? Or no winter at all?
The Holly and the Berries
And no one knows. That is the most intriguing part of all. We can build as many modern technological instruments of brilliance as we like, but no one seems to be able to predict our weather more than a few days in advance. Mum taps her trusty barometer every time she passes it and we study the sky as it changes colours. But as for the weeks ahead we will just wait, and watch, and wonder. Gordon xxx
In preparation for the World Cup Rugby Final this morning we assembled ourselves into two teams for a quick scrum. It was the All Blacks (Rosecombs) captained by The Bossy Rosecomb against Les Bleus (the rest of us) proud to have our very own Captain Francais - Harvest the Duck. Okay so Harvest can only just manage a laboured waddle now, but I felt that the rest of the team would more than compensate. I have to admit we looked a formidable side with our midfielder, Mrs White, in great shape and myself a rather nifty fly-half, even if I may say so. Neddie and Seagoon, rather good at all things sporty, were enlisted on the All Blacks side. Neddie likes to think he is a second Nonu, who has been described, in the nicest sense, like a Tasmanian devil. When he goes into contact he's shaking and pushing and shoving and fighting to keep going. He's very difficult to keep hold of, he bustles out of tackles and pops the ball on to support to keep the move flowing. Yes - definately like Neddie.
Sylvia and the girls were more interested in the Haka which they said comes from the Tongan haka, meaning 'hand action while singing'. According to Maori ethos, Tama-nui-to-ra, the Sun God, had two wives, Hine-raumati, the Summer maid, and Hine takurua, the Winter maid. The child born to him and Hine-raumati was Tane-rore, who is credited with the origin of the dance. Tane-rore is the trembling of the air as seen on the hot days of summer, and represented by the quivering of the hands in the dance.
All very interesting. Then Mum appeared with a slice of left-over Birthday cake and in the scrumble to pounce on it we never quite worked out who had won the Match.
All we know is that Truffle and Mrs White got to the cake first! Gordon x
Who left the light on?
We have a Lamp Post in the middle of our yard and Dad has taken to switching the light on this week. It is only just getting a bit light as he arrives and the Robin that roosts in the top has an early wake up call. Having said that, Robin is always the last one to bed and the first one up in the mornings. We thought that Dad had left the light on last week as the moon was so bright. Harvest was able to read her Library Book well into
Lois having an early breakfast
the small hours. Mum likes sending Dad up the ladder to clean the Lamp Post every so often. He hates this job, we think, as Mum has to shout encouragement as he wobbles towards the light. She pretends to hold the ladder steady, but we've seen her swing around and admonish the Bossy Rosecomb unbeknown to Dad.
Lois enjoys eating at first light and settling for a sleep when she has a nice tummyful. And as the mornings are drawing in she is still chomping away as Mum goes to see her. Why do mornings draw in? And curtains get drawn when they are closed. To become darker I suppose. And what of drawers? What are they? We have heard Mum mention that she has left them on the line and they will get wet if it rains. Ron googled Drawers and it said that the first ones were baggy, laced and reached to the ankles but in 1812 pantaloons became all the rage. This could explain a lot. Gordon and Sylvia xxx
Mum took another photo across the big field this morning as she said it was so pretty. She tried to sneak up on Mysty and take her photo too, but her prescence was announced long before she got within range due to the acorns popping under her wellies like a rampant bowl of Rice Krispies. The only thing to rival the tumult is the recycling bin being emptied in the dark of the morning which sends our beaks chattering and feathers quivering as we are rudely awakened by the Refuse Lorry. Needless to say then, Mum didn't get a photo of Mysty. Nor Mr Fox. Not even Peter who thought she was firing a round of ammunition at him. Hence the field! Gordon xxx
The weather has been really lovely this week. Hot and sunny by day and not too chilly at night either. The trees are beginning to change into a spectrum of golds, reds and yellows. We have been soaking up all the warmth and sunlight that we can, storing it up for the more grey days that inevitably will follow. Lois is steadily getting a thicker winter coat and Aunty Bella has knitted Honey a new woolly jacket for the cooler days.
We too are all getting new feathers and will soon look smart and presentable once more!
Gordon and Sylvia x