Jack Frost decorated the woods last week
Aaahhh! Today is mild. Mild and sunny. No wind. No rain. No frost. A peaceful respite from the last two weeks.
"And thank goodness for that, Gordon!" Mum sighed an almighty sigh. "Bad enough I've broken the back door handle and the battery on the car is as flat as a pancake." And reflectively she added, "If I had been able to drive the car, I wouldn't have appreciated this beautiful day."
So all is well then. Dad has gone to the second big Show of the winter. He really is quite useful at home, we now come to realise. He has the jump leads in his car - and the tools to mend the back door. He can also build fires in the cottage better than Mum. But he will be back later and we can hear all the news! Gabriel, Gloria and Grace will be going to a new home - we said our Goodbyes and wished them Good Luck on Friday before they left. They promised to keep in touch and we are looking forward to hearing all about their new family.
"You must come and see the Christmas Tree in Wattlebury Cottage," Mum enthused. "Kizzie decorated it and it has twinkling lights and tinsel too - it looks lovely! The Fairy was a bit of a problem. She is as old as me and the mice unfortunately ate her net dress, so I made her a new gown! Very sparkly!"
Head down Harv! Here it comes!
Good gracious. I didn't know even Fairies lived that long.
"I went and got the tree from Wattlebury Forest. I did buy it, Gordon. And carried it indoors over my shoulder - very pleased with my choice. I can get this tree in position before Dad and Kizzie come home, I thought. Easy. Done it by myself for the last two years."
And why, therefore, should this year be any different?
"I hoicked it into the pot, tucked myself inside it - for tree-stability, of course."
"Lifted it onto the little table and swung a bit of baler twine around the trunk - which I then attached to the handle of the living room door."
Sounds suspiciously dodgy to me.
"Then all I had to do was thread the cable ties that Uncle Roy gave us around the table and the bottom of the tree - and Hey Presto! Done! Except I had balanced the pot in the biggest dog dish so that I could give it a drop of water every so often. And then the pot started moving. And the tree started leaning. And being quite large and bushy, I fought valiantly to keep it upright."
The two words 'Mum' and 'Lumberjack' do not seem compatible.
"Well, as you can imagine, Gordon. Honey and Harvey were very interested in all this activity - particularly Harvey who viewed the arrival of a tree in his living room as a most luxurious gift - but then it nearly fell on Honey and almost flattened her!"
Like the pancake.
"So I leant it on Harvey's chair and tried to knit a length of cable-ties together - only to find I had two straight ends that wouldn't join. So I practised with a couple and after a while I was surrounded by cut ties, fallen needles (from the non-drop tree), soil and then the tree shifted and fell on top of Harvey."
Time to call for Dad.
"Well Dad got in from work - I had already phoned him in exasperation - so he wasn't totally unprepared - and he said 'What a mess' - or something like that."
I can imagine.
"Anyway Gordon - you must come and see it. It won't fall on top of you - and we have a Fairy. You'll be quite safe!"
Thanks a bunch! Gordon x
The tree is secure and Harvey is safe once more
The splendiferous Fairy gown
And the rain, rain, rain, Came down, down, down, In rushing, rising riv'lets
And Mum and Harv got soaking wet, When Harvey did his business
Baby White! Really!
Well a few of us like to visit our local hostelry in Wattlebury on a Saturday night. It is a very convivial gathering - some of us Sebrights and Rosecombs, Mickey the Cat, William the (Conqueror) Frizzle, Truffle - and many more. Harvey the Hound drops in for a crust and Bird sometimes provides the harmonies for the later rousing sing-song before we go home.
Last night was wet and windy but it was warm and cosy by the fire in The Pooch and Pullet. As is often the way, Mickey told us a yarn from olde and we gathered around to enjoy his tale.
"In the late 1800s - a long time ago - the Village Inn was often the centre of business - a place where the publican might sell insurance or where deals were struck between dealers and drovers, farmers or graziers, and where travellers could buy information with their ale. The Alehouse was very different - much lower down the social scale - a meeting place for labourers." Mickey pawsed and from underneath his woolly coat he pulled a faded pinky-brown piece of paper. The edges were curled and tatty and the paper was very thin, so he opened it slowly and carefully.
"This was written by Mr Richard Jeffries in 1880 - he was describing the local Alehouse:
'Beware that you do not knock your head against the smoke-blackened beams of the low ceiling, and do not put your elbow carelessly on the deal table, stained with spilled ale left uncleaned from last night, together with little heaps of ashes, tapped out from pipes, and spots of grease from the tallow candles. The old-fashioned settles which gave so cosy an air in the olden time to the inn room, and which still linger in some of the houses, are not here - merely forms and cheap chairs. A great pot hangs over the fire, for the family cooking is done in the public apartment; but do not ask to join in the meal, for though the food may be more savoury than is dreamed of in your philosophy, the two-grained forks have not been cleaned these many a day.' "
We looked at each other with screwed-up beaks and wrinkled brows - yuk! Gordon xxx
The day dawned drear. A heavy, damp and chillsome drear. We looked skyward for a glint of brightness and found not a chink. The path to Wattlebury was heavy and soggy with leaves - their golden brown weighed down with the sogg. Where Peter and his friends had raked and scooped in the early morning, it had uncovered a blackness that was most unwelcoming. The ditch was filled with water - patiently sitting in the still and oppressive gloom as it searched for a way to pass through the piles of stacked up leafage. The trees were bare, save for the clingy green shroud of ivy who was revelling in her commanding prescence when all around her was waning.
"I am going off on a Big Adventure!" Announced Baby White. "I am going in search of something useful!"
"Do be careful, Dear," Mrs White looked a little concerned, but at the same time quite looking forward to a restful five minutes without the bustling young cockerel wanting her to play and explore all the time.
"I won't be long Mother! Harry will keep an eye out," chirped Baby White as he trotted speedily and purposefully off, his body swaying from side to side as he gathered momentum.
We settled on our perches for a quiet nap, listening all the while for Harry the Peacock's alarm call - should there be any danger in the area. It was so quiet, just the drip, drip, drip of the increasingly heavy rain as it plopped off the side of the barn, a rhythmical sound like an old Grandfather clock, and one by one we nodded off.
Bird, meanwhile - who was still at Wattlebury Cottage - was trying his hardest to learn Jingle Bells. Dad had lowered his perches inside his cage so that his feathers on the top of his head didn't stick through the bars when he was in full tune. He really could do with a new cage - it was rather old and well used, but Mum had told him that if he learnt his new song, Dad would make him a new cage for Christmas.
All of a sudden the sweet repose was shattered by Baby White - his feathers wet and glistening - dashing into the barn with the prettiest bouquet in his mouth that you had ever seen.
"This is for you, Mother!" He dropped the beautiful twig, laden with the pink and orange adornments at Mrs White's feet.
"That is so lovely. Thank you Baby White!"
But Baby White looked sad. "It is very pretty, Mother. And it lit up the dark greens and browns of the woods, but it isn't useful," he hung his little head down.
"Sometimes the most beautiful things don't have to be useful - it makes me very happy and its bright colours light up the drear day for the woodland creatures. And anyway - I think it that you will find it is most useful!" Mrs White asked Harvest if she could go and fetch one of her reference books from her vast library behind the straw bale.
"Look dear, this man, Mr Turner named the tree 'Spindle Tree' - He says: 'I coulde never learne an Englishe name for it. The Duche men call it in Netherlande, spilboome, that is, spindel-tree, because they use to make spindels of it in that country, and me thynke it may be as well named in English seying we have no other name. . . . I know no goode propertie that this tree hath, saving only it is good to make spindels and brid of cages (bird-cages).'
- So you see, Baby White. Dad will be able to make Bird his new cage from the Spindle Wood - and Bird will have the most beautiful cage in Wattlebury!"
[Note: Dad doesn't know this yet!]
Mrs White's Spindleberry Bouquet
Glad to say Dad made it home again last evening. We were allowed to stay up later than usual so that we could hear how our family fared. There was great excitement when we heard his car rumbling up the lane. He was alone - but we knew that it was a two day show and he wouldn't be fetching everyone back until today. He also didn't have the balloons with him - something of a relief!
We pounced on him as soon as he opened our barn door. Baby White was zipping back and forth dementedly - but then he was over-tired, it being well past his bedtime.
"I am very pleased to tell you," Dad paused - to keep us in suspense a little longer. "That you all did very well indeed!"
We whooped and cheered as only chickens know how. We were so proud and Sylvia and I nodded delightedly.
"Dora got a third prize in a class of 14. Gilly came fourth out of 14 Gold pullets. Syd came 4th in the Silver cock class - and young Will Boden won with his bird!"
Again we applauded - as only chickens know how.
"Lisa won her Silver hen class! And Gabriel, Gloria and Grace won the Trio class! The best trio out of 5 lots of Golds!"
It was time to get out the Chick Crumb cake and celebrate like we have never celebrated before - and that, as the saying goes, is as only chickens know how! Gordon xxx
It's that time of year again. Washing and sprucing. Dad has been spending many a long hour studying my younger relatives and they have all tried to look their very best.
"I'm sorry Gordon. I don't think you're quite up to it this year," said Dad.
Well, that's a relief then. I can watch all the pampering and snooze contentedly when it gets all too much. Suits me fine. Sylvia, too, looks quite content to let the children bustle excitedly around.
So earlier this week Dad made the decision:
"Don - you will represent us in the Gold cock class. Dora - you will be my final choice as a Gold hen - you are looking very smart! Syd - will you go in the Silver cock class? And Lisa - would you like to go in the Silver hen class? Now then - this is more tricky - cockerels and pullets - Gaylord - I pick you! And Gilly! And you little Suzy - you can go too! I don't think you young Silver boys are quite up to it this year - but you'll have your chance later, I'm sure! Just left to find a trio of Golds then --- you two girls match up very well - Gloria and Grace. Just a nice Gold cockerel to find then --- Hhhmmm. Gabriel! I pick you!"
So today, well before dawn had even thought about dawning, Dad left with his excited passengers. Three of the young Rosecombs went as well - and as it was a particularly important Show for the Sebright Club, Dad also had a big banner and 6 silver and gold star-shaped balloons in the car. Mum waved goodbye from the warmth of the cottage as he disappeared into the fog, obscured by cardboard boxes and jiggling balloons.
Good Luck Dad!
The Spookadoodle turned into the Soakadoodle and whether the broomsticks were so sodden they couldn't alight - or perhaps they were blown off course - we couldn't say. But the night passed relatively peacefully, much to the immense relief of Baby White!
Early this morning Dad took a couple of my younger relatives and friends off to a Show. Which meant that Mum came up to feed us a little later. The clocks have all been put back one hour during the night, so it seems, and we had to wait longer before breakfast was served. Binny was pretty starving by the time the lid on the corn bin was lifted and for one of shall we say, more senior years, she swooped in and started gobbling frenetically! Some of my older buddies and I were also very happy to see the bright orange bucket swinging along and got stuck in to a tasty meal without further ado.
It is less chilly today. Although we had a frost last night, the cold wind has dropped and it is more clement.
Gail and Sheena have been telling us about the traditions associated with Halloween. Apparently they have been making Whooey things and Spookadoodley bits at school in preparation for Wednesday night. Gail excitedly recounted the old saying that 'Unmarried mothers who pulled cabbages blindfold on All Hallows Eve would be able to discern the looks of their future husband.'
To my mind this raised a few questions that I would have liked to have asked. But best to keep those thoughts to myself, I decided.
And Sheena told us 'That all journeys should finish before sunset on All Hallows; if this is not possible, then the traveller must carry a piece of bread on which salt has been sprinkled in the form of a cross.'
Again, I raised a querulous eyebrow, but decided to keep quiet lest I dampened their excited enthusiasm.
"And did you know, Uncle Gordon - In Lancashire - a far away county - groups of people carrying lights would walk the hills around midnight. If the flames burnt steadily, then the bearers were safe for the year; if they went out, then they were blown out by witches - a very bad omen." Giles looked triumphant.
And when we looked at Baby White, who was hanging on their every word, his little eyes wide with terror - it had frankly scared the living daylights out of him! Gordon x
Siegfried takes fright
It happened. Yes. Hard to comprehend, I know. Mum turned up in her pink and white striped pyjamas bottoms, neatly tucked into her wellys. Luckily it was a fairly mild and foggy Monday morning last week and she scurried around scaring the living daylights out of us. I'm not sure that Siegfried will ever recover!
The rest of the week turned wet again -
No more rain - we've had enough!
so wet that the Pleut Extraordinaire is lying on top of the ground - seemingly unable to disappear. I feel I must add that Mum rooted through the darkest corners of her wardrobe and shook the spiders off some rather dodgy looking trousers - much to our great relief. And this morning is darned chilly - a very determined north-easterly wind is channelling doggedly through every nook and cranny. At least it is sunny and dry! We scooted around to try and keep warm, whilst enjoying foraging through the multitude of fallen leaves.
The path to Wattlebury School
The path to Wattlebury School looks very autumnal. The Ash has relinquished her leaves - a beautiful lime green carpet. On top of those are the gold and yellow of the Beech and a few Oak leaves are reluctantly letting one or two of their precious green gown flutter to the ground. Dad has headed off to the Chicken Supermarket and he has a few jobs on his 'To Do' list for later. We do enjoy a Saturday! Love Sylvia and Gordon xxx
Truffle and Harvest relaxing
Mrs White's baby enjoying breakfast
Bird took to the Millet
Bird reported later in the afternoon that the washing had been draped on every radiator, doorhandle and spare hanging post in Wattlebury Cottage. He was rather miffed to find a pair of socks on his cage and took to chomping on his millet in a defiant manner lest the socks should snaffle his supper. A few of the larger and very wet articles had been left in the garden and Harvey was stationed at the
And Harvey spotted Sammie
window and instructed to watch the sky for the merest hint of Pleut. He was happy to oblige as Sammie Squirrel often plays by the bird table, so it wasn't too much of a trouble for him. And every so often a Phillip or Phillippa Pheasant stray in for a peanut or two. No, Harvey definitely didn't mind being on guard. But unfortunately whilst spying on Sammie's antics in the butterfly tree, Harvey didn't notice that it had once again started raining heavily. So the outside garments were back to square one and it was going to be a real problem for the family tomorrow morning. Dad had run out of trousers, Mum had run out of trousers and socks and Kizzie had no work clothes. They could wear their pyjamas --- Don't be ridiculous Bird! They're not that silly! Although--? Gordon xxx