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Monday, 30 November 2020

and so farewell noa


there's been an accident on the homestead.
I don't usually write about personal things but Noa has been so much part of my blog posts that I have to report that last week in her excitement she managed to uproot me and fell me to the ground causing my leg and hip to break. The accident has also broken my heart as we have decided that she should be homed with a new family as it will be a time before I can walk her properly again and give her the care and attention she needs. We have lived with wolfhounds for nearly twenty years and I've never been able to imagine life without one. Now I will have to. As fortune will have it she has gone to live with one of her sisters in a loving family. I am grateful that Deb has opened her arms to her and reported that Noa and her sister adore each other.

Friends and family have been amazing - after all I left behind two horses, two dogs, two cats, a one eye rook and thirteen ducks all to be cared for.

Just before the accident I was working at the wildlife hospital where this adorable badger was. Of course I'd have been far happier at the wildlife hospital than the real hospital though the care they gave me was incredible. The kindness and patience of the nurses and physios was amazing. If it hadn't have been for their encouragement I wouldn't have been out so quickly and will probably think of them now for the rest of life everytime I walk up and down stairs.

Imagine having these lovely patients as fellow ward companions

We've been trying to think of positive things about saying goodbye to Noa. Rocket tells me he's relieved not to have his face inside her mouth for a good part of the day and hadn't  been that joyfull with her chewing his legs.

I suppose I can fill up the holes in the lawn and can now leave all my paperwork without the knowledge I'd find it shredded under the table. Just for fun I'm going to leave the delicious meal we'd prepared on the table, turn my back on it and find it still there.

Pocket had nothing positive to say because he was working on his latest novel Cat-22. Joseph Heller wrote that I told him but I could tell he wasn't interested

Rocket is now insisting he has to have a story read to him at bedtime as he 's finding it difficult sleeping on his own now.

But let's face it - none of these advantages can fill the enormous hole she has left.


Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.

Martha Postlewaite

Monday, 26 October 2020

hedgepigs and hedgefunds

 Back at the wildlife hospital the hedgies are preparing for winter

Noa however is preparing to make a large investment. Having destroyed most of my paperwork she has taken to the newspapers. I notice it is the financial section she is most interested in. I wonder if she's considering a ponzi scheme or just checking out the hedgefunds.

Also preparing for winter Harry and Trude are tucking into the hay. Noa on the other hand has heard so many people say "you could put a saddle on that" that I think she thinks she might be a horse too, in which case jumping hedges rather than investing in them might be the answer.

After the hedgehog session I came home with a one eyed rook. Not sure what her survival rate will be out in the wild so am keeping an eye on her (so to speak).

I wonder how many of the rooks I've cared for and released are up here in the sky. I love watching them in their winter quarters before they move back to nest building in their nursery trees next year.

Pocket could barely open an eye when I asked him how the writing was going but he managed to inform me he was working on a novel called Purrrrrsuasion. I think you'll find Jane Austin wrote that and it was called Persuasion I informed him. Well that's not my story he told me cattily, my story features a handsome Captain Wentworth and his long lost love Anne. It's about a second chance and we all need one of those! Precisely I said and they've made a film of it.
I've asked Rocket to be Captain Wentworth in my version he announced and flounced off to his computer.

Rocket said he didn't think he'd be able to learn the lines but wouldn't mind wearing the hat.
Beautiful rosa mundi

and the last of an unknown rose in the garden.

Pity The Nation — by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Pity the nation whose people are sheep,
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars, whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as hero
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its own
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee, sweet land of liberty.

Sunday, 27 September 2020

fetch, dogs and rock n roll


The other week we took the dogs to a Dog Festival.

I thought it might have been a dog's version of Glastonbury with headlining bands like David Bowwowie and The Rolling Bones but it was what it said on the tin - a dogstival - no sex and rock and roll just the dogs.

Here is Noa on her first proper outing which was to the dog's festival - beautifully behaved and not pulling me along as if I were a kite or a balloon flying in the air behind her. I was impressed because normally when she sees any human or other dog she is so excited she rushes up to them, rolls over, whacks with the big heavy paw and generally causes cross faces from passers by. And Rocket who normally just barks at passers by and shows his teeth didn't do any barking what so ever. I normally blame the parents. In fact it was very well organised, no barking, no one had to wear a mask and not much else happened.

Here is Pocket agonizing over his new novel.  He's obviously given up the play writing. What's it called I asked. He yawned and gave me a look of feline disappointment. Bleak Mouse he replied. There was no point in commentating and mentioning Dickens as he takes no notice. It'll be poetry next I'll be bound - he told me he thinks Charlotte Mew is a cat.

I spent a great deal of my childhood as a horse. I'm happy to announce that I managed the transition.

Back at the wildlife hospital with the dear hedgehogs. I was given another juvenile crow last week but fortunately he'd only been caught up in a football net and was very muddy. I gave him a nice lavender bath, cleaned him up, fed him and the next day he happily flew off somewhere. 

Here is Noa with her sister Maeve. They look so alike if it wasn't for the collars I might easily have taken the wrong dog home. It was so good for Noa to meet someone else her size. Other than the horses and even at the dog festival she towers above everyone. It was also good for her not to be top dog all the time. I usually blame the parents.

Rocket has been studying the art of origami. Tomorrow I may well find a swan on the sofa.

I've put this poem up before - nearly a year ago but I wanted to show Pocket that it was unlikely that Charlotte Mew was a cat. However I dread to see what he'll come up with in next month's bog. I just hope he doesn't go into politics like the social democats. I love this poem and very pertinent for today.

The Trees are Down

—and he cried with a loud voice:
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees—

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas,’ the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.

I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.

The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
   On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
             Green and high
             And lonely against the sky.
                   (Down now!—)
             And but for that,   
             If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.

It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.

It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,   
             In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
             There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
             They must have heard the sparrows flying,   
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying—
             But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
             ‘Hurt not the trees.’


Wednesday, 26 August 2020

how to turn your dog into a seeded loaf

Rocket is seen here considering how to save the world.


Now lockdown is over for a while I’ve stopped baking bread. Unfortunately I didn’t shut the cupboard door where all the bread flour is kept – spelt, wholemeal, wholemeal with seeds, white with seeds, white without seeds, rye…. And also unfortunately the cupboard is in the same room that Noa sleeps in at night.  When I came down in the morning she and the floor were covered in flour mix – all the packets had been dutifully chewed  and their contents scattered to the four corners of the room. What made it worse was that she’d gone outside in the rain and had turned herself into a pastry dog. It took a lot of clearing up and washing her down. At least she didn’t find the yeast or she might have turned into a large seeded loaf.


                Here she is sitting stubbornly in the stubble. Too late for the wheat 

                  to add to her flour collection.

All the birds have gone now but there was a time when there was just one crow left. I left the door wide open so it could leave whenever it wanted but for ages it didn’t. Sometimes it would wander off outside but always returned. However one of his jackdaw friends would come back daily for a chat and a bit of grub. I’d find them sitting together. Discussing this and that. Here’s a picture of when two crows remained and the jackdaw came back the first time. So now as Autumn approaches they have all flown  off to make new lives for themselves. The jackdaw though still appears in the eucalyptus tree in the garden and chatters away. He/she can see the chimney from there and I daresay is planning a takeover come Spring to make a nest up there.

 And in the horse's stable a swallow's second brood have just hatched

 I asked Pocket how his play writing was going and he told me he was considering writing one called The Mousetrap. I said that had been written a long time ago by Agatha Christie and was still running in the West End (the butler did it.) He curled back his upper lip and said that didn't matter as he’d had one accepted already called Pocket on a Hot Tin Roof. I said don’t you mean Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams?  Exactly he sighed and did I know any actor managers because as well as penning it he thought he would star in it. You're getting too big for your boots I told him. Mmmmm - he replied - good title for my original new pantomime then - Puss in Boots.

Here are Harry and Trude having an early morning kiss.

The lilies rescued from the garden before the lily beetles could get them have cast their intoxicating smell throughout the house.

Rosa Mutabilis - an ever changing rose from red to pink to orange

 The Just


A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.

He who is grateful for the existence of music.

He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.

Two workmen playing, in a café in the South, a silent game of chess.

The potter, contemplating a color and a form.

The typographer who sets this page well, though it may not please


A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.

He who strokes a sleeping animal.

He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done him.

He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.

He who prefers others to be right.

These people, unaware, are saving the world.


Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Alastair Reid), in Jorge Luis Borges, Selected Poems 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

a wolf in rabbit's clothing

I told Noa that the rabbits wouldn't be fooled by the disguise but looking closely at the picture now
 I think they were her antennae homing into signals from the mother ship that landed her here.

Of course here she is looking like a normal sort of dog - all big paws and long tongue and wet nose  and wanting to eat everything from biscuits to socks to pencils and notebooks but Rocket and I are beginning to think otherwise.

 She's been trained well in all things dog so we won't suspect. Those sweet pleading loyal looking eyes, the ability to turn the back lawn into a combination of Gardener's Question Time (" what do we do with the large holes in our lawn?") to the back yard of Toys R Us. The tiger has his limbs in all four corners now, the squeeky sheep's squeek is down one of the holes, the teddy's ears are nowhere to be seen  and the blue rubber sausage dog which we affectionately call the blue penis no longer has any legs. But Rocket and I are suspicious.

He thinks if he closes his eyes it will all go away. Naturally she hasn't stopped growing and is now twice Rocket's size and no one at the puppy training classes likes her playing with their puppies because they're all the size of her head.

 Although Rocket likes biting her ears I think he secretly hopes the mother ship will come and collect her and I've seen him peering over the horizon at dusk in the hope he can see some flashing lights which are not our Lights R Us twinkling solar fairy ones strewn round the decking. He got very excited one day when he heard a sort of whirring noise and thought the ship had come for her but it turned out to be our neighbour's son's drone.

Meanwhile out on the corvid front - the other day I opened up the doors for them to fly away. The one that couldn't fly was first out and I had to catch him as he couldn't get off the ground and would not have survived the night or even the rest of the day with the cats around. The others kept sitting on the door frame and not wanting to fly out the door into the azure blue skies of freedom. Eventually three left and one remained along with the one who couldn't fly which I thought would be company for each other until the phone rang and the wildlife centre asked if I could look after two more. So now there are four which is one less than five.

Nancy my familiar doesn't often appear on the blog but here she is having entered a nunnery. I'm going to re-name her Ophelia-get-thee-to-a-nunnery.

 Pocket however - still cosying up to poor Rocket assures me he has no further dog jokes or pearls of wisdom and is having an Uncle Vanya moment and may start writing plays. I told him Cats had already been done. He turned up his nose, half closed his eyes, brisked up his whiskers and told me Cats was not a play but a mewsical.

 Some flowers are still blooming in the garden or rather in the jug

these glorious perennial sweet peas are a late arrival

This is the LAST of the Covid Poems written during lockdown. I will not be going to this particular subject again.

                                          Covid Days

On the first day the thrush sang in the philadelphus
there were no planes to dull his dulcet tones.
On the second day the television news crawled up the walls
and took up residence in the hallway carpet.
On the third day I baked bread
also on the fourth day and the tenth day
and the fifteenth day when I did not
buy toilet paper.
On the sixteenth day the phone rang
“Do you need a food box, anyone to do your shopping
pick up a prescription?”
The lone onion in the bowl had grown a shoot
and the three potatoes in the basket
were producing roots.
No need I said but thanks for asking.
On the twentieth day the dogs started howling
on the twenty second day the phones stopped ringing
on the twenty fifth day the rooks cloaked
in the air somewhere between the corn and the clouds
there were still no planes to override
the sound of their flapping wings.
On the thirtieth day someone knocked on the door
I did not answer.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

tyger tyger and a murder of crows

OK the tiger's mine right?

Noa now at 16 weeks has over taken Rocket in size. Well she has to grow into those huge paws. He's hanging on by a thin thread though to maintain his position of head boy. He thinks he's the captain of the ship and it's his job to protect all of us which results in barking at any stranger and sometimes even showing a very fine set of teeth.
 Between the two of them they have made huge holes in the back lawn, taken any plant that happened to be in a pot and run off with half a loaf of bread that I had baked. That's what people do in Lockdown - they bake bread and I am no exception. Partly because I'm not doing my own shopping and can't rely on decent bread and also because I have so much TIME. And what a good job I have because a clattering of jackdaws and a murder of crows have entered my life.

Because of the virus I've not been going in to the wild life hospital to help with the hedgehogs but I have been helping with the young corvids (not covids) so when I get a phone call I go and collect whatever has fallen down a chimney, been left in the road or picked up by a cat and look after them at home. This time it all started with picking up a jackdaw an old man had found by the road - as it turned out miles from where I live but I'd probably go anywhere for a jackdaw. I drove and drove and met the old man in a layby where he got out of his car, left a box by the road and drove off. As I approached the box looking over my shoulder for police cars as that was when you couldn't go out on unnecessary journeys and they were stopping cars asking where they were going - it felt as if I had  suddenly turned into a drugs mule.  Imagine my disappointment when I opened the box and found a pigeon squab. Now I'm sorry but surely the old man knew jackdaws were black and this was pale grey and didn't even look like a bird. It had been hit by a car and although I took it back with me it did die which was sad but not that sad.
Currently back home there are two proper jackdaws and three crows and they all get on surprisingly well. Above is one of the jackdaws who can now feed himself and expertly fly up and down but not along yet.

He has struck up an endearing friendship with one of the crows and they sit next to each other on a branch in the shade tunnel and follow each other around. I've never had jackdaws and crows together and am amazed at how accepting they are of each other. I've never seen them squabble, argue or peck each other and they seem to have settled in well. Not so much a murder more of a sedate book club.

Pocket continues to adore Rocket in spite of Rocket's reticence.  Either that or he's planning on taking out the other eye.

Rocket much prefers being with Noa who at the moment  he can boss around.  They like it in the field, tearing, racing,rolling in the badger poo, snarling, barking, biting, rolling in the badger poo.......He's given up on his covid diary and suggests he'll start a cog's dog's blog. We'll have to see about that.

I said to Pocket I hope we're not going to have any more dog jokes and he turned his mouth down and brisked up his whiskers and asked me if I knew what his favourite colour was and I said no wasn't he colour blind? And he closed his green eyes and said Purrrrrrrrrrrple.


Love was a dog lead waiting in the porch
for the dog who was really love.
I stand at the door now and watch
the birds on the table that he
 would have scattered like confetti
across the garden.

There is a full moon tonight
and the wolf in him would have howled until
it landed in his feed bowl
and he could have snuffled it with his long nose
leaving the best bits till last.

I stride out alone across the fields in the dusk
the rabbits sitting in the waving grass
as if now I don’t exist
not running, panting, bobbing
to their burrows
but languishing in the knowledge they will
no longer be chased
like the pheasants who flapping into the sky
 whenever he passed
now remain in the safety of their shadows.
He was a dog that noticed things.

Sometimes as I lie in bed I feel
the weight of him in the crook of my knees
his legs twitching as he chases those rabbits
in his sleep
and I reach out a hand to ruffle his ears
but meet only bedclothes
crumpled like a fallen bird.

Linda Coggin