The magpie wars continue. Not simply in our garden and the adjacent railway embankment, but also on Cannon Hill Common, where I walked today. Parakeets in an oak tree were particularly excited by them. I’ve never seen so many magpies. There are two on the grass and two in a fir tree in the garden as I write. And their warning cry gets on your nerves after a while. It really grates.
Jackie was visiting a care home off Grand Drive, so she drove me to The Paddocks, award winning, Allotments alongside the common. The plots on this site, the paths between them, and the various communal facilities, are all well tended. I would imagine that every variety of fruit, vegetable, and flower, capable of being cultivated in this country may be found there. It would take a day or two thoroughly to explore it.
The lovely morning sunlight dappled the wooded paths in the common itself, and set sparkling the buttercups, clover, and numerous other spring flowers in the well tended meadows. I had to ask a dog-walker for directions to the lake to which, sixty years ago, Chris and I had walked from Raynes Park to collect newts. I don’t recollect any other wildlife on the lake then, but then perhaps I was only interested in newts. The lake is an eighteenth century brick pit which has been filled in. Renovated in 2007 it now supports, and sports, a wide variety of wild life. It is not just parakeets that are newcomers to Cannon Hill Common since 1950. There are mallards, coots, cormorants, and many other waterfowl and birds feeding on the pond life; the lake has been stocked with dace, carp and other fish; there are frogs, and, of course, newts; and bats come seeking insects, perhaps the dragonflies that are in evidence. I would speculate that the newts are descendents of those Chris and I did not catch. Yellow irises and other water-loving plants were in bloom. Beams of sunlight caught a myriad of insects.
Walking back to Links Avenue, it being earlier than usual, I was able to walk past The Martin Cafe without entering. A rare occurence.
This afternoon in Lidl I got my come-uppance for yesterday’s comments about ‘take care’. Not noticing a wet patch on the polished floor of the store I slipped on it, slid across the aisle, and bashed my forearm on a metal rack. C’est la vie.
I had bought the sandals I was wearing, and in which I had just retrodden a childhood path, in Barbados in 2004. I had walked around the island in them, so much so that I became known as ‘the white man who walks’. The local people thought this a sign of not being quite right in the head. One morning I walked the ten miles from our hotel to Bridgetown along what passed for a main road. Whenever I checked directions I was told I should be on a bus. Not that there appeared to be any bus stops. If you wanted one you leapt into the road and gesticulated. It may have been marginally safer to have been riding on one of these ramshackle vehicles which went careering along the winding roads than to have spent my time jumping into bushes to avoid them. I am not sure. If there was a speed limit no-one adhered to it. Actually I did ride back and the journey was remarkably comfortable. Unfortunately I had wasted valuable time standing in the wrong queue. A certain amount of local knowledge was required to station oneself correctly.
Along these roads people lived in chattel houses. These are portable homes, stout, and some very old. Although people didn’t seem to worry about outside maintenance, the insides looked spotless and the adults and schoolchildren who emerged from them were beautifully turned out; womens’ dresses and children’s uniforms vying with the display of the ubiquitous bougainvillea. This made a long walk which finished in the full heat of the day seem very refreshing. My memory of the juvenile tramp from Raynes Park to Cannon Hill Common was much less so. It was hot, dry, dusty, and to two small boys it seemed a very long way.
This evening we had Jackie’s Bolognese sauce with penne from the freezer. Mine was accompanied by a couple of glasses of Pont St. Jean Minervois 2010, whilst Jackie had a glass of Sancere.
And so to a game or two of Scrabble and bed.