Today I got my phoneline back. I still have a landline, which I apprecaite that not everyone uses, as I get a good deal on calls to other landlines. However for the last few days it’s not been working. It had started crackling when we had some bad weather recently and proceeded to get worse as time went on. In the end it just stopped working properly. I could call the phone but upon answering it died straight away. I had a look outside and noticed that the cable protecting the line into the house had been knawed at, probably by some of the local urban foxes. They had managed to totally break through the outer casing leaving it exposed to the elements. Thankfully my phone provider repairs this sort of issue free of charge and the line is now crystal clear.
I’m a big fan of Christmas cards for a number of reasons. Firstly its nice to have something arrive in the traditional post that isn’t a bill or junk mail. The second is that, especially if you are like me, it’s a chance to send a card that helps remind us all of the reason that Christmas is being celebrated, something that is all too easily forgotten, purposely ignored, or even not known about now-a-days. However I’m going to risk being accused of being a scrooge here by suggesting that having cards “sent” from one’s pets is a step too far. The other way around, especially for loved family pets, especially from younger owners, I can understand. We even bought presents for our dog when I was young. But for me, cards from pets misses the whole point of Christmas and is just a sign of the commercialisation and materialism that dogs (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) Christmas.
I was leading the service at the church I attend again today. It’s something that always takes preparation and I’d had a couple of attempts at the preparation before having something I was happy with. As others have said, it takes a lot of practice to come across naturally when you are standing in front of people. The sermon was on ‘The Good Shepherd’. Not to be confused with Psalm 23 this was the passage in John 10. An illustration used about the type of shepherd really struck home. Unlike most shepherds today where they move the sheep from field to field from the rear of the flock, in Jesus’ time, the sheep would follow the shepherd. They would recognise his voice and follow and trust it. It was a reminder that it is a willing following that takes place, not a forced persuading. It also left me wondering about how much else we misunderstand because of the ‘modern’ eyes we see things through. (PS, I know the picture is not that of a shepherds crook but it’s the closest thing I have that is shaped like one!)
I’ve been doing a fair bit in the garden since getting back from holiday. It’s amazing how having 2 weeks away can lead to such a lot of work needing to be done. Currently I’m harvesting potatoes as the main plants have more or less died now, so there’s not going to be significant spud growth now. I also took advantage of the fact that some of the potatoes were sown in older raised beds that hadn’t been lined by putting the soil into trugs, brushing down the raised bed and then lining them. I’ve still got a couple to do, but they will be done when harvested or before sowing next year. While doing this I was visited by this tame fellow who seemed happy to hope around on the emptied raised bed (mainly for food purposes) but sat on the spade and was quite happy to be within a meter of me.
As I’ve mentioned a few times it’s been an unusually warm summer this year and I saw this unexpected fellow on my walk around the local duck pond (yes its still there but reducing to a puddle day by day). Strictly speaking it’s not a snake but a slowworm which is neither a snake nor a worm but a legless lizard. They are totally harmless. I’ve seen 3 or 4 over time as they only tend to come out when it’s very warm. I helped it back towards the bushes and out of the road as drivers were not going to notice it and that would be a bad ending to a very rare trip out for it!
I’m still doing the long walks when I can and to the weather was OK so I set of on another one, this time covering more of the Downs Link path previously mentioned. I’m doing the loops again with the free parking so I get to see more of the countryside, and with the Downs Link that is important as that part of the walk is often shaded. On one of the smaller footpaths I was on (which later came to an unexpected dead end leaving me to track back), there was a sudden movement ahead and two stags with wonderful antlers went sprinting across the field in front of me. They weren’t hanging around for me and the photo above was the best I could get, but they were elegant to see and the first deer I’ve seen in all the walking I’ve done this year.
I have a small fish tank in the lounge. Strictly speaking it’s a nano tank, and while I know these are not ideal, it works well and is on the larger end of the nano tanks. I have a small number of tetras and some penguin fish in it. Like any other tank, it needs cleaning from time to time and today was a cleaning day. I scrapped off the algae growing on the side of the tank and gave the glass top a good clean too and it’s amazing how much that helped it look better. Now clean I was able to top it up water wise, adjust the pump flow and give the fish a feeding treat for having to put up with me ‘invading’ their home. A few hours later and they seem quite unfazed about it all, either that or they are stunned with the new view they have through the glass.
I am very lucky where I live. More specifically I am lucky that should the weather allow, I can watch the sun go down over the hills of the South Downs every evening. While this is by no means the most impressive sunset I have seen from the garden, it’s one of the more impressive ones this year. The late evening clouds just add to the contrast and even my colourblindness doesn’t take away from the beauty that I can see. I also love looking at the clouds to see what shapes they create. Looking at this picture as I post it I see a pterodactyl with its wings folded forward in the centre left of the clouds. You may see it or you may see something else. Feel free to point out images I may have missed, but if nothing else, do look up at the clouds in the sky occasionally. You’ll be amazed at what you might see.
On my lunchtime walks I had come to the conclusion that there were only going to be the one set of goslings born this year. I was quite surprised then today to find another 3 fairly newly hatched goslings at the pond. I hadn’t realised there could be such variety in when they would hatch, and it gives me hope that we might get some ducklings at some point in the year. They were in the same place as the other goslings and it gave a wonderful opportunity in one photo to show quite how quickly they grow as the first born set of three are now much larger and even starting to lose their down feathers.
The bird feeders didn’t seem to be attracting a lot of visits by anything other than the squirrels so I’ve done some thinking and have placed them in slightly different locations which hopefully won’t be as visited by the squirrels having them hanging near the hanging baskets in the garden. I’m still not totally convinced by one location (not pictured), but hopefully I’ll have a brainwave in due course.