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Owls hooting at midday! Cuckoos calling in the winter! Has the world turned topsy-turvey? No! I gave way to an impulse and bought JW  a clock which has a different bird call on the hour.

One of the things we missed most when we moved to the city was the sound of the birds, which we had enjoyed when we lived in the country. We have enticed the birds into our city garden but not, of course, such a variety.

To be honest I don’t miss the raucous shriek of the peacocks or the ghostly sound of the screech owls, but the wonderful dawn chorus or the beautiful serenade from the top of the trees as night falls was something special. 

It is a bit disconcerting to hear the owl at midday and realise that it is time to start getting the lunch ready instead of thinking that I should be in bed, or to have two pm marked by the cuckoo, but it does give us a giggle and is probably slightly more realistic than the clock that JW offered to buy me. This was an Elvis clock.  Just think of the new rumours that could have started if a passerby heard those mellifluous tones coming from a modest house in Cardiff!

P.S.  The bird clock has a light sensor to cut the sound off at night, but the street lights mean that it never really gets dark, so JW has another pre- bedtime task to add to his door lock checking. He has to cover the clock, just like we used to cover the budgie cage. 🙂

I find the workings of the minds of children fascinating, especially those of my grandsons. The elder, 9 years old, weaves stories (usually with a space/sci.fi base.)

The youngest, 6 years old, tends to work out what is logical (to him!)  Todayhe was reading a story to his brother. It was a story about two children being shown the sights of London. When they got to Buckingham Palace the grandmother in the story facetiously remarked, “What a big place. The Queen must be kept very busy cleaning such a big place.”

Cheeky stopped reading and in a disgusted tone said, “This is just silly, everybody knows she doesn’t do her own cleaning!”

“Who does it?” asked his brother.

“The knights, of course,” came the reply.

Immediately the vision of knights in armour and armed with mops and buckets flashed before our eyes and then the even funnier thought of the modern day knights, the business men, politicians, sports stars and stage personalities being given their tasks for the day.

During  summer the recess of parliament could be used for the annual spring clean.

JW  capped all our wild speculations with, “Sir Alan (Sugar) would obviously be given the Windows (Think about it :))

We have a new cat in our neighbourhood and he is not having a very good time lately!

On Friday JW  glanced out of the window and saw the cat slinking across the lawn. Knowing that Henry, our tortoise, lies in the sun leaving his head and legs exposed, he rushed out to shoo it away. He needn’t have worried. When he checked on Henry he found him sitting happily with a smug expression on his face and the cat nowhere to be seen. We think that Henry had done his famous snake impression, by raising himself up, sticking his neck out, and then flopping down which forces his breath out in a hiss. 🙂

Yesterday I was glancing out of the bedroom window when sudden movements in next door’s garden caught my attention. I saw the cat darting from one side to the other. I thought at first that it was chasing birds and then realised that it was birds chasing him! Two large blackbirds were chasing him around the garden, with a great flapping of wings and screeching. Another (female) blackbird was shouting encouragement from the fence. I think she has a nest in a bush nearby. There was quite a din and all the little birds, blue tits, robin, finches etc from our hawthorn trees were out along the branches jumping up and down shouting encouragement! It was a scene worthy of Disney.

I am not a cat person, but even I felt a modicum of sympathy for the cat, especially when the vociferous dog who lives on the other side joined in……. That was after I finished giggling of course. 🙂

Yesterday Jennie was not feeling well so GG kindly offered to take me for my weekly shop. The two grandsons decided to play “I spy something in the car”

Handsome (the accomplished 8 yearold reader being kind to little brother) said, “I spy something beginning with wuh”

Cheeky ( the new reader aged 5 years)said, “That is called double u, you know!” in a tone which inferred, wouldn’t you think an eight year old would know that! 

Today I looked out of the kitchen window and became aware of a lot of activity at the bird feeder. Several tits were inside the squirrel proof feeder happily dining.  A robin was hopping up and down on the tree, and if a bird could be said to be tapping his foot impatiently, that is what he was doing. He contained his impatience  for a few moments and then jumped down on the top of the feeder and rocked it quite violently until the tits flew out,  and then went in to eat his fill! 🙂

This must be what they mean by the pecking order.

Here in Cardiff we have been quite lucky (so far) with the winter weather. We have had only a dusting of snow, sleet and frost, but I know many of you are having to cope with much more difficult conditions, so I thought the following piece, which was printed in my hospital league magazine, might lift the mood a little. This is especially for my friend Doggone  🙂

 In my next life I’d like to come back as a bear.     by Claire Oakley

In this life I’m a woman. In my next life I’d like to come back as a bear. When you’re a bear you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that!!

Before you hibernate you’re supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too!!

When you are a girl bear you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you are sleeping and wake to partially grown cute cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that!!

If you’re a mamma bear everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that!!

If you’re a bear your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He EXPECTS you to have hairy legs and excess body fat

                                                                           Yup, gonna be a bear!! 

Hope that lifts the gloom a little. 🙂

When I saw this lady on the news last week I was full of admiration for her. She is a 75 year old granny from England who retired to Spain with her husband. He died from leukaemia and she decided that she must find an interest so she took up Salsa dancing  and was so successful that it became her main interest. 

After the first feeling of admiration other feelings kicked in. First came shame, because she is five years older than me and so much more energetic and nimble, then came envy and finally came determination!

I had already decided that one of my resolutions this year would be to take regular exercise and seeing this has reinforced that resolve. If I lose some weight and an inch or two around the hips so much the better, but my main aim is to get fitter and increase my stamina, so thank you “Salsa Granny”  for giving me the spur.

For twenty years we lived on the west coast of Wales in a country bungalow. One of the things I missed most when we moved to the city was the wide variety of wildlife, which entertained us in our large garden.

There were many different birds, from the tiny wren living in the rockery, to the red kites who gave us a daily aerobatic show as they whirled, dived and glided over the field next door.

JW  bought sacks of wild bird food every Autumn and made feeding tables complete with food hoppers, which he fixed in the trees around the house. The birds were used to him refilling these every morning and waited around quite patiently for him to go out. We were amused to see where the saying “pecking order” came from, as they waited patiently for their turns to visit the tables.

Inevitably some of the food fell off the tables and we did get a few strange crops under them! After a short time the pheasants from a neighbouring farmer found the food and eventually they became regular visitors and some even started roosting in our trees, and as soon as JW went into the barn to get their food, they would come running from all corners of the garden.

Of course we don’t see such a large variety of birds now, but a week or two ago we noticed that we had not seen any birds, so he went off and bought bird food and filled the hopper on our one table. Still no birds, so JW tweeted about it and within an hour a bluetit and a robin had arrived and started feeding, so that is why I asked “Do birds tweet?” 🙂

This morning a letter dropped through our letterbox. It was from the Reader’s Digest Association and the envelope was marked “Financial Services”   “Time sensitive information enclosed”  Important!

Had I at last won one of the prizes they had been offering me? They are constantly telling me that they would really like to announce me as a winner, so maybe my day had come. 🙂

I wouldn’t have to choose the next cruise, we could go on all of them and take the family. We’d be secure for life! We could put money into trust for the boys’ education, we could…….

Sadly no. When I opened it, it was to invite me to buy one of their funeral plans! 

Do they know something I don’t know since they marked it  “time sensitive”  or have they just worked out that I have passed my three score and ten?

I was feeling quite well when I got up this morning. 🙂

When we went to town this morning, I had a compliment paid me, I think!

As I hurried along to meet JW,  a young man in his early twenties stepped out and,  with a smile, handed me a small gospel  booklet. I glanced down amd was bemused to see the title……”A message to the young – where are you going?”

I smiled back at the young man and asked, “Are you sure that you want me to have this? It’s meant for the young”

“Well you are comparatively young aren’t you” he answered.

It put an extra spring into my step and I felt quite chirpy. This lasted until we came home and I related the incident to my lovely daughter, who brought me swiftly back to earth with, “Compared to whom, Metthusalah?” 🙂

When we finished our fourth year at our training hospital three of us decided to take time out before we started our midwifery training. This was in the days before the “year out” became so popular, so it was regarded by our peers as a bit odd!

I had been to Geilo in Norway for a skiing holiday and had fallen in love with both the country and the people, so I persuaded the other two that we should start our travels with a summer there. It was a small village which became very busy in the winter season, but returned to being a  more peaceful village in the summer season and catered mainly for tourists who stayed for only one or two nights as they travelled around Scandinavia or as the Americans said  “were doing Europe”.

We were offered jobs as chambermaids for the summer season. The hotel was (then) the largest in the valley and had a small permanent staff and the rest of us were seasonal workers. The majority were university students or recent graduates and were mainly British and Scandinavian all of us in our early twenties. There were three in their thirties J1  had been a teacher in England, who had met and fallen in love with a Norwegian a few years before. By the time the love affair was over she had fallen for the country and stayed on. J2 was a legal secretary from Edinburgh who had seen an advert in the Scotsman and on an impulse replied to it. K  had gone on a skiing holiday5 years before and never gone home again!

We got on well with our fellow workers and had a very happy time, spending our off duty playing tennis, walking and generally enjoying an outdoor life. It was a great contrast to our previously hectic time on the wards (and was actually better paid!) The biggest responsibility we had was keeping the guest rooms clean enough to satisfy the very particular housekeeper, so it was fortunate that we had been so well trained by the ward sisters 🙂

We all wanted to learn Norwegian and the Scandinavians, who had all learned English in school, wanted to perfect their accents, so we had a mutual help society where they spoke to us in English and we tried to answer in Norwegian. Some words are spelt the same in both languages but pronounced differently so it was always worth trying to “blag” your way by using the appropriate accent. Sometimes it worked but other times it produced strange or embarrassing results.

One of my bloomers came when one of  the guests on my “station” (set of rooms I was responsible for) asked me to vacuum away a mess of crumbs which his children had dropped in the corridor outside his room. The housekeeper saw me taking the vacuum cleaner and asked what I was doing as she had already inspected my rooms. I could not remember the word for cleaner,so, thinking that maybe they used the trade name of the cleaner just as we say “Hoovering”,  I substituted a shortened version of the trade name and thought I had done quite well until that stern face cracked into a smile. The name of the cleaner was Nilfisk and what I had said was that I was going fishing in the corridor for a man!

Johanna substituted the Norwegian word for dirty when she came round collecting the dirty sheets for the laundry bag by calling out “Has anyone got any sh***y sheets ?

Lars however made probably the most embarrassing bloomer. We had just finished our evening meal and, as he leaned back, he gave an enormous burp. This turned him pink as he apologised, ” Excuse me please, but I always rape after a big meal”  When one of the boys explained what he had said his pink blush turned crimson!