DAY 42: Fri 24 April

The day the bird-proof netting snared its first victim

Another sunny day, so no excuse not to get on with the planting. 

The first surprise of the day was another unpleasant visiting card from a fox, right on top of the chickens’ feeder. The other, of course was Trump’s bizarre press statement about the healing powers of disinfectant and getting ultra violet light under peoples skin. The man is an idiot, a truly dangerous idiot – and there are a lot of idiots who think he is the bee’s knees. God help America.

And then, on the home front, there is the little matter of access to my bird-proof veg and soft fruit patch. It is long and thin and kept stable by two cross struts which necessitate crawling between the three sections. 

My solution is to run floorboards to a series of flagstones to facilitate planting and picking. I run into difficulties straightaway. As I am installing the final flagstone the overhead netting snags my glasses. The reason comes as a shock. A young sparrow has flown straight into the near invisible netting and is now caught in it. Its struggles have swung the netting onto my head. The poor thing is panicked because its tiny head is snagged as well as its little legs. It allows me to carefully extricate it. In the hope others won’t make the same mistake, I hang a shiny cd from the branch of a shrub and hope that will do the trick. Perhaps the little bird will warn its mates. 

Soon after I discover my layout solutions bring their own problems. Working on my knees in one section inevitably means that legs mess up the one behind. Dunno how to resolve this, but I am determined to get plants in. So one section remains unseeded, but beetroot, carrots, coriander, French beans, onions, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard, plus two each of the courgettes and butternut squash are now in place. I also seeded a second small slope of wild flowers to attract the bees and other pollinators. 

Meanwhile my house guest, keen to keep busy during Ramadan get hold of a neighbour’s power hose and makes a start on cheering up the patio. What was an area of grey slabs is now a bright lemony space which is both uplifting but also a unnerving – dare we tread on it? and how will we keep the chickens from making their mark?

But suddenly it really feels like summer, such a pity we can’t have visitors in for a barbecue.

However the noisy machine freaked out the chickens who high-tailed it onto the neighbours flat roof, where I has just installed some potato pots, which attracted their attention. You cannot win with these birds. Time for them to go to bed.

I finished early time for a shower as a journalist friend from the Congo was coming over to collect some tomatoes and bean plants for his flat. No sooner have I stripped for my shower than he calls to say the international Zoom meeting he’s been on is extending so he will come another day. Still it allows me to prepare for a ‘distance drinking’ session with the inhabitants of the ‘other end’ of my street. Brook Road is broken in two by the remnants of the unadopted Back Lane (it’s original name) which crosses the now culverted Bally Brook (which gave the street its name). Up that end they are having a social gathering at 5, ‘bring your own drink and keep your distance’.

About 20 of us got together at the junction of two cul-de-sacs. Most brought a chair, and one couple brought a bowl of crisp packets all sanitised and untouched by human hand. Some of us had never met before. One teenager was emerging from her home for the first time in four weeks. Drinks ranged from Tia Maria to gin & tonic, white wine to IPA. Very civilised.

I had to leave to get back to my end for my story reading stint, but Skype told me my grandsons were not around. My daughter calls to say the family were out on a cycle ride. The boys have gone stir crazy at home all day.

So that leaves me a spare half hour to work on this entry, share Iftar with my house guest and then settle down to Gogglebox then a decent movie.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.


  1. This blog becomes simultaneously more enjoyable and believable if you replace any instance of the word chickens with the word wives.


  2. For example: ‘However the noisy machine freaked out the wives who high-tailed it onto the neighbours flat roof, where I has just installed some potato pots, which attracted their attention. You cannot win with these birds. Time for them to go to bed.’

    You’re welcome.

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