DAY 63: Fri 15 May

The frog who turned into a teacher, and the magpie who took on the chickens

Up too early again. Let the chickens out and recovered the wildlife camera. I had changed its position and there is more evidence that the rats are coming from the front garden, and heading towards the neighbours’ garden as much as the chicken run.

I have supplied my May 12 entry to Mass Observation at Sussex University. <> They are collating memories of that day but documenting the pandemic through ordinary people’s observations generally. i am also offering my diary to Bristol Archives too <> who want to build a local record of this unusual time.

Spent much of the morning checking the long diary entry from yesterday – much of which I had typed in CAPs (but had not noticed at the time), so the edit takes longer than usual. By the time I finished it was time to read Cullann to the boys, who were sitting in their kitchen where I could see their mum and dad going about their domestic duties. A nice intimate touch which brings me closer to the family.. 

The frog has turned back into a teacher called Oleron, and Culann reunites him with his wife Moiselle. But the evil headteacher Maistireach has gone down into the Well of the Bad Fairies on The Other Side to arrange for Culann’s murder! Cullan and his school mates block up the well with stones to ensure no harm will come to him, doing away with Maistireach in the process. He then decided to propose to Menessa, a girl he has met in the forest. Mystery surrounds her, and when Culann is called back to Ireland the Druids must decide whether the marriage should go ahead. They demand that Culann must first run alone around the boundaries of the nine counties of Ulster, in 21 days and nights. Sounds simple enough, but tomorrow’s chapter is called The Vale of the Snakes, and Culann will only have his hurley stick for protection!

An amusing little contest is happening on the garden at lunchtime. A magpie has come looking for food that is normally available on the bird table. Supplies have been suspended for the duration of the rat crisis. The mystified magpie hops onto the garden table, and appear to be turning a beady eye on the much bigger black and white Light Sussex chicken, as if til blame her for the paucity of provisions. It then bounces across to a chair, and then onto the ground where the smallest of the chickens is sitting in the shade under the table. The magpie lunges at the Mottled Leghorn, as if she it she should suffer for the shortage of snacks. At which point the Leghorn’s much bigger companion immediately rushes to its aid and chases the magpie away.

I am tired. I allow myself to sit in the garden wih  Go, Went, Gone but the chickens don’t seem to think I deserve to relax. They watch with gimlet eyes as I eat an apple. When I break up the core and discard it in their direction there is a sudden flurry of activity as they battle to gobble it up. They then settle down on the grass beside me. But by then I have itchy feet and need to be up and doing.  There is washing to get in, and some paper work to be done. I decide to categorise the rat footage I have in case it should be needed at a later date, then place the camera in a new position with a bait box sited on the rats’ run.

A suitcase of family photographs is delivered, as if I didn’t have enough to sort. I dee nit open it. I still haven’t looked at my colleague worthy paper, Drinks at safe distance is promised this evening by the young couple whose flat roof is level with my patio.  They are preparing a barbecue, while I am preparing baked sea bass with lime and rosemary for Iftar.

I plan to catch up on Gogglebox after that, then try to get an early night, so with watering done, I shall post this shortest-ever entry now. 

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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