Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Hare's Form And Tea With Uncle Charles

Hare's Form
Imprint of the Hare's back feet in the earth
Blue Tit

Blue Tits

Great Tit

Marsh Tit
Mr & Mrs Sparrow

Coal Tit

Collar Dove
Moorhen

Mr Sparrow





How are you all?

It's been another busy week here chez Countryside Tales. I've finished the last assignment that I needed to do before college breaks up for Christmas (phew), had my last session with the first years before next year (during which I forgot whether it was a mink or a pine marten we were looking at in the ID test I'd put together for them, and then thought a grey partridge was a ptarmigan- it must be time for a holiday) and more or less finished wrapping all the Christmas presents and have sent off all the cards. I spent this morning taking everything out of the kitchen and scrubbing the cupboards and the oven (yuk), washed the sheets and towels, baked some bread, made some profiteroles for later, mucked out L's bedroom, took the dogs and my husband out for a two mile run and listened to the Marsh Tit (see above) sneezing in the hedge. 

On Friday, I spent the morning sitting in a freezing concrete barn on a farm near Dorchester listening to talks about cover crops with a bunch of tweed-clad country folk and flat-capped, John-Deere-overalled farmers while staring wistfully at a heater which, despite roaring out an impressive looking yellow flame was about as effective as a chocolate teapot. It was interesting, but the cold meant my mind wandered to a Yellow Hammer who was sitting in a tree just outside the barn along with a gang of sparrows and chaffinches and one or two wagtails. The afternoon was spent in a freezing field looking at cover crops growing and staring in to holes in the ground while being gently rained on. The high point came when a hare shot out from beneath our feet as we walked back to the barn for a hot pasty and revealed his form- something I've never seen before. A Hare's Form is the shallow he digs out of the earth to lay in (see the pics above). Brilliant! I was so taken with it I forgot most of the things I learnt in the morning.

Yesterday, we took Uncle Charles out for tea. He's got this nifty new zimmer frame thing on wheels that folds up when you don't need it and it's helped his getting-about-ness no end. Unfortunately, the carpark was full of pot holes and puddles, which is not a good combination when coupled with Uncle Charles' gung-ho attitude to life and wobbly legs. He set off at terrifically determined pace heading straight for a puddle. Mind the puddle! we yelled, holding our collective breath as he swerved at the last possible second and avoided a dunking. This had the effect of sending him tottering off at such a wonky angle that I covered my eyes with my hands, certain he was going to fall over, but the next second I uncovered them at the sound of his exuberant Ha! in time to witness him narrowly avoiding bouncing off one car and ping-ponging in to another. A few staggers later and he'd regained his balance and was zooming cheerfully on. Oh God his wife breathed in my ear, but quietly, because she's been married to Charles for a long time.

A nerve-wracking few minutes later (which included crossing a small bridge over a lake), we had made it into the tearooms in one piece and sat down, relieved. The antique hearing-aid boxes were retrieved from a plastic boots bag and scattered liberally across the table and we all set about listening to a story about the time Uncle Charles was in the Arctic (again), swiftly followed by some questions about which bit of Scotland I'm off to next year and would I like his old maps of the Cairngorms? I shouted yes please, choosing to ignore my husband's gentle snorts into his napkin, because the maps will be at least fifty years old. Surely mountains don't change much in fifty years though? 

Then we all had a bit more shouty conversation (because the hearing aids don't work) about the time his wife crossed the channel in a long boat and how long it took to get to South Africa just after the war, before moving on to a discussion about the best place to buy printer paper. I plumped for WH Smith, Uncle Charles went for a small shop he's found off Fisherton Street in Salisbury, informing me with a triumphant grin that a ream there cost him £4.80 to my £5. I saw him his £4.80 and raised him an offer of buy two get one free, and then felt bad when he looked a little crest fallen. Finally, we rounded off the afternoon with a debate on which gsm of printer paper we all liked best. I couldn't look at M by this point, and felt, all things considered, that I did rather well to keep a straight face and answer seriously that I had always found 80 gsm to be adequate. 

Only twelve days to Christmas! I'm off to decorate our tree, with a little help from T and P.....

Hope you're all well?

CT :o)



23 comments:

  1. Beautiful bird pictures as always, just noticed your lovely lavender table cloth under the fabrics, it is very nice.
    And the last picture, the only thing I can say is get the kettle on I'm coming around x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It came from the market years ago and is liberally sprinkled with small cuts from where my roller cutters fell off the edge of the cutting mat! I'll save you an eclair...xx

      Delete
  2. Uncle Charles sounds like someone that I know! We decline offers of maps and guidebooks every time we go on holiday. One day it will be our sad duty to rehome them, but in the meantime we don't want to rehome them to our home! Your day sounds really great though and a good way to spend a day. Lovely to hear Fisherton Street in a post, I know the road from many years ago! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a book shelf (four in fact) stuffed full of OS maps. One for every possible bit of the country. I love Fisherton street- have you been recently? It's full of interesting independent shops xx

      Delete
    2. No, not for a long time. Must drop in to town sometime on one of my visits to Lady. Happy Christmas! xx

      Delete
  3. Your posts are always delightful. In the true sense of the word.
    Jean
    x

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have a friend who decorates her tree with a little help from G & T. How I love to hear tales of Uncle Charles, he sounds absolutely charming and heaps of fun. We had a coal tit in the garden a while back, the biggest boy happened to capture it on camera and got it verified with one of the wardens at the wetlands place. He was thrilled (boy not warden, although of course warden was also pleased). I really must have a bash at those eclairs, I wrote the recipe down last time, but have managed to resist them so far. Might be a deserved Christmas treat though. You had an incredibly productive morning, I'm very impressed. I've spent most of the day watching football and then dealing with the post-match mud. On balance I feel I have triumphed. Well done on finishing your last assignment and teaching session. I'm wishing you an excellent week. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. G&T is helpful stuff for a great many activities I find. It is hard not to laugh when in the company of Uncle Charles- life is a total joy to him, no matter what he's going through. Excellent about the Coal Tit and have you made the eclairs yet? xx

      Delete
  5. I would dearly love to have tea with you and Uncle Charles....it sounds quite fabulous.

    alas, I've spent the better part of the last week besieged by microbes and so am Extremely Far Behind in everything...but I take strength and encouragement from your many and wonderful accomplishments. They give me hope.

    Isn't it a marvelous feeling to know you're all caught up and finished? It's one of my favourite feelings, I think.

    much love to you!! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We would have a giggle Mel for sure if you came to tea with Uncle Charles- he would grill you all about Canada and top of the list of questions would be whether or not you'd been to the Arctic regions of the country :o)
      Sorry to hear you've been poorly my dear. Hope those bugs have cleared off now. Will email you (promise) XX

      Delete
  6. Everyone needs an Uncle Charles...I'm still chortling away here imagining the zimmer and the paper 'chat'...I mean tea conversation couldnt get more scintillating than that!!!
    Brilliant stuff...
    At least you could always give Uncle Charles a WH Smith voucher ...he can schimmy around the shop in search of a ream or two!
    Great photos as ever...happy decorating and the merries to you all.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a star. Irrepressible. x
      Hope all's well xx

      Delete
  7. Gosh you had a productive morning! Lovely to see the hare form :)

    Your Uncle Charles sounds a wonderful character :)

    Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was made up to see the Hare's form and will be keeping eyes peeled for one from now on. Hope all's well x

      Delete
  8. Uncle Charles sounds a scream, what a lovely afternoon. I've never heard of a hare's form before. Enjoy your Christmas preparations. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a wonderful man. Has us all in stitches :o) XX

      Delete
  9. I've had a few just like Uncle Charles, and they do keep you on your toes. Yours sounds like a real character, just wonderful. You got more done in a morning than I typically do in a week. You're an inspiration! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He had a sports car he used to drive round London when he was younger- decked out with large collections of attractive young ladies as he was telling me the other day. It's the twinkle in his eye, hard to resist :o) x

      Delete
  10. All sounds like hard work to me and yet you manage to produce that beautiful bread and those eclairs.
    That hare's form is so interesting - never seen that before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do enjoy baking, especially when I've a chunk of time free to devote to it x

      Delete
  11. Hey CT,
    I have never seen a hare. I have always wanted to. I did watch a lovely group of gold finches in the garden this morning. They were eating the seed heads from the verbena boriensis. I'm so glad that I left my garden I such disarray! As for Uncle Charles, what a star. And those éclairs aren't bad either ;)
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must come and spend a day here next year and we'll go hare spotting together up on The Chalk. Goldfinches absent here at the mo, although I do hear them. It's their flocking time so they may have pushed off to Spain. Lovely to hear about yours. Perfectly demonstrates the value of not over-neatening gardens for the winter. xx

      Delete

Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x