No guarantees

Wednesday August 4, 2004

Elsewhere in the Kingdom they’ve been having major thunderstorms and torrential downpours so I’m not going to complain when all we’ve had is a long case of the metereological sulks. Really, I’m not going to complain. The brand shiny new camera stuck in its bag waiting for a glimmer of sunshine can wait. So can I. It may be hot and sticky still but truth to tell it’s not all that hot, and not that sticky. Just uncomfortable and out of sorts.

All four of us are feeling a little on the hot, sticky and out of sorts side, too. There’s a deal of flopping around and issuing of heavy sighs going on in the little house on the fens. I’ve been poring over the instruction manual for the new camera, Graham’s been poring over the IKEA and Screwfix catalogues, Dolly’s been doing her imitation of Dougal from Magic Roundabout, and Harry’s been doing his best to sleep through until things get better. Even the goldfish in the pond and the birds in the hedge seem listless and disinterested.

The only creatures in my world that seem truly to be enjoying themselves are the grouse in the back fields. Least, they are probably grouse but they may be pheasants—I’ve never known the difference, in the field or on the plate. Stupid birds, bent on suicide on the roads and oblivious to the intent of passing foxes in the fields. They seem to have got it right just now, though, gathering in numbers and scratting around in the dust bowls at the edge of the fields and, remarkably, in a large depression in our garden, in the back border, where the sparrows have made a wonderful dust bath over the summer. I don’t think I’ve ever before seen so many game birds strutting around in full view. It may be they have some in-built knowledge that, on the twelfth, the shooting season opens and they will become legitimate targets for anyone with a licence and a shotgun. The two fields at the back of the house are privately owned, little more than extensions of our neighbour’s back gardens and I’m told that they don’t shoot. So the dumb birds may not be so dumb after all, migrating to a no-gun zone in advance of the big show down.

By design or not, they’re safe in my garden, barring feline predators, of course. Anyone coming on my property with a shotgun will be sent packing with his weapon firmly embedded in the place where the sun don’t shine.

So, not the most thrilling of days. A long, sweltering drive for provisions left us gasping and energy-depleted, and we don’t seem to have recovered much if at all in the hours since. I can’t even find a photograph for this entry, unless Dolly can be persuaded to perform. Graham and Harry go all huffy and puffy at the moment when I point a camera at them. And the grouse, while brave, will not let me close enough for a picture. No matter, I have a couple of trips lined up very shortly that will give me the chance to do some happy snapping.

There has been one major highlight. At some point during the day the hit meter on my website tripped over the two million mark and went on happily sailing through. That really is an astonishing number. I don’t analyse visitor statistics in detail, just a one line summary each day, so I’ve no way of telling who was the two-millionth visitor. I’d send ’em a thank you if I knew. But it ain’t a competition. I’m grateful for everyone who passes through, and pleased beyond measure that my daily accounts sometimes raise a smile and a nod of acknowledgement. So my thanks are directed to everyone who visits or has visited, for the smiles, and for adding a bit of spice and purpose to my life.

Hey ho. Here’s to the next million. I’ll do my best to keep up the quantity of entries. Can’t make any guarantees on consistency or quality, I’m afraid. Life just ain’t like that.



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