Sunday, 22 February 2015

New Neighbours

After some deliberation with regard to style and suitable location, we decided to put up an additional timber building on our land.

Then we waited with baited breath for prospective tenants to take an interest. Relatively quickly viewings commenced. We looked on intently for reaction – will they or won’t they move in?

As time went on, some individuals returned for second and even third viewings. Tension mounted as we waited to see if the new residence would finally see tenants take it over.

And now they have!

You may be thinking that this all sounds very ambitious, when there is much work to be done on our own ‘glorified shed’, slowly renovating it to make it a desirable home. Why take time on an additional building? And why spoil the peace of our quiet, rural, riverside location by encouraging extra residents?

The truth is, it’s an extremely modest structure. In fact, it’s a nesting box and our new neighbours are a pair of plucky blue tits, who sit watching us as we wander about our garden.

I really like our new neighbours!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Local At Last!

Last week we finally got round to visiting our local pub – some six months after arriving in the village!

Despite it sitting at the top of the lane that leads down to our home, we just hadn’t got round to so much as popping our head round the door until now. Renovation plans and trying to organise the ‘glorified shed’ have certainly taken up a lot of our time.

But at last, not only did we call in for a drink, but sat down and enjoyed a delicious meal too. We had a lovely evening and it’s definitely something that we’ll repeat as it’s actually quite a novelty to have a pub that we can call ‘our local’!

For over 20 years, home was in a modest town, where despite there being pubs in nearby streets, they were unwelcoming affairs that seemed to close down at the rate of knots anyway. Any evenings out were always spent further afield.

Prior to moving to our current rural location, we lived in a quieter, suburban area, where the only ‘pub’ nearby was a branch of Harvester, which could be handy for a meal, but only had a poky bar that wasn’t much fun to go to for a drink.

So it’s now quite a novelty to have a warm (lovely log burner at one end), welcoming, thriving local pub just a short walk up the lane, where we can enjoy a pleasant evening and a change of scenery from the ‘shed’. It could prove a handy bolthole when the renovations get a bit too much!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Protect Our Rivers

Living, as I do, directly on a riverbank, I’ve become aware of how users of the river don’t always treat it as well as they should. I’m appalled at the amount of old rubbish that gets washed up on the banks and annoyed by people in boats constantly disregarding the speed limit!

There is a speed sign right by our home, informing people of the maximum speed allowed. This is not there for adornment, as some obviously think, but to limit the amount of damage caused to the banks by the wash from passing boats. Natural erosion of the riverbanks obviously occurs, but is greatly increased by speeding boats churning things up. And why does this matter? We need to protect the wildlife and landscape (and more selfishly my home)!

One of the greatest offenders at exceeding the speed limit, I’m sad to say, is the army. They charge past in their little boats, but for what reason? The river narrows when it reaches us, becoming more twisted and narrower still just beyond. Not great for army manoeuvres I would have thought – although, of course, there is a pub a little further up! Surely if the army want to test their speedy boats, they would be better heading in the other direction, where the river widens out into the estuary and on to the sea.

We rarely see the river police enforcing the speed limit and of course there are no flashing signs displaying sad faces like you see on the roads. What I would really like is a ‘Brian-Blessed-Ometer’ – a device that would be triggered by speeding boats and would boom out in the great man’s voice, “What do you think you’re playing at you annoying river hog?”

Of course, many river users do exhibit consideration, and to them I’m very grateful. Those who don’t take as much care may just be ignorant of the potential damage that they can cause, and to them I request that they stop and think about the effects that their actions can have on nature.

And Brian, if you’re reading this, your input would be appreciated!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Keeping Watch!

Since moving to the ‘glorified shed’ last year, I’ve chronicled my growing interest in watching the local wildlife, in particular many of the birds not just in our garden, but also those that frequent the riverbank that I can see from my window.

Armed with a new pair of binoculars I’ve been keep tracking of the river visitors – cormorants, herons, redshanks, lapwings etc – and feeding and watching the garden species too.

I was pleased, therefore, to take part in the recent RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, settling down for a peaceful hour of viewing, and recording the comings and goings of our feathered friends. Some of the birds that I saw came as no big surprise. We always seem to have throngs of starlings in the garden, as well as a few sparrows and blue tits and the odd great tit, chaffinch and robin. However, I was privileged enough to see a bird that I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen before – a long-tailed tit. It was great so see it during that ‘golden hour’, but in all likelihood it may be a frequent visitor that I often miss seeing, as I often only pause for short bird watching sessions during my busy day.

It can be incredibly relaxing to just sit back and watch nature through your window, taking your mind off life’s mundane problems and focusing on enjoying the moment.

I’m fortunate that the computer on which I work is positioned right by the window with its panoramic river view, allowing me to take regular breaks from the screen to glance up and see what’s happening both in my garden and the surrounding countryside.

The building around me may still be very much a work in progress, but the surrounding view is a pure masterpiece!