Happy Holiday!


Today, Saturday is the first day of my two weeks off in August. I took two weeks in June to visit my family in Scotland, so I’ve already had a little break. The last few weeks at work in between though means I’m keen to empty my head of work stuff and see this next few weeks as “recharging my battery” time.

What to do? Well, I cant afford to go anywhere so I shall be going to ‘Hameldaeme”. Scots for home will do me. That means my back garden. Not terribly exciting by comparison with my facebook chums who post photos of places exotic, photos of their food eaten by sunsets in Cornwall or Greece, but a peaceful haven nevertheless and it costs nothing.

To me though, being a “home bird”, my back garden is my refuge. I love to sit and just watch nature go by, my little dog at my feet asleep, his head resting on his much loved tennis ball, just thinking about when I next throw it, and not much else.

I’ve managed at last to get the birds to come to my garden, after being bereft of any birds since I moved here four years ago. Initially it was entirely gravelled over, an old lady lived here before and it was too much for her. Gradually over the last few years, I’ve discovered a vegetable plot covered with tarpaulin and gravel, now a bed for beetroot, garlic, chard, onions, and soon to have cabbages and sprouts. The side beds are now a mix of annuals and perennials and I’ve planted roses too, entertained by sweet peas that come up every year, festooned with colour and is much more of a cottage garden. Since I put in a wildlife pond, having taken up at least 16 large square slabs, I now have more butterflies and bees than I can count.

Still, very few birds arrived. I thought perhaps it was the presence of my old cat, Smudge, but his hunting days are over now that he is 17yrs and 11months, according to his vet records. He used to bring me gifts of field mice and frogs when I lived in “Midsomermarplesland” . Luton you’d think by comparison would be the opposite . Living with houses overlooking me as opposed to beautified countryside, where my neighbours were sheep and cows.I always say though, if you have a garden, all life will come to you.

So, I read up a bit on birds and how to get them to my garden, and the thing that did it, was my cutting down a very large “Photinia” tree, called “red robin”. The branches were so big I was just lazy and dumped them by the side of my garage, next to a compost heap. The pile is about six foot high and six foot wide. I thought that eventually it would rot down. This is adjacent to my garden pond and the ‘wildlife’ area I created where I sowed plants for butterflies and bees. It’s an untidy mess, but wildlife doesn’t care about aesthetics .

I purchased “proper “ seed, such as “Robin Crumble’, fat, seeds and mealy worms, as welll as a garden feeder mix to appeal to the ground feeder birds. Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago, when I saw the pile of photinia branches and leaves moving! At least 20 or so small birds were roosting there, checking the place to see if they were safe to descend and land nearby to get the food. It was rather like watching a waterfall of brown water flowing down against a red backdrop of rock.

I’ve  since established that they are a mix of wrens, juvenile red robins, and blackbirds. The odd wood pigeon also visits, and amazingly rather than belt the little ones out of the way, just mingles amongst them, so they all get their fair share. It’s costing me a fair bit to buy the seed mixes, but the sheer delight I feel when I see them more than compensates. Even Doogle the dog, sits and observes rather than chase them away. It’s amazing how animals know when to leave other animals alone.

I now have a camera trained on the feed site and I’ve managed to film them bathing and splashing in the shallow end of the pond, in the water bath I made with a small plant saucer, and drinking water from an old shallow feeding bowl.  They also feed under the conifers, next to my veg bed and seem to be more daring now.

They say that if you bring birds into your garden they will take care of the pests. Well, that’s true it seems. Next to the pond there is a fence. I noticed a few weeks ago that a multitude of snails had made the gap between two panels of wood their home. In my new outlook of leaving nature to itself, this morning I looked and could only see empty shells. So, did the birdies feast on a snail banquet or did the snails just move house?  Who knows.

At least my beetroot, chard, and cabbages might be safe this year. Unless the birds dig up the seedlings.

Oh my.

My Red Balloon

I wrote this lullaby for my neice Rachel Conroy when she was a year old. She is now 19, with a 1 year old daughter of her own. I thought it was about time that I wrote this down.

My Red Balloon

I’d like to fly in a red balloon, and it will take me to the moon.

Where I will build a little house, and I will have a cat and a mouse

When I go to the moon, in my red balloon.

I’d like to sail on a silver star, and it will take me very far,

Where I will climb the highest trees, and I will swim in deep blue seas,

When I sail to places far, on my silver star.

I’d like to float in my rowing boat, and it will keep me dry and afloat,

Where I will grow a mermaids tail, and I will swim with a giant whale

When I go afloat, in my rowing boat.

I’d like to dream in a submarine, and I will keep it tidy and clean,

And I will be all cosy inside and I wont need to bother with the tide,

When I go to dream, in my submarine.

Instead I will sleep in my little bed and dream of the stars and the moon instead,

And I will dream of mermaids tails, of big tall trees and giant whales,

When I lay my sleepy head in my little bed.


Whilst podcasts aren’t new, they seem to be on the rise although statistics of the moment show that only 11% of people listen to them still.  I think the first were launched alongside Apple’s Ipod, which at the time seemed to be the only proper way to access them other than having to navigate various technological hoops.  I discovered podcasts when I was given as a gift my first ipod, on leaving a particular job. Best present I ever had and I still have it.

Now working in education, I have been researching mobile journalism, and alongside seems to come the resurgence of podcasting, and my colleague Terry Lee, RadioLaBs Station Manager has fired up my enthusiasm with his podcast “Fantastic Noise” A podcast all about making radio. Great stuff. Podcasts are relatively easy to do (if you know what you are doing of course), but I have a lot to learn.

This morning, I was reflecting on how much I would like to do a podcast at the same time as thinking about writing a new short kids story, “Mrs Meticulous” .  (My brain works in a weird way) I then remembered my previous stories and rhymes that I wrote for my family. Why not , rather than try to have these published do a Podcast instead? Indeed, why not? It will give me a positive project to embark on in this record breaking hot summer  during  recess at University rather than twiddle my thumbs. Without the students, it’s like a ship without a sea! I can’t stand having little to do.

As they say, “Watch this space” .

From little acorns?


“The Fidgety Flipszgoogler”


, ,

I’m finding loads of rhymes ‘wot I wrote’ about twenty years ago. Here’s one for today.

The Fidgety Flipzgoogler

kooky_crazy_tropical_exotic_bird_cartoon_photosculpture-ra4a4cf9fe6604f9b8d86bd36ab65b593_x7sa6_8byvr_512Have you ever heard of the Fidgety Flipzgoogler?

He’s a truly remarkable bird,

That cannot keep still for more than a second,

And don’t you think that’s absurd?

The Fidgety Flipzgoogler lives in a nest

made of wool in a very high tree.

But, no one has seen the Fidgety Flipzgoogler

Because he won’t keep still you see.

He darts and runs from pillar to post,

And speeds like a race car away.

If ever you see the Fidgety Flipzgoogler

It will be a very special day.

It’s true, I once saw the Fidgety Flipzgoogler

As I came home one day from school.

He was standing alone on one leg eating crisps

By the side of a sunlit pool.

I said as I stared, “It’s the Fidgety Flipzgoogler!”

He was an amazing sight,

But he was far too quick for me

And flew off at the speed of light.

No one believes that I saw the Flipzgoogler,

They said it was a lot of blether.

But I have a secret and nobody knows,

 I have a golden Flipzgoogler feather!


“The Hackle”

ea0bef2b5331891f8db1852892d3ed3cAnother poem, this one was for my young niece Rachel. Now 17. It’s a bit scary I think.

The Hackle

The Hackle is old. The Hackle is bold.

He has razorlike claws on the end of his toes.

He lives far away, in a hole in a hill,

And he sneaks down at night for the sweet of the kill.

Nobody visits him. No, nobody will.


The Hackle is green and very, very keen to

Watch you asleep and to peep in your dreams.

He lurks late at night at your bedroom door,

And hides under your bed, as soundly you snore.

He’s as old as the stories in old folklore.


He has bright orange eyes as cold as a rat,

He wears shoes made of tin, and a yellow top hat.

He sleeps in the daytime on a mattress of hair,

That he takes from the children he lures to his lair.

And he smells like dead frogs that he traps in his snares.


He cooks children’s toenails which he cuts off with a knife,

Having scared the poor things to within an inch of their life!

With mouldy green berries, and goo from the gutter,

He’s partial to snail shells he fries in a clutter.

But he won’t eat young children though – unless covered in butter!


The Hackle loves popcorn he fries in a pan,

With boiled eggs and spiders and ten month old ham.

He chews on old shoes which he cleans with a duster,

And loves to boil cats tails which he dips in hot mustard,

And on Sundays roasts car tyres he covers in custard.


Oh, the Hackle, he’s sneaky. He peeps and he creeps,

And he licks at your face when you’re fast, fast asleep.

Beware if he wakes you, the Hackle may fright,

And he’ll carry you off into the cold of the night.

Be careful, don’t wake, because he’ll take you, he might!


The Hackle sings loudly each night to the moon,

If you hear him, be careful, he’s visiting soon!!





“The Pancake Lady”



0511-0906-2212-2323_Cartoon_of_a_Girl_Making_Pancakes_clipart_imageThat last post was so depressing, I feel time for a change. This is a little poem I wrote for my young cousin, when he was 9years old. (He’s in his 30’s now and a plumber!) Where does the time go?

“The Pancake Lady

There was a little old lady who lived in a leafy glade

She cooked the weirdest pancakes that ever have been made.

Pancakes made with bitter cream, pancakes made with silk,

Some she fried with olive oil, in vinegar and silt.

She made them with cold coffee, some with old stale bread,

Some she cooked on roller skates or standing on her head.

Some she cooked upon the stove, with toast or spread with jam,

Some she had with good steak pie and pickled brains and ham.

Pancakes made with green goats cheese, with nuts and fried in butter,

Her favourite ones she boiled in oil, with green moss from the gutter.

She cooked them wearing rubber gloves, or wearing silly hats,

And she’d cook some wearing riding boots, while dancing with her cat.

She cooked them while she went shopping and even on the bus,

She simply could not understand why people made a fuss.

She added to her pancakes cold tea and thick black coffee,

Molasses, beans and thick pea soup, and special sticky toffee.

She mixed them singing opera then she’d fry them on a griddle,

And add to them some Epsom Salts while playing on a fiddle.

She did make special pancakes, which she wrapped up in a quilt,

Her favourite ones she said of course were of sugar, eggs and milk!”