Cuckoo 

I woke at 4.30 this morning. The dawn chorus was going full throttle. At last I heard the cuckoo that I’ve been missing this year. 

If you’re somebody with a tendency to think too much, you don’t hear the cuckoo without picturing thisBad cuckoo? But here’s a thing: In 2014 researchers used a16-year dataset to find that crows’ nests with cuckoos were more successful overall than cuckoo-free nests. The researchers attributed this to a repulsive stink that cuckoo chicks can secrete when attacked by predators. It seems the smelly imposter protects the host’s babies too. The relationship between host and cuckoo might not be purely parasitic after all. It’s yet another example of the beautiful complexity of interactions in the natural world.*

*via Wikipedia (naturally) AAAS Science: Parasitic Cuckoos Provide Nest Protection for Crow Hosts, 20 March 2014

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second hand haberdashery 

Who spends 25p on a box of antique drawing pins!?!? Hmmmm 1€ for some tasty bakelite buttons, though, now that’s wonderful. I was in the back of the shop exploring shelves I’m sure only I and the proprietors have ever visited. 

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Hobnob!


I’ve always wanted to see Shakespeare at the Globe. Last weekend the perfect opportunity finally presented itself – the play Twelfth Night has plenty of action and the kids are now old enough to get it.Just a little bit of preparation was required, involving watching daft teenagers’ YouTube videos with paper cutout characters entering and exiting stage left on a table-top going “where am I?… What’s happening ?!… OMG…WTF… oh! You’re so fine, Cesario ”  etc

Quite in keeping, really. The love triangle is daft, Malvolio is daft, it’s all daft in the best possible way. 
“Hobnob!” shouts Sir Andrew Aguecheek, trying to insult his love rival and provoke him to fight. “Hobnob!”
We had a great night. The atmosphere at the Globe was electric and the delicious summer evening outside on Bankside afterwards was a bonus. 

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Toadstones

http://www.nms.ac.uk/toadstones
This is just too brilliant. 

I’m going back out to look for that toad. Also to pull nettles – with feeling.

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Pets

The intensive dairy farming around means the fields are shaved to bowling green short then immediately unceremoniously doused in slurry. This pool of lawn is the last refuge. 

A lonely heron is staking out the acres, visible for miles, all his stealth tactics are surely in vain as the sun beats down on his back.

Whenever the kids ask for a puppy I just send them out in the garden, saying ‘We’ve got pets.’ 

I was just out trying to move things around in the veg patch. There was a tiny toad (glinting golden eyes) and a massive spider, bigger than the tiny toad. Which set me wondering, like Alice, Do spiders eat toads? Do toads eat spiders?

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The Destructive Party

http://www.monbiot.com/2017/05/09/the-destructive-party/

Don’t have nightmares.

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Sci-fi season: humans and planets 

Wanting to initiate the kids into the wonders of sci-fi,  I made them sit through 2001: a space odyssey last year – that freaked them out. This time round I tried Interstellar over 4 nights…but warmed them up first by watching the marvel of slow-paced, old-fashioned human drama that is Silent Running.
But I’d kind of forgotten what really deep stuff good sci-fi is. I’m certainly finding it more challenging than the Tellytubbies, yet I can hardly wait until they’re old enough for Bladerunner.

WAL-E: our robot hero’s just out there doing his job, sorting out humans’ mess, while Eve searches for what’s left of life. Silent Running: our hero struggles to keep the last remnants of earth’s forest alive under a dome in deep space. Interstellar: it’s all over for planet earth, we’ve got to find another planet to go and live on and sharp. 

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