New fence, old shed, new maples and ivy everywhere

That’s just the play time.

New fence,DSCN8949 DSCN9020

Old shed. It has done 27 years and the roof and floor are slowly being chewed up. DSCN9015 DSCN9064The new one has arrived and will be assembled on Friday. Meanwhile, I have become very thin in order to dig out a sludge of earth, stones and roots from the narrow passage at the back of the shed.DSCN9070Some of my beloved maples are coming into leaf and all my transplanted seedlings seem to be thriving. This is Sango Kaku.DSCN9079 - Version 2 DSCN9086 DSCN9082 - Version 2 DSCN9077 The one below may not look much yet, but I’ll post another photo in a couple of weeks time. DSCN9078 - Version 2

And then there’s the ivy. We have taken three loads to the dump and filled four of the big green bins, and there’s still plenty left. DSCN8976In between these activities, I’ve been trying to finish setting the text of the private family version of Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoir and Letters from Home, and organising the launch party for the published version.

Oh, and feeding the hedgehog. DSCN9088That’s spring for you. DSCN9056

The hedgehog’s dilemma

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 22.37.52(Photo from The Guardian by David Jones/PA)

We have been feeding and watering our visiting hedgehog since early spring. At first he ate from an open plate, but we became worried that he was having to share with cats/magpies/ foxes. The advice on Springwatch was to put the food into a piece of drainpipe. Lacking a drainpipe we used a deep plastic plant pot. DSCN8144He took to this without hesitation, and if we timed it right, by shining a torch through the back door, we could spot his rear end. In late spring there was a lot of snuffling and grunting and Mrs Hedgehog appeared. They cavorted for a few days, and you could go up and shine a torch on them and they just continued running round after each other. She vanished and we were back to Mr on his ownsome.

Then, a few weeks ago, we started to notice that the pot kept walking in the night. We were also curious that half the food would go between 9.30 and 10.30, but the rest disappeared overnight. Suddenly we have two hedgehogs, we have seen them both several times, we don’t know if this is Mrs or son/daughter or hopeful passerby BUT Hedgehog 2 has a problem. He/she is either short of marbles or has claustrophobia, because H2 will only eat from the back of the pot. DSCN8145 To achieve this H2 has to bump the back of the pot until the food falls through the holes in the back of the pot. On wet nights, we put the pot under the back door porch. If I stay up late, there is a continuous knocking sound and this little fellow bumps the rear of the pot, eats the few fragments that fall through and bumps again. If only H2 would walk round the pot, he/she would see that he was knocking the food to the front open edge, but H2 endlessly circles the rear of the pot and NEVER goes to the front. I have tried to photograph this, but  apart from being collapsed with laughter, I cannot make the camera play.

And no, I can’t sex hedgehogs, it’s deduction.

Goldcrests and hedgehogs – the eye of faith

A few days ago, something outside the window started bouncing and caught my eye. Two tiny birds were spirally jerkily. I think they were fighting since, after about ten minutes of playing hide and seek, the winner seemed to be in sole possession of the field. This fellow haunted the bushes and windows, peering in at me and darting off, he resembled nothing so much as a yo-yo, and he NEVER stayed still for a second. I am a point and shoot photographer with a simple camera. I tried, I really tried. Look carefully and you may spot one camera-testing Goldcrest.DSCN7215 DSCN7209

A week ago we began to put out some hedgehog food, though there had as yet been no signs of them. The plate was emptied on the second night and it looked like the kind of slightly muddy clearance that the hedgehog makes. On the second night there was a clearence around 10 pm, so on the third night I sat and watched from inside the house shining a torch at intervals through the glass back door. He came; I saw him/her. Night-time photography by the aid of torchlight through a glass door is not my forte either. Here is a picture of a very dirty back door with a reflected torch. If you look with the eye of faith you will see, in the middle of the patch of light on the left, the gleam of a hedgehog eye. In the enlargement below you can at least make out the plate of food. Believe me there is also a hedgehog eating it. DSCN7224 DSCN7224_2Spring is here. These primroses started flowering in November, this is surely their peak now. DSCN7234 - Version 2  Clematis macropetala a never-failing spring joy. DSCN7247


Publication day and the blood pressure challenge

Border Line 2Border Line will be released tomorrow… except that two days ago Amazon took the print book off the UK site. A friend who had pre-ordered the book had the order cancelled and received an email saying… ‘Our supplier has informed us that it’s been discontinued and is no longer available.’

I, the publisher, supplier and author, have sent no such information.

This came on top of increasingly frantic efforts to get a cover image for the print book onto the Amazon UK site. In the course of these efforts I discovered that Nielsen have been feeding out the image to Amazon since August, but Amazon are having problems with images and are still working on a fix.

At this moment, Border Line (print version), can be found by clicking on the kindle edition icon, then choosing ‘paperback’ from the list. This then shows it as unavailable, but you can put it on a wish list. If I had been trying to dream up a way to raise the blood pressure of a small publisher/author to danger levels, I don’t think I could have done better job than Amazon have achieved.Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 18.54.12

In the grand scheme of things these are trivial problems. So on the plus side, I have twice met the hedgehog outside the back door, either with his face in the trough, or waiting patiently by an empty one. We have had a visitation by a small flock of goldcrests, picking spiders off our window ledges. They were too swift to photograph, but they did reduce the blood pressure.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow I shall have a peaceful day, signing copies of Border Line (or twiddling my thumbs) at the wonderful Gog Magog Hills farm shop.