Spring has sprung, the grass is ris, it’s all nodding daffodils and pronking lambs.
Yeah right. I walked down to let the ducks out of their hut a few mornings ago, and it was like a mini Polar expedition. The latch was welded shut by blasts of Siberian wind, the pond was frozen over, and my choice of clothing (flip flops and a dressing gown) suddenly seemed a tad inappropriate. Even Reubs hadn’t come along - he’d poked his nose out of the kitchen door, then backed away hastily with a kind of “you’re own your own pal” expression, tip tapping back accross the tiled floor of the kitchen to curl up next to the aga. Blimey, how middle class do I sound...
Anyway, when I came back in, gibbering and blowing on my fingers, I shuffled over to where he was lying, booted him out of the way, and had the truly phenomenal experience of turning my frigid buttocks to the glowing worktop. This allowed gusts of warm air to percolate up the hem of my dressing gown, all toasty and tropical. It’s one of life’s great pleasures, and makes getting frost nip on your extremities entirely worthwhile. Tam came in to find me cross-eyed and making small appreciative noises at no-one in particular.
As you may have noted from all that, we now have ducks. We also have chickens. And two cats. They are called - Baron Greenback, Long Distance Clara, Betty, Winnie, Hilda, Pickle and Marmite. Reubs is indifferent about the ducks, mildly curious about the hens, and absolutely cock-a-hoop about the cats. He loves cats, mainly because he think’s they’re delicious, so there has been a somewhat tense atmosphere in our house since we got them.
And why do we have them? It’s simple. Every time I go away - and I go away a lot - Tam gets another animal. I’ll come home after the next trip to find a giraffe in the garage and an sloth in the shed. I like it though, because when you do come home you’re greeted by a cacophany of delighted clucks, barks, quacks, and purrs, and that’s just from Isla.
Isla is a star, but of course I’m going to say that as I’m her dad. She remains freakishly strong, and spends most of her day handing me smashed things. She’s learned to walk, and therefore is happily employed with chasing nervous animals around the house and the yard, waving her pudgy fists at them and cackling like a loon. She basically just wants to cuddle them, but as the result is invariably cracked ribs and internal hemorrhaging, the animals aren’t that keen.
Having said that Spring is taking it’s time, I do think it’s actually here now. I really, genuinely, love this time of year. Re-birth, the tilt of the earth on it’s axis to turn our frigid little island towards the sun, it’s all heady stuff. England has it’s faults, there’s no denying that, but the rolling green hills and low mists of a Spring morning take some beating.
One of the sounds I associate with the change of the seasons is the low burble of the outboards on the boat. We’re starting to run more trips now, particularly as it means the skipper actually regains the feeling in his or her face within an hour of getting back in. It’s all beginning to happen out there along the coast - the seals are looking sprightly, the peregrines are starting to refurbish their nests, the gannets have a gimlet look in their eye, and all is getting ready for what will be a splendid, shimmering, baking summer. You heard it here first.
Right, must dash. Lots and lots to talk about in the next blog - exciting things happening with filming a new series (which is a VERY hairy bottomed project indeed), there’s talk of a deal with Land Rover which could lead to all manner of snorting expeditions, and Tam will probably have adopted seven lemurs and a gnu even as a write (I’m typing this on a train - the bloke opposite me keeps peering at me. I know exactly what he’s thinking “I know that guy from somewhere. Blimey, I’ve seen him on the tele. Well, what do you know, it’s Monty Don” I get that a lot).
Anyway, more to come soon. Welcome to Spring everyone. We made it through another winter, and long, balmy days, mahogany tans, and melting ice cream cones are just around the corner.
All the best, Mont