Day 41 – International Dawn Chorus Day

Garden shed studio

My poor shed in 2013

Spoiler alert – I slept through it.

To be honest I had no plans on getting up that early this morning. My sleep pattern is all over the place at the moment. But that’s for another post.

I did my first International Dawn Chorus Day in 2013 from the bottom shed in the garden. It required me cutting a hole in the side of the shed in order for me to stick a couple of microphones on a shelf.

I had wires running up to the spare room where they fed into a mixer and then live onto the internet.

The following year I pretty much did the same thing except I don’t think I used the shed studio. Instead the microphones were pointing out of the bedroom window.

Things got very exciting in 2015 as I set up a whole outside broadcast unit on the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Ranworth Broad in Norfolk. It took a good few hours to set up, then a drive home. A very early alarm call and drive back to Ranworth.

After all the excitement in 2015, I was back in my own garden for 2016 International Dawn Chorus Day.

Broadcasting from Cley Marshes in 2017

Broadcasting from Cley Marshes in 2017

My final International Dawn Chorus Day was the most exciting I’ve done.

We were at Cley Marshes in North Norfolk as part of the Sounding Coastal Change project.

It meant setting everything up and then grabbing what sleep I could on the floor of one of the bird hides. It was incredible. You can read about it by clicking these words.

All, apart from the first one I did, were relayed by SoundCamp / REVEIL, which follows the dawn live around the world.

You can hear the various recordings below.


Will I do it again? Probably. Any suggestions for 2021?

Stay awake and stay safe.

Day 40 – Good news and bad news or bad news and good news

Please select the opening paragraph of your choice. I apologise now for any imagery that may form while reading them.

Version 1

I discovered late in the day that it is World Naked Gardening Day. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I’ve spent the day inside fully dressed, decorating.

Version 2

I discovered late in the day that it is World Naked Gardening Day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’ve spent the day inside fully dressed, decorating.

So I’ve been sanding, sugar soaping and painting. Through the window I could see all flowering plants turning their heads up towards me. I suspect they were wondering if I will ever grace their borders again.

I’ll be back out there tomorrow for I am at the mercy of home delivery companies. I’m waiting on more paint, the most urgent of which will arrive on Wednesday. So tomorrow I will return to the garden, which actually looks like a mine field of cat poo.

They obviously love my pristine borders, with the carefully sieved soil adding to the “Andrex” type luxury, as opposed to the “Izal” bum ripping clumps of earth next door.

Teeny tiny things

On my early morning inspection of the estate, I do love to pay particular attention to the small things in the garden. Here’s a teeny tiny trip around my borders.

Stay fully clothed and stay safe.

Day 21,915 – Birthday

Yes, I’ve been alive for 21,915 days. I don’t feel a day over 18,762.

As I intend to spend the rest of the day eating cake and doing little else, I’ll just share this little photo album with you.

Click on each image for captions.

Stay feeling young and stay safe.

Day 35 – The wooden spoon

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Spoon and bowl prior to licking

My work in the garden was temporarily halted as my presence was required in the kitchen to ‘lick the spoon’.

I take my duties seriously, so the weeding was immediately stopped.

The family tradition of eating the cake before it was even cooked goes back as far as I can remember, which suggests it’s actually a lot longer than that.

It got me thinking about all the ‘in’ things families have and how many ‘in things’ are actually done by other families too.

I suspect that licking the spoon or bowl isn’t exclusively a Fair thing, but if I mention a Taekwondo Buffet or a skeleton found in the ‘itch position’, you’d wonder what on earth I was on about.

When I was little I used to be fascinated by some of the things Mother used to say. She’d comment on the weather by saying – “there’s enough blue up there to make a cat a pair of trousers”.

If my brother and me were misbehaving* she’d say “Cut that out, or I’ll call Icky the Fire Bobby”.

Neither of those phrases have any meaning, yet at the time the logic of the first seemed reasonable, although what it forecast was neither here or there.

The second phrase was delivered as a threat. It was one step down from the most severest of threats, so we had an inkling that she wasn’t too pleased. I have since found out that Icky the Fire Bobby wasn’t a family exclusive. There’s some discussion on the Internet about the origins of Icky the Fire Bobby, from fire sprites to Ken Dodd.

The main threat from Mother was, “I’ll get the wooden spoon”. She never once hit us with it, but the thought of it was enough to make us little angles for a couple of hours at least.

As time passed the wooden spoon threat became silent as all she needed to do was reach for the drawer and we’d scarper.

Sharp thing

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Designer jeans available for £145.60

I’ve been having a play with some whittling techniques. I did a one day wooden spoon making course last year – see, that wooden spoon has haunted me all my life – and I acquired some of the tools required.

I’ll go into that more at a later date, but for now, a word of caution to anyone who thinks that it’s not a dangerous hobby.

There I was happily whittling away when the blade slipped.

Within the blink of an eye my gardening trousers were transformed into designer jeans. Fortunately no skin was damaged in the incident.

Garden update

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There’s enough grey in the sky to make a cat a pair of wellingtons.

The forecast is for three days of light rain showers so gardening may have to take a break.

I’m really pleased with the progress I’ve made over the past few weeks and can’t wait to get back out there again.

There’s still so much work to be done.

Here’s a picture of how it all looks today.

Stay dry and stay safe.

*I actually never misbehaved. I was nearly carrying out instructions from my older brothers, so technically I was behaving.

Day 33 – Twins

I tried doing a live stream on the internet earlier. It didn’t go quite to plan.

Unfortunately my identical twin has let the cat out of the bag.

I’ve tried to keep it a secret, but now the world knows. My twin, who is so identical he is also called Richard, has been helping me with all the planting and landscaping.

Seriously, we are so alike, sometimes I’m not even sure which of us is which.

Basically the other Richard, who I will refer to as ‘the other Richard’, has done all the hard work, while I have been looking after all the social media and blogging.

Keeping my twin a secret hasn’t been easy. Can you imagine how difficult it is for two people with exactly the same likes and dislikes not to be in the same place at the same time?

We have to draw lots on who will go into work each day, who will go visiting family and who gets to go on holiday.

Now that everyone know our secret, I may try and convince the other Richard to introduce himself properly.

Actually, the joke is on you! The other Richard has written today’s blog!

Make mine a double and stay safe.

Day 32 – Cat Talk

I’ve been totally absorbed with Tiger King on Netflix. It’s a documentary about wild animal keepers in America. The programme blurb says, “Murder, Mayhem and Madness”. Every episode manages to out do the previous for jaw-dropping incompetence, hatred and drama.

If someone had written it as fiction, no TV company would have touched it on the grounds that it was too unbelievable.

I wouldn’t have known about it without hearing the two cats from next door chatting about about it.

Cat D


D**** and M****, often sit under the spirea chatting about stuff in general, exchanging ideas and passing comment on my work.

D: I hope he’s not thinking of planting more of those white things.
M: Why?
D: They make me sneeze.
M: And what on earth is he wearing today? He looks like something out of Peaky Blinders.

M**** is the oldest and wisest of the cats. She can often be heard offering advice about cat life.

M: You know, they clean up your mess even if you don’t go to the trouble of burying it.

Anyway, I was doing a bit of weeding when I heard them talking about Tiger King.

M: It ripped off a woman’s arm!
D: Shut up! Can we rip off this blokes arm?
M: When we are a bit bigger of course we can.

Cat M

M**** – who asked not to be identified

I always though that when cats did the narrow half closed eyes thing, they were telling you that they were comfortable with you and were of no threat. Wrong. It actually means that they are carefully calculating the best trajectory for a leap and maul.

D: Have you seen the bird table at number 47? It’s right by the fence.
M: Beware the hose pipe. I’ve fallen for that trap. You think you have a perfect line for the blackbird and suddenly whoosh! You are drenched from head to tail and you have to hope none of the other local cats see you on the way home. It took me hours to get my coat anywhere near decent.

Sometimes I’m sure they know I’m listening.

M: So the old cat over the way there was telling me how a previous owner of this house buried a load of treasure here.
D: Really? Where about?
M: You see where he’s planted all those potatoes…

I’m getting my own back on them. I’m building a dog kennel right in the middle of the lawn. Absolutely no intention of getting a dog.

Keep your fur clean and stay safe.




Day 30 – Ladybird, ladybird


Ladybird in the garden today

The garden is a great trigger for childhood memories. Working in the shed yesterday took me back to my Taid’s (Welsh for grandfather) shed. He also had two sheds, although his bottom shed was more of a workshop.

The smell of the Jeys Fluid took me to the house I was born in.

Today though, the memories were sparked by a ladybird.

I think you mark off the various stages of your life by the clothes you wear. Early years, handmade bonnets and cardigans. Maybe a pair of mittens now and again.

Then, for me at least, it was all about Ladybird clothes.

Ladybird 2

I ‘ve no idea who the girl on the right is.

We’d have family outing to Woolworths to shop for clothes, or as a special treat, we would go to a hardware store called MacFarlanes.

Downstairs the shop was an Aladdin’s Cave of hardware stuff, from steel wool to shoe polish. The shop had the smell of paraffin, which carried onto Mr MacFarlanes mobile shop.

Upstairs in the shop (not the van) they sold children’s clothes, namely Ladybird* stuff.

Stuff of legends

Mother used to dress me and my brother the same. There’s 18 months between us, but people used to think we were twins. I seem to think we were quite happy to play along for the extra ‘ahh’ factor.

We have an older brother, quite a bit older actually. I used to tell people he was my Dad. Girls on the beach used to think he was someone famous. I think it must have been the Ladybird bikini he wore.

ladybird 3

Seriously, I’m sure I had that dressing gown

So as a child, I’d always have at least one item of Ladybird clothing on and a pair of Clark’s shoes on my feet.

Once I moved from the Ladybird phase, I was a young man at C&A. I remember buying a pair of parallel trousers, a yellow shirt with a penny collar and some platform shoes from there for a Friday night school disco.

I so wanted to ask a girl for a dance, but didn’t have the courage. Finally it was the last dance and I can only presume that the cola had gone to my head and I asked her. She said that I should have asked earlier as she had to leave right away. “I’ll phone you”, she said.

I worried all night, and the next day, and the next in case she did actually ring and my mum or dad answered. I actually contemplated cutting the phone line.

She never did ring and we only ever exchanged polite hellos at school. I never went to another school disco.

ladybird 4

Ladybird book

So my clothing life continues. I’ve been through the River Island and Next stage and I’m now mostly wearing Marks and Spencer.

They say that eventually you revert to your childhood, so perhaps I should be checking out this Ladybird book.

Stay smart and stay safe.

*According to an uncredited entry on Wikipedia; “The name “Ladybird” was bought by Adolf Pasold & Son for just £5 from the Klinger Manufacturing Company because, according to legend, company founder Johannes Pasold had seen a ladybird in a dream when first starting the family firm in the 18th century.”