Day 21 – Where the Deer and the Antelope play*

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti National Park

In the dry heat of the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (1), early morning drinkers are gathering at the waterhole (2).

At first a lonely southern ground hornbil (3) looks around before taking a drink.

Within minutes it is joined by a pair of ostriches (4).

These huge flightless birds (5) bring a moment of light amusement to the proceedings as they try to manoeuvre their portly bodies in order to get their beaks into the water. These birds were not designed to have dignity.

But this is not the time or the place to be complacent as the gathering birds are unaware that in a nearby acacia tree (6) a Bengal tiger (7) is patiently watching their every move.


Serengeti waterhole* *May not actually be that

Here we can see how alert this predator is to the nervous creatures as they drink, what for one of them, could be their last.

Already the heat from the sun is starting to become unbearable (8). If this tiger is going to pounce he must do it soon before all his prey head to more sheltered areas behind the shed or up in the trees.

But there is some hope for these defenceless creatures, for soon the hunter will become the hunted.

Not known for it’s agility or courage in such dangerous situations, a white-bearded wildebeest (9) moves slowly across the barren landscape (10). The birds take flight while the feline rolls around a bit in the dusty soil wanting it’s belly rubbed.

By noon all is peaceful again, apart from the distant thud, thud, thud, of music from a treehouse (11) not too far away, along with the smoke and cooking smells from a nearby camp (12).

By nightfall, all will be still (13) as we await the start of another day in the Serengeti (14).


*Birds and a cat
1 My back garden in Norwich, England
2 The garden pond
3 A blackbird
4 A couple of wood pigeons
5 They actually flew down from the sycamore tree. I think they have a nest up there
6 A clump of daffodils. Is that the right word, Clump?
7 The neighbour’s cat – either Daisy or Maisie, I can never tell them apart
8 Actually it’s been rather cold and overcast today. The wind has changed direction and we’re getting a bit of a cold blast from the north
9 That’ll be me
10 That’s my lawn you’re talking about there
11 A neighbour’s garden
12 Another neighbours barbecue
13 Actually, that reminds me, I do need to do some watering this evening
14 Lockdown

Day 19 – The dancing frog

Dancing Frog watch

Limited edition Dancing Frog watch

Many, many years ago I went on a work trip to New York for Saint Patrick’s Day. I had breakfast with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was introduced to the guy who paints the green line down 5th Avenue for the annual parade.

This was also the time when I thought I’d been shot.

We were in a diner having steak when I felt a cold splash against my chest. I looked down to see what I presumed was blood oozing down my shirt. For a split second I though I’d had it.

Then I looked up to see my work colleague holding a tomato shaped ketchup container minus its lid. He’d shook it too hard and was now looking at me through rose coloured glasses. How we laughed.

But I digress. The highlight of the trip was me buying a limited edition Dancing Frog watch. Number 1758 of just 2500. I loved that cartoon, and was delighted to find that a commemorative watch was available.

So while setting up some sheltered areas of the new pond for my froggy friend today, I was constantly singing “Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal”.

Still waters

Amazon advert

Major selling points

We were considering having a little fountain in the pond, but apparently frogs don’t like them because they think it’s always raining and they hate bad weather*.

They tend lay their spawn in calm water and I can think of nothing more exciting that finding a pond full of frogspawn, so we didn’t want to do anything to discourage that. All plans of classical music inspired water displays were quickly quashed.

I did briefly look at solar powered fountains. The one particularly caught my eye said, “Your garden would definitely catch all the attention of the passer-by. Let your yard look so amusingly.” Perhaps we could do something in the front garden…

Route work

My final task outside today was more of a health and safety thing. For the local hedgehogs.

Just behind the new pond there’s a hole in the fence which provides a couple of hedgehogs access through our garden on their way to the house on the other side that leaves out a smorgasbord for them each evening.

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Hedgehog diversion

My concern was that the hedgehogs would happily push their way through the fence only to find themselves falling into froggy waters.

Simple cones and illuminated signage wouldn’t be enough (believe me I tried). So instead I’ve built a small wall to guide the hedgehogs away form the dangers of the open waters.

Should they fall in though there are escape routes out for them and I have placed some small life rings around the edge of the pond, and installed an emergency telephone.

Seriously, I can’t do any more.

So most of the big jobs are complete in the garden. Tomorrow I need to plant up my horseradish (which came today), and sow my leeks and carrots. Then it’s just a matter of doing some general tidying up and waiting until the next delivery of plants and compost.

Until then, I’m going to pop on my top hat and join Michigan J. Frog for a chorus of Largo al Factotum.

*May not be factually true

Day 17 – Pond life

Garden finds

Today’s garden treasure

Whenever I walk up to the garden shed with my spade, I imagine I’m at Lords and have just been bowled for 132, the highest ever score for a gardener against the West Indies.

Alan Titchmarsh managed 98, but he was caught behind from the last ball before lunch on Day 2 of the 2017 Test Series. Monty Don hit two consecutive sixes in that match, but they were the only runs he scored as he was run out the next ball following a misunderstanding with his batting partner Rachel de Thame.

Today has all been about the pond. As I mentioned yesterday the pond arrived, so today I spent the entire morning digging a hole for it. I found it quite tricky to get into a position where I could make best use of my spade. I ended up digging most of it out with a trowel. It must have looked like something out of The Great Escape. Tomorrow I’m going to open up Tunnel 2 and see if I can sneak out to Spar for some toilet rolls.

Once the hole was dug it was all about getting the pond level and then back filling with very fine soil – which I spend most of the last few days sifting.

In an ideal world I would fill the pond with rain water, but I have none to spare at the moment, so I’ve filled the pond from the mains water supply. This means I have to keep it covered for a couple of days to keep the frogs out because of the chlorine. Apparently it makes them drunk* and, to be honest, I really could do without half a dozen frogs singing ribald songs outside the patio door at 2am again.

Tomorrow I’ll do some work on the landscaping around the pond and, hopefully, get some potatoes in. They arrived today along with seeds for the other crops I’m going to plant. The only thing I’m waiting for now is the horseradish and that’s due to arrive next week.

Enjoy the rest of your day and stay safe. I’m off to check on Alan Titchmarsh’s batting average against Australia.

*This may not be true.