Difficult week or so here. Aside of the everyday work based idiocies, and the destruction of a fair society in favour of a class based have and have not structure by the Tory dictatorship, life hasn't been too wonderful.
My journey to and from work is blighted by poor scheduling and communication most days, but of late, passengers have had to look out in despair at the wanton destruction of the mature trees and the understorey that flank the railway line towards Alexandra Palace. Network Rail has been claiming it is for safety reasons, but the fact that embankments have been flattened and access from roads has been created telegraphs their plans to sell of what they can for development. Know bat roosts have been destroyed, trees that owls nested in for years have been chopped down, shrub layers that provided shelter for mammals and nest sites for countless birds and insects have been stripped down to bare earth. No warning, no consultation, and yet they wonder why local residents complain. Management clearly haven't done their research. Destroying trees and other woody plants will leave atrophying roots, which create space in the soil as they shrink. Come the rain, these spaces will fill with water, and when the ground in waterlogged, landslips can occur. We don't want to see lifeless walls and gabions as we sit at signals, we want to see wild flowers, trees, birds, butterflies and the occasional sleepy fox. And we certainly don't want to see yet another sterile building site, blocking out the light.
The transport companies take enough of our money, either directly through fares, or indirectly through tax subsidies and kickbacks. We should all write to them, asking if they could compensate us for the horror of their vandalism by buying us our own patch of woodland, to maintain for wildlife in spite of them. In the meantime, if you know the address of a rail manager, or live near rail office, gather up some roadkill, or some fallen branches, and leave it on their doorstep.
Even closer to home, things have been difficult too. We got a call to let us know that Howard's mum was in hospital, so he arranged time off from work and travelled up. His mum is in a pretty bad way, and the hospital say they're instigating a "managed decline". Sad fact is that it looks like she's given up too. Howard's dad isn't in the best of shape, so he's had to arrange for care for him as well. Hard work, especially as his dad is convinced that his wife will wake up and walk out of the hospital to make his tea, and similarly in denial as to his ability to look after himself.
After a week of running here & there, meeting various organisations to get care in place while it still exists, Howard is back home, exhausted. He knows he needs to be ready to travel up at short notice, and is fully aware that more unhappy arrangements will need to be made.
What has been annoying about this is that neither of his siblings have bothered to travel up, including a sister who lives much closer and has no work or care commitments. What he has been able to do has been appreciated by other members of the family, but it goes to show that people are all take and no give.
In his absence, I've had to take on all the house and garden routines, including getting the chickens ready before going to work every day. So I've been out in the garden before daybreak, torch in hand, putting feeders and drinkers in place, often with the assistance of a cat shaped hurdle. (Sheba took advantage of the extra bed space to stretch out on Howard's half, and however glad she was to see him, she wasn't happy about just having the bottom corner again on Friday).
Outside, there are signs of impending Spring amid the Winter cold. The hens are back in lay, and Elly, the young Welsummer is maturing rapidly. She "crouches" and spreads her wings every time I say hello, so I've added and nest box to her coop in readiness. Having lost her original companion, Twinkle, in the Autumn, I'm going to look into getting her a couple of youngsters for company in the next few weeks.
In terms of wildlife, the foxes seem to have quietened down, including the vixen who spent several nights screeching her late night "come hither boys" at the front of the house. One night it carried on until nearly 5am, at which point I got up and put the kettle on. The Great Spotted Woodpeckers are more active - I heard the first "drumming" last Tuesday, and a Green Woodpecker "laugh" midweek too. My Snowdrops are finally starting to bloom, and many of my other bulbs are breaching the surface. I'm fully aware that the next week or so are often the coldest of the year, but with Imbolc this Wednesday, and a New Moon, another cog in the wheel clicks over and the hope of a good Spring gets closer.
Then on Friday we're off to Bexhill to see Band of Horses at the De La Warr Pavillion. Beautiful music in a beautiful building - should put me in the right frame of mind to deal with whatever life throws at me thereafter. And it will give me an excuse to hide from the worries of Wales v England in the Six Nations. Oh how I would love to see England winning a trophy - as long as it's the Wooden Spoon!