Down on the headland it’s been pandemonium over the past couple of months – kind of like Gatwick airport on a really bad day. The lapwings are circling in one section, the oystercatchers in another, and a group of very panicky-sounding redshanks in a third. They all rise up and call their alarms when a group of intruders (that would be me and the two dogs) enters the territory where they’re watching over their eggs. There’s no way of not disturbing them, but if you’re Nell the sheepdog (“Oh goody, let’s chase the birdies”) you’ll come a cropper if you go too far. One oystercatcher, irritated beyond all measure having been chased for the third morning running, dive-bombed her from the a fair old altitude and clouted her on the side of the head. Running home with her tail between her legs, I guess she won’t be playing that game again.
Meanwhile there’s a strange new bird up on the chimney where the starlings usually are – yes, they’re back in full force, an entire new flock of parents and babies, sitting on the kitchen chimney and calling down into the Aga vent. It was oddly quiet in the kitchen while they were away raising their broods. Now we’re back to chasing them off the chick crumb in the nursery section of the hen enclosure, but it feels like home again.
And don’t ask about the newly painted house. Painting thick ageing roughcast is no picnic, and sadly we’re only about a third of the way there having spent quite a few days already slapping it on in vast quantities with any implement that comes to hand that seemes more likely to do a better job than the last. None of them do: sprayer, roller or plain old masonry brush, it’s a slow slow game. But the transformation from dull grey roughcast to gleaming white walls makes us even gladder to come home.