Supermarket substitutions

 








How is a coconut like a pineapple? They must be the same in some way because when I wanted to order a coconut at my online supermarket they were ‘currently unavailable’. I could substitute with a pineapple, it said.  I suppose they are both a similar size, they both have a rough exterior, and they are both edible. But I am not sure how one could be used instead of the other.

I have heard some very strange stories of substitutions but what my supermarket could not have known is that I wanted the coconut for the birds and a pineapple would not be suitable at all. A fresh coconut cut in half and hung on a tree attracts the great spotted woodpecker, the tit family and even the robin.

The windfall apples are now attracting birds of a different kind. Blackbirds, thrushes, fieldfares, and redwings are crowding all over the apples that fell to the ground. Birds like the fruit when they are beginning to rot. They eat the flesh and I see the empty apple skins scattered in our orchard.

There is a mixture of our own resident birds and some that are here from Scandinavia for the winter. It is not an easy mix for them, they do not like being near each other. About two metres away is tolerable for them all – a pandemic distance. There are no orderly queues and no police fines. But fights break out if one feels another bird is getting too near or is eating more than its share. The perpetrator may have to leave the valuable feeding ground altogether.

My sisters will soon be in an orderly queue, they have both been invited for the COVID vaccine on Saturday. One of them is going to her doctor’s surgery but the other will be injected in a park near her home. A huge marquee has been erected and several GPs have combined to work together for a mass vaccination.

My sisters are older than me so I expect my invitation will come soon. Meanwhile we are getting on with preparing for spring. Have you noticed how people are keen on telling each other that today is much lighter than a previous day?

“Last week I had to come inside because it was so dark. But this week, at the same time, the sun has not yet set.” Today, is certainly a minute or two lighter than yesterday, that is a scientific fact, but we love to exaggerate the difference and work towards spring.

The bulbs that we planted in pots this autumn are showing green shoots. And, thinking of spring, we have already ordered our seeds online. Let us hope that we do not get substitutions. I am not too good at growing pineapples or coconuts!


The robin likes the coconut I have hung on the tree

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