What is going on?

I have changed the duvet to winter weight, put blankets on the settee and switched the central heating off for longer. How many of us are trying to save on fuel? Even some MPs say they are doing the same.

But one thing that we cannot economise on in our house is the bathroom window. It is only small about half the size of our other windows and has not been replaced.

It faces north and must be about thirty years old, made of softwood, it has been in a bad state throughout the pandemic. It is hanging by a thread and last winter the woodpecker began tapping away at it so that the crumply cream wood has been left bare. We are having a new one made and all has been measured up. Of course, the cost of wood will be very high, but we need to be sure it is not letting precious heat out.

The birds are returning to our newly furbished bird table with food suspended on the nearby tree. The woodpecker came back yesterday and his favourite so far seems to be the half coconut. He is not yet interested in the peanuts or the corn. I think there was a nest nearby because all summer long a family group bounced from tree to tree making their familiar sharp clack. I am pleased to see that at least one is still here.

But sadly, some birds are not here. Our sparrows have disappeared. For thirty years they have chattered around the house and built untidy nests everywhere including the eaves of the house. Even chicken wire did not stop them. The sparrows squeezed through making a rattling and rustling sound as they determinedly made their sprawling nests. They covered the bird table about this time last year crowding in on the food and keeping other small birds out. They were a bit of a nuisance really. But now I long to see them and know that all is well. But suddenly they are not here and all is not well.

And all did not seem well with my friend when she suddenly lost a tooth filling. Off she went to her NHS dentist for an emergency appointment only to be told that her dentist had left and could not easily be replaced. There had been an advert for the vacancy but so far no one had been appointed. The remaining dentist offered an emergency filling, but this fell out after two days. Then on returning to the dentist my friend was given a kit so that she could do her own temporary filling at home! Our safe life is not the same.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

This year there are no house sparrows to eat with the robin like there were last year.


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