They were there as soon as I opened the curtains this morning. They looked so perfect with their clean black and white markings and yet I know why they are there and it’s not a perfect reason. Magpies will be looking for young baby blackbirds and robins to eat.

The robins in the potting shed are doing well. They have chosen a basket high up on the shelf to nest in and even though Mr T accidentally knocked it the other day they are sitting tight. If I stand and wait, I see the robin flying close to the ground like an arrow and then in through the open door of the potting shed.

Our blackbird is also nesting nearby in the holly hedge. I have seen her bringing in long threads of hay and grasses. I know it is the same one because she has a white collar around her neck like a vicar. But this collar is not removeable it is made up of white feathers. I have seen this effect here before but usually one wing feather is white. Last month a white magpie was seen in Wales. There does not seem to be a reason for this white colour just a freak of nature.

The house down our lane does not seem to have a purpose now. It has been vacant for some time and has started to decay. What is it about an empty house that attracts people who want to throw bricks at the windows or kick the doors in? Well, it won’t be for long because it is going to be demolished and a new house built in its place. Scaffolding has gone up all round and a company is in charge now. I did not realise that there was an art to demolishing apparently you can’t just swing a boulder at it.

The farmhouse where I grew up has got planning permission for demolition. How can you demolish a lifetime of memories? Is my old wallpaper still there where I imagined faces in amongst the patterned borders? I remember a tiny farthing coin I hid in a crack in the floorboards, there was a brick where we all signed our names with the date (1950s) and a line in the plaster which I made into the trunk of a tree with my crayons. Most of all where will the man in tin boots go? My Aunt told me he lived in our cellar and when you shouted down through a little door he shouted back at you. I heard him myself.

The memories of the past like the ghost white magpie have no purpose now but they are interesting.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star - Talking Point) 

The robin is keeping an eye on me before she goes to her nest amongst the baskets in the potting shed.


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