Pre-Heatwave Sunday Musings

I wrote about the forthcoming short heatwave yesterday. It hasn’t officially started yet, though it is set to reach 32C here today nonetheless.


It is now a month since I passed the DVLA eye test, and still no driving licence has arrived. It will soon be six months since my initial aplication to renew it was submitted. No doubt the staff in Swansea will all be going on summer holiday soon, and there will be more delays.


Ollie’s fur has started to come out in patches again, set off by the unusually hot weather. His coat now looks like a ‘work in progress’.


The Conservative Party contenders for Prime Minister continue to stab each other in the back. Westminster is becoming more like the Roman Forum every day, as sneaky leaks abound, and character assassination is the order of the day. Whichever one of them wins, it will be of little consequence to me.
All rats look the same, and do the same things.


One less pleasant aspect of good weather and open windows is increased noise. Petrol mowers, hedge-trimmers, pressure washers, DIY projects, and yapping dogs left in gardens. All congregate together to provide us with a ‘Symphony of Summer’ in Beetley.


I hope the weather is not too hot where you live, and that you all have a peaceful Sunday.


Avian Alarm Clock

I recently wrote about feeling unusually tired. It could have been the sudden onset of a heatwave, or possibly that I was taking Hay Fever tablets. Over the weekend, I managed to feel a little livelier, stopped taking the tablets, and got back into a decent sleep routine.

However, starting on Monday, some local crows decided I needed to be awake early, much earlier than was good for me. At 4:10am, they started their racket close to the bedroom window. Having windows open overnight because of the warm weather didn’t help, and I jumped up, conviced some crows were actually in the room, it was so loud.

A few minutes later, they stopped completely, as if they had been ‘switched off’.

On Tuesday, they let me sleep until 4:20am, and this morning they waited until 4:26am. As I lay there, unable to get back to sleep, I started to wonder why crows seem to take weekends off, then get busy with their cacophony bright and early at the start of the working week.

They are up to something!

The Fat Lady Has Sung

As the old saying goes, “It’s not all over until the fat lady sings”.

Well, it’s the 28th of December, and I can hear her. It is finally all over for another year, despite today being a public holiday in England.

Yesterday was a very long day. Up early to get everything ready, then five adults and three children arrived for a buffet meal that lasted from two in the afternoon until nine at night. Piles of presents handed out, and some fun games played. Noise levels that could drown out an F-15 jet fighter from nearby Lakenheath Air Base, and just enough places for everyone to take a turn in sitting down.

Ollie was so stressed out by all the comings and goings, he got grumpy and started growling at people. That was a first for him. He must be becoming a party-pooper in his old age, despite receiving a gift of a stuffed snowman almost as big as him.

At the end of it all, it looked as if the house had been burgled. We were too tired to do anything except flop on the sofa in the sudden quiet, and then have an early night. That means that we have to face a mountain of washing up this morning, followed by storing away folding chairs, closing up the extended dining table into a more manageable size, then have a good look under all the furniture to find what was dropped during the evening.

There is enough leftover food to provide dinners for today and tomorrow. On Thursday, we have our last Christmas present arriving. The delivery of a traditional English High Tea, ordered by one of my step-daughters. The uneaten snacks, crips, nuts, and chocolate should see us through until March.

At least I don’t have to go out today, except to walk Ollie later. It has been raining heavily for over twelve hours now, and everything is damp and dismal.

Next up is New Year’s Eve. Just the two of us, and hopefully still awake at midnight.

The Dawn Chorus

This is an online definition of the dawn chorus.

The dawn chorus occurs when birds sing at the start of a new day. In temperate countries this is most noticeable in spring when the birds are either defending a breeding territory, trying to attract a mate, or calling in the flock. In a given location, it is common for different species to do their dawn singing at different times

The reality for me in Beetley is that for the last ten days or so, the birds in the garden have started this while it is still dark. The noise increases in intensity as different birds join in, then comes the cooing of the pigeons, and the squawking of the crows to cap it off.

It goes on for at least an hour until they calm down, by which time I am wide awake, far too early for my liking. On a good day, I might be able to get back to sleep for a couple of hours, but most days I am left awake, knowing it is too early to get up.

No point complaining. It is a delightful thing to have, especially as it is the only sound, and not accompanied by sirens, traffic, trains, or helicopters.

I just wish those birds would have a lie-in occasionally.

Sleeping With Owls

I went to bed just before midnight last night. It was quiet in Beetley of course, it almost always is. Rare to hear a car pass by after ten, and save the occasional dog bark, you can usually be assured of a noise-free night.

But last night, there was something different, and it took me some time to realise what that was.

It wasn’t raining. There was no sound of relentless rain smacking against the windows like bow waves over a small ship at sea. No endless pattering of falling rain on the flat roof of the extension or the garden furniture, sounding as if five hundred typists were hammering at their machines right outside the bedroom window. After weeks of constant rain disturbing my sleep, the prospect of a rain-free night had me lying in bed smiling.

As I settled down in the dark, two owls began to call to each other. One was close, probably in the oak tree at the front. The second much more distant, perhaps over on Beetley Meadows. It was a pleasant sound, and became soothing after a while.

Given the choice, I would sleep with the owls, rather than the rain.

The Acorns Are Falling

This year is a very ‘bad’ year for acorns, depending on your point of view. The hot summer has produced a bumper crop on the large oaks at the front and back of the house, so we are now suffering something of an ‘acorn avalanche’. This old post gives some idea what that is like, and not many of you have seen it before.


A sure sign that the season is changing, the sound of falling acorns is upon us in Beetley.

I should give some background, to make this all easier to picture. I could just post a lot of photos, but that would be far too easy. When we first viewed this house, one of the things we most liked about it, was the presence of two large oak trees. One is at the front of the property, and the other in the back garden. On a Google Earth viewing, they can easily be seen, dominating the comparatively small plot. As it is a bungalow, they do not intrude on the roof, and provide valuable shade, as well as an attractive ‘canopy’ over most of the property. They are both very old, perhaps over three hundred years or more, with the larger one in the garden, though the one at the front…

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Autum Arrives early

As the heatwave here continus unabated, and we get a Summer we didn’t expect, it is hard to imagine Autumn, with its fresher days, and chilly mornings.

But I was woken up many times during the night by a familiar sound that I hadn’t heard since late last September.

The acorns were falling from the oak trees. Dozens of them. They clattered onto the garden furniture, and bounced off the flat roof of the kitchen extension. Some even bounced high enough to strike the bedroom windows. The sound is not unlike distant rifle fire, and the random nature of it makes it hard to get back to sleep once you start to notice it.

Once I was thus disturbed, I could also hear the metallic clang as acorns from the other large oak at the front began to cascade down onto our two parked cars.

I had to take Ollie out much earlier today, due to the afternoon heat building up at his normal time. As we walked around Hoe Rough, small leaves were fluttering down around us like green butterflies. Looking up at the small and large trees, I could see much of the new growth was already falling, leaving bare twigs behind that poked up at the sky like skeletal fingers.

I had never seen Autumn in a heatwave before.

But I have now.

The return of my senses

A post from my early days as a blogger. Only one person has ever read it, I believe.


Since giving up work, and retiring to Norfolk, I have noticed something quite strange. This was almost immediate, and happened without warning. My hearing returned. Not that I was deaf, you understand, just unaware how much auditory capacity I had previously lost.

Over ten years of working in Police Control Rooms had meant that I had to wear a headset for 12 hours a day. This was a dual-purpose item, used for radio transmissions, and answering telephone calls too. It was never turned off, so even if other operators were talking, you always heard everything that went on. Meanwhile, you could hear all the talking and shouting across the room, and the noise of the telephone ring signal in your ear, despite whatever else you may have been doing. Other than the occasional headache, I was not really aware of any damage that this may have been doing to my…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

The Quiet Life.

I woke up earlier to the distant sound of a lawn mower, which stopped soon after. Almost a hour later, and one car drove past the house. Since then, the only noise has been the sound of confused bees flying into the windows.
The soft tapping as they try a few times, before realising it is pointless.

The quiet life indeed.

Remembering the sayings of my youth today.
‘Live fast, and die young’. ‘Better to burn out, than just fade away’.

I genuinely never expected to get old. I worked in stressful jobs, smoked too many cigarettes, and liked a drink too. I lived fast, but didn’t die young. I used to say that I would be lucky to see sixty, and when I got to sixty, thought another five years might see me out. But that didn’t happen. I think about why that didn’t come to pass, and can only put it down to living a quiet life.
I stopped worrying about being able to go to shows and exhibitions, or the ability to eat out anytime I chose to. Stopped worrying about having to keep in touch with everyone, and to meet up on a constant rota of plans and engagements. And I moved away from the stress of life in the big city, the constant noise, and crowded streets.

I got a dog, and started to wander about. Living a quiet life.

I rarely go out in the evenings, and there is no circle of friends for me to socialise with. I sleep longer, think a lot more, take some photos occasionally, and read some books. The closest I get to excitement these days is enjoying a binge-watch of a TV series, or a good film that I have been looking forward to seeing.

When I lived in London, I used to hear people talking about wanting to live a quiet life, somewhere peaceful. I thought they lacked imagination, and would regret that choice. They would hanker after the bright lights and entertainment choices they had left behind, later realising that they had made the wrong decision. I didn’t tell them that of course, believing they had to find out the hard way.

Then I got to the age when I could imagine the same thing. I remembered those conversations with a wry smile, as I found myself having them with younger people keen to deter me from making the same decision. I concluded that you have to wait for the right time. That time when the quiet life beckons, and you are able to embrace it.

And I did.

Thinking Aloud on A Sunday


When I lived in London, neighbours could ruin your life, even though they may or may not have intended to. Selfish people might play loud music, and refuse to answer the door when you went to complain. The authorities were so inundated with such complaints, they just didn’t have enough staff to deal with them. Likewise the Police, overwhelmed by incidents, and no time for what they saw as a petty squabble. Live in a block of flats, as I did for twelve years before coming here, and you can magnify the problems greatly. I had people living above, either side, and below. Working shifts, and trying to sleep at ‘unusual times’ made it all worse, as very few people are considerate enough to turn down televisions, stop home improvement projects, or not have radios blaring at all hours. One next-door neighbour went away for a weekend leaving her smoke alarm blaring, until the battery ran out. I was on the verge of smashing down her door and ripping it off the ceiling, when it suddenly stopped.

City living is hard. And living in a five-storey block of sixty flats housing almost two hundred people makes it even harder.

So I retired to a quiet village in Norfolk. Peace at last. For a while.

Then someone opposite started to run a side business of cutting firewood, stacking it in the area in front of his house, and presumably selling it on. Chainsaws. On cutting days, the petrol-driven chainsaws start around 08:30, and continue relentlessly, often until dark. It is not illegal to make such noise of course, but it is completely inconsiderate. When we moved here six years ago, there were a lot of small children around, and a few houses owned dogs. We didn’t mind that. It was nice to see the children having fun, and we had a dog too. Now those children have noisy motor cycles, noisy souped-up cars, and friends who visit with even more noisy vehicles. And not only does every house but one now own a dog, the house next door has become a ‘dog-sitting’ business, with as many as eight dogs yapping and barking, just over the fence.

Then the boyfriend of the dog-sitter started working on cars, in the driveway close to the side window of our living room. Installing more powerful exhaust sytems, running engines, and constantly hammering parts too. Then he expanded, and friends and customers arrived, so he could make their cars run faster and sound louder too. Once again, it’s not illegal. It’s his hobby, and maybe he makes some spare cash from it, or helps his friends for nothing. But we now have at least four cars outside most days, sometimes six. And being young, just working on the cars in silence is not an option. They also have to have the car music system blaring, usually some sort of Rap, or Hip-Hop. They are not unpleasant people. They are a friendly young couple who will happily take in a parcel for you, and give you a happy greeting as you walk by.

But they are not considerate, and pursue their business and hobbies with scant regard for those of us who live close by. Yesterday, I had to go out and talk to some young men working on cars next door. After almost thirty minutes of revving engines accompanied by deafening pop music, enough was enough. I calmly explained to them that it was very hot, so we had all our windows open. I suggested that they turn the volume down, and remember that people are living a few feet away from their antics. The neighbour wasn’t even around, just letting his pals use his facilities in the garage. They did apologise, and turned off the music. Luckily, this is Beetley, and not London, where I could have risked being beaten up by asking the same thing. But they carried on fixing up the cars, making the most of the fine weather and good light, no doubt.

I was left regretting the move to what we thought was such a peaceful place. As new people move in, the area is bound to change for the worse. I mused over my ‘ideal’ residence, and made a mental check-list.

I would like to live where the nearest neighbour was not visible, even using binoculars.
A moat would be nice, with a drawbridge that can be raised.
Perhaps thicker walls, with the living accommodation higher up.
There would have to be surrounding land which I owned, so that nobody could build nearby.
I realised that I had the perfect solution.

A castle.