And the down side of being a children's illustrator...there is so much work to do roughing out the book bits that there is no time for an impromptu holiday. Which is why Andy is having a lovely time camping in Wales, and I am living a somewhat bacherlorette lifestyle, working all day and grazing on bizarre little meals. Unfortunately it is just one of those things, and I'd far rather he was off enjoying himself up mountains than sat moodily at home while I slog away at a large bundle of work. But I kind of wish he wouldn't ring me from sunny Barmouth to tell me that he is sat on the beach about to go paddling...
The one distraction has been the jackdaws; now that the fledglings are beginning to emerge from the chimneys, they are noisier than a bunch of pensioners on a day out in Bournemouth. I've been hearing loud cheepings from the wall and the couple who nest in our chimney have been calling and peering down into their sooty home.
Unlike the cartoons where a cute little fellow nervously flaps about on a branch before being pushed off and finding he can fly, he can fly, jackdaw youngsters spend a while on the ground, learning to fend off beetles and grubs, watched over by anxious parents who may still bring it the odd titbit. At first it cries loudly, and its' mother and father answer back - jackdaws have a variety of cries, and can sound like rooks if they are warning you off. This is when teenage Daw is at its most vulnerable, especially to cats. Yesterday there was an horrendous cackling and cawing; the birds were going crazy - mobbing something in the lane. I knew exactly what was happening and dashed out. Sure enough, next door's cat had trapped a young bird, but luckily had not had time to hurt it; it was unharmed but in great danger - there are 8 cats in our little lane. I eventually put it in the shrubbery garden of a neighbour who has a cat-hating collie dog; it is a foolish feline indeed who ventures in there.
Several times that morning I ran out, often to false alarms, summoned by the hysterical shrieks of massed birds. Twice a big jackdaw came and called in from the telephone wire outside my studio window, as if making a personal appeal. I love the Corvid family. Beautiful, dignified and intelligent, they are such loyal family creatures, and always stick up for their own - the welfare of one fledgling is the concern of them all. As I returned up the lane later, I spotted the parents, now perched on the dog-owning neighbour's TV aerial. They had finally located their baby, obviously still safe under the bush where I left it. They cawed raucously at me, and I told them not to be so ungrateful. I reflected that it was a good job the lane was deserted, as I was, to all intents and purposes, talking at chimneys.
It's interesting being 'Home Alone' - I don't have to worry about getting meals ready and have discovered that left to my own devices, without having to think about anyone else, I tend to stay in the studio from 9 till 8. Snacking on cold chicken bits and yummy Mr Kiplings Lemon Viennese cakes (which I can highly recommend as being delicious). The bathroom remains spotless and there are no trails of discarded clothes. I find that sleeping on my own I throw the quilt off in my sleep and wake shivering. It will be nice to have him back.