These young swallows were watching their parents hunt insects over the green barley fields. They seem quite grown up, sat demurely on the wire. But whenever the grownups passed by with a mouth full of food -
They started squawking and screaming, demanding to be fed - even though they are quite capable of catching their own. Seconds later they flew off, as a sweaty, panting runner thumped past without a word of apology. I dedicate this little insight into teenage behaviour to all my friends who are having problems with their own fledglings.
The book purge is done. Nothing valuable or beautiful was sent away, certainly not the nature books that people were worried about! Only piles of tatty paperbacks and unwanted reference books. I've been lugging many of these around since I was a teenager and I have either grown out of them (various fantasy, sci-fi and horror), got bored of, know I will never read because they are dull or unfathomable to me (Virgina Woolf, Edmund Crispin, William Blake, Stevie Smith) or already have at least one copy of (more than you'd think, I have so many books I do often forget what I've got). Some authors simply irritate the pants off me or I only like certain of their titles. So I kept the brilliant 'IT' by Stephen King and culled one of his less accomplished efforts. I read Uncle Tom's Cabin twice in my youth, and will never read it again, worthy though it is. There are titles here I have no idea why I picked them up...knowing that I am not the only book nerd, I have left these photos at large size. There are some of Andy's in there too (no, I have never had an interest in boxing).
I confess without a shred of shame to having a pretty pulpy taste in fiction. As a rule I don't like modern fiction unless it is crime or some kind of Da Vinci code genre. Except Jilly Cooper and Phil Rickman, my two favourite authors and both sneered at by the literary elite. Anything which vaguely taxes my brain or emotions is a no-no. I read for pure escapism, and nowadays I read very rarely, as I don't have the time. Just five minutes before I fall asleep. So, from the under-the-stair piles of not-very-worthy titles, these were kept; some fantasy and horror which still passes muster, most of my crime collection. Old Penguins, even if the titles are obscure and we will never read them. Because they are objects of beauty. (Which is another reason why I pick up some old books, simply for the cover). A few of the less smug Aga-sagas. The only Virginia Andrews ('My Sweet Audrina') I still like to read (see, I did say I had pretty low brow taste...) My childhood copies of James Herriot.
I've done all the Jane Austens, years ago and enjoyed them, but it wouldn't matter to me if I never read her again. Shakespeare eludes me, and yes, I've tried. I do like Kafka, H.E Bates, L.P Hartley, E.F. Benson and Dumas. I adore Henry Williamson and Elizabeth Goudge. Am very picky about poetry; Dylan Thomas, James Reeves, Edith Sitwell, poor John Clare, Ted Hughes - his nature poems - Gerard Manley Hopkins. But those poets I do like, I love without reserve. Thinking about the eclectic jumble of the thousands of books I have stashed away, I realise that am a literary magpie, and as indiscriminate in my tastes as one. I would probably pick the tin foil cap over the gold ring any day; after all, they are both sparkly.
It is quite remarkable how happy we are now that we have decided to stay here - and the realisation that if we had somehow managed to move, we would probably have regretted it forever. While the weather is glorious and the evenings so light, we have taken to dusky walks round the fields, marvelling anew at the tranquil beauty of our patch. Bats buzzed us, and as we returned past the church, we surprised old Mother Toad lumbering up the pavement.
The poor dear made a hasty, if undignified retreat - mind how you go, mother!
For most of my life - since I was twelve - I aimed to move back to Devon. But as Andy gently pointed out, Devon in 1978, when I lived there and my parents were alive, is not the same as Devon now. Nor will moving there bring them back. In truth, I was wondering how I could bear to leave this little Cotswold sanctuary which has become home. Now that we are staying I feel an immense sense of relief that we have found some kind of contentment and had the wit to realise what we have before we left it behind.
Can you see the sickle Moon?