It's been a bit of a celeb-fest at Tense Towers this weekend. We've had a visitation from the RSPB and also Big Brother. Now, I know what you're thinking. He's a bit soft in the head whenever that Kate Humble's on the telly, but surely even in his quirkiest moments, he wouldn't have signed up to Channel 4's flagship toxic bucket programme? Ah, not that Big Brother... my big brother, the one from the green, verdant pastures of industrial Teeside. So it's a fair bet that it's not grass giving it the colour.
But let's start at the very beginning, as Julie Andrews said, clothing the children in curtains and telling them to pull themselves together.
Friday night saw us entertaining the RSPB's premier guitar playing, blues loving, invertebrate respecting, habitat management advisor, JD. Now, the great British geneticist and evolutionary biologist, J B S Haldane, is reputed to have remarked that God has "an inordinate fondness for beetles". Well that goes for JD too, AND he can trump the Creator with an acoustic set from the Fab Four. Mind you, the only wildlife we saw during the evening was the Admiral and his waitressing stalker, the glamorous Kaz.
Let it be.
Come Saturday morning, a pair of Reed Buntings focused attention on the back garden, so when our lass popped out to the shops, JD and I decided to turn our skills (ok, JD's skills) to pruning the Hawthorn tree that all the birds seem to use on the way to the feeder. Situated a scant wingflap from the big Willow tree in the corner of our neighbour's garden, the Hawthorn is a handy, if unruly, conglomeration of twigs for the finches and tits en route to the sunflower seed. It stands about 4 metres high and is beginning to dominate the north side of the lawn. JD's wildlife-friendly eyes could see potential in reducing the branches by approximately 25% and encouraging the tree to produce more dense growth in the centre. A very un-horticultural thing to do, but here the watchwords are "habitat" and "creation". I'm sure JD thinks "Titchmarsh" is an expletive.
My brother and his wife arrived shortly before we completed the task, so we hurriedly stacked the loppings at the back of one of the borders, to provide further deadwood habitat for all those tiny invertebrates that support the food chain.
After a bracing, breezy walk around Tongwell Lake, we paused at the Nag's Head in Great Linford to sample a more restorative draught, then toddled back to Tense Towers to the news that Boro had won 5-1 away from home. Shurely shome mishtake?
A generation gap opened in the evening, the young 'uns (Ruth and JD) going off to Oxford to see The Answer, whilst those of us who don't even understand the question went to the pub for tea. And, yes, it's definitely called "tea" when there's four Northerners together.
Many thanks for the good times this weekend, guys. Sorry I couldn't stay awake!