Bird’s Eye View


The deer are back.


Can you see the second one sitting behind the tree left of centre? It’s nice that they feel secure enough to chill out around chez duck. True, it would be better if they chose their spots more wisely. You can’t pick up a Ligularia fischeri v. megalorhiza ‘Cheju Charmer’ just anywhere you know and mine may now be somewhat flattened. And of course the deer could be reclining there all the while considering which of the roses had the best flavour this year and therefore which to make a beeline for come the new season. But let’s just pass over that thought for the moment shall we.

Pausing briefly to attend to an itchy back the grazing deer happened to notice Ptolemy Pheasant standing on the lawn. “Hey Ptolemy, what has happened to Jessica and Mike? She hasn’t posted in weeks, nearly a month. I suppose they’ve hopped off to the Antipodes again, now the thermometer has dropped into single digits. No resilience you see, unlike us. Can’t say I really blame them though, what with all the rain and the storms we’ve had recently.”

Ptolemy puffed out his chest and drew himself up to his full 18 inches, an appropriate posture (he surmised) for a bird ‘in the know’. “Oh, they’re still here alright. Banging and crashing around, working all hours of the day and night, long after I’ve put the lights out in the roost. Most annoying let me tell you.”



“I’ve been keeping an eye on them though.”


Never the sort of bird to stop at eight words when 800 would do, Ptolemy continued apace. “It’s all been quite fraught, the place full of people. Men with heavy tool boxes, ladders and natty measuring devices which throw laser light shows across the walls. Jessica got into a right old state the other day when a hose appeared out of the front door and the end of it was carefully nestled right into the base of her Itoh peony ‘Pastel Splendor’. She swooped in and snatched the hose out of the flower bed a split second before jet black water issued from the end of it, as indeed would be expected if the other end of the hose had been attached to the drain valve of the central heating system.”



“What do you make of it Ptolemy Too, is that a new radiator on the wall in there?”





“Apparently there’s a deadline. No, not the ‘C’ word, something even more imminent than that. The arrival of the two sofas back from the upholsterers, where they’ve been re-covered. So there’s been a frenzy of plumbing, electrical work, painting.. and the floor now needs to be spotlessly clean. Jessica has been over it five times with a mop.. five.. plus once on her hands and knees with a scrubbing brush and the water is still coming away dark brown. Aeons of historical use and, more recently, seven months of builders’ boots have a great deal to answer for.”

“And then this week voices were raised even further and crowbars were taken into the house. For all the screeching of wood against metal nail you’d have thought the floor above the sitting room was coming up. I’m quite sure Jessica will have many a tale to regale, as soon as she has a moment to catch her breath.”



“I wouldn’t mind if they’d let us all inside quite frankly. I’d take the risk. It’s blowin’ a hoolie out here.. again!”


Author’s note: Ptolemy has asked me to mention, just in passing you understand, that he is currently appearing in pantomime: the critically acclaimed Much Malarkey Manor adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. He would be delighted if you would join him to witness his starring role as Ptolemy Ptinman (with silent P’s). As would the narrator of the story, Denise, who is long past comfort snacking on biscuits under the stress of it all and has moved on to the serious stuff: cake.

You’ll need to be quick. The last performance will take place on Christmas Eve but the best place to start, as always, is at the beginning (here).