I bumped in to an old primary school friend the other day. I hadn’t seen her for 17 years but she seemed just as lovely as she had been back then. She reminded me
of playtime at my childhood home. Us building rafts together to float on the lake and my mum making us chicken kievs – Lucy’s favourite for tea time. The sky would turn Prussian blue outside the kitchen window as the blackbirds hurried to and fro, making clack-clack clacking calls as the sun went down.
It’s funny the things that remind you of a certain home. I always remember the wildlife. When I think back to Gunton, the house I was born in and lived until I went off to university, it’s those blackbirds, and the nuthatches that would run headlong down our peanut feeders, looking like the bandits of the bird world with their bright white eyestripe that I remember most vividly. Gunton also reminds me of the woodpigeons outside my mum’s bedroom, patrolling the long limbs of the bright orange beech trees in autumn. And the rooks in spring, shouting from their treetop village, seemingly oblivious to anyone or anything other than nest building.
University brought it’s own wildlife to watch. Black-headed gulls circling the playing fields beneath my bedroom window would entertain me with their squabbles and leisurely pursuits as I attempted to study for my exams. And my mum’s new house has it’s own birds too. Goldfinches flicking from silver birch to silver birch fluting their liquid metal song and the pearly heart of a barn owls face peering from it’s attic-space hidey-hole. Southrepps, the village Simon and I lived in when I was huge and pregnant, was alive with house sparrows and we would watch squadrons of them in the garden. When I hear the twittering of sparrows now it takes me right back to those heavy summer days up until Robin was born. One wakeful night we even had a tawny owl land silently on top of our bird table. We peered out in to the darkness to watch for a good twenty minutes before it took flight.
Even though I thought I might never love a house as much as I loved Gunton, the little cottage we live in now certainly matches it. Woodpeckers drum, buzzards circle and in spring we are woken by twit-twoo’ing. I sat out on the garden’s swinging chair in summer and saw a tree creeper flat against the roof of the shed, wings spread, sunbathing in the warmth of the sun.
When you picture your home what wildlife do you see? It is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend. Why not build on the memories you have of your home and tell us what’s happening in your back garden.