'I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out 'til sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.' John Muir

I've seen the top of Everest (from a long way off), smelled the breath of a whale (from way too close) and lived on a boat in Greece (for a few years), but I continue to experience some of my most precious moments right outside my backdoor.

If comments are proving difficult to do, please email me; sleepysparrow@yahoo.co.uk

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hi Friends,

I'm moving.......

very slowly.......



Please visit me there.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

My lovely Charlie is building me a cute little studio in the back garden, Dad has come to help. I'm feeding them with tea and cake. I'm also collecting all the funny shaped off-cuts from the roof timbers. Today I created a whale, quite slowly and very satisfyingly BLUE. I do love blue.
I made a little film about it and posted it above but for some reason you can't see it. So here are the photos from the film instead!

PS. You can see it on  www.facebook.com/theshorelark

Charlie and Dad making my garden studio - hurray!

Off-cuts from the roof

Hmmm, looks like a sperm whale to me!

Thanks for the new sander Dad!

Don't tell Charlie I'm using his best chisel

Blue of course!

 Scottish coral for the spout and Welsh driftwood for the tail

A rusty washer for the eye - never throw your rusty washers and nails away!

Thar She Blows!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Slow Sounds...The Colour of Birdsong

The sky today was the colour of the fluff under my bed and felt like it was squashing down on my head like a heavy, scratchy blanket.  But I went out for a walk anyway, after a bit of procrastination.

Even when the world outside looks black and white, there's always the colour of birdsong to brighten the day...  

The demented call of a nuthatch ringing out from the birch woods is a vibrant purple, edged with bronze, like the end of a storm. It sounds like it's lost a nut and can't find it anywhere and is getting very, very cross. 

The sound of woodpeckers drumming on a hollow tree is the colour of an old oak sideboard. (January is a good time to hear drumming woodpeckers. They are claiming their territory and advertising for a mate.  'An unpaired male may drum as many as 600 times per day'. Thankfully, woodpeckers have special shock absorbent tissue between the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of drumming).

I see the robin's trill as pale, watery blue, like the colour of melting ice.  A dunnock's piping call is the acid yellow of winter aconites and the blackbird's flutey song is liquid bronze, like the shiny coin I used to get at the bottom of my Christmas stocking. 

If you join in with the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch on 30/31 Jan, as well as doing a really important bird counting job, you could practice seeing the colour of birdsong and even do your own painting.  
The house sparrow came top of the list in the 2015 survey. To me, their call is the rich, earthy colour of a pint of real ale, complete with frothy top.  

Next time you hear bird song, close your eyes and see if a colour comes into your mind.  It could brighten your day. 


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Where have you been?

Well, what can I say but Happy New Year!

I feel as though I ought to confess..............
Dear Reader, it's been so long since I last blogged....

I've been playing with driftwood.............

Painting pebbles..........

 Waving at whales.......

OK, the humpbacks were off Nova Scotia but Dad has always wanted to visit Canada so we took him, for his 85th birthday.  



Eventually, I gave him a lesson in SLOW

Which he picked up with ease....

And now we're in the depths of a Welsh Winter, a perfect opportunity to practice being SLOW.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Slow Terns?

Not the Prairies but Gronant Dunes

I blog about SLOW things mainly. Taking time for noticing, sniffing, watching, being.  The little terns at Gronant beach don’t have much time for being slow right now.

This Sunday we responded to a plea on Facebook from the wardens at Gronant, the chicks are beginning to hatch and the kestrels have noticed.  Kestrels mostly eat voles and lizards but they will take little tern chicks.  The wardens reckon that having people placed carefully along the beach might help keep them at bay.   

From the path to the viewing platform, I spotted a reed bunting dressed like a country parson, singing in a tangled rose bush. It’s not a glamorous song but he’s persistent and I like his style.  High in the wide blue sky, specks of skylarks sang without pausing for breath.  And I’ll swear I heard the fishing reel sound of a grasshopper warbler coming from the tall grass. 

The edges of the board walk were lit up with deep pink orchids and silver sea holly like a glitzy catwalk.  As we approached the beach, the  creaky cries of little terns could be heard over the whistling marram grass.  We watched them overhead, bright white, like freshly laundered hankies fluttering in the breeze.  Some had tiny silver sand eels dangling from their beaks, others were chasing, swooping, landing, lost among the pebbles in the fenced-off colony.  

We chatted to Jack the warden, who was very bright-eyed even though he’d been on duty since 4am.  As we spoke a kestrel appeared, hovering over the dunes.  Jack ran off to the far end of the colony and we watched to see what it would do.  It hung motionless over the marram grass at the back of the colony then circled high and moved away.  Maybe our presence put it off?  Through my binoculars I could see it in aerial combat with a pair of buzzards. Obviously it has chicks somewhere in the vicinity and felt threatened by the presence of these big birds of prey.  So it goes in the natural world. Buzzards bother kestrels, kestrels bother little terns, little terns bother sand eels. 

Whether we helped see the kestrel off I don’t know. I do know that it was fantastic being at the colony. It felt big and wild there, we had a real sense of being right in the middle of nature's battle for survival.  And for me, I’m pretty sure a spell on a windswept beach under a big blue sky certainly helped my survival. I felt alive and ready for anything...though perhaps not being carried off by a kestrel.

Gronant has the potential to be the largest little tern colony in the UK this year but they need help.
If you’ve an hour or two to spare, get down there for a bit of reviving wildness and give a hand to protect these feisty little birds in the process. 

Or search for Gronant Little Terns on Facebook - their photographs of little tern chicks are very cute!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Slow France

‘I have travelled the world, seen sights, met fascinating people, but only when I returned home did I become aware of the beauty on my own doorstep.’  Rabindrath Tagore

Sometimes it takes going away to make you appreciate where you live even more.  

And you can still be SLOW...

We are just home from France. We hadn’t planned to go. We were in the campervan, not too far from home, pedalling along the Mawddach Trail, the most beautiful cycle path in Wales, sneaking up on quiet herons, stopping to watch great crested grebes with their Everton toffee chicks.  A day or two later we trundled off to Hay on Wye to wander among musty books and lemon-drizzly-tea-shops.
Then the van just seemed to want to keep going south. So we stopped in a layby, booked a ferry from Dover, slept on the prom and next day we were in France.

I continued with the Wildlife Trusts #30 Days Wild Challenge (to do something wild each day in June) while we were away.  There are birds in France I don't hear in Wales, a nightingale sang in the Somme, turtle doves purred in the poplar trees of Champagne and a beaver nibbled reeds in a quiet corner of the largest lake in France (Lac du Der, south of Reims).

Being A Slow Tourist

We felt a gentle pull to the West and found ourselves in Normandy.  On the beach at Dives Sur Mer, from where a certain William the Conqueror set sail in 1066, I made patterns with shells on the beach.  I left them for the tide to play with and went for a long walk under a 'Monet sky' (The Impressionists were inspired by the wide skies and alabaster cliffs of this coast, we followed their Trail over the next few days).

When I came back, a little French girl in a turquoise swimsuit was busy adding to my display, a beautiful fish, more flowers and abstract patterns.  She was lost in her creativity. Maybe I had inspired her. Maybe she will be an artist one day, or maybe she just had a real fun SLOW day on the beach?
Fish added by little girl

Back home, the garden welcomed us with a couple of pints of strawberries, a bundle of rhubarb sticks and some curly kale.  I walked around with my cup of tea, dead-heading, pulling berries, inhaling the vanilla scent of clematis and apologising to my birds for being away. Slowly, they returned to the feeders and pecked at my apple offerings. 
The blackbird meanwhile, had discovered a corner of the bed where the strawberry net hadn't reached and was brazenly helping himself.  I let him go for it, enjoying seeing the strawberry colour smeared on his yellow beak.
It's nice to be home.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

3 Wild Days - Continuing with The Wildlife Trusts #30 Days Wild challenge...

 Day 11
I saw this thistle in the local garden centre, it was covered in bees, so I bought it and planted it in the garden. Bees came very quickly.

Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum'

Day 12

Alerted by the shrill squeaking of baby birds, I went into the garden and saw newly fledged bluetits being fed from the fat cake hanging in my tree.

Day 13

I cut Charlie's hair outside. His lovely salt and pepper locks made ideal slug deterrents around the courgettes. No need for the blue pellets of death!

Monday, 8 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 8 - HapBee Birthday

Today is my lovely sister's birthday.  As part of her present I adopted a bee, a queen bee of course, from http://www.planbeeltd.com/adopt-a-bee/

Each bee purchase goes towards helping the honey bee population recover and supporting honey-bee related initiatives throughout the UK.
I gave the bee the name of Jenny, after my sister and she proudly took the adoption certificate to work to show her students.

A bee has just left this poppy!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 7 - Sparrow Poem

Today, in between putting broken egg shells around the base of my courgette seedlings and sheep wool pellets around the tiny pea shoots (to persuade the slugs to go elsewhere), I spent some time on the garden bench jotting down poems. Here's one I wrote earlier...

Passer domesticus
Scruffy urchins of the bird world
street-wise, cock-sure
surviving by your wits

and your hard-faced cheek,
like 'Angels with Dirty Faces.'

In your crop-eating-outlaw days
you had a price on your head,
were picked off for pennies
by persecuting posses.
Then you learned which side 
your bread was buttered 
and muscled in on small town gardens.

You were chased away from feeders
by people who preferred
the glamour of goldfinches
the bally-hoo of blue tits.
But now you're rather rare
and they want you back,
will gladly sacrifice
their finely tilled seed beds
to your early evening dust bath.

30 Days Wild - Day Six - Celebrating Sparrows

Sparrows have lived alongside humans longer than any other wild bird.  But we haven't always tolerated them. During WW1, Rat and Sparrow clubs were formed in order to 'save food for human consumption.' Hundreds of thousands were killed.  3d was paid for a fully fledged bird, 2d for an unfledged bird and 1d for an egg.  Their decline has continued and now they are on the Conservation Red List, meaning they are a species in need of urgent action.

Thankfully, they seem to be doing well in my garden. They're my favourites.