Beware of Mad Cows

Beware of Mad Cows

As we’re the only gays in the village, Liam, in his infinite wisdom, thought it would be fun to get better acquainted with our new parish. I thought pub crawl. He thought picnic and a gentle stroll along the river Chet. Now, anyone who knows me, even ever so slightly, knows I don’t hike, roam, ramble, trek or yomp. Still, I thought, what’s the worst that could happen?

Having hunted and gathered our provisions – a meal deal at the Co-op – we ambled across the pretty graveyard of Loddon’s fifteenth century Holy Trinity Church in search of the leafy gate to one of the many Broads walks which make up the Wherryman’s Way. As we passed the rows of lopsided headstones, we were serenaded by squawking rooks. It was an ominous sign.

The trail guided us through a tunnel of wild foliage, across babbling brooks and along country lanes to a riverside clearing called Pye’s Mill. The mill’s long gone but it’s a pleasant spot with picnic tables, a barbecue grill and a place to shelter from the rain. We munched on our lunch watching the holiday boats slowly chug along the still waters of the river.

Fully replenished, we embarked on stage two of our great expedition – across a marshy field populated by bugs and a small herd of black cows grazing on the lush grass, tails flapping about to shoo away the flies. We’re both city boys and the only cows we normally see are sliced up at the Tesco’s meat counter so we kept well clear as we tip-toed around the puddles and shit.

Suddenly, a white-faced beast with pendulous udders and a mad cow look in her eyes emerged from the brush heading towards us, mooing in earnest. We stopped. She stopped. We stared her out. She stared us out. Guess who blinked first? Knowing the game was up, we turned round and started slowly retracing our steps. She followed. We quickened our pace. She quickened hers. Then she charged, picking up quite a speed, udders sloshing from side to side. We ran. Yes, we ran. It wasn’t our finest hour and thank the Lord there was no one around to video the pathetic sight of two old poofs fleeing from one ton of angry beef hell-bent on making mincemeat of us. It could have gone viral. Liam even considered chucking himself in the Chet to escape. Having seen us off, she trundled back into the bush.

Returning to Pye’s Mill, we glanced back at our nemesis. She was being closely followed by a cute little brown calf. That was why the old cow was so pissed off. She was protecting the veal. Pity they didn’t mention that in the guidebook. I knew we should have gone to the pub.

Darling Starlings

In past years, the little nooks tucked beneath our eaves have provided a cosy des res for tits with chicks. This year, the tits have been evicted by pairs of starlings. Well, Liam tells me they’re starlings. I wouldn’t know. He’s much better acquainted with birds. And noisy buggers they are too – chirpy, chirpy, cheeping at all hours. We don’t mind really. It’s a little slice of the natural world in our urban jungle. Apparently, the males attract a mate by decorating the nest with flowers then tweeting to flirty birdies as they swoop past in a ‘hey there, gorgeous, come check out what I’ve got’ kinda way. Not so different from some men I know. Once betrothed, she moves in and redecorates. Not so different from some women I know.

Tits with Chicks

Tits with Chicks

The top floor of the old Co-op warehouse provides a bird’s eye view of the low-rise streets beyond. England is famed as a wet-weather country but the east is less damp than the rest and we are blessed with some conversation-stopping God skies. The cloudiness only helps to intensify the divine display. The micro-loft provides the ideal hide to watch birds as they feed and breed, swoop and soar. And this year, we were chuffed to offer a dry roost beneath our eaves for a pair of tits with chicks. Liam shed a little tear when the fledglings flew the nest. Bye-bye, birdies, bye-bye.

Sunset over Norwich

Despite the urban jungle around us, we’re often serenaded by early morning birdsong. Mostly it’s tweety and melodic, gently stirring us from our slumber. But not when the gulls muscle their way in. Norwich’s maritime days as a secure inland port where tasty morsels could be scavenged at the quays may be long gone but no one’s told the thuggish gulls that shriek and squawk at 5am. It’s enough to wake the dead.

 

Through the Round Window

For weeks now, a flock of starlings has been ebbing and flowing in the skies above Norwich. Every evening, at dusk. I took a few snaps from the loft with the Nokia.

Yes, I know. They don’t really capture the magnificence of the mumurating birds (that’s what they do, apparently). You had to be there. So, here’s something someone made earlier.

The Birds

The Birds

Our little quarter of old Norwich is like a retirement village, jam-packed with sheltered housing schemes – from modern red brick to post-industrial grand. We’re surrounded by the old folk of Norfolk, placing us in pole position for the next vacancy. It reminds me of our fright nights in off-season Yalıkavak when we first dipped our toes in Turkish waters. The difference is that round here there are no randy cats or baying dogs to keep us from our slumber.

Our silent nights are a world away from the Saturday night fever that unfolds just a few streets along. Lazy days are regularly disturbed by the street-wise pigeons who coo, poo and screw on the narrow ledges of the buildings around us. The bonking birds cleverly confound the spikes and nets intended to keep them from their lofty urban roosts and happily bestow their blessings on the passers-by below. There’s good luck splattered everywhere. It’s a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds.

We only have one immediate neighbour. We’ve nodded hello in typically British reticent style. She must be very learned and well-read judging by the constant stream of Amazon deliveries. I must butter her up and generate more commission through my website, it could be a nice little earner. As a fellow blogger and author once remarked “Jack, you’re such a tart, on so many levels.” If the cap fits.

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Pink Flamingos on Lake Tuzla

This is being reposted from yesterday as I completely screwed up the scheduling. Duh!

Perking the Pansies

Some areas of the Bodrum Peninsula have miraculously avoided the triumphant march of the little white boxes up hill and down dale. Lake Tuzla provides a precious sanctuary for a host of wildlife, none so regal as the flamingos on their annual migration. Irreplaceable wetlands like this are under constant threat of draining for agriculture and development. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We should think about that.

Thank you to the lovely Yüksel for these superb images which were taken in February 2012.

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Pink Flamingos on Lake Tuzla

Pink Flamingos on Lake Tuzla

Some areas of the Bodrum Peninsula have miraculously avoided the triumphant march of the little white boxes up hill and down dale. Lake Tuzla provides a precious sanctuary for a host of wildlife, none so regal as the flamingos on their annual migration. Irreplaceable wetlands like this are under constant threat of draining for agriculture and development. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We should think about that.

Thank you to the lovely Yüksel for these superb images which were taken in February 2012.

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