Monthly Archives: April 2013




Dolly lies now under a young apple tree which this year blossoms for the first time.

We’ve planted forget-me-nots there. Each April we’ll be reminded of her green eyes, the Jane Austen middle parting of black draped over her pretty white face.


I took her to the vet to have two teeth removed. The vet phoned to say that I could pick her up in half an hour.  She had recovered from the anaesthetic and was having something to eat. Ten minutes later Dolly keeled over, dead. There was a post-mortem. She was found to have heart disease.


When Rob carried her home to bury, her mother, Flo, yowled.  Rob thought it best not to show Flo the body, as it would no longer smell like Dolly following the autopsy, but would smell of blood and chemicals.

      Flo survives, aged 19, to Dolly’s 14. Lately Flo yowls in the night and I go down to stroke and reassure her. She used to come upstairs and sleep on the bed, but I think her almost blindness confuses her. I now leave the light on in the hall for her, so she can find her way to the litter box. She drinks masses of water – kidney failure. I squash her thyroid tablet into a tiny morsal of favourite food before giving her the kidney diet. I do give her a tiny bit of more interesting food with her thyroid tablet mashed into it. And she still has the occasional titbit of cheese or fish or chicken, as, if it was me, and I was as ill and ancient, I would hate not to have my tipple of whiskey, my piece of chocolate, even if they would shorten my life. What is life without chocolate and whiskey?

      (Rob occasionally has night horrors – he screams in his sleep. Between his yelling and Flo’s yoweling, nights are never dull.

                                                                                                     Hawke’s Point, April

SourceURL:file:///Users/ann/Desktop/on%20the%20edge%20book.docDolly Dolly lies now under a young apple tree


trench paw

trench paw

flo testing the water

trench paw

flo with wet paw


A robin sang all day, first on the highest branches of the just budding horse chestnut tree, then closer to the cliff on the highest branch of a hazel. I have never heard such lovely singing. He would win prizes, if there were any. He sang against a blue sky, one of the first of this cold spring. I hope he finds a mate, if he was singing for one. I did hear an answering song, a long way off. But maybe he was warning his neighbour to stay away from his territory, after all, I am supplying him with mealworms, sunflower seeds and fatballs.

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chaffinch nest

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 It would take at least

a hundred of you

to make a small

pair of trousers.

I would rather

think of you


mossy nests

for your plushy young,

paralysing worms

with your toxic


and storing them

by the thousand

in deep larders.

I hear that you

squeeze the worms

between your

navvy paws

to rid them

of soil.

In the fens

your names

are mouldywarp

and dirt tosser.

A group of you

is a labour.

Your large pink paws,

which remind me

of wicket keeper gloves

were hung around

the neck of a victim

of toothache or



I hear that a worm will leap

into the air to escape your grip.

I’d love to see that.


Garden finds

Dropped on the deck by a gull – A clump of tiny crabs stuck together – a vomited pellet, like a precious jewel.

Found in a hydrangea bush –  a paper genius – a wasp nest, the size of a rugby football, like a mass of giant whelk’s eggs. One dead wasp in a cell.

After the lightning strike, a granite gate post was blasted to its foundation, and in the hole was a ball of solid clay or  earthenware, the size of a cricket ball, with a hole through the centre and a pattern like a cricket ball seam round its circumference. It could be a fishing net weight, or a practice cannon ball? Take it to Truro museum and find out. (we dug up another in a different part of the garden. Similar shape and design.

Last year, a fallen nest made of twigs laced with cobwebs, moss and orange twine lined with pale soft hair and pebble-dashed with gold lichen. This year, another small round nest, built by a bird whose decorating taste also runs to cocker spaniel hair, damp sphagnum moss and faux gold leaf and who had the patience to build a perfect home even though there was no time to settle down and rear young. Both chaffinch nests sit on a shelf with feathers from parrots, pheasants, gulls.



badger eating peanuts at the kitchen door

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Penzance to Paddington Train Journey

There’s joy to be had on a train in Spring, just looking out at cows flying by. Usually, there’s a leggy foal to smile at, and if you’re lucky, a bouncing lamb, though it’s a long time since I’ve seen one, so maybe that endearing characteristic’s been modified,

genetically. There’s time to notice the choirboy mouths of daffodils, Disney clumps of primroses in the cuttings, the changing face of all our backyards. What happened to washing-lines, chicken runs, old men in sheds?

      Under the Brunel Bridge men fish from a pier and the usual dozen or so swans gather for a free meal by the pub with the Union Jack painted on its face. Sunny are the pale primroses and the hedges of gorse. A sorrel tree yellows and the first swallows dip

and swoop.

      Later at home on the cliff an owl silently prowls, the chill mist is a pale shawl. The pathos of the curlew’s call. Dolly walks the deck rail, unaware of the drop onto rocks and waves, through hazels and spindly elms, leaves burnt by May’s cold winds. Goldfinch – always busy, twitter and chatter like excited little girls. By the neglected small pond –  a silvered log, sheltered from the wind. The honey smell of honeysuckle. Dense with flags and weed, the pond supports toads, frogs and newts.


A watery sun disappears behind pines. Voices on the coast path behind us; bark of a dog. A sudden squall ruffles a chaffinch’s head feathers to a crest. We take the top path treading the purple confetti of fallen hebe flowers, the cats first, Flo running ahead, Dolly lagging behind as ever, then racing together, showing me the way home.

      With dusk comes the badger to delicately nibble peanuts outside the kitchen door, an old lady careful of her dentures.


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