Having zoomed in on my ipad photo of these insects – I am not intelligent enough to get the zoomed image onto the blog – sorry. Will keep trying.


 We have odd-looking insects on the stalks of the pond irises. They look like large insects at the front and pupae at the rear end. They have sat there for two days in the same position. Are they waiting for their wings to develop? Are they alderflies? Predators of the pond bottom who emerge in spring and early summer? Just late this year, like everything else? Have taken photos of them with new I-pad.


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The herring gull that nested on our balcony in St Ives laid three eggs. There was a fracas with neighbouring gulls a couple of days ago and she ended up with only one egg. I wasn’t there to see what happened. The couple staying at the house were kindly feeding her toast under the glass screen. They said that she was not alarmed at them being so close with the glass doors open. They were very sensitive to her condition and kept quiet when they were in the room.

But today they say that they found the last egg broken and no chick in sight. The female is still on the balcony, looking bewildered. I wonder if they will mate again, lay again this season?

On surrounding roofs are many other nests with young chicks.

The herring gull that nested on our balcony


We cleaned out the almost dry pond – probably the wrong time of year etc – but it was full of totally matted weed. Left it on the edge so that creatures could crawl back into the pond. Found nothing apart from daphnia, and tadpole-like critters, but miniature. What can they be? No water snails. We have too many water plants, I think. Our spring cleaning caused muddy water, but refilled pond with tap water – I know, not a terribly good idea. But it’s been too cold/wet to do it before now. Bluebells still flowering in the garden along with just flowering foxgloves.  Apple trees blossoming.

We cleaned out the almost dry pond –

On the way to the carboot sale – Long Lane between St Erth and Rosudgeon today was bursting with spring wild flowers : Cow parsley, bluebells, pink campion, star of Bethlehem, garlic flowers, buttercups, and the occasional bright yellow explosion of gorse flowers. It’s baby rabbit time, so you have to watch the grass verges carefully. A successful carboot – bought a heavily embroidered linen bedspread, and a lobster for supper! A woman from Cadgwith sells whole crabs and lobsters, scallops and crabmeat in tubs, and mussels. I am cooking the lobster with garlic and parsley butter in the Rayburn as I haven’t a grill at Hawke’s Point. Serving it with a new potato salad and a green salad (our neighbour Harry’s lettuce). Rob says lobster is wasted on him, but I couldn’t resist. I used to have a boyfriend who was a diver. He would turn up with a live lobster in his haversack. I remember leaving one in the empty sink while we had a drink, and Nathan – a little boy, then, felt sorry for it and filled the sink with water. The lobster woke up and thrashed around so violently we had great difficulty getting the plug out. The kitchen floor was soaked. So were we. It was delicious!

On the way to the carboot sale –

The Queen came to St Ives today by the little train that goes behind our house on the edge. A sunny morning, bunting flying, and I waited on the deck with my flags ready to wave. I had been told that she was coming at 10.30, so when the train trundled by, I waved and jumped up and down, patriotically. Then I had to go out to visit someone, and saw by the railway crossing, a little gathering of people waiting to see the  Queen. I had got the time wrong and couldn’t wait. I hope she appreciated the bunting. She would have missed the wonderful display of daisies on the roadside on her way out of town, as the council had sent out the grass cutters the day before, and destroyed them all. I bet she loves daisies. I do. The smell of daisies is like nothing else – bitter, but clean. This afternoon the rain came in, of course, and the bunting is sodden and has practically blown away.

The Queen came to St Ives today by

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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



 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.


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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For visitors to my blog: these are mostly nature notes from the cliff house in St Ives, taken over the more than twenty years we’ve lived here. I will describe the wildlife we encounter and the dramas of living so close to the edge. There is a panoramic view of St Ives Bay, with the occasional pod of dolphins, flocks of diving gannets, seals fishing,  badgers at the back door, etc. I hope that you enjoy reading it.


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