stories and illustration

Silver Water

A long time since I went out and stood on the edge of the Lees, and gazed at the river. The river that has been described, possibly by Burns, as “the silvery Tweed”. There is something about being under the strictures of this virus that has altered the way I inhabit the world around me. There is some curtailment of freedom that gets into one’s marrow. People being up near each other looks somehow strange. So however lucky we are in our own landscape, in our relative lack of stress compared to so many, all the same, something burrows into the mind. When I am out in my studio, there I don’t feel it. The birds come and go. The blackbird, who flew into our window at night several years ago, and looked so peaky last year I thought she was dying, with all her feathers fallen out where she had hit herself, and her bare back of skull this strange bent shape, almost like the head of a snake, and a miserable ambience about her – well, this autumn, she is back, with a new quite pretty ruff of grey feathers round the back of her neck, and is her usual, sprightly, somewhat forceful self. She is so tame, she never flies off when I open the studio door, but just stays where she is. She knows her name, she comes when I call: Miss Ruche, Miss Ruche.

December 26, 2020 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baby Bird


This small personage was squeaking and agitating and giving me the eye outside out conservatory/lean-to, I was alarmed for the wee bird, but when I went out it had disappeared. Hope it survives, to join the female blackbird who crashed against our window in the night and knocked out all the flesh and feathers on the back of her head, and the blackbird without a tail, whom I’ve noticed for a couple of years now, both haunting the bird table. Whenever I go out into the garden, they appear, sometimes accompanying me up to the path to the vegetable garden.


May 27, 2018 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Blackbird on a Brick


May 21, 2017 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Female Blackbird

female blackbirdThroughout the summer we noticed that the garden was totally devoid of blackbirds, but now they are all over the place – not just in the garden, but in the Hirsel woods, where they putter around under the trees, turning over the dead leaves in their search for food.  They do not seem frightened much of humans, they almost seem to have an insouciance (the four-and-twenty blackbirds put in a pie were rooks, apparently).  In my old house blackbirds would wander into the house, leaving their droppings on the wooden floor.

Now, through the Tardis window, when I take a break from wrestling with the rough of my book about a Boy and a Hare,  I watch them chasing each other away from the food. I put out some curious red suet-plus-seed balls from The Factory Shop in Kelso that thebirds wouldn’t touch at first, but now they consume them eagerly – the blackbirds were the pioneers in the tasting test; though with all the birds, dried mealworms seem to be the food  de luxe.

There are blackbirds looking down from the ridge along the top of the greenhouse, blackbirds in the hornbeam hedge, blackbirds rattling about in the holly, blackbirds sitting in the silver birch. Blackbirds here, there and everywhere.

January 24, 2015 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blackbird on a Yard Door


December 9, 2014 Posted by | Art, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Blackbird in the Garden


I may be wrong, but I don’t think this bird is very old, it has that fat fluffiness about it still.  The blackbirds more or less disappeared until we started throwing out apple cores round the bird table, and now suddenly the garden is full of them. I suspect a nest in the one of the big hedges. They chitter and complain when we appear suddenly, but are almost the tamest of birds; if you leave a door open they are inclined to hop in. I notice that now it is sunny and we are out pottering about in the garden the birds are more inclined to ignore us.  The dried mealworms are a big draw, as well as the apple cores. We have planted some wild flower mats under the bird table, since there is a spare raised bed (the original site was a Flodden graveyard, hence the raising of the beds), as it is no good planting broad beans -they are amazing, then suddenly get a kind of black wilt.  So now looking out of the studio I can see the birds, and soon hopefully a mass of wild flowers as well.  This year something to be cheerful about: there are far more bees around, and today I saw a butterfly. Perhaps the planting the fields of phacelia, aka “Bees’ Friend”, in great mauve swathes last year has been having an effect.


April 15, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


%d bloggers like this: