A full on fortnight travelling the roads of Northumberland & Dumfries touring Haunted: Ghost Story Readings for Halloween. A bonus of returning home late at night has been two separate encounters with a tawny owl. Kim and I were enthralled to suddenly light up one in the middle of the lane, between home and village and along a sheltered stretch where we have previously spotted hares. Motionless, caught in the stationary car’s headlights it stared at us for a while, walked around a bit before slowly taking uplift into the safety of the hedge line trees. Something tells us this is a young bird, born this Spring, seeking to establish its own territory. Back home we hear them sometimes at this time of year, uttering those famous mating cries and hope they are answered and fulfilled.
Nights reading stories at our nine mainly rural venues proves the easy part of the operation. Being the producer too involves days sat at my desk posting social media, doing administration & generally catching up on everything else that needs doing before leaving the house. The need to get some physical exercise each day or doing tasks that are not work related is even more urgent than usual. Mending a small section of our field boundary wall where stock had dislodged it offered the perfect fix on both accounts. Not that I’m an kind of expert but the very act of reforming this jigsaw in stone was very satisfying. How long it will last is another matter. I suddenly remembered, with wry amusement, that I had been here before a decade or so ago. Not for real, just virtually, voicing a professional waller putting in a new length at Grey Gables for Nigel Pargetter in The Archers on Radio 4. I remembered also my character’s disgust at being asked to put through holes in his handiwork to allow safe passage for badgers.
Another satisfying job in the outdoor exercise department has been the raking of leaves. Narrow yellow willow, palmate spotty maple, fingery golden oak and fawn fingers of ash with a sprinkling of pine needles will all make for good leaf mould to add to the soil, improving structure. In preparing the crude chicken wire round pen to receive this autumn’s rakings I discover a small toad, not best pleased to be disturbed from its dark damp hideaway. I wonder as I covered him with a great duvet of fallen leaves whether this is the same toad I found earlier this year in the bags of compost I’d brought over from the compost bin in my yard garden at Lancaster. I hope there’s more than one about and that this hideaway prove a worthy home for such delightful garden friendly amphibians.