Have spent a glorious day in Blashford Lakes today, and thank you hugely to Peter & Sue for the tip - much appreciated. The wonderful news is I saw my first Lesser Redpoll there - well, quite a few of them actually - so that was grand. Other birds spotted for this year included bramblings, a linnet and goosanders. We also got a great view of a bittern standing amongst reeds very close by, plus siskins, nuthatches, a black-necked grebe, some goldeneye and all the usual suspects. We also attempted to spot firecrest, crossbills and hawfinches, but to no avail alas. They're obviously somewhere else at the moment. But it's a great place to go if you're keen on birds - honestly the woods were alive with them. Which is astonishing as normally when Lord H and I go birdspotting in woodland, we see absolutely nothing and the trees are as silent as winter. Which as it is winter is hardly surprising, but really, my dears, I can't be expected to find the perfect simile every time. Even Homer nods ...
I've finished an utterly excellent collection of short stories - Conspiracies by John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan. It's fabulous and I have so many favourites I don't know where to begin. First off, Kinsella's Family (a snapshot of a very split family) is great - and all the more so as I was astonished to see a sharp short story which is told from multiple viewpoints. I hadn't realised that could be done or even work. I found it quite inspirational and am mulling over whether I might try one like that too. I just have to think about it for a while. Also Ryan's Ghosting is a punchy tale about two best friends and the secrets they don't share; Kinsella's The Glass Table takes an item of furniture and makes it alter a relationship beyond any hope of return; Ryan's The Ring takes the theme of different languages and cultures to show us a budding relationship that doesn't quite get there; Kinsella's Stain is a powerful and subtle ghost story with a kick-ass ending; another Kinsella tale, The Play, is my utter favourite in the collection and is a dark sharp story about a piece of play-acting in a pub that goes terribly, terribly wrong. Frankly it's perfect. I couldn't fault it. I could probably read it over and over again and still get something more out of it - it's that good. Again, Kinsella's Vermin! is a gripping snapshot of a boy who doesn't fit into his family (and Lordy we've probably all been there, eh ...) but the ending is surprisingly positive and holds out something like hope; finally, Ryan's Nurture is a sting-in-the-tale look at becoming a lesbian. All in all, I probably preferred Kinsella's offerings, but it's a close-run thing and there are more of his tales included so he possibly has an unfair advantage. That said, I do think Kinsella's The Chain Letter is very over-described to the point of description-pornography (and it's not to do with sex - well not until the end anyway ...) and I personally don't think should have been included here, but I appreciate that's a personal take on the story. Others may like what happens with the lice, but I found it rather gross! Anyway, apart from that this collection is fabulous and I highly recommend it.
Meanwhile tonight we have Chinese takeaway from Waitrose and ice cream - bliss! I can't wait. It rounds off the day perfectly.
Today's nice things:
3. Chinese takeaway & ice cream.
Anne's website - conspiracies are everywhere, you know ...