Monday 9 August 2010 11.37am
I've always loved the countryside, and the sights, sounds and smells that go with it. Must have been all those years hop picking as a child. 'Oppin' dahn in Kent.' I now find the countryside has come to me. How the environment has changed. In my back garden in the middle of Westcliff I've seen more varieties of birds than I ever saw in rural life. As well as the common or garden sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, collared doves, magpies, etc, I've seen Kestrels, blue tits, greenfinches and even jays, once the shyest of birds that you would only glimpse in dense woodland, if you were lucky. We get a lot of foxes in our gardens here, but unfortunately they are not the beautiful, bushy-tailed ones we used to see in nature books. They have evolved in to the hoary, skinny, urban variety with discusting habits. Because I have a dog and a cat, the foxes deem it necessary to make their own territorial claims by urinating and pooing on my back doorstep. Believe me, when the odour of fox urine gets in to your sinuses, it's there for hours. A bowl of disinfected, soapy water is now the first order of the day. If I forget to bring my cat's feeding bowl in at night, the foxes will leave their calling card in the middle of it. But, live and let live. I did get a kick out of a fox walking past me, about a metre from my feet without seeing me, when I was sitting out in the garden late one evening.
Like you, Mark, I find it easier to forgive an animal that is only obeying its instincts, than the thoughtless, inconsiderate behaviour of certain humans.