Happy New Year!

Having decided to begin a blog I now understand how a writer feels when he’s about to begin a book and faces a ream of blank paper. Thank goodness I’m not burdened by having a huge advance from a publisher hanging over my head. Perhaps a dive into the deep end is the only thing to do. Mind you it shows my age by referring to reams of paper, and for that matter, assuming that all writers are male, but technology and political correctness apart, here goes:

Rosie and I own The Long House and do the garden entirely ourselves. We scaled down from three and a half acres in 2011 having been at Bankton Cottage in Crawley Down for nigh on 30 years. We loved our old garden - it had a walled garden, a lake, an orchard and woodland - and we opened it for the NGS for a number of years with our final opening attracting over 700 visitors. The Long House garden is, by comparison, just an acre so theoretically easier to look after but for years having longed for different levels in our garden we now are on the side of a down so the height difference from one end of the garden to the top (where the compost heap is) is a gradient many many times steeper than the slope at Lords. Still, it keeps us fit, adds an extra dimension to the garden and if it ever snowed here would be the perfect nursery slope.

After quite a mild autumn with plenty of food still in the garden for our feathered friends it was finally time over Christmas to erect the bird feeders. Rosie had no sooner hung the containers of nuts, sunflower seeds and fat balls up than the first birds flew in at exocet speed and began guzzling away. Some were obviously alive last winter so on the lookout for their winter sustenance but this year’s youngsters must have their homing instincts bred into them. Even more surprising, and much more amusing, were the family of four squirrels that equally quickly arrived on the scene. But their luck was out: last year we’d been plagued by the blasted things so we’d bought a squirrel baffle this year and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the following short video clip. Suffice to say, they haven’t returned since being completely unable to puzzle a way to reach the food…maybe they’re all in conference working out how, or maybe they’ve just given up. I live in hope.