There’s little point in denying this week has been tough. Back at work after a chain of illnesses that go: cold-chest infection-another cold-sinus infection and partial deafness, I’m still far from well and faced with a mountain of work. Striking a balance between making inroads into that workpile and not pushing myself too hard, in case I fall ill again, has been a difficult, tiring and demoralising slog.

The sunshine has been a major boon, apart from the fact that I’ve had no time to be outside to enjoy it, but there have been three things that have lifted my spirits across this week.

The first came about as I was walking home up the hill, from the train station. Watching a pair of Red Kites weaving around the sky I thought “Jeez it must be a windless day”, because they were flapping their wings in quite an animated fashion and you scarcely ever see a Kite doing anything else than soaring effortlessly with ne’er a wingbeat. But then I looked at the trees moving and saw that it was actually quite windy. This made no sense, nor did the fact that one of the birds piled into a conifer tree and then crashing through the other side, tucked its wings back falcon-like and executed a barrel roll.

This is weird behaviour I thought and made no sense. At that point the Kite seared upwards sending in my direction what I thought was a mega-poo. As it dropped on the tarmac in front of me, the penny dropped also. It was a fir cone and the birds’ activity was courtship display. Marvellous. I stayed standing in the street watching them, grinning loonishly, until they goofed off out of sight, like a pair of hormonal teenagers.

Next in the things that made my world a better place was McCarthy’s Bar by Pete McCarthy. An ad hoc purchase from The Oxfam bookshop at the beginning of the week it was a book I planned to read when it came out ten years ago and had lost sight of. It’s the sort of book that’s been chiming with me in recent months (of which I might write later) and I have been both unable to put it down and kicking myself for not reading it a decade ago. A humorous read it was ultimately a melancholy experience. A theme that runs throughout the book is belonging, and as I finished the last page said to myself “Pete you should move to Ireland”. It was only afterwards when I asked myself what had become of him that I discovered that he’d died relatively young and suddenly in 2004, and never had moved there .

Wherever you are, thank you for the smiles Pete, you’ve helped me through this week.

And the third thing to lift my spirits? Well Again it was a bird and here I would like to categorically state I am not a twitcher. In contrast to the enormously winged Kite from the beginning of the week, this was one of our smallest birds and undoubtedly my favourite, the Wren. I first noticed this little chap when he was perched halfway along a long a branch, about 5 feet from where I was sitting, belting it out like a diminutive avian Bryn Terfel. My God they don’t half let it rip for such a pea of a creature.

He then flew off leaving me to read my book in the brilliant sunshine. A minute or two later, reappearing lower down the branch with a tiny shred of something that looked like a piece of hand-rolling tobacco. After a quick look around the little bird disappeared into the snug of ivy that hid the junction of the ash trunk with its branches.

Re-emerging, he flitted back up to the middle of the branch and fired off his musical salvo, and so starting the whole process all over again. This was repeated over and over as the Wren was clearly building one of their cave-like nests that give them their Latin name of Troglodytes troglodytes. It was an awe inspiring level of activity, unintimidated by my proximity nor the windy bow-waves of HSTs that kept barrelling past. Even more so because I have an idea that the male wren builds several nests for his mate to chose from.

Watching the energy he put into constructing just one (and singing about it) was fascinating, charming and a little bit humbling. Is it too much to see in the frenetic, optimistic activity of this little bird a lesson for life? I don’t know. Maybe.

Whatever the case it raised my tired spirits, on a Friday morning.

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