Saturday, 6 May 2017

OK - the pigeons

This is going to be about as scintillating as my conversation with the D of E with which I regaled you yesterday.

The sound of wood pigeons cooing first thing on a sunny morning always takes me back more than 60 years to my first summer camp with the Scouts. Twenty-plus Scouts with our one solitary Scoutmaster entrained at Gillingham (the one in Kent) whence we travelled to Charing Cross (a mainline terminus in London). Lugging our personal baggage - all the camping gear had already been sent on as one could in those days - we crossed London by the Underground (it wasn't called the tune then as far as I remember) to Paddington. There we caught a train to Bath.

That journey seemed to me as though we were heading into a foreign country. I was accustomed to building constructed of red brick, but here the railway stations were made of stone. All the stations in Kent and the signs on them were painted green; here they were maroon. At Bath we changed trains again to travel on to Freshford and from there we walked to the farm where we were to camp.

If the buildings seemed foreign, at least the language spoken by the locals was English. Well, a kind of English. This was the first time that I - or, as far as I am aware, any of the other Scouts - had come into contact with the Somerset accent.

"Be Ee goin' to zee Gillingham (with a hard G in place of our soft G) play this zeazon?" I was asked by one.

It was all quite an eye-opener for this young Man of Kent.

I would wake up in the morning, wrapped in my two blankets (no sleeping bags in those days) pinned together with what looked like large nappy pins, just like the ones Scotsmen use on their kilts, to a sort of greenish light as the sun shone through the canvas. And every morning, the wood pigeons would be calling from the trees at the side of the field.

I heard a couple of wood pigeons the other day. They weren't calling; indeed, they weren't in the trees. They were on the flat roof of our kitchen extension. And, boy, were they enjoying themselves! They were boffing like mad - and making a heck of a lot of noise as they thrashed around.  Fortunately, Fern (the spaniel) was not feeling her best. She takes a great dislike to birds on the kitchen roof and they would have felt the rough edge of her tongue had she been 100%.

The next day I was in the bedroom when I heard a tremendous bother going on outside. yes, you've guessed it. It was those wood pigeons on the kitchen roof again! I opened the window to suggest they might like to be a little more discreet. Since then they have taken to using our neighbour's fir tree, which thrashes around as though the wind were blowing a gale when there's absolutely still air!

Perhaps this will be a good year for pigeon pie?

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