LINCOLN SHAW: Wishing birds luck and good weather
THEY'RE off! Something mysterious blew a whistle or fired a starting pistol and they all flew off on the first stage of the marathon journey that, hopefully, will see them winter in Africa or some other exotic nesting place.
Earlier in the year I wrote about the swallows that seemed a bit doubtful about moving in with us this summer because a family of wrens had beaten them to their usual place in the stable.
Happily, peace broke out and both species seemed to get on well enough.
The wrens moved out some time ago but the swallow chicks were slower to learn and hung about in the nest for ages, being fed by anxious parents.
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Then came those flying lessons. First from beam to beam within the stable and then, coaxed by mum and dad, fluttering up to the guttering outside our bedroom window where they stayed for some time, chattering nervously,
Finally, they were launched into space, like Spitfire pilots flying solo for the first time. Showing off tremendously, zooming straight for your head then pulling away at the last moment. Half a dozen daredevils practising for the ordeal ahead.
One day last week they assembled on the telephone wires, no doubt to receive a final briefing. Next morning they had gone, leaving a trail of droppings behind.
We wish them luck — and better weather, wherever they end up, than the miserable summer they endured here.
I ADMIRE courage and there is plenty of it about, if you care to look for it.
Take Sarah Kingston who is fighting to live an independent life but needs the help of four people to get her up in the morning and get her to bed at night.
Despite offering good rates of pay, with training if necessary, she is still struggling to find them.
Sarah suffers from cerebral palsy but once she is up is very mobile in her electronic wheelchair.
A passionate Torquay United supporter, she has a reserved seat in the new Bristow Bench stand and is there at most home matches, even when the weather is foul.
As it was during that home victory against Rochdale when she got drenched because her place in the stand is not under cover.
She deliberately chose seat 13, which she claims is her lucky number. "I was born on Friday the 13th and am not superstitious."
If anyone can help Sarah send her an email. Which, naturally, includes her lucky number, email@example.com
IT had been a splendid reunion. A trip to London to meet old pals, with plenty of liquid refreshment and a comfortable overnight stay.
Everything went well and he was now on the train back to Totnes, nursing a slightly sore head but feeling content with the world.
But there was something wrong. No-one else seemed to be getting on the train. Then it dawned on him. He was on the wrong platform — and the choo choo he should be on was about to depart, with whistles blowing and flags being waved.
Octogenarian legs clicked into action and he just made it, settling down with a sigh of relief for a pleasant, relaxing journey. Then realised with horror that his overnight bag was missing. He had left it on the other train.
The reader who told me this cautionary tale wishes, understandably, to remain anonymous.
He thought I might like to know what happens when you go about the rather complicated business of finding and reclaiming something you have left on a train.
Yes, his bag had been found and had been taken to a lost property office. No, they could not put it on a train to Totnes. Strict rules apply to prevent any old Tom, Dick or Harry picking it up. He would have to arrive in person and prove his ownership. .
Not in Paddington, thankfully, but somewhere nearly as bad. Bristol Temple Meads.
So he got himself a day return to Bristol, managed to persuade a suspicious lost property staff that he was the rightful owner and caught the next train home. All a bit unnecessary, he suggests.
Why not send the bag on to Totnes and let them do the identity check there? I murmured my sympathy but then spoiled it all by suggesting that it could have been worse. What if the bag had been taken on to Manchester instead of Bristol? Or even Inverness?