The January sun shines brightly upon the pale greensand walls of Duncliffe Manor. The quiet of the day is broken by the sound of a battered Volvo estate car that draws up at the front door, and the Duke and Duchess, just returned from London, descend and enter the house causing a flurry of activity as orders are given, lunches are prepared and bedrooms made ready.
The robin is always by my side, especially in the winter when he is hungry! His melancholic song is always a delight.
I dream of having a photo-lens but have to make do with a kit 50mm lens for the moment. Nevertheless this robin was quite content to come near when I threw a few seeds down. He did not mind the sound of the shutter falling at all.
A mistle thrush has taken residence in the holly tree by the black gates. Larger than a song thrush, she has a grey-brown back and a white under-belly with large black spots. She dines on the berries of the holly and a near-by pyracantha and she defends her territory vigorously: nobody else is going to pinch food from her store larder. Even in the most torrential of wind and rain she will sit astride her chosen tree singing her song, earning her the nick-name of ‘storm cock’.
The Duke has been given a mobile phone for Christmas, a desperate attempt by his family to bring him into the modern times. He always swore that he would never have one but now he has rather taken to it. You can see him through the library window, pacing up and down, sending text messages to all and sundry. He refuses though to use abbreviations and insists on proper grammar and vocabulary. ‘How do you do inverted commas?’ he asks, but no-one’s quite sure.
Cook informs me that the Duchess has taken to her bed with a mountain of travel brochures. A cruise down the Amazon is on the cards apparently…