As I walked to town I was congratulating myself on doubling my usual quota of little grebes – two grebes! – and on seeing a pair of mute swans with a well-grown youngster, when what should fly past along the river but a red-breasted merganser? Not a year-tick but a patch-tick which is infinitely more satisfying. This skull-crushing cold must have hit the coast very hard for him to have flown so far inland (9.89 miles; thank you Google Earth).
In preparation for my two-month spell in
South Asia, I spent much of today cleaning my house from top to bottom. It was overdue, but this has been a dark, soul-stalled winter and only now, as the snows come, am I beginning to thaw.
The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.
The Wind in the Willows