Posts Tagged ‘wind’

Operation Strawberry

For those of you who were over here on Monday, you may remember I had suffered a great injustice. The strawberry plant I bought on returning from Italy in April had started to bear fruit, which was then stolen from me in a most brutal manner. I feel I have been wronged in the most extreme way and have decided to set up Operation Strawberry to find justice for myself and my garden.

The aim of the inquiry:
To find the thief who thought it was ok to enter a garden not their own and help themself to the fruit they found there.

Statement from the injured party:
At 5.10pm on Sunday 7th July 2013, I arrived home from work. I went straight into the garden as it was hot and I wanted to sit down and read for a bit. Near the table is a strawberry plant. The day before, there was one strawberry which was almost at the point of being ready to eat. I had decided to give it one more day to go a bit redder. On the day in question, I sat down to read and looked at the strawberry plant and saw that the strawberry was no longer there.

Victim presents Exhibit A (photograph of crime scene):

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Victim impact evidence:
The loss of the strawberry has caused me great distress. I worry about leaving the other blossoming strawberries to go to work. I feel unsafe in my own garden and have thought about getting rid of the strawberry plants altogether, to avoid the possibility of further heartache, should the thief return. I worry for my cherry tree, plum tree and tomato plants and have taken to counting the budding fruit five times a day. This has been a difficult time for me.

The suspects:

image

Suspect A – the fattest pigeon the world has ever seen
Suspect B – a human
Suspect C – a bat
Suspect D – the wind
Suspect E – the feisty squirrel

The evidence against Suspect A:
Suspect A, the fat pigeon, has been a regular in the garden for over 18 months. The victim claims to have seen him strutting around eating the bread that she puts out. She has rarely seen him fly and thinks he would find it a great strain to do so, given his body weight. She has seen him fly from the garden to the fence to perch but very little other movement. Given the height of the strawberry at the time of its disappearance, the pigeon would have had to be hovering in mid air to have got a good peck and dislodged it. This seems unlikely, given its dislike of flying in general. An authority on the matter (Google) tells me that wild birds do like to eat berries but there appears to be little solid evidence to bring into this courtroom about the specific situation of pigeons and strawberries.

You may leave the stand now, Fat Pigeon, unless you would like to offer any closing statements.

Fat Pigeon: “Has anyone got any bread I can eat, please?”

The evidence against Suspect B:
Suspect B, a human, is dealing with a lot of hurdles to get to the garden and the strawberry. Firstly, all the gardens on the road are joined together and are attached to the all the gardens behind the houses on a parallel road. There are no alleyways in between the gardens and no access to the general public. A human would have had to contend with a lot of gardens and fences before reaching the garden in question and in so doing, would have passed many other opportunities for fruit pilfering. There were no footprints or signs of forced entry in or around the garden. As such, it seems unlikely that a human is responsible for the crime.

You may now leave the stand, humans. Would you like to offer any closing statements?

Humans: “We could never steal from such a fantastic blogger. We definitely didn’t do it.”

The evidence against Suspect C:
Suspect C, a bat, is known to have a taste for sweet fruits but generally sticks to things growing higher up in trees. The strawberry plant would be far too low for a bat to consider it a snack worth going for. While the victim recalls seeing bats fly low over the garden during summer evenings, the time of the day that the crime was committed is at odds with the known waking hours of bats. The theft must have happened before 5.10pm, the time when bats are generally not known to be active. It seems unlikely that the bat was involved in the strawberry theft.

You may now leave the stand, bat. Do you wish to give any closing statements?

Bat: “Zzzzzzzzzz…..”

The evidence against Suspect D:
Suspect D, the wind, has been responsible for other fruit destruction in the garden, the victim says. The plums and cherries have all had to contend with unusual summer weather consisting of lower temperatures and higher winds than usual. It seems the wind could have played a part. The forensic evidence team returned to the scene of the crime the following day and shook the branches of the strawberry plant but no strawberries were seen to fall from the plant. Whilst leaving the property, one member of the team accidentally brushed lightly against the plum tree and a small green unripe plum fell to the ground, thus demonstrating the different effects the wind has on the different plants. It seems that, while plums dislodged and fell quite easily, the strawberries were more solidly affixed to their branches. The team also scoured the area at the time the crime was first reported and found no evidence of a fallen strawberry. It is unlikely, therefore, that the wind played a part in this crime.

You may leave the stand, wind. Do you have any closing statements?

Wind: “Sorry about the plums and the cherries. It was an accident.”

The evidence against Suspect E:
Suspect E, the feisty squirrel, is seen in the above photograph braving even the Fat Pigeon to get near the bread. We have evidence, therefore, that this Feisty Squirrel will face intimidating situations if the reward is a tasty snack. The squirrel has a taller body and stands on his back legs, bringing him to the correct height to be able to reach the strawberry plant where it sits on a slightly raised platform. The recognised authority on squirrels (Mumsnet.com) has a forum on which many fruit-growing members of the public have battled with the loss of strawberries via squirrel theft. Given the previous convictions in this area, it seems likely that the squirrel is the culprit. The victim recalls seeing this Feisty Squirrel in the garden often and has previously thought affectionately about him, as he was doing no harm. It now appears that there has been some premeditation to this crime, as the many visits by the squirrel were likely used to keep an eye on the growing fruit and know when it was ready for picking. It had obviously overheard the plan to eat it the following day and knew it was his chance to strike. It also seems, given the timing, that the squirrel had been building up a picture of when the house (and garden) were empty, the inhabitants being out at work, and chose precisely his moment to strike, using the information he had gathered over the months.

In light of the evidence, Feisty Squirrel, I hearby convict you of the crime of strawberry theft from Miss LL Maisey and order you to pay a fine of fifty nuts. You are also under a restraining order which prevents you from being within 100 metres of the garden boundary. Should you attempt to enter the garden illegally, you will be shouted at and the victim shall run at you with raised arms and yell obscenities.

This court is adjourned.

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The time I cycled to the Cotswolds

A few years ago, my family and I were having a long weekend away in a cottage in the Cotswolds and I was quite recently into cycling so decided to cycle there from London. The journey was about 150 miles and I had two days to do it. I had booked into a youth hostel two thirds of the way along and was very excited. An entire day spent on my bike. It promised to be great fun.

I set out first thing in the morning and of course forgot the snacks I had put aside the night before. So at my first snack stop, an hour or two in, I found a few sweets from a pack of Starburst, an apple and some Softmints. I had a Starburst and a Softmint and wondered if I might die of starvation on this journey.

It was November and the weather was starting to get colder, which was fine by me actually, as I warm up very quickly when cycling, so find it uncomfortable to cycle in summer and nicer in winter. One thing that wasn’t great about cycling in winter, though, was the wind. It made things unnecessarily difficult. This day, it was windy most of the time. Not enough to slow me down but enough to irritate. It was in my face and it was constant.

I took a total of three breaks that day, each shorter than the last as I had less and less left to eat. I demolished the sweets and ate the single apple, savoring every juicy bite.

As I got closer to the town where I was stopping overnight, I saw on my map that I would need to go a few miles down the road I was on then come back the same distance, around the edge of a field, like following two sides of a triangle.

“So,” thought I, “I will cut down the work here and just cross this field. It will be much quicker.”

By this time, 11 hours after first starting out, I was getting quite tired. My bum hurt, my legs ached, my arms and hands were fed up of being outstretched and longed to relax. Mentally, I was getting a bit cabin-fever-y on my bike, constantly checking my mileage, the time, my speed etc.

My quick across-country shortcut, therefore, seemed perfect. I was only a few miles away and just wanted to get there, desperately. It was really dark by this point so I used my bike light and found a path across the field. It was quite a muddy path, enclosed by two rows of hedges. As I bumped along, I was suddenly pitched forward into a little ditch and thrown off the bike. Determined, I got up and started cycling again. Thirty seconds of muddy cycling later, I was thrown off again. I screamed into the wind which, by now, had become loud and fierce. I mounted the bike again, ready for a fight. This time, I didn’t fall into a ditch. Instead, the two rows of hedges ended and I was suddenly out on open field. No longer sheltered, the force of the wind hitting me knocked me off my bike again.

“FUCKING WIND!” I screamed, like a madwoman. “FUCK OFF!”

If anyone had been out walking their dog that evening, they must have thought there was a lunatic walking around.

I started to worry that I would be eternally lost in these fields. They went on far longer than I had expected and I couldn’t see any sign of the road on the other side. It was dark and windy and I was lost and alone, wandering the moors like Cathy looking for Heathcliffe.

Eventually, bumping my way across the fields, I saw a glint of a car light and headed straight for it, my heart pounding. As I emerged from the fields and onto the road, I saw a hill to my right and headed straight down it. According to my map, my youth hostel was down a road off this main one and I would be there in just a few minutes.

Off I went, down the hill, gliding and enjoying not having to cycle. I got to the bottom, looked around and realised I couldn’t see the road I was looking for. I knocked on the door of a nearby house to ask for directions and yes, you guessed it, it was back at the top of the hill, directly opposite, in fact, the path I had come out of the fields on.

So up the hill I went, found the road and, ten seconds along the way, was my home for the evening. I dismounted, at long last, locked the bike up and entered the reception area. By this point, I was ravenous, dirty, exhausted and aching. I was greeted with the news that dinner had stopped 15 minutes ago and no, there was nowhere else to get food unless I wanted to go down that hill again. After some grovelling and begging, they agreed to throw something together for me and I scurried off to change out of my cycling gear.

And that’s when I discovered the windburn. It was everywhere, my shins were especially bad as it meant I couldn’t sleep unless I had them out of the blankets which, in winter, isn’t the nicest thing. As I ate, I found I had windburn on the roof of my mouth and couldn’t quite swallow properly because of it. It was on my knuckles and face and tingled like crazy when touched.

So after my thrown-together dinner of tuna, pasta and vegetables, I sat reading a book, making sure none of my windburn was touching anything. It was very awkward!

The next day, apart from adding 8 miles on by cycling in the wrong direction for a bit, I had a relatively newsless journey, arriving at the cottage in the afternoon.

It was a good thing to have done but, honestly, I’ll think twice before I do it again…!

Things I believed as a child

A girl who lived on my road told me that sometimes flies can burrow through your scalp and get into your brain.

She also told me that if you swallow chewing gum it can go into your insides and wrap around your heart.

When a plane flies overhead, if you wave to it and it flashes its red light, it means the pilot has seen you and is letting you know.

 

Be careful!

If the wind blows while you’re doing a stupid face, it will stick that way.

My parents once convinced me that my birthday was on April 25th (it’s not). I remember being extremely doubtful at first then thinking it must be true because they were so convincing.

You never digest sweetcorn! It stays in your tummy FOREVER!

A teacher at school when I was about eight told us that there are lots of little men living inside your body, making sure it works properly and when you feel ill, the baddies were winning. If you take a little nap, it means the goodies can concentrate on fighting the baddies and making you feel well again. I think she meant it symbolically but I was fascinated for many years afterward about this whole little-men-living-inside-me thing.

This one is from infant school. A rumour flew around that when you moved up to junior school, if you wore glasses, the big kids would call you ‘four-eyes.’ We were quite intimidated by this rumour. I’ve no idea why it made such an impact on me as I’ve never worn glasses.

If you step on the lines while walking down the corridor at school, you fancy Marvin! (If you were a boy, I think you were told you fancied Hayley.)

When you’re a grown up, you wear make-up. That’s just what all grown-up women do. When the girl who lived on my road, and who told me about flies and chewing gum, said she wasn’t going to wear make up when she grew up, I was shocked.

My dad once told me that if you eat the instant custard powder straight from the jar, you have to be careful because it would get to your stomach and form a big lump of custard that would get stuck there.

If you sit too close to the TV, your eyes will go square. I was pretty terrified of this one because sometimes my dad would say, ‘O they’re already changing a little bit! Be careful! You’d better sit back!’