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A beautiful red sunrise this morning and some frost on the grass.  We had a lot of heavy rain yesterday evening with high winds and thunder and lightening but during the night the sky cleared and the wind dropped.  Yesterday afternoon I managed to work in the garden for a few hours.  There has been so little cold weather that the weeds are growing very well and so I decided to try to clear the worst affected flower bed.  It was hard going as the soil in our garden is clay over chalk and flint and with all the rain we have had the soil had become very sticky mud.  It is not recommended that work is done with the ground so wet but if I had left the weeds, mainly red dead-nettle and thistles, they would have totally engulfed all the miniature bulbs coming up.  I wasn’t able to finish the whole bed before it got dark and began to rain but most was done and I was quite pleased.

This morning we decided to go to Norwich Cathedral and have lunch in the city.  The drive was pleasant (especially as R drove not me!) and I noticed all the catkins on the trees and in the hedges.  The sky was very overcast as more rain was forecast but the roads were fairly empty and we quickly found somewhere to park.  E loves coming with us to the cathedral:  she enjoys listening to the choir and the wonderful organ playing and also being part of a large congregation.  We left the cathedral in pouring rain.  Only then did R realise he’d left his hat in the car and didn’t have his umbrella.  E had her umbrella but the wind kept blowing it inside-out.  We went straight to the café where we had some lunch and then did a little shopping.  I left E in Waterstones where she chose some books to buy with some of her birthday money, and went to buy her a new umbrella, some re-proofing spray and a couple of things from the chemist.  R went to buy himself some underclothes and a hat!

We got home at about 2pm and had a hot drink.  The rain eased off soon afterwards so I went out to feed the birds.  The amount of black sunflower seeds I use is amazing.  I have two sunflower feeders the larger of which is about 20″ tall and both need refilling every day.  I know that a lot of the seeds are taken by rooks and I haven’t yet found a way to deter them.  I admire them as they are very intelligent birds but when they descend on the garden in large numbers they eat most of the contents of a feeder in a very short space of time and that becomes expensive.  I have a squirrel deterrent on the larger feeder which is weight sensitive.  When it detects something heavy on the feeder an alarm sounds and then the feeder spins round quickly for a few seconds.  This has put the squirrels off but not the rooks!  I think they enjoy the challenge and seem to play on it.  One rook hangs on the feeder as it spins round and shovels out the seeds to friends waiting on the ground below.  Most infuriating!  A couple of years ago I was becoming almost bitter about this so I read the book by Mark Cocker called ‘Crow Country’.  He used to live not far from here and studied the local corvids as well as those in other parts of the country.  His book taught me to understand them and even to like them!  I now have to limit the amount of food I put out (to save my pocket) and if I think the rooks have been on the feeder too long I go out and shoo them away.  (They then wait for me to go out then gorge themselves until I return!).  Other unwelcome guests are next-door’s free-range chickens free-ranging in our garden and of course, the moles, the rats, the deer, the rabbits, the pheasants which peck off and discard! all buds, growing tips etc. of all the plants in the garden, other people’s cats and dogs and so on.
  It is now time to cook the evening meal.