At the End of the Day

meglycinessnip Brexit blame, Autumn skies, Autumn flies, things that jump, Avian chums and natural mysteries. “It’s all part of me Autumn almanac…..”


One of the outfits I contacted with a view to renting out the house here next year joylessly blamed Brexit on his bad season this year. Most people book French holidays before or during the previous winter, but when I pointed this out to the chap, he said “Yes but it’s  looking even worse next year”.

“So,” I ventured, “are you blaming Brexit for what hasn’t happened yet, or for what happened six months after they’d booked anyway?”

“Both,” he replied.

I did try and argue that the UK media had told their readers France was underwater earlier this year, and that M. Hollande had been a bit of a drama queen about the security situation as regards heads being removed from bodies.  I suggested that braindead Forex traders were responsible for the valuation of Sterling. But he wasn’t to be dissuaded. Anyway, he won’t be earning anything from my house

As I wrote on the day of the Brexit result, everything from now on will be blamed on everyone who voted Brexit. That and the odd murder here and there.


Autumn is now officially here. Everywhere there is the evocative smell of woodsmoke, as hundreds of residents ignore the law on garden fires and get rid of their deadwood. The sky has turned, in the mornings, to that shade of blue suggesting some celestial artist spilt water on the painting during the night. But above all – having had the flies that examine your nose, the flies that bite your ankles, the wasps that sting your earholes and the beetles that run hourly kamikaze raids on the window – the real sign of Autumn’s arrival is always The Things that Jump.

The jumpers are variously green, brown, big, small and black. Some of them jump as a form of vertical take-off prior to flight, and some of them simply to leap quickly from one place to another. But they all look like the aliens in Quatermass & the Pit, and they all jump all the time. By around the first week in October, the temperature notches down another few degrees, and they all stop jumping. This is a result of them being dead. Their existence consists of being Olympic long-jump and polevault athletes for a month, followed by death from exposure. Theirs seems a pointless existence, but doubtless if they all died off forever we would be extinct within a decade. He’s a rum sort of cove, your insect world.


It’s hard to imagine having an insect for a pet. You know, you keep him in a little matchbox, then when bullies set on you, you open the box and yell “Kill!” But we can establish a degree of relation and even common language with pretty much everything from gerbils upwards.

Take my two avian buddies Percy and Pam, the ring-necked doves. I thought they were pigeons at first, hence the alliteration of their names. On discovering my error, I could’ve changed their names to Rambo and Ronette Ringtails, but somehow it doesn’t work quite as well. So Percy and Pam they remain.

They’ve been raising their young here for at least six years. But what’s become clear over time is that, as I work on different bits of the property, they follow me around. It really isn’t my imagination: when I cut the grass north of the pool, they sit on the telephone wires to keep an eye on things. When I cut the grass to the west of the main house, they perch on the old swings. When I’m shifting thumping great lumps of clay around by the new barn conversion, they sit on the power supply cable.

Round the back of the barn, there’s one of those circular washing lines that go all wonky  after a few years and look like some kind of fiendish intelligence test. Yesterday I was pegging out the washing, and when I turned round there was Pam – no more than two feet away – sitting on a branch just above my eye level.

The desire to explain what I was doing may confirm the longheld view of many Sloggers that I’m perhaps a mad idiot, but at any rate it felt natural to me. “Look,” I’d say, “You have feathers, we have clothes. Trust me, feathers are better”.

One has to remember that birds are, to all extents and purposes, an earthly species that is nevertheless the nearest we’ll get to chatting with extra-terrestrial life. They are, to be blunt, flying dinosaurs that decided leather coats were not conducive to stable flight. They hail from a time long before we were around. We have DNA closer to fish than birds. That’s how far removed from us they are.

I can’t deal with people who anthropomorphise their pets. But faced with a pigeon trying to get closer – ah, now that’s interesting. So I just made pigeon noises and spoke softly. Every now and then she cocked her head. At one point I was within six inches of her, but then she edged back along the branch a little. Not in a panicky manner, just sort of playing safe for the time being.

This morning I stepped outside to test the temperature first thing, there was a cuckling noise in the hedge, and Percy and Pam flew out to take up their positions on the telephone wire. I wonder if I’m like watching the telly for them.


This last bit isn’t meant to be me being a quasi-scientist. Such an admission on my part behoves threaders of a terrifyingly Aspergers science nature not to comment to the effect that I’m a moron who knows nothing. As I’ve said before on such matters, I am interested in responses from real people who know something, not dickheads who erroneously claim to know everything.

The summer now ending has me asking the following questions:

  1. Why have such high air temperatures still left the pool temperature below 24°C for 95% of the time?
  2. Why in the midst of high-pressure did the clouds have undersides that said “low pressure”?
  3. Why was the heat less than last year, but the ground cracked more?
  4. Why have thousands of butterflies suddenly hatched out at average daily temperatures of 22°C in September that didn’t do so at 28°C during August?

Nature both mystifies and fascinates me when I can’t figure it out. So if you have something positive to offer in the way of enlightenment, please do so.


Earlier at The Slog: Janet Yellen’s airing cupboard economics

18 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Birds are much smarter, than you would think, from the size of their heads. They run at ahigher temperature, than mammals, which may be part of the reason.

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  2. 1. Clear nights cooling, greater thermal inertia of water/ground over atmosphere: ambient temperature not hot enough for long enough.
    2. Although clouds other than stratus are not generally associated with high pressure, cumulonimbus can form due to convective heating (wind/high temp/transpiration/ground cracking) – a ‘dirty high’.
    3. More precipitation/less wind last year, etc.
    4. What you’ve got there are 22 deg butterflies.. The ideal larval survival temp range is 15 – 29 degs, 22 is the median, isn’t nature fantastic, larval survival rate falls over 29 degs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Perhaps your ring-necked doves are actually undercover african greys – they are also known as Cape turtle doves apparently. :-)

    I’ll be sick as a parrot if this turns out to be pseudoscience…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. @Hiero

    Agree re. 1 – I would add in evaporative cooling via wind combined with the highly insulative nature of still water – JW may not have his pool pump going continuously.

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  5. JW , as I posted here along time ago : we have had an El Nino year , typically lots of precipitation . In Paris it didn’t stopp raining between February and July more or less and we had flooding . Flooded ground that then dries out ..cracks . The
    rains in spring and early summer also explains the iffy walnuts .

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I can’t deal with people who anthropomorphise their pets.”

    That’s nothing. We readers have to deal with someone who believes his computer hates him.

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  7. Because the ground is /has been sodden! These dry out quicker than the (relatively speaking) large mass of water in your swimming pool,which creates the cracks and the black looking underclouds & stops it from warming up the pool because there’s less heat is in the surrounding soil overnight to keep the temperature higher!(for the sun to build up heat on)
    You may find you have more than usual frost & ice this Autumn/winter & a increase in patches of flooded ground also!(watch out for it happening close to your property) it can take some time for it to return to what you’re use too! But this is how lakes/ponds peat bogs etc are formed so with changing climate you may experience seasonal ponds in wet periods & difficult to cultivate patches of land in dryer periods

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  8. I see that the bookshop owner cum President of the European Parliament has publically blamed Jo Cox’s death on that “nasty” referendum. Un-f*cking- believable.

    Other ‘news’ includes the University of Manchester’s findings (at long last) that dinosaurs had ginger hair and, wait for it ….. that a pair of Roman shoes excavated from Hadrian’s Wall looked exactly like Beckham’s football boots!

    Well I never.

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  9. I get the distinct impression things have moved up a gear generally, the many dead ends and stalemates in geopolitics and economics loom large, particularly in Syria, where any solution is as unacceptable as the stalemate, this place will surely be the starting gun of grim times and hotspots in the far east will follow suit. I dont think we’ll see the end of this year without a major shift towards what many have been predicting for years, ie economic collapse and military mayhem.

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  10. John: Do not feel isolated …because those who followed on after Turin and Flowers …. had a madness, in that they mucked up millions of folk in the way they thought. They kept coming up with new print and publishing protocols. They were of a mind to patent Chinese into machine language…The Chinese foocked them off…. they said we were still eating one another when their script first appeared!
    When Flowers went (flight ..in my opinion) to a University in Canada he had to learn the latest computer language!
    The Colosus ( The world first electronic computer) was looking for a repeat of a probable encoded string..as represented by a series of holes in a paper tape. It could mimic the German machine!…easier said than done….hence thousands of valves/tubes. and banks of photo cells.

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  11. M. Percy et Mme Pam Pigeon follow you around and keep an eye on you because they are trying to solve a 6 years old problem:
    How can we take this senile rosbif out? His posts are so embarrassing when quoted by our other pigeon-post friends. They all laugh at us! Go back home, Jean!

    Don’t worry, they are working on it and almost have a plan complete, including pecking through to your stone cold, vicious heart and dropping some warm pigeon merde in it. Not to warm your cockles, but in the hope it solidifes, calcifies and renders you forever gone. As every reader knows, you were once chicken-sh*t, now you are pigeon sh*t!

    p.s. The crows are also trying to get in to the act though they are exceeding more savage. Say a prayer that the crows miss you.

    p.p.s. My crows, my pigeones, my pigs my dogs, my cats [I have none], my bees, my wasps, my squirrels …

    … and every other living creature on my French land has all now voted and the deciding is very unanimous even for a early Saturday Morning:

    RESULT: Overwhelming majority = M. JEAN WARD = Be GONE!!!

    With no hesitation, duplication or maybe even your very own deviation for which you are most famous because you are one of the most famous British deviants living in La France!

    BE GONE!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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