Monday … 1st June …6am … And here is the Sun accompanied by a gentle breeze, this could be a good day … turned out to be freezing cold outdoors, and when the rain started about 5pm, it continuing until past bed time.
Today Norma drove us to visit a very friendly and welcoming couple I had met earlier on a number of occasions, her cousin Olwen and her Hubby Ken who live in Formby … a town in Merseyside. The area is a civil parish and within the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England … a fair distance to travel from Hindley, but being a new comer to the area I personally enjoyed what appeared to me to be a very scenic route.
On our arrived we were given a hot drink and nibbles, all set out on the table in a warm and welcoming, what we Aussies call a sunroom, whereas the English call it a conservatory. This annexure predominately constructed of glass extended out into the closed in back garden, giving me the impression of sitting in a fish bowl looking out upon a beautifully cared for garden of flowers, trees and bushes encircling a manicured lawn.
Ken pointed out in a corner of the yard adjacent to a corner of the house, a small BBQ area, set up on a paved section that included a cane table and chair setting. On the fence just above one of the chairs he had affixed a metal flip-top metal box with a glass front panel and a little front standing platform, in which from time to time he would drop a handful of in-the-shell peanuts for a family of red squirrels that lived in the tree near his back fence
In time we were invited to make ourselves comfortable in the dining section of the home where Olwen had set out a variety of tasty sandwich fillings along with a selection of breads, and we were invited us to help ourselves. Again, I marvelled at the generosity and friendliness I have experience since my arrival in this country.
Following lunch Olwen and Ken drove us to the National Trust Formby Pinewoods… http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/formby/ …where a renowned Red Squirrel walk is located, although we had a bracingly cold wander around the park, we were not lucky enough to see any of these delightful little creatures. Since the introduction in 1876 by a Mr Brocklehurst, of the first pair of Grey squirrels that were released in Henbury Park, Cheshire, Grey squirrels are thought to steal nuts and seeds from Red squirrel winter stores, resulting in weight loss in Red squirrels, and therefore reduced breeding success, as Red squirrels need good body fat reserves in order to reproduce and successfully rear young in the spring. Being so cold it’s no surprise the inhabitants of these woods were not out running around.
On returning to the home we again ventured into the conservatory with our hot drinks to thaw out, even though the sun had been shining the bitter winds blowing had chilled us to the bone. We had only been sitting chatting for a little while when a movement in one of the bushes, had us on alert with Pat and I grinning like Cheshire cats, for there, running across the lawn was a red squirrel. We watched hushed and unmoving, as it ran over a flower bed jumped up on the seat of a cane garden chair, then leapt onto the top of the back rest, hesitate for a minute and finally sprang up onto the platform, there it sat looking through the glass at the goodies inside. Much to our astonishment, using both adroitness of mind and body the creature stretched up and with it’s pointy little nose lifted the lid, wiggled into the container and removed a peanut, placed it in his mouth then clambered out of the feed box onto the platform, down on the chair back, across the seat and scampered across the lawn into the shrubbery.
Enthralled we watched this nature pantomime for over an hour, during which we observed not only that one squirrel but two smaller ones, who had joined in the action of quickly removing the peanuts, then either racing away with their loot, or sitting to remove the outer casing and nibble the exposed nut.
With the depletion of the nut supply, all three little actors withdrew from the main stage to behind a curtain of spring flowers and bushes, while we the audience adjourned to the dining room, where we were treated to an evening meal of delicious meat casserole, slow cooked in a rich onion and mushroom gravy, accompanied by a side dish of roasted spring vegetables, a platter of crackers and a cheese selection to please any palate.
It was three rather contented ladies that wended their way home, all with their own individual special memories of an afternoon spent with close cousins, distant family, best friends and three little red creatures that not only melted a couple of hearts, but delighted us all.