Royal Navy Frigate (WikiCommons)

The never-ending sunlight of May and June is a constant joy, despite the depressingly wet and windy weather which arrived the morning after the shortest night of the year. The garden is a patchwork of greens, all shades of the colour, fresh and sparkling, thrown into relief by the flourishing old roses which weave up and about, in and around all the variegated shrubs. We rise and retire in the same level of light, our days being much longer up here in the extreme north. We hardly see the night, this time of year, though we know it visits – briefly.

This is a week of high tides and, in a turbulent sea – an ominous dark grey presence against the wide grey sky – we spot what looks to be a naval Frigate, anchored and vigilant off the Bamburgh coast. So used are we to the unusual – the cameras, the detectives, Norrellite magicians, the very Thane of Glamis himself – we simply note the newcomer in passing but move on, wondering why the ship is there and who has set it there, to witness our routine. Today, with a strong wind pushing against us, the beach of more than three miles is utterly deserted; the four of us pondering to ourselves as we trundle, past broken crab claws, jettisoned seaweed, and with the ever-encroaching tide reaching for our footprints as we pass. Watched only by the glowering creature swaying slowly with the force six waves.

John Haslam

The herring gulls, of which I spoke last week, have delivered three chunky babies on to our chimney stack, but within a day or two one of them had fallen with remarkable sangfroid on to the roof, coming to rest on the flat top of the upstairs bay. There, its vigilant and attentive parent sits protectively by and indeed on it, keeping the rain and driving wind at bay, in between fishing expeditions, at which point Mum or Dad left by the chimney pots with the others has to mount guard over everyone. Such touchingly selfless concern moves us all. I draw tiny Nico to me and invite him to play. What we can learn from humble birds, and ones hated by so many round here, too.

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