The temperature, which until this week seemed to have been in denial about the arrival of Spring, may have delayed my early flower display but it doesn't seem to have stopped the annual bird mating season. Male songbirds have been launching into full throttle from daybreak. I love the idea of living in harmony with nature and there's nothing more delightful than the melodic dawn chorus of a choir of blackbirds and songthrushes.
Unfortunately for us, this year, one out of tune thrush has been welcoming the dawn every morning from a strategic position on the roof above our bedroom. "Cherie, Cherie, Cherie," he has been chanting, "Pull it up, pull it up, pull it up."
I could almost feel sorry for Cherie, except she isn't the only one fatigued by his instruction which somedays has continued unabated, or so it has seemed, until dusk.
So could anything be worse than losing sleep daily as a result of a discordant feathered creature and an early bird who never actually catches or rather pulls up the worm?
Well the backing group hasn't helped: two lovestruck starlings on a tree branch outside our window, the male of which proudly demonstrates his powers of mimicry as he raucously shrills in echo to the thrush, "Shree, shree; here we go, here we go."
Johnny Thrush and the Romantics; it's easy to appreciate why not every retired town-dweller is looking to downsize to the country.
Fortunately and perhaps it is just coincidence but two phenomenally warm days seem to have brought a halt to the proceedings. Miraculously where there were only bare twigs at the beginning of the week, buds have now started to appear and open on the trees and bushes and all colours of flowerheads are now nodding in the garden. I am fervently hoping that the mad menage of two legged crooners has matured too and perhaps will now concentrate its efforts on nestbuilding and raising young.
Of course, it's not only birds that can create a cacophony of sound. Have you ever heard a village worth of lawnmowers, all making the first cut of the season together? Well, it may have seemed a strange choice but despite a sudden and twenty degree hike in the temperature over the previous week, rather than relaxing in the garden and living according to and in attunement with the weather as I have constantly been advocating in retirement, we fled 40 miles to Newcastle's city centre.
To be honest we did need to view some light fittings but also enjoyed a good walk along the Quayside (laughing at the surprising display of palm trees in tubs at 55 degrees North, but entirely appropriate for the continental feel to the day) as well as through some of the many squares and back streets. We ate out and also crossed the river to take in an art exhibition at the Baltic, "Turning Forty Winks into a Decade" by Sofia Stevi, suggesting she hadn't been getting much sleep either. Perhaps that out of tune song thrush gets about.