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Oh my days – the state of these squirrels….

On the plus side, they were getting lots of exercise, chasing each other up and down the trees in the far garden – and when they decide to move at speed, they’re obviously pretty fit. But honestly, they could do with reducing their carb intake for a while: they have worse fat rolls than I do.

Well, maybe not worse…..

Winter is going through one of its depressingly brown phases at the moment: the trees are sodden and brown, the countryside is brown, the road is so plastered with mud that even where there should be markings you can’t see them… even my little pearly grey car was brown up to the gunwales when I drove it into Stratford early this morning, and every time I levered myself in and out of it I wound up filthy brown as well. I needed to take it into KwikFit because the tyre pressure light has come on three times in the past two months, and when I then go to the nearest garage to check the pressures, they’re worryingly low; so we zoomed off into the fog, spraying mud in all directions, and presented ourselves soon after they opened, in the hope of a diagnosis and a fix. Forty five minutes later, the technician came to see me and said that though the pressures were indeed strangely low, there was no obvious reason for it – and I had to believe him, because from where I’d been sitting I’d been able to see him and one of his colleagues checking them over with great care. He suggested that the next time the light came on I should take the car to the dealer to have it run through their diagnostics, returned my keys, declined to charge me anything, and sent me on my less than merry way.

By the time I arrived home and pulled into the yard, I was in such a vile mood anyway that I thought I might as well wash the car – knowing full well that any benefit would only last till the next time we went ploughing the roads of Worcestershire. It was utterly gross: if I’d collected up all the mud that came off it I think I’d probably have had enough to plant a small shrub, but as it was, most of it seemed to transfer itself onto my jeans, and much of the rest onto my face and hands; the MX-5 though, was back to its lovely pearly self.

Somehow or other it was early afternoon by now, and the light having improved, I squelched off around the village – perfectly camouflaged in my sodden brown clothing – to try to sneak up on some wildlife. I failed to find any, so came back home – only to realise, as I was standing on the patio drinking a reviving cup of tea, that the reason was that all the birds and all the squirrels were actually in our far garden. The birds spotted me when I slithered into a shrubbery with the camera, and retreated to the trees to talk about me in outraged tones, but the squirrels were much too busy beating each other up to be fussed about the arrival of another brown thing in their territory. I watched them for about half an hour, until the light began to fade, and the entertainment they provided went a long way towards repairing my day.