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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
July – the month of haymaking. In Gaelic Am mios buidhe – the yellow month.
The other morning I
was walking down
The other afternoon I
was walking down to the long meadow below the church and had just crossed
the footbridge when to my left my attention was caught by clouds of
butterflies. Just inside the
field there is a patch of thistles which were in flower and the
butterflies were going mad for the nectar in the afternoon sun.
I counted five different species; small copper, meadow brown, small
skipper, common blue, and ringlet – a wonderful sight.
There are a total of 59 different butterflies in the
Have you noticed how
nearly every house in the village has at least one chimney with a pair of
jackdaws nesting in it. These
intelligent birds will relentlessly throw sticks down a chimney until one
gets lodged which then traps others to make a nest.
But remember to clean your chimney in the autumn to prevent chimney
fires – which happened to us last Christmas.
The old name for the bird was Daw
and in the sixteenth century Jack was added – which meant knave
and rogue, and the Jackdaw became renowned for its thieving habits.
I was working in a house in
In my late teens I
lived with my parents at the Butchers Arms in Priors Hardwick and a young
Jackdaw fell down my bedroom chimney into the hearth.
Apart from being very dusty it seemed unhurt, so I decided to keep
it. To start with while I fed
it, it lived in an old parrot cage, but very soon became so tame it would
sit on my shoulder while I went about my daily tasks.
He became a favourite of the locals and was known as Fred Daw.
He had his own pint pot which would be filled and he would perch on
the edge and sup his beer with the locals.
He was also fond of pulling a cigarette out of packet and holding
it while it was lit, but he never did master the art of smoking.
The back door was left open and he was free to come and go as he
pleased, and eventually the time between the going and returning got
longer and longer until he didn’t come back.
However for months afterwards when I called his name he would fly
down on to a fence or guttering and put his head on one side and fix me
with his beady eye.
27 July – Beans are
now ready for gathering, but a cautionary warning:
“The Earl of Oxford,
making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth happened to let a Fart, at
which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to travel, seven years.
John Aubrey, Brief Lives, late
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Last modified: July 01, 2004