A Good Day

Sometimes you just know a day is going to be good, don’t you? Everything seems to work well together, and even unrelated events turn out well. And sometimes, the opposite is true, and we go to bed wishing we had never got out of it because everything we have attempted has gone wrong.

Today, is a good day. I wasn’t sure it would be, because when I got home yesterday, tired from a day at college and a long drive, my back was hurting. I went to check on the animals, and there was lots of movement in the nest on the pond, and definite sounds of cheeping. Mother duck wasn’t moving, and when she saw me looking, she tried to cover herself with dirt—not sure whether she was trying to hide or was securing a hatchling that wanted to escape.

A duck will stay on the nest until the first hatchlings decide to leave the nest, then she’ll abandon any unhatched eggs (even if they’re nearly hatched) and take the ducklings to water. After they have fed, she’ll relocate to a new place and gather her ducklings under her. Any ducklings that haven’t managed to keep up will drown or be eaten by all the predators that swoop in as soon as they hear the cheeping. Of say, 25 eggs she lays, about half will hatch, and of those 13, maybe one will survive to adulthood. It’s a tough world out there.

Anyway, last night I had a choice: 1. I could leave them to their fate. 2. I could risk drowning and try to catch the mother, put her into the chicken coop and then try to catch the ducklings. Mother would then raise the ducklings in safety. 3. I could leave the mother (because she is the hardest to catch) and remove the ducklings. I would then have to raise the ducklings myself in the garage, which is a lot of work and I have an essay to write. What would you have done?

I decided that my back hurt too much, plus I was tired, so I left them. I would reassess the situation in the morning.

Today, I woke about 6:30 and went straight to the pond. A miracle! It looked as if the mother had only just left the nest. She was on the pond with 10 ducklings, but there were no predators, she was very relaxed, and the ducklings were still full of energy. I went to collect Husband (who muttered about ‘Husband-abuse’ and having to wade into pond before 7 a.m.) We knew the drill: First, secure the area (cats locked into workshop while one of us stayed at the pond to deter flying predators). In the few minutes it took to lock up the cats, the trees filled with crows and magpies. Collect big bucket as dumping place for ducklings. Catch mother. (Unless you have ever caught an angry duck on a big pond, you have no idea how miraculous this was.) Put mother into chicken coop, and turf out grumpy chickens (will have to combine the flocks this evening, which will cause them some angst.) Catch remaining ducklings, reunite ducklings and mother. Make coop safe, put down fresh food and water, leave them to settle. Phew! All achieved before my morning coffee. I put my pyjamas into the wash and made a drink.

When the post arrived, there was a little package. It was a painting that I bought online. I have often seen the artist’s work on twitter, and he does some tiny paintings, the size of a coin, and some slightly bigger. This one was of London (I happen to like his London ones best) and it was being sold on a tiny easel. It’s the perfect size to brighten up a dark corner of my study, and only cost £15 including postage, so I followed the link to Etsy and bought it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, it’s hard to assess a painting online. But it really is perfect, and such good value for an acrylic.

http://www.acmart.co.uk is worth a peek.

As I said, today is going to be a good day. Hope your day is good too.
Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thanks for reading:
Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading anneethompson.com Why not sign up to follow my blog?

All Things Duck

I have just sorted out the ducklings—not that they are ducklings anymore; they are pretty much full-grown after a few weeks. The 8 ducklings in the big cage were being lots of work, and the mother who unexpectedly hatched 3 extras were in a cage right next to the pond, even though they can’t go onto the pond until the new ducklings are big enough to avoid being a tasty snack for crows and cats. So, I decided to switch the cages. So easy to say…so much work involved.

The first job was to catch mother duck. I removed the door to the cage, and noticed I had been joined by 3 cats. Took a break and secured them in the shed—they had different plans for the ducklings. Went back to catch mother duck. Mothers can be scary when they think their offspring are at risk, but she knows me, so apart from crawling into a dirty cage, it was easy enough. I put her into a box while I caught the ducklings, which are as fast as rats when they think they’re going to be caught. Shoved them into the box with the mother.

Cleaned out cage (lots of cobwebs and poo and stinky hay and mouldy food involved in this—caring for animals is not glamorous). Moved big ducklings into the cage. As I said, they are not really ducklings anymore, and one never was as she is a chicken—but she identifies as a duck. While I moved them, I was able to determine their sex by the volume of their quacks. They’re too young for tail feathers (male ducks have curled tail feathers) but their voices are clearly different. The loud quack that you associate with a duck is only made by the females. The males make a sort of feeble grating noise. Out of 8 ‘ducklings’, I have: 1 chicken, 2 females and 5 drakes. Not a good ratio.

Lifted mother and her ducklings out of the box in the big cage and watched them for a while. They instantly went to dig in the wet mud, and now look revolting. But I think they’ll be happier in there. After a few days, I will open the end of the pond cage and let the full-grown ducks onto the pond. They will love that.

Not so cute when they’re muddy!

I am not entirely sure what will happen with the chicken/duck. I am assuming she will simply wander around the bank and the flock will join her in the cage in the evening. But we will see. Hope she doesn’t try and swim. I do have another hen who thinks she’s a duck, and I managed to integrate her into the chicken flock, but she has never been very happy and tries to return to the pond whenever she is released. I might try to combine the two of them, but introducing new chickens to each other is never easy—they are nasty birds compared to ducks, and will fight a bird they don’t recognise.

I am especially keen to see what colour eggs she lays. Her mother is a lovely black hen, and she came from a brown egg. Her father is white—and had he been female I think the eggs would be blue. I am really hoping for green eggs, but we shall see. They should be a good size anyway because the mother lays big eggs. Chicken-Duck is white, though might grow some darker feathers later because my grey/white hybrids have a few grey specks amongst the white.

The cage next to the pond.

Time to go and use some of the eggs to make cakes now. Hope you have a good week (and that it involves less smelly poop than mine generally does!)

Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Something no one who owns poultry wants to see.

A sad footnote. I decided that enough time had passed for the local fox to have stopped using our garden as his territory, and I let the chickens out of their cage. I was wrong. At about 4pm, I went to check and found a trail of feathers. I locked the hens away quickly, but my lovely cockerel was killed. Not eaten, just killed. I saw the fox a little later, as it came back for more fun. It was still early, not even beginning to get dark.

If you are someone who feeds foxes, please note: You are not providing food for an hungry animal. Foxes kill for fun. If they are fed by humans, they lose all fear of humans and places like gardens become part of their territory. The natural balance of nature is upset, and foxes will breed more cubs than they can find food for in the wild, so they become dependent on humans, and their pets, for providing easy food. A fox will kill birds, and rabbits and an elderly cat if they happen to be within range.

A few years ago, there was lots of crying in the field opposite our house. Every ewe was standing next to a dead lamb. A fox had killed them, for fun. I have nothing against foxes, I like seeing them in the wild, where they belong. But foxes that have no fear of humans are a problem. Please do not feed foxes. If you want a pet, get a goldfish.

Anne E. Thompson
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Hebrew and Hens

Hebrew Secret Code, Chickens and Tulips

I struggle to learn things out of context or anything to do with numbers—so learning the Hebrew alphabet has been a challenge. (I console myself with the knowledge that this is predominantly a ‘right-side’ of the brain activity, and the right side of my brain got chopped up during surgery—but to be honest, I never knew the English alphabet either, and that was before surgery!)

However, just to make things even trickier, the Hebrew alphabet is also linked to numbers. The first ten letters represent the numbers (1-10, not surprisingly). Then the eleventh number is 20, the twelfth letter is 30, and so on up to 100. Then the letters jump in hundreds up to 400.

א1   בּגּדּ4   הוזחטי10

כּ20  ל30 מ40  נ50  ס60  ע70  פ80 צ90 

ק100   ר200   שׁ300   ת400 

This makes it perfect for use as a secret code. In fact, if you remember, I gave Husband a gift of the Israeli series that was the fore-runner of the Homeland series. In Homeland, one character sends messages by taping the morse-code. But in the original series, the characters communicate by tapping their fingers and each number of taps corresponds to a letter, a wrap of the knuckles represents numbers 10 to 90, and so on. This would actually make a fairly simple code to use and learn. I have always loved secret codes, and many hours as a child trying to devise ones for my friends (which were always much to complicated to ever be used). But now I have the Hebrew version, I’m thinking we might use it. Think what fun it will be to be on a crowded train, and to be able to discuss the person sitting opposite us, simply by moving our fingers a number of times.

At the moment, Husband is proving resistant to learning the Hebrew alphabet so we can send secret messages to each other (such a shame my children all grew up and left home). Am thinking of with-holding treats until he can ask for them in code. . .

I have also enjoyed the garden this week. In the autumn, Husband cleared one of the flower beds and ordered hundreds of tulip bulbs (not sure exactly how many—a lot) which he duly planted. When the weather turned warmer, all the spring flowers came up, but the bed of tulips remained bare. I didn’t tease him at all about this. Then, one exciting day, a couple of tulips could be seen pushing up from the soil. Within a couple of weeks, the bed was a mass of tulip sprouts. . . and one hyacinth. (I did not plant the hyacinth, I promise, though if I had thought of it, it would have been a funny thing to do.) The hyacinth was duly transplanted to a different flower bed. The chickens are still imprisoned due to bird-flu so all looks promising for a pretty display very soon.

I’m not sure what is happening with the ducks. There are three hens and two nests. They seem to be sharing. I don’t think there’s a very high chance of any ducklings from them because they sit for a while and then get bored and go back to the pond. I might do what I did last year, and give them all to a chicken to hatch.

The incubator is whirring away, and the eggs I have stolen should hatch soon. I smuggled in a couple of chicken eggs, as my brown hens are fairly old, and I’d like to keep the line going. If I hatch hens (always more males hatch, so I’ll be lucky) then potentially they could have green eggs, as they’ll be hybrids of my blue-egg birds and my brown-egg hens. But realistically, they’ll probably be cockerels and simply cause trouble. Very little in life is easy.

Anne E. Thompson
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Plants That Ducks Don’t Eat

Hello, what kind of a week have you had? I am enjoying seeing all the spring flowers, the lambs in the field next to the house, and a few blue skies. Spring time has so much promise. The pond is lovely, though it is sadly bare of plants. Even the grass on the bank is being dug up and eaten by greedy ducks—perhaps in retaliation for my stealing their eggs.

Ducks are generally terrible mothers—they often lay their eggs in random places, and although occasionally one will make a nest and hatch the eggs, as soon as they hatch she leaves the nest and goes back to the pond. The ducklings have to struggle to keep up with her, or else be eaten. I am usually aware that the eggs have hatched because I hear the crows and magpies as they circle the pond, ready for a tasty snack.

I am currently collecting the eggs as they are laid, and will incubate them when I have enough. I’ll leave three in the nest. There is one nest, the other eggs are laid randomly on the bank, some roll into the water, some are collected by crows—my ducks clearly never read the ‘how to build a nest’ manual. I’ll then raise them inside until they’re too big for the crows to eat (they’re full-grown in four weeks). Am hoping to time it so they are on the pond before I have to start serious revision for my exams.

Ducks having a chat.

Ducks are lovely, but they do tend to destroy anything growing around the pond. I have tried protecting plants with nets and fences—but they don’t look very nice. In the early days, I used to believe the people in the garden centres who would assure me that I could buy certain plants and ‘the ducks won’t eat them.’ They either lied, or knew very little about ducks.

So, if you hope to both keep ducks and grow plants around your pond, here is a list of plants that ducks will eat. Some of them are poisonous, so they shouldn’t really be planted near a pond (though none of my ducks have ever died from eating plants that are listed as ‘poisonous’). It is quite a long list.

Plants that ducks will eat include:

water starwort 
willow moss
frog’s lettuce
water violet
water milfoils
water lobelia
water crowfoot

They also eat floating plants such as:

water soldier
(all kinds)

Marginal plants they will eat include:
great water plantain

water hawthorn
bog bean

arum lily
sweet flag
flowering rush
bog arum

yellow flag
corkscrew rush
golden club
pickerel weed
large-flowered spearwort
Old World arrowhead
zebra rush

T. laxmannii
T. minima
Acorus gramineus ‘Variegatus’
marsh marigold
Bowles’ golden sedge

Carex pendula
C. pseudocyperus
golden buttons
Houttuynia cordata
Japanese water iris

Iris versicolor 
Mimulus cardinalis 
M. lewisii 
M. luteus
M. ringens
water forget-me-not
Saururus cernuus

Plants that ducks do not eat include:






Nope, cannot think of any. Trees I guess—but only because duck feet are designed to swim not perch, so they cannot reach the leaves very easily.

Hoping your plants grow well this spring.

Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
Thank you for reading anneethompson.com Why not sign up to follow my blog?
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Animal Update

Things are getting exciting in the garden! The broody hen is still sitting, and her eggs could hatch any time now, though are due in a few days. (I’m not sure if the warm weather we’re having will speed things up, or if it takes 3 weeks to hatch a chick, whatever the weather.) The cockerel is very bored, and tries to escape every time I go up to see them. I’m trying to give him cabbages and pots of mud to play with. But he’s still bored. Poor chap. He’ll have to stay caged at least until September, because the fox is still visiting.

The ducks are less bored, as there are more of them, though I don’t think they’re very keen on being caged. The ‘duckling which hen hatched’ is now fully integrated as a duck, and although s/he hangs back a bit, is definitely part of the flock. They are quite hard work, as their main pastime is to fill the water bowls with mud. They need to do this to some extent, as the mud then dissolves, and when they drink the water they also absorb grit, which they need for their egg shells. Except, all my ducks are male, so they don’t lay eggs, which means it is mostly just annoying. They splash the water everywhere, and it’s fun to watch happy ducks playing, but it does mean that their cage is a mess, covered in wet mud at all times. I cannot imagine how much worse keeping a pig must be.

The pond is almost ready for them. It was rather scary when it was first done, as we were basically left with this big, clay lined hole. As we have never lived here during such a long dry season, we didn’t know how low the old pond would have been (it’s a water-table pond, so tends to fill and empty with the weather). However, looking at this huge dry hole was a worry. Then the storms came, and the pond began to fill, and—more importantly—stay full. Phew! We went and bought some plants in our excitement. This was a bit daft, as I know when the ducks are put in, they will eat them all, but I couldn’t resist. My favourite (which unfortunately also looks rather tasty) is a floating plant. It has roots which dangle under the surface, and the plant drifts across the pond. It will be killed as soon as we have a frost (unless I bring it in, I guess; perhaps we’ll have a bowl of water in a shed and try to keep it alive). But I am pretty sure the ducks will eat it. Ducks eat everything. Except, they did not eat the water irises that Grandpa gave us last year. They were yellow, and I rather fell in love with the purple and white water irises we saw in Japan; so I bought some when I saw them in the shop. They are tiny, and were quite expensive, so I have one of each colour. Am hoping they will spread.

The ‘outside cats’ are now free, as all the diggers have gone. They had fun exploring the pond before it filled. The old grumpy cat is now confined to the house, as every summer she gets an allergy, which makes her scratch her fur out. I didn’t catch it in time this year, as it started early (I guess due to the warm weather) so by the time I trapped her inside, she was already very itchy. She then began sleeping in her dirt tray; and using her dirt tray; which was completely revolting. I could not bring myself to stroke her (not that I do much anyway, because she bites me). I looked online, in case I needed to take her to the vets, and learned that cats will sleep in their dirt tray if they are distressed. I guessed being itchy was distressing her, so we waited, I tried to bath her (have the torn skin on my arms to prove it) and we tried to be kind to her. After a few days, she started to sleep in her bed. Happy days! It’s remarkable how low your animal-contentment levels can go.

I feel bad that she’s stuck in a single room, it feels like a prison (but she’s old and will poop in my house if I let her roam free). I therefore put the dog and Milly (one of the outside cats) in with her every so often, as she will tolerate both of them. (I cannot say she ‘likes’ them, as I don’t believe she likes any of us.) The dog takes her gifts. She is unappreciative.

Hope you have a good week.


Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.


I missed the ambulance when it arrived.

I missed the ambulance when it arrived, sirens blaring, lights flashing, roaring up my driveway. I wasn’t there, I was at Lunch Club, serving fish and chips because the week was too busy to cook, so I had cheated, and ordered take-out food. But it meant I missed the ambulance, when it came.

I didn’t know there’d been an accident, until I arrived home, and was met in the driveway by one of the men working on the pond. He asked if I’d been told, if someone had phoned to tell me what had happened. I instantly assumed that one of the cats, who I’d been unable to shut away that morning, had been run over. The workmen were using a digger, and a tip-up truck, to move the soil where the pond will be, and I thought one of the cats must have run in front of a vehicle. I hid behind my sunglasses, and waited for him to tell me, not sure that I was going to react very well. So when he told me that someone had been injured by the bucket on the digger, and they’d called an ambulance as they thought his leg might be broken, I tried hard to not say:
“Oh good, I thought you’d killed one of my cats!” Instead I managed to look concerned (which I was, after I recovered from the relief of not having lost a cat) and asked how he was.

Apparently, whilst changing the bucket on the digger, it had bashed into his leg. He had managed to crawl up onto the lawn, and call one of the other workers, who phoned for an ambulance. I thought about the amount of silt that had been there a couple of days before, and how falling over in that quicksand would have been so much more horrible.

Other than injuries, the pond seems to be pretty much on track. They pumped out the water, and dug out the silt – which was several feet deep and an evil grey colour. Then they began to build the new wall with sleepers, backing them up with clay so they don’t leak. Next they will dig down, to where the water-table is (the pond is fed by the water table, which is very high just there, and tends to flood that lawn after lots of rain).

The island is a rectangle of earth that they left – if you dig around earth that is already compacted, it makes a much better island than one that is constructed with sleepers and then filled in. They will taper the edges, so the ducks can clamber out when the water level drops. One of the problems with a water table pond is that it’s very full after a lot of rain, and very shallow in dry months; so it’s hard to grow aquatic plants as they’re either submerged or dry. But ducks tend to eat absolutely everything anyway, so plants aren’t really possible unless you fence them.

At the moment, it’s all rather scary, as the lawn looks like a building site and the pond is empty. I do hope the new pond is okay, and it will be easier to stop it silting up as it’s further from the trees.

The ducks are complaining about being in a cage, and I’m constantly refilling their water bowls, as their main activity is splashing the water all over the sides. The chickens are desperate to be free, and try to escape every time I go up to see them. Thankfully, the hen has now gone broody and is sitting on her eggs. They should hatch in a couple more weeks. As the cockerel is half bantam, I’m not sure if the chicks will be small. It’s a time of waiting. I will let you know how things turn out.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the leg wasn’t broken, but was seriously bruised, so needs a few days of rest. But my cats are fine…

Thank you for reading. Have a safe week.

Anne x



Caution: Old(er) Woman Running

It was Grandpa’s 80th birthday, so we invited the family round for cakes and scones. Those of you who remember that I am meant to be reducing my cholesterol levels, might be wondering how cakes and scones fit with this. But my mother told me to never answer questions like that.

To be fair, I have tried to increase my exercise, and I have started to run. Opposite our house is a big field, about 125 miles in circumference, and when I walk the dog, I now jog for some of it. It’s nicely remote, so no one can see me, and I started to run just a few paces, then walk to recover, then run a little further. I can now jog around 3/4 of the field, which I think is pretty good going. I won’t be entering the marathon, as other people might measure distances differently.

As soon as I start to run, the dog picks up a stick, and then trots in front of me, tail up, head forward, as if showing me that she thinks my speed is pathetic. When Son 2 is with me, I have to tell him I am jogging, otherwise he might just think I am doing a funny walk. There is not much discernible difference in speed between my walk and my run. In fact, the only real difference is my face goes very red, and stays that way for about 3 hours afterwards. I have no idea whether it’s making any difference to cholesterol levels.

My other news is that we have started work on the pond. It’s quite a large pond, and it’s under some large oak trees. The trees drop all their leaves into the pond, so the bottom was filling with silt, and the water was becoming ever more shallow. It was also eroding the edge, so was in danger of undermining the roots of the trees. We therefore decided to hire someone to move it. Which has turned out to be fairly major work.

Firstly, I had to catch all the ducks. This worked well with my aim to teach the duckling who was hatched by the chicken, that s/he’s a duck, and over the course of a week, I managed to catch all the ducks on the pond. They’re now in a cage, very unhappy but safe, and I spend lots of time cleaning them out and refilling water pots.

Yesterday the workmen arrived. They first had to dredge the pond, so removed the fence to make an easy access point, and began to pump out the water. They also had to move some plants that we hope to keep. A delivery of sleepers arrived, and these will make a wall on the side where the trees are, so it doesn’t erode in the future. The other edge will be natural, so it will be easy for the ducks to get in and out. They painted the grass to show where they plan to dig. The island had to be far enough from the edge to be safe from foxes, so they asked how far a fox can jump. They can, according to Google, jump 2m, so I’m hoping that’s an exaggeration or requires a run-up. I’m not sure how athletic the foxes around here are – more athletic than me, that’s for sure.

Today, a digger arrived, to dig out the rest of the pond. I had to shut the ‘outside cats’ in the workshop, as they won’t necessarily be helpful. The remaining chicken and cockerel are also still in a cage, so the fox can’t get them. Which means all my animals are caged, and I do not like animals in cages. I will let the hen go broody, so she has something to do, and then I will allow them out again in September, when any chicks she hatches will be big enough to be left. The ducks will be free in a couple of weeks I hope.

Hoping you have a healthy week.
Anne x

Anne E. Thompson is an author of several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and on Amazon.
Thank you for reading.

Getting Old…

The painter man has left. My house is now smarter, though still untidy. It has been quite a good opportunity to have a sort out, and I have been ruthless with old ornaments and broken pottery that I should have thrown away years ago.

We also sorted out the DVD collection. Husband and I spent a cheery evening wading through the heap, deciding which ones we were likely to rewatch and which ones could be recycled. I was surprised by just how many DVDs we have managed to accumulate, and most of them I can’t remember watching. There was of course, some denial over who had actually ever bought some of them. All the Disney ones we blamed the children for (though there are a few that I’m suspicious may have been ordered by Husband). All the religious ones we blamed my mother for. Both of us were certain we never bought the dodgy film about a Ukrainian prostitute.

The sort out was such a success that Husband decided we should also sort out our CD collection. This was more difficult, as I never know the names of artists or albums, and needed to be reminded what the songs actually were. There were also a surprising number of CDs which were in the wrong boxes (must be the boys’ fault) and it was impossible to correct this as it seems to be trendy to produce black CDs with no discernible writing on them. Husband spotted that they all had a tiny symbol, which matched with a symbol on the box. Seems a very stupid idea to me. Felt very old.

Now sitting on duck eggs – but don’t tell her!

Other news: All my female ducks have gone. Not sure if they’ve flown away to find mates (it’s that time of year) or if the fox got them, or if they are hidden somewhere on nests. If it’s the last choice, I will find out in four weeks, when they appear with ducklings. I would like some more females, but don’t have time to hatch any eggs this year. I had a few duck eggs in the fridge still, and a chicken has gone broody, so I removed the single egg she was sitting on and replaced it with 5 duck eggs. She hissed at me, but is still sitting. We shall see what happens. It’s easier if she hatches them, as she’ll then raise the hatchlings for me.

I have also been invited to preach at a church near Bluewater. When the call came, I had gone to bed, so told Husband no, I don’t preach any more (I used to, several years ago, before I was ill). But then, when I woke the following morning, I thought that actually, although I’m not sure if I can still ‘preach’, I would really love to give a talk about all I learnt recently about the Prodigal Son. So I phoned the person who asked me, and said that I would come, but could I talk on the Prodigal Son? There was a long pause. He then said, rather hesitantly, that actually it was Pentecost Sunday. I said that was fine – please could I speak on the Prodigal Son? He agreed. He has now sent through the programme for their services, and they will be doing a series on ‘lost things’, so my talk will fit rather well. I hope I manage to do it okay. It is quite a test for me, to see if I can still do it. I will let you know how it goes.

Now selling copies of Hidden Faces, JOANNA and CLARA.

In Author World, I am still not managing to write very much of the new book. I simply cannot see the characters clearly enough yet. Never mind, they will appear eventually, and there’s no hurry, because I hate having to sell the books when they’re finished anyway! The selling bit is pootling along. Mum had a stall at a local fair for me, and sold a few books. There is also a little community shop that has opened in a nearby village, and they’ve sold a few copies too. Plus all the normal outlets. I have sold a little over 100 copies of Clara since the launch at the end of February.

I have also – finally – submitted some blurb for an author page on Amazon. I’m not sure what, if anything, it will achieve, and I had no idea what to write, so I spent some time reading other people’s author pages. Some were very personal, some said nothing except blurb about their books. I decided to go for something in between. I also had to submit a photo. Struggled hard with the ethics of submitting photo of daughter instead (she’s prettier than me). Decided she might be cross.

Have a look if you have time, the link is:



Hope you have a good week. Thanks for reading.

Take care.
Anne x


You can follow my blog at: anneethompson.com

Anne E. Thompson has written several novels and one non-fiction book. You can find her work in bookshops and Amazon.


Animals and Neighbours


The cockerels survived! If you read an earlier post, you’ll know that the DEFRA quarantine (for bird flu) lasted until the end of February. I was worried that when I released the birds into the garden, the cockerels would think it was new territory (having bird brains, and all that) and would fight. Cockerels fight to the death, even if you try to separate them, so I was worried. I couldn’t find anything helpful online – I’m not sure many ‘hobby’ farmers keep cockerels. I decided I would start to let the birds out just as it was getting dark. They are rigid about their routines, and as soon as it gets dark, they all roost on their perch, all in a set order. I thought that maybe, if it was beginning to get dark, even if they started to fight, the urge to roost would be greater, so they’d stop attacking each other before one was dead.

Well, it worked fine. I opened the cage door, and they all rushed out. No fighting. Excellent. The four new ones have never left the cage before, so they were very interested by it all, the older ones went straight onto the compost heap for a good dig.

One of the new ones is tiny, even smaller than her mother (I bought “large chicken eggs” on Ebay, but one- the mother of the latest clutch – is a bantam. That’s Ebay for you!) She was so excited she started to fly around and sit in the trees, which was pretty cool. I was slightly worried the cats might think she was small enough to catch, as she’s smaller than a rat and they do a good job at keeping them under control. When I released them, the dog and all four outside cats arrived to watch. The cats like living outside, but they’re both nosey and keen for snuggles, so they follow us around when we’re in the garden. I watched them carefully, but whenever they were approached by a hen, even a small one, they backed away quickly. They clearly associate chickens with being pecked rather than with sport/food. Which is good. Always a good idea to introduce very young predators to adult birds – they learn to not attack. My cats had some sharp pecks when they were kittens, and obviously remember.

As it grew darker, the three old birds went straight back into the cage to roost. The younger birds partied for a bit longer; which worried the dog, who was keen to round them up, but I wanted to wait and see what happened, so made her sit beside me. She sat there, nudging me with her nose and whimpering – disagreed with my decision. It was fine, they all went to bed before it was properly dark. That’s the only nice thing about short winter days I think, the chickens go to bed early. When the clocks move forward, I will have to wait until later before I can shut the door, which makes going out in the evening difficult.

The ducks are all laying. There are little nests of eggs all around the pond. I keep finding them, and don’t know how old they are, so am leaving them (would be embarrassing to give someone an old egg to eat). Not sure if they’ll sit, it’s still quite early, but sometimes they do if the weather’s warm. I have enough ducks, so if they do, when the ducklings are full grown I’ll give them away. They’re not far removed from mallards, so can fly and would cope fine on a wild pond. I do hope bird flu doesn’t spread to this area. I like my birds.


The cats are fat. I think they put on extra fat during the winter months, plus their fur is really thick. They are wonderful to cuddle. Sometimes I try to bring one inside, but they’re very unsettled and want to get back in the garden as soon as they can. They all come running when I whistle, so if I have any meat scraps, I’ll call them to the door.

We have sheep in the field next to the house. They’re fat too, so I’m hoping we might have lambs soon. I don’t like walking through the field when there’re mothers and young – sometimes they become aggressive – so we’re having to find new walks. The dog likes this, but I don’t. I tend to walk each day when I need a break from writing, and I like to walk the same way, so I don’t have to concentrate and can loose myself in the story while I walk. Then when we get home, I’m usually ready to write the next part of the story.

At the moment while I walk, I’m also delivering invites to the book launch on 29th. My neighbours all live several fields away, so I rarely see them. There is one house, which has tall fences and gates, down a private track. It has no name, no letterbox. No one (that I have asked) knows who lives there, but it used to be a pop star. If you look on Google maps, there is a big house and a few small cottages. Who lives there? Could be someone famous. Or a Mafia don. Or someone royal. Very interesting. Very occasionally, the gates are left open. If I’m walking past, I shall sneak in with an invitation – you never know, they might like to come to a book launch. If I discover who lives there, I’ll let you know.


Thank you for reading.



Letter to a Sister – Bird Brain

So, a few disasters this week. I’ll gloss over them quickly. First was on Monday, at Aunt and Uncle’s Golden Wedding Anniversary. It was a lovely event, saw most of the extended family, food was beautiful, everyone seemed happy. I felt somewhat of a plonka, having taken the “Dress Code: Sixties” bit to heart. Thought I ought to make an effort. Most other people had taken the “optional” bit to heart. Felt rather silly in mini dress and false eye lashes. Especially as there were a few non-family guests present, who possibly thought I usually dressed up like an ageing drag queen.

Next disaster was Wednesday. After a couple of days of high winds, the tree outside our bathroom window had scraped roof tiles onto the ground. The tree acts as curtains – we don’t have nets at that window – but those branches needed to be trimmed before they did more damage. Husband then phoned trusted builder to come and repair hole in roof. Which he did. Early on Wednesday. When I was just about to have shower in now uncurtained bathroom. That would have been good information to know in advance…..

Lets move on to some animal updates:

Before we went away, the sitting duck hatched her eggs. Ducks are generally terrible mothers – they have a tendency to sit somewhere the ducklings can’t reach them, or squash them by mistake. She had nested in a big plastic crate (nicely rat proof) so I lifted out the eleven hatchlings and put them with the mother into the dog cage in a corner of the aviary. She was furious with me, but I did manage one photo:


They were sharing the aviary with the earlier two ducklings. The mother hissed at them whenever they went near, so I had to keep them separate. This wasn’t difficult, as really all they wanted to do was be with the chicks that they’d been raised with. They wandered up and down the edge of the aviary, cheeping at them. It was hard not to put them back together, but I know it would cause big problems later.

The big chickens (nasty, nasty, creatures) kept attacking the new chicks. They will be so much safer if they manage to form a unified flock, so I don’t want to move them out. Instead, I positioned lots of crates so they had areas they could escape to when attacked, and hoped for the best.

When we returned from Sri Lanka, I couldn’t believe how big they all were. They were, unexpectedly, all still alive (the house sitter did very well.) The chicks are now small chickens. They have still not exactly ‘bonded’ with the existing flock, but at least they’re not being attacked. They’re also copying them, sitting on the crates at night as an attempt to roost.


The big ducklings look full grown. As soon as their wings feathers have grown, I’ll clip them and put them on the pond. You only clip one wing – it’s like having your nails cut, it doesn’t hurt. But they won’t fly if they’re lopsided, so I can shut them onto the pond at night and they can’t sleep on the bank and be eaten.

The eleven ducklings are also much bigger. Am pretty sure the mother stole one of those eggs – there’s one completely black duckling, very beautiful.


Looking after the birds helps me forget about publishing – publishing a book is a LOT of hassle – nowhere near as much fun as writing them. I was hoping that Hidden Faces would be in the bookshops in July, ready for the summer holiday readers. That looks unlikely now, more likely September. Which might mean fewer sales, or might mean people will enjoy it and then buy it for someone else for Christmas. Hard to know. I am trying to be patient, to remind myself that God helped me write this book, if he wants people to read it then editors, typesetters and printers won’t ruin the time plan. But at times I want to scream!

Take care,

love, Anne