On The Table

Security is

required to ensure birds

make it to dinner


n.b. What goes on in these pristine sheds, behind this steel fence, in what passes for turkey farming in parts of Norfolk?


CLP 18/03/2021

L3(Day 51): Norfolk

Out into the broad expanses of Norfolk north of the city where the land is flat and the rivers are still young, we went. There vast swathes of open land devoid of hedge rows to protect the lanes from cold cross winds.

There are lines of ancient oak trees along some field boundaries, some showing signs of age, some of weakness, but the majority grey, stolid witnesses to the continuing changes in farming practise.

In one field machines were planting potatoes, in another despite the strong wind, spraying was taking place.

Where there was protection from the cold wind, the Sun was able to penetrate the February air and make it pleasantly warm.

At a stop for drinks, I queued behind behind a rotund man who spent nearly £50 on tobacco. Behind me a man had come in to buy lottery tickets. Outside at the chip shop a queue was forming along the village street. Friday for fish and chips?

On the way back a farm has reclaimed an area that had chainlink fencing and large areas of concrete aprons and old runways from the time of the Second World War. The nearby church of St Peter’s, with its round flint tower, had a sign stating that it was a site of Commonwealth War Graves. Here lie the remains of air crew from that conflict.

Passing through Norwich city centre on my way home, I was not surprised to see so many people walking in the bright February sunshine, but I was a little taken aback to see that several people seemed to be walking in groups, rather than alone, or in couples. There seems to have been a relaxation of the physical distancing rules all of a sudden. Have I missed something about Covid-19 not being able to infect people in this city?

I am increasingly aware of people being affected for significant periods of time by the symptoms of Long Covid. I am also aware of an attitude that some people who now having been vaccinated losing interest in what is going on with pandemic. Meanwhile teachers and school staff, police, prison officers and supermarket workers are being asked to work on without being repaid for their year-long public service by early vaccinations.

Teaching staff in the UK have suffered a death rate from Covid-19 of around a quarter more than the general population and still The Great Clown wants to make them wait by age for vaccination. Bad mouthing the teaching unions as he goes. If children’s education is so important, why has he not working with the workers’ unions to get a decent plan? Dead teachers can’t teach.

It is late. I am tired.


CLP 26/02/2021

On Numbers 3.8

Old Mister Brock shot

Bovine tuberculosis

It’s not black and white


n.b. Mass slaughter of badgers to inhibit spread of Bovine TB is a nonsense. Of 89 badger carcasses examined only 3.8% were infected with the illness.

There is no justification for the continuing programme of mass slaughter of badgers (an otherwise protected species) being carried out in parts of the UK in a vain attempt to reduce infection in dairy cattle.

The DEFRA official website is currently “Closed for updates”, but here is the link to the link to The Badger Trust charity for its stance on the matter.


CLP 09/11/2020

Following the Tractor

When the combine has cut through the wheat,

The bailer tidied all loose ends

And The Downs have felt the drag of plough and harrow,

Swallows and martins scour the chalk field in hundreds

A restless gathering, swooping, sweeping low

From roadside wires and hedge tops

Assembling their collective will to flee

Our gloomy, damp, autumnal land


One flits by, teasing my unleashed hound

Another, passes that close to me

I hear its fine wings feathering the air


This strange summer’s end comes nigh

Marked by the breath of hirondelles brushing our crumbled turf

Their fleeting farewell kisses of Northern earth leave no mark

When they take temporary leave for Southern skies


CLP  30th August, 2020

Day 43

Light levels are lowered by the thick cloud cover. All the bright colours of spring flowers are needed now to attract pollen carriers. The warmth of the past week coaxed a greater variety of bees outside. They are most welcome.

This morning along the coast road the marshes are witness to a fierce exchange between a peewit and a crow. The crow will not move away from the nesting area, despite the mobbing from the ground-nesting bird. It is more determined to pursue this target, rather than move on, as a buzzard might.

On the sea side of the reed beds I can see the shadow of a marsh harrier sweeping and turning just a few metres above the ground, always flying close to the top of the reeds. This flight pattern means it will come across potential prey suddenly, giving it a good chance of capturing food, without having to drop too far to catch anything it finds. 

The three greylag geese are still by the raised bank watching over the flightless goslings. 

The showers have played havoc with a cherry tree heavy with blossom. There is a drift of pink petals piled in the gutter, but my eye is caught by a light blue, speckled egg from which a chick has hatched. I am surprised that this pale blue is so easily seen. Why are some birds’ eggs so brightly coloured, so easy to see?

Further on there are six, or seven woolly calves wandering in a small paddock with their mothers. That is not a field one should enter carelessly. I am reminded of a walker, out with his family, killed in Sussex last year by a cow protecting her calf.

My son in China is working long hours teaching on-line, so it is lovely to hear from him as he ponders what to get his brother for his forthcoming birthday. Before I have had a thought on the matter he resolves the problem himself. 

Christopher Perry

29th April, 2020

Day 32

Today is overcast and hence a little warmer. The benefit of cloud cover is tempered by rain in the air, but when the rain becomes noticeable it is a pleasure to feel it on the face. This is April, there should be showers!

Here in the east, close to a north-facing coast, there is no rain shadow to help the farmers. Temperatures are generally lower, the air drier. Drought is a concern, so any rainfall is welcome. Today’s is not enough to do any more than damp dust down. I pass a field where hundreds of crows are profitably flocking behind the track of a tractor pulling a huge roller. The roller is being used to break up the heavy clay clumps in the top soil. This work will help young crops break through to air and light, allow rain, (or piped water), permeate below young roots.

A little further inland, the leaf canopy is far from complete and the woodland floor has plenty of light. With the warmer air and the brighter light, blue-bells are ready to spill out in swathes, but not yet.

The villages and local market town are quiet. A cricket square has been optimistically striped with a motor mower. More surprisingly, a budget home hardware shop is open for trade with buckets, brushes and brooms, step ladders and all sorts of shiny, useful items smartly displayed in the window and on the pavement. The proprietress stands outside the open door smoking a cigarette. Has she been following the news at all? There is no one else in sight.

When I get back to the house our conversation continues by telephone, naturally. Define friendship? It does not demand constant physical presence. You are not beside me, but always with me.


Christopher Perry

18th April, 2020

Full to Overflowing

The cows have got to be milked

Whatever else happens

So, some sheep have been filched

The cows have got to be milked

Chickens attacked by the fox

The piglets slipped out of the pens

The cows have got to be milked

Whatever else happens


n.b. www.napowrimo.net Day 12 challenge: write a trioletnearly.


CLP 12/04/2020

Day 24

A beautiful day. Still warm after six in the evening. The sea state is slight. Mist edges the horizon beyond the wind turbines.

I walk along a lane that becomes a raised grassy path across the middle of a huge furrowed field. The earth is banked high to protect hundreds of rows of seedling potatoes from sunlight. There are no shoots showing yet above the dry soil. The farmer has grubbed out the hedgerows here, so that where there were once two fields, there is now one. All for the efficient use of machinery.

The soporific effect of the warmer day has dulled the reactions of the hares. A good number sit and lie around in the open. One senses my presence and lopes off up the rise. Another sits at attention on the brow of the hill; a cut-out profile against the skyline with long ears up-right, back straight and no doubt, its nose twitching.

I take a little while to look for the skylark that is pouring out song. I have learned to look upwind of where the song seems to be originating. Eventually I can see it and I watch for well over a minute as it becomes a diminished speck and then works a wide, uneven circuit above the field to my right. The tempo of its song is matched by the rapidity of its wing beats. The only time a skylark seems at ease is when it drifts down on a breeze towards the earth, where it will land and then run in a low crouch to its nest hidden in grasses. At all other times this bird has a frenetic existence, desperately fighting off gravity with fast fluttering wings, while simultaneously churning out melodies that lack minims, breves or stops.

No word from the south coast. Another day is past.

Christopher Perry

10th April 2020

On Me Head, Lass

Do you mind if I…

The attractive young woman began

Moving to my side

Touching the nape of neck

Checking me over


Touching my ear

Rearranging a little silver-white curl on my crown

…if I photograph your hair?

I think it’s beautiful


After taking a few photographs

From different angles

She turned to her phone, smiled

And said

“That will be ten pounds, please”

That’s a fair price for a haircut

I paid, happy as a show lamb

(And we all knows what happens to boy lambs don’t we’s?

There’re the first to leave the farm)


CLP 21/02/2020

January Road Trip (XXX)

Earth tumbles off steel

Turned turf rolls over face down

Gulls trawl plough’s soil wake


n.b. After the urgent work of hedge cutting, trimming, mending, it is the time to plough. This is the moment to open the ground to air, rain and frost so the soil can break up, breathe and prepare for sewing and the warmth of spring.

It seems that every field I have passed from Norfolk to Hertfordshire is being worked today. This is the heavy, steady work of the season; rod by rod, acre by acre with the patience of the ploughman.


CLP 30/01/2020