I’M sitting outside on the covered
patio, it’s quite pleasant
but chilly.

Yesterday I was sitting here
at 6am, the day before I was
up at 4.30am and the day
before that 5.30am.

This is not normal for me.
I’m semi-retired and don’t
start work till 9am so the
alarm is set for 7am.

I am more than happy to be
here, though, because my
wife Jean and I have just
become joint owners of an
eight week old Jack Russell
puppy. We’ve named him
Chip, his dad’s name is Spud.
He is quiet and sleeping on
my lap just now allowing me
some time for enjoyable
reflection. The patio area
allows me a complete view of
the garden and beyond.

From my perch over all I
survey there is a panorama
covering the length of the
Andover Ladies Walk and a
view of Andover golf course
laid out to the far right.

All this forms a picturesque
horizon just showing through
the early morning mist.

I am thankful for this
moment of light reflection. It
allows me time to appreciate
how fortunate I am to be in
this place.

Just two metres from my
vantage point I have a birdhouse
and a choice of bird
feeders, which are experiencing
regular visits before me,
bluetits, blackbirds, a family
of sparrows, who have taken
up residence in a redundant
hole where once an overflow
pipe existed, and some rather
noisy starlings, who fortunately
are uncomfortable
with our presence and scatter
immediately but the rest are
quite happy to continue feeding.
There was also a brief
visit from a chaffinch a
moment ago.

As a young man I was
always in awe of animals and
wildlife. It wasn’t until later
years that I could truly
appreciate the wide diversity
of nature and the countryside
which catered for their
varied requirements. These
days in particular I find my
mind is more open to the simple
things, not that I ever felt
the need to expect too much
out of life. If we have a roof
over our heads, we are warm
and have sufficient food in
our bellies, this is a good
starting point and anything
extra is a bonus.

A couple of weeks have
passed since Chip arrived.
Now my new sleeping pattern
coincides with his toilet
habits – 7am is our regular
waking time and my time to
reminisce and reflect on a
daily basis.

Bill Malham, Rooksbury
Road, Andover