We Have Visitors….

As I write, Him Indoors is actually outdoors… sitting in his car on the drive.

I know! WHAT is he doing? Have I finally driven him to distraction with my non-stop singing of ‘The Baked Potato’ song? Has he locked himself away so he can’t be forced to play table tennis “One More Time”?

He’s been there for nearly 2 hours. (Shhh, I quite like it. Solitude! For the first time in 6 weeks!).

It has nothing to do with the ‘Stay Safe’ stone by the way, which I found on a walk yesterday. Nice, isn’t it? I took a picture and then re-hid it for the children in the village to find.

So, anyway, actually he’s on Squirrel Watch.

We have squirrels living (nesting?!) in our annexe roof! We are playing Radio One in there, very loudly, day and night (with the lights on, too), which is supposed to help them to decide to ‘relocate’.

We’ve blocked up some (but not all) of the possible exits and entrances, so he’s sitting out there, on the advice of the ‘pest controller’ (eek, sounds like the Child Catcher, doesn’t it?) to observe and try to see which ways they’re coming and going. (Because that’s another strange thing – we never see them – we can just hear them skipping around up there).

Hopefully they will go without us needing to move to ‘phase 2’ which is: catch them with a humane trap and take them Elsewhere.

Still on the subject of Nature, I discovered this week that the pretty white flowers in my garden, which I honestly thought were some kind of lily, are actually wild garlic!

Ooh, get me with my posh weeds! I know you can make pesto and all sorts with it but honestly, I don’t even have time/inclination to do any gardening at the moment, so I don’t think I’m going to manage to do anything exotic with wild garlic. (It smells lovely though), so I shall just leave it where it is.

But enough of all of that. I hope you are well and coping with all the weirdy-ness. I have a few things to tell you about which might be of interest:

‘Struggling to Read or Write?’: How to be Creative in the Lockdown
I enjoyed this article, with its gentle advice on being kind to yourself by people I like and trust – eg: Marian Keyes and Richard Osman.

Retreat West Micro Fiction Competition

Every month, Retreat West runs a flash fiction competition.

You’re given a prompt to respond to (usually a photograph) and the piece must be exactly 100 words. I know, from running my random word competitions, that many of you are good at this kind of thing – and enjoy the challenge – so if you want to try your luck in May’s competition, all the details are here and you’ve got until 10th May to enter (£4 entry fee).

Results of the ChipLitFest short story competition are on the website. They’re… different!

I entered this competition but didn’t come anywhere.

I was due to go to an event at which the winners were going to be announced and read by actors, which I was really looking forward to. Like everything else, of course, it got cancelled.

Anyway, it was good to be able to read the winning stories. I liked the story placed first, the one that came second made me feel very uncomfortable (but it made me feel something, so I guess that’s a good thing) and third was.. well.. yes, funny but also odd.

All three stories had two things in common: the shock factor (in a good way) and the use of the F word! Clearly, this is where I’m going wrong. I’d be interested to see what you think, if you get chance to read them (here).

Cathy’s Comps and Calls for May has lots of competitions if you’re itching to write and submit your work. All the details are here.

This entry was posted in Competitions, Finding Time To Write, Short Stories and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to We Have Visitors….

  1. juliathorley says:

    I feel your squirrel pain. They’re very cute but only from a distance. I hope you manage to get rid of the little blighters without too much pain for either them or you.

    Now, about the F-word. I’ve been known to use it when provoked, but I can’t bear the way it’s being used on TV in the way that ‘bloody’ used to be: that is to say, as a workaday swear word, rather than one saved for special occasions. And don’t get me started on the C-word…

    • Helen Yendall says:

      I agree, Julia (about the F word … and the C word). I don’t think I’d ever put either of them into a story. There’s no need. If you want to demonstrate that someone’s swearing or got a ‘potty mouth’ there are other ways of doing it – even different forms of the ‘F’ word that don’t sound quite so bad. And as for using it as a verb… just no! I think some writers think it sounds cool. Clearly, the judge of the ChipLitFest competition had no problem with it. I just thought it was striking that all 3 winners in that competition had used the F word.

    • Helen Yendall says:

      PS: on a different note, I read your letter in Writing magazine and I agree completely. Lots of people will be writing about the virus (lots of entries for my recent flash comp were on that theme, for example) but you still have to be different and make your story stand out.

      • juliathorley says:

        Thanks. It’s a bit grumpy, but I just had to say it. Nor am I looking forward to the inevitable rounds of Virus Top Trumps when this is all over. I think we should be British about it, agree the whole thing was vile and then never speak of it again, rather than competing to see who had the worst time.

  2. pennywrite says:

    We have wild garlic – quite a lot of it, if I don’t keep it in check! – in our garden, too. Have tried to eliminate it at various times, but now have just learned to live with it. The flowers are after all very pretty!

  3. Rosemary Reader and Writer says:

    We have squirrels. They come to eat the seed put out for the birds. We’ve tried putting the birdfeeder, higher, in a tree, up a pole… but they still get it.
    We also have wild garlic, which is absolutely lovely to look at in your garden, and lovely to eat too.

  4. MARGARET GARROD says:

    Try a very large inverted plastic funnel on your bird feeder below the feeders. You might need to cut a bit off the tube end to fit the pole. Fix it by drilling a whole through the tube and attaching to pole with wire. Works in a similar way to those collars they give cats and dogs to stop them getting to wounds etc. It won’t work if the bird feed is low enough for squirrels to reach by leaping onto the feed or from nearby fence.

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