Discomfort and Badgers; a Cousin visits; standing for the Queen; the challenge of thistles; ashamed of depression – but painting helps; a holiday is long overdue; Marsh Tit and Hamster observations; Jane in Edinburgh; standing for Vaughan-Williams, and “Man should not trespass”.
“This evening”, Gran writes on a dry St Swithun’s Day, July 15th 1958, “brought today’s main interest, for, after working at Fowler’s this afternoon I went up to Bassett to have tea with Mrs Eagle, with whom I was going to watch Badgers at Lordswood… for I had yet to see my first Badger.”
They walk from Mrs Eagle’s house, through the Sports Centre grounds, to Lordswood, reaching the area of the Badgers’ sett at half-past seven. Gran continues:
…I had changed into corduroy trousers and Wellington boots, with an old mackintosh, and was liberally smeared with insect repellent on all exposed parts, having been forewarned by Mrs Eagle. We crawled underneath some very large rhododendron bushes, amid the roots of which the Badgers had made their home, scuffling out huge mounds of earth at both entrances, and made ourselves as comfortable as possible on cushion and rug among the branches. We held Bracken fronds in front of our faces to screen them from the Badgers and prepared to sit it out…
They wait, in growing pain, for a long time:
My feet had gone to sleep and the tree-trunk against which I had earlier reclined so comfortably now became a hard and unrelenting rod down my spine, and, as I eased my wedged left foot it slipped to the ground with a thud that sounded like the drop of a ton weight, and my Mackintosh creaked like stiff paper! I closed my eyes, hoping that if I relaxed completely I might forget the increasing discomfort… but the sound of movement on the dry leaves instantly re-opened them. And there, before my eyes and scarcely four yards away, was my first Badger. It was ten past nine! No wonder we were stiff and cramped!
Gran describes the experience at length: noting stripy head, white tipped tail, the body darker than expected, and two animals appearing together, which foraged among the rhododendrons, and into a field nearby, where, she writes, “they made a series of extraordinary noises; grunts, growls and little yelps like puppies, and Mrs Eagle told me that she once heard one of them utter an ear-splitting and eerie yell.