April Writing Competition Entries

In our April newsletter, we set you the task of writing a 250 word story about what you can see from your window.  We were amazed by the variety of the entries – they were all so good – all of them displaying just what wildlife means to you.  It was a joy to read them.   Our winner was Simon Winch and his lovely story about Urban Foxes – Simon wins a £20 Amazon voucher – well done Simon!

All of the entries are below for you to read through and enjoy!

(And look out for a mention of our very own Nigel Bewley!)


Winner

Urban Foxes by Simon Winch

Over 18, UB2

Yellow-breasted workmen down tools, lock the compound, and join their families for an unexpected spring holiday. Night descends, stranded park benches on newly laid lawn keep company with landscaping materials, young branches sway, and spectral plastic packaging is whipped by the wind.

Soon new workmen emerge, their orange jackets dulled by twilight. On security detail, they comb the perimeter, checking fences for fastness. The younger of them tumble on the newly laid grass, as an older head plods onwards with minimum of fuss. Curtains twitch, and new neighbours join in our delight.

Soon the building site will become busy again, and these orange-coated performers will have to share their turf. But for now, they please their audience, and at 8pm on Thursdays soak up their applause.


Basia Korzeniowska

Over 18, W13

Today I am on safari.  In my kitchen.  I am wearing khaki and  trying to blend in with my environment. I stand very still and look out of my kitchen window which  looks out onto my garden. it is tiny – 22 feet by 12,  north facing and very dark - but what a riot of colour. Cyclamen, fuchsias, geraniums, camellias, daffodils and snowdrops. and lots of greenery.  All home to a wide variety of wildlife.  Birds, squirrels, mice and rats.  And spiders.

We used to have a bird table just outside the window – a lovely little structure, with a little roof – a perfect little shelter and feeder for the birds.  We used to get jays, magpies, robins, blackbirds and even a woodpecker once.  Lots of tits and chaffinches – always a pleasure to look at. But the bird food was disappearing very fast.  At first I was delighted that my little dining area was popular with our feathered friends.  And then I looked.  It wasn’t the feathered two legged members of the animal kingdom that were enjoying my bounty.  Two extremely fat rats feasting at my expense.  The bird table was removed the next day and yet   the birds still kept coming.  Some robins even made a nest in the hedge.  And then one day in the spring what do I see but eight! Eight little ratlings gambolling on the grass.  They looked so sweet. Brown and glossy with long swishy tails. But I don’t want to see them ever again.


Where’s my Fuzzle? by Andi-Rae Walsh

Under 18, W7

Once there was a beautiful world, it had all different kinds of nature, it even had lovely, warm weather.
One happy day it was perfect to go out in the garden!(If you had one.)
On this summers morning some people were moving into a house near a mini golf course, where some friendly wildlife lived in a field next to the mini golf course for adults to play golf too!! The people who moved in last week came to the mini golf course with their little girl taking her teddy she never let’s go of, that she named Fuzzle a few years ago!
When they were playing golf on the mini course, the little girl (named Daisy) was paying more attention to the fun she was having on the 5th hole that she left Fuzzle behind when they moved on to hole 6. Then they all went home because:

  1. They’d finished all 9 holes
  2.  It was late
  3. Daisy was tired!

When they got home disaster struck!
Daisy noticed she had lost Fuzzle . Then this happened “WWWWWWW………WWW…….WWAAAAAAAAA……….AAAAAA!!!”
Her parents said they’d have to get him in the morning because the golf place would be closed. Daisy spent the whole night looking out the window. After some time Daisy couldn’t believe her eyes and screamed waking her parents up!
There in the middle of the garden was a hedgehog holding Fuzzle!
From that day on Daisy and her parents always left out cat food to say thank you.


Cathryn Wynn-Jones

Over 18, W13

There’s a tiny park right outside my window – just a little playground, a single bench and a patch of grass.

The playground is locked now, covered in yellow government warning signs, but yesterday I looked out and saw fox cubs playing there at three in the afternoon – squeaking, rolling, chasing each other up and down. The mother fox watched them from the shade.

There’s police tape across the bench – no place to sit down for a moment if you’re tired on your one daily walk. But last weekend I saw a squirrel stretched out on it, basking in the sun, for at least twenty minutes. Squirrels have no respect for the law.

Every now and then someone comes to mow the grass, and whoever spots it first will shout: “They’re mowing the grass!”

Then all four of us run to the window to watch the mower as it loops up and down. It’s not that we’re bored, it’s just that little things suddenly seem much more interesting.

When they’ve finished, we keep the windows open so that the flat fills with the cut-grass smell, and watch the birds and the squirrels and the foxes come back.

While our world gets smaller, theirs is getting bigger.


The Cherry Tree by Heidi Cullip

Over 18, W13

It is Spring. The wind is moving through the cherry tree – the white blossoms and green leaves are dancing in the breeze against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. It is April. Sunny but cold. The signs of life are everywhere but, from my window, all I can see is the cherry tree. I’m sitting at my computer and daydreaming – the cherry tree is mocking me with its place in the sun and its view over the neighbouring back gardens. What can the cherry tree see? What has it seen in its lifetime? I’ve been here 4 years so it’s witnessed the drunken summer BBQs, the dogs I look after, the books I’ve read whilst sat under its branches. But what about before me? My husband has been here for 14 years – what secrets of his does the cherry tree know?

Where did the cherry tree come from, I wonder. A seed blown in on the breeze from France or Spain or Turkey? A voyager who has been on a long journey, its final destination a back garden in Ealing? Floating on the wind, blowing across a continent, a sea and a city to end up in our soil. Is it happy to be grounded at last or does it wish it could fly on the wind forever? It looks happy – its pink-white blossom covers the tree making it shine in the sun. With its arms up to the sky the cherry tree looks like it’s dancing.


Bees Matter by Louise Powell

Over 18

“You need to grow up and leave that poor defenceless creature alone, what’s it ever done to you?” If I said it once I said it a thousand times a day, people just didn’t make sense to me. What pleasure was there to be had in harassing a tiny being that was quietly living its’ life, doing what was necessary for its’ survival and that of its’ companions?

This part of town was not my favourite, but there were plenty of trees, and the streets were filled with an assortment of people – short, tall, plain, rainbow-coloured, men, women, children and all manner of beings in between.

I disliked people intently. Birds I could tolerate, they made beautiful sounds. Squirrels, foxes, badgers and beyond, well, I had an expanding affection for them. Something about their cute babies and furry coats. My anger this morning, however, concerned a frighteningly ignorant human being and the object of my passion, a bee.

Bees just mattered to me, they worked hard, they lived in hierarchical communities, and they managed to fly even though in theory their wings weren’t large enough to carry their bodies. I knew there was a hive nearby because I saw a number of bees making the same journey every day.

I wasn’t a big fan of the outdoors (too many people), so I was grateful for the large window at the front of my flat. Those busy insects carried me beside them as they travelled, and I wasn’t about to let anyone deprive me of that magical experience.


A Blink of Wildlife by Poppy Powell

under 18

I blink as the small shivers of light waltz across my room: a writhing lake. The sun lazily wades among the blue sky, a contrast of elements. The sky is a blue you will only see once, as if made of the nebulas that somersault and swoon in the night-time. The old willow tree creaks and moans and its ribbons of never-ending green remind me of waterfalls. I feel the shade of the mighty oak tree enwrap me in its crisp embrace and shields me from the sun. I steer my gaze down. Different grasses, bluebells and other hated `weeds` congregate and create a patchwork of lilacs and greens and all sorts of colours. A spectrum like stained glass. Roses entangle the old, weathered sundial, whose angel’s shadow points roughly to the south where the mills churn the flour and make the loafs: they are often stolen by the squirrels. They live in the birch tree behind the sunflower patch. Their red fur much more precious than the purest diamond. Building their flats and bounding across my wild garden to the peach tree where an abundance of wildlife blooms. Goldfinches dart in and out amongst the gnarly branches; blue tits tweet their at-first feeble but melodic song. Thrushes feast on the holly berries that creep up past the peach tree. I breathe in the sweet scent of the wisteria that frames my window and wistfully look at the honeybees and their pockets of pollen.

I blink again at wondrous wildlife.


Anonymous

Over 18, UB6

The tree has grown sturdy this year. Another season of rain, a half season of sun, and where last year it could proudly point outwards with its own shoots, unfurl frothy blossoms from its own hands, this year it has learned to perform such magic without a fuss and to quietly accept its growth is for others.

The silvery branches no longer quiver, and are strong enough to hold safe. First a blackbird alights, a little cautiously. Blue tits follow, barely shaking the branch with the strength of their squabble, and even a pigeon confidently, if a little misguidedly, swoops its feet onto the rowan’s broadest branch.

And the people notice, and a feeder is hung. Fat balls, seeds, a towering pile of peanuts that could feed a family of tits all winter. The rowan does not bend, and the branches welcome them all.

The perch a stage for feet and beaks, wings whirr and cries cross as each bright eye spots the food source. The second pair of goldfinches are even cockier than the first, and the pigeon’s mate overbalances too, but the robin’s swagger sees them all off.

The blackbird watches from the fresh flush of hornbeam all around, planted the same year; its new leaves almost too sharply green for human eyes. This tree, he knows, strong enough to hold these contraptions swaying with hungry hourly battles, will swell red berries in the coming months, and he will wait.


The View From My Bedroom Window by Maya Klich

Under 18, W7

In Spring, when nature comes to life, I tumble out of bed every morning to a wonderful scene from my bedroom window: my garden. Finally, the bitter chill of Winter has been shoved away and the sun’s beams appear to reach down and tickle the flowers buds awake, opening up their multicoloured petals. This is an instant invitation to dozens of industrious bees, all keen to gather handfuls of pollen. All plants in the garden breathe in the glowing energy of this magnificent season while many different types of birds fly about in the clear, azure sky. My two cats stretch out and sunbathe on the trampoline, and observe the gorgeous butterflies waltzing around the garden. Tree leaves sway and rustle in the slight Spring breeze like professional dancers circling to an unknown beat. The dewy grass stands straight like bony, stretched-out fingers, drying itself from its morning hose shower. Robins and blackbirds land on top of our viridescent shed and sing with their soothing, harmonic voices. Intertwining vines, which crawl across our fence, explode in an array of greens as their leaves grow.

During dusk, the sun looks like a sphere of melting wax, softening into slime. Soon, a vast, silver coin surfaces above the horizon and twinkling stars emerge from the darkening sky.  Foxes start roaming the area; they resemble orange-masked bandits, leaping over hedges and slipping through gaps below fences. The wind howls softly and after hours of duskiness, the sun creeps up and the moon flees.


Amazing Foxes by Niamh Walsh

Under 18, W7

Foxes are amazing creatures we just take them for granted.

Every night one comes into my garden and sits below my window. I often sit there waiting by my window and when she doesn’t come I read. My security light turns on when someone is their so I know she is there. I look outside and she is there waiting for me. She jumps up and down she also rolls side to side and runs off from the side of the garden to the back of my garden. She is so cute and plays around with the stuff in the garden like shoes if they’re wet but she never rips them.

I’ve never got a picture of her but she is a very cute fox. I love her a lot.

I watch her playing with the stuff outside and wish I could be with her but I should be in bed. I know it’s a girl because one night she brought a cub with her and they were playing together so happily until they heard something and ran away. A few minutes later they came back not seeming scared a bit. They carried on playing and then she brought her little cub below my window. The little fox cub was so beautiful and it’s eyes from what I could see were blue like the ocean. As it was cuddling up to the mother fox she started licking her little cub.

I enjoy being able to watch them more during lockdown.


Butterflies by Sophie

Under 18, W5

It is April.  2020.  Lockdown.  I’m bored.  Again.  In my room.  Up high.  Near the sky.  Feeling like there’s nothing to do.  I stare down.  Down into the garden.  The emerald-green garden. Nothing is happening.  It looks bored.  At night, at least I can watch the three-legged fox scampering around the garden. The neighbour’s cat is perched on our fence staring inquisitively at something just out of sight.  I follow her gaze to the red- leafed tree.  I squint my eyes into the bright, sun-lit day.  I can just about make something out … something blue.  Forget-me-not blue.  Out of the corner of my eye, I think I can see it move – just slightly…  Hang on, it swirling up into the air; it’s flying. It’s coming closer to me, its flying up high to my window… to me!  When it is just on the other side of the window, directly opposite me, the forget-me-not blue butterfly looks at me.  I know it smiles.  I smile back.  I’m going to follow that butterfly. Lockdown does not have to be boring and…

Then I hear mum coming up the stairs.  “Mum, Mum!”,
“Yes, what now?”
“ I’m not bored!


Noisy Neighbours by Lynda O’Hare

Over 18, UB6

The noise never stops. Back and forth they go, busy, busy, busy, chirping, trilling and exercising vocal gymnastics that begin before dawn and last all day, each competing for the sweetest, loudest and most melodic song.

These noisy neighbours are my feathered friends building their nests. In and out of trees and hedges,sneaking under logs, beady eyes ever searching for twigs, leaves and the garden treasure they need for a perfect nest, working like there’s no time to spare.

The bigger birds – crows and magpies prefer the tall trees, their nests swaying in lofty branches.Closer to my window, the hedge is alive with the little ones, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, flapping around. The goldfinches have flown elsewhere, they play so hard to get, now you see them, now you don’t. A distant green woodpecker chuckles and a chubby chaffinch sits quietly, alone, taking a break from the frenzied activity all around.

And there’s mating action too from my noisy neighbours. A pair of crows argue and tussle over a chicken bone like an old married couple on a drunken night out fighting for the last drop of cider, while two contented stock doves, devoted to each other, snuggle up on their favourite branch in the cherry tree.

My feathered friendly noisy neighbours, reminding me another spring is upon us and that once more, they will gift me with chicks and song, entertainment and joy that only birds can bring. I won’t complain about my noisy neighbours!


The Robin by Camille Gajria

Over 18, UB5

You won’t believe me but I’ll tell you anyway.

Scruffy robin, toes curled tight on the washing line. Propelled by the gentle breeze, he swings from the patch warmed by the exceptional April sun we’re getting, to the shade from my neighbour’s overhanging ivy, surveying for a meal from my dig.

Lockdown has been good for digging. Digging is disruptive to the soil, but also aerates it. If you dig deep enough, you can break out a sweat, but you might also find treasure: a long-forgotten toy stashed there by a fox, pre-decimal coins, crockery, worms.
And then he begins his powerful Spring song, in melodious, complex riffs.

I unfold my spine and wipe my brow. The line is still now.

He hops off it and approaches me. Tenacious creature. He hops and hops and lands between my finger and my thumb, like Heaney’s squat pen.

His urgent song is incessant. Robin what are you saying? He beckons me to drop my head. Time has stopped. I see all the reds, browns, and whites, and the outline and inset of each feather, more clearly than I ever have before. I consider moving away, maybe he will peck me. Or maybe I should’ve had my camera ready like Nigel would say.

But before I can turn, he comes right up to my ear and whispers:
“Where there is shadow, there must be light”.

4 Comments

  1. Cathy Swift

    Delightful. It must have been difficult to choose a winner.

  2. Nigel Bewley

    The prose rhythm, scansion, stress and meter are superb. And such wonderful imagery. Simon’s piece of creative writing is a worthy winner – but it must have been a difficult choice. The other entries are all so good, too.

    • Sean McCormack

      Definitely a tough choice, but we think a deserving winner too.

      • Sean McCormack

        Very difficult, such wonderful entries!

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