Beyond the back wall of our postage-stamp-sized back garden lies a mysterious expanse of trees and brambles known to our family as The Wild Place. In reality, it is an unused corner of a municipal cemetery, cut off on three sides by back walls and fences, and thus unvisited from one year to the next by humans, apart from the odd explorer seeking a non-existent shortcut. I'm sure that in the days of my childhood, when we kids roamed far and wide building camps and climbing trees, it would have been a favoured place for playing, but its lack of central heating and complete absence of electrical outlets or internet cabling means it is utterly silent these days. That suits me just fine.
The Wild Place is perfect for wildlife, of course. Even though we are close to the centre of town a wide variety of birds are regular visitors -- the hard winter has brought in this week our very first Redwings and Fieldfares. In the past I have been able to watch a buzzard sitting casually on a branch not 20 yards from my bedroom window and tearing up a pigeon for lunch, mobbed by coup-counting crows and magpies. Even the occasional deer makes its way into this cul-de-sac; a few years ago I spotted one peering forlornly over our back wall as I was doing the washing up.
But the lords of the Wild Place are the foxes. At night, their shrieking can chill your blood, as they pad up and down on the back wall. During the day, they can usually be seen sunning themselves amongst the brambles. Today I spotted these two, napping in the winter sun in a snow-free corner beneath an oak tree.
Cute, eh? It's a tribute to the lens (Canon EF 70-300 f/4 IS) that a hand-held shot taken through the unwashed double-glazing of our loft extension should come out so well.