Since all the holly berries have been scoffed by various greedy blackbirds and the odd woodpigeon, the garden isn't looking terribly festive. This contrasts with last year, when it seemed like I had two feet of snow and ice and some cheery robins making the place at least vaguely like it could have come from a christmas card.
Albeit, a really really downbeat one.
Now, as regular viewers will know, I've got various busted and painful legs at the moment, so my usual runs have been curtailed in favour of walks that don't really cover as much ground. Add to this the fact that the whole world has seemed suffused in a grey clag of drizzle when I have managed to get out, and it hasn't seemed a very colourful or lively environment I've been trecking through.
Luckily however, the sparrows have been keeping me cheerful. Every so often, either in the little bush outside my living room window that they frequent in a squabblesome fashion, or in various trees I've seen while walkiing, a little party of sparrows will put on a cute little show for me.
They puff themselves up to keep warm, sometimes putting their heads under their heads to sleep, and gabble amongst themselves, sometimes stretching their wings out and almost giving them a casual inspection, before flitting to another branch and repeating. Sometimes they get very flighty, and do these little minuture flights, a frenzied little 18 inch flap, to get themselves warm I guess if nothing else.
And then sometimes they sit quietly, huddling against the cold, and with their plumage looking in perversely good nick for the time of year, they look like little chocolate baubles from a christmas tree.
A heartening sight in unhappy times.