I'm a notorious faffer, especially when it comes to bed time. What should be a simple process of "pull back duvet, get in bed" is often complicated my medication taking, sudden desire to read a small section of a book, or putting out rubbish, or even a quick astronomy session.
It was the rubbish last night.
I was carrying out the immensely irritating further faff of separating out all the plastic bags from one another, lest Mr Bin Man decide to not empty the bin and then stick stickers all over the bin telling you he hasn't emptied the bin, when I realised that I wasn't alone. There was a dark shape lurking in the sycamore behind me.
I've seen woodpigeons tramping about the trees at night before, but I realised very quickly this was not one of those. It was still, and evidently watching me intently. There was a round face, dimly visible in streetlight glow, with a pale surround.
It was a tawny owl, silent in the dark.
I've heard them around the garden before, and once before seen one flying over the neighbouring rooftops, but not settled so close so close to my home. Whether it was keeping an eye out for prey, or for mates, I have no idea.
I had the daft idea of trying to photograph it, despite it being far too far away for my mobile phone flash to illuminate it, and in any case the owl had other ideas. As soon as my hand entered my pocket, it was gone, over my roof, beating wings against the indigo sky.
I wonder where it is sleeping by day? And does it faff as much as I do before bed.