“Ducks are NOT birds” 2013 365 Challenge #117

Feeding the Birds (not Ducks)

Feeding the Birds (not Ducks)

Today was one of those days when I feel I should be thinner.

I’ve never managed to shift the twenty pounds left over from having two kids in quick succession. To be fair I haven’t tried that hard. Life is stressful enough most days without forgoing cake.

Plus I have zero willpower.

The intention was to run off the calories on the new expensive treadmill we bought the month before hubbie was made redundant last October. Unfortunately, my persistent knee problem means I’ve been on it twice and now it gathers dust and torments me.

But mostly I’m okay with the Belly Flood as my husband calls my spare tyre when it spills over the top of my jeans (it’s an in-joke taken from our favourite kids show Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom where they periodically have magic jelly floods and all yell Jelly Flood loudly.)

"Arrgghh! Jelly Flood! Nanny!"

“Arrgghh! Jelly Flood! Nanny!”

However on days like today I feel I should be thinner. It seems the whole day has been a battle: Physically – taking two kids on foot across town to a shoe shop in driving rain – and mentally – being questioned, contradicted and refused on pretty much everything I said.

The highlight was trying not to get into a scrap with a belligerent 2-year-old who insisted vehemently that “ducks are NOT birds”.

That’s a no-win argument right there.

It went on for so much of the day (every time I inadvertently said Feed the Birds instead of Feed the Ducks) that I began to question whether ducks are in fact birds. You know, like gibbons aren’t monkeys and spiders aren’t insects and a Brontosaurus doesn’t exist at all. If someone yabbers at you for long enough, and you’re tired enough, and they cry enough, you’ll believe anything. By bedtime I felt like a victim of a new kind of psychological torture. I’d have agreed that ducks are mammals quite happily to make it stop.

I feel as exhausted as I used to after climbing Snowdon, so surely I must have burned an extra thousand calories today? That would be fair, right? If only…


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


“Sky, it’s time to go and get lunch sweetheart. Besides, I don’t have sun-cream and you’re so fair. I don’t want you getting burnt, it’ll make your mummy cross.”

Sky looked up from the sandcastle moat and frowned. The castle was impressive, with at least a dozen towers, all surrounded by a deep furrow which Sky had tried to fill with water. The sea was too far away to begin with but now it seemed to be coming in fast.

Claire watched the waves lapping near to where they sat. “Besides, the tide is coming in.”

The bottom lip began to stick out and Claire braced herself for the tantrum that was about to erupt. She held up a placating hand and was about to launch into a flood of words to push back the torrent of tears when a siren ripped through the silence of the beach. Claire fell back onto the sand and Sky clapped her hands to her ears.

“What the bloody hell is that?” Claire looked around but couldn’t see anything to explain the noise. She swore some more, thankful that Sky’s ears were covered.

“Tis the tide alarm,” a voice called out from behind them. Claire turned to see a woman with several children in tow heading up towards the pine trees.

“I’m sorry?”

“Did ye nah see the signs in the car park? The tide comes in reet quick an if ya nah careful ya can get cut oof.”

Claire tried to decipher what the lady was saying. Her accent was heavy and northern; Claire couldn’t decide if it was Geordie or Scottish, although she knew better than to admit that to the woman. She gathered the alarm was to warn them of the incoming tide.

“Oh, okay, thank you.” She nodded at the woman and turned back to Sky, who had taken her hands away from her ears. “Time to go.”

When the bottom lip threatened to wobble, Claire shrugged and gestured at the other families leaving the beach. “It’s not up to me. I don’t want to have to swim back to the car.”

Sky laughed and looked as if she thought that would be fun. Searching her mind for ways to coax her niece back to the car, Claire remembered a place near the next hostel that she’d seen on the internet. “Would you like to go and see some animals?”

“What kind of animals?” Sky wasn’t budging but couldn’t hide the interest on her face.

“Um, wallabies? Alpacas?” She couldn’t remember what else. “Er, goats?”

Sky’s face lit up. “I like goats. We feed the goats at the Farm. Okay.” Standing up, she collected her bucket and spade, brushed the sand off her skirt, and headed up the beach. Claire watched her departure for a few moments, taken aback by the sudden change of speed. Sky turned as she reached the line of trees. “Aren’t you coming Auntie Claire? Race you back to the car!” And with that she disappeared.

“Aw, look at the wallabies, they’re so cute. Have you ever been to Australia, Auntie Claire? I want to go but Mummy says it’s too far.”

Claire’s brain ached with answering endless questions. I hoped coming here and feeding the animals might distract her for a bit. Wrong. With a sigh she tried to focus on the question. It raised unwanted memories of Josh and Fiona, who were possibly on a plane back to Australia at that very moment. “No I haven’t, although I’d like to go, some day.”

“Where have you been? Mummy says you’re always jetting off on holiday.”

Thank you, Ruth, for that gem. Claire thought about it and realised she hadn’t been anywhere Sky would have heard of or care about. I don’t think beach holidays in luxury resorts are what she means. She’d never had the travel bug before. Holidays were for relaxation and tanning opportunities. She decided it was time to change the subject.

“Look at that sheep’s horns, Sky, they’re all twisty.” She held her breath for a moment, convinced that such a ploy would never get past Sky’s knife-sharp mind. Her niece turned to observe the screw-horned sheep, then span to face Claire.

“Wow! He looks like he has helter-skelter’s coming out of his head!”

Claire exhaled.


2 thoughts on ““Ducks are NOT birds” 2013 365 Challenge #117

  1. I’m sorry you had a rough day – but that bit about the torture over ducks being birds has me giggling on my porch right now. Here’s hoping the birds stay away for you tomorrow!

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