I am not a hippy. I’m not a crusty. I’m not a gypsy. I work for a living. I pay my taxes and I am a responsible citizen. I believe in recycling. I do not litter. But I want a simple life and so with my husband I’m moving into a van. Maybe we will hate it. Or maybe this is the beginning of a new life.

In search of another life

"They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..."

Jack Kerouac

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

One for Sorrow

For the past week or so we have been staying in Stanmer Park and what a beautiful space to have as a back garden! There is a scruffy magpie that lives amongst the travellers and seems to be an outcast in the bird world. According to the RSPB magpies gather in flocks when not breeding but this one prefers to gather with people.

He (or she) hops into vans, poos everywhere and tries to steal anything shiny. In fact, he tries to steal anything at all. I have to give him points for attempting to carry off one of my flip flops. He pecks at cigarette butts, sips from the rims of beer cans and generally makes a nuisance of himself. At the weekend I watched him terrorise a family of ten, hopping after them one by one and making a little girl scream. He doesn’t mean any harm though, and a small peck from his beak is more shocking than anything else.

I have heard that when a human touches a bird the smell is repulsive to other birds and he will be abandoned by the flock, but the RSPB website states that birds have little or no sense of smell so it is not clear why he is ignored by other magpies. Perhaps he longs for a different way of life too, like Jonathon Livingstone Seagull.


  1. Magpies (pica pica) are one of the few species that are self-aware ie they can recognise themselves as an individual (mirror test). They can have some unsavoury habits though!
    Great blog, was telling a friend about it today.

  2. Thanks. I will try the mirror test!

  3. In Australia where I grew up magpies are very aggressive - they swoop on you while cycling. Let me know next time you are near King Alfred if that is one of your overnight places and I will give that book to you. I am about half way through it so should be finished in a week or so.

  4. Thanks Colin...what's your email address? I'll let you know when we're on the front.