This is another old post pulled from the xml file from the previous incarnation of this blog.
Years ago I lived in Norfolk in a very old house that was about three hundred yards from the river Waveney, the river that divided the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.
In the back garden there was a shelter, possibly an air raid shelter.
It had a curved sheet metal roof – dark and rusted. It’s not easy to describe, but imagine half a metal tube lying on its side with brick walls at either end.
If it was an air raid shelter from World War II, then I cannot imagine there was much danger of the Germans bombing the village. That’s because there were only eleven houses in the village, so it wasn’t a prime target.
At the back end of the shelter there was another very small building made of clay lump.
Clay lump is an old method of building using pressed blocks of natural clay. The building was probably an outside privy and it was in very bad repair.
It was in such bad repair that it just collapsed and fell down when I knocked down the air raid shelter to enlarge the area for the garden.
I left the pile of clay lump blocks for a few months and then when I began to clear the pile, I found a toad sheltering in between the moist clay blocks.
So I made a home for the toad.
I had a length of agricultural drainage pipe – made of clay and about a foot and a half long – and I buried it at an angle into the soil and made an exit at the lower end.
And I placed a stone at an angle over the top so the toad could get in and out that way but prevent birds getting at the toad.
And then I went in for the evening.
The next morning I started clearing more clay blocks and I found the toad, or a toad. Was it the same one?
If it was the same toad there was not much point in putting him back in the drainage pipe because plainly he didn’t like it there, and if he was a a different toad then I had to check whether the first toad was still in the pipe.
So I carefully put my hands at each end of the pipe and lifted it clear and shook it out gently.
And five toads tumbled out.
And bearing in mind how many nooks and crannies there were in that pile of clay lump blocks, I wonder what made them decide that the drainage pipe was the best place to be?
I am glad that I had the pleasure I had the day I gave a toad a home. But I have some questions.
What happened overnight? Did the other toads wonder where the first toad was, and just followed it?
Did they discuss the benefits of their new home?
Did they sit around and discuss life and did they mention me – the man who had given them a home?
These are things I will never know.