Further to our hosting a day out for the chaps of Horizons Village Men’s Shed, we welcomed a mixed group of residents from that village on the last day of February. The weather was a pleasant move away from the intensity of the high temperatures and the ultra-violet burn of an extended summer towards the promise of milder autumn. As at the time of writing, however, we are still awaiting confirmation that there will actually be an autumn this year. The visitors were so taken with the experience that after morning tea when Peter and Charles left, they dragged Max back out on the lawns for more play until lunch time.
Other visitors in recent weeks have been our special chums, the maggies. Baby magpies are nearly to full adult height by now while still showing their nestling colours and still sooking about being fed. We were amused by one hard-working parent pacing at the end of Lawn Number One, turning and looking hither and yon, a succulent grub in her beak – one could sense the frustration that all parents identify, “Where is that rotten kid? I’ve prepared a meal and it’s gone off somewhere.”
Another avian visitor worth mentioning is the Dumpsteris duckii . They step grandly to better display their white plumage and magnificent curved beaks as they go about the smorgasbord breakfast they assemble of black bugs from out of the lawns.
Crows occasionally call by to offer advice but I fear there are few fans of its song. Some butcher birds came for a holiday stay of several weeks in January, and crested pigeons come and go. A courting pair on the edge of Lawn Number Two had the stamina and histrionics of an operatic hero and heroine. Honey eaters call in to snack on the Canna flowers from time to time.
Other visitors to the garden receive less attention but are working just as hard – European honey bees are there every day and we are starting to see a variety of native bees coming in to see what is on offer. Cunning of a non-croquet kind is on display by the black grubs which make their topside appearance after the avian breakfasters have moved on.
Our ladies of croquet (and, yes, the term is a ‘croquette’ – or so I am informed by one with an air of great confidence) hosted a morning tea for the ladies of the Dubbo City Bowling Club on Thursday 10th April. There was a goodly number of both groups in attendance and the pleasure generated by the chat and fellowship of the morning was equalled only by the provisioning of the festive board.
More recently, Mark Horton came around for a chat about the NSW Government’s Office of Sport and his role as Regional Co-ordinator. Co-incidentally, as he was leaving, Robert and Virginia Brown from Adelaide called in on their way through to (ultimately) Cooktown. They had some of their impressive Transforma mallets with them so, of course, we had to get them out on to the lawns and put them through their paces.
What can follow all that? Our visit to the Orange Croquet Club on the 23rd May, of course. To prepare for that event, we are holding a tuition and practise day the previous week.