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The Food Bar by Rick Haynes

There is a mass of little stones underneath the holly and creeper hedge. What’s underneath? Apart from a thick woven blanket of some resilient material, I have no idea as the concrete below the fabric, although cracked in several places, has been there for some time.

I spread suet pieces in various sizes over the stones and the torn material. I call it, the food bar. The larger bits attract the blackbirds, the odd thrush and the bossy robins. And the shy dunnocks, a pair of wrens and the noisy sparrows quarrel over the smaller pieces.

It is so lovely to watch the squabbles, the sneaking amongst the foliage and the daring of so many birds.

But every tale does not have a happy ending as one stealthy intruder often spoils the party. In a flash, the female sparrow hawk will dive and dig needle-sharp claws into any bird too slow to fly off. Luckily for the birds, it is rare for the sparrow hawk to bag a bird meal. Alas, the field mice are not so lucky.

Other animals regularly venture into the garden. A haughty male pheasant wanders around like a lord of the manor every day. His steps are slow, his demeanour refined. When he sees me he slowly raises his head in the air before turning his back. His arrogance is unbelievable. I’ve called him Sir Percy Pheasant as I’m sure he thinks he owns my garden.

A young and skittish deer sometimes takes a stroll, eats whatever it fancies before moving away.

It is always another amazing day with nature in my untidy patch of land. And today was no different. I was topping up the food bar. I slipped on the grass, dropped the very large bag of suet, heard a cracking sound and saw a round hole appear under the fabric.

With so many conflicting thoughts about what lay inside, I paused. But not for long as I very carefully brushed away the pebbles and pulled apart some of the smaller pieces of the cracked concrete. I held my nose but the smell was simply old like a disused mine-shaft. Without a light, I could only guess what secret this cavity held. Was it a hidden body? Had someone buried treasure here? It didn’t take long before I found a torch and returned.

Once more, I lay by the hole. I switched on the torch and peered in. Seeing an old rusty ladder attached to the stone walls made me determined to find out more but fate was against me today.

I heard my wife’s car arriving on the drive and quickly covered up the hole. She rarely visits the garden preferring to spend her time on the internet or watching chick-flit films and murder mysteries.

But this is different, a real mystery in the garden. I knew she’d want to know everything, but not this time. With our divorce imminent, due to her infidelity, there is no way I’d share anything with her now.

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