Call of nature:
It’s wildlife time again at D’log Mansions. Last year only a few bemused creatures ventured into my bare yard. This spring I’ve spruced it up into more of a garden. Toads look so much more attractive when their colouring blends almost perfectly against beach pebbles (which now cover up the yard). Magpies hop along the wall. Bats zip through the warm evening air. The roses thrive in their side beds. Sparrows nest in a nearby tree. Swallows range in the blue overhead. Butterflies and bumble-bees fly around the walled beds. A newly planted Jasmine faltered, but is now responding well to the heat. The new herb garden is doing far better than expected. I did find a newt, but sadly it had expired; no pond. And there are cats; lots of cats. Not nice friendly moggies, but aloof bruisers who return in the middle of the night with a perverse desire to turn a gravelled yard into the biggest litter tray in Staffordshire. You’re transforming your terrace’s yard in 24-hours? It’s all the rage; 15 bags of pebbles, plant-pots, beach-hut paint, log sleeper stepping-stones. But here’s the vital anti-cat tip; cats will use the finer grade gravels, but shun the one-inch beach pebbles; go for these unless you love cats so much you want them queuing up along the garden wall, ready to unload their digested Kebab & Beetroot Krunchie-Munchie.

Sun & sand:
Uh oh, thunder-storms and rain are coming this afternoon to spoil the brief English idyll. Is there anywhere left these days for a holiday that’s hot and yet still relatively safe? Iraq, says Mark Steyn, who’s been on a motor-tour around the country for the last two weeks.