What do Badgers do with socks?

I can see the colourful fields rolling out far across to the sea, spread like a bobbly green wonky patchwork quilt, it reminds me of childhood memories of Alice Through the Looking Glass…

I recently declared that I would start writing about where I am staying as I have the very great fortune to live in a tiny mobile home; I live in a Mercedes 609 ex school bus with my two little girls who are home educated, which gives us the freedom to live just about anywhere! Our house on wheels is compact and bijou on a good day; we have everything we need close to hand and tidying and cleaning the entire home takes just under an hour. On a bad day it is cramped and frustrating; just imagine that every time you want to get something you have to first get two small fighting (or giggling) people out of your way!

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My children love this lifestyle most of the time (rain does occasionally stop play!), and they have the freedom to play outside as often as they wish, “The World is our garden” they frequently joyfully say. As they are both very inquisitive and sociable they easily make friends wherever we go, choosing to talk to adults as happily as if they were children.

We are moving a lot at the moment, what with it being summer and festival season, and what a hot and stunning summer so far! Today I am sitting in my bus looking out over the most spectacular view in Somerset, I believe. From here I can see the colourful fields rolling out far across to the sea, spread out like a bobbly green wonky patchwork quilt, it reminds me so much of my childhood memories of Alice Through the Looking Glass (by Lewis Carroll), when Alice tries to cross the chess board.

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We are parked in a car park on the top of the Mendips, sheep are grazing nearby and in the mornings we can hear skylarks singing. In the distance here on a clear day as the sun sets we can see the sea shining in the evening sunlight, the Islands of Steep and Flat holm, and Wales far in the distance.

This is a dog walking spot, and as such is a paradise for my older daughter Mayme who has just turned seven and is passionate about dogs, she meets and greets every dog walker as they arrive and she rather charmingly chats with them about their dogs, pats the dogs and sometimes even goes a little way with the walkers on their walk, before returning to me and telling me all about it.

My other little girl Kimi is not so keen on dogs, she especially dislikes the licky-jumpy varieties, being here has been good for her too and she is gradually getting more confident and comfortable with dogs.

Just the other day I rather absent-mindedly left our clothes change bag out side when we went to bed, along with our compost bucket. Yes I know, bad move in the countryside!

We woke in the morning to find the entire contents of the bag strewn across the field and mixed with the compost from the bucket! In the bag had been clothes, oranges and my water bottle. We wondered for sometime who or what had committed this heinous crime? All of the clothes had weird yellow stuff smeared on them (YUKK!), the oranges were all pierced but not eaten. Finally inspection of the water bottle revealed the moonlight ran-sackers to have been badgers.

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The culprits had left their mark, almost as if it were a signature! The strangest thing was that the badgers had unpaired the four small pairs of socks out of the bag, “What do badgers do with socks?” asked Kimi (age four). We imagined the badgers dressing up in the clothes, which were probably pretty much exactly the right size for them, and having a sort of teddy bears picnic with the compost bucket, being rudely interrupted by an early morning raid by a fox or two , before running wildly across the field discarding the clothes as they went.

The dirty clothes were bundled back into our laundry bag, the water bottle scrubbed, and I went off to write a traditional folk style fiddle tune named of course ‘What do badgers do with socks?’ I have often mused on the naming of traditional tunes, the likes of ‘Maggie’s Pancakes’, ‘The Blarney Pilgrim’, ‘Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountains’, ‘Ten-penny Bit’ and ‘Mug of Brown Ale’ all inspire a certain amount of imagery, curiosity and imagination. I wonder what was happening when ‘The Sheep in the Boat’ was named and how angry the Piper was during ‘Burning the Pipers Hut’! Or were the writers and namers of these tunes really just having a laugh coming up with more and more silly and interesting titles to tell their friends in the tavern, after all how should one name a tune? Onomatopoeically perhaps ? Then they could all be called fiddle dee dee!

Traditional English and Irish folk tunes are usually played in sets of two or three, so I will have to write a few sequels to ‘what do badgers do with socks?’

Possible titles that spring to mind include ‘The Badgers Ball’ or ‘Foxy at the gates of dawn’ perhaps…..

We will be here for a couple more days enjoying the view, with all our bags and boxes safely shut away in the bus at night. Soon to be heading off to the next couple of festivals, where I am playing gigs, The Green Gathering in Chepstow, and Off Grid Festival in Devon!

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