Saturday 21 November 2009

The robin

She could see the tops of trees above the wall, and when she stood still she saw a bird with a bright red breast sitting on the topmost branch of one of them, and suddenly he burst into his winter song - almost as if he had caught sight of her and was calling to her.

She stopped and listened to him, and somehow his cheerful, friendly littlle whistle gave her a pleased feeling - even a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens made this one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself. If she had been an affectionate child, who had been used to being loved, she would have broken her heart, but even though she was "Mistress Mary quite contrary"she was desolate, and the bright - breasted little bird brought a look into her sour face which was almost a smile. She listened to him until he flew away.

........."There were trees there - I saw the tops of them. A bird with a red breast was sitting in one of them, and he sang."
To her surprise the surly old weather-beaten face actually changed it's expression. A slow smile spread over it and the gardener looked quite different. It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before.
He turned about to the orchard side of his garden began to whistle - a low soft, whistle. She could not understand how such a surly man could make such a coaxing sound.
Almost the next moment a wonderful thing happened. She heard a soft little rushing flight through the air - and it was the little bird with the red breast flying to them, and he actually alighted on the big clod of earth quite near to the gardener's foot.
"Here he is," chuckled the old man, and then he spoke to the bird as if he were speaking to a child.
"Where hast thou been, tha cheeky little beggar?" he said."I've not seen tha before today. Has tha begun tha courtin' this early season? Tha'rt too for'ard."
The bird put his tiny head on one side and looked up at him with his soft bright eye, which was like a black dew drop. He seemed quite familiar and not the least afraid.............
"Will he always come when you call him?" she asked in almost a whisper.
"Aye, that he will, I've known him ever since he were a fledgling..............."
" What kind of a bird is he?" Mary asked.
"Doesn't tha know? He's a robin redbreast, an' they're the friendliest curiousest birds alive.........."
Extract from THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
When I was a little girl, Magpie would read this to me, and I always wanted to hear about the robin, over and over again.
I have loved robins ever since and we have one who frequents our garden regularly, he even obliges me by perching on the handle of my spade, just as I am losing hope that he will come nearer, he does. (Incidentally, I always garden in this outfit!)

Such an iconic winter bird, I have learned to recognise their song too, very pretty and even when I am in deepest thought it seems to reach my sub-conscious, forcing me to break from my reverie and look out of the window to see him.

I am also fond of this Robin too! But that's a whole different story for another day.

The Christmas Toast catalogue has landed, and look who is starring in it!

And if you reading Mr.Lane, yes please I should love one of these fabric covered note-books!
Oh and I love that wallpaper.

Now to sit here and read THE SECRET GARDEN again from start to finnish,
just pop my slippers on
Robins are the Gardeners' best friend x


  1. They're messengers from heaven, too - I love them!

    Pomona x

  2. What a lovely post, I love them too but haven't seen one for ages,
    Ann x

  3. I saw one Robin just yesterday from the window of my office. Here when you see a Robin , it is supposed to snow, is it the same overthere?
    I've read "the secret garden", it's a beautiful book
    Have a lovely Sunday x

  4. I knew as I was reading this it was from the secret garden! I too love birds and robins just make my heart when I see that first one in the spring! God and Jesus Christ so wonderful the way they created such a place to live for us! You know that they loved us so much that when the time came for us to leave them for our mortal experience, they would have created such a wonderful place to filled with joy and renewel of hope!Thanks for sharing..joys of my heart too! Come say hi :D

  5. Me too, Julie! I didn't discover The Secret Garden until I was in my 30s or 40s, but it is now one of my favorite books! My copy is packed up, but I think I'll pop the video in the VCR right now! I like the Derek Jacobi version best, but the Maggie Smith version will do in a pinch :~) Thanks for this lovely post, Sarah-Jane!

  6. Lovely post! i loved the secret garden when I was little and my eldest reads it and listens to it on CD all the time!

  7. What a lovely post, I absolutely loved the Secret Garden when I was a little girl too!A few years ago whilst I was digging out a rockery, a little Robin came and landed on my garden fork every day for a week, he was so cute!
    Rachel x

  8. How sweet, what lovely birds. I wish we would see some birdies around here, unfortunately there just aren't many at the moment, could be the lack of trees.

  9. That was such a lovely post. I lvoe robins too, they are so plump and jolly looking. I was thrilled beyond words when I saw one at the churchyard earlier this year as dad loved them too, it made me feel happy to know there was one looking over him.
    Hope you like the picture too.
    Lisa x

  10. Found you through a comment over at Happy's and came for a visit. What a wonderful and engaging visit it was! I too am quite the bird and garden lover. I think we have quite a bit in common there! Wonderful post!

  11. I love robins and get quite a few in the winter time at the bird table. I also love the secret garden. They are doing the play at the Playhouse in Leeds this Christmas too.

  12. Hi Sarah,
    Thank you.
    I am enjoying reading your blog, Your pictures are lovely.
    Love Lea xXx

  13. I haven't read The Secret Garden in AGES!!!! I must dig out a copy

    Victoria xx

  14. I knew that passage was from the Secret of my all time favourites. I think I read it so much I know it off by heart. I adore Robins...that image of that girl on the fence is amazing my friend. Ooooh and the toast catalogue looks scrumpdillyishous!

  15. I remember from my infant school days:

    The North wind doth blow, and we shall have snow,
    And what will the Robin do then - poor thing.
    He'll sit in the barn, to keep himself warm,
    And hide his head under his wing - poor thing.

  16. Oh it's one of my favourite books! (Still reeling at how much we seem to have in common!) and I love to read it around February time... just as the world is coming to life again.

    My favourite line (and this is from memory) is something about "When you find a bit of earth you like, take it dear and make it come alive..."... something like that.

    Love Charlotte

  17. I loved reading Secret Garden when I was at school and amazingly, I remember that passage. I was in the garden yesterday and heard a robin sing. It really did lift my spirits.

  18. Robin Red Dress!
    great warm cosy blog!

  19. oh such a lovely post, i feel all cosy and toasty! i love robins we had one last year that use to sit on the wall by our cherry tree he was quite tame! fliss xx

  20. Oh I love robins, and I always put food out for them. lovely little creatures! suzie. xxx

  21. A beautiful blog to follow, I woman after my own heart, I shall keep dipping into your lovely world

  22. Thankyou for sharing that passage with us the Robin means an awful lot to me too.
    If you have time will call in and say hello?

  23. Oh The Secret Garden was my favourite book too, as a child, and one of many reasons I named my daughter Mary. My own favourite passage, which my sisters and I would chant again and again, was the bit about "Being alive is the magic, being strong is the magic. It is in me; it is in me; it is in every one of us. It is in Ben Weatherstaff's back. Magic, magic - come and help us!" and on and on much more... Funny how books get under your skin. I must read it again too. Thanks for commenting on my blog - yours is so great; I really enjoy it when I have time to pop over. Blustery night here again tonight, eh?
    xx Elspeth

  24. Oh my goodness! What a great post, and what a beautiful, welcoming blog you have. So glad I stumbled upon you!

  25. Hello my dear, what a beautiful post! Robins are my favourite birds…in one of the gardens I work in there is one that is so tame I could hand feed it.
    Love Lou xxx


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