My son built the restaurant some years ago, to a design I dreamed up.
Unlike most edifices, it was not created to be beautiful, or striking, or to make some kind of statement.
It was put together purely with the safety of its diners in mind.
I work on one side of the window, and the bird table is on the other, and every now and again there would be a visual explosion like a firework as birds took off in all directions, a sharp crack as one flew directly into the glass, and a puff of feathers that, falling silently through the air, told their own sorry tale.
It didn't take me long to realise that a sparrow-hawk was coming up the drive like a heat-seeking missile. At about shoulder height, and camouflaged by all the shrubs on the bank, it was effortlessly plucking some hapless songbird from the board mid-lunch.
Needless to say, I felt guilty every time. I felt as if the peanuts I'd provided had lured each tiny creature to its death.
|The Silver Robin's larders are bare|
The design is very simple, and, now that the perspex has clouded with age, no longer very attractive, but it surely works. To take a bird, the sparrow hawk would have to swoop round to the open front end, which faces onto the window.
I think the hawks have given up, I haven't seen one in the garden for ages.
The happy bonus of the design is that in the late spring, the young rooks no longer come to hoover up all the food I have put out for the little birds, as they find negotiating the entrance awkward and hardly worth it. They are much more inclined to do their parents' bidding, and go to the orchard for lessons in digging up leather jackets and other goodies with their long, hard beaks - their natural diet in other words.
No 2 son, who built the wondrous edifice, named it the Silver Robin because at the time a hotel was being constructed in Sligo called the Silver Swan - the name of the original hotel on the site, which paid homage to the swan-filled Garavogue River at its feet.
|The Glasshouse Hotel, as it came to be called|
I don't think our design was quite so a la mode as theirs, but nevertheless it has proved immensely popular, and there may well be times when, pro rata, it is fuller than its edgy Sligo counterpart, but recently I have been unable to obtain the ingredients I use to make the restaurant's staple favourite, and there have been a number of complaints from clients.
|You can read the disapproval a mile away|
Anxious not to leave the table bare, I have bought fat balls instead, but my diners are not very impressed. They eat them, but there has been a lot of standing beside the inadequate fat-ball and staring eloquently in through the window until I have taken note. In an effort to please, I have hung a stale loaf of bread (given me for the hens) in the restaurant's al fresco extension. This is in the little beech tree on the nearby bank, close to the dead palm tree trunk which conveniently holds the nut feeders.
It is, as you can tell, a veritable gourmet's paradise.
But fortunately, stocks are in, the chef has been busy and any minute now the menu will be back up to scratch. Hopefully everyone will be happy again
What does a grinning bird look like?
Maybe I'll find out.
|The Silver Robin's al fresco extension|
Cait - whose blog I like - has posted a recipe for bird cake, which sounds very good.
My small, singing friends don't get quite such 5 Star treatment.
I simply melt white fat or lard, pour it into a basin over a mixture of wild bird seed, oat flakes and raisins (if I have any to spare), wait for it to solidify and then paste it into empty coconut shells which the In-Charge has kindly drilled so they can be hung up.
As I am prone to say - easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
And, rather like Cait's infinitely superior mixture, it vanishes like the proverbial snow.
I'll add a picture of the revamped, re-stocked, up-graded restaurant tomorrow.
Maybe there'll even be a few happy customers.