A Cautionary Tail


Sparkle lived in a pile of leaves high up inside an old hollow tree in a forest not far from here.
Once she had warmed up, she was a very busy little soul. But when it was cold, or when it rained or snowed, she simply curled up in a ball with her beautiful golden feathery tail wrapped about her with just her tiny nose poking out.
The winter had been a particularly harsh and cold one. Traces of snow from the last heavy fall still clung to the old tree’s foliage above Sparkle’s nest as it gradually melted in the weak warmth of the early spring sunshine. All throughout the land new signs of life stirred now that the weather was changing for the better.
Sparkle’s nose twitched. A great sneeze escaped as she involuntarily rid herself of a tiny feather that had found a temporary home in one of her nostrils at sometime during the winter while she slept.
She opened one eye and peered out from behind the protection of her tail. All around her she could hear her neighbours stirring from their winter slumber as the sun slowly warmed the world. Sparkle yawned, stretched and open her other eye. It was time once more for life to continue in its age old way.
She rolled over and stood for a few moments as her heart pumped furiously, rapidly driving away the torpor she had been in throughout the long dark months of winter. Sparkle busied herself tidying her nest, grooming her fur and magnificent tail before she plucked up the courage to hunt for food.
It was still too early for her to collect her favourite berries. But she knew her secret larder at the foot of the tree beneath one of its giant roots would be full of the nuts and berries she had gathered last autumn; always providing of course that the squirrels hadn’t found it and emptied it.
Sparkle timidly peered out at the world.
Beyond the safety of her nest she had many enemies who like her were ravenously hungry and would not think twice about catching her for their supper. Fortunately for her, the old tree she lived in already had its new covering of leaves, meaning she could hide from the vigilant eyes of her woodland nemesis, the grey owl that lived close by. If danger presented itself she had an alternative route down to the ground inside the trunk.
Many times during her short lifetime Sparkle had nearly been caught by the wily owl. She had often escaped at the last possible second by diving beneath a leaf, or by clinging to the underside of the branch she was on, before dropping to the leaf litter on the forest floor below where she could quickly disappear from view.
As the sun climbed higher in the sky she decided to take a chance and step outside. She sat in the entrance to her nest for a short time checking for signs of danger before scurrying down the tree’s great trunk to the ground below.
Sparkle uncovered the entrance to her larder and peered nervously inside. Last year, she had nearly been caught by an Adder who had made her larder its new home. But thankfully all was clear as she entered. She ate her fill before beginning her long climb back to her nest, this time in the relative safety of the old tree’s hollow interior.
There was so much to do in the coming weeks. She hoped that the male she tolerated would be back. By now Sparkle was two years old, a great age for a Dormouse. She needed to have a brood of her own before the year turned once again to winter.
The sun disappeared below the horizon bringing the day to a close. Sparkle busied herself before bedtime rearranging the new supply of leaves on top of the old in her nest. A noise outside her home made her extremely nervous.
A beam of sunlight signaled dawn as it tracked slowly across the hollow in the tree’s trunk revealing all that was left of Sparkle. Her magnificent golden feathery tail lay discarded in the now empty nest. 
A young Pine Martin had found its evening meal…
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What a let down!

I’ve been playing video games since the first ones appeared – remember PacMan and Tetris?

When the PS3 came along I bought one and plugged it in to my 42″ TV and my surround sound system.

Since then, when I have a couple of hours to spare, I insert the current game’s disc and sit down in my favourite chair (recliner) with the hand controller, and like millions of others I am instantly transported into another dimension.

It’s a given that for a game to work it must have a beginning, middle and end. Imagine how I felt when I finally came across a game which while promising to be excellent, instead led to bitter disappointment. I am talking about Skyrim – Elder Scrolls V.

It starts off with such a hiss and a roar (literally). It promised so much. There are four main quests which you work your way through. Along the way there are numerous smaller side quests. You can also choose whether or not to be a nice individual, or perhaps a thief or an assassin, along with what gender and race you wish to be.

The game is just so vast (the amount of physical detail is amazing) that my PS3 often stalls. The telltale sign that it is about to happen is when it begins to ‘stutter’. That’s usually the time to quit and delete a few saved games. There are several glitches in the game, too numerous to mention here. Plus, some quest items you collect along the way unfortunately stay with you after you have completed the relevant quest(story). No matter how hard you try you simply cannot delete them from your inventory – very annoying!

Having finally done all of the main and side quests I was expecting Skyrim to reach a logical conclusion. After all, throughout all of the quests your co-characters give you the impression of something likely to happen in the end – nothing doing!!!

And yet, despite the lack of an ending, the stuttering, and freezes, there is something compelling about Skyrim – Elder Scrolls V. Will I play it again? Silly question. I’m about to start again in an hour or so.