Sitting outside, or in the Chapter room or the Mathilda Room, if you are very quiet, you can hear a litany of small chirps and the rustling of leaves and wings.

Our family of wrens.

In these early days of August the quickly growing babies are learning to fly, but unsure of themselves. Their wings are so tiny it seems impossible that they could ever have the strength to lift those fluffy round bodies off the ground.

They whirr rather than flap.

The babies now hop from rose bush to ivy to wisteria in a funny circuit around the garden, easily moving up the branches, occasionally hurling themselves across small open spaces but quickly flapping back again. In a group they travel from the safety of one bush to another. Hidden there, amongst the thickness of summer leaves, it is impossible to tell how many of them there are.


They are still learning about glass windows.

They are wary of movement, and will disappear if you come too close. You have to sit there quiet and still, wait for them to come to you in a small crescendo of sound. A perfect time and subject for reflection, which is the point of these lovely gardens after all.

The parents of course, venture further afield, scouring the grass for insects, never staying in one place for any time at all. It is why you must forgive us for these shaky pictures of such tiny birds, blurred and distant. Birds that require time and attention to notice, a mindfulness that will serve you well at all times.


Occasionally they break into trills and rich warbles, cutting across the hungry cries of their children. They seem long and lean in comparison, they carry no fluff and no extra weight. They hold their tiny tails vertically, crouch low to the ground then straighten — almost as though they were on tiptoe — to cast anxious glances at their young.

They are a joy to watch, and a joy to listen to, connecting us to the circle of natural life that surrounds us always, even here in the city.