Algy felt tired after his struggle with the balloon, so he decided to take advantage of the fine weather, and rest for a while in the afternoon sunshine. A few miles away across the water he could see the Small Isles; there was a wee bit of snow still lingering on the highest peaks of the Isle of Rum. As he gazed out across the blue Sea of the Hebrides, Algy was reminded of a Victorian sonnet, although the exact location the poet had described was a wee bit further north:

          From blue Loch Carron rise white and sheer
              Its bare rock faces and island cones,
              And they glitter as frost and wind-bleached bones;
          Coral and sapphire far and near,
          Pearl-white coral and sapphire clear,
              Finely-chiselled as cameo stones,
              No blurred edges or soft mixed tones:
          Blue as the bottomless, white as fear.

          Do I sleep, do I dream, in the hard clear day,
              On the windy deck, in the afternoon,
          With the sough of the wave, and the spume of the spray,
              And my hair like the dank sea-tangle blown
          On the landward breeze? Is it Portree bay
              That we make, or some cove in the long dead moon?

[Algy is quoting the poem Among the Hebrides by the 19th century English poet Emily Pfeiffer.]

As it was Mother’s Day in the UK, Algy’s assistant had asked him whether he would kindly take her mother a special balloon. Algy was very willing to help, but when he tried to set off he discovered that although balloons filled with helium do “float” in the air, they most certainly don’t fly in the same way that fluffy birds do…

It had been very pleasant to sit in the sun among the pretty daffodils in his friends’ garden, but it wasn’t long before Algy heard the call of the sea again. He could never stay away from the ocean for long without suffering from Sea Fever, and he knew that there was only one remedy for that particular disorder:

      I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
     And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
     And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
     And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,

     I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
     Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
     And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
     And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

[Algy is quoting the first two verses of the popular poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.]

After a while, Algy managed to stop staring at the swinging necklace, removed it from the bush, and hung it around his neck where it belonged. Gathering up his gifts and the pretty card, he flew up onto a low perch, and propped the card up in a forked branch so that the birds would feel at home. But it seemed that the hypnotic effect of the necklace had not entirely worn off, because Algy found that he just couldn’t stop looking first one way and then the other; one way and then the other; one way and then the other …

Thank you again for your lovely gifts, stefaniejasper :)))

Eventually – and with a wee bit of assistance – Algy managed to open the exciting parcel that had flown all the way across the ocean, sent from the USA by his friend stefaniejasper. Nestling in tissue paper within the box, there was an envelope with “Algy” written on it inside a heart – so Algy guessed that it was meant for him 🙂  When he opened the envelope he found a lovely card with a bird design on the front, and a sweet message written inside it. But that wasn’t all! Underneath the envelope there was a beautiful little bag in very pretty colours. The drawstring wasn’t very easy to loosen with feathery wings, but after a while Algy succeeded in opening the bag, and discovered another, very special heart. This was a gorgeous sparkling heart that dangled on a handmade necklace and danced in the light. Algy was absolutely entranced. He hung the necklace from a wee branch above his head, gave it a little tap to set it swinging, and leaned back against the daffodils to watch it. With the bright spring sunshine in his eyes, the larks singing overhead, and the dazzling heart swinging backwards and forwards in the light, Algy soon found himself hypnotized 🙂

Dear Stefanie, Algy thanks you very, very much for the wonderful gifts which you sent for his birthday, and for your sweet thoughts. He is overwhelmed by your kindness, and sends you lots and lots of fluffy hugs xoxoxo

When the post bird passed by, Algy received a very exciting-looking package which had been sent all the way from the USA by his artist friend stefaniejasper. As it was an unusually sunny day, he decided to take his parcel into his friends’ garden, where he could open it at leisure among the daffodils. Algy propped the box up on a stone and tried to open it but, like so many inanimate objects, the box seemed to have a mind of its own. In his excitement Algy quite forgot about being leisurely, and the more eagerly he tried to discover what might be inside it, the more impossible it seemed to be to get the package open …

The wind had veered round to the north, bringing colder but very much brighter weather. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon for reading quietly in a sheltered spot out of the wind, so Algy decided to take a book to one of his favourite places.

As Algy had explained to the Gecko yesterday, all the water in the burns runs away constantly into the sea, but what he had omitted to mention is that in some cases this creates a very special environment. Algy particularly loves the place where the blue burn meets the incoming tide. The water always plays merrily on the boulders in mid-stream at that point, and – best of all – there is a miniature beach on the side of the burn when the tide is low, exactly the right size for Algy. He loves this spot, and the low bank sheltering the tiny beach makes it perfect for reading. So Algy settled himself happily on the smooth sand, opened his book, and read:

                  The winds, as at their hour of birth,
                      Leaning upon the ridgèd sea,
                  Breathed low around the rolling earth
                      With mellow preludes, ‘We are free.’

                  The streams through many a lilied row
                      Down-carolling to the crispèd sea,
                  Low-tinkled with a bell-like flow
                      Atween the blossoms, ‘We are free.’

Algy hopes that you will have a wonderful first week of spring ahead, and will be able to find yourself a sunny, sheltered spot out of the wind 🙂

[Algy is reading We Are Free, an early poetry fragment by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]