Algy read on, and in the dying light of a winter’s day near the very end of the year, he read this poem… for everyone who is hoping for a better future, and especially for his friend Erika in Germany who loves Tennyson:

          Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
              The flying cloud, the frosty light:
              The year is dying in the night;
          Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

          Ring out the old, ring in the new,
              Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
              The year is going, let him go;
          Ring out the false, ring in the true.

          Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
              For those that here we see no more;
              Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
          Ring in redress to all mankind.

          Ring out a slowly dying cause,
              And ancient forms of party strife;
              Ring in the nobler modes of life,
          With sweeter manners, purer laws.

          Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
              The faithless coldness of the times;
              Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
          But ring the fuller minstrel in.

          Ring out false pride in place and blood,
              The civic slander and the spite;
              Ring in the love of truth and right;
          Ring in the common love of good.

[Algy is reading part of the poem In Memoriam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

This is part of Algy’s series of contributions to Ned’s challenge, to post images of people reading.


The sea was growing dark, an ominous bank of clouds was building up on the horizon, and the sea birds were seeking shelter for the night, but Algy paid no attention. He just continued reading until the light faded …

This is part of Algy’s series of contributions to Ned’s challenge, to post images of people reading. Algy is hoping to see some contributions from other photographers too 🙂

Algy was delighted to receive some new books of verse for Christmas, but the days were overcast and dark, which made it difficult to see the text. So he carried a small volume down to the sea, where even on the gloomiest days there is always some extra light reflected from the water. Picking out a rock surrounded by water, Algy found a reasonably comfortable perch, and spent a happy afternoon absorbed in reading a collection of lullabies and poems for children. As the waves washed softly against the rocks in the low afternoon light, Algy read:

          Sweet and low, sweet and low,
             Wind of the western sea,
          Low, low, breathe and blow,
             Wind of the western sea!
          Over the rolling waters go,
          Come from the dying moon, and blow,
             Blow him again to me;
          While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

[Algy is quoting the first verse of the poem The Princess: Sweet and Low by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.]

This post, and the ones which follow, are particularly dedicated to Ned, who invited us to post images of people reading 🙂

On Christmas Day, Algy was invited to his assistant’s house for a wee bite of Christmas pudding and some fun with the Christmas crackers…

Algy was delighted to find a pile of cards and presents waiting for him, which had been sent from overseas by his wonderful Tumblr friends around the world. Thank you all very much indeed! Your kindness and friendship is hugely appreciated :)))  Algy sends you all lots of very fluffy hugs xx

( Algy apologises for the poor image quality in this GIF. His assistant has had terrible trouble uploading this one, and reprocessed it dozens and dozens of times before finding a colour palette that would work. “Error uploading image"… Aaaarghhhh! )

When night fell, Algy woke up and found that he was no longer alone. Some of his little forest friends had seen the bright star shining on his Christmas tree, and had crept up quietly in the darkness to join him. They had brought him a very special present for Christmas Eve – a beautiful German tin full of spicy lebkuchen. Algy was astonished and thrilled, but he was even more surprised when he turned the lid to open the tin and heard the lovely melody of Stille Nacht!  It sounded so enchanting, tinkling softly in the depths of the forest with the wind rustling through the great trees in the background. Algy and his friends sat there spellbound, listening to the gentle music by the light of his Christmas tree star, while from time to time a few flakes of snow drifted down silently around them.

Listen to the sound of Algy’s musical tin, playing in the forest.

Algy and his friends wish you all peace and joy at Christmas time xx

This is the sound that was heard in the depths of the forest when Algy turned the lid of the lovely German tin which his friends had brought him on Christmas Eve.

Algy was so exhausted from his efforts the day before that he slept right through the few hours of daylight on Christmas Eve, and he was still dozing when it began to get dark again. But, while Algy slept, tiny shining eyes were watching from the forest, as Algy’s little Christmas tree experienced a magical transformation …

By the early afternoon, Algy had carried every one of his baubles to the forest, and had hung them all on his Christmas tree. Poor Algy was utterly exhausted! It was getting very chilly now, and a typical West Highland mixture of hail and sleet had started to fall, but Algy was too tired to care. Making sure that his feathers were well fluffed up, to keep out the cold and damp, he tucked himself under the shelter of his tree and quickly fell asleep, happy that he had managed to decorate the little tree in time for Christmas Eve.

As soon as Algy had found his Christmas tree, he rushed back to the place where he had stored his baubles. It was almost Christmas Eve now, and he had very little time left in which to dress the tree. He knew that it would be quite impossible for him to drag the whole bag of baubles to the forest on foot, so he decided to bring them two or three at a time by air. If he flew very carefully, he could carry them by grasping their ribbons in his beak. So Algy spent the whole day flying backwards and forwards from the burn to the forest, and gradually he began to decorate the little tree…

The next morning, Algy got up as soon as it was light and started his search. At first he found nothing but massive trees, very handsome but far too large for his tiny baubles. Suddenly, he saw a gleam of light shining through a dense stand of spruces: there was a clearing beyond those trees! Algy pushed his way eagerly through the scratchy, low branches, and emerged into a very wet boggy area. At first he could see nothing but a patch of sodden grasses, with more big trees beyond, and he resigned himself to disappointment. But then he looked about more carefully, and realised that the clearing continued around a bend. Algy felt rather strange; although he had never been in that spot before, he was almost certain that he was about to find what he was looking for. Trying not to get too excited, he flew to the corner and peeked round the trees… and there it was. Algy had found his Christmas tree!