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Postcard from Bali – the quiet joy of watching hens

February 1, 2019


How nice it is to be in Bali, away from Brexit-ridden Britain, where the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Westminster is proceeding on its loopy way. Not that the madness is far away – Twitter and online newspapers see to that.

We’re staying in an area called Canggu. About 500 metres away from our hotel balcony we can see the sea, full of novice surfers struggling to do what surfers are supposed to do, only to dissolve in a vortex of foam after about two seconds on the crest of the wrong wave.

Closer to us is a large building site from which resounds with much clattering and clanging. It seems that the primary activity on the site is chucking large metal objects – scaffolding and steel rods – around the place.

The site will eventually become a hotel, one of many new properties being thrown up around the island to accommodate the masses of tourists – mainly Australians, Europeans and Chinese – who come here in increasing numbers, only deterred by the occasional volcano, earthquake or tsunami.

But my favourite place view from our little perch is the narrow strip of undeveloped land between our hotel and the construction site. For some reason the owners choose not to sell it. They live in a shack adjoining the road to the sea, where they run a tiny stall full of stuff that is unlikely to earn them much of a living.

But behind the shack the land is all green. And the occupants are three large bullocks, four dogs and a large number of hens. Oh, and an egret that occasionally descends to pick titbits from the underside of the bullocks.

My main pleasure is watching the hens. Half a dozen of them wander around with families of chicks obediently in tow. It’s nice to be reminded where the expression mother hen comes from. If, like me, you live in suburban England, you rarely see a live hen, let alone one with a flock of five little ones in its wake. I’m sure there will be a restrictive covenant in the estate where I live that would prevent us from keeping hens. Even if there wasn’t, the foxes would achieve what envious neighbours could not. The residents of Surrey are not that keen on the good life. They prefer their chickens trussed up in plastic bags from Waitrose.

But there are no foxes in evidence in this part of Bali, so the chickens roam free with their mums, pecking and scratching through the undergrowth all day. Some are no doubt destined for the pot, and others will produce a regular supply of free range eggs. They live as good a life as it’s possible to imagine, provided they’re deaf to the banging and crashing nearby.

We’ve been to Bali a few times. We’ve seen temples, monkeys, mountains and streets full of wood carvings. No doubt we’ll see more on this trip. But for now, how calming it is to spend half an hour watching hens do what comes naturally.

A wonderful alternative to watching humans do what comes naturally, as exemplified by the braying, blustering and bullying that drowns out all other noise in Brexit Britain.

And the lovely thing about hens is that they don’t tweet.

From → Travel, UK

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