The Good Life

Jul 18, 2020 | Memoir | 0 comments

‘I’m worried about your sister,’ Mum tells me during one of our tea and cake chats in what was formerly the conservatory but is now known as the bubble.

‘Why?’ I say, taking a sip of my tea. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘She’s not herself. She’s talking about getting some ducks.’



‘Real ones?’

‘Yes. Living and breathing and quacking ones.’

I study Mum’s face, trying to work out if she’s serious or not. She cuts a large slice of cake and hands it to me. Her face is etched with worry.

‘But she doesn’t do the outdoors,’ I say.

She cuts an equally large slice of cake for herself. ‘I don’t know where it’s come from. This lockdown has done strange things. First you with your cleaning and now her with her feathered friends.’

I take another sip of tea, trying to imagine my glamorous sister in wellies, mucking out a duck house. ‘I just can’t see it.’

‘Exactly,’ Mum says. ‘Handbags yes. Ducks no.’

‘She just wanted to get back to usual shopping life,’ I say, remembering an incident a few months into lockdown when my sister had phoned me in a distressed state. ‘For the sake of my sanity,’ she’d said, ‘I need to shop. It’s what I do. I shop!’

‘But she can shop now,’ I say to Mum. ‘So, what’s with the ducks?’

Mum shakes her head, looks forlornly out of the window. ‘I don’t know what the world’s coming to.’

‘Maybe she’s embracing the Good Life,’ I say.

‘Does she think she’s Felicity Kendal?’

I smile. ‘She’s more Margo.’

Later that night, my sister phones. ‘Has Mum told you? We’ve ordered some ducks.’

‘That’s lovely,’ I say. ‘What kind?’

‘They’re ducks,’ she says.

‘I know, but what breed?’

The line goes quiet.

‘There are different breeds,’ I say, thinking the only duck she’s ever ordered before came with pancakes and hoisin sauce.

‘I’ll phone you back,’ she says.

I sit waiting for her call, worried that she’s ordered geese by mistake. I imagine them hissing and spitting at my sister and niece.

A few minutes later, she’s back on the phone. ‘Indian Runner Ducks. They’re like penguins, but not. They do the waddle thing.’

‘Ah,’ I say, already desperate to meet them. ‘They’ll be lovely.’

‘Dad’s going to build them a house,’ she says.

Work on the duck house begins immediately, taking every hour of every day. Dad goes early and returns late, each time looking more and more exhausted.

‘Why’s it taking so long?’ I ask, beginning to worry that the duck house could be the undoing of my dad.

‘This isn’t an ordinary duck house,’ Mum says. ‘This is your sister’s duck house. It’s huge.’

That night I dream of a duck house like the bird cage in Jurassic Park, but the ducks are not ducks at all. They are velociraptors. After that, whenever the duck house is mentioned, I get an uneasy feeling.

Just as the duck build is nearing completion, with pond, steps, sunbathing spot and patio area, I get another call from my sister.

‘Rabbits,’ she says. ‘Should we get some rabbits?’


‘They’re expensive. A hundred and fifty for two.’

‘How much?’

‘But they’re hard to get hold of since lockdown and they’re lovely.’

She sends a picture.

‘Ah,’ I say, immediately falling in love. ‘They’re cute.’ I turn the phone to show Chris. ‘They’re getting rabbits.’

‘If she wants encouragement to buy an animal, she’s phoned the right person,’ he says.

‘I know. She did it with the horse. The horse that thirteen years later, I’m still looking after.’

‘It’s exciting,’ she says. ‘And my ducks are coming soon. It’ll be like a farm.’

‘It’ll be great.’ I’m so excited about the new arrivals.

A week later, I get another call. ‘We have rabbits,’ she says. ‘But they were one hundred and fifty each.’

‘Each! You could have had mine for free.’

‘Well, we’ve not been shopping,’ she says. ‘Or been anywhere, really, so we bought them.’

I am secretly pleased because I am desperate to cuddle a baby rabbit.

‘Are you coming to meet them?’ she says.

When I arrive, Dad is still working on the duck house and Mum is supervising. My sister is in her wellies, mucking out the rabbits.

‘You know the shops are open,’ I tell her.

She stops shovelling rabbit poo and smiles. ‘I know but this is fun.’

I look at Mum; Mum looks at me.

‘The Good Life,’ I say.


Do you enjoy my weekly slice of life blog post? You can now support my time in producing it by tipping me the cost of a coffee through a site called Ko-Fi.
I am fuelled by caffeine and cake. Please consider supporting me on Ko-Fi. Thanks to those lovely readers who have already tipped me!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, thanks for stopping by!
Keep up to date with everything else on my social media channels, or sign up to get news straight to your inbox:
* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Liz Champion:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Interested in working together?