24 January 2009


I threw back the bedroom curtains this morning to see an urban fox trotting across our lawn and up to the apple trees. I watched while he attempted to ambush a couple of blackbirds pecking at windfall apples that I had deliberately left lying around in late autumn to help visiting birds through wintertime.

Even though we live just three miles from Sheffield city centre, surrounded by roads and houses and a further two miles from the edge of the city, we frequently see foxes. A few weeks ago, returning from the pub, I eyeballed a fox down our street. He was perhaps no more than three metres from me. We stared at each other and very slowly I crouched down, put out my hand and said "Here foxy!" but of course he wouldn't come. He's not a lapdog - he's an urban fox. He was out scavenging for survival. Eyeing me curiously, he scurried off.

I kind of envy the lifestyle of urban foxes. They remind me of the gypsies who annually passed through the East Yorkshire village where I grew up. We would rush to the school gates to see them pass with their ragamuffin children, their clanging pots and pans and their ragged horses. Just like the urban fox, these people didn't really belong in our society. They were free spirits, living amongst us but ignoring the rules by which everybody else had to play. No rent. No permanance. No wage slavery or television news. Close but so far away and as cunning as foxes.

We had a couple of leftover pork chops in the fridge. I ventured up to the apple trees and left them on the old garden table as a gift to the fox god. Most likely they will have disappeared by tomorrow morning.


  1. I live in a village and I have fields at the back of my house, but I only ever see foxes when I am in London with Reidski....and there I see them all the time. I think they must have all emigrated to the cities.

  2. We see foxes often in this Leeds suburb. I love seeing them - they bring a kind of wildness with them - and they make a lot of strange noises in the night too!

  3. I'm wondering if you're David who used to work on Rotuma. I am Saa Erasito nee Morris and I remember this tall handsome English lad. We worked together at the high school at Malhaha. I lived at Upu, not too far from where Dvid and a peace corps lived. Amnyway, if you'rre David then a hap[py new year to you from an old friend. If you're not... a happy neew year all the same.

  4. Saa - I knew you on Rotuma. I recall you were pregnant at the time. You taught English at the high school but I am not David. I was the tall ugly English lad! Not the tall handsome one! I arrived there in 1972. If you leave me your email address in these comments I will send you a private message. You see I like to remain anonymous in this blog. Best wishes hanisi,
    Yorkshire Pudding

  5. Which East Yorkshire village did you grow up in? I was brought up in Kirk Ella.

  6. Lovely post as usual YP. I recall seeing a fox gracefully jumping over railway lines in some grotty grimy central London station as we were clattering slowly towards a station. It was such a incongruously beautiful, clean, russet creature amidst the metal and dirt, the picture seared itself on my brain.

  7. CHESHIRE WIFE. Kirkella? Rather posh what? I was born and raised in Leven between Beverley and Hornsea.
    KATHERINE. Like you, I love that incongruous beauty. I hate the idea of foxhunters galloping across fields to kill such a resourceful creature.

  8. Just to show there's no hard feelings. Nice blog. Can't sell my previous house so it stands empty. Two, not one foxes have moved into the garden. Brother and sister? Husband and wife? Father and son? Who knows. Hope the neighbours dont spot them, they will get the exterminators in. Again less than three miles from city centre.
    ps Sitting in front of a computer at 11.35pm. How sad is that.

  9. I too love the resourcefulness and adaptability of these scavengers.

    There's something about an urban fox rooting through your bins, or a gang of town centre starlings picking their way through take-away remains that wants you to cheer them on.

    Great post!

  10. back and on catch up. the gypsies are now up on Wold Top, the high road between kilham & Brid, but have vans and caravans plus loads of tat!

    Foxes.... don't talk to me about foxes........ LOL

  11. Anonymous11:57 am

    I often used to see foxes in the back garden of my house in Sheffield, I'm certain as it's near you as we appear to share a local.

    Best of all though was regular visits from badgers, a few slices of bread in the back garden was enough to bring them in, and next door had security light rigged up so we could watch them in all their glory.

  12. We occasionally see foxes off our verandah in the bush opposite. I live in a small coastal town in Queensland. They were introduced to Au in 1845 for sport and are now classified a class 2 pest having made a considerable impact on Australian fauna.

  13. I always thought that Beverley was posher than Kirk Ella.

    As far as foxes are concerned we live in the country and we rarely see a fox but we are over run with rabbits.

  14. Foxes are firm favourites with me. I was brought up in the depths of the Somerset countryside and foxes played am important part in the landscape. I once came face to face with a badger late at night on a camping trip in Wales. I had just got out to have a pee in the hedge and there it was. Neither of us stayed around long enough to exchange addresses.

  15. My email address is: saaerasito1939@yahoo.com
    Looking forward to hearing from you.


Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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