Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Welsh Boreders

We'd hit the jackpot on the Buckley Bingo within the first 3 hours of arriving at the quasi-in-laws which meant that Jack & I spent much of the weekend having to avoid eye contact with one another. I've learnt from past experience that there is no point in trying to introduce new topics of conversation as it just sends them into a silent panic, so we made appropriate noises as they executed their much-rehearsed script about America, Michael Owen and Bon Jovi.

I dipped out for bed as soon as it was polite to do so and proceeded to have some unusually vivid dreams concerned mainly with the imminent collision of the Earth with Mars, being given a beautiful black fur hearth rug only to find it had been made from Darius and being persecuted by paranormal phenomena in my home. Not that I'm saying the weekend was a complete nightmare.

I escaped long enough on Sunday morning to fetch a paper. That in itself caused much consternation. Completing the cryptic crossword in less than 15 minutes was tantamount to witchcraft in their eyes. I chose not to push for anything mildly cultural or stimulating for the rest of the day and happily tagged along to Chester, valiantly resisting any attempts to get over to the recently excavated amphitheatre or along the city walls.

The evening held some promise as a family friend, up from the New Forest for the weekend, was due to visit. In the event, they didn't let it spoil their enjoyment of the Beckham's party on their cinema-sized plasma screen, they just joined her in the conversation whenever there was a shot of a celebrity who wasn't Michael Owen while I tried doggedly to enquire about the ponies.

Jack braced himself for the inevitable visit to his father on Monday, handing me his wallet, chain and anything else of value in much the same way as he does before a rugby match. Meanwhile, his auntie took me to the garden centre, one of those vast aircraft-hangarsized places where you have to walk past miles of scented candles, floral notepaper, amusingly-patterned jumpers, fridge-magnets and objets d'art before you catch the merest hint of anything green and living. I bought some twisty spiky things to ram into my sweet-pea pots. She bought a book! Honest to God! Maybe I am having a greater influence than I erstwhile suspected. Ok - so it was Michael Owen's spectro-biography ( I am guessing that having shared a similar primary education to most of them, he wasn't likely to have written it himself) but at least it contained proper Chapters and not just articles and Advertising Promotions.

She'd saved the best 'til last. As we headed back to pick up our hold-alls and bid them farewell for another 6 months, I noticed she took a slightly different route. I wasn't particularly concerned as we appeared to be heading in the general direction of home and I supposed it to be a shortcut. I did wonder why we were slowing at the edge of a new housing estate, and then coming to a stop before a nondescript cul-de-sac. Yep! The Owen Family village, just round the corner from the Owen Family pub, the Owen Family barbers and the Owen Family Co-op. I'm so relieved we managed to cram that into a weekend busy with tea-drinking, telly-watching and dishwasher-stacking. It will be fascinating to go back and see what seasonal changes have occurred next time we venture across the Pennines, that's if she's still allowed within 50yds of any members of the Owen Family by then.

It's the long car journeys back from Wales when Jack and I do our strongest bonding.

NB. Picture courtesy of Google Images. It cannot be used as evidence in any future privacy actions.

Friday, May 26, 2006

'Cos Cherrypie Knows How To Throw A Parrrti

Fortunately, demonically-possessed clients such as the one I encountered the other week, are rare. So too are the over-excited variety, most falling into the comfortable middle range of mildly indifferent or slightly pleased, many of whom send sweet little Thankyou cards and, ever so occasionally, gifts of wine ( I'm currently dealing with the acquisition of a key-worker shared-ownership leasehold apartment in Central London, a contract the size of an old family bible - I could have turned the job down but this chap sent me an entire case from the Sunday Times Wine Club a couple of months ago when I sold his house so I'm prepared to put myself out of the comfort zone).

I cannot recall ever being physically lifted off my feet in a bearhug and subjected to a large, moist smack on the cheek by a client. It was certainly a new experience when this happened to me on Tuesday before a waiting room full of highly-amused clients and a couple of colleagues who weren't sure whether to applaud as the emotional (and incredibly strong) gentleman proceeded to loudly exclaim " You are simply wonderful, wonderful, my dear. You have made me so happy I could weep from the sheer joy". Thankfully, he didn't.

The initial shock and embarrassment was quickly overtaken by the incredibly pleasurable realisation that, for the first time in ages, I felt as light as a feather. Jack often picks me up, usually in an attempt to extort money from me, refusing to put me down until I've agreed to some outrageous demand but I don't recall a man lifting me since the free rock festival at Ashby Ville in the late 80s when I bounced on my cousin John's shoulders to the Housemartins and the Q-Tips.

I wouldn't wish or expect it to become a common method of showing appreciation, I much prefer the practical solutions wine or flowers offer, but it wasn't entirely abhorrent and has kept me tittering to myself all week, especially given that I have strong suspicions that the He used to be a She, the type that might have been found frequenting clubs in the Victorian era wearing tweed suits and smoking pipes, albeit it a tall She with very large hands and perhaps a touch of elephantitis.

I am now to depart for Wales again. The weekend will be infinitely different to the last one. We'll be staying with the quasi-in-laws, so will not be expected or required to have any political opinions or, indeed thoughts on anything other than Big Brother and Hello! magazine. Jack & I will amuse ourselves by secretly counting how many times we hear "Paul Burrell", " Michael Owen" and " David McLean" mentioned over the next 3 days. We might escape the obligatory pilgrimage past St Owen's gates now that he has cleared off to Madrid, but it hasn't stopped them on the 32 other occasions so I shouldn't be too optimistic. Jack'll keep very quiet about his upcoming Australia trip for fear his Dad will try and bum some of his spending money off him.

And I will ponder on how my life could so easily have become a "Shameless" reality.

I took a tip out of Cream's book and left you some music to listen to while I'm away

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cherrypie suspected her Word Verification Setting was too High

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Tomato

Total relaxation achieved primarily because the entire island of Anglesey shuts at 7.30pm after which there is nothing to do but sleep. We took the precaution of filling up our tanks on fish & chips in Conway before heading across the Menai Straits. Unfortunately, we'd not bothered filling the Mini Cooper with petrol and only just made it to Cemaes on vapours in the pouring rain. I'm not sure Lorraine appreciated me singing snippets from the Rocky Horror Picture Show at odd intervals.

A large part of the rest of the weekend was spent throwing a ball for Bella, Loll's Working Cocker Baby Substitute on assorted beaches around the North Western tip of the island. I did manage to steer us over to South Stack RSPB Reserve during a glorious sunny spell on Saturday afternoon and might well have converted Lorraine with the spectacular sights of thousands of nesting guillemots, razorbills, puffins and some egg-stealing ravens ( ahem!) had she not learned that many reserves do not welcome dogs.

We kept ourselves regularly topped up with delicious artisan sausages, local cheeses and a very non-Atkins afternoon tea prepared by the proprietoress of the Jam Factory( whose remarkably gravity-defying hair appears to have started to grow in the shape of the traditional chimney hat that she wears for the benefit of American tourists).

Tim joined us later in the evening, too late to find anywhere to eat locally so I vapourised any thoughts of freshly-caught lobster and happily tucked into an Indian takeaway which was the only thing available short of driving to Cardiff.

I got back last night after a stroll around Plas Newydd ( where I stumbled upon a pair of tree-creepers feeding their young in a nest in a crevice in a Giant Redwood trunk - I filmed it but fortunately have no idea how to upload video) pleased to see my son, my cat and the familiar piles of ironing and general household detritus. All was just as I'd left it on Friday morning, including the pots in the sink and the specimen thistles in the lawn.

It was only when I stepped out the back door that I saw it, or rather didn't see it. There was a large empty hole where one of my tomato plants should have been growing. There was no evidence of a struggle, no spilled soil or tell-tale muddy footprints leading out of the securely-bolted 6ft high security gates. The 5 remaining sextuplets seemed completely undisturbed. A thorough interrogation of Jack, who'd spent the weekend at Alisdair's and Darius, who appeared to have spent it sleeping in the Shed feasting on a strictly carnivorous diet of Mouse Tartare from the number of discarded offal lying in the corner, failed to throw any light on the situation.

Who ever heard of a tomato plant leaving home? Has it gone out to seek its fortune? It was a MoneyMaker after all. Could it have been abducted by aliens intent on increasing their flavonids and Vitamin C levels? What if it had been fruitnapped and would be sent back to me, leaf by leaf, until I agreed to their high demands? - a pepper plant in return for the fat red plums.

Did you see anything? If you did, call CrimeGrowers. You won't receive a Community Action reward but your comments will be taken seriously.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Wet Weekend In Wales

I am orf on my 'olidays 'ere. I shall only be gorn 2 days. I recharge quickly.
In the meantime, please feel free to leave invitations to lavish luncheons, gallery openings and sunny breaks in my InBox.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Room 101 ( Part 1)

I am in a crotchety mood because

a) apart from the Jim Tavare gig on Monday night ( which was the last comedy night until September) the week has been a constant stream of work and meetings, all unnecessarily burdensome, completely dull and pointlessly protracted

b) I have finally got my new coffee machine working and am completely wired on caffeine so haven't slept much for the last few days

c) I'm hormonal. I'm a woman. It's my job. What the f*** do you want to make of it?

It didn't help that I got stuck behind a car-load of shoppers in the multi-storey this morning. Shoppers should be banned from car parks during the week, or at least limited to the hours of 11 and 4 when I am unlikely to be wanting access or egress from my parking spot. If and when the deliciously grumpy Paul Merton invites me to take tea with him on a stage set somewhere in North West London, I shall have shoppers at the very top of my list of entrants to Room 101.

I appreciate that multi-storey car-park etiquette is not currently included in the driving test. It should be. I suspect it is the biggest cause of road rage amongst otherwise mild office workers in the country. I frequently trail behind a Nissan Micra trying unsuccessfully to squeeze into every possible parking space from Level 3 ( the first level not to comprise almost completely of dedicated parking spaces) upwards. They make at least 15 manoeuvres before realising that they will be unable to exit the vehicle even in the unlikely event that they manage to wedge it into the space available. I usually manage to quell the increasing impulse to drum my fingers on the steering wheel, scream like a fish-wife, or drag them from the driver's seat and park the tinny, tiny thing myself. Anger and impatience are not productive emotions with which to commence the day and a few more seconds won't make a huge difference in the big scheme of things. I have even been known to smile benignly at the most pathetic of parrallel parkers.

This morning I found myself stuck in the familiar trap as a car, full of young people being driven by what appeared to be their grandad, inched tortuously up the ramps, braking randomly and vainly searching for vacant spots, particularly near the lifts. I've parked in the same place for 10 years. I know that if they just drive straight up to the top floor, there will be plenty of spaces, cracking views over the river and the perfect excuse to take the lift on the way home later. I fought back the urge to lean out of my window and tell them this. Eventually they found a spot that even Reginald Molesworthy could have negotiated and I relaxed back in my seat, relieved that my minor misery was about to be brought to an end.

Instead of pulling swiftly into the space, allowing myself and the half dozen other drivers backing up behind me to pass, the car just idled as one by one, the scruffy scrotes climbed slowly out, all falling down jeans and cropped tops. It was a 3-door. I breathed a sigh of relief as the last one climbed out and then watched in disbelief as she leaned back into the car and started to drink from a large bottle of water, oblivious to the rising hatred amassing behind her. I bit my lip, and timed them. 6 minutes. 6 frigging minutes, I'd been following them and now she was showing no signs of hurrying out of the way.

I flipped. I honked. I wound my window down and I delivered a vile and pleasingly articulate torrent of abuse that left them in no doubt as to my displeasure. It did the trick. They moved out of my path as a small flurry of applause could be heard from the queue behind me.

It was only as I was expertly reversing into my usual spot on the roof ( one handed, I hadn't braked up the last couple of ramps either) that it occurred to me that those people might have been my first clients of the day. I took the stairs two-at-a-time and shut myself in my room until 3 o'clock just in case.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Peaks and Troughs

They weren't a devil-worshipping cult looking for their next virgin sacrifice ( for which I was over-qualified in any event). They were a very friendly, diverse bunch of normal folk ( and a couple of dogs*) despite all but one of them being bloggers.

The weather was reliably South Yorkshire summery - foggy and cold. The pied flycatchers were spotted, the spotted flycatchers were not. The ravens were abandoned for a slap-up lunch. Attempts were made to walk it off but one ( very short, less than 5m) look at the swirling mist and we bid our farewells, probably wondering who would be first to blog about it.

I fancied prolonging the experience and called into one of the local Nature Reserves ( a former sand quarry, now an SSSI) on the way home. Whilst the wildlife was beckoning, nature was calling a bit more loudly so I quickly dashed back to the car and headed for a more convenient public location - Far Ings ( there are toilets next to the entrance). I then sat for the best part of 2 hours, almost undisturbed in a hide. I heard a bittern call at least 6 times over that period, booming 4 times on each occasion. He didn't show himself, although I did get momentarily excited when a heron shape came towards me out of the descending sun, but it was a Grey.

As I left the hide, I heard a loud, definite, almost mocking Boom, very very close, leading me to suspect that Billy B. had been hiding beneath me the entire time.

I came home and found this in my InBox

Quick itinerary. Travel up to Glasgow on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning by bus train or plane. I pick you up and drive up to Oban. Light supper, B&B. Saturday - seafari http://www.seafari.co.uk/Easdale.html plus walk around Oban. Saturday night, nice meal somewhere. Sunday drive up to Fort William, light lunch, drive back to Glasgow via Glencoe, Rannoch Moor, Loch Lomondside. Go home.

All that's needed is a weekend when we can both make it.

Will I go? What do you think?

* Dogs and Ed. not shown

Friday, May 12, 2006

Your Conveyancer Knits Socks In Hull

It's not difficult to appreciate how stressful moving house can be when you've been a property lawyer for 18 years. I've developed some pretty useful skills to try and minimise that stress for my clients, mainly based upon keeping them informed, not using jargon, returning their calls and not giving them unrealistic expectations ( this is often the trickiest to manage) and on the most part, I think they are reasonably happy with the experience.

Occasionally I get a call from a client, upset because a chain has collapsed, or their partner has been made redundant, or ( more likely) they've been misinformed by their estate agent but, after defaulting to my counselling training, they usually go away more relaxed, if still naturally disappointed that things haven't worked out as they'd hoped and within a short time, they're back on the phone to tell me about the new dream home they've found.

Today I had the pleasure of ringing a particularly anxious lady to tell her that everybody was now ready to exchange, albeit for a completion date 7 days after her preferred date. I expected her to huff and chuff a bit but then begrudgingly agree to the date, relieved in the knowledge that she had some certainty and no more fears that the buyers would back out.

I did not expect her to treat me to an almost perfect rendition of that scene in The Exorcist. I listened sympathetically as she spun her head and covered me in verbal projectile vomit. She finished by stating that, unless completion takes place next week, she and her husband would be DEAD! She elaborated on that point. It would be entirely the fault of my firm, and by implication me, and that we would be responsible for the costs of a double funeral.

I handled it as professionally as I could - I burst out laughing! Now I've heard some reasons for impossible deadlines before, but to date, Death by Conveyancing has not been amongst them.

I know some of you are frantically trying to sell your houses right now, and I promise you, I apologised for my inappropriate behaviour, blaming an involuntary hysterical reaction to her predicament. I think I may even have managed to whip up the rest of the tardy chain sufficiently to see this lady moving to her own time-scale after all but I won't know for sure until next week ( which means she's got another weekend of uncertainty ahead of her when she could have been confidently booking her removals for 2 weeks time).

I'm glad it's Friday. I shall be mainly looking for these
accompanied by him, him and her here

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers

With the tumble dryer broken, Tigger wondered how he'd ever recover his Bounce.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Windows Wide Open

This is a very rare sight. A whole week devoid of meetings, training schedules or some form of corporate networking.
I was quite shocked when I first saw it and immediately panicked that I had forgotten to write down an important date; that as I was driving to work tomorrow, a potential future Chief Exec would be struggling through the role-play part of his interview with only an empty chair to bounce off.

But, hey, I should be embracing this rare gem of a week amongst months of interminably long meetings, killing time on touchlines, trying not to make my (parental) interest in the development of the players' thighs too obvious, making polite conversation and feigning interest in a business contact's hobbies ( the worst was the guy who burst forth about his penchant for colonic irrigation almost as our hands shook for the first time - it didn't help that the starter was Brown Derby Soup)?

It was only once I got home that I realised the true implications of my bonus time. I was going to have to think pretty sharpish if I wanted to legitimately avoid the washing, ironing, cleaning, gardening or other domestic duty that I routinely fail to do with the aid of my usual schedule. I didn't have to think for long. The phone rang and I was out of that door quicker than the fungus spores were reproducing in my Shed.

Later, as I sat on his new sofa ( yet another without arms - how's a girl supposed to loll comfortably?), sipping a bottle of cold beer to wash down the delicious home-cooked curried lamb koftas I'd just eaten, companionably watching "Wife Swap", I felt sufficiently warm towards him to confess that I had blogged about him in my previous post. He reacted much as I'd expected, pleased that I'd used the best pic ever taken of him, and rather flattered to have been likened to a beat poet. Phew! Got out of that one. We continued to watch the telly.

I rarely bother with it now as I don't yet trust the Shed's water-repelling abilities to place large electrical items within it so when I do come across one, I'm hypnotised by the bright, pretty colours. Tonight it was mainly pink thanks to a rather-deluded bint from Bolton. We were united in our dislike of all the major players and loudly exclaimed as much to one another at frequent intervals. " How do you think they met?", Marko was referring to the reclusive couple who'd scuttled up to Lewis to avoid the horrors of modern day life, such as friends, parties, acrylic nails so scary that they actually induced tears or evil crisps. I wagered Church. I was shot down in flames. " No way! They met in a Hide they did!"

See - it never ever takes long. Irritating Bastard!

( Beki - If you've come back, I know you are probably puzzling over how you could possibly have inspired this drivel. I came to a natural full stop, to have gone on to relate the time that I'd waited (im)patiently for weeks for the promised surprise mail-order gift to arrive after he'd flown off to some fabulously exotic location that all the other wives and girlfriends got to visit, anticipating ( not without the occasional shudder) an adult battery-operated implement in a brown paperbag, only to receive a years' subscription to Competitor's Frigging Companion Magazine, would have made my post as unpleasantly long and cumbersome as this sentence).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Wrinkly feet

I've had my tootsies dangling into the side of the pool for so long that they were starting to get a bit wrinkly so I took them back out and now just sit on my towel watching all the beautiful people splashing around while I try not to get the pages of my latest novel wet. The title of my blog was originally intended as a reference to my tentative steps back into dating, or at least, contemplating the possibility that it might one day be something that I might want to try again.

I'd never had any problems attracting chaps but none of them had come anywhere close to being life-long significant other material. Jack's Dad was probably the most disastrous of them all and worthy of an entire post of his own ( if I could be arsed to spend that amount of time and energy thinking about him, which I can't) and we were only really together about 6 weeks when I was 18, had car trouble, and he lent me his RS Turbo. He left me my most enduring gift though and fortunately, his best genes seem to have got through despite the odds.

I was always wary of getting too involved with anyone once Jack came along, and although there were some lovely guys ( Martin, the driver of Europe's biggest crane and the owner of the weeniest little chipolata dick - make of that what you will - came to see me a couple of years ago - he's still very good looking in a cheeky Sean Bean kind of way, a terrible flirt and serial womaniser but now married with a child), the longest relationship was with Marko, and that was only because he worked abroad most of the year so we didn't see one another long enough to fall out. We split up over 10 years ago now but we're still good friends ( even after the incident with my sister). He came round this afternoon and brought me a twisted fig plant for The Shed which had outgrown his flat and generally mooched about bestowing unrequited advice about what I should be doing with my outbuildings. It never takes me long to remember why we're not together anymore.

I took this of Marko one New Year's Day. We'd been to a Ball, there was a mix-up with handbags and someone else had taken home my keys ( and knickers but that's another story) so we'd ended up at a friend's house where a dozen of us had partied 'til morning and we'd had to share a bunk bed. The rest of us looked like we'd been through a hurricane, He emerged looking immaculate. Irritating Bastard!

Dave the Gnome was lovely. I still see him every now and again although not so much since he and his fiancee bought a house together. He would cook me shepherd's pie or sausages and mash when I came in from night-school and clean my old Golf 'til it gleamed. Everything was fine until I spent 5 days away in Paris and Strasbourg with my law faculty and realised how nice it was to be able to move around and breath freely and easily without his benign presence crowding in on me. That was the end of that one.

Since then ( and that was about 9 years ago), there hasn't been much to report at all apart from my mail-order boyfriend.

It's true. I'd been shown a charity calendar which a local company had produced and as I flicked through it, I was delighted to see someone I recognised - a dad from Jack's football team. I promptly wrote to the company enclosing a cheque and offering to pay extra for personal delivery, " particularly by Mr November"! Bugger me, if he didn't turn up on my doorstep the following week, just as I'd spilt soup all down my dress. We started to see one another on and off for a bit. He was really good-looking but it soon became apparent that he had only 2 topics of conversation - work and football. He wasn't that great at kissing either. The first time we tried, I could feel my chin being scoured away, so frantic was his drooly head-sawing that I placed my hands firmly on either side of his head just to hold him still. He took that as a sign of passion and got even more excited.

Never a quitter when the going gets tough, I soldiered on for quite some time after, but it was only when he started training for the London Marathon that I could bear it no longer. On the one hand, his conversational repertoire had now grown by 50%, but he was also keeping a record of his urine PH levels on an Excel spreadsheet, including colourful little graphs and an analysis of his protein absorption. I soon bid farewell to him and his litmus paper.

So I stopped bothering after that, had one very intense encounter which burned very very brightly for a matter of weeks and then snuffed itself out as quickly as it had appeared. That was right when I took to my sofa, hid myself under my blanket and didn't venture out for almost 4 years.

So I think I've established that I'm quite dysfunctional in an ordinary relationship, so I gave cyber a try. It was easy. I was ever so popular. I could write like the size 10 I used to be without any of the grey hairs, crows' feet, dark eye bags and I could control my Profile Picture.

( Any resemblance to the actual Miss Cherrypie is purely coincidental. The writer cannot be responsible for variations in quality of the product which may be received. Size varies. Withering and limpness may result from length of time in transit, to combat this stand in a warm place, out of direct sunlight ( red hair, pale skin, blue eyes) and apply gin and tonic liberally, feed a rich diet frequently whilst maintaining gentle pressure to the small of the back. Do not leave unattended for long periods of time as likely to wander off to "Countdown")

Friday, May 05, 2006


I only dropped in for 5 minutes as it was such a beautiful evening in the hope of reclaiming some peace and perspective after a typical day at the office. The first Hide I tried had bundles of the former, a handful of pochard, a couple of tufted ducks, a couple of Great-Crested Grebes at the far side of the lake and the same wing-beaten cormorants. I sat for about half an hour hoping to discover a magnificent Osprey or first-time recorded Griffon Vulture but was rudely interrupted by an appropriately-dressed, bespectacled man inquiring as to the whereabouts of "Stilts".

I had mastered stilts by the age of 8, with only a couple of bruises and not one occasion of wrapping them around my sister's head, even though she would smirk in a particularly wobbly way to distract me on purpose. I knew of no other types of stilt so I humbly exposed the fact that " I'm a novice, I'm sorry. I've never even heard of Stilts, let alone know how to spot them". He enlightened me about the rare migrants that had been recorded here recently and we parted ways.

Eventually I made my way back to the car and spotted a lesser-sociable lawyer who I often do Swears for hovering around the car-park. I hailed him with our brotherly greeting " Oi, David! Nearly didn't recognize you without the suit", and promptly whispered conspiratorially, that there were a trio of stilts in the area. Fortunately, before I had time to reveal my ignorance of exactly what they were, he pointed me in the direction of their last-reported whereabouts and we both sped, at a sedate and non-obtrusive pace, down the designated lane.

10 minutes later I had got to know his wife reasonably well, ( she's much more personable than him), discovered that he, too, hadn't a clue what we were looking for ( slightly more of an idea about inheritance tax, perhaps, but even that is open to debate) and had the 3 Black-Winged Stilts in my vision. I was thrilled. They were tiny. They could have been Oyster-Catchers. I would not have known the difference were it not for.......

All these blokes with tripods!

This was A Proper Twitch. Not just an ordinary day down by the pond. They were arriving in flocks. They were invariably clad in full bearded plummage. One of them, who I soon discovered to be one of the local birding legends, thrust his fully-extended scope towards me and invited me to experience its delights. I salivated but managed not to dribble on the apparatus. The view of the 3 arrogant, foreign, little turbolence-migrants was fantastic. We then went on to sight yellow wagtail and a blue-headed wagtail ( which was my sighting even though all I did was ask what that "darker one" was)

And as I left, 2 hours later, as the sun dipped close to the horizon, I called my Dad, keen to tell him about my first-ever twitch.

" 3 of 'em, you say? Black wings, and white under-bellies. Like an avocet but with a straight, long beak. Aye! I saw 'em 3 weeks ago last Wednesday. Flew straight out o' Chowder Ness, fastest bloody things I've ever seen, looked like geese but slighter, hadn't a clue what they were and haven't seen anyone to ask since".

I'd just identified a Bird to My Dad. That is one of the best things I have ever done. I was not qualified, nor would I have been capable, of doing so a few hours earlier. I still couldn't tell you what family it belonged to, other than it's a Wader, not a Raptor and definitely not a Corvid. But I'd seen 'em. Me.

The Cosmopolitan Stilts were rare, but I suspect the sight of a pin-striped bedressed woman in 3" heels toting binoculars ( diddy ones) a camera and spare batteries was unique.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Through The Keyhole

Who works in a place like this?

Clues: Very large desk to accommodate huge volume of incredibly important work; secondary desk to store dictated tapes awaiting collection by eager underlings colleagues; period fireplace weighed down with significant number of cards from appreciative clients and admirers; architectural study of Venice to inspire and ease busy mind; gonk-free zone; over-sized mug of caffeine; a few birthday cards that didn't make it home; a small forest's worth of letters to sign.

View from office window