Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Goodbye Rat Race

Well, the so-called Credit Crunch has claimed yet another victim. Me, on Thursday. Oh, what a shame. Not really. Most people seem to be more sorry for me than I am. Nobody likes getting made redundant, and I have to say it was difficult sitting opposite my boss, and then having to listen to the HR spiel, and then going back to my desk afterwards to pack up, say goodbye. But when I found myself on the pavement, bins in my pocket, at about 11.30 on a fine February morning, and with the next three months fully funded, I felt much better. No more uncertainty, I can actually plan for the future. In fact, bar the one obvious negative, I can only think of positives. Here are a few of them:

1) No more bullshit at work.
2) See above - there was a lot.
3) More time with the kids
4) More time for birding.
5) Even more time for birding
6) I don't have to go on the Central Line ever again
7) Healthy living is once again a possibility
8) Dramatically reduced stress levels
9) The garden will get sorted out
10) More photography
11) Summer days with the conservatory vents open and chilled beer
12) I don't have to tell people I'm a banker

Anyway, I went home, had a nice lunch with Mrs L, and went birding in Wanstead. The following day, Friday, I went birding in Wanstead. What a terrific change of lifestyle! It won't last of course. My new career is in Childcare. Clearly finance is not the place to be for the next few years, if only because of the associated stigma. So the plan is that I will be a stay-at-home dad. For the last ten years I have been working about 50 hours a week, consequently I didn't really see the kids during the week (or at weekends once I discovered birding...). So now I get that chance, as we have pulled the kids out of nursery to aid the cashflow. I will also be responsible for housekeeping, cooking, and something called "shopping". This latter activity is a bit of mystery, as I discovered today. I went "shopping", and bought a 10kg sack of rice, and some shampoo. Mrs L then came home and enquired what was for dinner. Err... Anyway, it turns out that food does not just appear in the fridge, you have to go and buy it. So my attempt at shopping earlier today apparently goes down as a failure, even though millions of people the world over eat rice 7 days a week. Mrs L cooked Macaroni Cheese whilst I bathed the children, as we had plenty of water.

Another task I need to get to grips with is washing. I am told that you can't just sort it out by colour, which would be my natural inclination, you in fact have to sort it by fabric type and colour. This means that each load consists of approximately 3 garments. Ridiculously inefficient. Not helped by Mrs L being somewhat of a keen knitter, which means that 50% (and rising fast) of all the kids clothes are made of wool. And wool is not wool is not wool, if you see what I mean. It is far more complex than that. You get wool blends, and balls of wool which are multicoloured, so you can get a small baby's sock that is only 15cm long, yet which contains 21.324% merino, 24.19% alpaca, 27.5% cashmere, 10% nylon, 2.52% silkworm, the rest unknown, and in addition has 18 different colours in 53 different shades. And I am supposed to know that I therefore have to wash it on program "Q" or it will turn into a thimble and I will get served with divorce papers. And kids clothes also only last for about 2 hours, or until the next meal, whichever is sooner, so you can totally empty the washing basket (about 25 small yet subtly different loads), only to come back later that day and find it overflowing again.

But none of this has started in earnest yet. The 2 youngest are still in nursery, the eldest is with Grandma for half-term (planned when I was gainfully employed), so that means this week is the calm before the storm. Which means I am off birding, hurrah!

"What load would you wash me on?"

So on Monday I went to Norfolk for the day and had a marvellous time. I started off in Lynford with 3 Hawfinch, some Siskin, which took me to 160 for the year. Next stop Strumpshaw Fen - my Penduline cup truly overfloweth this year - another 2 birds feeding on Reedmace. Got excellent views, even helped a blind lady get a tick. Set up the scope, got the birds slap bang in the centre, invited her to look. "I can't see anything, are you sure its there?". Hmm, the bird has probably moved, let's have a look. Nope, still there, right in the middle. "No, it isn't there". Quick look, yes it is. "I still can't see anything". Quick check, yep still there, it might actually be having a nap on the reedmace. Anyway, repeat this for close on 5 minutes, and remarkably the Penduline stays on the same reed for the entire time. Finally, on about the 6 minute mark...."Oh, I can see it, I can see it! I don't know why I couldn't see it before!" "Because you're registered blind?" "It's almost exactly the same as the reeds!" "Well, apart from the brown back, grey head, black mask, and being bird-shaped, yes I agree, basically the same". Perhaps I am being unfair, they are quite difficult to pick out in the reeds, but generally not when someone has lined up a really rather good scope at 30x with the bird right in the middle.

Goose, washed on the wrong load - just look what can happen.

Two miles down the road and I am on a mission to take a photograph. If I am honest, this is all just a cruel prank. Yes it's a year-tick, yes it's a good bird, yes it's a challenge to find the bugger, but really, it's all about an email I am hoping to send to Paul later on in the evening. Tee hee!

Duck sp.

Ended the day at Stubb Mill roost, Hickling, where I counted about 15 Marsh Harriers, and 19 Cranes came in to roost in the enveloping darkness. I drove straight home, sniggering all the way, and sent my email. I am so juvenile.

Goodbye Rat Race. I won't miss it.

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