Oh dear I
I use dancing in the loosest possible sense of the the word, especially where I personally am concerned, but fortunately as the managing editor of this publication, there are no photos of me, so it didn't happen. Monkey on the other hand shed twenty years after two beers and a glass of fizz, and took the dance floor by storm. In an interesting parallel with current weather patterns, no one could have predicted the carnage that would occur, and in retrospect, we were woefully unprepared for what would happen. Gritting would not have helped - a mini-hurricane raged for the next two hours - no 80s hit was safe - and by the time it was all over several us had been sucked up in the maelstrom, whirled around, and deposited on the side of the dancefloor, exhausted. Splendid entertainment, especially for his children, for whom this may have been a bit of an eye-opener.
Taking a step back, we were attending a wedding reception near Sheringham, and many of the East London contingent were up. Using medieval naming convention for a moment, David the Obsessed* married Suzanne the Tolerant at the weekend, thus providing us all with an excellent excuse to a) go to Norfolk, and b) have a right knees up at his expense. Winner. It was a blazing success, the newly-weds looked fantastic, and a top night was had by all.
However, danger lingered on the horizon at all times. This was the first time that Mrs L was meeting the reprobates I go birding with, and even more potentially problematic, their significant other halves were also present, thus allowing comparisons on excessive birding to be drawn. I don't yet know whether this was used purely as an information-gathering exercise ("He never!"), a sorrowful yet accepting mutual-sympathy session, accompanied by mild head-shaking and tutting ("Yeah, 'fraid so, mine does that too, its perfectly normal, you'll get used to it..."), or whether in fact some fully-fledged anti-twitching legislation will soon be enacted in the Lethbridge household. ("Cornwall? This weekend? I take it you're joking?"). It could go either way really.
I had not met any of these long-suffering veterans of birding relationships, but knowing the guys I correctly assumed that they would all be lovely and very VERY tolerant. And alert! Dave Mo and I were chatting about cameras for birding, and he, not thinking, mentioned his future upgrade strategy within earshot of Christine. Picked him up on it straight away, very impressive. Similarly, it turned out that Monkey hadn't really mentioned Scilly '09 to someone important, but she knows now.......
Dave Mo rueing his rookie error
Of course, what none of them realised was that the whole weekend was merely a ruse to do a bit of birding in Norfolk, and very nice it was too. Highlights for me were a showy Little Owl at Felbrigg Hall, some very close Treecreepers at Lynford, and no children. Yep, thats right, Mrs L & I went birding together, just the two of us. I was careful to tone it down such that it wasn't a mad dash from pager message to pager message, but rather some proper decent birding in some beautiful spots. She still got 5 ticks though (for her UK list that I keep and that she has absolutely no interest in whatsover), so she was pretty pleased as you can imagine.
We took in the Great Grey Shrike at Lakenheath on the way back. Zoe (that's Mrs L) also came to realise why I am always late home from birding expeditions. I did not know this, but apparently she always adds at least an hour to whatever time I say. And that was *before* she had met the birding WAGs this weekend. My planned trip home (the details of which I shared with her as we left the coast at 3ish) encompassed Lynford Arboretum for another crack at Hawfinch, a cruise around farmland near Great Cressingham for Grey Partridge, a quick stop-off for the Great Grey Shrike, and then home for 6pm. Perfectly reasonable I thought. In the event she ruled we had no time for at least two of the three, and that I had to choose just one. Hence we only did the Shrike, and yet still arrived home at about 6pm??? How strange, something odd must have happened to the very fabric of time itself. Alternatively perhaps she was so bowled-over by the stonking close-up views of the Shrike that we spent all the time there without realising it? I have to say I don't remember her clinging on to the scope for dear life, begging for more time. My recollection is that it was more along the lines of "Right I've seen it, can we go now?"
Anyway, lucky Suzanne and even luckier David are off for a weeks birding / bird photography in the Gambia, whilst the UK continues to languish in cold damp misery. Despite my meagre list, there has not really been a tick on offer since the Snowy Owl (the Emperor Penguin is still pending acceptance). Hawky has been tempted by several Green-winged Teals, but so far is resisting the urge. Roll on the Spring.
Oh dear II
H interviews unsuccessfully for Jackanory
* "Bobolink in the grass!"