I got lost on Wanstead Flats this morning - this has never happened before, and I became very confused. Somehow I took a wrong turning in dense fog, and ended up at a different copse to the one I was expecting. As the trees loomed out, the small group of willows or birches or whatever they are that should have been just in front of the copse were gone. I was apoplectic - another act of wanton vandalism. But then, I reasoned, where were all the twigs etc that surely would have been in evidence after all the chopping? In fact I couldn't even see any stumps. That's when I realised I was lost, and I didn't know which was home was. It was like being four years old again.
Shall I tell you how I got out of this extremely tricky situation? OK, I will. I followed my nose. I literally smelled my way out of trouble. There is a large Hovis bakery on Chaucer Road in Forest Gate. When the wind blows from the south, the lower half of the Flats is permeated with the smell of freshly baked bread, and very nice it is too. Difficult though it was, I turned away from the fragrant breeze and thus found my way home. Scary stuff.
No, I didn't find a Wheatear. Despite the southerly breeze, no migrants. No birds in fact, or none that I could see. It was of those desperate mornings where you set the alarm early and manage somehow to haul yourself out of bed. By the time your eyes start to work you're downstairs and peering out of the window at the likely conditions, and your heart sinks as you notice the fog. By then of course it's too late to go back to bed, and even though you know you'll see nothing, there is a nagging feeling of "what if". Especially in mid-March I find. If it was mid Feb - well, I wouldn't even have been awake. So I went out, just on the offchance. A futile gesture, and indeed it turned out to be a total and utter waste of time, with some mild panic thrown in.
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