February has flown by, and despite my best intentions blogging (and cycling!) has taken a back seat. I have quite literally done nothing other than go to work and come home again, But what of the patch? Well we always knew that after a stellar January it would be hard work, but I've not actually found it difficult at all. This is because I've completely abandoned it. See, easy! Not even set foot on it once since the month began, and I can highly recommend this as a way of beating the February blues – just wait until March and then go out. Simple when you think about, you won't get depressed getting wet and seeing nothing, you can stay dry inside, have a nice cup of tea, and do other things.
Other things in my case have mostly involved the continued removal of stuff from Chateau L.
This is also pretty simple as it turns out, and extremely cathartic. I walk around the house looking for things I've not picked up or used for a long time. When I find something I wonder if somebody else might use it more than me, to which the answer is generally yes as the only things I regularly use are my phone, my camera, and various bits of optical equpiment – and even these are not safe. So once I have hoiked this under-used object from whatever hidey-hole it has been gathering dust in, the next questions involve whether anyone would like to give me lots of money for it (so that I might recoup at least some of the sum I wasted on it), but also how awkward it will be to post to whichever sucker is doing the opposite to me and collecting junk. If it ticks both these boxes it goes on Ebay. If nobody is that stupid I simply chuck it away.
Nowhere is safe. I've pulled cupboards apart to find these objects offensive my new zen self. This reveals the occasional hidden gem - the other day I found six bottles of whiskey I had secreted away a few years ago and totally forgotten about. Turns out they might be worth a hundred quid each having languished under the stairs whilst global supplies diminshed. I might keep one I suppose, but given I am happy with a much cheaper dram and I could make a few quid and thus drink free whiskey, they're off to auction. Despite the advances of the Dorset massive, I could not quite let the Leicas go yet, so they have survived. Instead I flogged the bins that sat in the car and never got used as whenever I got in the car I had my normal bins round my neck anyway. Thus the purging continues - on the list are no fewer than eight lens filters, a radio scanner, two flashguns, the Scopac from my pushchair birding days, a spare tripod strap, some computer games, a couple of books, a model aeroplane, a lego camper van, an arca clamp, a spare monopod, a portable long wave radio, a lens hood, and a host of other bits and bobs. Most remarkbly of all people are willing to fork out money for airline amenity kits. You know, those bags they throw at you which have tiny tubes of toothpaste in and a toothbrush with a 3cm handle that cost at least 0.5p to produce. Somehow I had a heap of these in a cupboard, I have no idea why. I threw at least one away before trying my luck online. Five whole pounds! And then a second one became the subject of a bidding war! Amazing, idiocy knows no bounds! Next time I'm on a plane I'm going to ask all the other passengers if they want theirs....
Actually I'm not. The best way to de-clutter is not to let any of things pass the threshold in the first place, which is where I have been going wrong all these years. I took a huge box of books to the charity chop yesterday, and I have become a regular visitor at a number of local post offices. And it is working! There is visibly less stuff in areas of the house commonly associated with me, and I am feeling exceedingly good about this. It's ridiculous really, as I was probably equally pleased with myself when buying whatever it was in the first place. Of course almost as pleasing as the outflow of crud is the inflow of cash. My bank balance has increased by several hundred pounds in the last fortnight, and so whilst the skip option would have brilliant (and significantly less effort) my capitalist conscience is feeling vindicated.
Fishing gear is next, though the thought of posting carp rods fills me with dread. As well as about six rods I also have about eight reels and a heap of useless accessories that all fishermen need. I last went fishing in about 2005 I reckon, so it is high time I realised that I won't be going again any time soon. I enjoy it, but unfortunately I enjoy other things slightly more and so fishing never gets a look in. I figure that after ten years the tide has probably turned, so they're toast. Being ruthless is key. I wonder what I'll get for my Hardy Gem mk1, used for one session a decade ago and during which I caught exactly nothing? I could advertise it as virgin! In the same cupboard as the fishing gear is my 35mm slide projector, it is quite possible that this ship has sailed however... when was the last time that anybody looked a slide on Planet Earth? Kids born today wouldn't even know what a slide was. Kids born ten years ago might not...
But what about the bird books? This is a really tricky one as they're special, but in all honesty many of them rarely get looked at. I have three or four shelves dedicated to avian life, including the full set of nine Birds of Western Paleartic. I also have almost all of the Helm series. Unsurprisingly the only one I really look at is Olsen Gulls. Not really, that can be pulped straight away! But really, are these books useful? Sure, they're nice, but I use the web for bird research more than books these days. Only once in a blue moon do I have a leaf through for some titbit of information I can't find online. And as for the Poyser monographs..... I've read a few of them and I can safely say I'll never read them again. Fabulously interesting and incredibly dull at the same time. Field guides are different of course – Sibley, Collins and the like all have to stay – these are genuinely useful items, looked at again and again. However when am I next going to open a book on world Parrots? Probably never is my current line of thinking. I have not quite plucked up the courage to take the plunge and list them all on Bird Forum, but the day cannot be far off. Sacrilege? Possibly. Sensible? Probably. Emotional? Definitely.