Saturday, 12 March 2016

On pacing myself

So in response to my last post where I mentioned I was a little tired of all the running around I do, a number of correspondents got in touch to say that this was all entirely my fault. I accept this a hundred percent, I am mostly busy because I make myself busy, and there are some conscious decisions that I could make (if I were brave enough) that would slow me down. The major one of course, and the route taken by at least one of these people, would be to turn my back on the stress of the rat race and go do something entirely different. Work, for better or worse, is mostly the root cause of all the running around. Not only because of the time it takes up during the day, but also because of all the opportunities it subsequently gives me to fill up my time with. Natch.

I had the opportunity before or course, and whilst I didn’t spurn it, perhaps I didn’t make the most of it. I had a lovely time though and will always remember quite how nice it was living a simpler existence, albeit still in London. Long summer days, still quiet mornings, a sense of calm despite small children.

Fundamentally I like to be busy, but I think the point I was trying to make was that it would be nice if sometimes, just sometimes, that wasn’t the default state. Bob made an interesting point on life continuing to speed by, but that people slow down, and I suspect his many years of experience ;-) are hitting the nail on the head here. I am getting older and there is no denying it. I am still trying to run around as if I were 21, but that the inescapable truth of it is that I’m a few years past that now and basically more tired. To be clear, I am not past it, whatever ‘it’ is, far from it, but perhaps I need to recognise that I have limits, and that those limits are coming in a bit. And that rather than increase the amount of things I do, I need to drop a few of them. That is the difficult part as I have a great many interests, none of which I really want to give up but some of which I may need to change.

So really this is another post about ageing, adapting to it, and how it annoys me that I even have to. But I have started in a small way, and I’m feeling sort of positive about it. This is because I was forced to buy a new camera bag, which is always a happy event. Camera bags are a topic for endless discussion because there is no such thing as a perfect camera bag. There are however many imperfect camera bags, another one of which is now in my cupboard! This one has wheels…..

Yes wheels. This is what I mean about ageing and it annoying me. I mean what camera bag has wheels? To be clear there is no hint of tartan, I have not yet reached that stage, but it certainly isn’t as manly and youthful as the backpack that it replaces. The sad truth is that neither am I, and after my recent trip to Arizona I realised I could not cope with the weight of my bag for an extended period of time. It contained a fair amount of stuff it has to be said, due to my pig-headed inability to choose between pure birding and pure bird photography and insisting on doing both. Hence a large lens, a large scope, two cameras, a few other lenses, a tripod for the scope, a monopod for the lens, chargers – you get the picture. The weight? 23kgs and there was barely a thing in it that I didn't use. There is no compromise possible in my mind on trips like this where I have multiple aims, but after lugging it around for a week I realised I can’t do it again, or rather I would prefer not to.  Hence the new old man’s bag. I have high hopes for it, and it doesn’t actually hold as much stuff so not only does it roll gloriously across airports and along pavements, but it will be lighter too. This is a bag for easy trips, worry ye not though as for hardcore bird photography trips I have a smaller bag that my poor wizened frame can still bear.

Ready to roll
Whilst on the topic of ageing, last night Mrs L and I met up with our university buddies at our traditional meeting spot, which is an old-school public house in London. A classic old boozer actually, utterly timeless, whilst those who frequent it gradually become more decrepit. Last night the starting topic of conversation was gout, which is entirely appropriate for our demographic. In a way this is entirely fitting, we have been going to this pub for years and gout is thus the natural conclusion. Not my gout I hasten to add, you would have definitely heard about it by now! We recalled how we had been sat perhaps at the very same table talking about buying houses and mortgage rates. Over the years the subjects have varied, through engagements and marriages, jobs, toddlers, children, school places, catchment areas. And now in a depressing yet totally expected progression we’re onto our ailments. Actually a couple of us are still talking about engagements and marriages, but they’ve held out long enough that they might get to do the ‘in sickness and in health’ part simultaneously! And I suppose if we all remain in London for the foreseeable future, it’s probably the place we’ll end up in talking about death too. Nobody said that last night but I wonder if we were thinking it? Or maybe it was just me, bags with wheels prompting morbid thoughts well before their time.


  1. Yup, illness as a topic of conversation next. I can look at a line-up of the Dungeness great and good from the late 80s and have to report that two have died, one (me) has had cancer, one a heart attack and another Parkinson's. Age range? Late 30s (first passing away) to a current 57 - 68 years old. Sobering, yes Jono, but that is life (and death).

  2. I've spent the past 18 months having all sorts of scans and tests for ailments which the doctors think I might have. Tubes down my neck, cameras up the other end, and for what? Nothing at all. All clear.
    I'm 55 years old and tomorrow will be racing the Middlesex Masters XC Championships.

    1. Best you know I suppose, and glad to hear it. Shame you had to suffer the cameras...

  3. Jonathan, didn't know how else to contact you no need to publish this comment to your blog, in fact this is just to let you know some bad news; please investigate: According to the Swan Sanctuary, one of the adult breeding pair of swans in Wanstead Park was killed in a dog attack on Heronry Pond the other day.

    I do not know if it was Mrs Hannibal or her partner. The Swan Sanctuary said the dog attacked in the water (it's very low and a dog can just run in and stay running on the "ground") and bit the swan after a chase. The owner waded in and had to pull the dog off. He has been prosecuted. The swan was taken away by Laurence of the Swan Sanctuary but died in transit.

    Again, I don't know if it was Mrs Hannibal or the male partner. This is all just despicable. It shouldn't happen. We need to get dogs kept on the lead at least when in the vicinity of the ponds. This dog just ran right into the middle of the water and got this swan right in the centre of the pond where it should have been safe.

    1. Hi, these days comments get auto-published but I will circulate amongst local birders and CoL. Very saddened by this, it was always on the cards at "crufts" unfortunately.

  4. Hi Jonathan and thank you. I established today that that the swan who perished was indeed sadly Mrs. Hannibal, a very great shame. Doubly sad because as you probably know, her current mate is the same male who lost his previous partner and cygnets in another dog attack on Shoulder of Mutton in 2012. I too have contacted CoL, the more the better.