Wednesday 20 September 2023


I've been quite a few places this year, some really fun trips. I am very lucky. I used to keep notebooks and write a daily journal whenever I was away, but that has long since dropped by the wayside. A shame, I used to enjoy being able to call on them to see where I went, what I did, what I saw - particularly outside of the birds. Now I find myself struggling. For a while I managed to keep it up, leaving blank sections in the book for a previous jaunt, telling myself I'd fill it in later. Hah! Fat chance, and now I've abandoned it completely. I know that a few people keep notebooks still, in fact I saw one at Rainham just this weekend, but more often that not these are just lists of birds. What about actual writing?

Well, when was the last time you picked up a pen?! Practically my only use of a pen these days is scribbles at work on post-it notes and writing address labels for things that I'm sending. Writing is hard! My kids are all in the exam phase of their lives, writing reams and reams sat at small desks in rows of similarly imprisoned children. Remember that? My wrist aches after a sentence these days, half a page is unthinkable, let alone multiple pages.

My inability to put pen to paper is perhaps one of the reasons I try and record stuff here. It's as much for me as for anyone else, perhaps more. I can still type, and even though I mostly only use two fingers and my thumb on each hand and am some way from what you might call touch typing, I am actually pretty decent at it. In fact I am just testing myself now and am quite surprised at how speedy and accurate I can be without even needing to look at the keyboard. Who knew? A new career perhaps, though does that even exist now, text is just scanned surely? Anyway, my point was that it is annoying that I only just managed to get to Madeira which was in April, and also that what I did write was highly summarised when my memories are so much more detailed. And how long will my memories last?

If it relates to a trip, currently I have no problems going back six months or more with a reasonable degree of accuracy as to where I was and what I was doing. If I need a little help with the order, or individual species, then I have eBird lists and photos from my phone (when was the last time I took a photo of a bird?). It's pretty easy to put together, just a question of finding the time. Should that time materialise (and I am trying really hard!) next on my list is a weekend away in Lisbon in March with my son, which took place before Madeira, so much for chronology. But I can still remember where we stayed, what we did, where we ate and so on, so expect to be bored by that in the near future. As an aside it was very nearly my last trip with my old camera before I decided it was too big and bulky and that that stage of my photographic life was over. My son meanwhile had a miniscule but fully functional Sony mirrorless set-up that I felt would much better address my middle-aged needs and that I was deeply envious of. Fast forward to the present day and I have managed to flog almost all of my non-birding Canon gear (at a healthy loss) and now have virtually the same tiny tiny camera which is a complete joy to carry. More on that later, it's likely to be quite geeky. In the meantime, here is something from Lisbon, an exceedingly steep city, and very beautiful.


  1. Strangely that is the only thing I still do because I love reading it years later. The wines and food always noted of course. Obviously the birds. Plus the amusing [often not at the time] incidents. Though my handwriting isn't quite as neat now.

  2. Oh yes, OM1, 300 Zuiko + 1.4. Mirrorless for me and I can walk upright!

    1. I now have a Sony A6600, it is just marvellous. Don't really know how to use it to the full extent of its capabilities yet. Then again I never knew much about my Canon either.

  3. My main issue with writing a notebook is that I find it hard to see what I'm writing cos its too close! I have been managing to keep one for the last year and a bit though - hard work, and yes, just mostly lists but thats what my old ones mostly were too. Still good to get it down on paper though, rather than just forgetting what I saw altogether (never managed to get to grips with e-bird or the like)

    Interested to hear of your camera evolution - I got a s/h old canon 400mm f5.6 prime recently, and I love it! Even just lugging it about is fulfilling somehow! Is that weird?