I took particular pleasure in my preparations for this morning's meeting of my Birdy Group.
Partly this was because it was such a delight to return to normality after
the enjoyable, but hectic, festive season. Film Club restarts tomorrow, Nomination Whist on Wednesday and come next Friday we will be singing our little hearts out at the Singing for Pleasure Choir. Yes, the Merry Round of Pastimes in Retirement has resumed,
starting with the Birdy Group and a walk on a wind-swept beach beneath threatening skies. Intrepid, that's members of the Birdy Group.
The other reason for my pleasure was that it meant a first outing for
my Christmas present from My Boy and his family: a brightly-coloured rucksack, exactly the right size for carrying binoculars, purse, mobile phone, door keys and a woolly hat. It is one of my favourite Christmas presents and I know it will be very well-used.
It has the advantage of being so bright that everyone will see me coming. I do like to stand out in a crowd.
Considering how horrible the weather was, we were quite a crowd gathering on the shingle beach outside
the Bluebird Cafe. We all cast longing looks at the cafe but determinedly set out for at least a short walk. Sometimes, you know, you feel that you need to earn your large, skinny latte.
A small flock of birds
flew in to land. Beautiful in flight, they were indistinguishable on the landing stage. We all trained our bins on the Feathered Ones and somebody said she thought they were terns. Doing a turn, presumably. Thankfully we all seized upon her suggestion and
agreed they were, indeed, terns. We don't tend to argue with each other over The Identification of Birds. I am always extremely happy when I can go back to Mr B and reel off a list of Birds I Have Spotted - albeit vicariously, by association with other, more
knowledgeable, birders than I - though, as regular readers know, he will only be impressed when I report the sighting of a Golden Eagle.
With the terns, a regular army of gulls of all varieties, a clutch of
oyster catchers and a gathering of sanderlings, under our belts we turned back into a shower of bitingly icy raindrops to seek sanctuary and refreshment in the Bluebird Cafe. I love the Birdy Group conversations over steaming cups of coffee. This morning we
set the NHS to rights, with the help of two former nurses of the Old School of Nursing, discussed the therapeutic qualities of gardening (even in the winter, provided we are all dressed up for Arctic conditions) and heard all about a visit to a Christmas horse
show at Olympia. The latter sounded right up the street of my Swift Girls, grand-daughters Katie and Eleanor, so I am already spinning plans for Christmas 2016.
Belatedly, after most of the group had departed,
I remembered that I had tucked something special into the front pocket of my ruck-sack: six bird song recordings from the set of Christmas crackers I purchased from the RSPB on our last Birdy Group outing. These had been especially well received by the (Not
So Little) Welsh Boys who took great pleasure in testing out my knowledge of bird song. The six feathered friends performing thus were a blackbird, a song thrush, a robin, a blue tit, a wren and a nightingale. Over and over they tested me until I was note
perfect. I didn't like to confess, so pleased with me they were, that I had memorised which song belonged to which bird based on the colour of the cards in which the recordings were hidden.
The three of us
remaining - Lovely Linda, Brave Pam and I - did our best with the bird-song. Having completely forgotten my colour code, I was more or less clue-less once more, though I did remember that the green card was the nightingale. Maybe I will bring them out on our
next month's outing and if we find ourselves a little short on the bird front, I can open a card, let the sweet song rise into the sky above us and declare knowledgeably: "Ah, a song thrush, I presume!"
I was gathering my belongings from the back seat of Linda's car, I noticed a badge sewn onto the front of my rucksack. It read: "Every Day is a New Adventure." What a perfect motto for the New Year!
nothing quite like an Inspirational Rucksack, don't you agree?