Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Inexorable March of Time

As I am growing older, it seems that events conspire more and more frequently to remind me of this unfortunate fact. I'd like to share some recent examples...

Just yesterday Steve tweeted this pic:

In the text of his tweet Steve asked, "Gav, am I right in saying you've seen Leach's Petrel from here?" Steve was right; I have. Sunday morning, 6th November 2005. It was blowing a hoolie, tanking down with rain, and my usual favourite seawatching spot of the day, the thatched shelter partially visible in the photo above, was too exposed to the weather to be viable. I wondered if the concrete hut thing below might be better (I had no idea it was an ex-WWII searchlight emplacement) and headed down to give it a try. Although a bit buffetted by the wind, at least it kept the rain out. By the time I had to leave at 09:00 I'd seen two Leach's Petrels slowly work their way westwards. Phil joined me in time to see the second one, and I think had another after I left. At the time it was a mega patch-tick, and since then I've only seen one other, which was brought to the Seaton Marshes hide in a box in December 2006.

But, my goodness, was it really thirteen years ago?! Aagh!!

Just lately I had a bit of a garage clear-out, and ruthlessly pruned a load of old stuff that I really didn't need any more. Like this, for example:

This rusty old cantilever tool box was nice and shiny when I lovingly applied those stickers to it. I bought it at Wembley market, which was a weekly event at the old stadium in my youth. It would have been in 1978 or '79, which I am painfully aware is basically four decades ago...

Did I really once buy a copy of Hot Rod & Custom Magazine??

And then there was this...

I am doing some work in our loft right now, and beneath the bottom layer of ancient insulation I found a sheet of newspaper. It's the front and back page of an old Sunday Express. Just in case you can't make it out in the photo below, the date is 6th May, 1973...

Photo taken within moments of discovery

What is of special significance for me is the subject matter. I can vividly remember watching that FA cup final on the telly. I had no loyalties to either Leeds or Sunderland, but was rooting for Sunderland because they were such desperate underdogs in this contest. As a 2nd-division team it was a small miracle that they'd even made it to the final, and now they were facing Leeds United, the previous year's winners and one of the most dominant sides in football at the time.

Amazingly, Sunderland scored after 31 minutes and then hung on to that slender lead for the rest of the game to claim victory. As you can imagine, the tension mounted relentlessly with each passing minute, so as the final whistle blew there was this incredible release, and scenes of absolutely massive euphoria from the Sunderland supporters, team and staff. As a 14 year-old I was totally caught up in it, despite not really being a football fan, so the discovery of this little time capsule in my loft took me straight back there...

Forty-five years!!


Our eldest son will be 36 in December. He is a chef, and has worked all over the place, including a year in Australia and three years in Indonesia. He's just taken a job in Switzerland. When it comes to travel he has ten times more experience than me. Our younger son is 33, and works as an electrician in London, supervising commercial installations. It's sometimes hard to think of my children as mature, responsible adults, in many ways far more knowledgable and accomplished than me. That's bad enough. But in conversation with them I sometimes detect, in the gentle father-and-son banter, a note of amused tolerance, and realise that they are wise to the flaws and frailties of their ageing parents, and patiently accept them...

Now, where's my bus pass?


  1. It happens, or has happened, to us all Gavin. I was aghast a few weeks a go when a very attractive girl, I guess in her 20's, held a shop door open for me and said "there you are love, mind how you go". I thought Christ, she sees me as some old boy, which at 71 I guess I am.

    1. Sobering, Derek. I'm not looking forward to the day that happens to me...

  2. I remember when your nippers were in nappies Gav. Then again, I remember exactly where I was standing when I heard about the death of Sir Winston Churchill.
    I had no idea who he was, but he must have been important because the news rendered my mother momentarily speechless.

  3. All in all Gav, I've said it once before. We're doing well if we get to where we are today, relatively unscathed.

    1. Cheers Ric, that's very true. And lots of good memories along the way...

  4. It’s not the same. Forty three years ago this month I visited Cap May NJ for the first time. October 1975 it was and although I can’t find my notebook I remember it was pretty good. Now I live only 2 1/2 hours away I visit at least once or twice a year. What I don’t do as I did all those 43 years ago is return via the Cape May to Lewes DE ferry. I remember how good the crossing was not only for the birds but for the superb bacon sandwiches they made on the boat. I decided this trip I’d come home via Delaware and sample the delights of the bacon sarnies. I was gutted to find that they no longer cook on the boat for insurance reasons and the only food was pre-packaged plastic imitations. I tried one and it’s not the same.

    If you’re interested here’s a few bird pictures, not the sarnies.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Mike. It seems to be generally true that 'going back' is more often then not a disappointment. Funnily enough I was reminiscing today about somewhere I fished as a kid in the early '70s. A stretch of river next to a paper mill used to be lined with youngsters, and they always caught a few bits and bobs. The paper mill is now a housing estate, and the river largely emptied by Cormorants. And in the unlikely event any kids were tempted to try the fishing, I expect any parents that let them would nowadays be labelled irresponsible.

      Nice blog by the way...

    2. I like to read your combination of birding and fishing. My early fishing was in the 50’s where all the kids wanted a Dick Walker built cane carp rod and catch monster carp. My early fishing was down the “Cut” in Leicester near the old Leicester City ground at Filbert Street. Sad news from there of course. The prime spot was a warm water outlet from the power station where there were loads of Carp. I never caught one, the spaces were always taken by the grown ups. I used to catch Gudgeon and the odd Roach, thats about it.
      Tench were always my favorite fish and the last rod I bought was a Peter Drennan Tench Float rod which I still have and use occasionally. No Tench in the US that I know off but the Channel Catfish put a nice bend in the rod. When out with friends I usually catch more than they do using floats and worms while they’re spinning for Bass and suchlike. Memories all prompted by your excellent blog.


    3. Thanks Mike, it's great to have comments from another angler. Coincidentally I bought a Pete Drennan float rod earlier this year, a lightweight job for trotting. Expensive, but very, very nice.
      In my youth the Angling Times regularly featured the match-fishing exploits of Ivan Marks and the other Leicester 'Likely Lads'. They were pretty dominant in the early '70s. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them too were down your 'cut' as boys in the '50s...