Sunday, 23 February 2020

Spray

There are lots of advantages to reaching 60 years of age. Free prescriptions is one. The many others are eluding me right now... But anyway, the disadvantages are very, very few. In fact I can only think of two or three hundred, but one of the worst - and easily on a par with 'vastly reduced amount of remaining life' - is the need for specs. If you are one of those fortunate enough to be old and yet specs-less, I envy you. But don't get complacent. There is still time...

I remember the carefree days of 20/20 vision. As a youngster, happily prancing around in a world of crisp, focused clarity, I had little appreciation of what my specs-wearing friends and relatives were having to put up with. And then one day I realised I could no longer read stuff. You develop little tricks. Holding things up to the light, or at arm's length, or squinting hard enough to compress your increasingly reluctant eyeballs into some kind of working shape. But there soon comes a time when all these dodges are futile, and you get your first reading specs. That was some time in my 40s. You start with +0.75 and speedily work your way through bigger and bigger numbers. It is crushing. When you first try reading specs it's amazing. Print is suddenly BIG and BOLD again. You think 'Wow! These'll do the trick!' but all too rapidly they don't, and it's time for an...er...upgrade.

This was back in my digiscoping days. I could bird specs-free all day long, until I needed to use the camera, because without specs the screen was a blur. Was the bird in focus? Was it even in the shot?! Where did I put my specs? Strewth, I hated the things. Or rather, the need for them...

And then in my early 50s I began to sense that my distance vision was failing too. Where I used to be able to scan a hedgerow and with the naked eye immediately spot a bird sitting up, suddenly I needed bins to be sure. Flyovers became intriguing fuzzy blobs, high ones invisible. And so, in 2012, I joined the world of full-time specs wearers. And not any old specs. Vari-focals. Very clever lenses which combine your reading and distance needs into one window. They take some getting used to, but have transformed my birding. However, there are drawbacks. One of them is sea-spray...

Arriving at West Bexington this afternoon I peered along the beach at this view...

See that hazy stuff hanging in the air? Spray.

All very picturesque, but sea-spray sticks to specs like iron filings to a magnet. In no time at all you've got this...

Frosted glass

It's a right pain. And puts me off visiting Bex, Cogden etc, when there's a stiff onshore wind. Which is a shame, because I love a beach walk on a rough day; it's so invigorating. Even today, though the wind wasn't all that strong, the heavy breakers crashing on the shingle threw up a fine mist of spray. Soon enough you've got half the English Channel clinging to your specs. On really bad days it's been so annoying that I've resorted to taking them off and doing without. It wasn't quite that troublesome this afternoon, but I needn't have worried anyway because the birding was about as unspectacular as it can get. Apart from a handful of passing Lesser Black-backed and Common Gulls reminding me that at least some passage was happening, and a strange urge to count Tufties on the mere (46) it was basically just a Sunday afternoon walk. I didn't quite have the beach to myself, but close enough...

Portland in the distance. Just stunning...

Well, I've somehow managed to wangle a whole post out of almost no birds of note. Result.

12 comments:

  1. Gavin, I empathise with the spray problem but as a very recent convert to varifocals I'm prepared to put up with it. They have revolutionised my birding. I am picking up distant dots which I fear I may have been missing for some years. As I approach my first spring wearing them I cannot wait to see what I can find this year, it's like having a new set of eyes....! PS, I'm 60 in May.

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    1. Ha ha! Welcome to the club! :-)

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    2. Hi Gavin, I can only sympathise on the getting old bit!. While I'm very lucky in my eye sight is still pretty good without the need for glasses of any type, its not all good news! Hearing wise I lost the very top end in the last few years, that's crests, redwing etc calls all gone as if they aren't there. Seems to vary with birders as to which bodily functions breakdown first!! Yes free prescriptions are great, PS, 61. Mark

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    3. Hi Mark, yes, it's no picnic is it?! I'm not sure about my hearing, and haven't really tested it out. I think I can still hear crests and Redwings, but now that you've made me think about it, I can't recall the last time I did... Apparently Grasshopper Warbler goes too. Hopefully I'll get a chance to find out in the spring. I count my blessings. At least I'm still reasonably fit and mobile. At the moment... :-)

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  2. I tried the contact lens route but failed miserably, I guess they just don't work with everybody. My lenses, and I tried many types including short sight in one eye, long in the other. Even some varifocal contacts but they all fell out or disappeared around the back of the eye. Having given up and reverted to glasses, a contact appeared in my eye two weeks later.

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    1. The thought of contact lenses sneaking off round the back of your eyeball for a lengthy spell is not a winner! My wife has worn contacts for several decades and gets on fine with them, but I've seen the issues they can cause. Glasses are without doubt a pain, but at least they're likely to stay put!
      What do you do for fishing Polaroids? I bought the Fortis eyewear jobs that go over the top of my glasses. Work brilliantly but are massive. Looks like I'm wearing a welder's mask!

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    2. I've bought prescription polaroids from Specsavers. I was tempted to go down the bifocal route but walking next to water with everything beneath your feet being blurred is no fun. I'll buy some cheap 2X mag sunglasses for reading etc. It just means I need about four pairs of glasses with me so, can't see anything going wrong there ;o)

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    3. Ha ha! No, sounds ideal. :-)

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  3. Gavin, wait til' you get to 70!!! I hope you are a lucky one.

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    1. Ha ha! Thanks John. Yep, I've heard terrible things... ;-)

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  4. I must be lucky with my hearing Gav as I can sometimes hear the odd click from Bats. As for vision? I use flat lenses for close up (Reading), another pair for distance (birding) and varifocals for fishing.
    Next time I'm down at Halfords I'm going to get some Rainspex. It's quite good at turning general damp on glasses into the odd bead.

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    1. I'm so glad I can get by with just the one pair, plus fishing Polaroids over the top. Having a pair for this, a pair for that, sounds like a right faff!

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