Goodness me, what a day of geographical traumas it's been. It started off innocently enough as Lord H and I set out to go to Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent in an attempt to spot the Great Northern Diver that is apparently thereabouts. And all remained well until we turned off Junction 6 on the M25. We then appeared to enter the twilight zone. We took the road to Edenbridge and attempted to go left. However it appeared that the road then turned about-face so we were actually heading right. We turned back and tried for another village further along, but that disappeared from the face of the earth even though it was on my map and we found ourselves heading the wrong way back to Edenbridge again. We stopped and consulted the map. Lord H even got his compass out and asked me which direction we were in fact heading. I don't know - 15 years of married life and he still hasn't understood that I haven't the first idea what to do with a compass. I'm a girl - they don't work for girls! Surely everyone knows that ... In despair he then started driving and asked me which way the compass red bit was pointing. I said it was pointing to the West (which it was) and that seemed to mean we were driving south. Lordy, no wonder I can't operate the pesky little beasts. There's no logic to them. Anyway, we finally managed, after driving round for 45 minutes, to come unexpectedly upon the village of Bough Beech. Which was very exciting but we realised we were driving the wrong way through it, so we had to turn round once more and go back again. When at last we finally came to the reservoir and parked, I was hugely tempted to leap out of the car, fall to my knees and kiss the ground like the Pope, but thought my birding gear might get in the way. I think next time, we might take a different M25 junction or just not start from here.
So after all that did we see the Great Northern Diver? No, we ruddy well didn't. Neither did we see the early sand martin that other birdwatchers there attempted to point out to us. Nor could we identify the raptor which flew overhead when everyone else was looking at the sand martin. Sigh. These birding trips can be quite a challenge, you know ...
After that we decided to head for Standen National Trust house for lunch but once again the roads seemed to change direction and I ended up navigating us to East Grinstead. Ah well. By the time we arrived at Standen, lunch was more than welcome. Though I'm not really sure whether the chocolate fudge cheesecake was an entire success, to be honest. It was somehow more like a cold bread pudding on a cheesecake base. Interesting, but not entirely what we'd hoped for. Oh, and the decaff cappucinos were rather less than warm too. Quite shocking standards for the National Trust, Carruthers ... What is the world coming to? Anyway, the house is nice - cosy and charming and with some very attractive Japanese prints. Plus all the Arts & Crafts stuff of course. The walk round the wood was quite refreshing too.
On the way home, we popped into Buchan Country Park which was full of dog walkers. In fact, I think all the dogs in Crawley were having their daily constitional. People kept giving us strange looks, presumably because we don't have a dog. Perhaps next time we'll hire one in order to fit in more appropriately. However, the good news was we managed to spot a mandarin duck, which is our first one of the year, hurrah! We also watched a nuthatch flying in and out of a nestbox. It looked as if it was feeding young, but it's way too early for that as they don't lay eggs until April or May, so I imagine it must just have been passing small twigs through to a mate. Unless even the birds are getting confused with the seasons now.
So, all in all, a challenging day, with some good moments. How like the home life of our own dear queen, eh. And let's not forget this morning's meditation:
A row to end
we will wait
until every last one of you
and then it will be over,
blown into dust
across a once-fertile land.
See for yourselves
whose face and inscription
Tonight, there's nowt much on TV, though I am tempted by the hour's programme about Captain Cook. Every nice gal loves a sailor, you know - and some not quite so nice gals too. And I'm sure he wouldn't have asked me to attempt to use a compass at least ...
Today's nice things:
1. Getting to Bough Beech Reservoir - at last!
2. Standen House
3. Spotting a mandarin
4. Nuthatches acting strangely
Anne Brooke - probably best not to ask me for directions ...