I've been keeping my head down of late. In fact, I've been back in the land of the earning, plying my trade as a freelance designer, working for a Holborn-based publisher. This has necessitated my becoming a commuter - and boy, is that an eye-opener...
I've always lived around the edge of London, rarely venturing into it. But age has seen my feelings towards our capital city become far more positive. I love the architecture, the theatres, the galleries, the museums and the pubs. Its wildlife has never really registered with me, so I've always looked upon those birders that work it with a mixture of awe and bewilderment. I follow one particular exponent - Des McKenzie - on Twitter, and feel that all of his sightings are that much more hard-won and worthy than my own. He even wanders the 'pavements of gold' searching for exotic species of tree. True dedication.
Last Saturday we visited our eldest daughter Rebecca who currently lives in Bromley-by-Bow, and walked from there, along the River Lea and adjacent canal, to Hackney Wick. This area is being largely regenerated, with warehousing being converted to apartments and business units (and with this does come some awkward social implications), but what really grabbed me was the bird-able habitat. Reed beds. Banks of vegetation alive with wild flowers. Green spaces. Plenty of trees. I imagined all sorts of migrant passerines stopping off on route to wilder places. I envisaged raptors moving overhead. I finally got to understand how such places can get a grip on certain naturalists.
My time this week (walking between City Thameslink Station and Holborn) is largely bereft of natural interest apart from the odd Plane tree. But then you come across a Square and I can see potential. Hats off to Des and the gang - I bet that the feeling they get when they do 'score' is amplified enormously.