I first met Hazel in 1981 - together with Dave Eland (and Mike McDonnell), we spent the weekend at Portland Bill in Dorset. It was obvious why she was the ideal partner for Dave, with both of them being warm individuals with a wicked sense of humour. Those two days were a fog of laughter, food and alcohol, a recipe that was to be repeated on many occasions.
We all teamed-up again that very autumn, renting a flat in St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, for a fortnight. Despite her slight build and modest height, it was a delight to watch her take on Mike each evening as he attempted to hog all of the hot water (he needed his bath!) and wriggle out of helping to cook the evening meal.
As family friends they were a big part of our lives throughout the 1980s. One particular holiday to Majorca was non-stop laughter for two weeks, and on one boat trip I was royally gripped off by Hazel as she saw some flying fish. Her skill in the kitchen was legendary, especially her famous curry, which had Katrina and I both incapacitated as we had eaten so much that it was a struggle to move. The Red Lion in Cheam and The New Inn in Sutton were favourite haunts when we weren't out birding.
We hadn't seen so much of Dave and Hazel in recent years - they relocated to New Romney with Hazel's daughter and had settled into a most agreeable life. This morning she passed away.
Our thoughts are with Dave at this most difficult of times. I cannot think of Hazel without seeing that twinkle in her eyes and hearing that mischievous chuckle. Happy thoughts of happy days...