Sunday, March 04, 2007

Would it be excessive....

... to post 47 pictures of the Barnes trip on here?

Perhaps in installments.

Anyway, I got up at the unpleasant hour of 5.30am. Washed, dressed, had breakfast. Went to railway station, grabbed my pre-booked tickets from the machine. Walked through the underpass to platform 2, and get the appropriate ticket ready. Realised that I had only 5 bits of card - one Chesterfield-London ticket, two seat reservations and two receipts. Panicked slightly as I could see my train and I'd already lost a ticket. Michael dashed back to the machine and retrieved it. Bless him. Train left promptly at 6.31.

Train journey was uneventful, I spent the time reading my bird ID book, and playing a couple of levels of Kirby on my DS. Got to St Pancras at 8.45 - it's a beautiful piece of architecture, even thought they are doing building work at the moment, making a restaurant or something I guess. Then I walked round to the other end of the building to get the Tube.

I haven't been on a tube train in years (that's probably because I haven't been to London in years), and I seem to have memories of it being complicated. But it isn't. I bought an all-day Travelcard for Zones 1-2 (£5.10) from the machine, followed the signs for the Hammersmith line, and waited 3 minutes for the train. I remember the tube being really crowded, people squashed on and most people standing up, but apparently that's not the case at 9am on a Saturday. There were loads of spare seats.

Got to Hammersmith at 9.20, then found the bus station. Then I caught the "Duck" bus to Barnes, and was pleased to find out that my Travelcard covered the fare, saving me £4 for the two journeys. 9.45 I was at the Wetland Centre, where Pete, Nic, Mark, Hugh, Elizabeth and Malcolm were waiting for me. I haven't met Mark or Hugh before.

The Wetland Centre is really nice, and it was a beautiful sunny day. Shame about the cup of mud, I mean coffee, that I suffered in the café. It took 8 little cartons of milk to make it drinkable.

Some great birds... I won't bore you all with the complete list but I counted 38 species (there may be a few more but I didn't see them so I didn't count them), with 8 year ticks for me and 5 life ticks - ring-necked parakeet, pintail, common gull (not that common before you ask), snipe, and bittern (very few of those around anymore and they are very hard to see). I wanted a water rail but didn't get one (I "dipped" in birderspeak). never mind, the bittern more than made up for it.

I was amused and enchanted by a small child as we were watching the ring-necked parakeets (which are bright green). The mother pointed and said "Look at the birds!" and the kid, obviously delighted by them, said "Froggies!". Bless.

It was also fun to catch up with people I haven't seen for a while.

The journey back was fine, except for the couple of lads on the train who'd obviously had a few drinks and kept talking very loudly, downloading songs on their phones then singing along, again loudly. I don't mind people having a laugh but I don't want to hear their inane conversations, such as the following...

Lad 1: Where's Derby? (one of the stations the train was calling at)
Lad 2: It's at Epsom.
L1: No, not the Derby, where's Derby?
L2: Epsom!

Maybe I'm biased, because Derby's in my home county of Derbyshire, but that narked me a bit, and even thought they eventually (correctly) came to the conclusion that it was "somewhere in the middle". Other snippets were, "Do bald people get nits (head lice)?" and "How far north are we now?" (My answer - we're 20 minutes out of London - so not very. Shut the fuck up already) And I appreciated their rendition of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" even less, especially as it's a song I can't stand in the first place. Once they started singing to Girls Aloud I had to resort to drowning them out with my mp3 player. I'd have preferred to drown them. At least they got off at Kettering, after thanking us all for being lovely companions. Like I said, they'd been on the pop (as we say round here).

Got back to Chesterfield at 18.40 and dashed home, washed and changed then went out for dinner with Michael's parent (Pat and Ron), his two brothers (Martin and Shaun) and their respective partners (Rita and Elaine). We went to a little Italian place which was lovely, great food and atmosphere. Very busy, but that's a good sign in a resturant, and they showed no signs of rushing us or wanting us to leave when we'd finished. Good company too, I haven't laughed so much in ages - the three of them, plus Ron, are so daft when they get together!

Came home, watched the lunar eclipse for a while, and looked through the pictures I'd taken during the day. Then went to bed, exhausted.

All in all, a really good day. :)

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