Tom, Ajay and myself on Prebend’s Bridge

After a hard-working Reading Week, I’ve just had a most pleasant long weekend, largely with Ajay Jacob and Tom Parker, former colleagues at Nelson Thornes in Cheltenham. It was one of those times when we managed to combine a remarkable diversity of experiences!

On Saturday lunchtime, we were on the forecourt of a second-hand car dealer near Durham. Ajay, who passed his test only last year, had seen that cars in the north-east are much cheaper than down south, and liked the look of one advertised on the internet. While Tom and Ajay were poking and prodding the car, I was being entertained by the dealer’s perspective on life. His girlfriend had tried to interest him in feng shui: as far as he was concerned, feng shui in his life consisted of making sure that the distance between his seat and the fridge, in which the beer was stored, was the exact same distance as from his seat to the toilet. Simple, really. (Ajay bought the car.)

We had a guided tour round the Cathedral – despite living next to it I don’t have a good memory for its facts and figures, and the guide turned out to be both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Afterwards, we made a quick dash down to Greatham Creek to see the seals: both high tide and sunset were approaching fast, so the ideal time for them would be short-lived. The seals were on good form… including a couple of them who seemed to be indulging in a little rumpy-pumpy below the water.

Seals at Greatham Creek, near sunset

We then went to an Italian restaurant which I’d recommended on the basis that the food was good and there was a waiter who was entertainingly rude. He did indeed serve us, but couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. I think I need to adjust my values.

Nuthatch on the window feeder. Photo: Ajay

One of the major highlights of the weekend, though – and herein lies a confession! – was a completely unexpected visitor… I’ve recently attached a bird feeder to the outside of my window, and have enjoyed watching a succession of tits drop by, but began to wonder whether any other species – like a finch – would catch on to it. A couple of days ago I caught a brief glimpse of an unusual bird, but was sure I was kidding myself as to what it was. Then on Saturday morning, in full view of all three of us, with Ajay’s camera pointed directly at the feeder, it returned – a nuthatch!

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