Windyness

Saturday, March 20th, 2004

Happy Birthday to me (and thanks to those who said so). I don't mind being 36 because I've spent most of the last year thinking I already was (I've always been better with words than numbers). Any freak-outedness experienced at the arrival of 36 is outweighed by the relief at not being 37. That's far too close to 40 for my liking, and it can jolly well wait.

As we suspected, it was blowing a howling gale when we arrived at the owl sanctuary this morning for my birthday present of falconry lessons, and flying was never going to be a possibility. Actually, flying would have been easy. In that wind, absolutely anything would have flown, from a hawk to a handsaw. The difficult bit would have been getting it to fly back again, or indeed to stop flying before it went sailing off over Bodmin Moor, tumbling end over end in the gusts, never to be seen again.

So we arranged to come back again on a better day – probably Wednesday – to have another go and took a quick tour of the sanctuary to see all the owls. The one we sponsor is a western screech owl called Montana (Monty for short). He's not much bigger than a jar of peanut butter, but has the attitude of a chain-carrying, knuckleduster-wearing Hell's Angel. If he was a movie star he'd be Jimmy Cagney, or possibly Richard Attenborough in Brighton Rock. If he was a wrestler, he'd be Chris Jericho in his cocky heel persona – not this newly-forged nice guy with his hair in his face, oh no. If he was a sports team he'd be the Oakland Raiders. If he was a country he'd be North Korea. He's hand tame, so you can stroke him, but he always gives you the impression that he's letting you do it because it's marginally less effort than pecking your eyes out. He bit once – not hard, but just enough to show her who's boss. Inevitably, Monty was nowhere to be seen today. Of course he wasn't. He was sheltering from the wind in his sleeping box – probably with a case of beer, a cute blonde owl and the racing channel.

From the sanctuary we headed south towards the cottage where we'll spend the next week – the same one on the Lizard peninsula near Helford where we spent new year – but as we couldn't get in until 4pm we had time to kill. We spent this on a walk around the edges of Trelissick Gardens. This took us down by the upper reaches of the River Fal's estuary – a quite astonishing sight. It looks like an ordinary inland river, rather wide but otherwise perfectly unremarkable. Except that it has huge ocean-going ships anchored in it. The Fal and the Carrick Roads are the world's fourth largest deep-water anchorage, even quite far inland, and you can turn a corner on the footpath to be confronted unexpectedly with some behemoth flying the Danish flag floating in a gap between the trees.

From there we came to the cottage. We just had time to make tea before all the electricity shut down. Not ideal. However it turned out to be a simple trip switch, so it was easily fixed. A quick trip to the Spar to buy dinner, a match to the log fire (already laid for us) and we were sorted for the night.

Not all is well, however. There is still the vexed question of internet access. As you'll have deduced, we never did get a net connection in the B&B. We got one about a mile down the road this morning and pulled into a service station to check emails and to blog. The battery died just moments after I filed my entry and I have no idea whether it posted correctly or not. Nor was I able to cross-post to LiveJournal or JournalSpace. Now we can't get a network in the cottage, either, and has work she needs to do. This could present a problem.

Edit – obviously, we got one. Sitting on the floor in the spare bedroom. But it's still good.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.