The Great British Heatwave
We were lucky - returning to England from Gambia to the Great British Heatwave! Five whole days it lasted. Plenty of time to keep my tan going. Plenty of time to start mucking out the garden and admire the spring flowers, trees and shrubs.
Plenty of time to watch the bluetits, robins and my resident blackbird couple get a hefty dose of spring fever and sing their hearts out as they collected 'stuff' to feather their nests, eat seed and catfood from the old pine tree stump.
And now we're in April and the temperature has come down 25oC - from 27 to 2 - and there's sleet and snow flurries. Go figure!
Ten glorious days of Gambian heaven. Ten glorious days of sunshine and swimming. Ten glorious days gazing at wild birds and animals.
|Where we stayed in Gambia|
I'll be writing articles about the amazing people we met along the way. About Aziz, the 'bird man', whose knowledge of Gambian birds is astounding. He took us to Abuko Nature Reserve where we saw the most amazing birds, sun squirrels and a monitor lizard. We met with hyenas at the Animal orphanage and drank fizzy malta while I haggled for a couple of kingfisher wood carvings.
Barra - which was the most colourful spectacle ever - as people loaded with packages and plastic buckets ran on to a overloaded boat. On and on they came, so that a 45 minute trip took us 2 hours, packed together like sardines! Brilliant experience!
|Pack of Noisy Weavers|
Aziz also took us to Brufut Wood for another wild bird-fest. Unbelievable experience to see an owl hiding from marauding magpies (pied crows) and a night jar nestled on the ground in among the undergrowth.
|Heron eating Oysters among the Mangroves|
I'll be writing too about Hattib, who took us on an unforgettable cruise on a pirogue - just him, us two tourists and the crew - among the mangroves on the River Gambia from Denton Bridge to the seaport at Banjul. I swam in the river, where, on its banks, tens of thousands of oysters clung to the branches of the mangroves, where women collected them from small fishing boats, where herons gazed at us from the tops of the trees and the riverbank, where 5 pelicans played as we sunbathed on the top deck of our boat and drank beer and fruit cocktails.
|Elusive Red Monkey|
I'll be writing too about the wonderful staff at Palm Beach Hotel, Kotu Beach and the Palm Beach Bar - namely Aruna, Baka and Amadou - not forgetting Omar the 'ciggie man' who sold us the cheapest ciggies I've bought in years and the 'vulture man' who fed the vultures every day at the riverside at 5pm!!
I'll also be including in my articles the fact that our hotel was situated on the Gambian river estuary where a family of pied kingfishers lived and fished and watched the world go by; where we caught flashes of the blue kingfisher; where herons fished in the river for sand-crabs and chased around for shellfish in the waves at the sea's edge, unconcerned about the bathers and paddlers nearby!
Just a week or so before leaving for Gambia, the postman brought me what I'd been dreaming about for MONTHS! He brought me the Spring 2012 edition of 'This England', where I found my two page glossy feature, 'Ghosts and Games of Long Ago Liverpool'. Thank you for publishing me This England - thank you SO MUCH!
The Spring 2012 issue of This England is now on sale: with any luck a herald of finer, milder weather. There is certainly a great deal in the magazine to provide warmth and cheer, with inspiring tributes to several great men, articles exploring different parts of the country, and details of intriguing customs and exciting forthcoming events. Highlights include:
- Dickens of London – A bicentenary tribute to one of England’s best-loved novelists.
- Ghosts and Games of Long-Ago Liverpool – A writer’s return to the Lancashire port awaken powerful memories.*This one's my article!
- Exploring England’s Coastline – North through County Durham from the Tees to the Tyne.
- Students & St. George – Young people’s thoughts on England today.
- Merrie England…in 2012 – An album of colourful customs from around the country.
- A Royal History of England – King John has a bad reputation. We find out if it is deserved.
- English Excursions – Exploring the wild but beautiful countryside of Dartmoor.
- Great Britons – The stirring story of Captain Scott, hero of the Antarctic.
- Ten Reasons Why Nottingham is Still Queen – A resident pays tribute to her historic home city.
Interestingly, the fact that I'm all over the internet, brought me this...
Blast from the Past!
|Yours Truly at Sweet Sixteen!|