Well, I survived my operation, how odd is a general anesthetic? The kind Irish nurse leant over and said, “here comes the good stuff” a slight cold feeling in my hand then…. Bang, I suddenly wake up hours later in a different place. I felt fine to start with but going to my friend “Old fashioned Tom’s” party right away was a mistake. Had to take to bed for a while. Keyhole surgery sounds like its going to be something you hardly notice… wrong.
Still feeling a bit crook went to see Warhorse (the play) it is AMAZING! The puppeteering is a once in a lifetime theatrical experience. Phenomenal, and we were lucky enough to go to the pub with some of the stars of the show afterwards. War horse, awesome.
It was great to be back in Wales to record the Christmas special and lovely to all be together (Chris P, Kate, Michaela and I) for perhaps just this one time. The roads were deadly getting there, passed an upside down car and others embedded in the hedge, I had toyed with the idea of riding there on a bike…. That would have been a very bad idea.
My two sons Josh and Alexander came over for Christmas eve. We fired up my old Mamod steam engine. It hadn’t run for perhaps, 15 years? I gave it a quick service, lit the old fire-lighters and, to our delight, it a began to hurtle around the house, literally under its own steam. Its not at all “Health and Safety” (hurrah!) belching out superheated steam, flames and boiling water as it goes. We aimed it at each other and sent it careering around the house, excellent.
After Christmas went to stay with Chris Packham and his delightful girlfriend Charlotte. We had a fantastic time, Chris “cooked” for us – now Chris is a genius of course, but, he does not cook… at all! – we were bundled out of the kitchen to allow the chef space and after much pinging a succession of delicious foods appeared, suspiciously hot inside, clearly from the microwave, but actually very good. Chris’s poodles were much in evidence and Itchy took a violent dislike to me, (but why Itch?!) barking furiously whenever he saw me. This was a bit embarrassing but far more dangerous was Charlotte’s monster rabbit “Coco” who I was invited to come and play with in the bathroom where he lives. The rabbit took against me and all I can say is I was glad to escape with mere flesh wounds.
I adore India but haven’t been there for many years. On the second of January the plane left Grey Heathrow for exotic Delhi. Soon we were sitting in a south Indian restaurant eating Massala Dosa, possibly my favorite food on planet earth. We get a very limited and anglicized version of Indian food here in the UK, and for me, the rich variety and extreme deliciousness of Indian vegetarian food is one of life’s great treats. After the Dosa - a bicycle rickshaw ride through the narrow streets of Old Delhi – what an experience. Shocked to see Rhesus Macaques strolling casually across the spaghetti like tangle of (live) electricity wires.
Look carefully above the street..
Rajasthan - and out to a place called Manvar which I first visited 16 years ago. A night at the tented camp was genuinely magical, sharing camp fires with camel herders, their camels, the full moon, and a kingfisher beer.
In 1933, in the tiny village of Khichan (Rajasthan) a man started to feed the 150 or so migratory demoiselle cranes that wintered there - its snowballed a bit - around 30 thousand cranes now arrive each year.
Passed a dead body on the road on the way to khichan, shocking. Ghastly train ride, 14 hours stuck in a carriage with a man with terrible wind – but then, later that morning after leaving the smelly train, almost unbelievably, we are face to face with a wild tiger in fabulous Bandhavgarh National park.
He came within 5 feet of us..
For two weeks it was the life enhancing sensory overload that is India.
It was my dear friend Toby –ji’s birthday..
Last night in Delhi paid a bit extra and went super posh in the Imperial hotel – breakfast with Yoko Ono (no… really!). In the bar I found a picture of a lovely smiling young man, Lieut. Karamjeet Singh Judge, and on the wall beside him the VC he was awarded (posthumously) for extreme valour on 18th March in 1945. I looked up the citation for what he actually did. Unbelievable courage. So sad. He was just 21.
My lovely old 1976 Triumph tiger, battered and grubby sailed through its MOT. This will be the last bike to go if I fall on hard times – just love it.
Down to Salcombe to Film with the delightful Maya Plass for “Winterwatch” – she really knows her stuff and has a great story associated with every critter we discover. Did you know Dog whelk opercula (the hard cover they can draw over their shell entrance hole) used to be dipped in gold and used as ear rings? No? nor did I! Winter is a great time to go beachcombing. Scottie, our excellent cameraman notices a genuinely strange phenomenon, jets of water squirting up from the beach, over 50cm into the air – what IS going on? Maya and I investigate (see the answer on “Winterwatch”)
Go to see Warhorse, the film this time. I was expecting it to be a poor second best to the play but actually it was different and excellent. The scenes of trench warfare made me think, “yes, that exactly what it mush have been like”, horrific.
First outdoor Climb of the year in cheddar gorge, so cold I cant feel the ends of my fingers so don’t know how much pressure Im applying before I make a move – un nerving!
I’m getting up early every morning to try to see woodcock which are returning from a nights feeding to sleep in the woods around my house. Despite the shooting and the beaters I am massively relieved to see them slip silently out of the half light. Still haven’t got a decent photo, its so dark its extremely hard. The mornings are definitely getting lighter and the sunsets later – were heading towards spring – Brilliant!