Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 12 November 2010

Hasn't the weather been exciting?!

So I set off from my visit to my son, Josh, and with an easterly blowing strong and the rain falling got to Donna Nook - eventually. Hail fell and heavy rain and dispite sheltering a kind motorist decided that soak the cyclist by going through a large puddle was the fun thing to do. Thanks.

The cattle egret had gone to roost so after a chat with John and Mel, the local farmers whose cows were the egrets main attraction, I camped in the car park, sheltering from the strong wind against the sea buckthorn hedge. A comfy night and an early start. No cattle egret first thing so spent time looking at the large colony of grey seals that this place is famous for. Lots of very newly born pups too, some with umbilical cords still attached.

9.00am and back to the cows. My cheers could be heard for miles. Bird number 241 for the year. 11 to go to beat the record, unless someone is also going for the record. Maybe I'm just becoming [more] paranoid.

Cycled to Langford lowfields, near Newark. Met Paul, the RSPB warden and together we went around what will be the reserve in 2017. Merlin, sparrowhawks, a water rail and some bearded tits heard. At the moment the reserve has gravel pits being excavated by Tarmac but watch this space because this is going to be a fabulous huge reserve. Paul was fabulously kind, with soup and coffee whilst chatting and then off again to find a place to sleep. Dark by now I found a beautiful church, St at Brant Broughton. I'd just got into my sleeping bag with my silver paper wrapping, intending to sleep in the porch, when five bellringers arrived for a practice. What a fabulous, totally unexpected evening up in the belfry of this beautiful church. Many thanks to Katharine, Karen, Lindsey, Trevor and especially to John who showed me certain things about the church before the others arrived. They even had me ringing a bell! Great fun.

Up early and the overnight frost had turned to gales and rain once more. Now I haven't had too many terrifying moments but cycling the A17 towards Sleaford in the very strong wind, the rain and the spray was just that. [sorry Mum!] I got pushed over onto the grassy verges a few times by the buffetting by the passing lorries. Not their fault but the wind was so strong and the road so narrow in parts. The rain fell heavier as I got to Boston and I went into the 'Stump', the large parish church.

The afternoon, now a bit sunny but still windy was spent cycling the RSPB reserve at Freiston. One problem, I'd left my wet binoculars in the church. Met Graham and Jenny, both RSPB staff and they took my panniers etc on to Frampton whilst I peddled as fast as the wind in my face would let me to retrieve my bins. Luckily still there so I cycled to Frampton. Met at the door of a brand new visitor's centre by Wendy Morris, a volunteer reserve assistant, then Tony, Jenny, Graham and Simon. A photo was taken outside the centre, which hadn't been here on my previous visit to the reserve four years ago. On that occasion Ian Crutchley and myself sheltered against a huge manure pile from a very cold east wind whilst looking and eventually finding a buff-bellied pipit found by the previous warden, Paul French.

Right time to go.

Thanks to Wendy and her dear Mum June for putting me up for the night. Really appreciate it.

Love to everybody,



  1. Good luck Gary!

    Your comments about sleeping in churches reminds of a hitch across from Essex to Cirencester when I was about 17 (ie many years ago). Our wierdest kip was at High Wycombe, where we dossed down in a memorial to a lady whose name escapes both me and Wikipedia!

    Keep dry, keep warm and nail the needed 11.


  2. Thanks Martin. Now 10 needed having had egyptian goose today at Rutland. I'll keep going 'til the 10 are nailed. Anyone know of a long-eared owl roost in East Anglia please? Woodlarks?
    All the best Martin