Follow the Road for Five Miles

I’ve never had a car with an inbuilt SatNav but being in a foreign country, driving through dozens of roundabouts, narrow little roads and watching my speed for “miles per hour” instead of “kilometres per hour”, I’m falling in love with the woman on my SatNav. 

But first there is the London Underground and the English rail system.

The London Underground reminds me of a hand full of spaghetti thrown on a flat surface. Each line was a good idea at the time. Working out where to change for your destination is a bit like a puzzle designed to ward off dementia.  I’ve always had a secret fear of the London Underground but I think given a few weeks, it would become a talking point over a beer to find the best route to somewhere off the top of your head.

Above is my train to Ipswich. It doesn’t go anywhere near Cocksfoster, which is a shame because I’m dying to see Cocksfoster. However, I fear I may die ignorant of the story behind its name.

The train was quick, exceptionally comfortable and ran every thirty minutes. It even had WiFi and a plug to charge your iPad ! 

I arrived at Ipswich with Great Expectations but regretfully, what I saw was not inspiring and I feel my first few days in London was influenced by the geography of my accommodation. 

Enterprise indeed, this is where my brand new rental car was waiting for me. The shopfront may not seem to be all that flash but it is Ipswich and this is where my new true love is located. I just had to find the unmute button to unleash her dolcet tones. 

And then there’s Minsmere. 

For the uninitiated to birding. . . this is a hell of a spot to visit, if you like bird watching. For a newly arrived Australian, I could not ask for more. And to top it off, today the weather was fine, if not warm and birders were there in numbers. 

The man at the desk, also named Malcolm, asked for my RSPB membership card but that was something I failed to include in my extensive packing list. “That’s OK” he said. “I’ll find you on the database . . mmmmmmmmmm computer says no” . . so I had to pay nine pounds.

It was well worth it. 

There are more bird hides in Minsmere than birds. . . . I exaggerate but there are many and in every hide are some very helpful birders who are just waiting to assist a newly arrived person from the colonies completely ignorant of English birds.  One young man on a bus trip from outer London assured me he was a big fan of Steve Irwin. “So am I” I lied. 

My dear mother, who is not long for this world, always told when I was young and in her care . . . . “You’re not the only pebble on the beach.” Dear mum loves England and whilst at the time I didn’t understand the pebble beach analogy, I do now. 

But the clouds were wonderful and the volunteers at Minsmere, including my new friend Malcolm, were very helpful.

And as we strolled along the pebbly track to the next bird hide, I asked someone, “what is that thing in the distance?” “Oh” he said. “That’s a nuclear power plant” 

Instantly I thought of Monty Burns and a monorail . . . but just as quickly I was distracted by a new bird and a tick.  Anyway those things are safe, aren’t they ?

Following is a series of photos of just things that took my fancy.  

So far. . . England is everything I expected and more. 

The purple bag is wonderful, as were these ladies.

A bird hide overlooking some new birds for the elderly man from the colonies.

A fence post, (I have a fetish about fence posts but especially those with a nuclear power plant nearby).

A seat nestled in amongst the weeds . . .er . . . native vegetation. Each seat has a brass plate commemorating someone who was a regular visitor and supporter of the reserve but has passed away. 

If I lived in England, I would visit Minsmere again.  But there are more reserves to come. This is but the first.

6 thoughts on “Follow the Road for Five Miles

  1. Great stuff, Mal, keep it coming.
    I have done some research on Cockfosters for you. There are two theories. One is that it was the home of an Australian guy who frequently invited young ladies around for sex and a beer.
    The more convincing theory is that it was the estate of the head (cock) forester. It had contracted to Cockfosters long before London swallowed it up.

  2. Enjoying your posts and photos so far, Malcolm! Glad you’ve met some interesting people….not to mention the sights.

  3. Great reading your blog Mal…..and pics are pretty good too…!!
    Looking forward to the next one…!!


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