Forget the updown salty seaboat heaving over the waters to the Farne Islands.
Forget the face whipping from the wild wind and the spray from the cold crashing sea.
Forget the grey-steel Rambo eyes of the six footer men in the birdwatching group, tooled up with massive lengths of camera lenses that look as sinister and as spooky slung across semi-bared chests and shoulders as the missile launchers and cannon of a fully equipped artillery force.
Forget all that, and the sight of Donkey Grit, lurching and staggering about onboard and off, carrying the food and drink requirements of six outward-bound healthy people on a full-day sea and land tour of Inner Farne and Staple Island.
Forget it all. Because here, at the start of the Holiday Bird Fun Day, is only one topic of conversation.
How cute are puffins? Are they cute? Are they the cutest cute birds you ever saw in your life? They are cute cute cute! How can they be so cute, dammit!
Consequently, we have 840 pictures of puffins in various states of puffinness. We have puffins standing up, sitting down, taking off, landing, falling over drunk in a ditch. We have puffins face on, side on, in angled shots, backside forward, upside down and back-to-front blurred. We have puffins in crowds and puffins all alone, like Billy No Mates here. Don't speak to him. He apparently is Grumpty Puffin. You see? We have puffin names as well as puffin pictures.
Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are in heaven. Puffins come like a revelation. They expected puffins to be enormous, fierce, flipper stomping, evil creatures, like they are at home when they shove spears under their wings, sharpen their beaks, and hurl themselves across the front room in a full frontal charge. But here they are cute! LOOK HOW CUTE THEY ARE.
Grit is almost driven mad by the endless cuteness.
Be grateful then, because you get a shag on Grit's phone camera. I deliberately stand next to Rambo and his eight-metre triple-extending telephoto wizard wand. Then I whip out my trusty clapped out Sony Ericsson with the dodgy battery and loose connection and upstage him with a tilted sealine and a shag on one leg.
I think it's a shag. Don't push me. It could be a cormorant. I don't think it's a razorbill. Or a gillything. I know it's not an eider duck, because I've spent two days laughing at their old lady ooo-ooo-oooing.
I admit. Birds are not my strong point. And I am not really an ornigotholist. I am here because Dig made a vow to the bird-turned heads of Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. Because I am good, kind, supportive Grit, I am determined to keep the vow pure and see it through to the bitter end. Anyway, when I fail on the next one, I can plead But you got puffins!
So I am here all day long, fulfilling this vow, sacrificing myself to Bird Homage. And we do see a lot of birds. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. And different types. Some are not shags and puffins but fat white ones. I bet if I wanted to, I could have this orgithinology thing nailed.
Then there are are some right vicious ones as well. Arctic Terns.
Do not go near this little bastard.
I am sure the National Trust wardens deliberately encourage the little beggars to camp right on the pedestrian walkways where there is NO ESCAPE. I bet they even make nests for them. I bet they hide and lure the crazed zomboid terns to come and lay their little eggs on their National Trust nests right in the middle of the path.
Then out creep the wardens, put National Trust rope all around the psycho terns and watch the ensuing mayhem from a safe distance while they shout Hahahaha! Stupid visitor! Do not walk near the nesting Arctic Terns! They are very protective and may DIVEBOMB you!
Look at that beak. Imagine it plunging into your brain at seventy miles an hour. It is like a spear penetrating the top of your head.
I doubt they are even nesting. Nesting is merely a ploy while they work out who they will kill next by skewering to DEATH.
Of course those warped orthingologists are completely besotted with the little bastards and think being stabbed on the head is all cute and fun and notroubleatall! You won't get the truth from them. I read on one blog, 'Arctic terns are very nervous'. Are you insane? Nervous? They are bloody well not. They are killers. Grit does the sensible thing and hides in the toilet.
Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. Puffins may be cute but you need to find out the truth about those avian tern homicidal psychos. When I get you home, I'm putting on Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
Now, just to calm me down and bring me back to sanity after the Holiday Bird Fun Day, here is a picture of a fantastically cute Tiger drawing a picture of a puffin. I think it might be number 873. The one called Pufferhuff.