Thursday, 12 May 2011

Nightingale hunt

Blame Michael McCarthy. He started it. I read that and thought, I want ecstasy in a wood.

There's only one problem. We don't live within the nightingale line. I can't leave the kids asleep at midnight to pop to the local wood and be enraptured: just me, Mr Nightingale, and Hosanna Glory Be. No, if I want to be spirited away by Mr Nightingale, I have to travel to his patch, and take the kids with me.

Shark is dead keen, egging on this latest enthusiasm, but Tiger stands fast. She says No. Definitely No. She won't do midnight in a wood.

I look to the balance of power, Squirrel. I mention casually, in an off-hand manner, that when things swing my way I usually celebrate with a delicious bar of Green and Blacks.

Unfortunately, things are not swinging my way. Squirrel says, after some thought, and a few menacing glances from Tiger, that she's not doing a mummy-guided tour in a dark wood. For good measure she adds, not after last time.

Nonsense! She thinks it will involve getting lost, crashing into things, falling into a ditch, and being pissed on by badgers. It was not like that at Ashridge, was it? Except we did get lost, yes, I panicked a bit in the dark and fell in a ditch. Apart from that, it was fine.

Well, Squirrel wins. She says it's a guided tour with someone who knows what they're doing and where they're going. And daylight, not midnight, otherwise No Deal.

Which is why we're here. Getting up at dawn to go nightingale hunting at Minsmere with a proper guide. There are a few curdling curses from Tiger on leaving her warm, cosy bed, but I have become inured to those, and the death threats.

Here we all are then, this happy band of dawn-time nightingale thrill seekers led by our guide Anya and trailed by a slightly sulky Tiger.

And off we go. We look at a lot of bush tops and listen to a lot of birds.

But no nightingale. But then! Anya says, one lives here. Here!

This is very frustrating. But Hark! HARK. I may be entering RAPTURE.

Anya says, Don't confuse them with warblers. That is a warbler, Grit. You can hear a nightingale has a rounder sound. Then Anya says, Oh dear. Mr Nightingale's not singing this morning. How unusual. Never mind. You can hear them anytime. Just pop back. After dark is usually a good time.

I might turn ugly.

I have driven 150 miles, got up early, have engaged in a grudge match with Tiger, and am facing frustration of religious orgiastic passion in a wood thanks to a cheating little bastard of a piss-boring brown bird. I am considering invoicing Michael McCarthy for anguish to the soul.

Of course I have to console myself. No one else will sodding well do it. I tell myself, early rising might not have led to miracle, but on the other hand, I learn just how much I can achieve in a day by falling out of bed at 5am.

To wit, a run round Leiston Abbey, three hours in the Long Shop Museum, a late afternoon walk through breezy Dunwich Heath as a last gasp for the little sods, then back to a caravan in a field for a takeaway curry.

I bet Michael McCarthy never achieves so much.

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