Sunday, 9 December 2012

Dr Patchlove or How I learned to forget work and love my Girdle ness

I realized something pretty fundamental recently. I. do. not. like. work. This is a bit of a problem really, as work, or at least the money that one accrues as a result of it, is pretty essential. It keeps me in cakes and my girlfriend in those expensive satchels that are all over the telly at the moment. It pays for my holidays. It’s added another dimension to my social life, and it means that if I ever wanted to watch an episode of Judge Judy, it would be guaranteed to be one that I hadn’t seen before. So, unless you’re willing to hitchhike forever eating Go-cat, work is just the thing for you.

The thing I resent so much about my job is that it takes so much of my time. Five out of seven days a week, it uses up a pretty large portion of the available daylight, a time at which I’d much rather be out doing other stuff. And when I say doing other stuff, I mean birding.

I don’t really think there is any solution to this whole work thing. I have friends who get paid good money to disappear offshore for a month counting birds, and then get to spend two months in Shetland every autumn. To me this sounds perfect, but if I was to go down that route I’d almost certainly not have anyone to buy those expensive satchels for. This is my bed, and for better or worse, I will lie in it.

Luckily for me, the great thing about the bed that I lie in is that it is very close indeed to my local patch. About 4 minutes walk to be precise. It’s also 4 minutes from where I work, which means that when daylight allows, I can grab opportunities to go patch birding before, at lunchtime, after, and on the odd occasion, even during work.

In the spring, summer and early autumn I can have three hours on patch before work. This is long enough to cover it properly although when the seawatching is good or there are migrants around it can be a bit awkward getting round in time. After work, on pleasant evenings, I can dress up another wander around as a ‘walk’ with the good lady, and unless I’m really busy, I can usually get out at lunchtime to cover a small portion of the patch – a tactic that has got me barred warbler among other things this autumn.

The value of this to me is impossible to quantify. If I never saw anything interesting it would get a little frustrating, but imagine never having the opportunity to look. It’s this that keeps me sane – knowing that there are opportunities to get out and escape the office, and the whole work routine. Knowing that if I can get out 10 times during the week then there is less pressure on me to get out at the weekend (not that that stops me…) so I get to play the dutiful boyfriend too. Knowing that when the weather looks promising, regardless of work, I’ll get a chance to dip my toe into the rarity pool.

To me, the consequences of not having these opportunities would be dire. The cabin fever, the ever growing resentment of my job, and the increasing anguish that would come with every Birdguides message would drive me mental very quickly. These opportunities are my fix, my medicine if you will, they are the things that allow me to function in the real world that I reluctantly live in.

So learn to love your patch. It’s worked wonders for me.

Girdle ness on Thursday....dead, but much more satisfying than being in the office...

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