Thursday, 24 November 2016


Today my friends across the pond, and they are many, celebrate Thanksgiving, in celebration of when in 1621 the Pilgrim Fathers invited the indigenous population to a feast. So all across America, giant turkeys will be thrust into ovens for the centre point of the celebration, unless your vegan of course, which a number of my friends are.

But today I wanted live birds, and as it was a glorious, cloudless, blue sky day, with the temperature hovering around zero degrees, I opted for an afternoon bicycle ride along to the local lagoons, an area reclaimed from the sea and now inhabited by an abundance of wildlife.

The ground was still white in areas that the sun had not touched all day, and with the knowledge in my head of a friend of mine coming off his motorcycle on ice last night,  I cautiously rode along the promenade toward the neighbouring town of Musselburgh. My route left the main road as it entered the outskirts and took me past the marina and onto the coastal path that would eventually bring me out at the start of the lagoons.

The lagoons form roughly a semi-circular shape, and at the eastern edge where I joined the dirt track, the River Esk has its estuary. Here the temperature was marginally higher and a myriad of birds were gathered, most feeding.

There were thousands of gulls and a number of swans, both a regular sight. But I also spotted, godwits, turn stones, oyster catchers, greylag geese and one solitary curlew. Pauline would be proud of me that I should know so many of the birds, but to be honest, I cheated. I met a couple we both knew out for a wander, they themselves being birdwatchers, so as we stood for a while chatting I memorised some of the names they pointed out.

I hung about for a while but it was late in the day and I had not taken my lights with me. The sun was low in the sky and it is this golden hour that casts the best light, creating enormously long shadows and a rich amber light on everything.

I have much to be thankful for this week myself. Not only did I have this great afternoon ride, but at the start of the week some of my young students won Best Live Action, 12 And Under, for a movie they completed in April. They had previously won an award within the academy itself, but this award came from outside so was a little bit special. And to cap it off they won Best Film overall, beating students as old as 19.

It's at times like these I realise just how much I love what I do, and someone pays me to do it as well. As Anthony Hopkins once said, whilst picking up an Oscar; "It beats working".

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