26th – 27th July – Old friends are like buses …….   Leave a comment

Yes, it’s true, you don’t see old friends for years and then two turn up on the same day! My friend John Short had phoned me and said he was in the UK for a while and could visit me on 26th – 27th July.

I first met John in October 1969 when I first went to Leeds University. We shared lodgings for the first year and then John, myself and three others lived in decrepit house  in Fraser Terrace for the next three years. We kept in touch after University, but meetings naturally declined, especially after he moved to live near Paris. Our last get togethers were in 2003 when ten of us had a Leeds reunion, in 2007 when along with two friends I stayed with John and his wife Florence on the way back from a short birding trip to the ‘French Lakes’ and tragically at the funeral of Clive Taylor, another of the  Fraser Terrace lads, two years ago.

On the evening of the 25th several of us went ringing at Lytchett Bay and we caught over 80 birds, mainly roosting Sand Martins. These were ringed and roosted at Shaun’s place and at 0500 on the 26th we all assembled back down the Bay for a typical early morning ringing session. Imagine my amazement when another old friend, Guy Dutson, appeared. Apparently the others knew he was coming but hadn’t told me so it would be a surprise.

Guy was our young birding prodigy back in the early 80s. At the age of 13 he was already finding good birds and aged 14 he joined our ringing group and spent a lot of time with me training to ring birds. After studying veterinary science  at Cambridge he had a number of veterinary jobs before working for BirdLife International in the Pacific, spending long periods in New Guinea, Melanesia, Polynesia and Australia. He authoured the definitive guide to the birds of Melanesia and led tours for Birdquest for a while  (I went on two tours that he led, to PNG and New Zealand). I last saw him about 18 months ago when he came to visit his family, but recently he has married Suzie and they now live in Melbourne with their daughter Lila.

As always he had a packed schedule and had to return home and pack, as he was off to Cornwall to meet up with his brother and sister, but after the ringing session I managed a brief visit to his parents house in Corfe Mullen to meet his wife and daughter.


Guy and Suzie with six month old Lila


Bronwyn holds her latest grandchild.


Off to Cornwall, Lila prepares for the long drive to see her auntie and uncle.

I got back home about 1130 and tried to get forty winks before John arrived as I had had very little sleep the previous night. John phoned at about 1300 to say he had been involved in traffic accident just 10 miles from our house on the Blandford by-pass. A van had pulled out from a side road and driven straight into him. No-one was hurt but there was clearly going to be a delay. Apparently by the time the car (a write-off) was picked up and taken to the hire car company office in Bournemouth, the office was closing.  John then had to wait several hours for another pick up to take him to Southampton airport where finally he was given another car. He arrived with us at 2315, just 10 hours later than expected!

Both John and Guy are highly respected and valued friends from various times in my past and it was amazing to meet up with both of them on the same day.


John and Margaret. Plenty of reminisces of the old times and lots of updates about life today.


John wanted to see the Iron Age hill fort of Maiden Castle, near Dorchester, so on the 27th we picked up Amber, who was at a loose end, and went for a walk around the ancient structure.


Amber’s is looking like a typically bored teenager but actually she is very knowledgeable about all things archaeological and told us in detail how the the hill fort would have been defended in ancient times.


About the only other social event has been a drink with John and Anita and Gio and Jessica at the Harbour Heights Hotel on 24th


There is a wonderful view from the hotels terrace, note the fog covering the Purbecks.


Time to admire the lovely sunset over Poole Harbour

Posted July 28, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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