I carried out my normal daily patrol round the reserve this morning, seeing all the usual stuff, that I won't bore you by listing. There were just two birds that stood out, a pair of Sandwich Terns making their way down the Swale between the two Harty's. There really does seem to be a dearth of summer migrants at the moment and given the lousy weather forecast for the next two weeks, that doesn't look like changing much.
Back home, I went for my customary cycle ride around Minster at lunch time and then given the unexpected very warm and sunny afternoon I spent an hour doing what I do best, laying in the sun enjoying a drop or two of chilled Pinot Grigio.
It was while laying there that I thought of, for no particular reason, crackling. Now people of my age group will know immediately what I am talking about, the younger version, brain-washed by low fat diets, won't.
When I was a curly-haired young boy living in the back streets of Sheerness, there was a small fish 'n chips shop in the next street, Clyde Street, that was generally recognised as having the best fish 'n chips on Sheppey. I haven't a clue why that was because he never seemed to do anything different to me, but then I was just a young boy in short trousers. All I know is that fish 'n chips in those days was a once a week treat and every Saturday lunch time I was sent out to get the family lunch of them.
Oh what a joy that was, to be crammed into that tiny shop with its special smell and hear people in turn ordering their "cod 'n chips" or "rock 'n chips" and sometimes even, a posh person ordering Skate! On a winter's day I could of stood in that warm and smelly shop for ever, ah, but then came my turn and those special words - "do you want crackling with it" - oh joy - do I.
A scoop of crackling - those delicious and succulent bits of batter - sheer heaven to eat, just like toast and dripping was before the PC brigade taught us different.
So anyway, off I would go, back down the back alley to home, but did it end there, did it heck. I became adept at picking a hole in the newspaper wrapping, eating most of the crackling through it and then re-wrapping the family package. Getting home, my mother who knew what I did and because I was her favourite, would always say, "it looks like the mice have been at this wrapping".
To me that scoop of crackling was the best part of the Saturday dinner, its a real shame that the rest of the family rarely got to experience it and let's face it, it and much like it, never did any of us any harm. Where have you seen an obituary that states "he died by eating crackling wrapped in newspaper".