Agusta Helicopter
Agusta Helicopter

The weather this week has been awful. The RSPB was running its annual ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ – on particular dates you are supposed to count all the birds you see in your garden over a continuous period of one hour – we didn’t have an hour with any birds in the garden at all on those dates. They were all, very sensibly, sheltering from the ferocious wind and driving rain.

Because the weather dial, upstairs there, is set on ‘Random Selection’ at the moment, we have also had some clear sunny days during the week. We’ve done our best to synchronise our perambulations, we’re too set in our routine for them to be peregrinations, to the sunny periods and we’ve had proved to us, once again – sunny does not equal warm.

It has been hard to find something that would risk a venture out, into even the brightest day, that we could use as a picture for your edification. We’ve seen our robin – we know it’s ours, as two robins are incapable of co-existing peaceably – and a batch of chaffinches who, on the whole seem to be able to settle disputes, vocally, but without recourse to fisticuffs. They appear, grab a beak-full of seed and wing it back to the shelter of the bushes.

Then, on our walk this morning, quite suddenly, out of nowhere, this helicopter appeared. I grabbed the camera, wrenched the lens cap off, and pointed in the general direction (which was up, as it flew low, right over our heads) and pressed the button.

Not a bad shot, hey? We think it’s an Agusta A109

Pensioned Off

Sea King Mk4
Sea King Mk4

If you were a Greyhound and getting to be a bit less supple, it would be nice to think, somewhere there was a comfortable chair, near a fire when necessary, out there, waiting just for you. If you were a Donkey and you had spent a long and profitable life in one of the countries of the Mediterranean region, it would be nice to think that somewhere in the Chilterns, there was a cosy stall with a door looking out onto a field, that was knee deep in lovely, green grass. From the jungles of the Congo basin to the islands of the Philippines, every Gorilla or or Orang-utan, as they get older, must be keeping an eye out for a naturalist or TV crew, come to carry them off, to a peaceful old age in a zoo somewhere in Europe or America.

But what do you do if you’re a helicopter? Say you are a Westland Sea King and you’ve been in service in the far corners of the world, for over forty years. For more than forty years you have picked up and put down people in the jungles of Borneo, the South Atlantic, the Arabian deserts, or the foothills of the Himalayas. You’ve picked people up off the decks of sinking ships or sliding mountains – when they’ve been lost and when they’ve been injured. Wouldn’t you think you’d be entitled to a decent retirement?

This chap is due to retire in 2016, I wonder if he’s just looking around, thinking of settling in this area, maybe.