Before anything else, my heart goes out to all those in Italy suffering the unbelievable loss of life and damage to property caused by the extraordinary weather conditions that are ironically giving us, just a few miles north but on the other side of the Alps, such good weather. It doesn't bear thinking about the grief that the surviving three members of a family party of 12 must be going through, especially when you consider the holiday rent house was illegally built and had for years avoided being torn down through blatant misuse of appeal procedures.
My day started abruptly at 5:00 am, torn out of blissful sleep by something unknown. Perhaps my bit of functioning brain was working overtime on my son's flight from San Diego back to Heathrow after his 16 day holiday. But the flight had taken off an hour before.
Instead of rolling over and going back to sleep, I reached for the mobile phone and checked the flight tracking radar. Lo and behold, the plane was just taxiing to the runway after a 48-minute delay. So I did get to witness the takeoff. I did check out his British Airways 747 and was not exactly impressed that it is doing its 20th year of service. Having said that, the latest plane crash a week ago in Indonesia was with a Boeing just a few weeks old.
Nothing I could do to change anything and went out for an early morning long walk with Luna in the forest, collecting more chestnuts and acorns to spread in various hedges and bits of our garden that could do with new life. I think the chances of a new chestnut or oak growing from seed is in the million to one range but there is always hope. Something special about the thought of having planted an oak that could still be around in centuries to come.
Then after lunch, when the sun had finally reappeared - it came up at 7:00 am but then got lost in the high fog - checked the bees to see if they were now out flying and spotted something that had been a long asked question. I have of late seen on the slide-out boards under the hives which have a wire floor, small blue/purple/greyish blobs of semi-fluid "stuff". I was a bit concerned it could be something unwanted such as diarrhoea which would be a further alarming signal for the anyway virus weakened folk.
What I saw was several of the bees coming into land loaded up with pollen of exactly this unusually coloured "stuff". I guess it must be very normal and why I have never spotted it is a bit of a mystery. Anyway it is great news as pollen is so important to their ability to survive winter. I am confident the sugar fondant I am feeding them will take care of the food/energy side of things. Naturally, at this time of year, there isn't much on offer but all I could think was it was the malve flowers that are clinging on in the garden, even if the pollen looks rather white to me. As I was later to email one of our special Blipers- Redflash, in the UK, the ivy is still around and while many will not even notice the flowers, it is a very welcome source of nectar and pollen for bees in autumn. A slight issue is that the nectar is more of a "To Go" snack and doesn't make good storage honey for use in the coming deep winter months.
Buoyed up by the heartening sight, I returned to the house and PC to witness son's Jumbo hit landfall just north of Newquay Bliper Angelique, fly over Uncle and Bliper Purbeckdavid49's house before turning northeast and the turns over Guildford and Windsor:
"London Tower - this is Jet Speedbird 747. Have passed the outer marker and established on the ILS flight path"
"Roger Jet Speedbird 747, London Tower, you are cleared to land"
And just like my bees earlier in the day, Jet Speedbird 747 landed safely with its precious cargo. It's good to know he is back and even if he would gladly still be in California, I am sure he is pleased to be home. There is no place like home.
I wonder if the day will come when not only do we have the amazing ability to track live aeroplanes but also to listen in to the cockpit exchanges. Could make the necessity of the often problematic recovery of flight recorders from the site of plane crashes obsolete and rule out any further mysteries such as the missing Malaysian plane.
NB "Speedbird" is the callsign used by British Airways and comes from the 1932 logo design for Imperial Airways, then BOAC (British Overseas Aircaft Corporation), then British Airways.