Wednesday 7 August 2019

Harwich and Beyond

Everything packed? Passports to hand? Then let's go. First stage is a bus to Penrith, taking a last look at The Lakes along the way and then a train to Manchester. You'll be pleased to know that we are travelling First Class using an Interrail pass 1.

That's Manchester out of the way and so it's across the Pennines and maybe a last chance to see stations like Carnforth, with its white picket fence, before the Trans-Pennine Express gets built. Change at Doncaster and then down the east side of England to Peterborough where we'll get out and stretch our legs for an hour or two. A complimentary light lucheon and a glass of something to wash it down with will be served on board the train. Don't you just love first class travel?

We have about two and a quarter hours here and there's a wildlife haven about twenty minutes walk away. They also have a model railway there and I'm a sucker for those. Quite nicely laid out foot and cycle paths here in Peterborough which are keeping us nicely away from the traffic. A healthy flock of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) spuddling about on the River Nene. Quick way to recognise a Mute Swan; they're the ones with a black knob at the base of their beaks. The wildlife haven is just across that footbridge there.

OK, so the wildlife haven has a padlock on the gate, it's coming on to rain and we have to lug our suitcases back to the station. Never mind, we'll take a stroll along the banks of the Nene and see what we can find. I don't think that the rain will come to much. I see that the Feral Pigeon (Columbia livia domestica) still holds sway here, I haven't seen one Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) in the town. As you may know, the latter went on a great colonization drive in the 20th century and are pushing feral pigeons out of town centres in Asia, Europe and North America. Oh look, there's a rat scurrying for cover. Yes, I had noticed that the rain is now coming down rather heavily.

There's nothing like gently steaming through East Anglia on a fine day. I only wish that it were a fine day and that the train was gently steaming rather than us. A sort of wet drabness is pervading the flat landscape. Did you notice the name of that last station we passed through? Wrabness. Says it all really. Taking the earlier train out of Peterborough means we'll have an hour or so to kill at Harwich before we can board but maybe it won't be raining there.  

That's the boarding passes sorted and it's stopped raining so lets go and find somewhere quiet to sit until we can board. Not the most salubrious of places but you can be a naturalist anywhere. Do you remember the red weed from War of the Worlds2? It seems to have invaded Harwich. On closer inspection however it appears to be some species of Geranium. Shame, I rather liked the idea of it coming from Mars.

That's better, a hot shower, a change of clothes, a fine meal in the Metropolitan Restaurant and they even have a smoking lounge. Midnight on the River Stour looking across to Shotley Gate. The last time I was here was in 1974 doing my basic training at H.M.S. Ganges. It seems like a different lifetime now. Enough nostalgic musing, tomorrow is another day and I want a decent breakfast before we disembark at the Hook of Holland at eight a.m. So, time for bed. Goodnight.

  1. 304 euros for 5 days travel, plus discount on ferries, in any one calendar month. Second class is only 75 euros cheaper at 229 euros at the time of writing.
  2. There is an immersive experience of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds on in London at the moment. I know that it's fantastic because my neice Lauren is on the production team. (Tickets for December please Lauren).

Crete Nature Catch-up

Steve's Books (well, just the one at the moment but 'The Quick Guide to Creepy-Crawlies' is nearly complete and I hope to publish it next month).

Not Just For Twisted Women by Steve Daniels 

A light-hearted look at life through the eyes of the fairer sex.

Kindle Edition 1.99 pounds sterling (or equivalent).

Click on the link to the right to read two complete stories for free.

Paperback Edition 4.99 pounds sterling (or equivalent)..
Read snippets, samples and stuff at Steve's Books

Share your nature thoughts, photos and comments on Naturalists (the facebook page that accompanies this blog)

Explore the region with the #CreteNature interactive Hiking and Nature Map


  1. Those red weeds: we have them over here, too. They're probably herb Robert, Geranium robertianum; here in BC, they're horribly invasive, have an unpleasant scent, and the leaves turn bright red in mid-summer. And they're sort of prickly when you're ripping them out by the armfuls. But the flowers are pretty.

    1. I think that you are right with Herb Robert but they were a bit too close to trains which were bigger than me so I didn't go down for a close look. There is only so far I will go for a blog post!


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