In the early 1990s, it was customary to celebrate my birthday in a delightful watering hole that went by the name of Bar Nevada. There are many words I could use to describe the place, but quaint wouldn't be one of them. It was situated in Solihull town centre, but don't go looking for it, because it's not there anymore. This is probably a good thing.
Bar Nevada had a bit of a reputation for underage drinking, and it was not uncommon for the odd scuffle to break out now and then. I seem to remember there being a strange smell in the air too. Probably something to do with the funny cigarettes that the clientele tended to smoke, although I hasten to add that I did not partake in any of these shenanigans. No, I was there to drink beer and lots of it. As far as I can remember, I think I managed to do that quite well.
I think the year was 1993. The details are a little hazy, but I distinctly remember that the Castlemaine XXXX had been slipping down a treat that evening. My friend and erstwhile drinking partner, Steve, had gone absent without leave, unable for once to keep up with the surprisingly relentless pace that I had set. Occasionally I would see him appear from the assembled horde, with a jug of beer in one hand and a fag in the other, but I was otherwise alone.
All of a sudden, the dulcet tones of Elvis Presley singing I Just Can't Help Believin' cut through the air - one of my all time favourites. It's hard to explain, but somehow it felt like they were playing it just for me and I sat back and enjoyed it whilst I drained what was probably the last pint of the evening.
More by luck than judgement, Steve and I managed to hook up again at the house where he rented a room, just a stone's throw from where I lived at the time. Steve rang the local Indian takeaway and ordered us two chicken and chips, then promptly fell asleep. When the food arrived I tried to wake him, but it was like trying to platt piss - impossible!
I ate both portions of food, left a note for Steve explaining what had happened and walked home. The only thing I hadn't been able to manage was half a naan bread, which I tossed into somebody's garden. If you lived in Solihull in April 1993 and you woke up one morning to find half a naan bread on your front lawn, then I wholeheartedly apologise. It was a very foolish thing to do, but hey, it was my birthday and I was drunk.
Later that year, my then girlfriend Sharon [now Mrs Reg] bought me That's The Way It Is on cassette. As well as featuring I Just Can't Help Believin', there was another track called Patch It Up. Of course, this all happened way before I knew a redwing from a lapwing, but when I go birding in and around Wythall, Patch It Up always seems to be banging away inside my head.
I have been out on the patch today, but as you might have already guessed from the ridiculous amount of waffling that I have just done, I didn't see an awful lot.
I managed to add sparrowhawk to the year and patch lists. I actually saw two birds this morning, or possibly the same bird twice as both sightings were within half a mile of each other. There were plenty of redwings about, but there was no sign of last week's reed buntings. Shows how quickly things can change, doesn't it?
Another addition to the patch list this weekend was fieldfare. A flock were seen on a number of occasions from the kitchen window yesterday afternoon. A few more were spotted today on my rounds. Definitely my favourite bird at the moment.
I said in my last blog entry that I was hoping to track something down that you might not expect to see on your doorstep. That bird was snipe, but the pond where I spotted some previously didn't deliver the goods today. Not to worry. I will try again when I'm next passing by.
There are still a few glaring omissions from my patch list, namely coal tit, collared dove and lapwing. I will be trying to track down these birds and more when I next venture out. Until then, here are the scores on the doors.
Birds Seen On Foot 2009: 45
Distance travelled: 11.5 miles