It honestly didn't look as if it was going to be that bad!
True, the sky was a bit grey and the wind snapped mean little wavelets on the narrow strip of water, but there was no real warning.
We parked as instructed and scrabbled to find change as the ticket machine would not accept notes. More sensible middle-aged cars turned up and disgorged more middle-aged folk, sensibly dressed in waterproofs and walking boots, binoculars hanging around their necks. We had lots of change that day for some reason and were able to help another couple with the ticket machine. They wanted to pay us back, but we refused. "You'll do the same for someone else," we said.
The date was 12th June this year, and the event was a Bombs and Beasties guided tour of Orford Ness. It was a birthday present to me from my husband, who always knows what I like – mostly because I tell him!
For those of you in the dark, Orford Ness is an isolated spit of land off the Suffolk Coast, used for military testing from 1913 to the mid-80s. When the scientists left, having decided to leave all that sort of thing to the Americans, who were just so much more enthusiastic about it all, they just – walked out - leaving everything to the sea and the wind and the birds. It is now a wildlife preserve, managed by the National Trust.
It still wasn't too bad as we traversed that strip of water in an open boat, as we started to walk along the track. I saw my first spoonbill, which completely made my day then and there. We watched a pair of marsh harriers circling into that grey sky and then – the rain came down; the kind of driving rain which arrives meaning business and then settles down to make a real day of it.
So, we spent rather more time on the "bombs" part of the tour - under cover; and very little on the "beasties", as every wise beastie was hiding from the rain just as we were. Even the Shelducks were saying it was just too wet for ducks!
And, we got wet. Very wet. Luckily, I had a spare waterproof to lend the lady who had discovered her own waterproof - wasn't. We had hot tea in a big thermos we could share. The day became one of camaraderie against the elements and I don't think any of us will forget it.
I remembered that day as I was doing a training exercise at my work conference this weekend. We were asked to explain our personal philosophy.
"What goes around, comes around," I said. "And you create your own reality."
That wet day could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. We were able to share what we had and create community in that shared experience.
And it was very nice to be bought tea and toast at the café by our new friends, once we had all got back safe, if not quite dry, to the other side.
A Moodscope member.
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