I suppose it's a bit over the top to call it a roadtrip but we've just got back from a week away visiting friends and family in a variety of locations. We trekked across to Lincolnshire, then down to Cambridgeshire and back home via the West Midlands. It was a few hundred miles but worth it to catch up with lovely people, visit some nice places (old and new), eat lots of tasty food and enjoy the tropical southern sunshine while it was cold, wet and windy back home in Cumbria.
On the way from Lincolnshire to Cambridgeshire we dropped in on one of my favourite places, Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve...
Gib is a really special place that I've loved since the first time I went there on a field trip during my A-Levels. Its a fantastic haven for wildlife, with all kinds of habitats from salt marshes and sand dunes to freshwater marsh and woodland. Gib is home to all kinds of wildlife (including rare Natterjack Toads) and is an important stopping off point for migrating birds.
There is also a lot of this stuff...
Hippophae rhamnoides (or Sea Buckthorn to its friends!). This thorny shrub is native to the Lincolnshire coast and provides a crop of berries rich in vitamin C for birds and adventurous humans to scoff (don't pick the berries on a nature reserve though!).
I did my university dissertation on Sea Buckthorn and found out all kinds of interesting stuff about it. All the 'scientific' facts about the plant's ecological importance went into the essay but I enjoyed all the random facts and legends so much that I made a little leaflet to accompany my dissertation called 'not just a prickly bush'.
I know, I'm a bit sad but when you read that Hippophae rhamnoides means 'shiny horse' and that it was apparently the snack of choice for Pegasus, you can't ignore it can you?! Even my Dad felt inspired to get involved with my Sea Buckthorn project and collected all sorts of weird and wonderful Sea Buckthorn products from his travels in Germany. I've had alcoholic beverages, biscuits, face creams, soap and sweets made with Sea Buckthorn berries and I still get a regular supply of the Ricola Sea Buckthorn sweets today. Thanks Dad! :)
I spent a bit of time volunteering at Gib while I was at uni and then went to live there as a residential volunteer after I graduated. After only a few weeks I was lucky enough to land a paid job at Gib, working in the environmental education team. And I met Ade, who was the Shorebird Warden at the time, keeping an eye on the colony of Little Terns that nest at Gib, (he was living in a shed on the beach and getting sunburnt eyelids from falling asleep in the dunes!). I had a great time while I was there. I miss Gib!
So it was good to go back, even just for a few hours. It looked like it was going to rain but it didn't, it was windy though!
We were soon on our way again, heading to my Dad's via the Batemans Brewery (it seemed rude not to call in since we were passing!). More tales of roadtrip adventures tomorrow... :)