Hong Kong is a sad, browbeaten, political and economic shipwreck but today we celebrate. We can exert ourselves in the country parks without a mask. The Maskstapo have retreated and I can climb The Peak without suffering oxygen starvation and steamed-up glasses. At 6am I rose and went out as the sun heaved itself over the horizon. For the first time since early in the year there was a slight chill in the air. Everything was dew-bedecked and not much stirred in the hedgerows. I walked 12km in total. In my backpack an optimistic ‘bird lens’. It stayed there as I drew a blank on migrants. To be honest the macro lens did not see a lot of use either. My rule of thumb is if I see one new species or make one acceptable photo on my wanderings then it has been a successful outing. Today I found a friendly mantis, Hierodula patellifera. There is a tree that normally buzzes with bees and wasps and hosts a few nectaring butterflies. Today it was empty. However as I started to walk on I felt I was being watched. I turned and looked up slightly to find myself staring at HP. It hardly lived up to its name of Giant Asian Mantis. Quite modest in size but beautifully camouflaged. There was no Fee Fi Fo Fum about this one. I took quite a few photos and left it to resume whatever it was doing. Perhaps like me it was contemplating the destruction of civilisation. Lorelei, the original Rheinstone Cowgirl, lures us towards the rocks of September, which lie in wait as we nonchalantly think we have navigated the treacherous waters of August. I can’t wait for 2020 hindsight and, please, pretty please, the end of the orange supremacist in the White House and his odious family and parasitic entourage.
I came out of retirement almost 2 years ago to work part time for 3 months. That was the plan. Like most best laid plans it went agley. Enough is enough though and I am semi-retiring again. At the most I will do 2 days a week so I can walk more and spend more time with our granddaughter. We have, fingers crossed, a grandson on the way too. Life will never be empty or dreary. I never expected to require a navigation course in Duplo avoidance. I never expected to become the world’s leading authority on Peppa Pig. I hear ‘Baby Shark’ every day and have become an expert in changing batteries in toys to stem the tears of disappointment when they run down after only a week of non-stop use. I have spent more time in Mothercare than a camera shop. I even helped change a nappy (diaper) once. I wonder how today’s parents would cope if nappies still had to be boil-washed and reused rather than discarded. My next challenge is how to pay the school fees that will be needed to keep the grandchildren out of the local schools.
What else is changing? Well the aches and pains become more frequent and soon we will leave our Mid Levels eyrie and live in our own apartment for the first time since we bought it in 2011. Smaller but closer to the grandchildren. What to do with Lulu is a problem as dogs are not allowed. Probably I will rent a small dog-friendly apartment for her and one of our helpers and I will use it as a study, library and photography refuge. We can’t give up Lulu. She is almost 12 years old and has been a faithful if temperamental companion and she deserves to live out her days in comfort.
What hasn’t changed is the pleasure I take from photographing the local wildlife. Here are a few of this summer’s snaps.
Which one made me happiest, I wonder.