Don's diary

March 10, 2000


Fly back from Turkey, nursing scraped knees and ankles from chasing a Loew's silver-studded blue down a cliff. Great holiday. Twelve new species of butterfly, five new birds. Children noisy on the flight - movie/music broken - bad luck for the other passengers. Arrive Manchester airport 11pm (1am Turkish time). Jack vomits in baggage reclaim area. No bins (security risk). Leave it on the floor! Home to Leeds.


Forget to be tooth fairy - again. Explain that tooth fairy might not have realised we were back.

Meeting at London Zoo. Take the train. Lunch with wine. Gossip about jobs. Into darkened room. Begin to doze. Sneak out to wander round the Web of Life building. Great invertebrate displays. Butterfly exhibit could be better. Loads of swallowtail butterflies shivering in a corner, trying to reach a faint spot of sunlight. Should have used species that like it dim.

Helen goes to Twins Club in the evening. Signal for her Open University students to start phoning. Turn phone off. Kids bribed to stay in bed during the football. Sneak a pound coin under Rose's pillow. Cannot find the tooth.


Got away with it. Pound received safely, tooth apparently lost.

Still suffering from the aftermath of Nature papers on birds, butterflies and climate change. Spend much of the day on the phone to newspapers. Do radio interview for US National Public Radio - rather crackly line - do not know if they will use it. Drive down to Weston-super-Mare and stay in a B&B with Larissa, Ted and Winnie, members of my research group.


Up at 5.30am and drive to Ham Wall bird reserve. Interview discussing a small brown bird skulking in a patch of brambles, surrounded by nettles, in a Somerset bog. Nice place.

Noisy BBC sound van has to be running to broadcast live. Cable too short to get far enough away from the van not to hear it or near enough to hear the birds. Crouch in a bush to reduce noise. Does not matter. Virtually no birdsong during the three-minute broadcast - at 7.20am.

Back to the B&B. Larissa, Ted and Winnie had slept through it. Scan through all the newspapers over breakfast. Wrong university in one article - Bristol instead of Leeds! West Country becomes West Coventry in another. Drive to Cornwall to visit brown argus butterfly sites. Find a B&B.


Landlady cannot or will not understand Larissa's perfect English because of her German accent. Landlady addresses all conversation to me, over Larissa's shoulder. Wet and windy. Call it a day and drive back to Leeds. Five of the past eight meals have been sandwiches. Get back and read email messages full of quips about my radio performance. Might have been better if everyone had been asleep.

Chris Thomas is a research fellow at the University of Leeds. His wife, Helen, works there part-time, is a tutor for the Open University and is chairwoman of the Leeds Twins Club. They have two sets of twins.

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