04 April 2011

Hawk Walk

First of all let me just say that the weather is absolutely shocking and I am freezing my arse off. Walking to work against the wind was such a struggle that I should probably have just stayed in bed all day. Which is what I really wanted to do anyway because I am still so tired after a very long day on Saturday. My last week was a little slack because very naughtily instead of working I spend a lot of time making a treasure hunt and wrapping up a parcel in layers and layers of paper and jokes, culminating in a big metal box wrapped in chains and padlocked up. So then Saturday began with a surprise (for the birthday boy that is, I was not surprised) drive out to Ashford castle.

We stopped for a picnic lunch by the lake, with the place of honour going to my cookie-monster cupcakes. They were awesome. I should make fun cupcakes more often. The icing melted on a couple of them and the face began to slide sideways, making them mutant cookie-monsters.

After the picnic it was off for a walk through the grounds, stopping to use the facilities in the castle (which is a very expensive hotel these days) and having a sneaky little nosy around the place. It was very fancy, all wood panelling and nice upholstery, with a giant carved wooden chess set in the foyer and the sinks in the bathroom were all painted with enamel flowers. So, moving on from the detour, we eventually arrived at the school of falconry which was to be the big surprise of the day. Once there we were introduced to our guide and the birds in residence, most of which are hawks and not falcons. There was one beautiful eagle-owl and one big old buzzard.

We were allowed to take three hawks out with us and took turns at bearing them. They are surprisingly light and when they land on your glove you expect a heavy thump but they actually land so gently you barely feel it. Then they will peck at your glove until you give them the food that you have hidden in your fist. One of the hawks insisted on landing on the ground instead and plucking the grass. Another caught a flower and would not give it up.

Despite being tame they are not pets so no stroking or petting their feathers, which of course is what I would have liked to do. It was nevertheless loads of fun and so worth it. We walked for a good long time and when we returned the birds we hung around for a good chat with the guide. The rest of the evening involved sending the blokes out for the treasure hunt, and it turns out we were too clever for them because it was much too hard. They said they had fun though so it's all good. And the prize, after getting through layers and layers of wrapping? Space monopoly! And of course we had to play that, leading to a very late night. The cake was awesome too, I cannot take credit but I helped to decorate it, making insects out of smarties. If I were to win the lotto I would surely open a cafe somewhere and spend my time talking to people and making cakes.

Now I must get to work because I have been very slack. It is cold and I do not feel like working and my office is making strange noises - there is an air conditioning unit somewhere that has never done anything before but now I can hear air being vented. It is very irritating. I should probably just go home.

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