True confessions Thursday: I’m twitchy

Posted on September 1, 2010

My mum has told me several times over my life that I was never a child. That I was born a grown-up in a child’s body and spent most of my formative years looking bored, waiting for the real life to begin.

I suspect this is why I’m so addicted to basics. And the ABC. In fact, there are many reasons why I sometimes wonder if I haven’t skipped from birth to old age without anything so boring as a mid-life crisis.

My not-so-secret affection for Winnebagos (reverse-parked by someone else).

My passion for gardening.

My love of sensible shoes.

My desire to conquer cryptic crosswords – and chess.

(Are you ready to find another blog yet?)

Whilst on holidays, I set free another slightly sad part of my personality. The Twitcher.

There is a back story to this, and it’s all The Builder’s fault. A couple of years ago, he read a review of a book called The Big Twitch (by Sean Dooley) about a guy who sold his house and went on a one-year odyssey to see the most birds ever seen in Australia. I know what you’re thinking – quick, turn the page! But no, The Builder requested it for Father’s Day and, being the excellent wife that I am, I duly stumped up.

One night, with nothing to read other than cereal packets (I had not at this stage discovered the many quality blogs in the world), I picked up the book and began reading. If nothing else, I thought, it will put me to sleep.


I cannot tell you how fascinating this book is. Even if you don’t know a blue-spotted wren from a yellow-chested sparrow (and you shouldn’t because I made them both up), you will fall in love with this book. Well, I did. It’s a quest, pure and simple. It also awakened in me a need to check out what was in my own backyard. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to buy a Bird Guide so I can’t tell you what the little black ones with the orange beaks are, but I do know that there’s a new, tiny little hummingbird type thing that likes to suck the nectar from the salvias.

But I digress.

Aside from being the site of mysteries, Mystery Bay is also a fantastic bush on the beach rural setting. And a bird-lover’s paradise. Kate and Nigel from Mystery Bay Cottages, where we stayed, even provide you with bird seed, with which to draw in the rosellas and the king parrots, the lorikeets, the wrens, and even magpie ruffian or two. If you see something startling, you can record it in the bird lover’s book, which currently contains 50 or so species spotted from the cottages and another 50 or so seen in the bush around the property. There’s even a Field Guide to Australian Birds, and The Builder and I spent a happy hour or so poring over the illustrations, trying to tell a finch from the other birds flying by.

Twitching. I think it could be catching.
Anyone else out there share my penchant for old-person hobbies?


  1. allison tait

    @Joy Midsomer murders! How could I have forgotten? That show deserves a post of its own. Stay tuned.

  2. french doors and verandahs

    This gave me a real laugh…and kind of nice to know I am not alone! My husband does often tell me that I am an 80 year old woman in an early thirties body. I look 30 and act 80. Where do I start? Talk back radio, ABC, LOVE gardening, can cook better than any CWA lady, love tea from the pot in a cup and saucer, sensible shoes, sensible PJs, love old lady hats in summer and already have to my husband’s amusement) and buggy to push down the shops – it is red if that’s any consolation? But SSSHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone!
    X Briohny.

  3. Joy

    I’m right up with you Alison, what with the singing in the choir, crochet , cryptic crosswords, watching midsomer murders and making jam… don’t start me on triangle sandwiches and fresh scones …

  4. Tenille

    Yes, I embroider and crochet, though I don’t have as much time for it as I did BC. Actually, the beautiful woollen baby blanket I started when pregnant is still sitting half-done in my wardrobe. Maybe one day…

  5. Deer Baby

    I second Maxabella’s comment. I can’t say I’m quite with you on the bird watching – although I did go and see a lot of stuffed tits yesterday in a museum (don’t ask). there on the knitting, liking a cosy shawl on my knees, drifting off for a nice nap….

    But not sensible shoes. Never. I still love a tottering heel. Not so good for my corns.

  6. Toni

    For the last 10 years I’ve been living in the god-forsaken deserts of WA where the only birdlife to speak of was crows, who are like the Beagle Boys of the bird world, and not particularly fun to watch.
    But now we’ve moved back to the coast and I see new (to my eyes anyway) parrots, blue wrens, willie wagtails, a couple of ducks that have adopted my kids for the bread payoffs, and numerous other birds that I can’t identify — and we’re going to put in a birdbath and some plants to encourage them.
    I’m thinking my inner-Nana is going to love this spring.

  7. Aging Mommy

    Australian scenery and wildlife is amazing, I think I might be persuaded living where you do. But no, bird watching is not really for me. If I get any free time then hiking, walking and taking photos is what I love to do.

  8. Maxabella

    The quieter pursuits are what we arrive at when we have exhausted ourselves in the pusuit of the meaningless. I love my oldie past-times. They are all things I can contentedly do on my own.

  9. MultipleMum

    I’m quite partial to a bird watch. It goes well with bushwalking and relaxing in the backyard which are two of my other favourite pastimes. Most happy to look at them, not so happy with them flapping overhead. Nothing wrong with embracing your inner-Nanna!

  10. Lucy

    All so very reasurring.

    Lovely husband often is amazed at my ability to name birds and plants. As I am too, to be ftank.

    I have no idea from where it comes, but I suspect via osmosis from my grandparents. Who I have aspired to emulate, since I was six.


  11. Kim

    I loved that post! I feel as you do a lot of the time…like my interests are a bore to so many others. I think their yawning is a dead give away:( Lewi, my son, is really into birds and has lots of Bird Guides he would reccommend you. He also wanted you to know that the black bird with the orange beak {do you find they trash your garden mulch? They are nightmares in my garden} is a Common Blackbird. Introduced species. LOL We’ve been seeing gorgeous blue fairy wrens lately in our garden – a first in 5 years. Birds are cool:)

  12. A-M

    Well I go to bed before 9 and get up with the sparrows… does that count? A-M xx

  13. misssy m

    Oooh, I like a good ramble and as you discovered on Twitter today I like writing letters to people complaining about their services!

    Mind you- at my age my own Mum was a champion lawn bowler- so I feel distinctly rebellious!

  14. Tricia Rose

    It’s discernment Allison, pure and simple. Have you ever read slightly cracked feminist theologian Mary Daly? She’s a great one for skewering the foreground hootinanny which distracts the undiscerning from the fascination, majesty and relevance all around us.

    Of course SHE blames men… so seventies.

  15. Tracy (ruddygood)

    I’m a bit twitchy myself. Never called it that, but since childhood, I’d happily take my backpack, some snacks, my notebook, binoculars and a compact field guide and go cross-country or bush.

    These days, being naturally more sedate (read: old), I happily enjoy the vista into the trees from my elevated back verandah, with my Field Guide at my elbow. I sit and sip my cuppa, watching the honeyeaters and rosellas and finches leaping about the callistemon tree.

    I love a good cardi, am building up the vege bed for spring planting, and have had a lifetime diet of mostly ABC and SBS. Is that a retirement community you’re building next to the Fibro?

  16. allison tait

    Wow Kirsty, we’re living the same life. You should just move next door to the Fibro and be done with it!

  17. Kirsty

    I think I’ve become old-personish since becoming a mum. Crazy… u-huh.

    I’ve gone garden crazy, knitting mad, watch mostly the ABC and SBS (as well as some Foxtel) and would rather stay at home under my blanket than head out on the town.

    I’m putting it all down to my mothering instincts. Staying close to my next and looking after my master and husband.

    Embrace your inner oldie!

Pin It on Pinterest