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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Well I'll say one thing: it doesn't take long to do an annual glow worm survey when there's only about twelve of them. Lisa obviously splatted more in her youth than I realised. Mind you, luminous beetles may have been thin on the ground, but they still outnumbered us humans by two to one. Let's just say there wasn't a lot of life at Waterhall last night.

Personally I blame Brighton & Hove Albion. They were playing a pre-season friendly against Fulham yesterday evening, and felt that gave them the right to close all the roads around Withdean, meaning that anyone hoping to hunt glow worms in the dark had to take a major detour around the northern reaches of Brighton just to get to the car park.

Lisa and I were actually the first ones there, and by standing purposefully in the dark we managed to attract a further two adults and two children, after which the leader of the gang arrived. Five minutes late. It turned out to be my old mate Dave Larkin, accompanied by his wife (or possibly just an ardent stalker). Unfortunately Dave couldn't get his landrover into the car park as the council have erected a height barrier to keep out travellers, so he had to park further down the road with the other gypsies.

I'm not sure if Dave recognised me from Stanmer Park, and I decided not to tell him that I'd made him famous with a very bad pun, but as the only two people there who seemed to be in possession of a set of vocal chords, Dave and I spent most of the next hour chatting about glow worms, vipers and the positive benefits of sheep on landfill sites.

Waterhall, it turns out, used to be a rubbish dump, and is now home to numerous adders - news which filled Lisa with much excitement. Almost enough to make her head back to the car. But we did learn a new word: 'refugia', which is the technical term for a strategically placed plank of wood or sheet of metal under which Dave hoped to find Britain's deadliest snake. Sadly, having lifted half a dozen refugias, all we discovered was a slow worm, various slugs and a spider.

I asked Dave if we should be scared of adders, and he said that the only person to be hospitalised from an adder bite in the last thirty years was waving two of them in the air by the tail at the time, while his mate took a photo. So the answer's essentially no.

Having encountered a toad and lots of stinging nettles, we did eventually find the glow worms, which had turned out in such low numbers that even the children could count them. Not that I blame them - I wouldn't want to live on a former landfill site either.

As for today, well the beach volleyball centre down the road from me is playing host to the Lamisil Once Footvolley International. I find it hard to get excited about an event named after a treatment for Athlete's Foot, but according to the website it's an exciting sporting occasion which has attracted teams from Brazil, Holland and Spain. So if they can travel thousands of miles from Rio, I ought to be able to walk the five minutes to Madeira Drive in the rain.