Shaken, not Stirred

I am sitting at my desk in a delightful room in the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento, contemplating how to spend my last full day here in California.

Tomorrow will be all about getting home. I will check out at about 10 am local time on Sunday and, even if everything goes smoothly, I won’t arrive at home in Manchester until 3 pm the following day. That’s 22 hours of basically sitting on my arse on a plane, albeit interspersed with occasional dashes between terminals at airports on connecting flights. My connections will be at Los Angeles and London Heathrow. The last time I did this I made the mistake of connecting at Atlanta, which just happened to be experiencing a big storm which prevented my plane from landing until after my next flight had left for London. I am very confident that the weather in LA will be splendid, so I do not anticipate a repeat of that disaster.

Speaking of weather, which I often do, I have noticed that the temperature here today will rise to 29 Celsius whereas in Manchester it will be 22 degrees cooler at 7 Celsius. If ever there was a clear sign that beekeeping is different in different locations surely this starkly illustrates the point. On Wednesday I was visiting some of Randy Oliver’s apiaries where he is conducting field trials, and it was like a Summer’s day back in the UK, although the flora is quite sparse here at this time. He was testing a new protein patty formulation which he was feeding to his bees. Presumably, my bees in Cheshire will not even fly today; they will be clustering into a ball and slowing right down.

Temperature Difference: Here vs. Home
Temperature Difference: Here vs. Home


I think I went through eight time zones to get here, so I should be entirely over my jet lag by 29th October. The trouble is, my flight home, back through those same time zones in reverse, is on the 28th. My walrus head is likely to be somewhat shaken for a few days yet. At the moment I am slightly dizzy and have a mild background headache. This is how I always feel after long journeys. I also find myself dropping to sleep way before my usual bedtime of 1am, and I wake up at 6 am which, trust me, is very out of character.

Despite being an outwardly calm chap, I do suffer a tad from travel anxiety. I should be used to it by now, but alas, before and sometimes during every trip, I go over in my mind all of the things that can go wrong. It’s not so much plummeting out of the sky that occupies my thoughts; it’s missing flights or losing luggage or driving in a strange land with strange customs. I was vexed at the prospect of driving over here but have found it to be very straightforward. This country is built for drivers so I should not have been surprised. One odd thing I have noticed over here is that when turning right at traffic lights, even if it is red, they go if it is clear. Also, the order of play at intersections took some getting used to; when you arrive at one you stop, and everyone takes turns to go in the order in which they arrived. How quaint!

The important thing is that I have now finished all of the interviews and will be able to focus on writing my book over the Winter. Many of the beekeepers that I have visited have 40 plus years of beekeeping experience under their belts, and many are second or third generation beekeepers; it is in their blood. My challenge, and it’s one I willingly embrace, is to take all of that knowledge, all of those stories and lessons and memories, and turn it into something that beekeepers everywhere will read and enjoy. I feel privileged to have been able to meet and learn from so many legendary beekeepers who are at the peak of their powers.

Right, I have decided! I’ll have some brunch at Echo & Rig downstairs. I should eat well while I can; tomorrow it will be aeroplane food, and as I’m not in business class I’m confident it won’t be as good as the “farm-to-fork” cuisine available in this fine city.

3 thoughts on “Shaken, not Stirred

  1. I’d make sure you’ve got your big coat ready for when you get off the plane. It’s perishing cold in Greater Manchester today!

  2. Peter Walker

    Really looking forward to the book – better to have too much material than too little! Winter has arrived here on the southern edge of Salisbury Plain (about 7 miles west of Stonehenge). Ivy has now finished and the apiary closed for the winter, less weekly checks.

  3. Looking forward to reading your book! Winter is the perfect time for writing.

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