In the 90s, the price of a round of bowling ensured that an outing to Megabowl, that holy temple of sweaty shoe hire, retained the status of an exotic event. My family, as a herd, was always sceptical of any special occasion that might warrant a wild frivolity like leaving the house en masse, and nearly as dubious about birthday celebrations, so my experience of Megabowl was limited to rare invites to other kids’ birthday parties. It always retained an air of mystery….and slight foreboding.
(Celebrations in our house are nuclear and cake-based, with accompanying candles on the occasion that someone haS the forethought to locate them and dig them out – usually with much aggravated cursing. As I get older, I find this a perfectly sound festive strategy.)
Then the internet took over the world and the cinema and the Megabowl struggled to compete with the convenience of not leaving the house for overpriced chips, popcorn and slushies. So, now, where Warner Bros., Megabowl, Chiquitos, Deep Pan Pizza &c. all stood, is a levelled arena of disused concrete, derelict and heavily fortified against caravans.
The rain yesterday morning was torrential, and it was well into the afternoon that I reluctantly ventured out into the receding drizzle on an errand. From the supermarket carpark opposite, former-Megabowl had become a wide and shallow Lake Megabowl, and on it were a happy crowd of assorted gulls. I don’t know if they are usually there after a serious downpour, but it takes a PROPER deluge to flood the place and at this time of year the rainwater evaporates fast.
This morning curiosity got the better of me, and after an early-morning trundle around my local patch, during which I saw a lovely bull finch and also the kingfisher, some goosanders, a greenfinch and a cormerant, I decided it was worth cycling up to see if there were any gulls still hanging about that might be prepared to be photographed.
As expected Lake Megabowl has now reduced in the July sunshine back to The Megabowl Puddle. As I pedalled closer, what from a distance might have been birds, on closer inspection turned out to be a scattering of bricks and rubble. At approaching midday, and disappointed I coasted the bike the length of the site, just to be sure the gulls weren’t hiding, but there was nothing doing, until some movement caught my eye, and at a squint I could see that a handful of gulls were sunbathing on the warm concrete in the middle of the site.
So I got the shots that I came for. No surprise fancy waterbirds, in fact, not much water, but some contented gulls that appear to have found a safe haven amongst the flattened and cleared rubble of Megabowl where they have a 360 view, warm concrete, an intermittent lake, and a nearby rubbish dump. If you’re a gull, I bet a summer residence doesn’t get much better than that!