Before I commence I'd like to say that I am not intending to provoke or annoy anyone in particular. I'm a relative newcomer to the delights of bird watching and I am learning fast. I am no youngster (61) but have a young outlook.
OK then on to the nitty gritty: Booked and paid for 2 places for Havergate without problem, in fact too easy as no RSPB membership number was requested. Turned up on the day and embarked without any check at all as to identity - anyone could have clambered aboard. We almost departed too soon after an apparently satisfactory head count as we were about to leave when a final unexpected guest arrived a mere 5 minutes early and was very close to being left behind. I can only assume he had booked. Access to the October Storm was a little awkward...one lady did actually fall off the upturned plastic crate which was used as a step down onto the craft. She was unharmed but embarrassed.No safety instructions were given and we were not told where safety equipment was located, if in fact it existed. Some may think I'm being a little PC here but my impression is an injury or negligence lawsuit is easily there to be had for someone of that inclination and my main concern is the RSPB finance situation; could it afford such litigation?
Arrival at the island was, however, uneventful - no one fell overboard. I enjoyed the boat trip even if my backside had lost all feeling. We were greeted by Monika who was an absolute delight, helpful, friendly chatty and informative with a sexy accent to boot. I, personally, would have liked a couple of 'dos and donts' as I fell foul of the other guide (male, possibly David?) by stupidly nipping up to the top of the bank by the visitor centre and taking a couple of photos. Really daft and inconsiderate thing to do as I disturbed a flock of Avocets. I just wasn't thinking and apologise unreservedly to anyone who was studying them. That's a faux pas that will not be repeated. The polite but firm telling off I received unnerved me and I was very unsure from then on as to what I could and couldn't do hence my earlier comment, it could have spoiled my day if I'd let it.
The north hide saved the day. Saw many species and met up with a luvly fellow visitor with a great (helpful) attitude. Really down to earth yet obviously knew much more than I about everything to do with birds yet did not have that 'experts' attitude with which many of us are all too familiar and does an awful lot of damage.
Notwithstanding all I have said I did enjoy the day and I shall go again so all is not lost.
Thank you for your feedback and comments. We will evaluate accordingly and look to make changes where possible and practical.
I am pleased you enjoyed your first trip to the island