I think Sherlock has now forgiven me for waking him from his slumbers for an early morning walk. He is back lying on the sofa on his mountain of carefully assembled cushions; in deep slumber. He hasn’t moved for an hour…at least. Earlier in the half light of dawn we had dragged each other down to the river. Standing on the bridge and looking downstream I scanned the river for any sign of life- it’s what we anglers do. The river gave away no secrets; it’s surface resembling a sheet of glass, evoking memories of the severe winter of January 1979 when the ice was so thick you could walk along the river- between it’s banks.
Continuing downstream, enjoying the cool morning air I began to tune into the sounds of nature waking up. Above the tranquil babbling noise of the river sliding by, in my left ear I could hear a couple of male pheasants coughing insults at each other in their harsh rasping tones; accompanied by the almost sarcastic laughing calls of a mallard or two. In my right ear there was a constant cooing from the woodpigeons that clattered in the trees and the occasional hoot from a little owl that was obviously finishing his shift a little late. This soundscape sounded so familiar; but from where? Not from previous walks. Shutting my eyes to take it all in, it suddenly came to me. I was back in the 1970’s lying on my bed listening to Pink Floyd’s “Granchester Meadows” through my head phones…birdsong and riversongs in glorious stereo.
We ambled along through the woods. Sherlock, in full investigation mode was twenty yards behind; as always. Me; I was battling with the fine dewbound strands of cobwebs that wrapped themselves seamlessly around my face. With flaying, almost apologetic hands I wiped them away, feeling guilty for destroying the hard work of all those spiders. Maybe Shelob, Tolkien’s famous arachnid demon will be waiting to reap revenge somewhere down this track. Strangely, here, I had another musical reminicence. 1984. I was in the Great Hall at Exeter University. Marillion were on their “Fugazi” tour. Most of the band were on stage, the notes of “Assassing” began. Centrestage there was a huge web made from spun glass. As the tribal drum intro continued, the lead singer Fish was supposed to burst through this web and start to sing. But in true Spinal Tap mode he got tangled and had to sing the opening lines whilst trying to untangle himself. The show must go on.
Back to the river, the air was filled with the sickly sent of Balsam. The path winding through an avenue of said balsam, with the exploding seed heads sending a salvo of seeds as we brushed against them, head high teasels, spent thistles that looked like bedraggled candyfloss and out of reach ripe ready blackberries. Lurking at knee height the nettles got my legs tingling. Well it wouldn’t be a good walk without a nettle sting or two. Sherlock decided to go for a paddle and a drink, the minnows in the shallows got a rude awakening. There was a disturbance on the far bank; followed by a loud plop as an otter slid off the bank and sunk subsurface into the sanctuary of the tree roots. I stood and waited for it’s reappearance. Scanning the river up and down for any sighting we waited; well, I waited; Sherlock was already heading home. I gave up the vigil. The Otter had won this time. Catching up with Sherlock, my head already thinking of hot coffee and a bacon sandwich. Sherlock’s head was obviously already thinking of creating a cushion nest on the sofa.