River Wissey Lovell Fuller


June 2008

Another delightful tale from the banks of the Wissey

I turn off the tarmac road down a narrow grassy track and enter a completely different world. I leave behind the convoys of lorries and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here beside the river is my utopia with total peace and tranquillity. Both universes run parallel to each other and are separated by just a few minutes of anybody's time. Transfer from one to the other is simple but alas most people are part of the hectic race and pace so they do not make the journey. Thankfully for me time is plentiful. I have escaped (for which I am eternally grateful) and thus often have the endless banks of the river Wissey all to myself!

Frequent visits could be imagined as boring and repetitive but this is not so. Within the distance of a few miles the geography has many changes. The narrow fast flowing upper stretches soon lead to the slow and wider sections and each has its own happenings, creatures and features. Nature like the river itself is always moving and does not stop.

Today is hot and tepid. There is no breath in the air. It is slow and melancholy. Bright green and blue painted dragonflies flit backwards and forwards between the towering reed mace like intrepid circus performers. Hosts of delicate nymphs and flies weave intricate patterns and below in the shallows the water buttercups provide colour amid the beds of water mint. Every form of insect life seems represented above and below the surface. Beetles and bugs, water boatmen and more amass and just heave in large numbers. Countless fat tadpoles furiously wriggle but make no headway and streams of tiny bubbles indicate more unseen but busy beings. An almost unnoticed newt in holiday mode idly floats along enjoying the sun and just sums up the whole lazy atmosphere.

Then horror of horrors! A large white cruiser with gleaming stainless steel trim moors up regardless of the many notices forbidding such an unwelcome act. Children galore pour out followed by a crocodile of gross adults. Shouting fills the air and a radio at full volume shatters the peace. A radius is scourged for firewood and branches are wrenched from trees. A fire is made and soon volumes of smoke drift in thick clouds across the river and beyond. A barbeque banquet follows and beer cans are emptied and thrown into the water. To the surprise of the ignorant they float and become targets for stone throwing. The calamity spreads along the bank as trees are climbed and geese are chased but mercifully there is a god and the destruction of all around is coming to an end. A claxton horn blasts to summon the trippers back to their floating grotto and soon the mysterious tribe disappear down the river in a gigantic tidal wave of wash.

With total relief I recover from my faraway thoughts. I had momentarily been lost in timelessness. Some may describe it as sleep but to me it was a nightmare. I peer down again into the river and see a fleet of tiny fry darting about. A water snail pauses amid its laborious journey to cross a lily pad leaf. A father frog pops its head out of the watercress and blinks (or was it a wink?) and nothing has changed. Thankfully everything is still as it was intended to be!

Ivor Hook

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