More talex from the banks of the River Wissey
The alarm clock went off. It was so early it was silly and still dark. Wind battered the house and driving rain beat on the window. Dread of all dreads I had arranged to meet a mate at the river and to be out in the boat for first light. With supreme effort I left a cosy bed and could fully appreciate why certain animals choose to hibernate at this time of the year!
Not long afterwards I was pushing the boat away from its mooring. We glided out into mid-water. It was as near to black as black and we rowed away relying mainly on instinct. We wrestled the wind and rain to make very slow headway. Eventually night vision took over and improved matters. A party of geese scattered and made known their annoyance as we rowed through the middle of them. At last we anchored in the shelter of tall reed beds and with our voyage behind us the weather seemed to improve. The rain had eased and the river was left with a nice chop which was perfect for a day's pike fishing. The plan was to be over a deep hole but we had to wait to check our geography.
Gradually the darkness turned to grey. It was never going to be a bright day but there was now a familiarity. We could just see the opposite bank together with the all important tree which confirmed our navigation to be correct. Despite the rain which had become an annoying drizzle there was a realisation of complete freedom with all reference to man's daft world completely missing! Rain dripped from the trees and undergrowth and at intervals we were sprayed when the wind flattened the reed beds behind us. Ironically the moon, which had been missing, decided to put in a late appearance but it obviously realised all was futile so promptly disappeared again.
Suddenly my mate gave me a prod. On the opposite bank two red deer appeared. The lack of light was disappointing but we could just see them surveying the river up and down. They kept exchanging positions as if posing for a family photograph but alas, the pages of the book started to turn fast! Our attention was drawn by a great uproar of honking and clatter. Unbeknown to us the field behind contained hundreds of geese who decided to prepare for flight. A mass take-off just cleared the top of our reed bed and disappeared noisily over the tree line. We looked again at the deer but alas they had gone and were not to be seen again. A few minutes later, following behind the main flight of geese, came the inevitable stragglers - perhaps the slow witted or the old and infirm and you always wonder if they ever catch up!
The dim half-light continued and dawn was definitely having a lay in! Then skimming the water came and went the blue flash of a kingfisher. He had started his business early and we knew we would now see him up and down for the rest of the morning. The wind returned with gusto and attempted to uproot the reed beds behind us. Our sheltered spot was no more and the boat rocked alarmingly. Our confidence in it's sea-worthiness was severely questioned. Then through the noise of the wind we heard another beating of wings. This time it was more deliberate and methodical whereupon down the centre of the river came four swans with their five foot spans in precise formation. They landed a short distance away providing a brilliant whiteness lighting up the gloom. There they were to stay and supervise us for the rest of the morning.
It was still early on the clock and we just sat there agog watching all the episodes of 'The Mother Nature Show' from the best grandstand seats on the River Wissey! Full attention to our fishing returned and our floats carried on bobbing up and down riding the waves. Almost instantly one decided to snake off downstream but unfortunately it stopped. I sat on my hands to avoid the temptation of doing anything remiss. Eventually it continued on its way down the river to finally disappear into the deeps. I struck hard to find a solid resistance - it was certainly something big but surely the morning couldn't get any better?