Riverwatch - Memories of A Special Day!
Tom was 12 years old and lived in a busy town. Most school holidays he stayed with his grand parents. He didn't question why and his Dad merely explained that it was 'best for him'. However Tom didn't mind at all. He really enjoyed his stays because his grand parents lived in a house in the country. It was surrounded by fields and woods and an adjoining field had several horses who were always happy to befriend anyone. The days were so different to town life. However there was another reason he loved staying there – it was because there was Timmy!
Timmy was a sheep dog who just adored Tom. The two were inseperable. Tom took Timmy for long walks. At meal times Timmy would always sit under Tom's chair and Tom was the only person in the whole wide world who didn't get tired throwing a ball for Timmy over and over again!
It was now the Autumn half term holiday and Tom had been staying with his grand parents for three days and tomorrow he was going on an adventure! He was going fishing with his grandad. Grandad was always telling Tom of big catches and monster fish but never before had he been allowed to go with him. He had often asked to go but had always been told he was not old enough! Then, that morning at breakfast, his grandad had announced that they were going fishing the next day.
They had to be up very early so Tom was sent to bed straight after tea. He didn't argue, in fact the fresh air always tired him out, but he also enjoyed sleeping in this particular bed as it had a feather mattress. Did you know the best way to get into such a bed is to run and jump so you get in the middle without disturbing the edges! He was soon fast asleep in the land of dreams with Timmy also asleep at the bottom of the bed!
The next morning they were beside the river before it was even light. In fact it was still pitch black. There was a cold wind but he was already hot. His granny had knitted him a balaclarva helmet and had insisted he wear it. He didn't like it at all but knew it was best not to say anything!
Grandad had a small rowing boat and they filled it up with rods and bags - most of which were a mystery to Tom. They rowed up the middle of the river in the darkness. Grandad knew where he was going but all Tom could see was the vague shape of Timmy sitting at the front of the boat looking self important as they cut through the water. Gradually Tom could see more clearly and he noticed that the sky ahead had a red glow. Grandad told him to keep watching. The red got brighter, then changed to orange with yellow patterns. Tom had never seen anything like it before. In fact because he lived in a town he had never seen a sunrise before. Soon they moored the boat in the middle of nowhere and Grandad lit his pipe, as he wasn't allowed to smoke at home. Then all three just sat on the bank and enjoyed the moment, with its perfect peace and calm, with a mug of hot tea.
Their quiet was rudely interupted by a loud noise and it got louder and louder. A large flight of geese had taken off from the fields behind them and with a great clatter and honking the birds passed right over their heads. It was quite spectacular and Grandad said there must be over 60 birds.
When they unpacked the boat Tom was shown lots of rods and nets. He liked the tackle box best with all the different coloured floats, the lead weights in small metal boxes and lots of strange things that were all used for fishing. Throughout the morning he was shown how to use a full size fishing rod and reel and became quite good at casting. Grandad said he was casting too many times and needed more patience but Tom just liked casting! They caught several bream but strangely what Tom enjoyed most was seeing the kingfishers flying up and down the river. They were just like blue flashes skimming the water. Then they saw a heron on the opposite bank standing in the shallows although at first it looked like the reeds. They saw ducks flying over and Tom was told how they fly in lines whereas the geese fly in V's. Behind them in a field was a warren and lots of rabbits which Timmy would normally chase but when he's out fishing he knew he had to behave. All afternoon grandad told Tom more about the wildlife. He learnt the difference between morehens and a grebes, how the pheasants roost in trees at night and how the swans sleep as they float along. Then just before they packed up to go home a great big splash came from the middle of the river and made enormous waves. Grandad thought it was a pike chasing another fish and said there were very large pike in the river and that another time they would try to catch one.
That night Tom went to bed even earlier as he was completely exhausted. Tomorrow he was going to collect conkers and take some back to his school friends. For sure he will be the 'conker champion' as his granny was going to bake some in the oven just for Tom to use! However his special day by the river was to remain a memory for ever. In fact it was that same day that made him a true fisherman and a lover of the countryside for life! I know because I was that person 57 years ago!
By Ivor Hook