Our car needing the sort of things that cars needs (and a few that they shouldn’t), we’ve spent quite a bit of time down in Stratford recently. And whilst our car’s garage does have a set of hexibugs that Kitty gravitates to as soon as we walk through the door, it doesn’t really hold enough interest to keep a Mama, a Kitty and an Elma occupied for the full couple of hours it takes to do whatever it is that they do (can you tell that my version of car maintenance is to do whatever the garage, H and the warning lights tell me to!).
And so we found ourselves wandering through a frozen quiet town centre while the fog lingered, wrapped around streetlights like a damp fluffy pillow, shrouding the new and shiny bits from view until you could easily see the ghost of the place it was a hundred or so years ago.
Kitty’s absolute bestest most definite first choice for the morning’s activity had been to feed the ducks, and after she’d repeated it a dozen or so times it started to feel like it had always been our plan, and so we put layers on top of more layers and headed out into the bitter cold.
Stratford on a sunny day is warm and tranquil, a picturesque classic English river scene, complete with swans and people mucking about in boats, and, if you’re very lucky/unlucky (depending on your point of view) the Top Gear team in a Hovervan. On a misty morning, with passers by swallowed up by the fog almost as soon as you’d spotted them, it’s completely different, and barely populated (see above reference to bitter cold for why!).
We found a great vantage point on the canal bridge where Kitty could scatter bread crumbs through the railings to the hordes below without there being any chance of an inquisitive swan coming up to her for a closer look.
Well, it’s true about the swans not coming closer. The pigeons soon caught up with us (but she’s not so afraid of them) and then there were the gulls, swooping in in a wide arc to dodge and outmanoeuvre the heavier swans in the quest for a morsel of bread. Most of them settled for flying close above the surface of the water, bobbing and weaving among the other birds. All apart from this chap.
This one gull had us figured out. He flew deep circles, low over the water and then banking high up to the level of the bridge, at which point he would pretty much backpedal; hovering in the air.
It’s truly rather surreal to be stared down by a seagull hovering at your eye level only a few feet away.
We fed the swans and the seagulls, the geese, the ducks and one stray coot over and over until at last Kitty declared her hands to be “freezeling” despite her mittens, and a search for cake to be a medical necessity.
I’ve fed ducks too many times to count, both as a child and a Mama, but never quite like this.