So there I was this morning, on my customarily gentle early morning jog above the river bend and the rumbling weir, slapping gently down the hill, half a mile from where the lovely soft-red row of tied cottages leans dutifully towards the tiny, perfect church and green yewy graveyard at Liston. I passed the pond with its solitary tooting coot on my right; and the picture-box blue and white clapboarded mill house on my left. And I’d crossed the Weak Bridge a few paces before the official border between Essex and Suffolk. It’s nice to cross two counties under your own steam.
Suddenly a heron skimmed low over my head and knocked the breath out of me. I’ve never been so close to a heron’s undercarriage.
Moments later, ruminating upon a short ditty to celebrate the moment, I followed the river, admiring the dazzling white of may blossom, cow parsley, dead-nettle and campion, half- thinking to myself that you never see white campion in Herefordshire and idly watching for ducks. As I approached the elbow where the river turns under another bridge and cuts along towards Sudbury I noticed (needing to squint because the sun comes right at you at that time of day) a figure restraining a spaniel and clinging to a paper bag.
“Just the one duck, then,” I said and the man nodded mournfully. The dog pulled at its leash – not towards me but back along the road towards the weir. It was then I had my second heart- thumping shock of the morning. A tall athletic looking girl in full be-tighted, body-hugging pink and purple gear was power-walking behind me, elbowing aside midges and a slight head-wind. She was gaining fast. The humiliation!
Foolishly I put on a spurt towards Long Melford high street, pursued by cracking gorgon steps, terrified that I should be overtaken, not just by a girl but by a walker!
Near Miss (1)
By the Weak Bridge at Liston
A heron skimmed my shining crown.
No doubt he took it for a pond.
Sorry was I to let him down.
Near Miss (2)
How foolish that a septuagenarian
Should feel an impulse so barbarian.
Still, risking death, I spurted, ran like hirl,
Rather than be o’ertaken by a walking girl.