life with sticks in one's head


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I’ve been back now for a few days from my epic Lewes, DE–Ardgay–Glasgow holiday. Oh, and Ardgay is in the Scottish Highlands. I had the distinct pleasure of spending a week there, in “The Manse”, a guest of Hector and Julia, two people whom I adore. Hector had failed to fulfill his promise to teach me how to fish for more than ten years, but came through as he always does when we headed out with Ben and Julia for a day on a loch (apologies! I canna remember which one!). Glorious weather, which of course is terrible for fishing, since the fish, while quite stupid generally, are bright enough to see a fishing line when the sun is shining down upon it. My casting did improve, though I continued to go too far on my back cast (to at least 3 instead of 2) and too far forward on my front cast (my rod too close to the water). That said, I did catch my first fish. Alright, so it was a baby fish and we tossed him back for another year of swimming, but a fish nonetheless. I was quite happy not to have to witness the gillie pound his wee head until he was dead, instead watching Hector perform skilful surgery to remove the hook.

Also swam in the North Sea with Ed and Hector. I won the prize for most aggressive entry, dashing at full speed into the sea, being walloped by a wave (putting my head under) and dashing at full speed out. Ed lasted about ten minutes, remarking upon how numbness helped. Hector the madman, on the other hand, spent more than 20 minutes (exceeding the 12 minute rule of the North Sea, to prevent hypothermia). Utterly numb, he played like a child, alternately swimming and jumping waves. I envied him.

Later during the week, Hector and I indulged in a naughty swim in the river behind the Manse (which is a very good fishing river, with permits costing 10,000 quid and above). It was COLD, but not quite as cold as the sea. We swam down river, apparently not noticing or avoiding the majority of absurd shallows. At a certain point, realizing the power of the current, Hector suggested we turn back. Suddenly we noticed the shallowness almost everywhere. Our return consisted mostly of horizontal climbing, gripping rocks on the bottom and pushing ourselves against the current while attempting to kick… It was a lovely swim, with equal parts silliness and conversation. As we began to approach (500m?) where we had entered the river, Hector spied a fisherman on the opposite shore. He put his finger across his lips and began looking for a place to slink guiltily out of the river. He found one, though it was rather difficult work getting out, and I had to bite my tongue not to laugh. We crept along, until we were about 50m from our clothes/towels. Hector motioned for me to hide behind some shrubs as he went on to collect our belongings. Just as Hector reached our things, the fisherman began dismantling his gear. When Hector got back, he said something like, “Fuck, my phone was on LOUD and Julia called.” He was convinced that this was the source of the fisherman’s retreat. I prefer to believe that the fisherman, who was quite aged, mistook the creeping Hector, who was donning a long-sleeved black surf shirt, for the black panther about which the local paper had been so obsessed. Alas, we’ll never know.


Written by sticksinthehead

12 September 2010 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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