While I've been going on [and on] about the Buzzard we spotted while in Scotland last month, I've neglected to tell you about how we met the heron.
We were visiting Coldstream on a special nostalgia trip for James who had spent many happy holidays there as a child with his Nan and Grandpa, yet he'd not visited there since.
Many of our short breaks away are pretty much spur of the moment with hardly any research into where we're going, apart from a cursory Google-around, and the same went for this trip. And, as James is a natural navigator and knew that, after a quick glance at a map, finding the actual town wouldn't be a problem.
He also assumed that finding the exact spot beside the river Tweed which we were looking for, the green on which his grandparents' caravan used to berth, would be just as straightforward.
But it wasn't.
Parking in the first carpark we could find we set off on foot down a road which he thought felt vaguely familiar. After all, how hard can it be to find a caravan park full of caravans. They're not the easiest thing to hide are they? If they're still open after 30 years that is ...
We rounded a corner which felt promising ... and discovered a small stream which was clearly not the river Tweed and I watched as James cast his eye around for a glimpse of any wide open space, a field, a caravan-park-sized area beyond the trees.
But there wasn't one.
Seemingly there was only a road to one side, and a footpath and houses to the other. Then, ahead of us, spanning the stream, stood a small wooden footbridge towards which we walked and stood and looked down into the clear trickling water ... because ... because that's what you do with bridges isn't it? Especially when you don't know what else to do. Or where to go. And you're wondering if you've travelled over 100 miles and 30 years to relive a memory that might not be there anymore.
As James faced downstream, I turned to face the opposite direction just as several pigeons took off from the bankside and flew over us and that's when I saw it ... the heron.
It was on the bank, where the pigeons had been and was just about to take flight itself. And in that split second in which I noticed it, and noticed that it was about to fly away, I managed to spit out a rather baffled:
"What's that?" ... and as James turned to see what I was talking about, and just as he was muttering "It's a pigeon" ... it came flying directly at us calling out loudly as it just missed our heads!
But it wasn't a pigeon. It was a heron. Or, as James suggested, ... a pterodactyl. But for argument's sake, let's settle on a heron shall we?
As any scrapbooker worth her salt would, I reached for the camera and attempted to get a shot of it, where it had landed slightly further downstream a few metres aways from us. But just as I got it in focus ... it flew away: Can you spot it, just above the grass there, it's wings at full span? Every time we crept up on it, camera in hand, it waited until we were just nearby, eye to view-finder, finger to button ... then flew away. Ahead. Along. Every time tempting us further along the stream until ...
...until suddenly the trees cleared, the water widened and we saw it ... ... the river Tweed.
But not just any stretch of the river Tweed. The exact spot along the river which James remembers paddling in. Just metres away from where the caravan once stood. And then, either we stopped looking for him or he flew clear away out of sight, I can't remember which but, whichever it was, I guess we didn't need the heron anymore.
After all, I had views like this: And James had some 30 year old memories to keep him company ... ... and his Nan and Grandpa. And while we didn't quite re-live his paddling days full-on....
... we did get the soles of our feet wet: We could have spent months in advance planning such a trip. Taking care of every last detail, knowing precisely where we were headed. Printing out detailed maps and directions and relying on GPS.
And, do you know what?
It couldn't have been any more entirely perfect than our 'let's just go and see what happens' day was. Because, the thing is ...... you can't book a heron tour guide. You've just got to get lucky.
And we were lucky.