As I sit here looking out across the valley, my two dogs howling in the back ground at the church bells that are ringing out across the countryside. The skylarks high in the sky all competing to be heard in amongst life’s tapestry of colour and ambience of sound. Poppies in the distance, an orangey red with a gentle swaying movement in amongst the greens of our gorgeous English landscape. Something so very biblical the morning after the longest day of the year.
Last evening about 7:15pm I left the house, fly rod in hand, a couple of slices of bread, a lump of cheese and a can of cider. The evening was going to start with a few hours fly fishing down on the river followed by my annual summer solstice acquaintance with my Badgers up at the Badger sett. I walked through my garden where a couple of Muntjack and three Red Deer were nibbling about on my lawn looking for the most edible treats to satisfy themselves with. There was a time when we used to try and keep them out but to be honest, the damage they do is more outweighed by the beauty of their presence.
When I arrived on the river bank I selected a fly of choice and soon I was in the most heavenly bliss. A warm summer evening, a gentle flowing river, alone with the thoughts of the moment which were mainly on just how lucky this particular river was to be graced, like most Cotswold rivers with the British Isles natural fish, the Brown Trout. Notoriously so difficult to catch and whatever age you are when you do catch one, it is the exact same feeling you had when you were lucky enough to have caught your first, excitement, satisfaction, it is an achievement of wit over nature. A barbless hook in an imitation fly. Even once hooked the way a Brown Trout fights, he is never yours until safely on the bank. You can never relax with a rising, twisting, darting Brown Trout which is so beautiful as it writhes out of the water and then splashes back down. You try to keep your line tight, but not too tight. You try to tire the fish as he continually tries to get to the faster running water. This is a sport that is a sport in the true sense of the word. Fly fishing practised properly always gives the fish a much stronger chance of getting away than it does landing one.
The evening time raced away and the sun soon began to set but I stayed on for another hour or so. As I continued to cast my fly, I noticed in the meadow behind me the Muntjack grazing with the Red deer. Two of the deer had fawns at foot. They had retrieved them from the long grass, knowing that down here by the river it was safe for them to do so to enable their fawns to break cover and enjoy the now dewy bite of fresh young grass. They were making the most of the opportunity before the sheep were once again let in on the river meadows to have their fill.
As I sat and watched them, melancholy thoughts entered into my mind of the days gone by when I had loved to race home and tell my own mother and father what I had seen and how breath taking the experience of the river had been. My own mother and father must have felt much the same as I do when my own children tell me how much they adore the experiences and beauty of this amazing piece of England.
It was now 11:45pm, I picked up my three trout and put them carefully into my bag. The river had been bountiful. Now it was time for me to go and toast the health of Daddy Cool and his family on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
I walked along towards Beech Wyn, the night was mild and the sounds of the Little Owls and Tawny Owls were breaking the silence and as I got nearer the woodland, the Bats were ever more in evidence. Always fascinating how they seemed to fly right at you and around you but never ever touching you.
Once inside the woodland, I made my way to the Northern boundary, the spot where Daddy Cool had taken his cubs once they were big enough to follow him. I passed the boulders that I had put around the main sett, to form a protection program for the Badgers now over a year ago. Mozart’s Magic Flute had proved to be a great success. The Coopers continue to devote their time and efforts in a no nonsense and considerate fashion. Their enthusiasm in protecting this woodland’s Badgers has never diminished.
At last, I was on the Northern boundary. There I sat and got the tin of cider from my bag and waited. After ten, fifteen minutes or so, the Badgers graced me with their presence. The cubs were immediately in to the hustle and bustle of their wrestling and play fighting. Amusing how the bigger they get, the more their play fighting is dampened down with firmness by their mother, for when she did appear, she had one cub on her back and another one cadging a lift on her hind leg and a third one hanging off her right ear. They are now almost as big as she.
After fifteen minutes watching their amazing showcase, Daddy Cool made his appearance. Such a handsome beast. This moment has always been so very special. I raised my can of cider and toasted his and his family’s health. Another successful season, unlike our own England football team.
Watch my short video of Daddy Cool and his family playing.
Badger in a leafy woodland. A beautiful sight to behold