As the second youngest daughter of four girls, I grew up with lots of dolls and girly toys, but none of these really satisfied me. I liked climbing the apple tree in our garden and making mud pies and leaf stew for the worms and caterpillars I found in the garden. When the pond was filled in, I would spend hours in the rear garden, in my own imaginary world. My little sister spent quite a long time in hospital, so when dad would go fishing, to unwind from the hospital stresses, I tagged along!
My dad wanted a boy! After four attempts, he gave up and accepted that girls were just as important as boys. So he taught me to fish! As well as dig the garden, grow vegetables, and make a house box for my snails!
I first went fishing when I was about six years old. My dad took us to Stratford upon Avon, where he spent the day fishing and my mum took us around the park. I grew bored with the swings and roundabout, I wanted to catch a fish! Just because I was a girl. Didn’t mean I couldn’t do what boys could. So my dad went out and bought me a junior fishing rod, little net bag and off I went on fishing adventures with my dad.
The Moody Cows!
One Saturday morning, my dad woke me at about 6am. We were driving to another fishing site. Dad parked the car, we took all the fishing equipment out of the car and made our way, over the stile fence. We walked through a big field which led into another field, closer to the pool. My dad took his usual big for strides and I waddled along behind him, carrying the net bag. There were lots of piles of cow dung! So it took me longer to follow my dad, because these huge lumps of smelly cow dung blocked my path and my little legs couldn’t step over them, so I had to walk around them. I dodged my way through, keeping my eyes fixed on the ground, to avoid standing into the cow dung. It was a bit like playing twister, stretching in compromising positions! Avoiding getting any cow dung on my wellingtons! Then a huge cow came into view. And It was huge! I stopped and looked at the animal, I’d never seen a real cow before? then I stepped to my left, to avoid crossing the cows path. The cow then moved backwards, to stop me from walking past. So I looked on the ground and revised my path. This time, I’ll walk the other way, and the cow walked forward, again, to block my pathway. (this was weird – could it read my mind?) As I stepped closer, the cow was face to face with me. I froze in fear as this black nose with steam emitting and these two dark brown eyes and pointy ears, glared into my soul!
I looked down and I could see Several piles of cow dung, surrounding my path. The cow stared at me and I softly whispered in my anxious seven year old voice. ‘Scuse me…. please.. mrs cow!’ I was a bit scared because she wouldn’t move. I was also fascinated at the animal, it was huge, a lot bigger than me too. After a few moments of nervous breathing, I gave up staring at the cow and looked behind me, to see if I could find another route to the pool. Then a hand clutched my heart, there were another seven cows around me, I took a 360 turn, my eyes widened, my mouth dropped. I was now surrounded by a sea of cows faces. The herd encircled me, where I stood in the middle, dumbfounded!
I could feel the fear inside welling up as the herd of cows surrounded me. Isolated…. guarded and alone. I thought I was their dinner and the tears started to pool in my eyes. My bottom lip quivered as I tried really hard to be brave and strong in the middle of these big animals. I thought they were going to eat me!
I was scared….. I was really scared. There were another four patches of cow dung around us, ironically, the cows never stepped into their own dung, I guess they must have an internal antennae to protect them? I on the other hand, wanted to avoid getting smelly dung on my green wellingtons!
I crouched down, there was an exit through their legs, but it would mean that I would touch them and that might upset them, then they would definitely eat me. I remembered the story about Tarzan, I wondered if he felt scared when the apes found him in the jungle?
There was no other way out. I had to do what every girl does when in distress. I yelled out ‘DAAAAADDDDDDDDYYYYYYYY’ at the top of my lungs. The tears of fear started to drop from my eyes.
The cows started to ‘moo’ louder and I put my fingers into my ears. I didn’t want to hear what would happen next. I saw the cows start to shuffle through my tear welled eyes. I looked up and saw my dad, he was smacking the cows rear, and they moved aside. My dad reached his hand forward to me… ‘what you doing down there?’ He asked.
‘You walked too fast?’ I blubbered. ‘The cow dung is everywhere and the cow wouldn’t move when I asked her nicely, I did ask nicely? And I got stuck…. and…. you walked too fast.’ I blubbered as the tears spilt down my face.
‘Come on,’ he replied as the path was now clear. I picked up the net bag and weaved put away from the herd of cows, following my dads footsteps. We found a dirt track at the bottom of the field which was clear from cow dung. I was still looking behind me as I followed my dad, I was still a little unsettled and couldn’t carry the bag over my shoulder, the net bag was now being dragged over the rubble and stones on the dirt track. ‘Are you sure they won’t follow us daddy!’ I wasn’t convinced and kept looking behind.
Finally, we made it to the pool. I got myself a hot drink of tea from the flask and sat and watched my dad, set up the tackle. I saw the slingshot and put some maggots in the sling and shot them into the pool to feed the fish.
‘Not yet not yet,’ my dad exclaimed. Prising the slingshot out of my hands. ‘We can’t feed them yet, or else they won’t come up for a bite!’ I took some bread and made broke it up for the birds while my dad set my rod and reel up.
It was a good day and I caught a fish – a bream, along with the poolside histrionics of feeling like this tiny fish was going to pull me into the water. When we were taking the equipment down and putting it away, I wandered around the pool with my slingshot and a box of maggots, feeding the pool with my slingshots, it was great fun.
A couple of weeks later, my dad went fishing, when he returned he said to my mum. ‘I caught seven fish today and when I lifted my bag out from the pool, there was only one left! They must of bit into the net and made a hole – to get out? Can you get your sewing kit out, I need to repair the net!’ He said to my mother. The fishing net was spread out across the living room where the holes were repaired.
It’s possible that maybe I made the holes in the net bag, dragging them over the stones and rubble! However, I maintain my seven year old innocence…… It was definitely the fishes that cut the net……… It wasn’t me?