Friday, 11 January 2019

THIS MAMMA WRITES... the happy place

I like to try everyday in some capacity to get over to my happy place – Horstead Mill and the river which weaves in from Coltishall to join it. The soft noise of the moving water is like a white noise machine for my boys and the clean, fresh, calm air is good for all three of us. I park myself on one of the benches by the bubbling surface – even if it’s rained and I get a wet bum – drinking luke warm coffee from a maroon Harry Potter travel mug – the epitome of cool, made even cooler by the fact that Tom and I both bought each other one for Christmas. I breathe in the quiet and the solitary feel of the place, recharging my batteries that are already beginning to drain from being awake since 4am. No one is moaning at me because they’ve done a poo, then moaning at me because I’m trying to give them a clean nappy. I don’t have to find the energy to play or entertain – for a peaceful hour they sleep and I ‘meditate’.

I’m possibly as far away from an animal lover as you could get which is strange as during childhood I had a menagerie of soft toys on which I performed emergency operations in homage to Captain Grandpa Gunning, Veterinary Surgeon of the Royal Canadian Army Veterinary Corps. This happy place however provides a lot of nature which I definitely enjoy – wild animals seem to have more appeal to me than domesticated ones and I enjoy happily collecting them in a list in my head. There’s a kingfisher who I often see which makes me very happy – the usually rarely seen jewel colours of turquoise on orange darting along the water’s surface like a beautiful bullet; then there are pheasants, herons and even once a stoat (or perhaps a weasel – I’m not Chris Packham).

Once my bum on the bench gets too cold, we go for a little walk down the path to the river, where said magnificent kingfisher occasionally makes its appearance. On some days the air is so still that the water is like glass – a mirror so vivid it even reflects back to you the textures in the clouds. I marvel at the skeletal trees, blank inky lines sketched on the surface of the sky.

Then today, from an side inlet of the river, sidles the white neck of a swan. She has a cygnet with her and she’s pretty protective. The pushchair is big and she’s territorial. I make my way further along the path but she follows, slicing shards through the surface in her wake. I stop. She stops. It’s face off with a swan and we know who’s going to win. I’ve been put off swans for life – there were loads roaming around where I went to Uni in Lincoln, getting in the way and crapping all over the pavement – the confidence to march past them gained only by the treble vodka you’d just necked in The Glasshouse next door. I turn hot on my heels to take the boys and my cold bum home – turns out this happy place is someone else’s too.

This incredible place is beautiful in all seasons, so heres a look at just why I find it so special...