Monday, 30 August 2010

Now THAT'S a room with a view

I have childhhod memories of idyllic summer sojourns with my oldest friend in this wooden cottage, perched atop a steep bank of bracken and hawthorn, the Mourne Mountains behind and an unbroken swathe of Irish Sea in front. It may give some idea of the extent to which our holidays were weather-dependent, that the builders felt the need to add steel stays to anchor the cottage in a westerly gale.
We used to catch eels in a fast-flowing stream beyond the green hill - you can just see the mouth of the valley in the middle distance - and when it wasn't too wild we trawled for mackerel from a clinker-built dinghy kept in a boathouse a quarter of a mile along the beach. Our greatest adventure was the day we realised we were in convoy with a school of a dozen basking sharks; we reeled in our lines and watched in stunned, and mildly apprehensive silence as they cruised in splendid langour beside us, great jaws agape for plankton.

We called by yesterday, and walked along the shingle beach like old times. Eddie was in his element and made six new friends in one afternoon: behind him are Humble, Hickory, Henchman, Highwire and Honeymoon; or is it Hazel, Hindmost, Howdy, Heather and Hangman (like beagles elsewhere, their names follow a sporting convention whose origins are lost in the past: two (audible) syllables, the empasis always on the first). With these particular pups, there is a further refinement - the 'H' denotes 2010.
Eddie may think he's the leader of the pack, but if a rabbit were to emerge from between the granite boulders of that fine Mourne wall..
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