I had a totally insane idea that it would be therapeutic to write a travel blog. I have thousands of photos with a story behind each one. I wanted to tell it as a form of self expression. Looking at life through my eyes is indeed a journey into a strange and wonderful viewpoint. I am that inexplicably tortured soul who will visit the Taj Mahal and take a photo of a chipmunk disappearing into the bushes instead. Just as I regain my concentration a butterfly flaps aimlessly past in the soaring heat and my head is immediately turned.
The concept of presenting a different outlook on travel was interesting but I am now too caught up in other things . My life has changed dramatically and I feel obliged to document it. Also travel is now out of the question as there is too much work to do.
In March this year I went to a hospital appointment with Nikki a very dear friend of mine. She had been ill with cancer for some time but had appeared to be fighting it well. Shockingly her consultant told us she had only 18 months left to live. So we made hurried plans to go on holiday in May in the caravan with her partner Mike. She also wanted to go camping in my new tent as she had never been before. Even with her poor aching bones and paper thin skin she was still up for this adventure. Two weeks later our plans were to be laid desolate. When she was admitted to hospital for the final time she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and asked me to look after Mike for her. I nodded mutely and my heart sank.That night she suddenly woke up fighting for breath. She had already had an operation to fit a stent but sadly a blood clot travelled to her heart and took her from us.
Mike’s whole life collapsed around him when Nikki died. Not only had he lost the love of his life but also his working partner too. Mike relied heavily on Nikki to help him with the farm. She was a fit, slim, healthy 60 year old until she was struck down with cancer. She looked after the house work, doing all the cooking, cleaning and laundry by herself. She helped Mike with the kitchen garden and drove the tractor. She was skilled at ploughing. Nikki was a lovely lady and a somewhat of a super hero. She looked after the geese and chickens and any sickly babies that hatched.
The day after she passed away I made the decision to try to make Mike’s life more bearable. It was what Nikki wanted after all. His friend Graham came to pick me up from where I live as Mike was in no fit state to drive. I asked how Mike was doing. He just shook his head sadly. “Not good” he replied. Graham didn’t say a word for the rest of the journey. I walked into the still, quiet house and saw Mike sitting with his head in his hands. Nikki’s dog Buddy looked up at me with his big doleful eyes and I felt a lump in my throat . Mike began to sob uncontrollably. I knew there was nothing that could be said that would make him feel better, so I held him. Covid 19 rules go fuck yourself. Buddy looked concerned and whimpered. I joined in crying louder than both of them put together. The reader could easily be mistaken into believing this is going to be a depressing tale but it has proven to be the complete opposite in the subsequent weeks. It became one of unexpected hope and joy for both Mike and myself.
I have had limited experience of farming but threw myself into it with gusto. I had much to learn about planting crops but much more to learn about geese. My first encounter with Mike’s feathered thugs did not go well. Mike is of small stature and not very steady on his feet. The geese have developed a type of radar that sense vulnerability and will immediately act upon it. It was a simple task. Mike carried a container with vegetable peelings and I was carrying a bucket of water. As Mike opened the gate Buddy turned tail and ran. He stood quite a way back from the advancing threat with his head down and tail tucked between his legs. Alarm bells immediately began ringing loudly in my head now. The geese marched in formation towards Mike hissing, honking and flapping. “Its alright” he shouted “they won’t hurt you as long as you don’t take any notice of them”. I wasn’t altogether convinced of this, especially when the biggest one began to attack us. He launched himself at Mike with such force it took him by surprise and made him shout “Oi you bugger get off!” Mike threw the container of food on the ground and fled with the goose still attached to the back of his trouser leg. The other geese were busy gobbling up the food and the commotion that ensued startled me so much I stepped backwards knocking over the bucket of water behind me. I made a hasty retreat but was not quick enough. I felt a sharp pain in the back of my knee where the goose had nipped me. Luckily I was wearing loose fitty heavy duty overalls so no damage was done. With a yelp I turned to face my attacker and grabbed him by his neck. I unceremoniously spun him off balance before taking the decision to retaliate. I wrestled with the goose as if I was fighting for my life. He beat his wings furiously against my arm so I hurled him as far away from me as I could. He landed in the midst of the angry mob who were still devouring the food. I grabbed a nearby broom and stood with it in a threatening pose. I waited for a second assault but thankfully they remained at a distance so I could make my escape. I stood brandishing my broom and sternly admonishing the geese”There let that be a lesson to ya!” Mike was by this time laughing so much he could hardly stand.”What are you going to do with that btoom? Sweep ’em up?’he laughed. From this point onwards the broom was my weapon of choice. It went with me everywhere as they were free range critters. Thankfully I haven’t had to use it as they are now my friends. I have since done much research into looking the correct way to look after geese. Indeed I was to receive an intensive course on raising them a few weeks later…but that’s another story.