life stories memories writing

A Tale of One Duckling…

(c) Classroom Clipart

After Thursday’s Road Rage incident, it was nice to see a retweeted post this morning showing some kind people in the US of A rescuing a mummy duck’s babies after they fell down a drain. Went some way to restoring my (slightly dented) faith in humanity!

It reminded me, too, that my husband and I carried out a similar rescue in Midhurst, Sussex, in the summer of 1990. We’d taken my old Mini Clubman out for a spin and decided to stop off for a meal before making our way home.

   Classic Mini Clubman   (not mine  -it was never that shiny!)  with thanks to Pinterest

We arrived in the car park and noticed a crowd of people gathered around a drain (the picture below isn’t the actual drain (in fact this one is from Vancouver, but it’s very similar) and joined the throng to see what was going on.  It seemed that a mummy duck had been leading her kiddies back to the river Rother (you try saying that in a hurry) which runs through the town, and one of her ducklings


had fallen through the grating and was now sitting miserably on the bottom, calling for his/her mummy.  Various discussions ensued, which ran along the lines of ringing the RSPCA to see if they could send someone out, ringing the council to see if they could send someone out (to open the drain cover) and so on. Because there was quite a big crowd and it all seemed to be in hand, with people donating a handkerchief and shoelaces to improvise a sling, we went off and got something to eat. When we got back about an hour or so later, it was late in the afternoon and we were surprised to see that the crowd had dispersed but that one chap was still there, with the duckling in his hand!  He said he didn’t know quite what to do – he lived in North London and had to get going, so hubby told him we didn’t live too far away so we’d take the duckling and see if we could reunite him/her with his/her family.

Because this was way before people routinely carried mobile phones, no-one had known the local RSPCA number, but we thought if we couldn’t find the duck family we could hopefully drop it off at a local RSPCA or veterinary practice in our local area.

By that time the mother duck had long given up on her stray child and had waddled off towards the river with the rest of her brood. I suppose when you have half a dozen babies you have to consider the family as a whole – ‘the needs of the many’ and all that!  We decided to follow the path down to the river and see if we could find the Mother Duck and her family.

We were younger and fitter in those days (!) so what looks like quite a long walk on the map didn’t take too long. We found the river, and after following it along for a little while, found a duck family.  The duckling tweeted but there was no response from the mother duck. Wrong family! We walked a bit further and found another family  – the duckling heard them and tweeted loudly; again no response.  ‘We’re going to end up taking him home with us!’ my hubby worried.  Then we found another family – ‘our’ duckling started tweeting loudly again. This mother duck stopped paddling and quacked back – we’d found the right family at last! Hubby went as close to the water’s edge as he dare, and as soon as he opened his fingers, the duckling tumbled out of his hand and down into the water, then started paddling. He was quickly rounded up by his mother, who seemed to be telling him off, then away they went. Our good deed for the day!

Below you can see the car park (on the right, near the bus station) where the duckling fell into the drain, and somewhere between the right angle of the river near the Cowdray ruins and Midhurst Castle is where we finally caught up with Mrs Duck.

Thanks to my hubby’s prodigious memory, I’ve been able to tell our little rescue story with reasonable accuracy. I often wonder if the other people (those who donated a handkerchief and their shoelaces) remember their part in the rescue. It would be lovely if any of them were to see this and realise that all was well in the end!

Thanks for reading!

Midhurst – site of the 1990 Duck Rescue! with thanks to Google Maps
life stories

Road Rage

roadrage I haven’t been on the receiving end of ‘road rage’ for a very long time (thankfully), and I had forgotten just how upsetting it can be!  But yesterday afternoon, I had a reminder of just how unreasonable other drivers can be…

My sister had picked me up from a medical appointment in Aldershot (which almost merits a post on ‘car park rage’, but I’ll save that for another time – maybe). It was a lovely sunny, breezy afternoon, and if all was not exactly right with the world, well, it was, shall we say, fair to middling.

But as we rounded the corner into my street (of course I don’t own it – I mean, the street on which I live), my sister had to pull out around a car parked on the corner, and almost (note: almost) failed to notice a car approaching in the other lane, hot on the heels of another car (driving on its bumper, practically). Luckily, she has fast reactions and noticed just in time and managed to pull the wheel back the other way, avoiding (note: avoiding) the second car.  ‘Phew! That was close!’

A moment later, as we made our way further round the circular cul-de-sac (er, dead end) so that my sister could park outside our house facing the right way, and not have to drive back through the narrow street in the dark later on, we realised that a car was right up behind her. Then the driver started leaning on his horn, and as he followed us all the way around, leaning on his horn all the way, we realised it was the driver of the car she had almost (but didn’t) hit.

‘Shall I drive on round a bit, we don’t want him to know where you live?’ my sister asked, both of us feeling a bit freaked out and threatened by now –  he was gesticulating at us by this time, still leaning on his horn.

‘No,’ I said, thinking that if there’s trouble at least my husband is home – he is six-five, big with it and has a scar running down one side of his face from a childhood accident (one day I might tell you about the time he accidentally reversed back onto another car in the filling station and cracked the their number plate… the driver got out, all angry, and hubby got out to apologize and to offer to pay him for the cracked number plate. The guy took one look at him, jumped back in his car and drove off (without stopping for fuel) much to my husband’s amazement and the amusement of the guy at the till!) … so we pulled into the drive.  Road Rage Man stopped, blocking the road, and started shouting at us. The conversation went something like this:

Road Rage Man: “Any reason you decided to swerve your ****** car at me, love?”

My sister: “I was trying to avoid you!” (which she did)

RRM: “Yeah, well, you two ******** ********* need to learn how to drive!”

At this point I got really annoyed. We hadn’t hit him – so what was his problem? If we had, I could maybe understand his anger, but chasing after us, leaning on his horn and verbally abusing us was really not warranted for a near miss!

Me: “(unprintable) … we’ve been driving a lot longer than you have!” (Guessing he was in his twenties/thirties, maybe even forties, hard to say because he had sunglasses on and never got out of his car – but he was certainly younger than either of us)

RRM:  ” *** **!” There then followed a tirade of abuse which although I can’t recall it word for word, went something along the lines of: if we had hit him or he saw us again he would hit us back twice as hard “and you wouldn’t be standing there now!”

Well that was a threat, so I walked towards the house intending to get my husband to come out and see him off – but with a few parting words of abuse, he sped off (luckily he didn’t hit anything but he was certainly well above the speed limit).

It took us both quite a while to calm down after that, as you might imagine! I wished I had taken a photo of his number plate with my phone, because when someone gets that angry over a near miss, you never quite know what they might be capable of – maybe he’d come back and slash our tyres after dark?!?  (We once had a driver  who had illegally parked in our private parking space for an air show -we used to live in Farnborough and it was a nightmare for the local residents-  let the air out of our tyres after my husband got home from work to find someone had parked there, and had himself parked close to him – not enough to stop the driver getting out, but enough to make it awkward)

I know (because I know my sister) that had the guy not been so downright rude and aggressive, that she would certainly have apologized for giving him a fright, and probably made light of it with “at least I did manage to not hit you” which is what most people would find acceptable, right?  But the guy wasn’t interested in anything but having a go.

Thankfully nothing else has happened (so far, touch wood), but I know it will be a while before I stop looking for  Road Rage Man in his silver estate car…