Out for his usual walk in the forest, Rab McNeil was persuaded by a random impulse to investigate Fairy Glen instead. During this deviation, a fishing net and two trees introduced him to the joy of swing… you about it.
Put on a brew and treat yourself to a slice of cake, then I’ll begin.
I was heading out for my usual walk in the forest, when I got to the end of the road and had a change of heart: “Nay, lad,” I told myself, “Today, we shall go to yonder Fairy Glen.” I’m like that, you see. Impulsive. And I talk to myself as if I were a knight in the Middle Ages.
So, I headed in the opposite direction. The Fairy Glen, a glade that flanks a burn on its way to the seashore, is easy to miss. Down a short path in the undergrowth, there’s a little hidden gate and, on this occasion, I walked right past it.
I’d been distracted by the sight of sheep sheltering under trees from a passing hailstorm, creating the sort of bucolic scene that artists used to paint in centuries gone by.
I was too dim to notice they were sitting at the head of the glen. After retracing my steps and entering through the magic gate, the disturbed sheep got up and scuttled down the narrow path in front of me. It’s slightly embarrassing when sheep do this because you end up accidentally herding them.
Once, in the Yorkshire Dales, hundreds of them went down the road ahead of me for a long way, making me worry that the farmer would be hopping mad. But there was nothing I could do.
On this occasion, in the glen, after a short while they nipped up the slope and off the path, and I was able to waddle forth unhindered by an ovine advance guard.
As I emerged on to the rocky shore, the sun came out and all was blissful. The dramatis personae consisted of me and a cormorant, with its wings outstretched, sunning itself on a rock. Presumably, it had nothing better to do (it was probably thinking the same about me).
Up from the shore, between two trees, a fishing net has been slung to make a hammock. Hitherto, I’ve eschewed such debauchery. A man in my position cannot be seen swinging in a louche manner on a fishing net strung between two trees. But, with no one else but a sunbathing cormorant present, I decided to give it a go.
Oh! The joy of swing! I hadn’t expected this to be so fantastically relaxing. It must be something to do with one’s body being suspended – unusually – above the ground. Whatever the scientific explanation, I lay for ages looking up through the leafless branches to the sky – heaven! – or out to sea and at the curtains of rain or sleet over on the opposite coast.
It was just… the Best Thing Ever. When I got home, I decided to get one for the back garden, so I went on to Amazon, but the choice was so complicated, and the reviews so contradictory, that I couldn’t make up my mind.
But, when I do, some time in the next three years, I’ll sling yon apparatus for the recumbent gentleman between two trees and look up at the sky with a beatific – some would say glaikit – expression on my face.