Reblog from one of our trips to Stratford Upon Avon in 2015
But this one is perhaps slightly different to what you’d expect.
Swans seem to sense a piece of bread being thrown into the water from at least 100 yards and will gracefully paddle to the site so as not to miss out on free food.
These were within a foot of our bow (that’s our front fender and mooring rope on the left of the picture) and more were heading our way from every direction as I took this.
The story that goes with it isn’t just about the swans though.
Hubby and I were having a lazy afternoon when we heard a child screaming and crying.
His mother was telling him in no uncertain terms that she would not stand for his behaviour and he had better get a move on if he wanted his ice cream.
There were two other children, a boy of about 9 and a girl of perhaps 11. The crying child I’d guess to be 7 or thereabouts.
Two small inquisitive dogs came sniffing towards us, and the boy became hysterical.
The dogs’ owner said they were friendly as she called them away, but the boy continued to scream incoherently, backing towards the boat, where Maggie was dozing inside on the bench. He was holding tightly on to his mother’s hand, hiding behind her legs as he pummeled his feet and I caught her attention to warn her that we too had a dog and didn’t want to add to her son’s distress.
Her daughter asked for some bread to feed the swans (none by us at the time) to hopefully help pacify her brother by distracting him. Mum dug into her bag and pulled out some stale bread rolls which couldn’t be broken, so Hubby offered to cut them up with a knife.
He felt like using a hammer, they were that hard!
The boy was still crying, but at least his screams were diminishing as Mum explained to us and the small dogs’ distraught owner that he was autistic and terrified of all dogs, regardless of size.
The owner took them away, obviously both upset and embarrassed by the situation, though it was not her fault or that of her pets that the boy had reacted so strongly.
The boy then sat on a park bench and watched as the swans came flocking in for the bread. His brother and sister kept up some cheerful chatter, Mum supplied Hubby with
bricks rolls which he duly cut up to the best of his ability and I passed the resulting pieces to the two children for them to continue feeding the birds.
Eventually, the tears subsided and from the safe distance of the bench, the lad threw a piece of bread which his sister then kicked into the water.
They were all laughing as the swans fought to get to it, one fluffing out his wings to muscle the others out of the way, so the girl called him The Boss.
A couple of mallards ventured into the frenzy, and the older boy took delight in making sure they got some bread lumps too. The lad on the bench was quiet now, still watching the swans, but also looking around him. His brother and sister continued to give him pieces of bread to throw and to include him in their conversation, even though he didn’t verbally respond.
Almost an hour later, Mum thanked us as she took her son’s hand and the family moved on towards the ice cream van.
Maggie, bless her, had raised her sleepy head once but kept completely quiet and otherwise still, so I honestly don’t believe the boy knew she was even there.