Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tracks and blackberries

My grandson broke his arm a couple of days ago, the first member of our family - children or grandchildren - to do so.  And he did a good job of it too, breaking two different bones. We've had some near misses over the years, but not a single plaster cast between us.  My younger son, who had a great propensity at one point for damaging himself, managed to lose a toenail when another child slammed the door on his foot, and had four trips to A&E within six months to get stitches for various splittings open of his skin that he gave himself.  One was walking into the end of the bed, as I recall, another occurred when he banged his head on the metal edge of the counter at the supermarket (fooling around in the trolley, of course)...and there were two more, the details of which I can no longer remember, but my wife no doubt will.  He didn't electrocute himself, either, when he cut a live cord with a pair of scissors. 

Anyway, I was reminded of this because this morning my wife and I went for a walk along the back of the old houses in Caversham, between the fences and the railway line.  We discovered that instead of being inside the protective fence we were on the wrong side of it, (having gone over a chain barrier that didn't seem to bar anything in particular) and walking through tall grass next to the line itself.  That was okay, since it wasn't dangerous.  We were following a path that other people had already forged through the grasses, while the dog danced his way through what probably seemed like a bit of a forest to him.

However, the wasteland we were walking on became increasingly narrow, and we decided to climb up the bank as soon as we had the opportunity, and go over the fence.  We spotted a section where the fence was broken down in some way, and other people had gone up, making a bit of a path between the thistles and blackberry bushes (yes! blackberry bushes with unpoisoned blackberries on them!).  I began the climb, slipped on something and, with nothing to grab hold of, slid back down the bank a little and fell over onto my elbow.  The bruise isn't impressive enough to photograph, unfortunately, but it obviously hurt, because when I lent on the table just now to do the crossword, I knew pain.  I was still scrambling to get up and out of the clutter of weeds and brambles and you name it when the excursion train came along.  'Silly old codger trying to climb the bank.  Shouldn't be down here beside the tracks in the first place.'  I didn't actually hear anyone say this, but I'm sure they did.

Anyway, I eventually got up on my feet again, with the help of my helpmeet, and then the dog and I scrambled up the path, hopped over the broken fence, and waited for my wife (she had her faithful walking sticks with her, and that gave her some stability).  I hoisted her up and over the last section and we were back on the path we'd intended to be on in the first place. 

The fence obviously doesn't count for much.  On the way back, we noticed that a large playing field that's in behind the houses on South Rd has an opening straight out onto the path beside the tracks. There's nothing to stop a child running up and over onto the railway line.  Odd.

Talking of blackberries - when we were in England in 2007, we were out in the country one day and stopped for a picnic lunch.  Just nearby were a host of blackberry bushes, full of ripe blackberries.  I knew that these bushes are regarded as noxious here in New Zealand, and asked someone else who was there whether these ones were poisoned with spray or not.  He looked at me as though I was daft: why would anyone poison blackberries? 

They were the most delicious blackberries I've ever tasted.

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