For this part of my Cornish trip with Carenza, we are staying with my parents.
Our priority is to get along to St Clements for a walk along the estuary. Oaks hang over the path and graze the water. Herons and egrets stalk the great muddy banks.
This walk is such a well-rehearsed tradition in my family that it has accumulated rules and expectations.
It has also been a way to mark my parents’ ageing.
Once upon a time, we might walk all the way to Tresillian, and Dad would tease us kids that there were crocodiles in the reeds.
Nowadays, a successful trip is defined by reaching the Pond which is about a third of the way along. Getting to the bench at the far end of the pond would be a triumph if we were ever to make it.
And the other prize is for my parents to defy cataracts and short sight by spotting the kingfisher.
How do we do today?
We reach the Pond with grit, determination and walking sticks.
But the kingfishers….
There’s one there alright.
But can my parents see it?
They peer through binoculars.
“To the left of the dead tree,” says Carenza.
“To the left of the dead tree and up a bit,” I add.
My parents are motionless – they can’t see it, but know that I’ll be disappointed too if they say so.
Eventually they say – “Let’s go for a sit on the bench.”
And there we are, finally at the bench which Mum and Dad find it so hard to walk to now, watching the water broken by the ripples of grey mullet.
I guess this will have to be enough, that we reached the bench.
Rested, Mum and Dad rise to return.
And there, on the Pond, is a whole noisy family of young kingfishers, peeping, fluttering about, diving for fish.
This time, it’s hard for Mum and Dad to miss the gleam of the blue wings, the chestnut of their breast.
Each of them has a clear view of a kingfisher.
Let me consult the time-honoured criteria again.
Yes, it has been a perfect walk.