Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fishing on the Marne

The view north and some quacking companions
I am awoken early this morning by the church bells in the village of Vouécourt ringing for Lauds.  Just as I am drifting back to the land of nod I am shocked awake by the shrill bleating of the mobile phone.  It’s five in the morning and time to fish the Marne.  Not that I do the fishing, you understand.  I can’t even kill a spider, let alone touch a maggot, or impale the poor little thing on a hook.  No, it’s my brother James who is the fishing fanatic and never more so than when we are in France.  Momentarily I tussle with the reason why I have to be up so early if he is doing the fishing.  But my brain just can’t hack the mental debate and I crawl out of my tent to go and get showered.

The village
Vouécourt, a tiny no-bread-shop kind of place, is situated right beside the Marne just below Joinville.  The campsite is small and our pitch is no more than 20 feet from the edge of the river.  The valley rises steeply on the opposite bank and even without my contact lenses, as I make my bleary way to the facilities, I can just make out that there is some sunshine somewhere.  There’s no-one else around – although there is a possibility that the tree I’ve just passed might have been that very tall Dutchman having a fag, I’m sure that tree wasn’t there yesterday.

As I go into the shower block I am greeted by the wonderful smell of air freshener with a satisfyingly clean hint of bleach.  I pick my shower.  There are two to choose from, so this is a particularly difficult decision at this time in the morning. 

Appropriately shampooed and shower-gelled I return to the tent for breakfast.  Breakfast is always James’ responsibility.  However, this morning I find everything just dumped on the table for me to help myself.  No kettle boiled, the remains of yesterday’s bread – ‘for toast’ shouts James as I slump down in my chair - and some dregs of cold coffee in the pot.  Why is this?  James has already got the fishing rods out and baited and in the water.  Supposedly one of them is mine.  Still can’t work out which.  So I resign myself to breakfast alone with my book.
The morning mist as it dissipates

As the morning wears on the early mist retreats in deference to the sun’s relentless heat.  I move my chair under the nearby tree and gaze at the hillside opposite and listen to the birds.  I would return to my book except that I am troubled by an especially knotty conundrum.  If fish do not sleep, why do we have to get up so early to catch them?

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