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When a swan broke my arm...

Before we begin, some of these pictures are for illustration purposes. I had no time for photographs during 'The Attack'. I have one picture of The Terminator Swan (as he was swimming off).

Days out with Stacey are always fun which is why I try to have as many of them as possible. She will usually try to deny the fun with phrases like ‘I can’t come, I need to crack on’. But today was different. We both work for ourselves which has its benefits. When its sunny, we can ditch work and go for an adventure. And this did turn into an adventure…

Off we went to Aveton Gifford to play on our paddle boards. We passed a few swans on nests and marvelled at their nest building skills. We agreed that they’d done a pretty good job despite having no hands. Stacey told me she was scared of swans, I didn’t take a lot of notice, she is scared of loads of things. She told me they could break your arm. As we’re children of the eighties, this was not news to me. Everyone had heard about a swan's amazing ability to break an arm, but no one actually knows anyone it has happened to.

On we went, over the weir and headed towards Hatch Bridge. We found a nice little spot, had a cuppa, divvied out the chocolate buttons and worked on our tans. Like I said, working for yourself has its perks…

We were looking forward to the trip back because it would be downstream and the rapids we’d navigated on the way would be excellent fun on the way back. Some people may think ‘rapids’ are unlikely on the gentle River Avon, but to us they were as big as you’d find on the Amazon.

We’d just finished laughing our way over a patch of ‘rapids’ when we met THE SWAN. We totally underestimated that swan. He meant business. Stacey was up front and the swan was closing in on her. Panic was setting in. I told her that I’d keep her safe, after all I’m a big sister, I’ve had practice. She scrambled to the edge of the river, hauled out her board like her life depended on it (in hindsight, I think it possibly did) and rolled under the electric fence. I was shortly behind her.

The swan swam on towards his nest, probably feeling totally chuffed with himself. He definitely had the swim like swagger of a bird that knows The Queen will probably lock us up if we hurt him.

Our next concern were the cows. We couldn’t see any, but that didn’t matter. We both grew up in the country but cows are scary, they’re really big!

We needed to get going, the chocolate buttons were wearing off and I needed another hit. But that swan had other ideas. He came back, and backed us into a corner. He was so close that all I could think to do was flick it with water. Yes, flicking a swan with water seems silly, but he definitely didn’t like it, he flapped his wings and I started to panic about my about my arms being broken. I screamed and fell backwards off my board. Stacey was right next to me but she didn’t see it because she felt if she didn’t make eye contact with the swan then it wasn’t really happening.

The river was deep and cold, we were still laughing, that nervous giggle you do when you don’t know what else to do. I ungraciously hauled myself back onto my board and we gently paddle downstream. The swan was quietly chalking up his second win. Bastard. (although we did call him some other words that I can’t really publish)

We think were ok at this point. Stacey has powered on, fear driving her to find safety and get back to the car, but she actually propeller herself closer to the lion’s den. Or the swan’s nest, they would be equally as scary.

As he was now some distance behind us and we felt safe. But that swan really messed with us that day. He had kept his distance to give himself some space for his take off. He then began the ascent. If you’ve ever seen a swan take off, its an effort but well worth the watch. But not if he’s The Terminator and you’re his prey. We paddled as fast and hard as we could, it probably looked hilarious. That bastard was now so close that I yelled to Stacey to get out! The swan was at my board and all I could do was shout ‘Ya Ya’ back at it. (I’d seen Goldie Hawn do this to the scary dogs in Overboard) It bought me some time and I was able to catch up Stacey and get my feet on terra firma.

I am not a 12 year old boy, but this is what the swan looked like when it was coming for us.

So there we were, on the riverbank in the middle on nowhere. Both adamant that we weren’t going back in.

Now Stacey and I are both mums and we’re lost and very aware of the looming school pick up. Stacey leads the way across the marshy field until we reached the next problem. We have reached what can only be described as a ravine. It had deep muddy sides and at the bottom there was stagnant water. Like I said, we’re both mums so at this point we needed to draw on our Mum knowledge. We went to the only place we knew would help ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. ‘We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh no! We've got to go through it!’

Luckily though Stacey could actually go over it, she climbed over the rotten branch and squeezed through the gap between the branches. I then threw everything over to her which sounds easy but remember that two of the three things were paddleboards. Once everything was over it was my turn to step over the makeshift bridge that was the rotten branch. I did so with my usual grace but when it got the the small gap between the branches, it was not to be. Stacey is a good few sizes smaller than me and the only way for chubby Coops to go was back down the brambly branch and through the water. I stepped into the water to find sinking mud. I panicked, I was wearing my gold shiny Toms, they’re lush but not the cheapest. They sunk deeper into the mud but I would not let the mud win. I hauled out my leg with my shoe in tact, swung on the overhanging branch and Stacey (bless her, she’s only little) helped haul the muddy lump from the depths.

We stomped on over farmland, outwardly laughing but inwardly both worried a farmer may shoot us, or a cow might come near, or most concerning, we’d be late for school pick up. When finally we saw a gate, and beyond that gate was a road! Oh the joy!

I did what any girl would do...

I phoned my dad to come and get us...

(Ok so a swan didn't break my arm, but it wanted to)

The actual swan.

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