I guess like everyone else this lockdown, working from home, self-isolating pandemic that we currently find ourselves operating under has left a bit more time for reflection and reminiscing.
For the first 5 years of my life I lived within 30 foot (old measure) of the Brox burn. As soon as me n ma pals were old enough we were in there with our nets n buckets. Beardies (stone loach) stickleback and minnows were the mainstay of our captures. I remember one day we spotted a brown trout just inside the cundy (bridge carrying the canal over the burn) as this was a prize find we enlisted the help of one of the older boys from the Holygate to catch it. I mentioned this story to my dad the other day on a video call, he knew the older lad that I referred to, turns out he had saved the boy from the burn when he was toddler. The story goes an old chap walking on the canal towpath spotted the child slip into the burn and was being washed down by the raised waters. He alerted my dad who ran down the banks to retrieve a bedraggled bundle of blond hair, blue knitted suit and sandals and returned it safely to a very grateful mother. As we grew up, pretty much any weekend or holiday you could find us in or near the water. Lots of adventures were had, lessons learnt, and memories made. Things like Nelly and Clelly on the cundy bridge, swans chapping old Mrs Gallagher’s kitchen window for bread during the winter and rats seeking refuge under the wooden garage when the burn was in spate are other stories that could be told along with many others. Eventually we outgrew the burn and graduated to fishing the local canal, reservoirs and rivers and to some extent the burn was forgotten.
Fast forward 50 years, life has taken its toll, 36 years of engineering means that my back and knees are a bit stiff in the morning, hearing and sight no longer as sharp as they once were but I’m still here on the right side of the daisies and beginning a new chapter. My journey has brought me back pretty much full circle, reconnecting with the Brox burn through my new work with the Forth Rivers Trust and Riverlife Almond and Avon. Now I am controlling invasive plants, sampling the water for phosphates and nitrates, kick sampling for invertebrates, working with volunteers to improve the habitat and best of all delivering fish in the class, a program where kids learn about how important our burns and rivers are. I sometimes even get to tell them of my adventures playing in the burn. So, here’s to many more days on our local waters, meeting new people, making and sharing memories. All when it’s safe to do so of course!