After a profitable day’s shopping in Cowbridge my daughter and I decided to take a walk in a little known park just off the high street. Access was attained via a gate in the corner of Arthur John’s timber yard, just past the Vet’s surgery. The little wooden gate banged shut behind us and we walked under a canopy of tree branches onto a springy carpet of wild plants and grasses.
Field Maple, Horse-chestnut , Ash, Hawthorn, Oak, Alder, Cherry and Weeping Willows were arrayed around us, many with fruits beginning to emerge. Some of the branches sported pale green and yellow Lichen. The ground beneath our feet had a smorgasbord of plants: Broad-leaf Docks, Creeping-Jenny, Creeping Cinquefoil, Silverweed, Greater and Ribwort Plantain, Common Ragwort and Self-Heal; only the last two were in flower. From here we could see a small lake or was it a large Pond? How does one distinguish between the two? This body of water was circum-navigable by grassy paths and boardwalks, with wooden bridges spanning the brooks emanating from it.
I was intent on photographing everything in sight when my daughter cried out, ” Help, I am being chased by geese.” I rushed to her side and told her, “Don’t be silly they just think you have some food for them.” This was not the case. As I approached they quacked and hissed and came at me in a most threatening manner. We high-tailed it across the bridge into the marshy area. The geese regained their place on the water but still followed us as we crossed the bridge. We walked along the boardwalk over mud and stagnant water where Ground Elder, Irises, Ivy and Marsh Marigolds grew, then off on to a muddy leaf strewn path with a few moss covered small boulders. We had lost the geese: two adults and three youngsters.
More bridges crossed the water channels and one led onto an island which was rich in greenery. Brambles, Ferns, both Male and Hart’s-tongue, Enchanter’s Nightshade, Meadow Sweet, Ivy, Nettles, Greater Plantain lay under a mixed planting of trees. We followed a path across the little island to the edge of the lake. A small “beach” , which looked as if it was frequented by fishermen, was reached. We were greeted by the squawking hissing geese again. How did they know we were there? There was a head-long dash back to the main path, where we stopped to catch our breath. The path had conifers on our left, shielding a housing estate and the water on our right. Sinewy Weeping Willow branches bowed down over the channels their tips delicately caressing the water. A number of larger branches had formed a tunnel which we walked under.
We soon burst out onto an open grass section. Planting similar to the area where we entered the park was observed, with the addition of Creeping Thistle. This end of the lake was amass with colourful tall plants and Willow Trees: white Meadowsweet and Giant Hogweed, yellow Bristly Oxtongue, Greater Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Common Ragwort and Fleabane, pink Great Willowherb, purple Water Mint and the spear shaped leaves of Irises. Nestled amongst them were small blue Water Forget-me-nots, pink Herb Robert and Water-pepper. Writhing through them all was white Hedge Bindweed. Would you believe it, we were minding our own business and admiring the flora when here were those pesky geese again, running and hissing at us. Well I had had enough and was not going to retrace my steps back around the lake when the exit/entrance was not too far away. We brazened it out, my daughter cowering behind me as I purposely strode forward uttering my own “war-cry” and sidled past the unruly web-footed menaces. Again they followed us, serenely gliding across the water just the other side of the vegetation .
We crossed another small wooden bridge and looked back over the lake; a lovely picture arose before us, the trees which were growing right up to the water’s edge were reflected in all their glory.
There were more fishermen stations on this side of the lake and the tell-tale ripples of fish attested to their presence. The banks of the lake were muddy here but further away from them there was a new set of ground hugging plants: Enchanter’s Nightshade, Pale Persicaria, Columbine, Celery-leaved Buttercup, Sweet Violet, Self-heal, Oxeye Daisies, Irises, together with those plants already mentioned. The Geese were still following us, like bad pennies. They scrambled out of the water and onto the bank beside us once again. It was time we left. So we exited through the gate where we entered. We went off to find a coffee house where we had a well deserved beverage and a gooey cake. We chuckled over the antics of the geese and elicited some very funny stares from other patrons. Giving the geese the benefit of the doubt, perhaps we should not have been so harsh on them, as the adults were only protecting their young. They would certainly make very good guard dogs.