Archive for September, 2016

I came back from the river on Saturday night and realised nobody else was home. Faced with the prospect of an evening in my own company (believe me, there is nothing worse) I decided it would be a good move to get in touch with my neighbour Pete and see if I could tag along with him when he headed out, as he does most evenings, to have a couple of drinks at the local watering hole.

Pete is good company. He has good stories to tell and on Saturday he told me about a time he came face to face with a monkey in India.

It so happens that, back in the sixties Pete used to run overland trips from Liverpool to India. They loaded up a couple of Land Rovers and a camper van kind of thing with provisions and a dozen or so adventurous spirits hopped aboard. Their journey took them down through southern Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, along the Khyber Pass into Pakistan and then into India.

It goes without saying that you would have no chance today of repeating this epic journey. For one thing it would be too dangerous but, back in the sixties when Pete was in his mid 20´s things were a little easier. It was still risky though and so, as a precaution, they brought along a pump action shot gun and a .38 pistol.

Anyway, back to the monkey. Their littles convoy arrived in the Taj Mahal which, in those days, was far more accessible and less of the tourist draw than it has since become. They drove right inside and made camp there, amazing as that may now seem. In the cool dawn, with everything shrouded by a heavy mist, Pete unzips his mosquito net and pops his head out of his tent only to discover, a big male monkey staring him right in the eye. It was about 15 feet away.

By the time I heard this part of the story I had downed a couple of pints and Pete, with a couple vino tintos inside him, had travelled through time and was right back inside the Taj Mahal during that brief moment when only two things existed; Pete and this monkey. Each was staring into the eyes of the other with unrelenting intensity and, while this was going on, time simply stopped.

The monkey was clearly top dog in those parts and showed the self-assurance of one who will simply not back away.  Pete, for his part, remained unfazed. He had the confidence of a man who sleeps with a loaded shotgun in his tent and who had it close to hand.

For what may have seemed like an eternity but was probably only a short moment, the standoff between these two continued. And then, emerging from the mist, came a whole troop of monkeys. There were young and old, babies suspended beneath their mothers´ tummies, others bareback riding on their mothers´ backs. The adult male locked into a visual dual with Pete was simply the escort and protector of this group. It is probably fair to say that that he was overseeing their safe passage of his relatives in much the same way as Pete himself oversaw the safe overland passage of the band of adventurers he led from Liverpool.

In a matter of a few moments the troop was gone, then the dominant male withdrew without a sound and vanished also.

Pete spoke about this as if it had happened only yesterday.


In the original telling of this tale, Pete suggested he had come face to face with a baboon but baboons seem to be restricted in their distribution to Africa and Arabia. I would suggest that he might have instead come across a rhesus monkey which are commonly encountered in this region. This photograph was pinched from a story in the telegraph which is well worth reading. Here is the link: 

Being nice to mice

We have a mouse running around at home, or more likely a few mice. There´s one in the kitchen and there´s another that does the rounds of various bedrooms.

I have a lot of time for mice in general but they are beginning to take liberties in our house. Last night I was awoken by the sound of scratching and turned on the bedroom light only to see a mouse scurry, with commendable athleticism, from under the chest of drawers on one side of the room to under the curtains on the other side. When I lifted the curtain the mouse wasn´t there. That´s one of the things mice are good at – vanishing. I went back to bed but the little bugger repeated the exercise, in the opposite direction this time was now back under the chest of drawers scratching away. Continue reading

There are no signs yet of the rains that autumn usually brings and that breathe a little new life into the river. The reduced flows have tended to push fish into areas which can be difficult to access but they are still there and  can still be taken. This fishing is challenging but good and so I leapt at a chance to go to the river on Saturday once I had returned from dropping my daughter to friends on the coast. Continue reading

Shark scare

Nothing spoils a day at the seaside more than being eaten by a shark. It´s worse even than getting sunburn or having some little bastard jump up and down on your sand castle.

And it seemed last Sunday that this might be someone´s fate when a shark was spotted off the beach in Fuengirola. Everybody was ordered out of the water for fully five hours. Shark sightings off Mediterranean beaches are noteworthy events and happen only very rarely and so the Fuengirola shark sighting was a pretty big deal. Continue reading

I remember reading some time about scientific research had shown that an absolutely perfectly symmetrical face appears odd and unattractive and that punters shown “doctored” images producing this effect did not find them appealing. Continue reading