We have cousins all over the country. They’re in towns, villages and on the mountain tops, but we know we’re water babies and just love the life we share here on the Royal. Oh, I better give it it’s full name while I introduce myself to you! It’s the ‘Royal Canal’ and we’re here nearly 228 years. Not me, you know I’m not 228 years old, can you imagine what I’d be like if I was! I made a promise to Mick that I’d tell you about the new path the day it was officially opened. Of course, we’d had sneak previews all along as we joined the men working, even though some didn’t know we were about, as we can be there but not seen. It’s our coat I think, it can change colour and you’d think we were part of the verge grasses that line the banks. Now what did Mick tell me about the grass here? Ah yes, there’s 143 types of plant species, all in one grass verge area. He said that it’s the same the whole way along the canal except in one spot where there are 221 species. I must arrange to visit there with the cubs. Some of our neighbours love the taste of the exotic grasses and marshy plants. The tufted duck told me that he loves the sweet nettles as does the beetle, so the duck sends him packing to plainer plants when he’s about. Mick introduced himself the first time we met. I remember he saw me under the hedgerow looking out at him and laughing gently he said: “Well hello there little Sionnach. I’m Mick the man. You’ll get to know me because I’m going to be here making a lovely new greenway from here to Mullingar. You’re welcome to join me each day.” I watched as each lock was done and we chatted about it every evening as he closed up his tools for the day. Barrows, shovels, mixers, and picks. Then there were all the noisy ones and he pointed to my ears and said, “You better cover those from the din for a little while”. I’m just back from my evening stroll and what glories there are along the greenway. There are families strolling, people cycling, and of course the fishermen, rods all cast and quietly chatting. The birds were of course vying with one another as to who’s the best soprano or baritone when in all honesty it’s probably us foxes who can hold a note better than any! I saw a long barge tonight, green and red. She was heading from Enfield to Kilcock. The train passed and hooted ‘hello’ to them. I overheard Freddie, the elder fox, say that the next time he has to pop down to visit his sister Flora in Mullingar he’s going to hitch a lift on a barge, as his arthritic knee is playing up. I think he means ‘stowaway’ and he really should be careful. I’ll ask Mick when he’s back to check the greenway, for advice about Freddie. He’ll see us right. It’s a great place with its wildflowers, tall grasses, trees that have been growing in the surrounding fields, years before any of us were born, such is their majestic standing. They have a crown of diamonds glinting in the sun. Gentle waters that hug the sides of the canal and if you look carefully, you’ll see little fishes and frogs playing there. If you see me say ‘Hello Sionnach’ and I’ll wiggle my tail three times for “Great to see you, mind how you go and same time tomorrow”. PS: If you have an apple, just saying, “I’m partial to a juicy apple”!!
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