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Laggan Locks on the Caledonian Canal. (Credit: Visit Scotland/ Luigi di Pasquale)
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Last September

By Martin Russell

You and I are picking brambles by the canal, our fingers going purple from the juice.

"People don't do this anymore", you say, sucking your thumb.

"But we're doing it", I say.

"I mean, folk don't forage, fruit is left for the birds, talking of which, what's that?"

"It's too big for a buzzard", I say, "maybe it's an osprey looking for some fish?"

"Or an eagle", you say, with a sense of growing excitement. The bird disappears into the distance. We never knew what it was.

"Look, there's a flamingo!" you shout.

I whirl round to see a heron rising from the canal bank. I try to imagine that the bird is powder puff pink instead of grey and white. The rare Highland Pink, the one Chris Packham has never spotted; the exotic secret of the Caledonian Canal! We both laugh.

We continue to pick brambles for another half hour, and decide that we have got enough. "Let's go to the pub", I say. You tell me how predictable I am. We go anyway.

You order a baked potato with tuna. I go for the pub's famous stovies, predictable again. We both drink the Clachnaharry Village Ale, yours a half pint, mine a pint.

"Cheers," you say.


"We've got enough brambles here to make some jelly", you say, looking into one of the glistening Tupperware boxes.

"I've enjoyed today", I say.

"Yes, me too, it was just like old times"

"Like when we were married?"

"No, better than that."

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