My darling husband leaves at the crack of dawn for work these days, so I tend to wake as well – hard not to on a narrow boat! This morning I was particularly exhausted having been to an immense Clothes Swapping Party we've been partaking in amongst friends for some years now, so I hit the snooze button hoping to re-enter fantasy world but was rudely interrupted by knocking on the side of the boat from our most elegant bird in residence, the swan 'Ma'am'.
She feeds from our hand and comes by every day without fail to have a chat and a nibble, usually in the morning on her start of the bread crawl along our patch of the canal up towards Camden. There's often a gaggle of geese in tow a few minutes behind but quite frankly they're not as polite and so don't get as much attention from me.
Ma'am just seems to know how to behave around humans. She gracefully sits and listens to your woes and patiently waits for the bread to be offered up. She's so gentle you want to stroke her and wash off the muddy brown stains around her neck – funnily enough I haven't tried that yet! When she ruffles up her wings and feathers it's always such a magnificent breath-taking sight.
It's so sad that she's alone. She started visiting us about two years ago and last year had a partner with her. I believe they made a nest further down the canal and laid some eggs, one of the eccentric locals who pushes her trolley along feeding the pigeons out of her numerous bags of bread crumbs told me some kids had been throwing stones and rubbish at them whilst they were nesting and a blue plastic bag had got stuck around one of the swans neck. I wasn't able to find said swan, or the nest, when I went for a walk to investigate but not long after when the swans came to visit, one of them looked like their neck was considerably more oily and dirty than usual and he couldn't lift his head to take the bread properly, we reported to the wildlife helpline, but the next time they visited it was just Ma'am on her own again, looking very sad – if a swan can look sad or maybe I just felt her vibe.
Poor Ma'am. All alone again, just the geese, coots and pigeons to play with and only me to chat to in the mornings...