But wait, I hear you cry! That is not your pond! Yes, you are quite right. I’ve not been near enough my pond of late to actually carry out a pond study there, so I thought we would do a comparison study. It’s always good to see what’s going on in other nearby ponds. Only this isn’t a nearby pond. In fact, to call it a pond is a bit of a stretch given it covers over 200 acres. It was the best I could I find!
We’ve been holidaying in Northern Ireland for the past couple of weeks and having a ball. I’d had this flash of inspiration about carrying out a comparison study of a village pond in Northern Ireland. Brilliant, I thought. There are billions of villages in Ireland. At least one of them must have a pond. But there was not a pond to be found. So we ventured to the nearest body of water. Meet Lough Fey. A fresh water, natural reservoir set in the Sperrins region of outstanding natural beauty, it boasts of over 30,000 visitors a year. No boasting could be done on this occasion as the visitors were conspicuous only by their absence and we were the only people there until just before we left.
I’d forgotten just how cold Northern Ireland could be (really, really cold!), and windy, and wet. Yes, very wet. Unfortunately being the entirely scatty person that I am, we all left our coats in sunny England. However, I was determined nothing would stop us, so we piled on every jumper and body warmer we had brought and begged, stole or borrowed any coat we could off Gary’s unsuspecting parents. Being used to my colossal disorganisation they merely raised an eyebrow and gallantly came to our rescue. So there we all were, most of us sensibly resembling the Michelin man (Gary, rather insensibly, in shorts and light weight rain jacket), ready for our pond study. It was just us adults and the girls. Granny was looking after the younger two whilst Thomas was playing Golf with his grandfather. Gary wished he too was playing golf.
There’s a problem doing a comparison study between two things that ultimately only have water in common. I had hoped we would be able to compare pond life: ducks and so forth. There weren’t any. At all. Anywhere. Probably with the 30,000 visitors somewhere. So scratching at the sartorial barrel I snapped away at any living thing that moved.
Sheep for example:
And the three long-suffering individuals who had accompanied me to the pond:
Not strictly pond life, but I was desperate.
It wasn’t until one of the girls happened to casually mention how different the plants are around Lough Fey that I suddenly realised I maybe could compare something. Being set up on marsh lands the climate is much harsher than in our sunny little village in the southern parts of the UK; hence the plants that grew here were of the much hardier variety. We did not see Lilies or daisies. No marigolds or water hyacinths. There was lots and lots of heather. It was so beautiful:
And it went on for miles:
There was much moss:
Lots and lots of lichen on every tree we saw:
And an abundance of a feathery silver fern:
These are so very different to the brightly coloured, more delicate plants in Southern England. But are they not just beautiful? Somehow the subdued, muted colours of this plant life added to the atmosphere around the Lough. It was peaceful and serene (and did I mention very, very cold…..and wet?).
The girls had read about the legend surrounding Lough Fey and they retold it gleefully to their apparently uneducated mother and father.
Here is the actual legend:
The girl’s rendition contained much that wasn’t present in the original legend. They informed us that the finger of the ghost of Charlie was situated around the Lough in the form of a protruding rock. They were very excited to be searching for Charlie’s finger (!) and when they spotted a long protruding rock they made me photograph it, convinced they had found his finger:
Another thing they spotted was a shallow grave, discussing whether or not it might have belonged to King Arthur. I’m thinking it was the wrong country, but one of the things I love about my children is their incredible imagination, so I let them have their five minutes of excited imaginary play. And here is the shallow grave which belongs to goodness knows who, if indeed anyone at all:
Another thing that differed greatly from our pond is that there are many rivers flowing into the Lough:
Our pond back home has only overflow outlets and no inlets, meaning only the water which falls directly in or around the near surrounding area ends up in the pond. The lough by comparison ends up with water from all the surrounding mountains. No wonder it is so vast!
Not maybe the best of comparison studies, but it is always great to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the gifts God bestows upon us (notwithstanding the cold!)
Next week we will be returning to our own, far more modest, pond, and we are all greatly looking forward to it, with much chat about all that might have changed!