Flying and Dying (part two)

Flying and Dying

The Next Day


The next day, I decided to check my travel arrangements – just as well – I found I was booked to fly to Gatwick instead of Heathrow and also my flight time was very late -7.30pm. Well I checked and found that jets only fly out of Houston to Gatwick, meaning that I had to look forward to a trek across south London to the Houston-look-alike Heathrow airport, in order to pick up my car from the long-term car park (it takes one hour to find how to get there – a lady with a red jacket (BA?) told me she hadn’t heard of it!) and drive up to Cov’ about 110 miles north-west’ish. Then I discovered that the only flights out of HuponH, were at 3pm and 7.30pm; that meant I had to look forward to almost a missed day, if you take into account the fact that HuH is six hours ahead of the ‘real’ time. At least I was prepared for it all – I did consider changing my flight to the earlier 3.30, but I turned a little guilty because it would mean me missing the matinee and also because of the following story which I have re-written from memory. If you have heard or know of a different version of the tale, please write and tell me.

“One day a rich man (sorry ladies, but you’ll feel better about it as you read on) was browsing in a crowded market-place when he saw the figure of Death walking towards him. The man sensed that Death was looking for him and quickly jumped and hid behind a stall. From his hiding place, he squinted through a slit in the canvas at the side of the stall, just as death turned his head to face him. The man ducked and jerked backward – had Death seen him?

He peeked out again, but there was no-one – Death had passed him by…

The man ran to his home as fast as he could, bumping and cursing people as he went – but he had to escape – that was all that mattered to him. He quickly packed a few essentials and took a train to the nearest large town. He was calm for a while, but then the fears began once again. Had Death seen him go to the station? Was Death now following him? He changed trains and doubled back…and then doubled back again and again, across the town. Finally after six crossings he was sure Death had lost him. But he knew he had to go on further to escape.

He decided to take a flight to the Himalayas and immediately bought clothing and equipment hired a guide, set off to the highest mountain.

He was about half-way up the mountain when he dismissed his guide; it had started to play in his mind that the guide could be in league with Death…or maybe worse…

The last part of the journey was treacherous; the man crawled and fell; crawled, slithered and gasped his way to the summit; falling on his face in total exhaustion, he gasped as a hard jolting pain penetrated his heart.

“I was surprised”

The man looked at the figure of Death above him. Slowly and firmly, Death held out his hand and the man knew he would have to take it

~ And so he did.

“I was surprised to see you in the market place” said Death, when I knew that I would meet with you on this mountain-top today – It must have been an enormous effort for you to be so punctual.”

(Death smiled – not unkindly)


I returned to my hotel room, feeling easier about the forthcoming journey; but something played around in my brain – All would be revealed to me the next morning.

(Part three follows in a day or so)

Saturday 14th April - Martin’s Oak



So, I went to Martin’s Oak quite late in the afternoon. It does give the photos a nice rich glow. The catkins are now out and the tree has a delicate dusting of golden-green. I won’t be able to get back to the oak until next Sunday. That does mean that there will be quite a dramatic change by then.



Midweek’s struggling and bursting plant-beings…..







are now recognisably catkins







the male ‘flower’.

The Oak was and is sacred to the Druid’s. It is regarded as the tree of life. Certainly as I stand beside the trunk, I get exactly the same feeling as when I stand next to someone with a strong personality. I was half-hoping that Martin would be around. He wandered over on Thursday, when I was busy, clicking away with my camera, lugging along with him, a box of 35mm colour slides and a home-made stereo viewer, which was basically two slide viewers from Jessops, hinged together with a bracket. Martin would take two shots, three inches apart and by viewing them together, get a (sometimes) 3D effect.

There was something surreal about looking at colour slides with a farmer, under an oak tree in the sunlight. Martin’s Oak must be at least 200 years old, maybe more. I have a feeling, judging by its gnarled trunk that this one must have been around for nearly 300 years. In other words, the silent person I was standing next to (and I don’t mean Martin!) was probably waving his young branches in the English breeze in 1739, when England declared war with Spain!

Only a few of the trees which grow wild in the UK are native to this country. There were only 32 species of broad-leafed tree around 7000 years ago, at the end of the last ice-age.

Along the river banks of Durham stands the petrified and hollow remains of an oak tree, in which Charles the First is supposed to have hidden. I’ll try to photograph it tomorrow and find out more about it for this almanack.

I’ll close this almanack entry, with this [i]excerpt:

“In the growing season, life courses with ceaseless vigour through trees and shrubs; the impressions of stillness on the outside belies the intense activity inside. Vast quantities of mineral-rich water flow upwards through the new wood, from the roots to the highest leaves. Sugar-rich sap descends through the phloem, from the leaves to all parts of the tree. All this energy is expressed in the tree’s growth, in its flowers and fruit, in the seed which it produces in massive quantities. In effect, every tree or shrub is one of life’s richest energy banks, storing food in its tissues, eventually returning everything to the earth when it dies and decomposes, immeasurably enriching the soil in which it stood rooted all its life.

I should live my life like that.

[i] Reader’s Digest nature lover’s library ‘Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs of Britain’ The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London

© | 11:04 pm on April 14, 2007| edit | link |

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