Swan politics. Now there’s a subject. As I sat and watched the comings and goings of a herd of swans (I said skein and Mary said flock so I’m rebelling!) I sensed they were doing really serious and important things. Over breakfast at 30 degrees Celsius I had followed their conduct with genuine fascination and come to the conclusion that there was little random or haphazard in their swanny world. So then I tried to work out the politics.

Mute swans make an awful lot of noise. With their wings. When they fly aggressively towards each other only metres from your Schoko-Knusper-Müsli you hear a truly loud noise of beating wings which says “Get out of my way, I mean business!” Fortunately I’m munching away on the bank while they’re working up a froth on the river. Did you know that swans can’t actually break your arm with a swipe of their wing? Well, if you have Osteoperosis (sorry Noonans!) and you stretch your arm up and backwards to the limit of its extension and THEN a swan hits you with its wing, I can see a possibility of a fracture somewhere, but otherwise it’s more a mighty swipe with a huge feather duster to be honest.

My mute swans were clearly having an argument. About what I don’t know. Who had the longest neck? Who had the whitest feathers? Who could paddle upstream the fastest without looking like he was paddling at all? All swans do that. They keep their heads up and try to look cool while underneath they’re doing a Bradley Wiggins. Without the sideburns of course.

So as I down my second cup of tea accompanied by a rather delicious assortment of prescribed medicines, one swan flies by the awning with a thundering of wings and bears down on a seemingly innocent second swan doing the “all is well in the world of swans” glide across the Rhine. Just in time swan number 2 becomes aware of the approaching swan number 1. Swan number 2 is an idiot! I thought mute meant “doesn’t talk much!” not deaf, blind and stupid! They appear to be a match for each other (must be Swan Vestas) but swan number 2 reacts just in time, flaps like buggery until it gets its arse out of the water, then it’s away like the clappers and I’m left reflecting on why they don’t get on. That’s swan politics for you! I did notice that the mother swan used her mobile phone to call her children That was a cygnet ring!!

Once the temperature gets over 25 Celsius both of us struggle a bit so when it reaches 33 degrees by 11.00 it’s game over for doing anything special. We retreat to the shade and there we stay, except for a brief interlude when we offer to help a new Dutch couple (new to us, not to each other) park up their caravan next to us, the Danish couple having fled overnight to save their bacon. But what is this? The tall Dutchman (who is the Doppelganger of my card-playing buddy Andrew Baird) produces a remote control and, by pressing a selection of buttons, the caravan miraculously parks itself. What will they think of next? Probably a machine that sucks up the dirt from your carpets. Only kidding.

At 6 o’clock we drove into Boppard for mass but when we went into the church it was empty. Turns out they have evening masses in different churches every Sunday. Fortunately for our immortal souls the other church is right next to where I parked the car so we got in just in time to miss the sermon. What a pity! The rest of the evening has been devoted to preparing for our trip on the train to Berlin tomorrow. We start with a bus from the campsite at 08.47 (I’m sure Mary will get us there by 08.46) then we take the train from Boppard to Frankfurt am Main at 09.25.

I hope all the family get a chance to read Scott’s first e-mail from Dubai. It’s brilliant and makes me sound quite dull. Which I am of course. Night night!

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