Pennytown Ponds, Alfreton

This morning brought anger; flashes of rage surging through me as I tried to find a hastily scribbled address in an unfamiliar town. I drove up and down and back again before losing my temper entirely when I finally parked up and no one answered the phone in the office to give me clearer directions. When you’re expecting someone at nine a.m and they don’t turn up, after telling you it’s a difficult place to find, common sense tells you they’re going to ring. I drove home without finding it, muttering profanities about the ineptitude of perfect strangers. 

We had already made plans for this afternoon but my temper told me I didn’t want to go. Yet I knew it would be foolish to stay in and let my mood simmer. I begrudgingly turned the oven on to make some pasties to take for dinner. I filled pots with blueberries, strawberries and grapes, loaded the bag with makeshift boats and spare clothes and grabbed the pond nets from their dusty corner of the living room. 

My temper still raged as I hurtled down the dual carriageway. It surged as someone took a moment too long to enter the roundabout ahead of me. It bubbled as I allowed someone in front of me and they failed to thank me. Meeting a friend, I tried to squash the sheer fury nestled in the pit of my stomach. We followed the boys to the pond, their enthusiasm unadulterated as they began to dip their nets into the water in a bid to catch some ‘tiddlers’. And catch they did. The glass jar was filled with murky water and tiny fish after tiny fish was added (and knocked over, and refilled a few times). The boys built a dam to stop their boats from crashing down the waterfall to the water below, collecting sticks and branches with quiet solemnity in order to finish the job at hand before the fun could begin. 

They are a joy to watch. The pink juice from an overripe strawberry staining the mouth of a baby. Happy eyes squinting in the sunshine. Little fingers pushing even smaller fish out of the net and into the jar. It’s therapy in its purest form, and my temper seeped slowly away. I sat in the sunshine with black coffee and good friends, and the decision to get out of the house was a good one. 

The boys were late to bed, after a bath to wash away the mud. The welly boots are thudding gently as they tumble in the washing machine. Their jackets are hanging to dry. Their eyes shone telling Daddy about the hammock, the tiddlers, the boat races, the dog that nearly stole their dinner. And I can’t help but thank the world for the people who make life better. 

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