“Why does the ground stay there and not get washed away by the water in the river?” she asks me.
Cue for some improvised theorising, concocted by the very unscientific me, drawing on vague memories of a documentary about soil erosion and news stories about flooding.
Strolling further along the river bank, we pause opposite the lay-by where fisherman park their cars. They cluster together, comparing notes, planning strategy. It’s clearly a very serious sport around here.
We see several cyclists arrive, perilously dangling their fully extended fishing rods behind them. We hope they won’t hook any passing pedestrians.
We watch them don thigh-high waders before they trudge through the fast-moving shallows to cast their rods into deeper waters.
“Don’t the fish notice them?” queries Laura.
I fail to dredge up any memories from school biology lessons about the fish’s field of vision.
“Maybe fishing rods are always brown or green or grey so that fish will think they’re just tree branches hanging over the river,” I suggest. “After all, you never see fishermen with brightly coloured fishing rods. And they tie things called flies on to their hooks – bits of feather and suchlike that are meant to look like naturally occurring river insects that fish usually eat.”
Laura considers this proposition.
“Then I think they should stick leaves on their rods, too, to make them look more like branches. Otherwise I’m surprised that the fish fall for it.”
I was wondering why we’d never seen the fisherman catch anything.
POSTSCRIPT ON 18TH AUGUST 2010
Venturing into a branch of Aldi for the first time yesterday, I was rather pleased to spot something I’d never seen before – a “fishing t-shirt” and “fishing sweatshirt” for sale entirely patterned in camouflage suitable for a riverbank. Where Laura leads, others follow…