As soon as we put the blanket on the ground he showed up, followed by his mates, who turned out to be his girlfriends. We counted five in total. He was the Alpha male standing out from the others by his size, long neck and attitude. He wouldn’t let anyone close to the shoreline and he wouldn’t let anyone get in his way. My perception of a swan was different and I nicknamed him Ivan the Terrible.
After finishing washing all his long white feathers, stretching his long neck and flapping with his strong wings in the shallow water and very close to us, Ivan The Terrible decided to pay us visit and walked onto our new blanket, confident, fearless. He looked a bit unsteady on his feet, webbed like big spades. He walked slowly, sliding like a train carriage from one foot to another, staring straight into our eyes. Surprised by his sheer rudeness in moving onto our blanket webacked away, forgetting our bags, newspaper, books, worried that our presence would irate him even more. At what we deemed to be a safe distance we stopped, didn’t dare to collect any of our possessions under his baleful glare. Ivan managed a few snaps at The Times newspaper then left it alone. We stood for long enough to make us restless but not enough
for him to go. Ivan, making us nervous, repeated his ritual of cleaning his feathers, stretching his neck and flapping his wings, all in that order, and then relieved himself, just a few inches from my sunglasses, but still on the first-time out blanket. And that was the point when we decided to shoo him away, politely of course.
At the end we managed to gingerly retrieve our dirty blanket, rucksack, books, damaged newspaper which we packed very quickly. The accent was on fast. We walked away, disappointed in not being able to relax at our secret place which we had christened Oyster Bay, until today when we changed its name to the Ivan the Terrible Bay.