Aerobatic display over the lake: Country diary, 8 September 1945

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Penrith, September 3

There are few entertainments in country life to surpass sitting under the wooded Dunmallet Hill at the foot of Ullswater, especially on a summer evening. The steamer Raven is at rest at the Pooley pier, the very picture of laziness. In the Castlesteads opening, leading to the second reach, one discerns the scarlet sails of a yacht as it tacks for the homeward run. Small rowing-boats – some conveying anglers to their fishing grounds, others providing intense enjoyment for holiday-making lads and lasses – are like hyphens dotted on the water. Across on the Eusemere side a few bathers disport themselves in Gale Bay, while in the Waterside House meadows the declining sun casts its pinkish rays on the campers’ tents. But above all is the sight of the gulls as they search for supper in Waterfoot Bay, now wheeling slowly and gracefully with eyes alert for small fish, then making a sheer dive into the water to catch something – or miss it.

The real fun begins when a gull captures a fish too big to be swallowed at once. He is chased over the lake by about a dozen others, and one is entertained to an unsurpassable display of aerobatics; the gulls, being “gulls,” are seemingly quite oblivious of the fact that while they are chasing as it were a shadow (for they rarely if ever secure the prize) they might be reaping a harvest for themselves.

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