I was just trying to take a few photographs of some lichen I’d found on a wall next to a gate. Like I do these days.
The excitement of my discovery was obvious in my voice; my husband clearly wanted to get back in the car and drive off.
“Also known as pixie cups, I believe!” I said, with mock glee. I’ve only just found out what they’re called, to be honest, and I’m not even sure now. I just like them.
As if summoned by the pixies themselves, three trail bikes appeared, their riders clad in multicoloured leather, identities hidden by gleaming visors. They nudged through the gate with their front wheels, filling the air with the guttural growl of their engines. I looked the other way.
As they roared up the hill, I approached my hunting ground again, angling for that extra, perfect shot. My husband resumed the pixie cup conversation:
“What did you say they were called?” As I turned, I caught the flicker of a fleeting smirk on his face. I suddenly realised that just before the bikers arrived I had been leaning crazily with my nose two inches from a wall, pontificating about pixie cups. Interesting behaviour.
Let’s face it: they couldn’t have heard me, they wouldn’t have cared and neither did I. But it was one of the those rare moments when I could see myself as others might see me.
I couldn’t help thinking of these lines by Robert Burns:
‘O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!’
I did get some pictures of the lichen though!