When the tide swept in, Algy retreated to a drier part of the beach close to the dunes, with the intention of trying to count the sands as The Man in the Wilderness had asked. But above the tide line he found a wonderful area of reddish-coloured shells, which had been washed together by a recent surge tide to form an isolated patch on the sand. Algy decided that it would be much more interesting to count the shells instead – or perhaps just to look at them for a while …


Algy decided to try to find out for himself how many blackberries grow in the sea. He got as close as he could to the ocean without actually immersing himself in it, but there was no sign of any blackberries… Of course the water was very shallow over that part of the beach at low tide, which might explain why nothing was growing there – or perhaps it was simply because it was the middle of winter 🙂

But Algy didn’t really mind; the sun was shining, and the low afternoon light looked so lovely on the water that he just leaned back and enjoyed the beautiful view, for as long as the incoming tide would allow.

Much to Algy’s surprise, the next morning was full of colour and light. It meant that the wind had returned, of course, but Algy realised that one can’t have everything … There wasn’t any real warmth in the sun at this time of year, but it was cheerful and bright, and the view from the dunes was very fine. A wee bit of sunshine makes such a difference to a bird’s spirits! So Algy got out his book and read his favourite children’s rhyme to the world at large, and especially for Amy, far away in Italy. Algy realises that there might be some places in the world where a rhyme of this kind seems like nonsense, but that is certainly not the case in the West Highlands of Scotland 🙂 He hopes that it will help to lift your spirits too:

          The Man in the Wilderness asked of me
          “How many blackberries grow in the sea?”
           I answered him as I thought good,
          “As many red herrings as grow in the wood.”

          The Man in the Wilderness asked me why
          His hen could swim, and his pig could fly.
          I answered him briskly as I thought best,
         “Because they were born in a cuckoo’s nest.”

         The Man in the Wilderness asked me to tell
         The sands in the sea and I counted them well.
         Says he with a grin, “And not one more?”
         I answered him bravely, “You go and make sure.”

[The author of this old rhyme is anonymous, and its origins are obscure.]