Before I continue with this tale I had better reassure you that the title is not some fantastic flight of fancy on my part. OK, there has not been a sight of a snake anywhere – just bear with me. You may recall that I left you wondering just what lay ahead following the wholesale slaughter of our fish by a marauding heron.

I mentioned that we were headed to a part of the world, that could best be described as ‘mixed’ in nature. Some parts are perfectly respectable, but others are best avoided unless you happen to have attack dogs and are more than a little streetwise! Neither of those attributes fit Da Boss or myself so we set off slightly nervously.

Now there are great people who live there, but there are also those there who would not only steal the food out of your mouth but would then try to sell it back to you as being from a good source! If the world had haemorrhoids, then this is where you would find them.

We followed directions from our GPS satnav and sank deeper and deeper into an estate that grew evermore dilapidated as we went. Eventually the Satnav announced that we were there!

Da Boss stared at me.

“Are you sure this is the address?”

“Why?”

“Well, for a start there’s a lavatory in the front garden and it looks as though the front door has been broken down more than once!”

I cursed Da Boss’s eagle eyes and pessimism.

“I’m sure they are nice people – and they are offering us fish remember!”

“It could be a trap. You never know! I have heard of people being lured into places like this!”

“Oh shut up. Let’s just get on with it.”

I went to the door and knocked.

manmountainThe guy who opened the door was HUGE. He would have blotted out the sun if it had been out. As it was he stared at me with a look that suggested that my life expectancy could be shorter than I had hoped.

“Don’t just stand there Dave – let him in – This is the bloke who has come about the fish!”

Suddenly the man mountain smiled – and the world started to look healthier once more!

“You’d better come in then,” grunted the man mountain. Mind how you walk, it’s a bit untidy in here!”

That single statement qualified him as a master of diplomacy. The place looked as though it had been the scene of a bar room brawl of magnificent proportions. Not only were there boxes and packets everywhere, they seemed to contain all kinds of odd material straw and boxes marked dried locusts and so on.

That plus the unusually high temperature and a strange smell started ringing warning bells. Well, to be perfectly honest, they were more like sirens announcing the end of the world. Where in God’s name had I ended up, with Da Boss and a man mountain, who clearly could kill both of us with one hand whilst ripping the place apart with the other!

spiderA further quick glance scared me even more. The place was filled with glass partitions and snakes, spiders and every imaginable scary monster from all corners of the globe. We were doomed – doomed – doomed!snake

That heron had not just wiped out our fish; it had led us to our untimely deaths at the hands of a crazed snake-loving giant. But, as you can tell from this tale, we did indeed survive.

The man mountain turned out to be a most gentle and committed reptile keeper who is finally following his dream. He is trying to build up a business offering the best reptile or herpetile business in the midlands. The rather ramshackle impression was a factor of trying to move premises and get things off the ground with all the usual restrictions on premises and funds. But clearly the well being of his beloved snakes and lizards came as a priority.

He and his partner/ wife just don’t have the time to take care of their fish. All their energy is focused on getting their business into new premises and having everything ready for the grand opening in a few weeks’ time.

So it was that we came away with a dozen new fish in a box on Da Boss’s knee. We had not only survived a visit to what could have been one of the scarier parts of the world locally, we had been reminded that first impressions could indeed be completely wrong. I can promise you though that Da Boss will not be allowed to forget her role as an accomplice to the murdering heron. I may well even look for a fish brooch for her Christmas present!