We are often asked, “So what’s the deal with that duck??” That duck hails from Britain and is a seasoned world traveler who has become such a part of our family that the bar in our house has been christened The Rubber Duck Pub. So grab a pint or fill your glass and settle in for the story of Eddy Beer, the Danger Duck!
In the fall of 2009, Eric & I spent 3 weeks in Britain, most of it with his brother and sister-in-law, Sterling and Teresa. A good bit of the time we were on a car trip with them which took us through southwest England. To say that we are all fans of beer in its many forms is a bit of an understatement, and so we spent many happy hours sampling local brews (often with colorful names like Old Hooky, Pigswill, The Dogs Bollocks, and Betty Stoggs) and staying in pubs rather than in boring hotels or bed & breakfasts.
Although we hadn’t met him yet, Eddy’s story begins during this road trip on a beautiful fall afternoon in the town of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. We had spent the morning touring the Hook Norton Brewery, followed by a beer tasting there and, I’m sure, another pint or 2 over lunch. So we were a fairly mellow, happy crew with the warm afternoon sun in the car as we entered Bourton-on-the-Water (hereafter abbreviated as BOTW). BOTW is known for its honey colored stone buildings and the numerous stone pedestrian bridges over the River Windrush. Driving through town I was quite taken by the fantastic thatched roofs on many of the cottages and was drowsily musing about magical creatures like garden gnomes, elves, and hobbits, because if they were real they must surely live in this magical town.
We arrived at the Duke of Wellington pub, our accommodations for the evening, and the boys went inside to check us in. Teresa wandered off to check out the beer garden and I, always drawn to the sound of rushing water, wandered toward the bridge over the Windrush, which ran right behind the pub. The river was flat & calm
above the pub, but narrowed and dropped several feet in elevation as it rushed by, creating a nice little rill. As I watched, 5 or 6 mallard ducks floated drowsily & serenely toward the rill, several with their eyes closed. I idly wondered when they would swim to shore to get out, but they drifted ever closer to the rushing falls. I was jolted out of my drowsy reverie and watched in amazement as they all entered the rill, orangey feet paddling furiously or being used like rudders to steer them through the rapids. Wide awake now, I looked around for Teresa or the boys so that they could see this amazing show, but there wasn’t a soul anywhere around! The ducks, having successfully navigated the swift water, fluffed their feathers and a few closed their eyes again to resume their naps. I blinked my own eyes, not sure if I’d really seen them run the rapids or if I had dreamed the whole thing. When the others emerged from the pub, I told them what had happened, but nobody believed me. There were lots of jokes about whether I had had a few too many pints at lunch or was just “winding them up” (British equivalent of “pulling their legs”). Then Sterling & Eric started in with things like “Danger Ducks! Running the rapids just for the thrill of it!” and “Danger Duck laughs at Danger!”. For the rest of our stay in BOTW, none of us ever saw a repeat of the performance, and to this day I’m not sure they entirely believe me…
The Danger Duck ribbing was still going on a full 2 days later when we made a fateful unplanned detour to visit the town of Beer (for reasons which should by now be obvious). We were all laughing ourselves silly over the unintentional irony of organization and place names such as “Beer Congregational Church,” “Beer Youth Hostel,” “Beer Sailing Club,” & “Beer Women’s Club”: I could go on & on here but you get the idea. The town had a small stream running more or less down the main street through a concrete channel, over which little footbridges every few car lengths allowed for pedestrian access to the sidewalk. While looking for tacky fridge magnets (and sadly not finding any that lived up to the potential of the town name) in a souvenir shop, Sterling and Teresa purchased a little rubber ducky, and our lives were irrevocably altered. Sterling and Eric would take turns launching the duck while the other waited downstream to catch him, all the while saying things (in dramatic movie trailer announcer voices) like “I’m Beer: Danger Duck. Because Danger is my middle name!”. Eventually I stood on one of the little pedestrian bridges with the camera to immortalize the moment. We got a lot of stares and smiles, and I’m sure there were
murmurings of “crazy Americans” and the like (because Teresa was standing far away pretending not to know us), but we had a great time and Beer the duck was born. From that point on, every time we were near a body of water, Beer had to have a little sail. On the last full day of the trip, we were hiking along the River Melte and found a nice place for a duck launch, but things took a near-tragic turn when Beer became stuck in an eddy, out of arms’ reach. We were getting ready to Rochambeau to see who had to take off their shoes & wade into the cold water, when Beer broke free to clear sailing and successfully navigated his way home. That was the moment when his name was officially changed to Eddy Beer: Danger Duck.
Beer: Danger Duck at Cadgwith Cove
Beer in the River Melte
We had such a great time with him that we convinced Sterling & Teresa to let us take him home with us (Okay, we whined so much that they gave in. Besides, they already had a trip mascot: Sinclair the dinosaur.). Since then he’s traveled extensively in Florida, floated the lake at my home in Virginia, been to Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, witnessed a shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, played in the Atlantic surf on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, been to the Bahamas and Spain, crossed the Mediterranean Sea at the Pillars of Hercules before traveling on to Morocco, and has even been
kidnapped ducknapped (a tale for another day). And that is why he’s been immortalized in stained glass & why he has his own reserved spot in the Rubber Duck Pub. He’s one lucky duck! Eddy someday hopes to visit the other 4 Great Lakes, paddle in the Mississippi, and dabble his webbed feet in the Pacific.
Eddy Beer on the Thames: Big Ben & Parliament
Danger Duck Dodgers
Eddy Beer at the Real Alcazar, Seville Spain
Eddy Beer in Chefchaouen, Morocco
Eddy and cousin Sinclair at the Seville Cathedral
The Rubber Duck Pub (Eddy is the center duck)