Part 4

We were both exhausted by the time we reached this spot. But finally, we were nearly at the barrage. And it was about time, too, because the little dragon had got heavier, and heavier, and heavier with each step I took closer to the sea. I was convinced it had been growing in the bag, as if the closer to freedom it got, the larger it grew.

“Just a little bit further,” I kept saying to myself. I had to make sure we got to the right spot on the barrage to give the little sea-dragon the best chance of making it to the islands. I knew the current out there in the Bristol Channel could be strong and even though I was sure it was a good little swimmer, I didn’t want it to get swept off-course and end up being lost somewhere else.

But by now I was really very tired, and I found myself putting down the shopping bag. “Just for a moment,” I said to myself. “Just to gather my strength.”

In horror, I realised that the sea-dragon was almost twice the size it had been before. It had grown so much. It looked very worried too, like it knew I wasn’t going to be able to carry it all the way.

“Can you walk?” I asked, but it showed me its feet, which were flippers. It didn’t seem to be able to do much on land at all apart from flop about. It needed to be back in the sea.

“It’s OK,” I said. “I’ll get you there,” but I wasn’t feeling confident. All of my bones were aching by now and I thought that if I let myself, I’d probably go to sleep right there and then.

Suddenly, I heard a rustling sound.

“Oh no. What’s that?”

Then along the path in front of us came the most enormous crocodile I’d ever seen in my whole life. It was HUGE. It had row upon row of glinting white teeth and a very long tail.

There was nothing I could do but watch helplessly as it got closer and closer and closer. I closed my eyes, expecting any minute to be swallowed whole, but then I heard it stop short. And snap-snap-snap, I heard it open and shut its mouth a few times.

I opened my eyes and saw it was looking at us both expectantly. It seemed not to want to eat us at all. Instead, it looked like it wanted to help.

The sea-dragon certainly thought the same thing because it went flipping and flopping excitedly towards the enormous crocodile and tried to climb on its back.

This night was going from strange to downright bizarre, but I decided to trust the dragon. I scooped it up, with difficulty, and deposited it back in the shopping bag, and then climbed on the crocodile’s back myself, with the bag clasped tightly in my arms. The dragon popped its head out of the bag as – whoosh! The crocodile took off running at a rate of knots towards the barrage. My heart lifted as it did. This was going to be OK…

But suddenly the crocodile wasn’t running on the ground anymore but in the air. It got higher and higher and higher, and I clasped onto the dragon with one hand and the crocodile’s spiny back with the other and I felt my heart plunge into my throat. Below us, Cardiff Bay was laid out in beautiful specks of light and glistening water, but we were going even higher and higher and now there were wisps of cloud around my ankles and the wind was very cold.

What was going to happen to us? Was the crocodile going to drop us from a great height?

Terror gripped me but the little sea-dragon didn’t seem bothered at all. I realised suddenly that the harder I gripped the spine of the crocodile, the higher it was going.

“Relax,” I thought to myself. It was very hard to. I unclenched my grip. I tried to enjoy the experience of flying on the back of a crocodile.

And right at that moment the crocodile began to descend again, in one smooth swoop. The bay came into view once more, then the barrage, and on the other side the Bristol Channel. And in the estuary were the dark humped shapes of the two Islands of Summer. When the dragon saw them, it squeaked with delight. Down, down, down we came until the crocodile landed bang slap on the barrage. We slipped off its back and I have never been more grateful to feel solid earth below my feet. I turned to say thank you to the crocodile, but it had frozen in one spot. It’s still there now. Why don’t you go and find it? If you sit on its back during the daytime, it’ll stay right where it is. But if you go during the night, you may find yourself swooping up into the sky. Clinging on for dear life. Just remember to relax and it will take you safely back to earth.

Bute park trail: part 4