Yesterday, Julie had a hairdressing appointment, so she was out until 2pm. When she got home, she remarked what a lovely afternoon it was, and suggested that we take Ollie, and drive to the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea. This is only a short drive, less than 30 minutes, so we put Ollie into the back, on his blanket, and set off. There was almost no traffic, and despite a chilly wind, the sky was as blue and cloudless as on a summer’s day.
The car park for the beach was busy, and lots of other dog owners seemed to be having the same idea. Luckily, the beach is huge, and it is easy to find isolated spots, or for Ollie to search out doggy pals, if he chooses to do so. He also loves to chase the flocks of small wading birds, or the larger gulls, splashing into the shallows as he runs after them. As we walked along near the water’s edge, we saw an unusual amount of washed-up starfish, small flatfish, and fair sized crabs too. They were all scattered amongst the piles of discarded razor clam shells, which litter the beach in their millions. Perhaps they had been blown ashore in strong winds, or left behind by a rapidly departing tide? Our knowledge of things nautical does not stretch to these details, unfortunately.
I found one fist-sized crab still moving. It was sluggish, but was trying to crawl about, and all its legs were moving, albeit in small jerks. I took pity on this hapless crustacean, and gently picked it up. I walked the short distance to the large pools in the sand, left behind by the receding waters, and placed it into one of them. I would like to report that it was rejuvenated, and scampered off happily. This was not the case. It rested on a large stone, and seemed to be resigned to its fate.
We walked on, having failed to save the crab, and entered the pine woodland adjacent to the beach. This is a lovely area, and stretches as far as the sands, divided by some large tufted dunes. With the strong smell of pine, and cones crunching underfoot, you are soon swept away by the fairytale atmosphere of these glades. Fallen trees, well-trodden paths, and still being able to hear the sea nearby, it is an experience to be recommended. Ollie loves it there too, with new smells at every turn, and tree stumps to snuffle around.
This later joins a trail, that leads back to the car park. On one side, a large lake separates us from a holiday camp made up of wooden cabins, with canoes in long rows, moored for the winter. Ducks are squawking noisily, hoping we have brought bread along. The sun is beginning to settle, leaving a wonderful red sky, and it is still only 4pm. We manage to catch the Beach Cafe, before it closes, and have tea outside. With the other dog owners, we compare breeds, ages and temperaments of our respective companions.
The drive home is even more peaceful, just about requiring side lights, as the evening arrives. When you have an afternoon out like that one, you realise that you can forgive a lot of the bad things about life in the countryside.