Thinking Aloud on a Sunday


I woke up thinking about mud today. Nothing really surprising there, as I have thought a lot about mud since moving to Norfolk in 2012, and getting a dog. I even wrote a short blog post about mud, in January 2016. It features in my life a great deal, more than I ever imagined something like that would.

When you have spent most of your life in a city like London, mud is rarely an issue. It is something you almost never see to be honest, unless you have a very large garden, or go out of your way to leave the city, and go somewhere muddy. But why would I have ever done that?

In Beetley, my encounters with mud are daily, at least for six months of each year. A result of frequent heavy rain, melted snow, or the overflowing small river having burst its banks. I have become an expert on mud of all kinds, as well as coming to dread the mud, and often hate it too. I am told that one reason it is so bad, is that it is rarely cold enough for long enough to freeze the mud around here. Even after nights when the temperature has dropped to -5, a short burst of morning sunlight is guaranteed to melt just enough mud to make my walks treacherous, as well as unpleasant.

Cows don’t help either. When the small herd was kept on Hoe Rough for a few months, they left behind hoof-prints and breaks in the soil that soon filled with rain, turning into mini-mud pools overnight. Though the cows are long gone, replaced by less mud-inducing sheep, those holes and ruts are still there, and still full of mud. I also discovered that there are many types of mud. On the harder soil, slippery mud lays on the surface, resembling the shiny chocolate Ganache beloved of modern bakers. Walk on this at your peril, as it is as slippery as the surface of an ice rink.

Mud also dwells beneath what appear to be tufts of grass. They look solid enough to walk on, but the mud is waiting below, to suck the boots off of the feet of any unwary walkers. There is more obvious mud of course. The eight-inch thick stuff accumulated on the main paths, often turned into what looks like black soup, after more heavy rain. I would not usually choose to walk through that, but often a thick tangle of brambles either side gives me no other choice. Ollie is untroubled by mud of course. His light weight and delicate paws rarely break the surface, and he is oblivious to the wetter pools, splashing them over me, as he runs ahead.

I have tried various different types of boots to make walking in the mud bearable. My first sort were not up to the job. Lighter, thinner soles made them work like ice skates, and I had to resort to a large stick, just to stay upright. After trying some heavy-duty boots, I have finally settled on neoprene-lined knee-length boots, with soles almost as thick and rugged as tractor tyres. Even with such specialised and expensive footwear, I am unable to avoid the main problem, as I still have to actually walk in them. They disappear into the mud with each step, requiring considerable effort to lift my leg each time to continue my walk. It is like walking in weighted deep-sea diver’s boots.

This means the walks only get me half as far, in the same two hours or more, with Ollie constantly running ahead, then looking back to see why I am not keeping up. It is also more tiring to walk in mud of course, so I return feeling worn out most days at this time of year. The sun has been bright so far this morning, which means I can anticipate more mud when I take Ollie out later.
I doubt you ever think much about mud, and rightly so.

I don’t blame you at all.

68 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

  1. Mud is rather uncommon here in the Mojave Desert, but we’ve experienced it on trails at Clark County Wetlands Park after a rare downpour.

    One or our more interesting experiences was on Soda Dry Lake in Zzyzx, California. This is a “salt flat,” but saturated mud lurks under the parched crack-networked surface. Having ventured into one area of the dry lake, we both broke the surface and sank a foot deep! We then struggled to counteract the suction, like flies trying to disengage themselves from a spider’s web. As for me, when I pulled my legs out, with great effort, I found that my shoes had stayed under! So I had to reach down in the deep holes to pull them out. I put them back on, but once we arrived back at the road where we’d parked, there was so much mud clinging to my shoes that I had to drive to the visitor’s center in bare feet (otherwise, my shoes would have slipped off the pedals). We washed our shoes at a drinking fountain/water faucet station, and sat around waiting for the desert sun to dry them out (at least a little). Moral of the story: Don’t get suckered into thinking a dry lake is either solid or dry.

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  2. Well here there is even a season between winter and spring called mud. People have mud rooms, mud mats and most important of all devices to clean the mud off of boots before coming into the house. I spent a long time on the phone a couple of years ago to pick out a heavy boot cleaning stand which really works. It even allows you to reorder brushes(which of course we have had to do.)

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  3. I’m dreading the mud, but I know it will return soon as the snow melts and just as you think its over you get the rains in March and April. I most definitely prefer the snow, that is except when it comes over the top of my wellies and its a rush to make it back to the house before it melts and you end up with soggy socks πŸ™‚

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        1. I couldn’t afford to buy a garage in London, let alone a house. πŸ™‚
          Despite my moans about the weather, I do love the peace and quiet.
          I have also used my free bus pass here, but only to go to hospital appointments…
          Cheers mate, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning, Pete (it must be afternoon for you in Norfolk)! You describe very well the difference between city and country living. The first thought is MUD. We also live in a rural setting. Fortunately, in winter the mud is solid frozen and in the dry summer months it turns to dust. Canada’s advantage over England! Haha!

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  5. Well…I have very little to do with mud. I live in town that only has hardened roads and I live in a highrise on the twelfth floor (have a beautiful view because of that though 😊). So yeah…no real thinking of mud here (though there is a movie called mud starring Mathew McCounaghey that I quite enjoyed).
    Do have to say that reading this I can really understand how mud can be a terrible nuisance…Uggh…

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  6. A fascinating subject indeed! I have not given mud much thought in 13 years since I was forced to retire…..and thanx to retirement I do not have to think about it…..LOL Have a good Sunday my friend….chuq

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  7. Sadly I share your pain with mud. Thanks to the weather systems flying across the Irish Sea on the Atlantic jet stream we see our fair share of rain. My boys football matches are constantly called off due to muddy pitches.

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      1. I recall that in my younger days — when I was still wearing “Wellies” — the mud would sometimes suck the boots off my feet as I attempted to walk through it. Other than that, I also discovered — (when I was visiting with some indigenous tribes in Brazil in the days gone by) that mud is often essential to sealing the thatched rooftops of “Homes.” Also, my now dearly departed wife thought that it was fun and games to apply a pack of purified mud to her face every morning because she thought that it helped to cleanse the pores of her facial skin of excess oil buildup. As a kid, we used to make mud balls and fling them at each other in “Mudball Wars.” The substance isn’t always unimportant or insignificant thought I agree it can be a pain in the proverbial arse under the proper conditions.

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          1. Here’s an idea for you: Find a way to reduce the mud to it’s pristine self (strain it?) and allow it to dry and then compress it into cleverly moulded little cakes or ingots, wrap it in colorful tinfoil, put it into a little felt pouch with a drawstring, include a little map of the area from which the mid comes, include a little sheet of paper with information on it about the area from which it comes …. and market it on E-Bay as “Your Very Own Little Piece Of England.” (Comforting memo for those separated from their British Homeland for whatever the reason.) I am assuming each of these could fetch at least 4 or 5 dollars as a novelty item and people dearly tend to love novelty items. (They also tend to be collectable after a time.) Remember the great American tonic called “Hadacol” or the “Pet Rock” fad of some years ago? Yes, you might be onto a fortune after all!

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          1. Capitalize on it, buy yourself a private jet and come visit with me. Remember top cut me a check for 1% of your profits as my compensation for suggesting the idea.l LOL

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          2. The only other pets besides myself that my wife had were two small dogs that got together one day and ate her hearing aids. After that incident there was only me …LOL

            Liked by 1 person

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