Thinking Aloud on Easter Sunday

Movements, and sounds.

Regular readers will know that I am not religious. I actually forgot that last Friday was Good Friday, and I was surprised that the supermarket is closed today. For those of you that celebrate this season in that way, I wish you a Happy Easter, and a peaceful weekend.

But this morning I woke up hearing a noise. It took a while for me to realise that I had made that noise, something resembling a strangled cry, as I turned over in bed. My body was telling me that I had been in one position too long, and that it also didn’t like the amount of effort required to change direction.

I can’t really remember the first time I started to make noises associated with the simple process of moving around. But I do remember my Mum having to make some sort of ‘grunt’ to assist her to get out of an armchair. And when she sat back down in one, she would let out a sound something like a long “Oooff”, as she rested back against the cushion. At the time, I used to find this amusing. Little did I know that those sounds would soon be coming from my own mouth.

It seems that I can no longer rise from the sofa, or sit back on one, without associating the movement with an audible groan or strange cry. I have actually tried to stop it happening, but with no success. And it is not restricted to sitting and standing. Scratching a particularly itchy insect bite last year, I was shocked to hear myself letting out some kind of high-pitched wail as I did so. At first, I didn’t even realise it was me making the noise.

Settling down in bed unleashes a repertoire of sighs that could well be set to music. Stretching out under the duvet has to be attempted carefully, in case of attracting a bout of muscle cramp in one leg. If that happens, it will be accompanied by cries of pain that are something like those heard on a Maternity Labour Ward. If I escape that, then cat-like purs of contentment issue from my lips, followed by expulsions of breath that can rustle the pages of a magazine, inflating my cheeks until I resemble the jazz trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie.

Getting into my low corner bath is easy enough, but climbing back out after bathing is another matter entirely. I have to adopt the tried and tested ‘extrication’ method. Hands grasp the sides, legs and feet drawn up to get purchase on the bottom of the bath, then up in a single movement, accompanied by my personal bath grunt, sounding something like ‘Aaargh’. Without that grunt, I am convinced I would never emerge from the bath water.

Outside the home, I cannot avoid my new ‘language’. Climbing into the driving seat of my car doesn’t appear to require much effort, but it is always accompanied by a distinct ‘Oooff’, which makes me remember my Mum, every time I set off to drive somewhere. After a drive of less than thirty minutes, getting out of that same seat usually necessitates a few ‘Ows’, before I am on solid ground.

When you reach the age that you begin to hear unfamiliar and unnecessary sounds coming from you, try to remember this post.

Read it again, and realise that it is all just part of getting old.

A big walk, in better weather.

It would be easy to believe it was midsummer today in Beetley. A bright start was followed by blue skies and warm temperatures. I decided to take Ollie out early, and make the most of the welcome change in the weather.

Being able to wear soft shoes and shorts was a blessed relief from months of boots and heavy coats. And knowing the mud was not going to impede our progress made the prospect of a longer walk something to anticipate. Ollie was excited to see his lead, and my stick, even though it was only midday, so earlier than his accustomed time. He rushed around excitedly, showing so much enthusiasm, you could well believe he had never been outside the house.

Starting out on Beetley Meadows, I was pleased to discover that there was no chill wind to take the edge off the warmth. The buzzing of bees and swarms of smaller insects was proof that it was hot enough to hatch out many of the flying insects that so often plague the riverside. After a few quick rounds of Ollie’s usual sniffing haunts, we headed over to Hoe Rough, encountering dog-walking friends with their Collie, Tippy. Soon after, Ollie was able to play with The Tiny Whippet that likes him so much, before being ambushed by Little Spike, the small Retriever. Little Spike appeared at speed from nowhere, keen to cajole Ollie into a game of chase. But my dog considers himself far too superior to play with the youngster, and stands his ground as the excitable Retriever runs around him barking.

Once the other dogs had departed, I decided to push across to Hoe Common, the weather adding a spring to my step. But before that, Ollie had other ideas, and headed into the small river to cool off, and have a drink. When he was refreshed, we crossed the main road to Holt, and took the path up to the wooded area of Hoe Common. Past there, we walked two quick circuits of the fields bordering the disused railway, before heading along the small lane toward Worthing, a small village close to North Elmham.

As traffic increased closer to the large village of North Elmham, I decided it was not that safe to continue, and turned to retrace our route home. By the time we got back onto Hoe Rough, Ollie was hot and bothered again, so went back into the river for a deeper dip. We didn’t get home until close to 3 pm, having covered around ten circular miles in almost three hours, at a brisk pace without stopping.

Ollie is dozing happily now, dreaming of Little Spike, Tippy, and The Tiny Whippet.

Ollie and The Painter

For the last three days, poor Ollie has been discombobulated. When the painter arrived early on Monday morning, as far as my dog was concerned, he was just a guest, and a potential playmate. He wagged his tail enthusiastically, and brought his most treasured toy, a tattered and smelly stuffed lion. But there was no time for play, as much work needed to be done.

Living in a one-level bungalow, there is no escape from having to go in and out of the two small hallways. We did our best, by leaving one of them free, which meant I was exiled from the small office room. But the other hallway is essential for access to both bathroom and kitchen, so disturbance of the tradesman was inevitable.

But worst of all, Ollie’s habit of following me around had to be curtailed. He could not understand why he wasn’t allowed to accompany me into the kitchen or bedroom, and why he was not allowed to lay down against the freshly-painted skirting boards. Much of the day was spent telling him to ‘Lie down’, ‘Stay’, or ‘Move’. He just didn’t understand what he was doing wrong, and took it as if he was being scolded for something. The sorrowful expression on his wrinkled face was painful to behold.

By yesterday afternoon, as all seven doors were in the process of being painted, the area available to the distressed dog had been reduced to not much more than twice his own size. Refusing to rest, he just stood staring at me, wondering why I wouldn’t throw his toys, or play tug-of-war with them. Even extra strokes and fuss couldn’t shake his gloomy mood. Once the painter had finished, and left for the day, Ollie naturally presumed that he would be granted his usual freedom to roam. But no. We had seven wet doors and some skirting boards to contend with, and he could not be allowed to brush past them, or lean against them.

I took him out to the kitchen for his dinner, shepherding him carefully past the wet paint. When he had eaten, he expected his evening play as usual. But once again, I had to disappoint him, as I could not risk him swiping one of his large stuffed toys across the fresh paint. His gloomy visage returned, and he slumped down on his rug with an audible sigh. I felt so guilty, and wished he could understand it was only temporary. But he couldn’t of course, and spent the evening stressed, and unable to relax, constantly seeking reassurance.

Today, we have no work going on. Ollie has crashed out, fast asleep on his rug. He is catching up on all the rest he has lost over the last three days, and dreaming his canine dreams.

I dare not mention the carpet layers, who are arriving next week. I will let him rest for now.

A tribute to tradesmen

Talking of decorating, I found this post from 2014. Only a few of you have seen it before. 🙂


And I should add, tradeswomen too.

I have been decorating a small room in our house. It was a relatively easy project, as I did not have to paint the windows, or gloss the door and surrounding wood. Clear the room, fill the cracks and screw-holes, sand down and wash the walls. This was followed by two coats of paint on the ceiling, then two coats of a different colour, on the walls. Some fiddly finishing touches followed. Making good the straight lines, going over tiny bits that were missed, and clearing the dust and spills from the carpet. This was not a mammoth task, and many readers could have probably completed this in a weekend, without giving it a second thought. However, I was hampered by a serious decorating liability.

I am just no good at it. Adding to that, I hate doing it, and can get absolutely no…

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Got the painters in

That title means something else, in English slang. Apologies to anyone who found it offensive. I just realised, after publishing.

But in this case, it just means that the decorating continues, at least until late tomorrow. In practical terms, this means that I am unable to get access to the PC, when the painter is doing the various doors in the hallways/corridors.

So, no new posts, and a delay in replying to all the blogs I follow, or comments received on my own blog. Sorry.

It should be back to normal on Thursday, ready for Easter. That’s until the carpet layers start work, soon after. 🙂

Best wishes, Pete.

Looking For Dexter

Today is the start of the school Easter holidays, so I expected to see more kids around once I got over to Beetley Meadows with Ollie. However, there were only a few, so perhaps most had gone off somewhere with their families, as it was a very warm and sunny day today.

I had only been out for ten minutes or so, when I was approached by a young girl riding a cycle. She looked to be around ten years old, and politely asked me if I had seen a big black dog.

I told her I hadn’t, but promised to help search for it if she gave me more details. It was a Labradoodle, a cross between a Labrador and Standard Poodle that is a very popular breed to own these days. It’s name was Dexter, and it was being looked after at their house, while the owners were on holiday. I asked her where I should go if I found him, and she happily gave me her address. I promised to look hard, and went off with Ollie in search of the runaway.

As I looked around the nearby wooded area, it occurred to me how trusting the girl was, to have given me her home address without hesitation. Another sign of living somewhere peaceful, where nothing bad happens.

After a full search of the immediate area, I headed over to Hoe Rough, in case Dexter had crossed the river to that larger Nature Park. But after a good hour or more of searching, and venturing up as far as the busy Holt Road, I hadn’t seen anything, and Ollie and I were the alone on Hoe Rough anyway. I went back to Beetley Meadows, where I asked some other dog walkers to keep an eye out for Dexter.

Before returning home, I decided to check at the address given by the girl, which is not far from my own house. After ringing the bell, I waited a long time. As I was about to leave, she nervously opened the door a little, relaxing when she saw me there with Ollie. I asked if she had found him, and she said she had. I told her I was pleased about that, and left.

So the runaway is safe and sound, and I felt better, knowing that Ollie and I had done our bit.

Winston’s Birthday Party

Resplendent in his yellow bandana, local canine celebrity, Winston, arrives to celebrate his 15th birthday.

The dog-walking community of Beetley came together on a dull and foggy afternoon yesterday. We were all keen to attend the party organised by the lovely Michelle, to mark the great age of her popular dog, Winston. Despite being deaf, and having numerous health problems, old Winston had his usual bright eyes, cheerful expression, and lively demeanour. It wasn’t long before more guests began to arrive, including Ollie, who felt the need to leave his mark on the litter bin.

Michelle and her partner had made a huge effort for both dog and human guests, including party favours to take home for all attendees, and enough home-made dog biscuits to feed a pack. There were also two birthday cakes, one of them dog-suitable.

It wasn’t long before some of the party-goers were enjoying themselves in the river.

Rocky the Newfoundland doesn’t get around too well these days, so was happy to lie down on a groundsheet and enjoy his present, consumed in under a minute.

As Winston was helped by Michelle to ‘pant out’ his birthday cake candle, Buddy the French Bulldog was too excited to appreciate the moment, and rushed past to find someone to play with.

The table containing the dog treats was irresistible though, and Mabel the terrier was unable to stop herself jumping up to investigate.

A good time was had by all, and with almost every dog in Beetley attending, along with their owners, it was a great success. By the time I had to leave there were well over twenty canine guests in attendance, and there had been no fights, no bites, and no tantrums. The dogs were well-behaved too! Thanks are due to Michelle and her friends for their effort in organising a great local event. To Steve for sending me the photos taken on his phone, and to the following party guests for their participation.

Arlo and Buddy, the French Bulldogs. Remy the English Bull Terrier, two more Buddys, one a black terrier, the other a retriever. Toby the Jack Russell, Rocky the Newfoundland, Poppy the Lakeland terrier, Lola the Shih-Tzu, Paddy the Collie, Mabel the Terrier, all the Spaniels, including Ellie, who came out of her usual reserved shell for the party. Ollie of course, who dutifully sniffed everyone, and played well with Remy, and all the others I have missed out.

This was the kind of event that reinforces community, in a small village in the English countryside.