Short Thoughts (55)

His room was small, cramped.

Just enough gap between the furniture to navigate to the door.

He smiled. “Sorry, I know I have too much furniture”.

“I would love to have a bigger room, and some outside space”.

“Maybe not a garden, perhaps a large patio where I could sit outside”.

“I would love to spend time outside, in nature”.

“Yes, I know I wouldn’t be able to see it. But I could sense the space”.

I handed him his long white stick after we helped him stand up.

Ollie Gets A Nip

Earlier today, the dog-walk was so miserable and wet, we hadn’t see a soul. Ollie was saturated, I was damp and fed up. Umbrella up, I was trudging alongside the riverbank, head down and avoiding the slight flooding coming over the bank onto the path.

Rounding a corner, I heard a dog barking loudly, and recognised Teddy the Alsatian, who always barks at Ollie because he wants him to play. Teddy’s lady owner also had her other dog, a very elderly black labrador bitch. That dog is not at all friendly, and has to be kept on her lead.

However, Ollie is obsessed with sniffing her, so I decided to put his lead on to stop him going over to her. But before I could do that, he had run behind the owner, and started to sniff the poor dog. She immediately showed her teeth, and Teddy started barking in a protective manner. I shouted at Ollie to come back to me, but the lure of sniffing the Labrador caused him to defy me.

Seconds later, she snapped at Ollie’s face as he attempted yet another ‘intimate’ sniff. The lady owner was very upset, and showed me that Ollie was cut under his eye, about an inch long. It looked a bit like a ‘Boxing injury’, and was bleeding slightly. The owner offered to pay any Vet’s bill, but I reassured her that it was all Ollie’s fault, and I would look at the eye later when I got in out of the torrential rain.

Fortunately, Ollie did not retaliate. He never does.

Home in the dry, we could see the cut under his eye. But it’s not bothering him, and so we left well enough alone. He has to go to the Vet on Tuesday anyway, for something else. I will get it checked then.

Once again, Ollie’s obsession with sniffing other dogs left him with an injury.

He never learns. 🙂

Hailstones In May

I am trying so hard to be positive.

Honestly, I am.

I have stopped moaning about the Block Editor, and my moans about the weather had changed to trying to be amusing.

But it is only 6:15 pm, and already very dark, with low cloud.

Then we had a hailstorm.

So fierce, it scared Ollie, and he came to me for a ‘comfort stroke’. The noise was incredible, as the hailstones crashed onto the windows and pattered off the roofs and cars outside.

I checked the calendar, just to be sure.

As I suspected, it was still the 4th of May.

Being positive in England is not easy, I can tell you that.

Ollie: An Eventful Walk

For the last few days, Ollie has not had much fun on his walks. Many of his regular doggy pals have been notable by their absence, and the few dogs he did encounter didn’t seem to like him that much, including one tiny terrier who attacked him on sight.

The day before yesterday we got a real soaking in unexpected rain, and yesterday we only saw one other dog, in more than two hours of walking around.

Today was sunny to start, with ‘showers’ supposed to arrive after 3 pm. So I set off a bit earlier, and it proved to be a good plan. Ollie soon met up with a couple of friendly Spaniels he knows, and the new arrival of a small white Staffordshire Bull Terrier proved to be a friendly encounter too.

Over on Hoe Rough, there seemed to be no dog-walkers today. But halfway round the right hand path, Ollie spotted a white-tailed deer crossing the path up ahead, and took off in hunting mode. No chance of catching it of course, but until it went to ground in a dense thicket of shrubs, he had a good chase.

Then he decided to track the animals route, nose to the ground, sniffing like a Bloodhound.

He was excited enough to need a long dip in the river before we started on the return journey to Beetley Meadows. Once back over the bridge, Ollie was delighted to see little Lola, the affectionate Shih Tzu. And she was in the company of Zen, the feisty miniature Chihuahua.

The three of them had a good meet, with strokes and cuddles all round, and lots of sniffing and running in small circles.

By the time we got home, Ollie was ready for his dinner, and he is now sleeping soundly next to me, after his eventful walk.

“Dry In The South Today And All Weekend But Rain On Monday”

Yes, that’s what the weather lady said, as she stood in front of a map of Britain with everything south of Scotland showing a cloud-free sky.

Monday is a public holiday in England, so a forecast of heavy rain all day on a holiday is no surpise to anyone English. Still, I should have known better than to stupidly accept her optimistic forecast for south-east England at 1pm today.

Ready to walk Ollie, I wore shorts, a light fleece jacket, and took my dog-walking stick in preference to an umbrella. Leaving the house in reasonably bright sunshine, I could feel the nip of the east wind on my face.

Walking quickly soon made me forget that cold wind, and I covered the area of Beetley Meadows in good time. Once Ollie had marked almost every twig and shrub, I headed across to Hoe Rough, to make a longer walk of it. At the far end of the nature reserve, well past the point of no return, that moment when it takes longer to get home than I had already travelled, there were a few raindrops dropping onto my coat.

The skies darkened, as if someone had switched out the lights, and the chilly wind doubled in intensity. Then the heavens opened, soaking me and Ollie in minutes. My coat collar was damp and uncomfortable on my neck, and my unsuitable casual shoes were soon allowing my bare feet inside to get wet. What sparse hair I have left was slicked down onto my head, and the rain was running down into my eyes.

I headed for home, cursing the smug weather lady who must not have a single clue how to do her job.

Walking back in the continuing rain, I thought -not for the first time- what life would be like if everyone was as bad at their jobs as weather forecasters. Imagine a teacher who couldn’t read, or a policeman too scared to arrest a criminal. A chef with no sense of taste, or a fireman who is afraid of flames.

I could go on with a very long list, including things like a tone-deaf orchestra conductor. But you get the idea.

Weather forcasters are fakes. The snake-oil salesmen of the television age. High time they were all sacked.

The Pondering Pheasant

(Not the actual pheasant)

Pheasants can fly. I know they can, as I have seen them flying. Granted they tend not to fly very high, or for a long time, but fly they can.

Approaching Hoe Rough on the busy Fakenham Road earlier, I saw a brightly-plumaged cock pheasant (Identical to the one above) on the other side of the road, at the junction with Mill Lane. It seemed to be considering going across to the small car park in front of the entrance to Hoe Rough. Then it casually stepped out into the road. After a few steps, it stopped, seeming to be pondering something.

If a bird can be said to look deep in thought, then this one certainly was.

Seconds later, a small Fiat car appeared from the direction of Dereham. Fortunately for the thoughtful bird, the lady driver slowed her car, and carefully steered around it. With the road momentarily clear, the pheasant seemed to snap out of its reverie, and began crossing the second half of the road. But rather than take the obvious route, it made a diagonal approach, leaving it in the path of a fast-moving delivery van heading east from Beetley.

I winced as the van drove straight over it without hesitation, expecting to see the remains of a badly-squashed bird in its wake. Luckily, the height of the comercial vehicle had meant the bird had been unscathed. It did not even appear to be that concerned by its close encounter with potential oblivion.

A few steps more took Mr Pheasant into the car park, and under the gate of the nature reserve. Ollie and I followed seconds later, watching the bird saunter off into some dense undergrowth ahead of us.

Not unlike the pheasant, I was left pondering.

Why didn’t it just fly across the road?

My S.A.D. Lamp, and Brighter Days

It has been nice and sunny in Beetley for over a week now, and staying light until past 8 pm. I will be retiring my SAD lamp now until November, hopefully.

I used it every day until the end of March, mostly in the afternoons. Plugged into my PC tower, and angled away from my direct vision, it gave a comforting glow on the ‘Daylight’ setting. It is around the size of an I-Pad, or an Android Tablet

As I have been writing a lot of posts, sleeping quite well, and not been unduly fed up about anything, I have to presume that the SAD lamp did work, by improving my sense of wellbeing in the same way that the the recent bright days have done. And even if it wasn’t solely responsible, I think it certainly contributed.

It only cost £20, and should last for a good few years. So if you suffer from S.A.D. on gloomy days, I suggest you think about buying one. Rather than just recommend the one I have, here is a selection for you to see in the link. I would add that you need spend no more than the cheapest option available. They all seem to be made in the same place, with different trade names, and do the same thing with the same options. 🙂

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=SAD+lamps&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Wasp Alert!

I am trying to think if I ever saw wasps this early in the year. Those stinging insect pests are a summer regular, annoyingly buzzing around drinks and food during hot weather, or hovering around overstuffed litter bins at coastal resorts.

It has been sunny this week, but not exactly warm, let alone hot. Yet the wasps have arrived many months too early. They have been in the kitchen, inside the shed, and buzzing noisily around partially-opened windows.

Naturally, they get no mercy from me. Immediate application of the plastic fly swat has already dealt with some of them, and it has been left to hand for any further waspish intruders.

Let’s hope the Murder Hornets have not woken up too, and are making their way to Beetley.

Old Man Walking

As I set off with Ollie yesterday, I walked past two young mums pushing toddlers on the swings in the small playground. I had seen one of them before, and politely nodded to her as I went by.

The other young woman turned and asked her “Do you know him?”

The first one shook her head, replying “No, but he’s always here whenever I bring Chloe to the swings. I see him walking here all the time. I just think of him as the old man walking”.

This was all said less than twenty feet fom me. I presume they thought my craggy face and sparse silver hair also affected my hearing.

As I went through the gate of Hoe Rough, I was smiling. Their exchange had made me think of the film ‘Dead Man Walking’. In the film, a prisoner on death row is preceded by a prison guard as he moves around. The guard calls out “Dead man walking! Dead man walking here!” https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112818/

Perhaps I should employ someone to walk ahead of me?

He could call out “Old man walking! Old man walking here!” 🙂

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Lockdown fallout.

As the lockdown begins to ease in England, it won’t be too long before we can think about eating inside a restaurant, or meeting up with family and friends in their houses. It has been a difficult year for everyone, some much more so than others. I have been lucky, and I am aware of that.

Next Wednesday, I am having the second dose of A-Z vaccine, so even if the ‘Vaccination Passports’ do come in, I will be ‘free to roam’, as it were. We have booked a holiday in England for September, a week away that now seems to be more desirable than at any time in my life.

But with all this progress comes some reflection on the fallout of over a year in lockdowns. The effects, both tangible and unseen, of fear, worry, concern, and being stuck in and around the same place whether from choice or complusion.

For me, the main effects are obvious.

I stopped reading books. I tried, but couldn’t concentrate.

I stopped using any of my cameras. I already had so many photos of the same things and places.

I stopped watching so many films. Again, lack of concentration was the reason.

I ate too many ‘bad’ things, and drunk more wine than before. ‘Treating’ myself was an easy excuse, but not a good reason.

I stopped watching so much television. With a few notable exceptions, it no longer seemed important or interesting.

I stopped ringing friends and family. What do you talk about? The fact that you haven’t been anywhere, or done anything?

My life, such as it was over the past year, moved almost completely online. Although I still went to the supermarket, I spent more time in front of the computer. I wrote more blog posts, kept in touch with people by email, and bought everything I didn’t actually eat or drink by using online sellers.

Now with life forecast to ‘open up’, albeit with sensible safety measures still in place, I feel the need to ‘claw back’ some of the me that was lost over this past year. I want to charge up my camera batteries, try again with some of those books on my Kindle, and wander aimlessly around reopened shops, not intending to buy anything. I don’t know if there will be a ‘new normal’, and there will definitely never be a return to that ‘old normal’.

But I will take whatever comes, and do my best to enjoy it.