Walking Stanley

There used to be a local man walking a small Lurcher. The dog is named Stanley, and he is very friendly. Recently, I saw Stanley with a lady, and it turned out to be the wife of the man I used to see regularly.

She told me the sad news that her husband has been stricken with Alzheimer’s, and will have to live in a care home. She is going to be busy arranging all that, then visiting him when she can.

I offered to help out by taking Stanley for a walk with Ollie when she was unable to take him herself.

Yesterday, we arranged that first walk. Stanley was pleased to see us at the house, but a little reluctant to walk off with us at first. Once we got to the path leading to Beetley Meadows, his tail came up, and he trotted along happily. He is younger than Ollie, with lots more energy, so it felt a little strange for me to be having to keep up with a dog, instead of waiting for one to catch me up.

After completing the usual walk, I headed back in the direction of his house, two streets away. He picked up the pace and pulled on his lead, knowing he was heading home.

Next week, I will take him out again. It is company for Ollie, and helps out the lady.

It is also what living in a small village community is all about.

An Early End To The Shorts Season

Regular readers will no doubt remember that I wear shorts for most of the year. Shorts-wearing season traditionally begins for me in mid-March, and ends on the first of October, much later if the weather stays fair. I have been known to still be wearing shorts in November.

(Not the same pair of course, before anyone asks. 🙂 )

This year was no exception, as my shorts were on by the 12th of March, and they remained my choice of attire right through the unusually hot summer, including our recent week away in early September.

But this week, the winds changed. They were coming directly from the north, from the Arctic. Overnight, the temperatures fell from 18C (64.5) to just 6C. (43)

It was a shock to feel so cold at this stage in autumn, when the usual temperature should have been at least 16C. (61) The cold gusty winds and occasional heavy showers didn’t help, so by Tuesday I was really feeling cold on the dog walk.

Yesterday, I woke up to a very ‘fresh’ morning, and a check on the predicted weather showed it was unlikley to exceed 8C (46) until the late afternoon.

There was nothing for it, I had to admit defeat. The shorts went back into their drawer in the wardrobe. Out came the warm jogging trousers, and they went on with some thick walking socks.

(No jogging was intended, that is just what they are called here.)

My season had to end three days early. But after such a hot summer, I can’t really complain.

I Don’t Want To Hear It

After the heavy rain yesterday, I went out with Ollie. It was still drizzling a little, and looking dark and cloudy. Wandering around our usual haunts, I met a few dog-walkers. Being English, we naturally discussed the weather.

I mentioned to one lady that the weather was miserable, and she replied.
“But it’s good for the garden”.

Sometime later I saw a man I see every day. He mentioned that I was carrying an umbrella, and reminded me that more heavy rain was forecast to arrive later.
As he walked off, he turned and said,
“It’s good for the garden though”.

With the clouds descending again, and the temperature dropping, I walked one more circuit, before heading for home. On the way I saw a lady with two dogs. She also noted my umbrella, and looked up at the sky. In my mind, I was pleading ‘Don’t say it!’ But she did.
“Good for the garden at least”.

It has been raining heavily all night, and later this morning I have to take Ollie out, with more rain forecast.

If you happen to see me over on Beetley Meadows, please, please do not say “It’s good for the garden”.

I don’t care if it’s good for the garden. It is June, and I want some summer!

A sunny walk with the camera

Reblogging this old photo post for the benefit of new followers since it was posted in February 2016. Almost six years ago, a few days after Ollie’s 4th birthday, and on a very cold day in Beetley.
The camera used was the Fuji X30, and the aperture settings were either f5.6 or f8. All the files are straight from the camera, with no post-processing.

beetleypete

Despite the cold, and recent snow, I awoke to a sunny day, that if anything, was too bright. I made up my mind to venture out with Ollie earlier than usual, to get the best of the day, before any cloud settled in during the late afternoon. This meant that his usual doggy pals would not be around, so I quickly headed over to Hoe Rough, to give him a bigger walk, with my camera taken along too. As usual, all the photos are large files. They can be clicked on, for full screen, and further enlarged for detail. The bright weather allowed for some good photos today, and the details are very well-rendered.

The constant rains have waterlogged the ground. This standing water was frozen on the surface.

DSCF0205

A few paces further on, and the rest of that water was joining up, forming what looked like a small canal. It…

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A Non-Summer Summer Dog Walk

Summers in England cannot be guaranteed. Ask anyone who lives here.

But this summer has been the worst for a long time, especially in the East of England where I live, which has languished under gloomy cloud cover for what seems like months. Yesterday, It was dark while I was making breakfast, and the sun hadn’t appeared by the time I took Ollie out for his walk, at 1:40pm.

The temperature was only 16C (60F) and it was unusually windy for August too.

Since he had his Vet treatments on Wednesday, Ollie has improved immensely. He was pleased to get out over to Beetley Meadows, and it wasn’t too long before he was running into the river for a refreshing drink. As we walked around the riverside path after, the shoulder high nettles were on the move. Stirred by the wind, they seemed to be reaching out to others across the path, in the hope of stinging me as I passed by.

Like some kind of anchored monster, their tendrils waved in the breeze, almost as if they sensed my arrival. I had to weave in and out of the extended nettle heads, stopping occasionally to bash down some of the most impassable ones with my trusty dog-walking stick.

Oblivious as ever, Ollie trotted on, sniffing and marking. But he had no canine companions yesterday. Local dog-walkers were either away on holiday, or not willing to chance the possibility of rain.

When that rain arrived, it was nothing to speak of. Little more than tangible moisture in the air, followed by a few very determined individual drops that had escaped the heavy clouds overhead. Not even enough to wet my uncovered head.

After less than ninety minutes, Ollie’s enthusiasm waned, and I sensed he was preferring the idea of his dinner, to more walking. So we headed out of the alley at the far end of Beetley Meadows, with Ollie sniffing and marking the spots he had missed earlier.

I was left reflecting that it hadn’t felt much like a late-August dog walk. More like late March.

Ending Up In The River

The classic English Summer is upon us with a vengeance. Late on Thursday afternoon, it started to rain heavily. It continued to rain all night, and was still raining when I got up on Friday morning. Almost fifteen hours of relentless, stormy rain.

It finally stopped while I was having lunch on Friday, and I was quick to take the chance to get out with Ollie before it started again. It was too humid to wear waterproofs and boots, so I went out wearing shorts and lightweight trainers, carrying my umbrella. Sure enough, five minutes into the walk some gusty winds heralded the return of the rain, as it blew black clouds around Beetley like aircraft stacking in the sky waiting to land at an airport.

Up went the umbrella, and on we trudged.

Approaching the river bend and picnic area, I waited on the bank for Ollie. He usually goes down the slope into the river for a drink, but he was still a couple of hundred yards behind me, sniffing shrubs and grass. When he still hadn’t arrived, I turned again, to see where he was. That was a fateful turn, as I immediately slid down the rain-sodden muddy bank.

My umbrella flew into the river and I landed on my right side, with my right hand undermeath me. Both feet were in the water, over my ankles.

I managed to get up with some difficulty, to discover that my shorts and my right leg were covered in mud and gravel. Inspecting my hand, I found gravel embedded in the palm, and blood running down my arm from small cuts and abrasions near my wrist. As my shoes and feet were already soaked, I waded in and retrieved my umbrella, which had fortunately not floated away.

Ollie appeared moments later, giving me a quizzical look. I wandered off reluctantly, to continue the walk. As Ollie ran past, I shook my head at him.

“I’m seriously getting too old for this, boy”.

“Old Man! Old Man!”

As I was finishing the walk with Ollie yesterday, I was heading past the small playground on Beetley Meadows in the direction of one of the exits.

Two young mums were sitting on a bench inside, watching their children playing on the swings, roundabout, and climbing frame. The children were aged around four and five, and very noisy. Ollie was trailing behind me, sniffing and marking the rows of shrubs along the wooden fences of the houses that back onto the playing field.

Just as I got past the playground’s wire fence, a little boy shouted out to me at the top of his lungs.

“Old man! Old man!”

I turned to see him up at the fence, obviously wanting to say something to me. So I smiled at him, and walked back.

“What is it?”, I asked him. He pointed at Ollie. “I like your dog”. I grinned, and asked him a question.

“How did you know my name?”

He didn’t get it, but his mum smiled.

Ollie And The Heatwave

Since Ollie turned nine in February, he has slowed down considerably. But he still likes nothing better than to accompany us anywhere in my car, and is able to jump up onto his bed in the back as if he is still only two years old. So he was delighted when after watching us pack up the car last Thursday, he was called outside to leap into his spot.

The first day in Essex was actually overcast, and not very warm. He was pleased to see my cousin’s two small dogs again, even though having so many people in the house made him rather agitated, perhaps because he worried that he might be left behind.

By the time we arrived in Kent late on Friday afternoon, the weather had started to warm up considerably. We were grateful to be able to eat outside at my friend’s house, but Ollie stayed inside, finding some cool carpet in the shade to lie on.

On Saturday, it was almost 30 degrees (C) and we drove the short distance to a local Country park to give him a good walk. In the absence of a river, I took along his water bowl and a large bottle of water. Ollie was soon slowing down in the heat, so after an hour, we sat under a tree near the cafe there, and Ollie was lying down on the long grass in the shade. Despite drinking lots of water, he couldn’t seem to cool down, and was panting constantly.

The next day, I walked him to the local park near my friend’s house, somwehere he has been many times before. But there was a lot of traffic in that large town, and Ollie kept stopping on the pavement, flinching at the noise as cars and buses drove past close to us. By the time I got to the park, I had to sit in some shade and give him a big drink from his bowl. As he showed no sign of wanting to continue the walk after that, I decided to head back, by which time it was close to 31C there.

He spent the rest of the time lying on the kitchen floor, and when the sun moved around and we sat outside to eat, he ventured out to find any small breeze and the cool decking of her patio. For all three days in Kent, he had seemed grumpy and listless, though I was pleased that he ate all of his food, and had a good appetite.

The drive home on Monday wasn’t too bad, and I decided to stop off at Thetford Forest so that Ollie could get out for a walk, and have a drink. For some reason, he wouldn’t follow me after I parked the car, and kept looking back at it. I had to settle for him having a short drink before getting him back in the car for the one hour drive to Beetley. The next morning, he seemed happier, as the temperature in Norfolk, though still hot, was a full 5C lower than it had been further south. Even so, after fifteen minutes in his preferred area of Beetley Meadows, he ran into the river and stood there for over twenty minutes.

Today was still warm and sunny, but a lot fresher than it has been. Ollie has decided that he must now sniff and mark a lot more places than ever, presumably making up for that ‘lost time’ away. It took me almost thirty minutes to walk less than 400 yards, and I found myself standing waiting for ages until he was ready to catch up.

So at least during this short heatwave, dog-walking now has a new name.

‘Dog-Waiting’.

Finding Bailey

It was a wet dog walk today. I wathed the lunchtime weather report, and they said it would be ‘cloudy but dry in the East’. So I knew to take my umbrella. Ten minutes in, and it was raining lightly. By the time I got over to Hoe Rough, the umbrella was failing to cope with torrential rain.

That meant wet shoes, (Skechers for comfort, not waterproof) wet shorts, and wet sleeves on my cotton top. Then there was walking through the tall grass and shrubs, still wet from yesterday, now soaking my legs on top of the rain. To remind me it was summer, the temperature was a humid 21 C (69 F), and Ollie was hot enough that despite being wet from the rain, he still jumped into the river to cool down.

After a couple of miserable rounds of the nature reserve, I headed back to Beetley Meadows, skidding around on the fresh mud. Over there, I saw a lady I know in passing. She usually has two small dogs with her. Today there was only one. She walked up and asked me, “Have you seen a small dog? It’s a little Spaniel called Bailey”. I told her I knew the dog, but hadn’t seen him. She told me her son was out in his car, driving around Beetley hoping to see him on the street.

I asked her where she had last seen Bailey, and she said he had gone into the long grass opposite the gate to the woodland area. That grass is never cut, and is currently very high. It also contains nesting adders, (poisonous snakes) who would likely be hunkered down in the cooler, wet weather. I said I was heading that way, and would look for her dog. By that time, she had been trying to find her dog for almost thirty minutes, and was getting worried.

Standing next to the long grass opposite the gate, I called out “Bailey” and whistled too. Ollie seemed confused, thinking I was whistling him. Seeing the grass moving about twenty-five feet away, I called again and again, until there was definitely more movement. So I told Ollie to stay, ditched the umbrella, and ventured in, finally catching a glimpse of the tiny Spaniel ahead. I patted my legs and called his name again, and he made his way nervously in my direction.

When he was close enough, I stepped forward and slipped Ollie’s lead over the small head. Then I walked him back to where the lady was standing with her other dog.

Little Bailey was soaked through, and looked exhausted. It must have seemed like being trapped in a grass maze, towering well over two feet above him. Perhaps he became disorientated, and headed deeper into the grassed area, rather than back to the path? We will never know for sure why he got lost there.

But at least he was found, safe and sound.

Ollie And The Swans

In 2016, I posted about Ollie’s rather tense encounter with three swans.

Ollie’s Mexican standoff.

Earlier today, something similar happened again.

Although it is 10C cooler today that it was yesterday, (18C instead of 28C) the air is very humid after heavy rain last night, with thunderstorms forecast for later. So after a couple of tours around Beetley Meadows, by the time we got over onto Hoe Rough, Ollie was panting, and ready for a drink and a dip.

He waited until we got to his favourite spot, where he can slide under the wire of the fencing, and slip into the river. There were two swans already there, a large male and smaller female. (Yes, I know they are called a Cob and Pen, but this is easier.) For all I know, they could well be the same pair from 2016, as they have been on the river every year I have lived here, and they do mate for life.

Ollie ignored them, and plopped into the rain-swollen water, which came up to the base of his tail. The large male swan flared out its tail feathers, and the female moved away slightly, protected behind her mate. When Ollie had drunk his fill, and presumably cooled off sufficiently, he decided to turn and investigate the nearby waterfowl. At this, the male swan raised its wings, and the female swam away, making for the safety of the next bend in the river, and deeper water.

With the swan making no noise, but threatening with his strong wings, Ollie continued to move through the water in his direction, breaking into a dog-trot. At that point, I whistled Ollie to come back out onto the bank.

One of them, or both of them, would undoubtedly have been hurt.