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.

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?

Hailstones And Brambles

There are some days when you wished you could have stayed at home, instead of having to walk your dog. Today was one of those days.

I left the house with Ollie in bright sunshine, but seeing some dark clouds in the distance, I took my umbrella. Despite the sun, the wind was still gusting, and very cold too. Fifteen minutes after arriving on Beetley Meadows, I saw a lightly-dressed dog-walker running for the exit. Opening my umbrella just in time, I was suddenly battered by pea-sized hailstones, as the temperature dropped dramatically.

Moments later, it was as dark as night, with the coulds I had spotted earlier appearing to be low enough to touch the treetops. As the hailstorm increased in intensity, I clung desperately to my umbrella to keep the worst of it from hitting my face. Then I headed for a woodland area, to try to reduce the impact of the wind-driven icy projectiles.

By the time I got into the trees for some relief, the patch pockets of my coat were full of hailstones, and I had to stand and scoop them out before they melted. By contrast, Ollie was casually walking around and sniffing, as if having his back covered in hundreds of icy white balls was completely normal.

Then it stopped, and the sun came out.

Waiting a while to make sure no more threatening clouds could be seen, I took Ollie over to Hoe Rough. Despite the thick mud over there, it became quite a pleasant walk in the sunshine, with the temperature warming up considerably from earlier.

We had been out for just about an hour when Ollie headed into a deep muddy pool. It looked to be about eight feet long by four feet wide, and had formed in a natural depression in the gound. Seeing it didn’t reach his underbelly, I followed him in, and carried on walking. But unbeknownst to me, the murky water concealed the thick tendrils of some nearby brambles. I was over two-thirds of the way through when both my heavy boots slid under the bramble creeper, stopping me in my tracks.

More than that, the sudden decelleration pitched me forward. Dropping my umbrella, I spread out both arms, in the hope of stopping myself falling face-first into the quagmire. My right hand found some firm support, in the form of a grassy hillock, but my left hand disappeared into a clump of brambles and assorted spiky plants, offering only sharp pains, and no support. As a result, I ended up kneeling in the slop, my thick dog-walking trousers saturated at the knees.

Ollie looked at me as if I was playing some kind of game that didn’t interest him, and trotted off to pee up a nearby fallen tree branch. Before I could try to stand, I had to get the thorns and spikes out of my left palm and fingers, as they were incredibly painful. I used my teeth, carefully extracting each one. I counted eleven, before I eventually stood up.

That was enough for me. Hailstones and brambles had ruined my walk, and soured my mood. I strode off in the direction of home, and when I put Ollie’s lead on, he gave me a ‘hard done by’ look that we were leaving after just over an hour.

But I didn’t care, as I had genuinely had enough.

Video: More Heavy Snow, and Hoe Rough

Overnight last night, we had another very heavy fall of snow. This despite the BBC weatherman saying that “The East has seen the last of the snow for now”. It was bad enough for us to cancel the dog groomer appointment and reschedule for next week. No point risking a five-mile drive involving untreated roads, just to get a dog shampooed.

The morning was very sunny and bright, so I took the phone on Ollie’s walk, and headed over to Hoe Rough. Unfortunately, it was still so bright at the start of the walk, that I couldn’t see a thing on the screen, other than my own face reflected in it. So the results are rather hit and miss, but I will post them all anyway.

Ollie in some quite deep snow. Not many people had been over there, and in parts it was as deep as my boots.

A shorter clip of Ollie. He had heard something, so stopped to listen carefully.

At the time, I couldn’t see what was in the frame here, but I managed to get Ollie’s head in at the end. 🙂

Ollie ‘marking’ some snow. The pool of water is left over from the recent floods, and I walked in to show how deep it is.

Where Hoe Rough opens out, you can see the extent of the virgin snow to the south.
At this point the sun went in, and didn’t appear again.

The river bend from the Hoe side, looking across to Beetley Meadows.
Walking there was heavy going, as nobody had been down there before us, and the path was covered over.

Next to the gate of the path that leads up to Holt Road. I am calling Ollie a ‘good boy’ to make him wag his tail for you. 🙂
The pools of water you can see are left over from the recent flooding.

This is ‘The Dell’, where I like to sit and rest on very hot days.
What looks like a pond is in fact a deep pool of rainwater that has been there for months.

Looking north from the southern end of Hoe Rough.
Behind the wire fence is a large private woodland, part of the huge garden of a relatively small house in Hoe.

I hope you have all enjoyed my two days of snow videos. Hopefully, that will be the last of the snow this year!

A Semi-Aquatic Dog Walk

I waited until the rain I wrote about yesterday had finally stopped, then set out with Ollie in bright sunshine. I was aiming for Beetley Meadows as usual, but soon discovered that around 40% of our usual walking area was under water.

This is definitely the worst I have seen it since moving here, a legacy of the rain that almost drove me insane over the previous 28 hours.

The seats of the picnic benches were submerged, and the water had not just burst the banks, the river was actually flowing at some speed in areas where we walk every single day. In the livestock field beyond, it was spreading almost as far as the busy Holt Road in the distance. Fortunately, there were no grazing animals there.

Ollie splashed happily through the freezing muddy water, but as I followed him I realised that it might well come over the top of my boots, and I was forced to retrace my steps. I decided to head across to Hoe Rough, which is slightly higher ground. Our arrival there coincided with a sudden hailstorm, which turned Ollie’s back white in seconds, and was hammering against the canopy of my umbrella.

It turned out that not only was Hoe Rough just as badly off for flooding on the north side next to the river, but some of the larger ‘puddles’ along the main path were also too deep for my knee-length boots. Some old trees had fallen too, the roots washed away by the flood waters. I may have to invest in some fisherman’s waders!

The second hailstorm that arrived was more than I could take, so we headed home. I had to take Ollie along the path beside Fakenham Road to avoid more standing water.

And even after using all four of his special dog-towels to dry him off, he is still damp to the touch.

We have an Atlantic storm arriving on the 26th. They say we will have ‘heavy downpours’ along with winds up to 80 mph.

At least tomorrow is forecast to be dry.

Ollie And The Cows

For a while now, we have been unable to venture onto Hoe Rough, as the Wildlife Trust wardens are allowing a small herd of cattle to graze there.

One of them in particular doesn’t seem to like dogs, and gave us the ‘evil eye’ when I fist noticed the cows there.

It was a lot like this one.

Now Ollie pays no attention to cows, but they certainly pay attention to him. That means I have to walk extra circuits of Beetley Meadows instead of going to Hoe Rough. Ollie doesn’t mind that at all, even though I find it boring.

But the cows are still watching…

Earlier today, i spotted the big black and white one staring at us from across the river. It carried on looking at us until we rounded a bend and were out of sight.

I will be pleased when they are back on the farm.

Ollie And The Water Vole

Out on Hoe Rough this afternoon, Ollie and I were dodging between some heavy downpours. After a welcome sunny break burst through, I was walking back to the gate when I spotted something at the edge of the path, on the side leading down to the river.

No bigger than a cotton reel, and rolled in a ball, it looked to me to be a vole, possibly a very young one too. A closer inspection revealed a thick tail, indicative of a water vole. They are becoming rare now, and are classed as endangered. I have seen adult ones occasionally though, normally swimming quickly to the security of the reed beds at the edges of the small river.

I felt sad, sure it must be dead, and reached down to touch it to make sure. The damp fur felt like velvet, and its body remained motionless. Ollie ran up behind me and sniffed the tiny animal, showing little interest. Suddenly, it moved. That made me step back, but Ollie lunged forward and grabbed it in his mouth as easily as if it was a furry gobstopper. I shouted at him to leave it, and he dropped it back onto the path, giving me a sheepish glance.

The vole scampered off unhurt, hiding in some long grass nearby. Other than a few seconds in a dog’s mouth, he had escaped being a very small snack.

Ollie’s Badger Hunt

The European Badger is one of the most common large omnivores seen in Britain. They are predominantly nocturnal, and live underground in burrows. In this country, they are mosly seen dead, killed by traffic as they cross the road. In fact I had never seen a live one, until this afternoon.

Livestock farmers hate them, as they are blamed for carrying TB, and infecting cattle. They are routinely trapped and killed here, as well as being gassed in their burrows, which are called ‘Setts’.

As with many wild animals, lack of human activity during the pandemic lockdown has made them bolder, and they have been extending their territories.

Over in the darker wooded section of Hoe Rough this afternoon, Ollie stopped dead, looking across at the undergrowth. I could also hear what had attracted his attention, a loud rustling, accompanied by a snuffling sound. I thought at first it might be another dog, but then a large badger appeared, very much like the one in the photo above.

Ollie had also never seen a badger, but he was instictively off after it, feeling the need to hunt it down. I tried calling him back, as badgers have sharp teeth and claws, so could have given my dog an injury. I also didn’t want Ollie to hurt the animal. But he was having none of it, and was circling the dense area of overgrown bracken where the badger had gone to ground. Luckily, he got bored (and too hot) soon enough, and Ollie’s first badger hunt was over.

Until the next time.

Ollie: Moving on video!

I took my newish smartphone out today, intending to try it out with photos of Ollie. However, the sunlight was reflecting off the screen, and I couldn’t see anything. So I pressed the video button instead, and these are the results. I couldn’t see any of the function buttons, so they are straight video captures in portrait format. But at long last you finally get to see Ollie moving! They are all very short clips, uploaded to You Tube.

**Select fullscreen for a better viewing experience**

Ollie on Beetley Meadows.

Ollie in the river, with old friends Maggie and Giggs.

Meeting up with Maggie and Giggs.

Over on Hoe Rough, encountering his friend Stanley.

The riverside path on Hoe Rough. He’s heard something!

Back in the river, this time from the other bank.

I was sitting on a fallen tree, and he came to find me.
Look at that stumpy tail wagging!

I hope you enjoyed these. I will try to get better at taking video.

Beetleycabana

Yes, you read that right. Beetley has been inspired by the spirit of Rio’s Copacabana beach, well at least one tiny part of this small village has.

It’s a nice day today. Blue skies, and sunny. But it’s not that warm, as a chilly easterly wind is keeping down the temperatures. Walking around with Ollie was pleasant enough, but I still needed a light jacket, and rubber boots for the mud.

Halfway down the main path at the centre of Hoe Rough nature reserve, I suddenly noticed someone coming toward me in the distance. It looked to be a young woman, but with the interesting addition of being naked.

At that point, I should have of course done the decent thing, and taken one of the smaller paths to the right, thus avoiding encountering her.

But you can guess that I did no such thing, I’m sure.

As she got closer, I could see that she was actually wearing a (very) pale pink bikini. If you could actually call it that, as it consisted of three small triangles of pink cloth, barely covering her ample assets, which were wobbling like the proverbial jelly-on-a-plate. She was talking on a phone, and using small headphones. Making no effort to avoid me, she continued in the same direction, until I could make out that she was at least wearing something sensible, a pair of stout tennis shoes on her feet.

I moved off the path to allow the requisite Covid-19 social distance of six feet, and even Ollie did a double take as she walked past. The rear section of her swimwear consisted of little more than a pink bootlace, most of which was lodged deeply in the cleft between her buttocks.

I couldn’t help but wonder where she had come from, and where she was going. She had no handbag of any kind, and was not carrying car keys. I can only presume that she must either live nearby, or be staying with someone in Hoe or Beetley. Whatever the answer, she certainly livened up a dog-walk.

And it made a change from spotting Muntjac Deer.