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.