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.


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.

The First Cuckoo

When I was out with Ollie on a warm sunny afternoon today, I heard a cuckoo calling.

I didn’t hear one at all last year, so it was very enjoyable to be standing near the tree where the bird was calling from.

I remembered somthing from my past about ‘The First Cuckoo’, so I looked it up.

‘There is quite an extensive folklore tradition concerning the cuckoo, for instance on hearing the first cuckoo in spring one must run three times in a circle, with the sun to ensure good luck for the rest of the year. There is another slightly strange custom and that is if you hear a cuckoo on the 14th of April you should immediately turn over any coins that you have in your pocket. If you are stood on hard ground you will have bad luck but conversely if the ground is soft then good fortune will follow. April the 14th is considered one of the ‘evil’ days of the year and interestingly enough it was also the day the Titanic sunk. If you wish to know how many years of life you have left then the old thinking was that on hearing the cuckoo you had to count how many times it called, each call equated to one year of life.’

I didn’t do any of that, as when I was walking around Hoe Rough, I couldn’t remember it.

But I heard a cuckoo, even if I have never seen one.

And that made me feel good today. Nature goes on, virus or not.

The Cows Have Gone

A couple of months ago, a herd of cattle was placed on Hoe Rough by a local farmer. This is done in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust, who like the natural way the cattle eat lots of the unwanted scrub grasses. They also churn up the ground, allowing some other plants to seed, presumably.

But for my walks with Ollie, this is bad news. Once the cattle are there, it is not a good idea to wander around with a dog. Not that Ollie would take any notice of them, but they might well be alarmed by his presence. Cows can run at up to 28 m.p.h., and for a long distance. They can outpace almost any human runner, and certainly beat me in a race. If alarmed, they might also trample Ollie, causing him grievous injury.

As cows kill more people than any other animal here in Britain, I keep away from them at all times.

I heard today that the cows had gone. They have presumably been removed to provide succulent joins of beef for the coming Christmas season.

For the first time in weeks, I could take Ollie over to his second-favourite stomping ground. Once through the gate, he was visibly excited, spinning in circles as I took his lead off. And then he was off, ready to sniff anything and everything he hadn’t been able to sniff for so long.

Unfortunately, the recent heavy rains and the presence of the cows had left the side paths deep in sticky mud, some eight inches deep. Even in my new boots, it was hard going, and made the walk more difficult than usual. But Ollie was so happy, I slogged on for a few circuits of the area.

By the time we got back, the sun was setting, and I had a tired dog ready for a nap.

Ollie’s New Friend

It was a very bright sunny day here today, and pleasantly warm too. Ollie was keen to get out on his early afternoon walk of course, and was soon sniffing around his favouritie spots over at Beetley Meadows. I took him around a couple of circuits, and he was soon in the river, eager to cool off. A short diversion into the small woodland area didn’t leave him very satisfied, so I headed across to Hoe Rough, as he has come to expect.

Ollie enjoyed the diversion of a few excitable squirrels. They avoided his attentions, rushing up into the tops of the trees to chatter at us, telling him off. But the new sniffing grounds kept him suitably fixated, as he got the scent of something, and rushed ahead of me to follow the trail. After more than an hour of trudging around, I sat on the branch of a fallen tree for a while, enjoying watching the birds fluttering in the branches above. Ollie rolled in the nearby long grass, scratching an itch that was probably more in his imagination.

I got up to complete another circuit of the nature reserve, which took around forty-five minutes, with sniffing stops. Although on his second time round, Ollie was acting as if he had never seen the place before, and studiously marking every bush and overhanging leaf. After more than two hours, I decided to call it an day, and head home. Then I heard some shouting and whistling, about four hundred yards away. I spotted a very chunky Rottweiler dog, off its lead, and wearing a substantial harness around its body. The dog’s owner was a young man, shirtless, and calling anxiously for his dog to return to him.

Now Ollie is a very solid, medium sized dog. But that Rottweiler was well over twice his size, and didn’t appear to be under the control of its owner. So I turned left, away from any potential contact with this unknown canine, and walked around the eastern edge of Hoe Rough, keeping out of its way. After the longer circuitous route, I was rather alarmed to discover that the bigger dog and its owner had arrived near the entrance gate at the same time as us. But at least by now he had his excitable dog on its lead, though he was clearly having some difficulty dealing with its strength.

As we approached, the young man smiled, and assured me that ‘she’ was friendly. He added that she was young, and a little boisterous, but was no danger to Ollie.

My dog was soon up to her, and she was pleased to see him. Mutual sniffs were exchanged, and the large female dog seemed to take a liking to Ollie straight off. As he allowed himself to be sniffed in the most intimate areas, I concluded that her female status was agreeable to him, and as she licked his face, he appeared to be suitably impressed. I spoke to him, declaring that she was his ‘new friend’. The young man smiled, and replied, “See you again”, as he exited the gate.

Ollie gave me a strange look, and I soon realised what I had forgotten.

I hadn’t asked her name.

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’s embarrassing encounter

I am just back from an earlier than usual walk with Ollie, as I have to go somewhere this afternoon.

In bright sunshine, and unusually warm temperatures, we set out as usual, starting in Beetley Meadows. Ollie was pleased to spot one of his canine pals, the Newfoundland known as ‘Big Rocky’. (There is a smaller Rocky, a Black Labrador) After he jumped around his older pal for a while, we headed off to the wider expanses of Hoe Rough nature reserve, another of Ollie’s favourite sniffing areas.

Despite the pleasant weather, there was nobody else around over there, so we had the place to ourselves for most of the walk. Ollie went to stand in the river for a while, to cool off, and I sat on a fallen tree to cool down too. Wearing heavy boots because of the mud is uncomfortable, when the weather turns so quickly. After another couple of circuits along the pathways, I turned to head for home, with Ollie trotting a fair distance ahead.

In a clearing surrounded by small shrubs, he suddenly stopped, and raised his front leg. This usually indicates he has spotted a pheasant or deer. With the sun strong, I was concerned that he might have found an Adder. That venomous snake could potentially kill a dog, if it bit him. So I quickened my pace, and got my stick ready to see off the basking snake.

Imagine my surprise as I entered the clearing, to be presented with the bare bum-cheeks of a squatting lady aged around sixty, urinating freely onto the grass. Ollie gave me a ‘?’ look, and I quickly turned, to spare her blushes. I retraced my steps, and got back to the main path. As I headed for the gate, I came across the same lady, walking with a female friend. They were studying a map, and looked like they intended to take a serious country walk.

I nodded a greeting as we passed, and Ollie stopped to sniff the air. He turned to me and gave me a “That’s her” look, and the two ladies walked on, oblivious to what my dog and I had seen.

It never ceases to surprise me, what we come across on our walks.