Today was yet another day of heavy rain, with occasional torrential downpours added in for good measure. I am not complaining, you understand. Our two days of excellent weather over the weekend had to be paid for somehow. I had to go out to the car dealership this morning, to get new struts fitted to the tailgate. They did the job in good time, and I waited for them to finish it, in the room provided for customers. As I was paying, the young lady advised me that it was beginning to rain harder. ‘I hope that you don’t get too wet,’ was her cheery farewell.
In the town of Dereham, I stopped off to get some watch batteries installed, and was allowed a fifteen minute respite, as it actually stopped raining for that long. Cars were splashing through the deep kerbside puddles, and pedestrians had to be careful to avoid a soaking from them. Heading out to the village of Swanton Morley, to collect a prescription from the GP, I noticed the narrow country lanes were awash with water running off of the fields, and I had to increase the speed on the windscreen wipers, to keep the screen clear.
Back at home, it carried on raining without let-up, and I advised Ollie that there might be a delay with his afternoon walk. I was hoping to wait out the worst of it. No such luck. By 2.10 pm, he was becoming fractious, and I had no alternative but to gird my loins, and face the inevitable. After a few soakings last week, I decided that it was time to dust off the wellington boots, dig out some long trousers, and don my heavy parka. Even though it was still August, and not cold at 18 degrees, I had to return to my normal winter clothing, like it or not.
Wrapped up in the aforementioned attire, I headed off under my umbrella, with Ollie raring to go. After ten minutes on The Meadows, I was uncomfortably hot. After twenty minutes, I had to sit down for a rest, on a very wet bench. Ollie was still full of get up and go, so headed off to the river. I watched him until he got past a large clump of nettles, and then heard an almighty splash, followed by lots of flapping sounds. I went to investigate, and found Ollie in a canine version of a Mexican Standoff, ten feet or so from a pair of very grumpy-looking swans, up to his chin in the water. The large male and his mate had gone a little way, then turned to face my hapless hound. He was looking at me, wondering why they wouldn’t play with him. He meant them no harm, but the large male wasn’t to know that of course. I made Ollie leave them in peace, and he trotted off to sniff around some bushes.
A little further on, I stopped again, becoming weary as I was feeling hot. Standing still by the riverbank, I noticed the large grey heron. Ollie had spotted it too, but for some reason, decided not to try to catch it. We watched the bird for a while, and it suddenly plunged its head under the water, returning with a decent sized fish in its beak. It took off immediately, presumably to eat its catch undisturbed, in a better location. That was a nice moment, that even Ollie seemed to appreciate.
We continued our normal circuit, with me sadly lacking in enthusiasm. My normal brisk pace was reduced to a begrudging shuffle, heavy boots sliding on wet grass and mud. By now, the rain was getting through the parka, at least around the shoulders and back. I lowered the umbrella, to make sure it was still raining, as it was hard to tell, with all the drops coming off the trees. But it was, and still as heavy as ever. Ollie wanted to venture into the woods, to check for squirrels, but one look at the muddy ground in there brought a refusal from me. I managed to stand it for a good while longer, as Ollie really seemed to be enjoying himself, despite the complete absence of playmates. On the last turn around the bend in the river, he spotted the swans again, in deeper water. This time, he left them alone. It seems that he had learned a valuable lesson this afternoon.
Swans don’t play.