Autumn 1 Pete 0

It is only the second of October. At this time of year, I am usually still wearing shorts, have the windows wide open, and wouldn’t dream of putting on the central heating.

But this October has begun more like winter than autumn, and I woke up feeling cold this morning.

After wrapping up well, I still didn’t feel right, and sitting at the PC earlier today I could feel the cold creeping into me.

At 11 am, I surrendered to the inevitable, and put the heating thermostat up to 20 C.

If it carries on like this, it is going to feel like a long winter indeed.

Our Holiday: The Cabin

Last year, we really enjoyed our time in the wooden holiday cabin. Then this year it was even better, as everything was familiar. So much so, we have booked it again for much the same time in 2022, seven days in September.

Here is an overview. It has two double bedrooms, and two extra beds in the roof space, accessed by a ladder. A large bathroom with shower, and an open-plan living room and fully-equipped kitchen. TV, iron and ironing board, two sofas, a dining table and chairs, and a private picnic table to the side. Enough storage and hanging space too.

Wi-fi is also available, through a connection supplied free of any extra charge by the hotel. But the signal is sometimes erratic.

But for me, the joy is the covered porch. I sat there quite happily for hours, watching the clouds and the world go by.

And it is only 100 yards to the huge unspoilt beach!

(All photos are full-frame, and can be clicked on twice to enlarge for detail.)

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”.

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.


Just Back

Hello to everyone. I have just returned from my four day holiday in gloriously hot and sunny weather.

During that time away, I did not look at any emails or blog posts, did not turn on my mobile phone, or watch anything on TV.

After unloading the car, I have just logged on to find 96 posts, and around 30 comments on some of mine. I cannot possibly catch up on the posts I have missed, so will be starting from scratch from tomorrow. My apologies if that means I have missed something crucial or important. If so, you can let me know by email.

The latest fiction serial ‘A Good Runner’ will continue from tomorrow. Sorry to have interrupted it, and I hope that hasn’t ruined your enjoyment.

I will do my best to reply to all comments on my posts as soon as possible.

Best wishes from an unusually sunny and warm (hot) Beetley.


Summer Solstice

(This post is another moan about the weather. If you are bored with those, please skip it.)

Today is the Longest Day. The Summer Solstice, Midsummer’s Day. Whatever anyone calls it, it is the 21st of June, and definitely ‘summer’ in most countries north of the Equator.

Julie is sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket, and I am seriously considering putting the central heating on. Last night, I had trouble sleeping, because my feet were cold in bed. And that was under a fleecy duvet, full tog.

Not that long ago, we had temperatures of 28C (82F), bright sunshine, and humid nights. That felt like summer. This feels more like February, and today was the only day it didn’t rain at all in nearly a week. For the last four days, the best temperature we have reached in Beetley is 13C. (55F)

It seems Global Warming and Climate Change have definitely arrived uninvited in England, if not the whole of Britain.

Coping with an extension of the Covid-19 rules is bad enough, after all this time. And now it is cold and miserable into the bargain.

A Very Short Summer

Only a few days ago, I was posting about walking in the warm sunshine, and Ollie having to have three dips in the river to cool down.

Okay, I appreciate that 26C was an unusual temperature this early, but it was only last night that I had to sleep on top of the bedcovers with a fan blowing on me from the end of the bed.

But this is England.

Today started out cloudy and overcast, and didn’t feel too warm.

On Ollie’s walk, he only went into the river once, to have a drink. The sun didn’t appear, and I was walking briskly once again, untroubled by any heat. Although some young girls were swimming in the river, I was reminded that it was only two days ago that I saw almost fifty women and children in the same spot, using tents and towels to shade the youngsters from the hot sun.

The best we could manage here on the 4th of June was 15C. And by 3pm it was raining.

Now it is 6:30 pm, in summer. Still raining, windows closed, gloomy outside, and lights on.

The 21st of June is the longest day. Midsummer, in England.

It was good while it lasted…

The Beetley Pampas

‘La Pampa is a province in central Argentina, within the vast Pampas grasslands’.

Given the definition above, I might be exaggerating slightly when describing my back lawn. It is an oblong shape, around 50 feet end to end, and perhaps 20 feet across.

Due to the recent rain, it hasn’t had its first cut this year, resulting in alarming growth to almost 18 inches high. Yesterday, it was sunny and warm. Today, I woke up to similar weather. This meant bad news for me.

I had run out of excuses not to cut the grass.

Luckily, I have a large and powerful ‘hover’ mower, that has a grass-collecting box incorporated. Though when the grass is that high, it still takes considerable effort to do the job.

Ollie came out to observe me as usual, making sure to get in the way as much as possible, as that is his job as ‘Assistant Gardener (Canine)’. I was keen to get the job done before the sun moved around to the back of the house after 2 pm, so set-to manfully.

Our lawn is grass as such, though it could hardly be desribed as ‘manicured’. Only about 65% of it is actually grass, a legacy of the previous owner laying a turf lawn of the cheaper ‘Meadow’ variety. That means almost 25% of the ‘grass’ is actually dandelions, and unknown weeds of other varieties. I suppose I could treat it with weedkiller, but I am conscious of Ollie, and I don’t want him getting any nasty chemicals on his paws.

The remaining 10% consists of sticks, thin branches, and acorn shucks, all of which fall from the large Oak tree that overshadows the house at the back. Fortunately, my mower has a thick rotating blade that makes short work of any woody intruders.

Almost two hours later, I have completely filled the composting recycling bin with the cuttings, and tackled my version of the grasslands of South America. Sad to say it left me hot, and with a very aching back.

So the small front lawn and strip at the side of the house is going to have to wait for another day of ‘enthusiasm’.

A Walk In The Sun

No, not a review of the 1945 war film starring Richard conte and Dana Andrews.

This is a dog-walk in Beetley, in 2021.

After the wettest May since records began, it finally stopped raining yesterday. It stayed overcast and uncomfortably humid though, and I took my umbrella on the walk, conscious of the threatening skies.

But today, we finally woke up to bright sushine, and by 1 pm the temperature was approaching 20 C. (68F)

After weeks of miserable weather, cold mornings, and chilly evenings, it felt rather exotic to see blue skies and feel some real heat in the air.

I could finally ditch the Wellington boots, get my shorts back on, and head out with Ollie wearing some comfortable lightweight shoes. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to feel the heat of the sun after just fifteen minutes of walking. Ollie had too, and he was straight into the river to cool down, the first of three lengthy dips he enjoyed this afternoon.

Over on Hoe Rough, the muddy paths were already drying out, and as long as I kept away from the boggy areas in the shade, the ground was firm enough for brisk walking. Ollie slipped under the fence and down the riverbank for his second time in the water, standing watching children playing in the river by the picnic tables, including a few who had brought along an inflatable boat.

After two full circuits over there, we headed back to Beetley Meadows to complete the walk in the woodland area. But Ollie diverted into the river once again, obviously still feeling the heat. By the time we had been through the woods and he had checked out some deer tracks, he was ready for home, and a big chicken dinner.