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.

The First Cuckoo

On Thursday, I heard a cuckoo calling, over on Hoe Rough. The sound was carrying a long way, and by the time I got over there with Ollie, it was really loud. I couldn’t see the bird though, they are famously elusive.

As well as providing the sound familiar in Cuckoo clocks, these birds also get other birds to rear their chicks. They lay eggs in the nests of smaller birds, and then abandon them. This leaves the unfortunate hosts rearing the large chicks, mistakenly believing them to be their own offspring.

Country folklore asserts that Spring has not arrived until you hear your first cuckoo. There are lots of examples of this online. This one is from a birdwatching website.

Heard a Cuckoo?
This iconic sound means that spring has truly arrived!

This year, I think the cuckoo might have been calling a bit too early. It is only 6 C this morning, with a cold drizzle.

Perhaps those cuckoos should go back to sleep for a couple of weeks?

Hailstones In May

I am trying so hard to be positive.

Honestly, I am.

I have stopped moaning about the Block Editor, and my moans about the weather had changed to trying to be amusing.

But it is only 6:15 pm, and already very dark, with low cloud.

Then we had a hailstorm.

So fierce, it scared Ollie, and he came to me for a ‘comfort stroke’. The noise was incredible, as the hailstones crashed onto the windows and pattered off the roofs and cars outside.

I checked the calendar, just to be sure.

As I suspected, it was still the 4th of May.

Being positive in England is not easy, I can tell you that.

“Dry In The South Today And All Weekend But Rain On Monday”

Yes, that’s what the weather lady said, as she stood in front of a map of Britain with everything south of Scotland showing a cloud-free sky.

Monday is a public holiday in England, so a forecast of heavy rain all day on a holiday is no surpise to anyone English. Still, I should have known better than to stupidly accept her optimistic forecast for south-east England at 1pm today.

Ready to walk Ollie, I wore shorts, a light fleece jacket, and took my dog-walking stick in preference to an umbrella. Leaving the house in reasonably bright sunshine, I could feel the nip of the east wind on my face.

Walking quickly soon made me forget that cold wind, and I covered the area of Beetley Meadows in good time. Once Ollie had marked almost every twig and shrub, I headed across to Hoe Rough, to make a longer walk of it. At the far end of the nature reserve, well past the point of no return, that moment when it takes longer to get home than I had already travelled, there were a few raindrops dropping onto my coat.

The skies darkened, as if someone had switched out the lights, and the chilly wind doubled in intensity. Then the heavens opened, soaking me and Ollie in minutes. My coat collar was damp and uncomfortable on my neck, and my unsuitable casual shoes were soon allowing my bare feet inside to get wet. What sparse hair I have left was slicked down onto my head, and the rain was running down into my eyes.

I headed for home, cursing the smug weather lady who must not have a single clue how to do her job.

Walking back in the continuing rain, I thought -not for the first time- what life would be like if everyone was as bad at their jobs as weather forecasters. Imagine a teacher who couldn’t read, or a policeman too scared to arrest a criminal. A chef with no sense of taste, or a fireman who is afraid of flames.

I could go on with a very long list, including things like a tone-deaf orchestra conductor. But you get the idea.

Weather forcasters are fakes. The snake-oil salesmen of the television age. High time they were all sacked.

My S.A.D. Lamp, and Brighter Days

It has been nice and sunny in Beetley for over a week now, and staying light until past 8 pm. I will be retiring my SAD lamp now until November, hopefully.

I used it every day until the end of March, mostly in the afternoons. Plugged into my PC tower, and angled away from my direct vision, it gave a comforting glow on the ‘Daylight’ setting. It is around the size of an I-Pad, or an Android Tablet

As I have been writing a lot of posts, sleeping quite well, and not been unduly fed up about anything, I have to presume that the SAD lamp did work, by improving my sense of wellbeing in the same way that the the recent bright days have done. And even if it wasn’t solely responsible, I think it certainly contributed.

It only cost £20, and should last for a good few years. So if you suffer from S.A.D. on gloomy days, I suggest you think about buying one. Rather than just recommend the one I have, here is a selection for you to see in the link. I would add that you need spend no more than the cheapest option available. They all seem to be made in the same place, with different trade names, and do the same thing with the same options. 🙂