Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday 28 March

Sometimes I wish we could have a dog. I have very fond memories of the dogs and cats we had when I was growing up. I get to enjoy B's cats when I'm there, but at the moment, neither of us could offer a dog the home that it deserves.
I may have written about our parttime dog before. I'm too lazy to look through the archives to see if I have. Parttime dog, also known as Marley, came into our lives purely by coincidence. About a year ago I was sitting in my conservatory and spotted what looked like a Golden Retriever in my garden. I often get cats in my garden, but not dogs. And as I live on a busy main road, a dog on the loose is not a good idea. He was very friendly and easy to catch, and I had a hunch he belonged to one of my neighbours. I didn't really know her though and another neighbour of mine does, so I took the dog round to hers and her first response was 'he's got so fat!'. The dog's owner broke her hip and wrist a few years ago and now she can't really walk him anymore, as he pulled quite badly on the lead. Neighbour plus dog who wants a walk, us with no dog but often going for walks after supper, you can see where this is going can't you? I knocked on her door one evening and explained who I was, and could we walk her dog?
That must have been about a year ago. Marley lost a lot of weight in those early months and we found more and more walks in our neighbourhood. To start off with he wasn't allowed off the lead for fear of him running off (I couldn't think of anything worse than going back to my neighbour to tell her we'd lost her dog...), but he's a Collie cross Golden Retriever and very obedient. He does go ahead of us but likes to keep us in sight, and if he can't see us, he'll come back until he can. He's learnt to sit, he's learnt not to pull on the lead (although he finds that one a bit hard when he is all excited about going for a walk!), I'm trying to teach him to take dog biscuits without eating my fingers as well, and he's learning to sit before we cross the road. It has worked out so well - we have the pleasure of a dog without having to commit to it full time, the neighbour is happy and the dog is happy.

As the clocks went forward last weekend, the evenings are a bit longer again and so we (or rather, me, as almost 13yo and almost 10yo need a little coaxing these days!) hope to walk more often again. Last night was my first evening walk of this year. Fancy coming along? Go on then, put your walking shoes on and we'll be off.

The little path through a little wood with some wild apple trees

Come on, what are we waiting for?

The little wood opens out onto this field, which we are going to cross diagonally. It looks across to the pillbox, which we all find quite scary. If you look long enough at the little slits, it almost seems as though someone's in there staring at you....

Don't look too closely...

We've crossed the field and now we're walking alongside it, next to a hedge. In the distance you can just make out the little church that we are heading towards.

At the end of the field there is a little dip and on we go alongside another field, this time with wheat in it. Wheat seems to be one of the first crops in Spring to become really green.

From here you can see a few houses in the distance.

And between the trees you can just see the water tower that is a real landmark. On we go....

Marley wants to keep moving, come on, so many more smells to discover

Next we come to a tiny little bridge over a tiny little stream. O alright, it's a ditch. Stream just sounds nicer!

Alongside another field with the stream running to our left and where we sometimes startle a few ducks.

And after another little wood we come out towards the next village

where you can see the water tower in the distance again

the last part of the little country path

This is one of my favourite houses along the route, I love the details. Or rather, I thought it was a house until yesterday when I turned round to call Marley after passing this house and discovered it's actually a garage! I wonder what car they keep in there, or maybe it's too nice to keep a car in...


We get to a stile and gate...

...and we turn left. Yes, Marley, I know, it's not much fun being back on the lead, but we're on the road now you see, and we don't want you getting run over do we.

About halfway along on our stretch of tarmac, passing the pretty red letterbox

See, there is our signpost for the public footpath - stop pulling Marley, we're almost there.

As we turn left and I let Marley off the lead again, I turn round in the hope of a glimpse of another favourite house. Well hidden by large trees though.

Marley is more interested in his freedom and new places to explore


The view on the right of my path - suddenly you can see for miles and if you look closely, you can just about see the hare that took off as we turned left onto the path.


'Marley, look, there's a sign pointing to the left, you're going the wrong way!'
'What? O, alright then, I'd better come back hadn't I?'

 Up the hill we go


And on again into the next field. Marley knows where he is heading now, even though we have only walked this path a few times as it's new.

 And suddenly we're back at the pillbox, even closer now. Not sure we want to get much closer than this! But the path turns left before we can go home.

 I always wonder if these holes have anything living in them...

 Marley definitely remembers what's coming next

 I'm having another quick look over at the landscape

 But then I see water, and I hear splashing water, and I know what's going on

Yes, one wet dog. Well, either you're a Golden Retriever or you're not, and this one loves water. Most times I have to apologise for bringing him back muddy, and his owner will say 'oh, don't you worry about that, girl'. Love it when she says that :-)

On our way home now and the shadows are getting longer every minute

 You can see the pillbox again.
 At this stage, Marley decides to head for home. He doesn't stop, he just heads straight for home. At an alarming rate. He does come back when I call him but by now I feel happier having him back on the lead, as I think he would actually go straight home.

 Lovely lines in the field

 One more quick shake to get the last drops of water out of my coat

 Did you say biscuit?

 Stopping to wistfully look at the pond that he can't go in. I'm sure he'd love to chase the ducks.

 The first glimpse of the big house. Someone well off must have lived there in times gone by. Now it's divided up into flats.

 On the other side are the scouts huts.

 And a better look at the big house. It's really quite grande and I would love to have a look inside.

One last look back at the grounds where in Summer we often see barn owls at dusk. Nothing tonight.

Almost back home now, just two more roads to cross


And we're on the green. You can see my house in the distance - the little white cottage. The house on the right is another grande one and used to be a hotel. Now it's a privately owned house with a lovely garden.

And we're back home. I hope you enjoyed the walk and that your feet aren't too sore. I'm sure Marley is looking forward to a drink and a good long rest!