Walking in the sunshine .. and not forgetting the blustery wind!
It would have been a really spring-like day today if it hadn’t been for that wind. It was really warm in the sun, but when the wind blew, which was most of the time, the temperature dropped like a stone. It was one of those days when it can be hard to know what to wear when setting out for a walk with the dogs.
Jeffie is old and frail, so he wore his tee shirt which gives some protection against wind without adding too much warmth on a nice day. Sid, though he is now eleven years old himself, has a nice thick fur coat and enough meat on his bones that he doesn’t need a coat unless it’s blowing a gale AND raining AND the temperature dips to near freezing1.
This morning we set out in their favourite direction: north towards the open fields. In the verge by the footpath, we saw the first daisies of the year, looking as fresh as … well, as daisies!
They can only go this way if they’re both feeling reasonably good, because there are three stiles to negotiate and they’re really made for dogs with a maximum height of about one inch shorter than Sid or Jeff2. With Sid’s tendency to muscle cramps and Jeff’s wobbles, they are not for the ‘less good’ days. But oh, how they love to get into the fields and sniff, and sniff, and sniff, and then pee on the really good smells. So many other dogs pass this way, and there are rabbits and foxes and mice and birds, and probably weasels and hedgehogs and badgers, too. A veritable banquet for the nose.
Because they are neither of them spring chickens, we decided that halfway across the fields, OH would leave us and go back for the car and bring it to meet us on the other side. There is a little country road at the end of this section of the footpath and it has space for one car to park up for a few minutes at the end.
Crossing the first field, I heard the green woodpeckers and the jackdaws (probably complaining about our unwanted presence) and noticed that the wild arum lilies3 are showing well above the ground now, and the first celandines are out on the banks There is plenty of rabbit activity in the form of holes and shallow scrapes in this, and the second field and for that reason, I am nervous about letting Sid off the lead there. If he broke that single hind leg I have no idea how we’d get him home.
The third field, for us, consists of a bare path between small, scrubby trees, right at the edge by the dyke. It’s quite short, which is good, because it’s pretty much single file through there, which isn’t easy on a winding, muddy track with two greyhounds, one of which is a stubborn old three-legged fool who’d rather fall over than give in when he feels the leash tighten, and the other of which is pretty much only able to see light and dark these days.
The last section is more open and has a steep drop to a small dyke on one side, and a set-aside field on the other. We saw a white shape by the water in the distance and in a few more steps I realised it was the heron. Sadly, with only my phone camera with me today, I didn’t manage to get a good shot, but it was nice to see him. He took off before we got anywhere near close and flew back alongside the dyke and quite close to us, but all I got was a very blurry picture.
And then the taxi4 came into view and both sets of ears pricked up.
Jeffie was glad to see it. By this time he was tired and needed just a little run-up to get into the car, whereas usually he manages a standing start. Sid, old fart that he is, was not so glad, and walked slower and slower, and sniffed more and more, the closer we got, and though I gave him his usual run up to get in (which he always needs, being a rear-leg amputee) he baulked at the last minute like a show jumper refusing a fence and had to be walked round and run up again. To give him his due, though, he never tries to jump out again, but settles down quite quickly for the ride home. Unlike his companion who never, ever lays himself down until the engine starts.
1 I call it discrimination. A Jack Russell is small enough to squeeze through all but the smallest gap, a labrador is hardy enough and well-padded enough not to mind scraping through a narrow space between bits of sticky-out wood, but a greyhound is neither small nor well-padded, nor is he (in this sense) hardy. Last year, Jeffie caught his shoulder on a piece of the stile and got himself a deep graze which healed fairly quickly, but has left a large-ish, triangular, and completely bald scar.
2 And even then he loathes it and it’s a struggle to a) get it on him, and b) get him to actually walk in it.
3 Otherwise known as Cuckoo Pint or Lords and Ladies.
4 Other people might call it a Toyota Yaris Verso. It’s my car, the one I use as a Dogmobile.