I have not forgotten about writing more about the extreme age of my beloved and showing you pictures of his birthday celebrations. Nor have I abandoned my plans to tell you about our Menagerie Road Trip. However, much has happened since my last post, including a relocation to rural Oxfordshire. The background for the relocation is known to some readers of El Perro, and irrelevant to many, but a little more of that some other time. I hasten to add that the relocation is only temporary, but I thought you might like to see some pictures of a different idyllic village, and get a taste of what the Dog of the Blog and her tiny sidekick have been up to.
Yesterday, I had had a disturbed night with Minnow crying from 2:45 to 3:15 am – no doubt grief-stricken that she is not allowed upstairs. Both the dogs were wide awake and raring to go at 5:50 am. I gave up on the idea of a leisurely cup of tea and decided we may as well go out early.
The morning routine is always the same:
- put on socks, ‘helped’ by an excited puppy
- rake brush through hair whilst being buffeted by leaping, excited puppy
- put harness on aforementioned excited puppy, to the musical accompaniment of the croonings and woofings of the Dog of the Blog, who likes to express herself through the medium of music
- stuff lower left pocket of body warmer with poo bags
- stuff lower right pocket with a ball
- stuff concealed left pocket with tissues
- find mobile and put in top right pocket
- zip keys into top zippy pocket
- debate whether ‘one last wee’ is advisable
- Don my stout and sensible walking shoes.
- venture into the Oxfordshire morning with two excited canines and a fond hope that I made the right decision about 9
We had been going to the village green on a regular basis, but the start of the school holiday has seen a regrettable upsurge in picnic detritus. The frustration of trying simultaneously to pick up poo and stop Minnow ingesting crisp packets or Coke cans puts me off the green slightly. We turned right instead of left and walked past the vets’ surgery. (Our emergency stop at vets’ after a whole pack of Werthers Originals including wrappers, a family bag of salted cashews and several teabags disappeared during a ferry crossing might feature on the blog at some point)
It is only a short walk over the railway bridge, and then a right turn takes you onto the ‘byway.’ Yes, there really is a little finger post that points to the byway!
The byway leads around the outside of the village. I think it has aspirations to be a ring road one day, but I can’t see it happening any time soon. The daffodils are going over a bit now, but in shady spots under the hedgerow there are still some of them nodding thoughtfully as they have deep conversations with the primroses. The bluebells have started interrupting, and as for the dandelions…well, they are sprouting up all over the place, looking brash and cheerful and shouting back and forth at the buttercups. In this gentle spring morning light they are a like raucous children at a hangover. I had forgotten how pretty the hedgerows are in springtime England. Red and white dead nettles are coming into flower, as are the forget-me-nots, celandines, cowslips and daisies. Cow parsley is in bud and the grass is lush and dense. The trees are beginning to uncurl a leaf or two, and blossoms are appearing.
Of course, Poppy and Minnow were not the slightest bit interested in any of the flowers, so while I snapped away with my phone camera they had a fine time rustling through the undergrowth and eating as much grass as they could. They are both delighted with English grass, especially when it is damp and dewy. They roll about in it play fighting, and come grinning back to me, tongues lolloping and completely soaked from head to tail.
The byway comes out at the brook at the far end of the village. From here there is a charming view across the meadow to the old stilted barn and the village church beyond. As we walked along the path beside the brook, the dogs snuffled excitedly in the long grass. A flurry and some indignant quacking soon followed and the emergence of a very handsome mallard
confirmed the cause of their excitement.Fortunately, I had the dogs on their leads at this point, or I suspect they would have leaped into the brook. They are very poor at interpreting wildfowl body language, and were keen to play.
A left turn on to the road past the old church soon leads to a farmtrack and a network of footpaths and bridleways.
Most of them seem to have streams or water-filled ditches running alongside them, and some of the fields have been recently ploughed. This is a source of inexpressible joy to the girls. As we walked through a chilly but prettily springtime landscape, they were off chasing rooks, scrabbling at rabbit burrows, plunging into the water and rolling about in the wet grass and mud.
Minnow became less and less white, and Poppy was happy to help the transformation, wrapping her muddy paws around her and wiping her filthy tummy on Minnow’s back.
Eventually, we came upon what looked like a works’ site for a project to fit a whole field with solar panels. This less than beautiful scene, and a dull nagging from my ankle, reminded me that we needed to be heading for home.
I decided to avoid the byway and come back along the causeway. This cobbled, raised path dates back to medieval times, and is very lovely in the springtime. wild flowers grow abundantly under the tress that border it, a stream runs alongside, and one after another ancient timber framed house line the street.
In part, my decision to go back this way was influenced by the fact that we would pass the pub. The North Star is a quaint old place, with barrels on a table and few concessions to modernity. It was the scene of some excitement a few years back. The owner, a local gentleman farmer (possibly less the former than the latter) was rather the worse for wear one night, and the landlord, quite rightly, refused to serve him any more. The owner took exception to this, stormed off to fetch his JCB and rammed it through the wall of the Grade II listed building.
The garden of the pub is small and has a shallow stream running along one side. I had decided to throw the dogs into the stream to wash off some of the mud. Poppy loves to paddle, so she only needed a slight nudge.
She splashed about happily, slurping thirstily as she went. Minnow tried to leap to the other side, but her lead was too short, so she spun around rather dramatically and sploshed into the water. I was getting ready to feel guilty, when she bobbed up, triumphantly flaunting a face full of water weeds, which she munched on happily, before jumping out and shaking as vigorously and close to me as she could.
It is surprising what two hours of non-stop cavorting can do. I hardly heard a peep out of either of them for the rest of the day. As soon as they had wolfed down their breakfast, they curled up and fell asleep, leaving me to my bacon and eggs, and a nice cup of tea.
Just by way of information, let me tell you that we are trying to sell our little Victorian cottage, just around the corner from the causeway, built 1877 for the workers on the newly arrived railway. Please feel free to share the link to any friends or family who might be interested!