I have so many craft projects on the go at the moment, but nothing at the stage of sharing. So I thought for a change I’d share part of my country life.
This is my 14th year of walking down our little lane, on the school and childcare run. The combination of babies/toddlers/school children/dogs have varied, but there has always been me. Donning boots. Ready to dodge cars and cyclists, whilst ensuring none of my brood ends up in front of oncoming vehicles.
There are no pavements. We walk along the edge of the lane, with high hedgerows on either side. Some sections of the lane are single carriage. We often encounter horse riders and even a pony and trap. It is a country lane.
You would be amazed at how fast and close people think it is OK to race their cars passed pedestrians on a narrow country lane. It is close. Common sense seems to disappear. They’ll dodge a bramble or branch that is overhanging the road, for fear of scratching their paintwork, but squeeze past a child within inches. All as close to the national speed limit as possible, because that’s what the road signs say they can do. I’ve often thought about wearing a coat of barbed wire. It would make them think twice about driving so close. That crazy lady again.
Most car drivers are considerate.
I could use the taxi which the council would supply, free of charge. I’ve always turned it down. The walk is 10 minutes and we love seeing the seasons change along the lane. More importantly, I need the exercise.
So we walk. Spotting toads, deer, birds and flowers as we go.
There came a point, during those years, where I had a hand free to hold a dog lead. At last, I could combine the school run with the dog walk. A complete time saver, but with it came a whole set of new considerations. If you have ever walked a dog to school, I think you’ll be familiar with a few of these.
1. Not knowing which hand to wave to friends in passing cars. There is an ensuing puppet-on-a-string hand act, as I try to decide whether to wave the hand with the lead in it, and risk the dog’s neck, or the one holding the…ahem… used poo bag. Inevitably I end up waving a poo bag at my friend, as they drive past. Invites to come round for coffee, dry up.
2. The moment I’m somewhere remotely smart, I reach into my pocket and release an avalanche of unused poo bags. Declaring as loudly as possible that they are clean, as I hastily recapture them all. Cross another venue/job interview off my list.
3. On the walk, inevitably someone will comment about the size of my dog. Often strangers, slowing down their cars, wind down their windows, to share their insight. “Put a saddle on her and ride her to school“. “Is it a pony?” “Isn’t that a big doggie?” I laugh in a friendly manner. It’s OK. Still funny. Even after hearing it approximately 71,529 times before. Sigh. I wish I was exaggerating.
4. Reaching the school gate, small dogs dash up and yap at her. She stands still. “What is it? Will I tread on it? What happens if I do tread on it? I’m listening intently out of pure politeness”. We will never know what she is thinking. For my part, I’m hoping that the smaller dog doesn’t launch itself at her throat and condemn us to a morning spent at the vets. Again.
5. My dog is a thief. No two ways about it. As she passes, she is tall enough to grab cookies from children’s hands or rifle through handbags for sandwiches. It’s true. Often it is so quick neither party realise until it’s too late. Oops! Sorry. Turn tail quickly and wonder how to persuade husband to do the school runs for the rest of the week/term.
6. My dog loves children. She’s grown up with them, so she loves them. A crying child apparently needs a face wash, in her mind. Babies in prams, well, they need face washes anyway. Even if it means rifling through blankets to find them. Just need to make sure all grown-up humans are looking elsewhere. Ah-ah. Oh. No. I’m on to you my furry friend.
7. Identifying three types of children. First type will plaster themselves spreadeagled against the wall as we pass. Velcroed to the nearest building, out of pure terror of a dog. Any dog. Second group will throw their arms around her, sometimes remembering to ask first. Third group ignore her. May absent mindedly run a hand along her back. Take appropriate action for each type of child.
8. Having the conversation about why people leave poo bags hanging in the branches of hedges. Nope, I have no idea either. Yes, I do know it looks horrible. Sigh. Just because I have exploding pockets, full of ready to use bags, doesn’t mean I understand either. Maybe it’s a protest. Maybe there’s a clearing-up pixie that no one told me about. I use the provided marked bins. Smile politely.
9. Never underestimate the memory or scent ability of a dog. Even three or four years later, she still insists on stopping to sniff where a rotting badger was on the side of the road. It has long gone, but not to my dog. Again? Really?
10. She has learnt where I like to stop and listen to the birds. She understands when I want to take photos, and she has my back. At home, she jumps up, even from deep sleep, to join me for a walk. Whatever the weather. She is the perfect walking companion.
I know dogs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve worked hard to train her to be a dog that behaves well and is a good ambassador at the school gate, or wherever she meets people and other dogs.
Most of all, I love her company. She is no spring chicken and has reached the upper end of her breed’s lifespan, so I count every day as a blessing with her. We have just over a year of school runs left for youngest. I hope she’s around to accompany me even on the very last one. Or maybe by then, I can send her down by herself to pick up the Boy. There’s a thought….
It was a beautiful sunny day today, so we decided to have a picnic down on the Somerset Levels. This is one of our regular haunts. It is brimming full of nature and is interesting for its archaeology and geology. Between you and me, it has the best blackberries in Autumn and the first yummy strawberries of the season. My kind of place.
That’s Glastonbury Tor in the distance. For the last few years we’ve stood at the top and watched the sun rise on the summer solstice. We used to go to Stonehenge, but with three children and all the crowds, it has sadly lost its appeal.
Back to the Somerset Levels. We didn’t have long, but, after the picnic, the children went toone of their favourite play parks. Can you imagine the joy of sitting on a toy tractor and seeing a real one go by, pulling a trailer? Yeh!
While we were on the levels, we saw the reed mace (bulrushes) were at their lovely fluffy stage. Some reeds had lost patches of their fuzzy seeds, maybe through birds using it to line their nests. We could see the brown velvety reed heads starting to appear. We brought one back to see is our birds will strip it. Not to tease the dog.
I’ve been keeping an eye on our little visitors, the Ashy Mining Bees, in our orchard. I love taking a moment to sit down and watch them. They buzz round me, seemingly unaware of my presence, weaving their intricate patterns. They were covering our yew tree, two days ago. I know the yew has berries. I had not thought of it having blossom, so I am guessing that they were after that. Do yews have blossom?
I waited till the evening, when the bees had gone to bed, to take this photo. They do go to bed a lot earlier than the Bumble Bees. Their holes are so perfect. The entrance is built up above the ground, with the most perfect round hole. It looks like someone has taken time to carefully smooth the inside of the hole. At night they climb in and back fill it with soil, to seal themselves in. I like these bees. Can you tell?