It has been raining all day here, and the wind has been strong too. But Ollie still has to have his walk, so it was business as usual, at 2pm today. The sky had been the colour of a battleship since I woke up, and there was about as much light as you would get through the frosted glass of a bathroom window. I could hear the rain pattering off of the flat roofs, with the heaver drops, like the bass drum heard over the snares. This last December day seemed determined to remind us all that it was still Winter in Norfolk.
Luckily, a lot of the misery of dog-walking in the wet has been greatly reduced, by the arrival of Christmas gifts, courtesy of my thoughtful wife. As well as the previously mentioned American wellington boots, I was delighted to receive some Berghaus gloves, windproof, and water-resistant. Damp trousers are also banished, with the addition of North Face over-trousers, almost guaranteed to keep wet and wind away from from my legs. These bad boys unzip and un-pop all the way from the thigh, so it is easy to get boots on and off from underneath them. I even got a nice basic Timex watch, one that I can see easily, and with the benefit of a luminous face, for darker walks. This means I no longer have to worry about damaging the more expensive watch that I usually wear. I topped off the ensemble with my cheap but efficient waterproof cap, and we headed off into the torrential rain, that always gets worse around 2pm.
Ollie had been to the Vet again earlier, and we received bad news about his tail injury. It is still not healing. Despite keeping him quiet, and away from his dog playmates, any shaking, or running through long grass, is enough to re-open the wound. He has ten more days, to see if it heals properly, or we have to agree to amputation of the last inch or so of his tail. Despite these problems, and the weather, he was keen to get out, and run around as usual. After ten minutes striding, I realised that only my face was wet, so all the preparation with the new clothes had paid dividends, as far as keeping dry goes. The rain kept coming, and the areas next to the river, and through the woodland, were like quagmires. Mud was inches deep, and in some places, I needed my trusty wooden wading pole, to assist with balance.
We did not see many other walkers; no doubt put off by the bad weather, or having to journey to family and friends for the New Year celebrations. Those that were around sensibly kept their heads down, and I avoided the other dogs anyway, lest Ollie’s tail get caught in play. I noticed some large areas of bracken had been flattened, trampled into rough circle shapes. A sure sign that large deer had slept there overnight, confirmed by Ollie’s interest in sniffing those areas intently. The river was chocolate brown, and moving fast, swollen by recent rains, but thankfully not bursting its banks. Ollie searched for his friends; but finding none, he contented himself with squirrel-chasing, and constant sniffing. It was nice to be able to keep him off the lead for a while, as he hates having it on, and it has been necessary, since the tail incident. He was interested in some colourful Jays, but they ignored him, and there were no rabbits to be seen either.
Under the trees, the drumming of the larger raindrops grew tiring on my head, so I walked out into the playing fields instead. There were no children in the play park, and no boys playing football in the compound. By 3pm, Ollie and I were the only things visible on Beetley Meadows, and it was getting noticeably darker. I decided to head for home, as I had also noticed blood at the end of Ollie’s tail, a sure sign that he had caught it again. I was pleased to find myself completely dry, despite all the outerwear being soaked, and muddy. I towelled off the dog, and prepared him one of his favourite meals; fresh-cooked chicken livers, and mixed vegetables.
Tomorrow is the first day of another year in the world of dog-walking. Only 365 more walks to do, before 2015.