Weather forecasters rarely fail to predict bad weather with some accuracy. Their track record on good weather is less impressive, but when they say it is going to rain, it usually does. After the warmest and driest September on record, at least in Norfolk, the anticipation of a day of heavy rain served almost as a novelty. After all my moaning about precipitation in the past, I agree that this seems to be contrary on my part. However, even an old weather-grumbler like me accepts that rain is necessary at times.
For once, I was well prepared. Even so, I left Ollie’s walk as late as possible, in the hope that the downpour might subside. He is a good dog, and endured the delay in his usual walking time without complaint. By 3 pm, I could make him wait no longer, and resolved to head out into the torrents. I wore my waterproof jacket, waterproof over-trousers, and the unfortunately unsuitable cap, that I save for such conditions. I finished this attractive ensemble with my rubber boots, giving them their first outing for a while, as they had spent the summer snug in the shed outside.
After two circuits around Beetley Meadows, I had seen none of Ollie’s playmates, or anyone else for that matter. I had pretty much expected this, as many locals are fair-weather walkers only. I headed off across Fakenham Road, into Mill Lane, and in the direction of the pig farms. The rain was hammering down, but seemed less bothersome as I was dressed for it. As always, Ollie paid it no mind, and carried on as he always does, regardless of conditions. After only a few hours, the water had already brought out the greens from the other autumn colours. All the bushes and crops seemed lush and refreshed, though the dry fields had failed to cope with draining the excess, and water was running freely onto the surrounding paths and roads.
One benefit of the rain was that there were no annoying insects to bother us. It did attract a large number of small frogs though. They hopped across the path in front of us as we walked, no doubt heading for the water-filled ditches either side. Few rabbits braved the weather, though Ollie found two to chase. Likewise the squirrels, probably sheltering in the high branches, their absence noted by my increasingly frustrated dog. Some damp crows were the only birds seen, hopping around the pig pens, scavenging scraps. As for the pigs, they were oblivious to the conditions, though cooler weather was making them more active. Various porcine squabbles broke out, and at times it seemed that the loudest squeal settled the argument.
By the time we got to Gingerbread Corner, the cars on the main road outside were having to use their headlights. The low cloud and dull conditions made it feel much later than it was. Inside the large stand of high trees, huge raindrops fell onto my head with some force. At least I was relatively dry. The rain had got in under the collar of my coat, despite fastening it tightly. However, other than damp shoulders on a t-shirt, I had no complaints. Retracing our steps, we returned to Beetley Meadows just after 5 pm. Despite continuing rain, a bright sunset was beginning to light the sky in the west. We had walked for over two hours in heavy rain, and were pleased to see home approaching.
But it was a bearable rain.