I headed out with Ollie well before two today. With the clocks having gone back, it is almost dark by just after four, so our routine has had to change, at least until the end of March next year.
Earlier this week, they cut all the grass and plants down, on the centre of Beetley Meadows. This results in the whole area taking on the appearance of a flat field. Although many around here like this, I find it makes for a very dull walk. So, I headed off in the direction of Gingerbread Corner instead. I was dressed for anything, with big wellington boots to cope with the deep mud, and a long parka, in case it turned wet. Despite the sun and clear skies, I wasn’t about to take the weather for granted.
As often happens, I was soon uncomfortably hot. With the temperature approaching a very unseasonal 17 C degrees, and some very warm sunshine over by Goregate Farm, I realised too late that I should have worn much lighter clothing. Undaunted, we carried on, with Ollie enjoying rolling in the cool long grass next to the path, and lots of activity apparent in the surrounding fields. The farmers have been busy. The big field next to the pheasant hatchery has been replanted, and all the plum trees have been cut back, ready for the next fruiting season. Tractors were coming and going, with one being used to trim back the hedges that protect the pig farm from the wind.
I was surprised to discover that in the short time since I had been over there, the pig farm had been relocated. The vast area of tin huts that used to fill the space up to the Holt Road, is now an empty field. The pigs and their houses have been shifted across the path, to the double field in the western half. I know nothing about animal husbandry, but I am guessing that the soil might need a break from the intensity of pig farming, after all the years that they have been in the same place.
Up to the next two fields, and we found even more pigs. Ollie usually snuffles around the edges of these, looking for rabbits in the verges. On this occasion, I called him back, in case he upset the pigs by getting too close. Once at Gingerbread Corner, I rested in the shade of the wooded area, cooling down for a while by sitting on my favorite tree stump. Ollie scurried around, convinced he could hear squirrels. I knew that they were just wood pigeons, but I left him to it anyway.
By the time we got back to the Meadows, the sun was almost setting. Ollie jumped into the river, to cool off and have a drink. When we finally arrived home, I was still too hot, and glad to remove all my heavy clothes and footwear. Just after five, I heard the first small groups of children out trick or treating once it had got dark. We don’t put an illuminated pumpkin outside our house, so never get bothered by them.
One of the country traditions I like the best.