Friday, 18 January 2013

Paws in the snow

This week has been very cold - I doubt that the temperature has been higher than 1°C all week and morning temperatures have been as low as -5°C. This has meant that although we have had no significant snow since Tuesday, there is still a substantial covering everywhere, and the footpaths are covered in treacherous trodden snow.

The immediate impact is obviously the outward journey. Rover and Amazon are always very keen to get to the point of the walk where they are allowed off the leash, so they see it as their job to get us all to that point as soon as possible - stopping for a sniff aside. I can curb the worst of it, but in icy conditions this has serious  implications if I need to pull them in at the same time as I step on a friction free surface.

Thankfully the upper bridge has been gritted this time, which makes a nice change. Even the section on the far side that gets no sunlight is passable with care. Quite what prompted this gritting is unknown, as it is unprecedented. Although I would like to think that it was gritted by someone involved in the maintenance of the bridge, I think it may be a private act by someone as sick of risking their neck on the bridge as I am.

In the Dene, the walk has been transformed. A good covering of snow brings a more mature, but still very excited response from the dogs. I was watching a documentary about wolves some time ago and remember them saying that it was with the coming of snow that wolves' hunting success increases. Watching Rover and Amazon in the snow makes me believe that something of this has passed down in the genetics of dogs, for they were looking for rabbits with especial interest today, scouting out all of the likely places. Rover would occasionally peel off to run around in circles, and he even jumped up at me, which he usually does not bother to do, so he caught me off guard.

There were few other dogs around today. There was a bull dog that wanted to come when I whistled for R & A (which is more than they did) and I saw twice (at a distance) an Old English sheep dog who is a regular.

As I was turning for home, the sunshine that I had been enjoying all morning was darkened by a rather pregnant cloud which was coming in from the east, and I expected a resumption of the snow (it has been forecast, although it is mostly expected to hit the south, the Midlands and Wales. As it turned out, the cloud passed over and the day is again bright.

Very glad to get back home and put the kettle on!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Wow, has it been a year?

I've just been reading over the last two posts from January last year and it may seem strange, given that this was always Lurcher Tales, that it should be Holly's death that stopped me from regularly posting.

So, what has changed since then? Well, Owain and Becky moved out not long afterwards, then moved again. They have another dog now, a Collie/ Chocolate Lab cross, called Ebony. They also got married in October, which was nice.

I started teacher training in August, but it was not to be. It is one thing to think that you would make a good teacher, but quite another to actually be one. So I am back at home and walking the dogs every day again while I try to find something else.

Rover has his own Facebook Page, courtesy of my daughter. Apparently he is a Public Figure. I cannot argue with that! He will probably get more Likes than my Author page on Facebook before too long.

So, today's walk, what can I say? I have to admit that there were long sections that I was very distracted, so I was a little unobservant. This largely stemmed from me playing over a conversation in my head that I missed the opportunity of having with a couple of men with Newcastle City Council high vis jackets outside Broadwood School about the ongoing disrepair of the school wall.

If I had been blogging through the summer I would have had a good few interesting observations to report. In the North East we suffered a lot of damage from a storm that the local press imaginatively named "Thunder Thursday." The day after we discovered that there had been a massive build up of water on Broadwood Road with the result that the school wall collapsed and the pent up water rushed across the playing field, following a natural low point, and cascading down into the Dene. A 10-15 metre section of wall had been taken out and the remaining wall on either side buckled inwards. The Council very quickly responded by installing a temporary metal fence on both sides of the damage, but they have done absolutely nothing since. There is a bin behind the fences that is now inaccessible and has not been emptied in months - I do not envy whoever has the task of eventually emptying it! More importantly, it is another bin removed from use and that is not a good thing for a conscientious dog walker!

Speaking of bins, I was just looking at the state of the one in the Dene next to the Number 38 Terminus (which has been uprooted again) when I realised that I still had Rover and Amazon on the lead and they were looking at me strangely. It was probably a good thing, as it happens, as they normally hare down there looking for squirrels and there was a lot of nasty large glass fragments. I walked them past these and then let them off.

I woke up a bit after that, but the snow meant that most of the time my head was down. Occasionally I would stop and look about, for the snow was just beginning to lie and it was quite a gentle fall with little wind. The Dene is too soggy and dead at the moment to really provide much in the way of inspiration, but it was nice to see the stuff come down. I always find a snow covered landscape to be so beautiful and the Dene will hopefully be so much more appealing if this does settle. The snow that fell yesterday evening was gone by midnight and the forecast is being understandably canny about whether any more precipitation will be solid or liquid.

I passed one or two other dog walkers today, mostly as buttoned up and distracted as myself. There was a little Jack Russell who always lies down when he sees Rover and Amazon and stays that way until they pass. There was a pair of Staffies who seemed well socialised and there was another small dog whose owner cheerfully announced to me "It's going to lie" - talking about the snow. Oh, and not forgetting the old shaggy dog that Amazon was very nice saying hello to.

The pair of them were well behaved passing The Alsatian House, from which there came a very welcoming smell of woodsmoke. As often as not Rover wants to stick his nose under the gate and get barked at and Amazon causes a fuss by barking at Rover and snapping at him. I put Amazon on the near side with a long  lead and Rover on the far side on a short lead. I think this may be the winning formula, but we will have to wait and see - it may have been a different matter if either of the Alsations had been near the gate.

Well, that was the walk. I don't think I will be back to daily blogging, but I might do one or two a week if anything that I find interesting happens.