Well, we weren’t expecting that

Phew, what a scorcher. Again! This is getting repetitive and is far too warm for us beagles. Thankfully our parents take us out early morning so we can avoid the worst of the summer heat which can be extremely dangerous for us dogs.

In any case we managed to wake the parents early this morning and watched as they wandered about the house getting ready for the day ahead. I got told off for shouting at a squirrel running along the fence in my garden. I had no idea that the neighbours might not be awake at 7 am. After all, if I’m out of bed, why isn’t everyone else? Lenny and I had our first part of breakfast and then we got walked a really short distance up a local road before returning to the house. We had suspicious ears as this usually meant something else was on the cards. Mum got some water and our travel bowl whilst dad opened up the car to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Lenny saw immediately what was happening and he cowered a little by our side gate. I decided to show him that this was adventure o’clock and leapt, salmon like, into my car travel crate. He was gently coaxed toward the car and then leapt into his travel crate, to the sound of much encouragement and congratulation. It should be noted that I didn’t get any such congratulation. Off we set, turn left, turn right, down the fast road, stay left, turn up a sharp corner and then park under a big shady tree. Come on you two, out you get was the cheerful instruction.

We were somewhere new. I looked at Lenny, who looked at me and then we both looked quizzically at the parents. What was this sorcery? Dad made sure mum had the water bottle and travel bowl. Off we go onwards and upwards. We strolled along the gravel track and then turned a corner and followed the track up a small hill to another corner with a predominantly chalky trail to follow. We wound our way along the rising path for about twenty five minutes when we were told that we have just conquered Chanctonbury Ring. The views were lovely and we seemed to be so high we could touch the sky. However we were more interested in the critters that live in the long grass and wild flowers along the edges of the footpath. We initially went past the wooded area on the crown of the hill but then returned to stroll through the wooded copse. The smells in the Beech trees were much more interesting than listening to our parents chattering and enjoying their walk. Lenny and I had to regularly remind them that we were still there.

King of the Hill, when Dex allows me.

The sun was getting higher in the sky and we were getting warmer so our parents decided that we should go back to the safety of some shade and shelter, so we didn’t overheat. Returning to the car we were pleased to see that it was still in a cool and shady spot and, this time, Lenny leapt straight into his travel crate without being prompted. We arrived home just in time to see our second breakfast being served. We even managed to sit nicely as dad prepared our food.

We decided that we would return again to Chanctonbury Ring. Apparently it is the site of an ancient Neolithic fort atop the hill. The original fort was thought to originate in the late Bronze or early Iron ages. The “fort” was a low earthen rampart surrounded by a ditch which gradually became unused. In 1760 the local landowner wanted to make the top of the hill more beautiful so he planted a large number of Beech trees. They survived until the Great Storm of 1987 when winds over 100 miles per hour destroyed many millions of trees across the south east of the UK. Subsequent replanting has allowed the hill top to recapture some of its beauty. The hill lies on the South Downs Way so if you’re in the area, try walking to the top and enjoying the views.

The path to the top.

We liked it, and we don’t think you will be disappointed.

Borde not bored.

Phew what a scorcher. It’s been hot and humid around these parts recently. We have been walking early in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day. I knew it was tropical down here when I moved, but this is a bit much at the moment. Apparently this warm weather has a distinct benefit in that Lenny and I seem to be lazier and more likely to sleep for longer.

When we woke up this morning we were quickly onto our paws for a try through the local wood and then along the farm track. Turning round at the bottom of the track wasn’t exactly in the plan despite it being rather warm and humid. We arrived home and breakfast was provided in reasonable order. Suddenly we were put back into our harnesses and the car was opened. This was most peculiar! Off we set for places unknown. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically. Left and right, along roads and through a town, under the railway bridge and then left again. “Come on you two, out you get” was the command and we of course obeyed. Welcome to Borde Hill Gardens said the sign. It was warm but we were looking forward to seeing what this place was all about. When we were checking in, we each got a biscuit from the nice lady at the entrance. Armed with a map and pulling our parents along we decided to explore the gardens of this lovely old house. We strolled (read pulled and yanked on our leads) along the paths and up to the wooded walk. It was cool and there were many scents of squirrel and deer in the woods. We yelled noisily for a while until we were instructed to sit and be calm. I looked at Lenny, who was looking at me knowingly. They had no chance of anything like calm or sense being forthcoming.

Avenues of Lavender? Where are the squirrels?

We went up hill and through woodland paths, downhill and along manicured lawns. We went to the Italian gardens and even managed to politely avoid getting some tasty morsels when strolling close to the cafe.

I bravi beagle davanti alla fontana

All too soon we were directed to the car for the return journey. When we fell asleep quickly after we got home, it was deemed to be a good end to the trip.

What a great place is Borde Hill Gardens. Very dog friendly and very pretty gardens. We enjoyed ourselves greatly and we would recommend to pals to visit if they are in the area.

Is this age creeping up on me?

I’ve been a bit ill recently. No, you’re not getting any pictures of me recycling my food as that is personal. Of course my illness had nothing to do with me raiding the kitchen bin and finding all sorts of goodies in there including tea bags and bits of kitchen roll which needed to be shredded, chewed and in the case of the teabags eaten. Unfortunately at 5 am this morning, I decided I needed to be sick and my parents were left with the clean up operation. I feel better now, thanks for asking. Also a while back my diet was changed as it seemed that my belly couldn’t handle the food I was eating and there were many and varied trips to the garden at plenty of unearthly hours of the night. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something?

If I ignore him, he might sniff somewhere else.

I have been thinking quite a bit over the last few weeks about me slowing down too. Since we moved into our new house, I have these new fangled stairs to negotiate and I seem to be using up more energy every time I go up, especially when I am chasing Lenny. Then when I get upstairs I seem to seek out the bed under the desk in mums office or try to lay snoozing on one of the spare beds. This of course relies on Lenny not finding me and trying to bite me. When we are outside in the garden it may be smaller than our old one, but I seem more content to just stroll about and try to eat bees. Yes I know that is pretty stupid and I am regularly squirted with the water gun that has been bought just for this eventuality. However the bees seem to buzz around and I cannot help but try to catch a few of them. I have yet to succeed, much to the relief of the parents. Lenny and I seem to understand that the garden is smaller and that I like to have more time to sit on a bench to watch the birds land on the fence and then listen to the sound of the cars and trucks outside in the road. I suppose it is because I am allegedly 11 now that my body and mind is telling me to take things easier.

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with bee(s).

If only that were the case when we are out on our morning walk though. I seem to be permanently pulling at the end of the lead trying to get to the critters in the fields and hedges.

I am not saying that I am old and infirm, far from it. I think I am beginning to realise that when I am in the house and garden, I don’t have to run around like a hound possessed all the time. I have a good life and generally I am very healthy, it is just that there seem to be more occasions where my bones feel a little weary and my mind is telling me to relax and not chase that squirrel on the fence.

Come on squirrel, I’ve still got what it takes.

Did someone say squirrel.

Through the eyes of others once more.

Another picture from the archives of my grandad.

Battersea Power Station has stood on its current site, on the south bank of the river Thames for nearly 100 years. The building was started in 1929 and Sir Giles Gilbert Scott joined the team who were designing and building the power station. The first set of chimneys were finished by 1935 with the Western Chimneys being 101 metres tall. Both the RAF and the Luftwaffe used the plumes of white vapour emanating from the chimneys to guide them through foggy and misty London on and after 1941. The fourth and final chimney was finished in 1955 and the power was subsequently generated at full speed.

The main boiler house is so large that St Paul Cathedral would fit within it. For the purposes of scale St Pauls is 515 feet (157 metres) long and 227 feet (69 metres) wide across the transepts, with two 212 foot (64 metres) high towers and a magnificent 365 foot (111 metres) dome.

In 1977 there occurred probably the most famous incident which made Battersea famous throughout the world. Pink Floyd tethered a giant floating pig to one of the southern chimney for the cover of their Animals album. The inflatable pig came loose and floated into the flightpath for London Heathrow airport until it floated away and eventually landed on a beach in Kent.

Then, in 1983, it stopped generating power and was sold off to leisure company. At its height it was generating a fifth of the power required for London. The power station used over 1,000,000 tonnes of coal each year with the coal coming predominantly from mines in South Wales and North East England. It arrived on coastal Collier ships which used the Thames to discharge their cargo directly to the cranes fitted to the quayside. Some of the coal was delivered by train from the Brighton and South Coast Railway which runs alongside the power station.

It is now being renovated and refitted into housing and a social and entertainment.

The photo was taken around the early 1970’s when the power station was in full operation. It would have been snapped from the north side of the Thames, likely to have been on Grosvenor Road which follows the path of the river from east to west.

You may also recognise some other work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. If you ever stepped into an old London red telephone boxes, you have entered his realm. Equally he is the designer of Liverpool Cathedral as well as Waterloo Bridge which crosses the Thames further downstream from Battersea. The Bankside Power Station along the edge of the Thames from Battersea is also one of his visions. It is best known now for being the Tate Modern.

Recycling old buildings for future use seems to me to be a sensible thing.

Through the mists of time.

I have always had a fascination with the City of London. The history of The City is everywhere for people to see. The City has endured many changes, usually inspired by humans, and sometimes not for the better. Occasions including The Plague, the Great Fire of London and the Blitz have all left their mark upon The City. It has always been the centre of wealth and commerce for traders throughout the world, when once Britain ruled over vast swathes of the globe, prompting the observation that the sun never sets on Empire. Those days of Empire are very much gone, however The City continues to survive and flourish.

You may note that I always call it “The City”. This is because it has a unique history which goes back almost 2,000 years. The Romans arrived and set up on the North bank of the Thames. There were already settlements there, however it was the coming of the legions that sparked the location and construction of what is today The City. It is not a borough and has a separate administration. It is the place from which present day London grew. The Romans set up a port and trade thrived. The area was fortified and surrounded by a wall which enclosed an area of approximately 1.12 miles. It seems wider than it is taller. The boundaries of The City are marked with black bollards showing Griffins or dragons upon them. Over time the area surrounding The City grew and London thus became larger and spread out from the boundaries of The City. Hence London is a city but The City is a distinct, and somewhat separate, part of London. In any case the majority of the history is contained within The City.

Locations such as the Bank of England (set up by Royal Charter on 27th July 1694), Lloyd’s of London, The Monument to the Fire of London, the northern section of London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral and The Royal Exchange all have a place within the boundaries of The City. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London do not fall within The City boundaries.

It remains the premier location for investment, finance and insurance provision in the UK. Ancient history resides next to modern architecture, albeit sometimes with great unease. The City is continually regenerating and the old is becoming covered in glass and metal edifices which stand tall and dominate the skyline, giving the impression of a global power.

Lloyd’s of London

It is fairly easy to lose yourself, both literally and metaphorically, in The City. The past often returns from the alleys, paths, courtyards and churchyards our ancestors frequented over the previous hundreds of years. On chilly, foggy nights, the ghosts of the past seem to come back and loom large.

30 St Mary Axe

The old City isn’t finished yet, she still has the power to remind us of those who have been here before. Go and visit when you are able, walk down a side street, through the alleys and into the churchyards and feel the old City surround you with her atmospheric tentacles.

Through the eyes of others

I have been struggling to blog recently. I was lucky to have the assistance of Sunny’s mum in writing his story thus far. Apart from that, I have had a bit of a blank as well as feeling that there is little happening to me that is of any interest to anyone. A fellow blogger gave me some sound advice though and I will try to follow her words of wisdom.

Many of you will know that my grandad went to the Rainbow Bridge a while back and we have a large quantity of his old slides which we have been looking through and trying to clean up. They have all sorts of marks on them so we are looking to make them clearer and cleaner. Anyway I was looking at this photo that he took from The Monument to the Great Fire of London and it struck me how much of the landscape and buildings are no longer there.

If you know London there is little narrative I can add to the picture. I think it was taken in the mid 1960’s so will be around 55 years old. The Post Office Tower was topped out in 1965 and should be on the right side of the photograph above.

It is interesting to see how London has changed in the last 50 odd years. This is a vista I will not see as am I barred from climbing the Monument. Also there are a number of tall buildings now obscuring the view. I have walked around the base of the Monument on one of my visits to the Big Smoke but I am not allowed to ascend.

This photo taken in 2019 gives a better impression of the lack of vista. For the purpose of reference, the railway bridge in the first picture is partially obscured by the building to the left in the second photo.

I do wonder if all change is for the good.

Is that a dead crab?

What’s that noise? Oh good grief its pouring with rain and thrashing against the window. Time for a longer snooze I think. Suddenly Lenny is past me and has stood on dads kidneys so it seems we will be waking up now. Tea and no sympathy seem to be the order of the day thus far. After a while we are duly harnessed and stand ready for the shenanigans of the day to come. It’s ok though as the rain has eased and we might only get a little soggy. Upon leaving the house we watch as our travel beds are loaded into the car, but strangely we are shepherded away from the car. What is this sorcery? Up the road and back once we have done what we need to do and the car is unlocked. At this point I looked at Lenny who was cowering away from his travel bed and crate.

It seems that his fears of car travel have returned as we haven’t been out in the car for some time. This is going to take some gentle persuasion on the part of the parents although I am concerned to see that treats weren’t considered necessary to coax him into the car. I tried to show him the way to do it, but he sat there shivering and cowering away so mum gently picked him up and put him in his crate ready to go.

Out of the house and down the road. We wound our way to an adventure. I watched out for my brother to make sure he wasn’t feeling too bad. We stopped and the boot was opened. The fresh and windy sea air filled our nostrils so we knew we were just about to have some fun pulling our parents along the seashore for a while. Just as we leapt out, it poured with rain again so we strolled quickly into a shelter on the promenade to wait out the shower clouds. Then we were off in earnest toward the sea so we could try to find the best stinky stuff to lick, sniff and hopefully roll in. Immediately we came to some seashells which were tasted before moving on to find the remains of a cuttlefish. Lenny seemed to enjoy this and was quickly forgetting about the car journey. I saw the dead crab stuff first but, as usual, Lenny barged in front and was getting up close and personal with the crustacean. We pulled and jerked on our leads for a few miles as we strolled along the sandy foreshore, up and over the little breakwaters and then back up to the pebbly section near the promenade. We had to walk along the prom for the last bit as dogs aren’t allowed on that section of the beach. I am not sure why we aren’t allowed on that part though. We don’t drop litter, break glass, leave tin and plastics everywhere or barbecue stuff and make it all thoroughly untidy. Our parents pick up after us so I am wondering if humans should be banned from the beach instead of dogs. Anyway, we followed the rules like the good boys we are and strolled along.

There may have been treats on view.

As soon as we were getting into our stride we were turned around and headed back toward the car. We saw some other dogs running in and out of the sea chasing a ball and we aroooed them. We saw some dogs walking nicely along the beach and we aroooed them as well. We even saw some dogs playing on the little green spaces near the promenade so we might have aroooed them too.

Come on Dex, there’s more stinky stuff here

Back to the car just as the sky opened again and this time Lenny leapt freely into his travel crate so it seems he had forgotten his fears of the car.

Once we were home it was back to the routine of food, snoozing and running around the garden chasing pesky magpies. I did hear talk of doing another trip next weekend if the weather is agreeable. I wonder where we can take Lenny next time?

Lennys Appraisal for 2020

As he has been here for yet another year, I thought I should conduct Lenny’s appraisal. Thankfully I didn’t allow him to have one of those new fangled 360 degree appraisals. I don’t want him spreading false rumours about me. Anyway, sit back and make what you will of our chat.

So Lenny, 2020, what did you make of your first full year?

Well Dex it was very strange wasn’t it? We started the year off quietly, then too many people broke the rules. After that those who are in charge didn’t take action quickly enough so we went into three further quarantine periods. Thankfully we had each other, as well as our parents, in our own little bubble. We seem to be on the right path now, so I just hope everyone can continue to be careful and not become blasé.

Then we had the strange goings on when we were barred from bitey face in the guest room because loads of boxes appeared. Our parents never told us about the new kennel. All we saw was them disappear now and then, to suddenly reappear a few hours later. When the guys came to take away our possessions I was a bit worried, especially for all the toys that suddenly weren’t strewn across the floor in inappropriate places for mum and dad to fall over.

Do you miss our old stomping grounds then?

I do. Sometimes. When I arrived in 2019 you were kind enough to show me quite a few excellent walks from a couple of miles to a really good 10 miler that I did with dad once. I actually think we took a wrong turn and he just couldn’t admit that he’d gone the wrong way. Apart from that I enjoyed walking around the many places and seeing tons of really nice views. The deer and squirrels helped to make our adventures interesting. And, of course, we got to travel into London on the train or tube which was fun. I can see why you enjoyed the big field around Botley as you can see for miles from the tree line. As for the regular Pednor trips, yes I do miss them as I got to know plenty of other furs and people. It was nice to have some routine and, I suppose, regularity to life.

Pednor in the sunshine

I do like it here though, as we have plenty of new places to visit and we’ve already been to the beach. The deer are bigger here too, although thats a bit scary if I think about it too much. There are many places we haven’t been to yet so I am looking forward to those. Also we haven’t been to the pub yet, and that is always interesting.

What do you think to the new house?

Oh I like it as it is very different to the previous one. Firstly it has these strange “stairs” that we can run up and down, whilst we chase one another. Also it has many different rooms in places that I need to get used to. I keep on doing things like chase you into the living room, only to find its actually the kitchen. A downside, if there is one, is that the garden is smaller than the previous house so I can catch you more quickly so we tend to shorten our garden exercise. I suppose the fact also that there is a water gun to curtail our over exuberant shenanigans is also a bit of a downside too. Dad is far too good a shot with it. I feel like I have settled really quickly here. I just feel like it’s safe and warm, I suppose. Also I have you and the parents so I feel safe in that regard, knowing I have you to rely on.

Did you find it strange that for a large proportion of 2020 we were under a degree of restriction regarding moving around and meeting people?

No, not really. We were lucky that we had the lovely walks almost on our doorstep. Combined with that we were sensible and stayed clear of people as much as we were able. If we met people when we were out dexploring the countryside we were able to greet them in typical Beagle fashion whilst staying at arms length. When we were allowed some freedom from the restrictions we didn’t really venture too far. It was almost like we knew that we were in the middle of a storm and were just riding it out. We did see Raffa’s mum in September when the rules were relaxed slightly but then people in general didn’t really behave properly and we went back into quarantine. I think as dogs we just followed our daily routine of walks, eating, sleeping and shenanigans in the garden. We had the freedom to do that without having the human worries about the virus, money, work and life in general.

Is there anything that you would do differently looking back over the last year?

Erm, no not really. I think the virus made everyone think a bit more about their local area and their life outside of their regular workplace. Maybe I would like to have had more days out on the train or tube, meet ups with pals and trips to the pub with our parents. Wow, I sound like I am desperate to go to the pub!

I think there were days when I could have done with a bit of a scenery change and had something different to look forward to. You did some trips into London the previous year up to March 2020 with dad which I would liked to have done but couldn’t due to the travel restrictions. Also now we have moved and we are much further away from a train station it would prove to be much more of a challenge getting to and from the station, let alone wandering around the big city saying hello to people. I am hopeful though, if people behave themselves, that I can still get to do some additional dexplorations, especially if I can do them with you.

Is there anything you think you have got better at?

Yes. Walking nicely on the lead and playing bitey face with you. I have learned from the Master of Bitey Face so I think I had no choice but to get better. Dad has worked harder with me when we have been out and I do listen more to him when he wants me to walk nicely or stop eating disgusting stuff. Well, most of the time I try to listen but you know how difficult it is. Mum is a bit more cunning when she wants me to obey commands whilst dad is a bit more direct. I suspect both their training styles have had effect on me. They both still roll their eyes when squirrels or rabbits are in my view though. I probably have to work harder with mum though, as I am not sure she believes I can walk nicely.

If you could bring one thing from the old house to the new one, what would it be?

Easy. The garden. It was like an adventure playground for us. Once I had been living in your house for a few months and had the chance to fully dexplore the garden, it just kept on giving up more secret places and scents to me. The new garden will be ok but it isn’t as large and there aren’t as many scents or nooks and crannies at the moment.

Apart from that, it’s really nice here in the house. This underfloor heating stuff came in handy when it was a bit chilly for the first month or so when we got here. And carpet instead of hardwood flooring in some rooms? Luxury as we could lie on the soft carpet and feel the warmth coming through.

Is there anything here that you would change?

Yes. I would stop the oven and hob from bleeping and upsetting you. I don’t like seeing you leave a room or go and hide in the study upstairs when the kitchen is in full flow. You look so worried sometimes, although you have got much braver recently and returned to make sure dad was ok when he is cooking. However I would still stop the bleeps.

I hope Dex is alright?

Have you got a favourite walk yet?

I like the circular walk through Thakeham via the church on the hill, down the farm track, past the church, past the next farm and then back via the gravel track. It’s about five miles or so and is a good stroll. Also I have to admit the walk I did recently with dad when we went to the top end of Knepp Country Park was great fun. It was over seven miles and we saw the biggest deer I have ever clapped eyes on. And I was very tired when we got back although I think that was dads plan, the meanie. I hope to be finding some more favourite walks soon.

What are you looking forward to doing in the next twelve months?

Ugh good grief, where do I start? Now we are far more settled I am looking forward to the beach, walks to the pubs and seeing pals as often as possible. Summer is on the way and I hope to get to walk to many places to experience different things here. I haven’t tried this “ice cream” yet and you promised me that I would get to taste yellow snow in the winter, so I am looking forward to those treats. Apparently we are close to the South Downs so I want to go walking over those. And our fur cousin Minnie doesn’t live too far away now so, if I am lucky, I will meet her too.

Beach dawgs

Do you feel safer, or more secure, now?

Yes, I do. Now I have been living with you for two years I do feel much more part of the gang. As we said last year I was feeling my way around at first, maybe taking some liberties with your toys, beds and food until I understood better what was yours and what was mine. Now I can see that I am safe and loved, I feel more relaxed and I am happy in my fur. I have got used to being your little brother and it’s good as we knock along together quite well now. Often times we can do our own thing, and then meet up afterwards for a chat and snooze. I don’t feel like I have to compete for space any more and we can share things either in the garden or the house. We still squabble over the ownership of that bouncy orange ball but I haven’t seen it for some time so I assume it’s appearances are being limited.

I noticed recently that when you go into your cave bed which is next to mine, you curl up closest to my bed?

Oh, erm do I? Ah well erm. Ok here goes. I feel really settled and secure here. That is due entirely to you and our parents. As I am not allowed to sleep on the big bed, despite being found on there some mornings, I like to curl up next to you as I feel like I am safest when I am with you. I know I was like the proverbial hand grenade when I arrived into your house, and you all accepted me and made me feel really welcome. I just try to repay your trust by being nice. Yes, I know that’s difficult to believe when we are rolling around in the garden playing bitey face, but its a true story.

Brothers in arms or thick as thieves?

Ok, last question. What will you like to see and do in the coming year?

I want to go out more often and explore plenty more paths around here. I also want to go to the hills which I can see from my house. Then there are the beaches which are now much closer. If I can meet grandad more often we can take him with us as long as he behaves himself.

I would like to improve on my technique of creeping up on you from behind to play bitey face. I seem to permanently get to you just as you roll over and see me. I think I need to make my approach a little quieter. I do suspect that you know I am advancing upon your neck so I will have to work harder.

Practice makes perfect

Hmm, yes that is something you need to improve upon. However I think that we can conclude this appraisal by confirming that I will allow you to spend the next year living with me so I can continue to train you as my apprentice.

Erm thanks Dex, that’s really kind of you. I will try not to disappoint you. Now, can I go and get some food?

Enjoy the bluebells.

Fighting weight

Lenny and I went to the vet last week. We moved house and needed some tablets to make sure that worms don’t live for too long in our guts. I know its disgusting and I apologise if you are having your tea but that is what we did. We were tricked into going by a mean parent who only said that we were going for another walk. Anyway the vet asked to see us so we could be weighed and quickly checked over. Due to the current quarantine restrictions we were allowed into the vet practice separately and dad had to sit outside. As he was the mean parent who tricked us, both Lenny and I wanted it to be raining so dad would get wet. Sadly it was dry and bright. I went in first and sat on the scale like the good boy that I am. Thirteen point nine kilos dad was told, whatever that means. Then it was Lenny’s turn to sit on the weigh bridge, sorry scales, for his quick check over. Fifteen kilos, the vet nurse said to dad, who was taken aback somewhat at the number. This got dad thinking on the way home and he was quick to speak with mum. A plan was hatched and Lenny was none the wiser thankfully. Lenny is going out with dad for longer walks and he will get a little less food in his bowl as well as fewer biscuits are treats.

So it began the following day when I was attached to my mum and Lenny to dad. We started off in the same direction and after a couple of miles I was turned around to head for home. Lenny and dad were heading for the hills it seems. They disappeared around the bend in the road and I was left wondering what was happening. I found out soon enough that Lenny had taken a longer route through the country estate that we had so enjoyed a week or so before. I was feeling bit jealous until I saw Lenny’s breakfast was smaller than mine and he hadn’t noticed. As usual he had dived in and inhaled his food, much in the fashion that a Labrador is alleged to inhale their food. I say alleged as Labradors are bigger than me. The following day Lenny was hooked up again to dad and they took off in a separate direction to mum and I. Again he came back with a grin on his face and recounted where he had been and the other dogs he had met. I didn’t feel as jealous this time as, again, his food bowl didn’t look as full as it used to and he hadn’t noticed. The weekend arrived and we went back to walking as a group. This time we went around the country estate together and Lenny showed me where he had seen the long horned cows as well as where he had scented the deer. We took the long route to the pub yesterday and Lenny and I were allowed to pull and jerk on our leads quite a lot. When we got home we both realised how tired we were from all our lead based shenanigans and it occurred to us that maybe there was a method to us being allowed to mess about so much.

So tell me all about your day.

Lenny is going to get longer walks, fewer biscuits and a little less food in his bowl. We are also going to get less cheese that is “accidentally” dropped when food is being prepared. Apparently I don’t need long walks every day as I am getting older and I seem to be getting more stiff joints and cramp when I don’t drink enough water or go too far on a walk. I actually quite like not going too far as it means that I can come back and relax for a while before the hooligan hound breezes through the door and bitey face begins in earnest.

I hope this new routine doesn’t make him even more ravenous for my neck!

Oh deer, what is that scent?

Boing boing boing arooo. Hurry up and get out of bed. Its Bank Holiday Monday and we need to do something instead of having a well deserved lie in. Lenny delivered the wonderfully precise kidney pounce on dad and, suddenly, the morning tea was being made albeit with way too much grumbling about “we should have got Labradors or poodles”.

The spit spot of rain on the windows didn’t dampen our ardour for going on a long walk to dexplore more of the local area. Where would we go today? No one had a clue but we were on our paws and ready. Out of the house and turn left at the end of the road. Up the lane and along the footpath, turning right at the far end and back onto another lane. We know this lane as its part of our regular walks so we can pull and jerk in all the wrong places to get to the scents which lie in the periphery of the drainage ditches and edge of the woods on either side. Just past the stables we saw the squirrels run for cover as we approached. At this point Lenny decided to see a rabbit which caused mum to grumble about her arm being pulled out of its socket. Down the lane and across the brook we went, Lenny and I having a rare old time. Then we stopped in the road and expected to hear that we were turning around to head back home. This was standard practice but something seemed different today. It was decided for us that we would walk a little way down a bridle path which led off one side of the lane. As soon as we got through the gate, my nose was filled with a strange and wondrous scent and I tried desperately to break free from my shackles. It was deer and squirrels all mixed with the heady scent of rabbits. Also there was a scent I wasn’t quite sure of at the time but it would become apparent in a very short time. We strolled along the wide path and came to a tall gate which spanned the width of the path.

This is going to be fun. For us.

Welcome to the Knepp Wildland, part of the Knepp Castle Estate, it read. Please keep your dogs under control and on a lead, it continued. Deer, pigs and various cows roam free within the grounds. Oh my, oh wow it felt as if we had just stumbled upon a veritable playground for Beagles. Within a millisecond my path to fun and frivolity was blocked by dad who told me to sit. I was instructed to behave, walk nicely and not to bay at any animals that we may encounter. You’ve got no chance I thought. I looked at Lenny and he was clearly getting a similar sermon from mum and was thinking the same as me. Our leads and harnesses were checked and double checked to make sure we were (more than) adequately shackled. This was unfair. As soon as we were told to walk on we pulled and jerked on our respective leads so much so that dad thinks he’s invented a new pastime of beagle wrangling. The scents were everywhere. All we had to do was see a deer and our morning walk would be complete. We saw some rather large cows away in a meadow but we really needed to see deer. We could smell them but it seemed they weren’t happy to come and play. As we walked further into the estate the scents kept on coming and we kept on enjoying ourselves more and more.

The smell of the pigs was there, a little faint but definitely around. Ok, that’s enough decided dad as we stopped at the gate which led through to the next field. This was yet another decision taken on our behalf and without consultation with either myself or Lenny. So it was that we were turned around and began the long, slow and very much beagle brake applied walk back to the lane for the doleful return home. I would add though that Lenny and I did make the return journey with silly grins on our faces.

When we arrived home we were subjected to the ritual wiping of paws and it was as much as we could do to bay loudly for our second breakfast. We had earned it, that’s for sure. Then we were off to rest and reinvigorate our weary bones and brains. Six miles of scent and sights were clearly enough for us today.

Is another trip to Knepp on the cards? Oh I hope so as it was so much fun.