It’s a lovely sunny day here today just over a week since my very good friend Raffa made her final, and longest, journey to the Rainbow Bridge. I seem to be contemplating many aspects of my life quite often recently. Maybe it’s because I am becoming older and apparently more knowledgeable. I don’t know, but if I may indulge you. This may ramble a little, but stick with it!!
There is so much war and destruction, death, famine and argument happening in the world at the moment that I am pleased I don’t seem to be directly affected by most of it. Maybe I live in my own little bubble, protected by those who love me the most, and thus unaware of much of the rigours of daily life for so many. I hear the humans in my house when they see or hear the news. Most of the time they are despondent at the state of much of the world, seeing the greed and avarice of an awful lot of people. Then they look at Lenny & I, and you can see their whole demeanour changes and often times a small smile will emerge.
I walk in the morning and get to see the lovely places in close proximity to my home. The leaves are yet to show on the trees, the stalks of the bluebells are just emerging through the ground in the hedgerows and the Snowdrops give colour to the brown and grey landscape of the fields and hedges in late winter. Everything seems to be without colour and form, but there is something of a stark beauty in it all. Even watching the plough carving patterns through the field, tilling the soil in readiness for sowing the crops for autumnal harvest, the gulls swoop and settle in the furrows to feed upon the worms and bugs that have been exposed to the air and sunlight. There is something about it which seems strangely hypnotic. The landscape changes from one field to the next or from one turn in the country lane to another. The countryside is being shaped by man and beast, and has been for centuries. We are strolling through on our journey. We know where we want to go, and hope to know how we are going to get there, but we don’t know what we will encounter along the way. It’s an old cliche but it’s like my life really.
This morning my younger brother (ok he’s not actually my biological brother but I allow him to live here with me, and he’s a Beagle) was walking with my dad. In the corner of one of the fields there was a tree snapped in half in the recent wind and it was now laying across the normal path. They knew they could get past it, so just strolled around it and continued with their journey. No harm, no problem and on they go. Around the next corner, another tree was broken due to the winter storm and this time it lay across the path and into a particularly muddy puddle. They just got their feet and wellies wet, dad looked down at Lenny, smiled, gave Lenny’s ears a tickle and on they went. They returned to the top of the hill which overlooks the town and the trees and hills form a lovely natural framing of the town. Lenny and dad stopped and just looked, not for long but for long enough. Then they looked at one another and thought “I reckon Raff would have loved this view”. Dad smiled knowingly at Lenny, who wanted to get on and sniff and snooter.
I have lost some wonderful friends to the Rainbow Bridge and with each one that makes the longest journey maybe I become more reflective. To meet many of these friends and just to know others, for sometimes, a few years, makes me feel happy. I am happy that I have had the chance to share some of my life with them, and equally I have shared some of their life too. We’ve walked, we’ve woofed and we’ve had fun. Few cares in the world have been able to dampen our spirits. Even when the humans meet up, they talk, drink too much coffee, eat cake and generally have a good time. Their worldly worries seem a little decreased.
Losing Raffa hit me hard, I will make no bones about it. She was a very good pal and we shared many adventures with her when we met up. Maybe it was her approach to life that resonates with me now more than it has done over time. Life is there to be lived, have adventures every day, have fun and see things. #LiveLikeRaffa was our hashtag last week. I am going to follow it and see wherever life takes me.
We are all on life’s adventure ride and I want to make the most of it before it is my turn to get off. I hope that didn’t ramble too much.
Sometimes you become friends with someone who you instantly know is honest, fun and has a heart filled with goodness. This is the story of one such friend who I was lucky enough to meet on quite a few occasions, and who I will never ever forget. If I may indulge you in some reminiscences, I would be grateful for a small amount of your time.
Raffa was the friend I started woofing with soon after I joined Twitter in 2013. After we had been talking on Twitter for some time and finally decided that, as my parents were taking me for a holiday to Patterdale in the Lake District, Raffa and her mum would join us to have some walks and chat in person. We were all really excited as we got the impression from our Twitter talks that Raffa was happy and fun and always exploring. We met in the White Lion in Patterdale on 30th August 2016 and our friendship was sealed in the first few moments when Raffa walked into the pub and nose bumped me whilst I was asleep. I had been walking for miles and was very tired.
The very next day we all walked out on a long trail that was stony in many places. Raffa had her chariot as she wasn’t able to walk as far as she would want to. However she seemed to stride out and I looked on in awe at her. We managed to arooo very loudly at some sheep and generally had a lovely time.
On our return to the holiday house, I escorted her along the road in her chariot as she was a little tired after the days exertions. The next day she went home, however the friendship was set.
In December 2016 we arrived unannounced at a meet up near Sheffield in Yorkshire. We had been plotting with Charley Beagles mum to surprise everyone, and it worked. We walked along a lovely path around a reservoir with many pals. Raffa had her mum push her in the chariot as, again, the terrain was rocky and she couldn’t walk too far. But she still managed to trot happily along for a fair distance which made everyone happy.
We met up with Raffa and her mum again in April 2017 for another expedition to the Western Lake District. This time we explored Eskdale, Wasdale and Ravenglass. We greeted each other with our usual cheeriness and proceeded to explore for the next three days, always with smiles on our faces.
We then had a couple of days with Raffa and her mum, again in Eskdale, in early September 2017. We walked, woofed and had a wonderful time.
Next we all met up at the Beagle World Record in Macclesfield in April 2018. I was fortunate to meet up with Raffa, Bryher, Tean, Charley and 1,024 other beagles who all became record breakers that day. We all finished the course, creating history with every step. As followers will know Charley Beagle went to the Rainbow Bridge in September 2018.
We met at Dunstable Downs in October 2018 and then a hush hush visit to Charley’s mum & dad in November 2018 followed.
When we took Lenny to the World Record Beagle Walk celebration in September 2019 Raffa was still running around when she could, and retiring to her chariot when she was tired.
We topped the year off by having the honour and privilege of showing Raffa and her mum around a few parts of London. I covered this in a previous blog but make no apologies for mentioning it again. We had a wonderful day, we saw so many things, there was laughter and happiness through the entire time and much sadness when we departed.
Sadly, Raffa took the longest journey on 4th February 2020. She was 13 years old. She lived a life full of fun, adventure and exploration. She was loved, she gave love and she smiled and enjoyed her life. She was, and is, a beacon of what I would hope to be. Happy, fulfilled, loved and wholly content with her life. She may be gone from our sights however she will remain in our hearts forever. Run free sweet Raffa it is a privilege and honour to know you, to meet you and to be your friend. We had many adventures which I will never forget. May the everlasting sun shine upon your fur and keep you warm. Until we meet again, for we surely shall, I say farewell but never goodbye.
21st July 2006 – 4th February 2020. Thirteen and a half years of a life fully lived. I have sad ears because this is the most difficult blog I have ever had to write.
It has been a tad chilly when morning has broken over each of the last four days. However the sun has made its presence felt quickly and we have made sure to pester M and D for an early morning walk. I wasn’t sure if Lenny had experienced this degree of the chilliness but I was eager to show him that it’s fun, as well as let him find out the other reason I like cold and frosty mornings. The scents are kept at ground level and we can pull and bay to our hearts content, albeit whilst attached to a human.
We are soon onto our paws and find ourselves heading towards the fields. This is going to be fun as we need to go past “cat corner” so called as there are a number of houses which have our favourite feline friends living there. We tend to be quite noisy when we get close and then try to pull and jerk the leads so we can get a better smell. Sadly, M and D were onto our little caper quite some distance before we got to the feline fun and we were walked to heel. Now, you will understand, this was extremely dull and boring. Even more annoyingly, there were no cats to sniff and bay at, so we trudged on solemnly towards the fields.
Crunch, crunch go our paws as we hit the frosty grass and Lenny’s eyes lit up as he realised there were all manner of smells waiting to be sniffed. Off we go, noses to the ground and pulling left and right. M and D are used to wrangling me, but it seems that Lenny has been watching my shenanigans as he is also good at pulling and scenting at the same time.
Around the first field, through the gate, around the second field and then into the wonderland that is – the woods. I am not sure that M and D have walked this fast whilst attached to us for some time. That’s ok though, they need the exercise. Emerging from the woods and into the next field we scan the horizon for deer. Only this morning did we see them for the first time in four days, and we made our presence known immediately. Actually I think half the town heard us baying at the deer which stood there just looking at us for an uncomfortably long time for their own good. Maybe they knew we were shackled to humans, who knows. Into the next field we go, sniffing all the squirrels in the little copse and then onto the mile field which is almost a mile in circumference. Lenny has learned to sniff in the field itself whilst I ensure that the critters in the hedgerows are suitably concerned as to the presence of two beagles. Tandem snootering. All the while the sun shines through the trees and we cast long early morning shadows across the fields. In my shadow I look about ten feet tall sometimes. My brother has legs like a giraffe so he already looks about ten feet tall.
Then we are through the copse, still pulling left and right to try and make friends with the squirrels, rabbits and foxes who live there, and back down the hill towards home. For some reason they don’t seem as keen. At this point Lenny has learned that putting on the “beagle brakes” means our walk is extended time wise. I have taught him well, haven’t I?
We are walked a different route back so we do not have the fun of cat corner and we soon find ourselves looking at the driveway to the house. Once we get home we resume bitey face for ten minutes or so and then flop onto our beds to snooze. Its quite dull and boring being indoors.
Apparently we are solar powered, as we are frustrated if we cannot resume our sniffing and general shenanigans in the garden whilst the sun is out.
In early December 2019, Lenny and I got to meet some lovely visitors from America. Lucy’s mum and dad came to the UK for a holiday and we were lucky enough to be able to show them around a little section of London. Lucy asked me if I would give her a chance to let people know how much her pawrents enjoyed themselves. I am of course honoured to help her. Here is her blog article. We hope you enjoy it.
Hi Pals! Lucy here. Mum and Papa had a really fantastic vacation in England and they were able to meet up with some of Mum’s Twitter pals. Since Mum is busy getting back into her work and home routine, she has asked me to tell you about their trip! So, here goes.
In 2016 Mum started looking at her Twitter account more often and started to see beagles pop up in her feed. She learned about different beagles and other doggies all over the world. She anxiously looked them up each day to see their adventures and laugh when they were silly or naughty. She would fall in love with them and grieve with tears streaming down her face when one would cross the rainbow bridge.
Then in April 2019, I could hear them planning a vacation for the fall to England, (BTW I was not happy about this at all, even though I am treated like royalty at my Aunty G’s house). Mum was trying to plan a trip to include some very old churches and places that had a history of Anglo Saxon and Viking history for Papa. She saw she would have to drive to see some sites and also thought, hmmm maybe, she could meet up with some of the members of the BeagleBugClub after seeing Aunty C’s (@Pruny_thebeagle) Cata, Poly, and Alfie’s Mum’s vacation! I saw Mum (constantly) typing on her iBone to see if she could meet up with the Aunts and Uncles on Twitter and told Papa her plans to incorporate meeting some Bugs into the trip and, since Mum is in charge of everything, he said OK, (don’t tell him I said that).
Aunty H (Griff and Boot’s Mum) told Mum about a mystery series of books by a local author that included lots of history local to Herefordshire and other nearby places so Mum set to work reading as many as she could before the trip. Plans continued and were firmed up by November.
They landed in London on November 20th and took a taxi to Windsor where they enjoyed exploring the town and castle. They left Windsor, picked up the rental car in Reading, and then began the driving portion of their trip going through Cirencester with a quick stop for lunch and a peek at the Church of St. John the Baptist. There happened to be a craft sale in the church and Mum bought an apple carved out of yew wood and a couple of felt ornaments. She loved chatting with the crafters because she likes to do crafty things.
Then they were back on the road and off to Gloucester for a couple of nights. Mum and Papa spent several hours in Gloucester Cathedral, and Mum bought a book about the Harry Potter filming locations and was very excited to see the cloisters that were featured in the films. They also went to the museum and saw some Roman and Anglo Saxon artefacts in addition to many other items.
When they left Gloucester, Mum drove to Goodrich Castle, Church of St. Mary and St. David (Kilpeck), St. Michael’s Church (Garway), and then Hereford for a couple of nights. While in Hereford they, of course, visited the Cathedral. They enjoyed walking around the town and stopped into All Saints Church where there was a Bill’s Café. They had some local beer and cider and ended up having dinner there. It was very good and the kind people working there gave Mum the recipe for the carrot salad. Mum noticed a cookbook by the owner of the café but she didn’t want to carry it and figured she would order it when she got home. I am very excited for her to make this carrot salad because I always get bits of carrots for snacks and in my dinner!
Nap time!…………I’m back! The next day they drove to Worcester to spend the night, and also to see the cathedral which was amazing. On the drive there, they stopped at Saint Michael and All Angels – Castle Frome Church; unfortunately due to heavy rains they could not view the castle ruins. Mum said during this part pf the trip she remembered tons of things from the books Aunty H had recommended. Often she was able to explain to Papa some of the history when they saw certain sights in Gloucester/Hereford/Worcester, especially when she saw Thomas Trahern and Albert Elgar in books, memorials, stained glass windows, etc.
Then, they finally headed to Shrewsbury (home of Cadfael, one of Mum’s favorite mystery books/shows)! When they arrived in Shrewsbury and got the car parked Mum and Papa met Aunty L (@companyofhounds) at the Market Hall and bought some doggy treasures for my Aunty G and Aunty B here in Arizona, plus a new collar and bow tie for me! They walked around town and visited Shrewsbury Castle which has a military museum with a focus on people from the region who have served in the military. Later on, they met up with Aunty L for some mulled wine, (Mum just said YUMMY out loud!) Eye roll BOL!
When they got back to the hotel room, Mum found a present on the night stand from Auntie L! It was local gin and tonic and some biscuits! Fanku Auntie L for being so nice to my pawrents, they wished they could have saw you more.
The next day Mum and Papa drove out to Aunty H and Uncle B’s (@charley_beagle), Griff and Boot’s pawrents home out in the country! Mum was able to drive up the big hill on the second try BOL and saw Aunty H waiting in the big window for their arrival! Aunty H had a plan of action for the day, which sounded great and included the boys. Before heading out Mum and Papa looked out at the beautiful view that Griff and Boot enjoy every day.
Hang on, I need to tinkle…..Whew! Good thing Mum trimmed my nails this weekend; this is a lot of typing!
So Mum told me that Aunty H and Uncle B took Mum and Papa all over the place starting with Myndtown Church, which is a 12th century church. Then they saw Mitchell’s Fold, a 3,000 year old stone circle. Next they stopped at The Three Tuns pub for a bite to eat and a pint. This pub is the UK’s oldest operating licensed brewery (since 1642.) On to Powis Castle, which was decorated for Christmas and was gorgeous inside and out with lovely landscapes, including fairylights inside the trees. Mum petted the boys, gave Boot a kissies on his white spot and hugged Griff a lot. Griff sat on her lap all day in the car! Sorry Aunty C.
That morning, Aunty H had also suggested that Mum leave the car at her house and she and Uncle B would drop Mum and Papa off at their hotel after dinner at a dog friendly pub. This sounded like a great plan to Mum because she could have a couple of pints since Uncle B would pick them up the next day for another round of adventures.
When they get to the pub for dinner at the end of the day and Mum gets excited because she sew a vehicle in the parking lot with beagle stickers and she got so excited she might see another beagle (she is so silly). Then they walk inside and there is Aunty L and Aunty J with Raffa!!!! What a surprise! They wanted to give Mum and Papa a Thanksgiving Dinner of sorts since they were so far from home. Mum was verklempt. After a lovely dinner and dessert, they went back to the hotel for the night.
The next day Uncle B picked them up and they were off to the house to get Aunty H. Mum and Papa again took in the beautiful views from their home. Then, off to Ludlow, where they stopped up on a hill to see the views of the town which included the castle and church tower. Mum and Papa went into the castle and climbed all the towers but one, Mum is clumsy and she was worried since it didn’t have a handrail. The stairs were a great workout after having cinnamon rolls and coffee at Griff and Boot’s favorite little spot. After the castle they had lunch and then went to St. Lawrence church. Heading back to Aunty H and Uncle B’s home a quick stop was made at Stokesay Castle for some photos. Then home where tea and the best lemon cake ever made was eaten! Mum photographed the cookbook and now has a copy! She wants to make the cake for our family.
Mum and Papa enjoyed Aunty H and Uncle B’s company so much they didn’t want to leave and they were sad that they had to leave, but eventually they had to go because they were headed to Chester the next day. Mum gave Griff and Boot hugs and kissies before they left.
Fanku Auntie H and Uncle B for being so nice to my pawrents! They appreciate the lovely gifts and mementos! I also really love my treats!
I’m thirsty, I’ll be right back…
The next day they were off to Chester where they dropped off the car, NO MORE DRIVING! Mum and Papa visited some friends Saturday. They walked into town and went to a local pub that their friends like. Then they walked farther into town to see the Christmas Market. They hopped on the bus back to the house to try some of Uncle JK’s beer he has been brewing. He is a degreed beer brewer who hopes to work in Germany one day to get the Master Brewer certification. Uncle JK also did laundry for my pawrents! Aunty K made a delicious Flemish stew for dinner with cheese scones. During the week Mum was able to workout with Aunty K who has been helping Mum the last few years improve her fitness regimen. I am really happy Mum and Papa got to see their friends again!
Sunday they took the train to Liverpool to meet up with Aunty J and Raffa (@raffa2006). The Santa Dash was going on in downtown Liverpool and Mum and Papa had a blast watching everyone and walking around, plus Mum could give Raffa pets and kissies. They had a yummy lunch in a dog friendly place and Mum saw Papa and Aunty J arguing over the paying the bill BOL. Papa won!
Then Aunty J took Mum and Papa to see some local churches and after that, they went to Aunty J and Raffa’s home. They had tea, cookies, mince pies, and chocolates. The mince pie was the best Mum had ever tasted. They also saw Raffa’s cabin! Sadly, they had to go back to the room so Aunty J could rest and go to work the next day. They weren’t too sad knowing they were going to see Aunty J and Raffa the following afternoon. Plus Mum was a little dehydrated from the previous days beer sampling and needed some rest also (eye roll).
Aunty J got off work early the next day so Mum and Papa took the train to Hamilton Square Station and met up. Aunty J drove them around Wirral so that Mum could see the places that Aunty J and Raffa go on walks and bike rides. There was a beautiful sunset during the drive. Then back to the house for pizza and conversation before going to trivia quiz night at The Bow Legged Beagle Pub to raise money to help rescue beagles.
Trivia Time! So Auntie J, Mum, and Papa have never been to a trivia night. It was a new experience for all of them. The pub was packed with beagles, other dogs, and people but they still found seats. Raffa always has a seat because of her chariot BOL. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I really don’t understand why I don’t have a chariot or a buggy that hooks onto Mum’s bike. Let me write this down to have a little chat with Mum about this later.
Mum and Papa got to meet Aunty K and Uncle A (@BeaglesWirral) along with Ed and George, and many other dogs whose names she cannot remember. Mum and Papa didn’t know much of the trivia because it was mostly related to the UK and Aunty J isn’t a big TV watcher so they didn’t win BOL! Aunty J did win a really nice gift basket in the raffle. Mum didn’t want to win anything because it would be more to carry.
So again, sadly, Mum and Papa had to say goodbye. Of course, Mum gave Raffa tons of kissies before they parted. Fanku Auntie J for taking my pawrents around! They love the gifts and mementos that you gave them, very much.
The next day they took a train to Manchester to see Chetham’s Library and John Ryland’s library. They saw the cathedral which had been rebuilt after being badly damaged during the Manchester Blitz (WWII) and walked around the Chirstmas Market.
The following day in Chester they decided to do laundry again because they calculated it would cover them for the rest of the trip. They went to the same laundry place they went to when they were there in November 2016. The lady managing the place was still there and remembered Mum!!! She took care of the laundry for them so Mum and Papa could go to the Brown Sugar Internet Café that they had had also visited in 2016. The owners remembered them! Mum had bought some fabric Christmas ornaments the owner made last time so she bought more this time, plus a small stuffed rabbit that the lady makes. Mum and Papa highly recommend this café, the food and customer service is amazing!
The next day they headed to London. They did a myriad of things over the next few days, which included seeing St Paul’s Cathedral and climbing all 528 steps to the top, seeing Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, British Museum, National Gallery, and shopping for Christmas gifts.
On Saturday, Mum and Papa met up with Mum’s friend from high school. She took them to see Winston Churchill’s grave and Blenheim Palace which had a Christmas market and was decorated inside for Christmas. It was very beautiful and they had a wonderful day!
On Sunday, Mum and Papa got to meet Aunty C and Uncle C (@rescuedogdexter) along with Dexter and Lenny! Mum was greeted with tons of aaroooos!
Uncle C used to work in the City of London and showed Mum and Papa lots of little-known spots and was full of great bits of history. We met at St Pauls and then saw Postmans Park where there are plaques for brave ordinary people, Guildhall in which all the City of London Guilds would gather for discussions for over 800 years, the Bank of England (where Raffa keeps her pocket pennies), the Royal Exchange which was the first Stock Exchange, Leadenhall Market (an old poultry market), Lloyd’s of London where insurance is created and underwritten, Spitalfields Market (which was an old market founded in 1197 and sold fresh fruit and vegetables) and finally down to the Tower of London. Along the way, Mum helped Uncle C and Aunty C watch out for Lenny grabbing food and stuff off the ground and she loved giving Dexter pets because he wags his tail every time.
When it started to get dark and windy, once again Mum and Papa had to sadly say farewell, but not before Mum gave the boys kissies! Fanku Auntie C and Uncle C for showing my pawrents around, they loved meeting you and learning more about the City of London!
On their last night in England my pawrents again met up with Mum’s high school friend for dinner at a place near Covent Garden called Balthazar. It was amazing and Mum was happy to get more time with her friend.
Then, sadly, my pawrents England/Beagle Bug vacation came to an end. Mum and Papa are so grateful for the kindness and generosity of everyone they met. The loved seeing their friends. They greatly appreciate the time everyone took out of their lives to show complete strangers around, welcoming them into their homes, and becoming their friends. With love and kissies, Lucy
The year is ending and I wanted to think things over, you know the places I have seen and things I have done in the preceding twelve months. One of the highlights for me, of course, is the arrival of the whirlwind that is now my brother Lenny. We tried to make sure he was settled in before we announced his arrival a couple of weeks after he got here. I think it’s safe to say he’s definitely got his paws under the table now. I am so pleased he’s come to stay at my house, we are a good team.
Lenny had to learn how to travel in the car fairly quickly as he was whisked around the motorway to go and meet our nan within a few weeks. He wasn’t too comfortable on the first trip but he’s much better now. He was taken to some training sessions so he could learn some recall and even try some close heel work. I think dad learned more than Lenny.
More highlights were the number of times I got to visit London. Prior to Lenny arriving I was lucky enough to show my auntie Carolina around London in late March. She was in the UK and Europe for a grand tour and I was honoured to be the last stop on her round Europe travels. I met her near to the Tower of London and then tried to show her some of the best sights of London. I think she enjoyed herself, I certainly did.
We waited for a while after he had arrived and settled in before we decided to take Lenny for some rides on the train and tube so he could be ready for trips to London. Lenny seemed to take to the train and tube rides really easily although I think it was probably my calming influence upon him that helped. The chance to put it to the test was with the visit of Raffa and her mum in early December. We met them at the train station and then strolled twelve miles around London so we could try to see everything on Raff’s tick list. She even got a trip on the tube which she seemed to take completely in her stride. The following week, we showed auntie Shauna and uncle Jay around some parts of London that visitors may not usually see. I hope they enjoyed themselves.
The number of day trips to local areas has increased which is always fun as we can see new places and there are always new sniffs. I showed Lenny some of my fun places such as Asheridge and Cholesbury. I introduced him to some great scents.
In September we managed to make the trip to Capesthorne Hall at Macclesfield near Manchester for the celebration of last years “Guinness World record Largest Single Breed Dog Walk”. We were a bit worried about Lenny being ok for the car ride but he took it all in his stride. We had a wonderful day there, and even got to meet our Australian aunties Nic and Annette from Australia. It was a complete surprise for us all, so we were privileged to meet them. In fact we aroooed all day and then collapsed exhausted in the car on the way home.
Our year of travel has been completed with a trip to the south coast of the UK to take Lenny to see nanny and grandad. We played nicely and made sure we stayed in their good books so we can revisit them next year.
There have also been bad things that happened in 2019. We were very sad to lose far too many friends including Marigold, Port Hunter, Gusterbear (Puppy), Ringo, LJ Bella Basset, Daisy and Toby.
So that’s it everyone. 2019 closes and we feel happy that we have so many great friends around the world, yet sad that too many of our friends have taken the longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge. Happy New Year one and all and remember to enjoy yourselves, you only get one chance at this life stuff.
A few years ago I sent a postcard to my good friend, Raffa the Beagle, who lives near Liverpool. It was a postcard of London with a tick list of sights to see, including Big Ben and the Tower of London amongst others.
A couple of weeks ago, we heard from Raffa who said that she was going to come to London to try and tick off some of the sights, and she asked me if we would like to be guides. Of course I couldn’t think of another fur in this house who had been to London so I volunteered my service and took Lenny along to carry the bags.
It came as somewhat of a rude shock to Lenny that we were unceremoniously woken up at 6 am on a Saturday. After a very brief walk locally we were marched up the hill to the train station so we could whizz into London. Fortunately it was a lovely sunny day but it was a bit chilly. After we arrived in London, we strolled through Regents Park towards Euston Station so we could greet Raffa and her mum in true beagle fashion by a huge arooo in the middle of the station concourse. Raffa was in her chariot as she cannot walk as far as she could do when she was a young pup.
We immediately wandered off to find the tube station as Raffa had always wanted a trip on a tube train.
We got off the tube at Moorgate and strolled to the Guildhall (original meeting place of the Guilds of craftsmen for the City of London), Royal Exchange (the original stock exchange), Bank of England (where Raffa keeps her pennies), Mansion House (official residence of the Lord Mayor of London) and then on to Leadenhall Market (poultry market from Victorian times but now a boutique shopping area) where we made our first pit stop for some coffee to warm up the humans.
We started the next leg by walking down to the Tower of London which was very busy with visitors, and where Lenny managed to see a pesky squirrel but forgot to tell me & Raffa. We then crossed Tower Bridge.
We went along the side of the river, making our way through the throngs of tourist visitors on the south side of London Bridge. We showed Raffa the replica of the Golden Hinde ship (Francis Drake’s ship), the Clink (original dungeon prison in London) and then went on to see the rebuilt Shakespeares Globe theatre.
Now for the exciting part as we crossed the Millennium Bridge, also known as the wobbly bridge, and saw St Pauls Cathedral in its glory directly ahead.
Having strolled past the cathedral we went down Ludgate Hill and into Fleet Street (famous for printing) and managed to get two tables in a pub for some lunch snacks, as well as warming ourselves away from the chilly wind. Suitably refreshed we set off and found ourselves in the middle of a wedding procession coming out of the nearby St Bride’s Church, accompanied by a brass band. This surprised us all. We continued along The Strand and dad managed to stop pedestrians crossing the road, as he told Lenny to “WAIT” and they thought he was talking to them. We continued towards Trafalgar Square to see Nelson’s Column and then off to Whitehall (government area) to stop at Horseguards Parade to see a member of the Household Cavalry, who was watching Raffa to make she didn’t misbehave.
The London Eye across the river was spied, then Big Ben and Westminster Abbey were ticked off before we ended up at Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately the Queen wasn’t at home otherwise we would have popped in for a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich (without crusts of course).
To finish we wandered slowly up The Mall back towards Trafalgar Square and took a London Black Cab to return to the train station at Euston. We woofed a sad cheerio to Raffa and her mum as they boarded their train back to Liverpool and their home.
Our journey home on the train passed like a blur, mainly due to Lenny and I having walked nearly 13 miles in total and being very tired. It was worth being really tired though, as we showed Raffa around London and she ticked off all the sights on her postcard except one. No Yeoman of the Guard Beefeaters were seen at the Tower of London. We hope we did Raffa proud as she managed to see nearly everything on her postcard list.
Finally I have to admit that Lenny was so good, given it was his first trip to London. He managed the trains, tubes and strolling around with great aplomb. We took ages getting from one place to the next as so many people wanted to say hello to us and give Raffa, Lenny and I many tickles. He dealt with the sights, smells and noises of London without fright or fear. I am proud ears of him.
I have been here some time now and have seen the seasons come and go. I love to explore as much as possible so I can see the colours changing in the woods and fields nearby my house. As I have said before, I am lucky to live on the edge of the Chilterns, a 46 mile long chalk escarpment to the north west of London. This year I am even more honoured as I have been able to show Lenny what it is like in the summer. Now we move into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (thank you Mr John Keats), I shall show him the beauty of the hills as they change. The summers here are kinder than the one he encountered last year in Cyprus, where he was rescued from. Now the skies become darker, the clouds thicken and the rain is falling at a steadier rate than summer. Fruit has been picked, the crops are harvested and the creatures are scurrying about making their winter larders full of tasty food to maintain themselves during the winter that is to come.
As green leaves turn to brown and come tumbling from their lofty perches among the trees, I feel like I am walking on a carpet of warm summer goodness whilst looking out for my friends, the squirrels, rabbits and deer that now forage for their winter stores. The fields are ploughed and the hedgerows rustle with the wind. The paths through the fields and woods become soggy and the grass is springy under my paws. The horses, adorned with their thicker waterproof coats, munch the last of the summer grass in the meadow as we stroll happily past them, giving a sideways glance to show our deference and friendliness. Every now and then I look at Lenny and he seems to be trying to comprehend everything so quickly. I try to get him to understand that he will have many autumns to enjoy, strolling in the cooling breeze and finding new sights at the turn of many corners. For now though he seems intent on filling his senses with as much as he can. I think he’s enjoying it.
Lenny and I stroll through the lanes and byways and watch the belts of trees repeat their ever changing cycle of buds to green leaves and fruits, green leaves to brown and thence to the carpet of foliage on which we walk. He hasn’t seen this change yet, certainly not here in the UK. I’m looking forward to seeing what he makes of Winter.