January blues. Or should that be greys?

Ugh good grief it’s depressing looking out of the window recently. January has arrived with a vengeance, quarantine is apparently in full swing again and the rain and cloud have descended to dampen my mood.

I have been accompanying Lenny on walks over the last few days as the weather has been so rotten that neither of us can be overly enthusiastic about strolling too far for too long. Since Lenny’s dismal impression of Captain Oates on 5th January, the weather has become damper and more depressing. As a result we have been out and about, got wet, been dried when we return and then run around the garden for about twenty minutes in the morning and then again in the afternoon. The log burner has been lit and we can snooze in front of that, so there is a small silver lining. Ok its a warm orange glow. It’s about all we can be bothered to manage to be honest.

When will the sun come out?

This morning was no different in that it was dark, the rain had persisted all night and our parents took the usual inordinate age to get their wet weather walking gear on. I don’t know why they haven’t got fur and then shake regularly like we do? Anyway out we went, and it was decided for us that Lenny and I didn’t need a long walk. Three miles would be enough. I wasn’t in the mood to argue, to be truthful. Around the lane into Pednor we sploshed, up the rise in the road and follow the road around to the right, then down the hill and through the gate across the field, through the next gate and across that field, through the last gate and turn right toward home. We didn’t even get to wash our paws off in the river as we didn’t need to. Home and we were duly towelled down so cue much running around the house playing bitey face whilst rubbing our still damp fur across as many items of furniture as we could manage. For some reason the parents weren’t enamoured with our efforts. Then it was into the routine of breakfast, pester mum, chase each other, pester dad, snooze, watch dad light the wood burner, run around the garden whilst the rain abated temporarily and then repeat the previous activities of running around and annoying parents.

Wake me up when dinner is ready.

It’s sleep time so I am off to the garden for a pre snooze run around to make sure there are no squirrel or deer invaders. Wish my parents luck as it’s very soggy under paw out there and if I get a scent I could be a long time.

Lenny’s lonely loop

We have been walking together, Lenny and I, over the past couple of weeks. Depending on the quantity of scents available this has led to a number of incidents where we are both going for the same scent and there is the inevitable tangle of leads with the even more inevitable huffing and puffing from our parents as they try to disentangle us. Lenny and I have been competing for scents and we tend to be rather ungentlemanly about each other, pulling suddenly on our leads and shoving each other out of the way. One thing Lenny has learned is to step back when I need to “send a peemail” as he’s received one of my “peemails” on his head before as he was trying to read it too early. Anyway it was decided that Lenny and I would walk separately this morning and it sounds like he had quite a fun walk. I suppose I should hand over to him to tell you more. I shall be checking later to see if he’s been cheeky.

Hello everyone, it’s me Lenny. I went out for a solo stroll today albeit attached to dad. My brother wasn’t with me so I could sniff and forage at my own pace without him trying to get to the scent first. We went on a ten kilometre anti clockwise round of Pednor, one of our favourite, if not our actual favourite, walks around here. With the new quarantine about to come into force and the fact that a major road had been reopened after works taking three months or so, we weren’t expecting much traffic. Also the schools are closed so the usual rat run type traffic should have been reduced. We were proved correct. We walked the first stretch with Dex and mum so after a while they turned left and went on a shorter walk whilst I strode out for my adventure. Don’t tell him but now that Dex is a bit older he doesn’t need such a long walk as his “weary bones” start to ache a little quicker. Anyhow I was quite surprised as we were keeping up a fair pace along the first bit of our freedom trail. The scent count was low apart from the two deer that ran across the road in front of me. I may have bayed loudly and caused Dex to wonder what the dickens was going on? Having overcome the excitement of deer, we sped along the road, across the muddy section where the council never clear out the drains properly and then got to the long hill. The road curved away to the left and we began the ascent toward top Pednor and we could see the manor house on the top of the hill. The scents got more frequent here and my pace slowed so I could inhale as many smells as my olfactory organ would allow. I need to store these sniffs in my data bank for later. Along the top and turn left again to go through the small group of lovely old houses in their courtyard. As we walked along the road we could see down to both Pednor Bottom and an old path called somewhat strangely Herbert’s Hole.

Suddenly Bella the chocolate lab appeared in front of us. She is a lovely older lady dog who we see regularly and with whom Dex and I exchange stories briefly as we pass. Today her parents were surprised that Dex wasn’t with us. I am very polite to her and I always get complimented on my gentlemanly behaviour. Sadly mum wasn’t with us so I didnt score any treats for being good. Continuing along the crest of the hill we descended Holloway and zigzagged around the lanes until we arrived back at the start of the loop.

I was getting a bit tired now so wanted to get home and have my second half breakfast when into my view came Molly who is a sweet little spaniel pup. She is such a happy dog and is always really pleased to meet Dex and I. For some reason I shy away from her and no one really knows why. She is playful like me, she is happy like me and she is noisy like me. However I try to hide behind my parent whenever we meet and they can’t work out why? In any case dad spoke to Molly’s mum for a while whilst I reminded him about my second breakfast by pawing his leg to get his attention. After a few minutes he relented and we made it home just in time for my stomach to rumble and a quick session of bitey face with Dex who seemed quite pleased to see me again. A good walk followed by some exuberant snout jousting and subsequently long snoozes on the sofa. Mum was told that I behaved extremely well and that without Dex there wasn’t any competition for scents. A good day I think.

I should hand you back to Dex but he is sleeping. Must be those old weary bones he tells me about.

Can a Beagle eat too much

I am currently collapsed on the sofa. I have had my walk, two breakfasts and then two or three (who’s counting!) whizzes around the garden chasing my brother. I should say at this stage that two breakfasts doesn’t actually mean two full breakfasts. My mean parents clearly haven’t read the script over the quantity of food crossing my tongue as both Lenny and I get some porridge before we go out on our morning walk and then get some meat, potato and rice to make up our “breakfast”. It is, of course, never enough as it has to be augmented with a biscuit, not plural but a singular solitary one.

The last few days have been a little different. We saw our grandad on Christmas Day as he is in our support bubble and we are therefore allowed to pester him whilst the parents go about the business of keeping him fed and watered. We enjoyed running around his house, and generally making nice nuisances of ourselves. I am not even sure there is such a thing as a nice nuisance, but I will go with it for the time being. He was pleased to see us and we continued our tradition of making him happier to be around dogs by being gentle and getting loads of tickles from him.

We didn’t bother waking up early on Boxing Day so we had a leisurely morning followed by some hearty garden racing to work up an appetite. We were treated to some turkey in our bowls on Boxing Day as we had our Christmas dinner a day late. Somewhat suspiciously we weren’t provided with any sprouts in our bowls, which was very disappointing. We opened our Christmas presents from some of our pals and were thankful that the gifts with treats, treats and unsurprisingly, treats. We had to taste test one or two and they passed muster. Then it was time to batten down the hatches as Storm Bella tried to blow the roof tiles off the house. She did not succeed. We managed some extra food in the evening too, so Lenny and I were feeling particularly full. Beagle owners may feel there is only a shred of truth in this statement. I can vouch for its veracity however.

I think I shall dream of sprouts

On to this morning and the standard Lenny leap onto the kidneys of the sleeping parent ensured that they couldn’t lie in for too long. After the garden had been checked for fence breaches, we flew around the garden and then dragged our parents around the lanes whilst we filled our noses with far too many scents. Two breakfasts and then some biscuits for coming back into the house when called, means we are snoozing on our respective sofas whilst the parents seek to busy themselves with some task or another. It’s dinner time soon so I can look forward to another evening of relaxing with a full belly and happy grin on my face.

That we have predominantly behaved ourselves over the past three days has kept our parents sane and ensured we remain in their good books and thus more likely to score treats more readily. Maybe this good behaviour malarkey isn’t so bad after all.

Sad yet hopeful – the final part

As promised I continue my thoughts on the strange year just ending. It’s a sad, frustrating year, yet it had some bright sparks now and again.

July.

Lenny and I had been set the task of trying to recreate all the photographs on a calendar we sent to Raffa’s mum last year. According to our very kind pals the pictures we were in were better than the originals. Then on Raffa’s birthday there was a little tribute where many friends painted a rock and took it to somewhere that Raffa would have loved to go. We went to our garden and tried not to squabble whilst the picture was taken. It didn’t last long. Sadly I heard that a long time friend called Seb the BT was due to go to the Rainbow Bridge. He had such a wonderful heartfelt send off that it made me proud to consider that I had known him and woofed with him over his time on Twitter.

August.

My nanny died. Dad was very sad as she had been ill for quite some time and he had been half expecting the phone call for a while. When it came though it was still a nasty shock. Lenny and I did our best to behave in an appropriate manner. Lenny then celebrated his birthday and I allowed him to beat me at bitey face. Later in the month we went to see our remaining grandad who said we should all go to the seaside. Lenny had never been to the sea in the UK and he was in awe at the wind and waves. In fact he was so much in awe that he fell asleep. He didn’t try to lick the seawater like I did in the Lake District a few years ago. Everyone had a nice time and mum even got saltwater spray all over her face as she forgot to take her sunglasses. We didn’t laugh, honestly.

September.

Knock knock, who’s there? Arooo, its auntie J. Raffa’s mum was going on holiday and diverted to come and see us in our natural habitat. She was rubbish at hide and seek although quite good at starting bitey face games. We were still under some restrictions but they seem to be easing once again. Not that it made any difference to Lenny and I, as well still got our walks, food and beds. We could feel the seasons changing toward the end of the month so we got ourselves ready to bed down and hibernate for the winter months. The squirrels were much more active. Lenny and I managed to catch one but were told in no uncertain terms to DROP IT.

October.

Time for trees to fall down in front of us. This stick was too large even for Lenny and I to take home with us. The rain returned with a vengeance, causing the ground to be saturated and the tree roots to give up completely. Luckily we weren’t underneath it when it came down. Lenny is looking up to me a bit now. I think he has accepted that this is his forever family and he’s relaxing enough to want to know what else we can get away with.

November.

Here we go, back into a partial quarantine. Will it work, will it fail and will be ever get our dinner. This year the service has got worse as the days and months pile up. Maybe we need new parents as the current incumbents clearly aren’t up to the mark. Lenny and I are bonding far more. We are taking time to do things that don’t always include bitey face games or chasing each other around the garden. In fact we managed to steal socks from dad and were referred to as “International sock thieves of some distinction”. We remain quite proud of our abilities.

December.

As I write this missive we are in Tear (yes I did mean to spell it like that) 4 of restrictions which means that the pubs and restaurants are closed, and only the essential shops are open. We cannot see friends from other households over Christmas and we still wont be able to go to the pub. This quarantine is like the hokey cokey. We’re in, we’re out, we’re in again and then we’re shaking it all about. Christmas is likely to be quiet with just ourselves to play together and amuse ourselves.

I am not sure how to sum it all up really. We lost some well loved and revered furs this year. Raffa, Gracie and Seb the BT amongst too many others. Sadly life and death were ever present as usual. The pandemic spread fear, death and misadventure throughout large swathes of the human population which was sad to see. Many people got on with their neighbours better than they had for a long time. Some people even found out that they had neighbours which was a bonus. This lockdown brought the best and, sometimes, the worst out of people.

I did learn something in the past year that will stick with me for some time. I realised that many of my friends live in beautiful places around the world. As we were all restricted in one way or another, I got to see friends local areas when they tweeted about their daily lives. Often because you are familiar with your local area, the beauty of it passes you by. I have also learned that Lenny is settled, he is happy and likes living here. This makes my heart sing as, despite what I may say about him sometimes, I do love him and want him to be happy.

And we move on to 2021. I cannot begin to wonder what it holds for us all. Hopefully vaccines are developed and provided so the virus recedes and some degree of normality returns to swathes of the worlds population. I hope so as this will allow us to get out and about more often. We want to see friends and family to try and resume some degree of new normality. Is there to be such a thing as normality? There is only one way to find out.

Sad yet hopeful – part the first.

I know many people do a review of the year passing or passed. Where shall I start without using the C word? Ok, I shall take this month by month and try to explain why this year, which will pass into history very soon, was seemingly one to forget but also contained some little gems.

January.

It’s on its way everyone. 2020 was starting on a chilly and cool note although January was surprisingly dry for us in Chesham, where it is usually soggy, drizzly and really rather damp. Lenny is getting used to the incessant photography, however he has yet to master the art of the silly grin. I’m working on him so please bear with us.

February.

It’s arrived although not yet in huge numbers which we will soon suffer. Raffa went to the Rainbow Bridge and many, many people were very upset at the loss of a fine and wonderful friend. The days were getting a bit longer, the mornings were misty and made Lenny look thoughtful. I spent much of the first few weeks wondering why pals aren’t here any more, why we have to go to the Rainbow Bridge and generally having a good think to myself.

March.

It’s here. Just before the quarantine took place fully I had the chance to travel briefly into London. I was intent on finishing the postcard for Raffa. She had missed the Beefeater and I thought it was only right that I get the picture for her. Then it struck and we were all locked away for a while. People panic bought toilet roll, bleach and pasta (I do not need that recipe) and we made sure we didnt make contact with anyone in the hope that this might slow down the transmission rate.

April.

Flowers bloomed in my garden. Lenny and I helped to water them as the sun grew warmer and the colours burst back to life. Out of quarantine at the end of April but it made no difference. We were living like hermits and avoiding as much contact with other people as possible.

May.

Now it was beginning to get a bit boring. We still got our walks. We still got to arooo in the garden. We still got to chase each other around the garden playing bitey face. However we were a little restricted on where we could go for walks outside the garden. Fortunately we were able to walk in places that not many others knew about so we often had the lanes to ourselves.

June.

We were still under restrictions so had to behave ourselves in and out of the garden. It had the advantage though of showing Lenny that I didn’t want to be bitten all the time and often it was nice to just chill out instead of running at 100 mph around the garden. We became more accommodating of one another as the restrictions wore on. It got warm and we became lazy or lazier depending on who you listen to. Early in the month we learned that another friend, Gracie, also passed to the Rainbow Bridge. This was another time for sadness and reflection as she was a good friend.

Here ends todays missive. The final part will be published soon. I am not sure if the year got any better to be honest. However you’ll just have to wait to find out.

What a difference two days make

Setting off this morning took longer than usual as the parents decided that would wrap up a bit warmer. I suppose it had something to do with it being -3C out there. Lenny and I just cut our usual fashionable selves with our harnesses.

Once the parents had readied themselves we were off to the fields. We knew where we were going as we headed straight down the footpath instead of along the road to avoid the school. Into the fields we went, with the grass and trees stretching away into the distance. The farmer had placed some barbed wire and fences across a couple of gaps in the hedge, so we weren’t allowed to go around those areas, even if we had wanted to. Across the diagonal path we wandered. Lenny got onto a deer trail pretty quickly and I found another trail soon after. With as much baying and pulling as I could muster, mum found herself slipping and jogging behind me whilst Lenny was being “resistance trained” by the immovable object, also known as dad. The sun was just coming over the horizon on our left by the time we crested the top most field and we took a moment to enjoy the early morning rays on our fur.

Good morning one and all.

Our home town was clear far below us and Lenny wanted to know when the aliens had given it back. I hadn’t the heart to tell him about fog and general meteorological activity so I just let him stew a while. The ground was cold and crisp so the scents were held at grass level for our noses to enjoy.

All the fun of the chase.

An hour and a half later and we are safely back home where I can run around the garden shouting at the local squirrels whilst Lenny gets to play fetch with his soft fabric bone toy. All is well in the land of Dex & Lenny. Our town is returned.

Did aliens eat my town?

We decided we would be out and about early this morning. Lenny and I were quickly on our toes into the garden for a pre-walk snooter around the grounds. I had already checked the garden at 03.30 with dad, although he wasn’t best pleased to be out in the freezing cold. We managed to snaffle our first breakfast and then got harnessed to a human for our morning patrol.

Out of the house we turned right and went up the hill which meant only one thing. We were going to the woods and were about to enjoy its contents of sniffs, creatures and gooey sticky muddy paths. Lenny and I marched on with silly grins on our faces at the thought of what we could get up to. As we walked up the road, the traffic fumes filled our lungs but we knew we would soon be away from the cars and vans for the majority of the walk.

Across the road and over the fallen trees, we found ourselves in the woods. Suddenly Lenny hit a trail and started baying. I found a separate trail and followed suit with the noisy alarm likely scaring off all creatures within a mile radius. When we get on muddy paths our parents have to be careful as we tend to pull this way and that. Its not our fault we have four paw drive and they’re only rear wheel drive. We got through the first section of the woods which had an eerie foggy atmosphere to them and made our baying sound even louder as it resonated through the trees.

Deer? Rabbit? Fox?

Into the open pasture we were still on our trails and we pulled the parents off the paths and through the longer grass. Sadly they both had wellies so we didn’t have the joy of listening to them grumbling about wet feet. Into the next field and the gloom hung like a blanket over the view. We decided to turn right and head towards the mile field where we hoped the fallen tree was still lying in situ. If it was there we knew we would have to walk across the claggy mud which is extra slippery for our parents and usually makes for some fruity language as they try to stay upright whilst negotiating the furrows of the ploughed field. We reached a gap in the hedge and looked back to where we live. We both stood there, aghast and agog, as Chesham wasn’t there. It had disappeared, indeed it had vanished having been swallowed by the gloom of the morning fog. Lenny wondered where it had gone. It’s a bit difficult trying to explain meteorology to a two year old pup, so I didn’t bother. Instead I just told him that aliens had eaten the town. We saw that the fallen tree was no longer there so we trudged around the mile field and back to the top of the hill. Still Chesham wasn’t there and when I looked at Lenny I could see he was a bit worried about the aliens having consumed his home. Again I couldn’t be bothered to let him in on the real reason just yet. It’s good to see him worry about nothing sometimes.

We descended past the copse and then back onto the track leading through the field toward the houses which began to emerge from the gloom. As it dawned on him that I may have been spinning him a yarn for some time on our walk, he wanted to bite me to show his appreciation. However mum was a bit quick with the lead and he was left biting thin foggy air instead of my neck. We managed to get back home just before the fog lifted properly so the town still hadn’t emerged from the misty gloom.

I am sure I live over there. Somewhere.

I might have to use that line about aliens again, it was fun watching Lenny try to work out if I was pulling his tail.

The A-Z of things I can do

Just to complete the series I thought I would look at some of the things that I am able to do.

A. Arooo loudly. This is probably the most obvious comment ever made.

B. Bitey face. I still excel at squabbling with Lenny in the house and garden.

C. Chase squirrels in my garden. They know not to settle for too long.

D. Destroy toys. Not as much these days, but I am still able to lobotomise them.

E. Enjoy my life. Even with my brother biting me, I still have a good life.

F. Find and eat field food quicker than I can get told off.

G. Go on days out and holiday. I did this before quarantine and will do it again soon.

H. Hike my parents across the fields and through mud. This is a speciality of beagles.

I. Injure myself through excessive shenanigans. I am currently injury free, thankfully.

J. Jump onto the garden table and out of the dental clutches of my vampiric brother.

K. Kick dad when I’m sleeping on the sofa. A fun activity.

L. Laugh. I make my parents smile. I can be an idiot sometimes apparently.

M. Make dad give me secret treats just by looking at him in a doleful way.

I can enjoy walks and life

N. Nice sitting when treats may be involved.

O. Open mums heart just by looking at her sometimes.

P. Pretend to ignore Lenny’s antagonism, and then pounce on him.

Q. Question if Lenny is a vampire, a giraffe or just a pest. I suspect a mixture.

R. Run around the garden. See also (A) apparently.

S. Sleep more often, and snore more loudly. Allegedly it comes with age.

T. Tongue Out Tuesday. I have an extensive tongue which makes this quite easy.

U. Upset my parents when I don’t feel very well or look old and tired.

V. Views. Enjoy what I see whilst strolling around the lanes and fields near my home.

W. Wee on Lenny’s head if he’s not looking where he’s going on our walks.

X. e(x)pect my food to be provided on time. Is this too much to ask?

Y. Yawn. I seem to do this far more often now. Age? who knows.

Z. Zooms around the garden with or without Lenny.

I can smell a squirrel over a mile away.

A year has passed

We were awake early a year ago today to make sure we were on time for our appointment in London. We had a very important guest to meet and we had to be on our best behaviour. Strolling up the hill to the station I told Lenny what was happening and where we were going. He was excited to find out what London was like. I also told him about who we were going to meet and he promised me, paw on heart, that he would be gentle and polite. The train journey passed quickly and we found ourselves dragging our parents through the back streets between Marylebone Station on our way to Euston Station. As the chariot containing our visitor was pushed up the slope from the platform we heard the babble of people cooing and saying kind things about Raffa Beagle, who sat like a queen, regal in her splendour. Lenny was true to his woof and greeted Raffa with a gentle nose bump.

Hello Raffa, I’m Lenny.

Off we set on our tour of London. I had sent Raffa a postcard some time ago and she had pestered her mum to bring her to London so she could see all the sights pictured on the postcard. It was cold, crisp and sunny so we kept on moving to keep warm once we had ended our initial trip on the tube train. We saw so many things that I was struggling to keep up with what Raffa needed to see to complete her postcard.

Typical boys, never do what they are told.

Over bridges, along streets, next to the Tower, past palaces, near big wheels, over wobbly bridges, in front of cathedrals and even a cheeky trip to the pub all ended with us catching a London cab from The Mall to Euston Station where we sadly woofed cheerio to Raffa and her tired mum. We heard later that Raffa had enjoyed herself so much she had slept all the way home on the train and in the car. We also slept all the way home on our train.

Which way now. Right for the Cathedral, left for the South Bank

We were proud of our efforts, despite not seeing a Yeoman of the Guard which was the only item on her list that we missed out on. I solved that omission earlier this year so we could say that all items were ticked off.

Since then Covid and other sad events have blighted our year. Raffa went on her longest journey in February this year, so we hold this trip dear to our hearts. We like to look back on fun days like this and smile at the memories. We can feel warm in times of stress and worries. I think it is important to hold on to memories of good days so they cancel the bad days where things just aren’t going the way you plan.

Where are the cucumber sandwiches then?

Live like Raffa, enjoy every day.

Winter is on the way

It’s getting cooler out there. Our morning walks have provided us with crisp clear days followed by fog and mist smothering the hills with its veil. This week we have been strolling the lanes of Pednor, close to my house. The first picture was taken on Monday 23rd November and was looking toward the position of the second picture taken this morning 27th November.

And this picture was taken this morning

It was a cool morning on Monday as Lenny and dad enjoyed their morning stroll, whereas this morning it was -2.5 Celsius, the overnight cloud had lingered and turned into mist which was just beginning to lift slightly. Gloves, warmer clothes and shoes were the order of the day this morning.

The beauty of the countryside close to my home is something I enjoy. I don’t mind the cold weather as it tends to keep the scents at ground level and my nose hardly rises above my ankles.

I wonder what fun the weekend walks will bring to Lenny and I?