I loved my grandad Chas. He would tell me that I was ‘andsome and give me some of the best ear ruffles, chin tickles and back scratches I can remember. Sadly he went to the Rainbow Bridge in December 2017 and I miss him quite a bit. I told Lenny about him. I think Lenny had something in his eye when I had finished telling him what a good bloke grandad Chas was.
Anyway, grandad Chas took lots of pictures and most of them have ended up in my house on something called a computer. We were having a look through them and saw there were a large number of Malta, where he was stationed during his National Service between 1958 and 1962. National Service was like a conscription into the Armed Forces of your country and you could be sent, or stationed, in many different places. Grandad Chas was ground crew for some RAF planes, mainly Shackletons, stationed on the island of Malta. Anyway here is a little tour of Malta from around 1958 – 1962 courtesy of grandads camera. Not sure if he actually did any work whilst he was there, mind you.
This gate was originally constructed in 1720 with one arch and has survived many conflicts. The second arch was added in 1868.
This is a late 19th Century defunct Methodist church, now a state owned building on Triq Sarria.
The tower was part of an aqueduct system bringing water from higher ground around Mdina and Rabat to Floriana and Valletta.
The Grand Harbour would have been the centre of life in the post war period along with the late 1950’s as the island was continuing to rebuild after the conflict of the Second World War.
The address looks like 56, Save Street or 56 Sane Street. It could be 56 St. Anne Street but I cannot be certain and cannot find it on any contemporary mapping service. The picture is interesting as the road seems to come to a dead end at the steps, however it turns left and then seems to disappear into a tunnel. This makes me think it is in the oldest, more fortified part of the island, likely to be centred around St Anne’s or St Julian’s in Valletta.
I wonder what these streets and buildings look like now. I wonder if anyone knows where the unknown street is located. Sadly grandad Chas isn’t around now to ask.
I am lucky as I have a large number of friends on Twitter. In fact it is difficult sometimes for mum and dad to keep up with all the tweets. My friends and I all have fun together, look after each other and give each other a shoulder to cry on, or paw of comfort, when needs must. It’s nice sometimes as we feel like a big family and we know that, despite not meeting the vast majority of those friends, we hope we can still count on each other as pals.
I had already met Raffa, one of my best pals, when I was on holiday in the Lakes. This was in my previous blog. She was so nice and friendly, and even made me blush when we nose bumped to say good bye. We had great fun. I then heard from another pal, Charley, that there was a large gathering due to take place before Christmas 2016. I gave my humans those eyes that only dogs can give and a plan was hatched with Charley and, his brofur, Boot. They told me the annual gathering was somewhere near Sheffield. When people were there, baubles were hung on a special tree to commemorate those furs we have loved and lost over the years. Charley’s mum said it would be fun if we could go along and to keep it a surprise for the other furs, all of whom I woof with regularly. It is quite a long journey for us so we thought about it, and I continued to give mum and dad the “eyes” to persuade them. We said we would try to come along and agreed it would be a surprise for everyone else who was there.
Fortunately the weather was set fair for the particular day so we set off very early in the morning to try and get there on time. The sad thing is that we had just lost another pal who had gone over the Rainbow Bridge in the week prior to meeting up so we knew that it might be a bit emotional.
Having arrived 5 minutes late, we strolled nonchalantly towards all my pals who were being readied for the stroll around the reservoir. I am afraid I might have given the game away by arooing rather noisily. Charley’s mum wondered aloud “Oh, there seems to be another Beagle here, I wonder who this could be?” Everyone seemed quite happy to see us, and we were happy to see the rest of my pals and their humans. We think it was a nice surprise, we certainly hoped so. Auntie Sarah, who had lost her sweet beagle Boo the week before the tweetup, got leaky eyes when she saw me. She also told me that my messages for her were lovely and had helped her with her heartbreak. I managed to give her leg leans to reassure her that what I had tweeted was a true story. I did have to woof to her to stop giving me tickles and making me feel sad and get leaky eyes as well. Did she not realise I had a rufty tufty image to maintain here.
I got to meet Eddy, Tean, Nut, Oggy, Raffa, Charley and Boot. We all walked along woofing at each other, and enjoying all the sniffs and scenery in this lovely part of the countryside. The humans were chattering away too. I found out that Oggy is a rescue beagle from a laboratory in Hungary so he was very scared of many things. This was bad and I had leaky eyes when I walked next to him. We all tried to look after him as much as possible. At one point there were some motorbikes which were going to whizz past, and he had to be picked up and shielded from the noise and smell. I had worried ears for him, but auntie Sarah cuddled him so tight to protect him. However the further we walked, the calmer he seemed to be and we had a good woof as we wandered around, up hill and down dale. We unfortunately missed meeting Bryher, who is Teans sister, as she wasn’t very well and had to stay home. Eddy is a good lad too, bigger than me and pulls on the harness as much as I do. We woofed about life in general. Raffa was in her chariot for most of the walk, as she had damaged her cruciate ligament and was being told to rest up and be safe. Dad got the honour of pushing her chariot again for a while, just like in the Lakes. Charley and Boot strolled along taking in the scenery. I found out that they live in the countryside so they are used to having lovely views and scenery. We got to the tree, people hung their Christmas baubles and had their quiet thoughts to themselves and we continued our walk around the reservoir. It was a lovely place and we chatted for a long time.
We all ended up at a cafe and the humans had cakes and buns and coffee. Apparently it was a bit cold for some of them, and I must say mum did look a bit blue and frozen. Then the final surprise was that I got some cards and presents from my friends which was very nice, and very unexpected. I didn’t have anything to give them in return and I had guilty ears about this. But they woofed that, because I had come a really long way to see them, they would forgive me. I knew immediately that these were good friends and would be friends forever.
Dad drove home and I slept for most of the way, even when the trucks and coaches were driving so close behind us, that I could read their number plates.
What a great day, what great friends. I had so much fun I wanted to do it all over again. I would have to sleep on it though.
I have been telling many (read ALL) of my friends and pals that I have never had a holiday. We furs sometimes call them holibobs but I had never been on one. Indeed I had been sent to prison a couple of times whilst they went off enjoying themselves in Edinburgh and London, and I didn’t like it at all. You might have noticed my distaste for kennels from the previous chapter.
As such when, one evening, I saw my parents packing a bag I felt a bit depressed to be honest as I thought I was going to prison again. Then some of my toys and dinner foods went into my toy crate, and this gave me suspicious ears. I had heard them talk previously of somewhere called “Morgan’s Place”. They had been there before and thought I might like it. I didn’t connect in my mind what this meant for a second. I knew of a Morgan through my Twitter pals. He lived somewhere that sounded really lovely. That night I slept wondering what mum and dad were talking to each other about. I had no idea I would be getting a holiday. A real, actual holiday.
The next day, dad was still there in the morning. This gave me suspicious ears as he usually went to school on the smelly tube to London. The bags packed the previous night were still there, and my toy crate was also still full of my food, blankets and some toys. My deeply suspicious ears only worsened when dad said he was taking me out for a walk to “try and get some zooms out of my system”. We went to the park, the hill and through the town. It was great as I get to try and pull dad about but he’s strong and I end up being quite tired. Little did I know this was all part of their masterplan. When we got back home, the bags were put into the car and then I went into my travel crate in the boot of the car. Now I travel well but I hadn’t really been anywhere further than a couple of hours away in the car with mum and dad. We went on something called a motorway and it was really interesting to see the scenery go by. We stopped so I could stretch my legs after a while and then continued. As we got further away from my home, the other cars and lorries on this motorway got more and more and we were in something called a “traffic jam”. This made mum and dad pfftt and harrumph quite a lot. I just stayed out of the way in my crate enjoying this new experience. We stopped twice more as it was a really long journey and we arrived later than expected in a place called Patterdale in the Lake District. It suddenly dawned on me that this is where Morgan lives, with his mum and dad and they have a really nice holibob cottage that I’ve been allowed to stay in. I didn’t meet Morgan when we arrived, as his mum said he can be a bit grumpy and I’m quite bouncy. I don’t believe he’s grumpy, but I did hear him growl and bark the first evening. He sounds quite big.
Once the bags had been unpacked and my beds put down on the living room floor, dad took me for a quick stroll. My eyes could not believe the sights I saw. There were hills as big as mountains, sheep the size of, well, sheep, so many green trees, beautiful rivers, big fields, lovely hills and lakes. This was beyond my dreams, I was somewhere I couldn’t comprehend and my brain was tired just trying to process it all. I decided I would have to sleep on all this. Mum and dad were hungry and wanted to go to the pub. This worried them as they really hoped I wouldn’t aroo and mess about in there, and get kicked out as a hooligan dog. So we entered the White Lion with much trepidation. Dad asked if it was ok for me to come in, and was told of course, that’s not a problem. Phew, first hurdle over. Settle mat down, but I was too tired to mess about too much with the other furs that were in there at the time. It was great fun seeing new places and new things. Even when I arooed there were lots of people saying “what a cute dog?”. Clearly I have to work on my rufty tufty image a little more. I tried to think more on this whilst I slept.
First day of holiday.
I woke up early in the Lake District. I wondered if the hills and lakes would still be there, or was it all a dream? When I nosed around the curtains in the living room, I was so pleased that it was real. The hills must be high though, as they were draped in clouds which made me wonder more about them. Once mum and dad had bothered to get out of bed, we went for a quick walk to the shop for some supplies and then had breakfast. I kept on checking to make sure the hills were still there, I couldn’t believe that I was actually here.
After breakfast, I was harnessed up again so I knew it was time to explore this wonderland. We went across the beck which I think is what describes a small river. It looked more like a normal river to me. We went through gates and then past drystone walls. I was allowed to stroll through mud and then stood in the water running off the fells. The paths were quite stony and we were going up and down hill. It was great fun. We stopped on a grassy knoll and the view was brilliant all the way back across Ullswater to Glenridding.
We kept strolling around the edge of Ullswater, and I even got to sniff in the ferns and the trees around the path. Sometimes the path went down quite steeply and I had to be good and walk to heel. This was quite difficult as I was really excited and I wanted to explore everywhere and everything. We seemed to go for miles and it was great. I still couldn’t believe I was here. On a holiday! In the Lake District! We kept on stopping to enjoy the views. Even I could appreciate them.
I was getting tired but I still had excited ears. As we were wandering back we met a BT called Buster who was 13 years old. He said he had been here before, walked something called Striding Edge, but liked the lower paths now. He was really nice, we woofed for ages. We came off the hills after some considerable time and decided we would go to Glenridding for some quick noms for mum and dad. We wandered about and found a nice spot to eat a sausage roll. It should be noted that I got no sausage roll. We sat by Glenridding Beck, which sadly flooded in winter 2016 and caused a lot of damage to the town. We wandered down onto the edge of Ullswater and I went for a paddle. It was great, I loved the cool water on my paws and that it tasted nice too. There was a spaniel playing fetch the stick from the water. She was having great fun, she said I should try it. I explained that I’m not allowed off lead as I’m rubbish at recall and would run away.
We got back to the cottage and I fell asleep on my bed. Apparently I was twitching in my sleep and snoring quite a lot. I don’t know what mum and dad were talking about, I didn’t hear anything.
Yesterday was so exhausting, even for a fit and healthy Beagle Harrier like me, that I let mum and dad sleep in a bit. It rained overnight so everything was a bit more slippery when I went out with mum for a quick walk. We couldn’t get to the little shale area of Goldrill Beck as it was under the water from last night. We wandered about a bit and then we weren’t back long before I was swapped over and I went out with dad whilst mum pottered around in the cottage. We wandered a bit further than the morning and I could still feel the effects of my exertions from yesterday in my paws. It was nice to be out and about and I even met some other furs. Everyone is so nice here, all the humans say hello and the furs have a sniff of each other.
They were setting up the cricket pitch so I made sure dad and I had a snooter around before heading off up a road we had never been on before. This isn’t surprising as I’d only been here 1.5 days. I wanted to look over every drystone wall, climb every bank, look through every gate and smell every hedge possible. We wandered for about 2 miles and then dad thought we should return to see what mum was up to. When she found out where we had been, I think she had jealous ears as she said we should go back and see what it’s like further along the path. So off we strolled, me in the lead as usual, showing mum and dad the way. I was so happy to see all the hills and rivers and smell all the lovely scents. Then we were off the tarmac and onto the rocky path before I knew it and going toward somewhere called Grisedale Tarn. A tarn is a small lake in the big Lakes. We wandered past loads of sheep, some cows and lots of people coming in the opposite direction. They all seemed really nice again, and everyone commented on how handsome I was. We went on for ages and the path was getting closer to the misty clouds. This was another adventure, and it was great. I drank out of most of the becks on the way up and walked through most of the muddiest and boggiest parts of the path. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the Lakeland experience as much as possible. It started to get a bit steep and rocky so we decided that we would cross a bigger river and then descend on another path. I was leading the way as usual, my intrepidness coming to the fore. We came back down and strolled back past the sheep and cows again. I wasn’t allowed to say hello to them as they kept on running away. I was kept on a very tight lead by mum, which was clearly for the best. When we got back to Patterdale, I was allowed in the little village shop and the lady was really nice and gave me a biscuit. Mum and dad were a bit worried as I had really dirty paws, but the lady in the shop just smiled and said I was handsome. The biscuit was very nommy too.
I was tired, this place is great but it makes me feel sleepy with all the walking, climbing, splashing about in muddy puddles and general Beagling I have to do.
Ambleside & Grasmere
Don’t say anything to mum and dad but I was still quite tired this morning. Mum and I went for a walk of about 3.5 miles and I saw a deer and squirrels. Dad went off for a run, and we got back before him but he still looked very happy with what he’s done. We had a couple of big walking days so didn’t go out until later in the morning. For some reason my parents decided to try and go to Ambleside and Grasmere on a Bank Holiday. I tried to warn them, but what can you do. We got there and both towns were packed out. I tried to tell mum and dad that maybe these people were there to see me, but they weren’t having any of it.
When we got back to the cottage we decided that it would be better to walk to Brotherswater which was a fairly straightforward stroll of 3 miles each way. It was great, I met loads of people and other furs, but I wasn’t allowed to play “fetch the stick from the water” – again. There was a lady spaniel there and she was having a great time, but for some reason mum and dad thought I would run away. Would I?? Here in the Lakes?? We wandered down by the shoreline and then I decided it would be good fun to drag dad up a really steep bank. Not sure he enjoyed it as much as I did.
By the time we were on our way back I was getting more tired and even dad noticed that I wasn’t pulling so much on the lead. But we went past a farm with some sheep and I got a second wind. He didn’t enjoy that either. But it was as much as I could do to flop onto my bed when I got back to the cottage.
When we went to the White Lion in the evening, I was recognised by the people behind the bar. I even got a tickle and a gravy bone. It’s always nice to know that my reputation precedes me. We had a table booked, apparently it’s so I can’t see other furs in the pub. I can see them, I can smell them but don’t have the heart to tell mum and dad as they think I can’t. To be honest I settled down really quickly until a very nice lady called Paula wanted a big snog off me. How could I resist her. She said she had lost her JRT last year, so it was clearly my job to show her that she needs another fur for company. I also reminded all the other peeps in the pub that I was back – aroooo. I think everyone loves me. They all seemed to like me, I hope so as I’ve been working hard on my charm. Have I mentioned I was very tired.
I woke up with a pawly paw. So it was decided that we would take it a bit easier after 30 odd miles pretty much uphill and down dale in the previous few days. We chilled out for a while and then decided it would be fun to go to the most northerly part of Patterdale, a place called Pooley Bridge. This was where the bridge washed away in the terrible floods earlier in 2016 and there is now a temporary bridge there. When we got there, we parked quickly and were soon on our paws to the lakeside to explore the area. There are some great views from the waters edge, but there were also billions of little midge things that were attacking everyone. We wandered around the edge of the water and they took some photos with the boats on the water. It was very nice to see the area from a different place, but there were loads of midges.
In the evening we went to the pub, as we were all hungry and they wanted a drink. They had some dinner and we were sitting there chitter chattering (I was sleeping!!). What I didn’t know was that they had arranged to meet Raffa Beagle and her mum who had come up for the following day and were planning on doing some zooms with us. Before Raffa and her mum arrived, my mum and dad were talking to some ladies about something called the Coast to Coast walk of about 192 miles. This is quite a long way, even for a Beagle Harrier, so it was interesting to listen to them, in between me trying to sleep. When Raffa and her mum arrived I was still sleeping. I was awoken by a wet nose sticking through the balustrade. This was Raffa, in case you’re wondering. Raffa is very nice and her mum gave me loads of tickles and belly rubs, so I was very happy to see them both.
Having said that I did go back to sleep after they had been talking for quite a while and so did Raffa. All the humans were very impressed with us being so calm and being able to sleep.
Grisedale walks with Raffa
We woke up and I knew that something different was on the cards. Mum and dad were fussing about and making sure I was ready to go. We met up with Raffa and her mum outside the pub and I greeted Raffa with an arooo and a nose bump. She seems quite nice. There was much chattering whilst we wandered along. Raffa and I sniffed and arooed at each other as we had never met before. I found out that she had a pawly leg from a week ago, so I was more gentle than usual when I meet another fur. I’m usually quite boisterous and like to jump and play. When Raffa said her shoulder was bad, I thought I should be gentlemanly.
We went up the Grisedale valley and I showed Raffa all the sheep and cows that I had seen a couple of days before. She was quite impressed and the views up toward Helvellyn were really great. We sniffed about on the grass and when the sheep were too near we arooed in unison to move them away. Teamwork all the way. We even managed to get one sheep that leapt over Raffa and her mum, when it felt a little penned in by a gate. We were arooing so much at one point that the farmers came out of their house to see what all the kerfuffle was. Fortunately we were both on very tight leads so we couldn’t get anywhere near the sheep. We didn’t chase them, just arooed at them. I don’t think the sheep wanted to play anyway. We seemed to walk for ages, and the humans were chattering to each other. Raffa & I just patrolled and sniffed about in the long grass. Raffa also nommed some sheep do-do’s which was horrible but apparently she said its quite tasty. I didn’t believe her so I decided against this little delicacy. We were quite a way up the path and Raffa told me she was getting tired so we turned round and wandered back. Raffa had a ride in her chariot so that she didn’t injure her shoulder any more, which wouldn’t have been good. My dad even helped push her chariot, I suppose thats what humans are there for really.
We went to the boat house coffee place near Glenridding for the humans to have coffee and buns, and Raffa had some lunch and I ate biscuit noms. It was really nice as there were loads of other people there, as well as many furs coming and going. The nice ladies in the the coffee place even put out the awning when it started raining. Raffa had a sleep as she had woofed she was a bit tired. Whilst Raffa wasn’t looking, I thought it would be a good idea to remind Raffa’s mum that she had promised me belly rubs and tickles.
Once they had been administered, I went back to my mum to give me more tickles as well. I managed to sit on her lap to watch the world go by. It was great, apart from the rain, and the views are brilliant. I wanted to stay but Raffa had to go home, so we wandered back slowly along the road. I thought it would be polite to give Raff another nose bump which she gave back. I did blush a little, as my rufty tufty image was being dismantled. We are pals, which is good as I like being friends with other furs, especially Beagles. We said our farewells so that Raffa and her mum could go home again. I had a great time with them.
Once Raffa & her mum had left to go home, I had sad ears but I knew I had a new friend for life. Actually I had 2 new friends as I think Auntie J quite liked me. She certainly liked my arooing ability. We went to the White Lion and I got more gravy bones from the landlady. And Paula, the nice lady who wanted snogs earlier in the week was there, so I had more tickles and belly rubs to help me sleep more soundly.
I still had a bit of a pawly paw, so after our early morning strolls around Goldrill Beck and Side Farm, we relaxed for a while before we all got in the car to go somewhere I had never been before. We drove alongside Ullswater and then took a fast road to a place called Portinscale, which is near Keswick. Mum and dad decided that we could take a walk through the woods and paths near the quieter side of Derwentwater. We went through the woods and along streams and trails toward a hill called Catbells. I couldn’t see any cats, and I certainly couldn’t hear any bells. I wonder who gives the hills their names? We didn’t climb the hill as I was getting quite a few scents and was pulling on the lead and harnesses. I have two bungee leads and a harness so I can sniff and wander around somewhat. We skirted round the edges of Catbells for a while and then strolled back along the road toward Keswick. It was at this point that I became quite agitated. It was only when mum & dad saw about a thousand grouse in the fields and road that they realised why my behaviour changed so quickly. Once we got back to Portinscale, the grouse were a distant memory and I was back to walking somewhat nicely. When we arrived in Keswick, it was market day. There were so many people there, that we were a bit worried that it might be a bit much for me. There were an awful lot of furs there, but I was a really good boy and many people complemented me on my good behaviour. I kept on looking in all the push chairs or strollers for Raffa, but she wasn’t there. I was disappointed as I wanted to walk with her again. I even nose bumped a small human child who was in the stroller. I think they enjoyed it!
Whilst we were in Keswick we went to the Dog Shop which sells plenty of things for us furry friends. We didn’t buy anything, as apparently I have everything I could want, but mum managed to step in ice cream on the pavement. She wasn’t very happy. Keswick is great as nearly every shop is dog friendly, which means we can go in and explore most places.
When we got back to the house we recuperated and then went to the White Lion for our last evening in the pub. We had our normal table so I could survey everyone coming and going. Not that it mattered much as I spent 99% of my time sleeping like a good boy. Sometimes when the door opened I looked up expecting Raffa to wander in with her mum.
She didn’t. I had sad ears as I was beginning to realise that this was my last night in the Lakes and Raffa had gone home. I managed to get one last tickle and snog from Paula who was also going home the next day. And, of course, a gravy bone was duly provided and scoffed with glee. My last night in lovely Patterdale was great, we really enjoyed it all. I wanted to stay.
The next morning we had to go home. So we packed all of our things into the car and headed south, down the motorway and back home to my house. I have been on a wonderful holiday to a beautiful place and met a great new pal. I am a very lucky Beagle Harrier.
Continuing in the vein of telling some of my story thus far, I arrive at one of my most trustworthy subjects for sympathy, the total and utter lack of holidays in the first couple of years I was living here.
I regularly point out to a number of pals that I hardly ever go for a holiday. If truth be known, I actually complain at anyone who will listen to me. My humans had been away a couple of times and I was put into kennels, which I call jail. How they couldn’t take me with them, I will never know.
The first time I was forced to go to jail was about 6 months after I arrived. They decided they were going off gallivanting to Edinburgh in May 2014 and couldn’t take me. So they devised a plot and told me I was going to a dog hotel and spa for a few days. It all sounded lovely. When I arrived at the kennels I was allowed off lead and ran around like a Beagle Harrier possessed. It was freedom on a massive scale as the enclosed field was about 2 acres. I was in my element and didn’t really notice that mum and dad had gone. It was only when the kennel people wanted me back in my cell (sorry my kennel), and I steadfastly refused to return, that I started to wonder. So the kennel people left my food in my bowl and I just played for the rest of the day, wandering dolefully back later to have the kennel door clang shut behind me. It only really occurred to me that mum and dad weren’t there when I woke up the next day and was still in my cell. I had my bed and a toy but I kind of missed the tickles and affection that I was becoming used to when I woke up at home. The only upside was that I met other furs and I got to run around quite a bit during the day. Ok thats 2 “upsides” but I am a beagle harrier and counting isn’t a strong point. Especially when it comes to biscuits as I can never have too many. I enjoyed being able to run around off lead and having the wind in my ears. However I was feeling a bit lonely to be honest. There was another beagle in a cell near me, and she told me that she had been there for about a month and was getting used to it. I didn’t want to be there that long, so I was hoping that mum and dad would be back soon.
When they eventually returned four days later (yes FOUR days!) I don’t think mum recognised me. I was sitting at the front of my cell, apologies again, my kennel, with my ears over my eyes looking very forlorn. I had seen them walk through the gate and knew I had to play the guilt card. Dad saw me and quickened his pace so I could go home with them. The guilt trip continued for a while longer, I have to admit, as I moped about when I arrived back home and didn’t really speak to them both for a day or so. I was very pleased ears to be back home but I tried to make sure that mum and dad knew I didn’t like kennels much.
Then they only went and did it again the following year. Dad was running in something called the London Marathon and he had been training hard through the winter. We went out in the car one day in April 2015 and I thought this was going to be a nice day out, that we would get a walk. Life would fine and dandy. How wrong could I possibly be? It was only when we arrived and I was out onto the driveway of the kennels that I realised that something was afoot. And it got worse as the kennel people remembered me from before and asked if I was the same dog who spent all my time running around instead of eating and sleeping like the other furs. They still let me run free when I got there, but this time I was keeping my eye on mum and dad. I was tricked though as they managed to leave without me knowing. Just because I was investigating a particularly interesting corner of the paddock, didn’t mean they could sneak away. Not in my book anyway. The jail people also had orders to walk me on the lead throughout my stay, which was very dull.
Mum and dad returned after 2 days and this time I knew the guilt trip wouldn’t work. I couldn’t wait to get in the car and get home. When we did get back, I just raced around the garden, arooooing at the top of my voice and then leapt on all the furniture I could find. Within an hour I was asleep. They seemed pleased to see me again.
I hoped my prison days were over, and this was my home now. I was still waiting for my holiday though. I was more determined than ever now to not let them out of my sight when trips away were mentioned. I wanted some of the fun they were having.
As I have become better behaved in the garden, or my grounds, I have also been allowed out on longer walks. I have to stay on the lead though when I am outside the garden. We go out on walks through the fields and woods near where I live, and the smells that fill my nose are wondrous and plentiful. Often we will mix up the walks with different places and if the weather is a bit naughty, we might go into the woods for quite a long time, rather than wandering around the fields getting really wet.
Now, as a Beagle Harrier, my nose plays quite an important part of my general day to day life. I tend to get on trails and then follow them mercilessly. This makes walks through the fields and woods somewhat more of a trail scent hunt and my nose barely leaves the ground. For mum and dad it can mean that one arm is longer than the other, as I tend to pull quite a lot when I want to go in the hedgerows and verges. This is where all the small creatures live and I think I have introduced my parents to many creatures that they didnt know lived in copses, woods and hedgerows. As we have said before, when we first started on outside walks, I pulled on the lead immediately after leaving the house. We live near quite a busy road and the humans were scared I was going to do something stupid. I haven’t, but thats not to say I haven’t tried. Once I was running with my dad who was training for one of his marathon races, and I tried to dart out into the road. He wasn’t very pleased with me, and told me off. I probably deserved it, but there was something interesting there apart from the front of the approaching car. I seemed not to have learned anything, as the following week I was running with dad and he wanted me to run in a straight line. Now, there wasn’t much chance of this happening and I was suddenly distracted by a critter in the hedgerow. Sadly for dad I ran across his path and he had to leap over the lead to avoid falling over. We got back and he said he couldn’t go running with me, as I couldn’t concentrate and was always darting around. Apparently this was dangerous as he needs to run in a straight line, whilst I need to be sniffing hedgerows. This is what I do. I had sad ears, as I enjoyed running with him. I had quite a bit of freedom. It was fun.
So, I went back to being walked around the fields and woods, which is always fun and very interesting. When we left the house you will recall that I was being trained to walk to heel close to the main road. I was gradually getting better at walking well. Mum was getting cleverer every day, she was working out where I was pulling and where I was walking better. We were walking at heel much more often. This was ok for a time but my senses regularly overtook my ability to walk nicely and to heel so I fairly often relapsed into trying to get somewhere faster than necessary.
I have walked my pawrents for thousands of miles whilst I have lived here. I think I have walked, pulled or run over most of the paths, parks, fields and woods within 5-6 miles radius of my house. This allows my senses to be filled with sights and sounds. We deliberately walk in different places so we get a different perspective and we don’t get bored. I think they realised quite soon that I would need walking in all weathers which is great for me. We get really muddy, wet and dirty, I get to stroll through puddles, hedges, rivers and sniff around through woods. In the summer we get to walk through the parched fields, as well as cool off in the river on the return home. One of the best bits is walking through the fields of wheat as there are many critters living in there. Being a careful and fleet footed Beagle Harrier I don’t damage the crops, allowing them to bend as I breeze past.
Its great fun living here, and I am very lucky to be able to have lots of places to roam and pull my pawrents around.
Sometime fairly soon after I arrived, they decided that I could go to the park for some fun, albeit I would be on a lead. So I took dad off to the park with me and I was in my element. It was a lovely day and there were plenty of people there. I was getting quite a few admiring glances and comments from people in the park, mostly telling dad how handsome I was. I had proud ears. He was talking to a lady about me and I was getting a bit bored so I pulled backwards away from him. As he started to pull the lead and harness, I managed to wholly back out of the harness and I was free. Dad looked at me and said “Sit”, but he knew it was pointless. I was off across the park towards the woods, and nothing was going to stop me. His heart sank like a stone. Dad shouted after me, but I was only interested in the woods and the wonderful array of animals and smells in there. I saw Dad chasing me and I kept on running around and keeping well clear of him. Sadly he realised quite quickly that chasing me was a game, and he stopped. I was in the woods, I was revelling in the smells and sights in there and it was great. Every now and then I could hear Dad talking to people asking them to look out for me. Now, this was cheating as far as I was concerned. I saw a couple of Muntjack deer and decided to try and chase. Then I saw rabbits and squirrels, so chased them too. Before too long I knew I was in trouble as Dad had called mum and she was on her way. It was time to enjoy my last time of freedom. I was wandering around in the woods and saw a rabbit to chase. What I didn’t see was the barbed wire and I felt it cut my ear and chin. I yelped and this clearly alerted everyone to my whereabouts. I was bleeding from my ear but it didn’t hurt that much. In any case, I was concentrating on chasing rabbits so I didn’t overly worry.
I was getting a bit tired and rested in a small clearing in the edge of the woods at which point I felt a human hand reach down and grab my collar. That was it, fun was over and I had been recaptured. I repaid the kind lady by dripping blood all over her coat sleeve. I was returned to the collar and harness. They weren’t very impressed when I saw another squirrel and tried to chase it. I think they were more worried about the blood on my ear chin and foot. Its because my ears are quite large, that I am good at flicking blood everywhere. By the time we had returned home there was blood on me and both my parents. We looked like extras from a zombie horror film. I heard them talking about some nasty disease called Tetanus and said I might need something called an injection. So I went to the vets with them. The vet told them I was ok, but I would need the injection. Now, I don’t like them so I squealed like a girl and got to have my meds by mouth.
We went to the park but this time I had both humans in tow. When we arrived, it was again such a lovely day, there were plenty of people around and I was really quite excited to see them and to play. I ran round the back of dad who went to change hands with the lead. I seized the moment to dart backwards and the lead was dropped. Dad called to some people to stand on my lead, but they didn’t listen to him. I try not to listen to him most of the time so I don’t blame them to be honest. At this point I decided it was a good time to have another explore of the park and surrounding woods and I took off like a racing snake, the lead trailing behind me. This was fun, there were so many places I remembered from my first escape and I wanted to revisit them again. Of course the humans were not best pleased that I had escaped again, but this time it was different as they didn’t chase me. I heard them say, you go one way, I’ll go the other and we will try to corral him. They have these phone things that they can talk to each other from a long way apart. This is unfair!
I was running around the park and having fun, sniffing in the hedgerows and long grass. There were so many scents that I didn’t know which one to smell first. Then I saw a rabbit and it wasn’t moving very much. I went a bit closer and he still didn’t move, which I thought was strange as rabbits are usually quite afraid of me and run away. Then I saw that it was actually dead, and no it wasn’t my fault. So I went to sniff it and see what had happened to him. Sadly for me I forgot that I was supposed to be running around like a fur possessed. A lady nearby managed to grab my lead. I was recaptured, how thoughtless of me. A basic error and I was resigned to being reunited with my humans quite soon. Most unfortunately for me, the next sight was mum coming toward me, with a relieved look on her face. Apparently I was captured by the only lady in the park who thought it strange that a dog would run around free, whilst still got his lead attached. One phone call to dad and it really was all over for me. I thought they would be angry, but they were relieved to see me. Not sure I thought the same in return to be honest, as I was having great fun and adventures off lead in the park.
“I’m going out for a walk with mum so see you later” I woofed at dad. Its alright though as dad had some chores to do anyway. So we set off for our favourite field and woods for a really good sniff about. We went through the woods and around the edge of the first field and it was great fun. We got to the middle of the field and mum noticed something wasn’t quite right with my lead and harness so she told meet sit. Being an obedient beagle I of course sat, and when she looked down she saw that the clip on the lead and harness had come undone. She told me to stay, and I thought no chance this is a command too many, and decided that there were more interesting things to see in the next field. I took off again, like the racing snake that I am, and mum saw me in the next field before she could react fully. I had escaped and there was so much I wanted to explore. I knew she would cheat and call for help, but I wasn’t worried for a while. There was a farm nearby, and the fields were full of the lovely smells that I thrive on.
I saw the woods in the distance and they held plenty of intrigue for me, so I decided to head for them. I saw humans in the distance and they were talking to each other. Mum and dad had remembered from the last time not to chase me. I could see that I would have to use all my guile to avoid them for as long as possible. They were calling my name and someone had my favourite squeaky bone which was very tempting but I was keeping my distance. It was great to be free again, I was having such a good time in the woods, wandering through the clearing and then into the next section of trees. It looked familiar to me, as I had wandered through here before with mum. This section of the woods is full of squirrels and deer, so it was good fun and I was enjoying myself. I found a trail and was strolling down the path not really looking where I was going when suddenly mum loomed large in front of me. Oh no, I need to run quickly and see if I can escape her clutches. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to dive onto me and smother my efforts to get free. I’d been captured again, indeed I had been rugby tackled by mum. The indignity of it! The adventure was over and so was my freedom and fun. A quick call to dad to tell him I was back in captivity and that was it. On a good note, at least I wasn’t injured and I had seen some places which I wouldn’t have seen with the humans.
Apparently it isn’t funny when we escape. Who knew? I haven’t escaped since which seems to have kept them cheerful and feeling that I am safe. I suppose I should admit that I feel safer now. And at my age, I should know better.
At first when I was out in the garden, I still couldn’t be let off the lead. There were too many smells and trails and the humans were scared in case I chased something and managed to jump over the fence. So, they couldn’t do anything much in the garden as one of them always had me on a lead. This meant they were getting frustrated but I didn’t know they were frightened of me running away, so I just thought it was normal and that sometimes they were quite frustrated. The first few weeks and months I was allowed some freedom on the end of a long training lead so it could be grabbed if I decided to try and make a run for it over a fence. Soon however humum decided that I had calmed down sufficiently and that we would try training for something called “recall”. There were treats involved so I was always going to be interested. We were on the patio and I was still on the lead being walked round in circles left and right. Then I was told to sit. This was easy! Then wait, still easy! Then the lead was dropped and I just sat there. They were shocked and I could see they were still worried. I just had my eye on the treat bag hanging off humums belt. She walked back 2 or 3 paces and then returned to pick up the lead and we walked round again. We did this a few times and I was getting the hang of it, especially when the treat bag appeared. We tried this for a few weeks, gradually moving to the point where I was sat down and the humans could walk around the patio and I didn’t move. Clearly they didn’t pick up on the connection between my good behaviour and the treat bag!
Then, one day, my world changed forever. We were all in the garden and humum said that they needed to take a chance. We went around the garden, which I call my grounds, and I was really enjoying myself and wasn’t pulling on the lead and harness. There were no smells so I was calm. I was told to sit, in the middle of the lawn and humum unclipped the lead from my harness. I was free! But something strange happened as I didn’t run away. I sat and waited for the humans to say something. When I heard the magic words “Ok, off you go” I just got up and strolled off. I was free, I could explore and I could sniff wherever I wanted to. This was very different and I wasn’t about to mess it up. I was very happy and after a short time I ran around the garden aroo-ing at the top of my voice. I was happy, I was being trusted and I could run around. There was a football and tennis balls which needed to be played with. I ran and chased and fell over a couple of times but I was having so much fun, and the humans were laughing with me. They threw a tennis ball for me and I was whizzing up and down the garden chasing it. The football was kicked around and I chased it for a while.
Gradually they were able to do more gardening without worrying about me. When I was first allowed off lead in the grounds, they were concerned that I disappeared from sight sometimes, but I was only exploring round the garage or the shed and they shouldn’t have worried about me. There are so many smells to investigate that I would wander about and generally have fun and feel content. As long as there aren’t any pesky squirrels in the trees, I am very content to wander around the garden, and laze about on the porch of the playhouse or log store. I found out that the patio table was good for sun bathing on, and I could lay up there for quite a while, supervising the humans in the garden. I kept them on their toes though. Every now and again I would make sure they played a game of chase or find the human in the garden, just so they didn’t forget about me. They also found out that if one of my beds gets put on the bench, I will quite happily laze away a couple of hours relaxing, interspersed with running around the garden like a fur possessed.
Often I will also help the humans by digging holes for them. I thought I was being useful but apparently I am digging holes in the wrong places and they have already planted things there.
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.