Since the news that our furry cousin, Minnie, went to the Rainbow Bridge there has been a bit of a dampener in the house. Not greatly helped by the weather yo-yo-ing between awful and terrible. Walking in the rain is a fun thing to do, I can vouch for that. Lenny isn’t as gleeful as I am when it comes to looking out of the door prior to our morning stroll and seeing the rain tumbling down. In fact he doesn’t much enjoy walks through the muddy fields either so I am a little worried that he isn’t really a Beagle at all. He even allowed a squirrel to stroll nonchalantly along the fence and never told me.
So our spirits were lifted somewhat this week as the weather has cleaned up its act and we have been able to stroll, sniff and try to eat field food just like we wanted to. I’ve been on shorter walks compared to Lenny although we have walked in the same direction, I generally turn around before he does. He needs the exercise more than I do. Since it is January the weather is changeable from one day to the next. We like it when its dry and cold as the scents tend to remain at ground level and we can bay loudly when we are on a trail. I’m not sure our parents are as happy as us being on a trail, as their arms tend to grow at different speeds. In any case we always try to stop every now and then to soak up the beauty of that which surrounds us.
We went from a beautiful sunrise over Chanctonbury (as above) on Monday to a real pea souper this morning over Shipley (as below).
I actually managed to get to see the pea souper this morning as I had the privilege of walking the male parent, even if I did have to listen to his grumbling about me pulling and jerking on the lead “like a toddler”. Apparently I’m eleven and a half and should know better.
What I do know is that cold, crisp days are great. May I see many more of them.
Well, it’s my end of year review to be more honest. I know that many people do these, however I suspect they don’t do a review from a canine point of view. What a tumultuous year it has been for Lenny and I.
In JANUARY we moved kennel from north west of London to West Sussex and closer to the seaside. Not that we were thinking of the sea, sand and balmy beaches at the time as it was freezing cold and raining. All of our belongings had been packed away and we had lived in an almost empty house for the last week of the month. It was a strange time, within the strangeness of Covid times.
In FEBRUARY we were trying to unpack all our belongings, become accustomed to our new home, explore new paths and seek out new civilisations, to boldly go where few beagles have been before. I fear I may have strayed into sci-fi with that last section. Having said that we met another beagle on our first walk, so that was a good result. We also made our first venture to the beach.
In MARCH the sun came out, we were allowed to explore our garden and we slept, having become more accustomed to our new house. We explored more paths, smelt more squirrels, greeted more dogs and generally made more of a nuisance of ourselves.
In APRIL we explored further afield, Lenny saw a stag in Knepp Estate, we smelled the bluebells and played in our garden. The mists lifted and the area looked prettier so we decided to stay for a while.
In MAY we took another trip to the beach, we ate dead stuff that had washed up and this gluttony meant we had to wake our parents up at midnight, 2am, 3.30am and 4.30am on a couple of occasions. We explored more of the lanes and byways whilst having a fun time. We also saw more bluebells.
In JUNE the sun was still shining, our grass was growing prodigiously, we lazed and sunbathed whilst also fitting in walks each day. We sniffed the flowers, played bitey face in the garden and enjoyed the start of the warmer summer months.
In JULY the warmth of the summer sun meant that we could go in the car and visit Borde Hill Gardens which was great, and we managed our first ascent of the season of Chanctonbury. The views from the top were great. In between we managed to laze about and play in the garden.
In AUGUST we decided to rein in the adventures for a few weeks. We only explored the lanes and byways, found some new woods to bother some squirrels and celebrated Lenny’s birthday. All in all a quieter month but one of rest and recuperation.
In SEPTEMBER we needed all our energy as we had a special visitor. We showed Raffa’s mum our new kennel, showed her the pub and then, the piece de resistance, our best bitey face in the garden. We think she was impressed. The week after we went off exploring in the car and then on the train back to London for a quick stroll around the City. Lenny tried to eat pavement food and got told off. We rested and chilled out for the rest of the month. We were exhausted.
In OCTOBER we found ourselves back at the beach so we had to eat more dead washed up creatures, thus allowing us to ensure our parents couldn’t oversleep. Lenny missed me dreadfully, apparently, when I was away for the day having my teeth cleaned and polished. One tooth fell out so I received sympathy but no extra food. We ascended Chanctonbury again but didn’t get as far as we wanted to, as bulls and lively older beagles aren’t a good mixture.
In NOVEMBER the mists returned as the sun lowered in the sky. Beautiful mornings gave way to rainy days and we dodged showers on our walks. We found some new fields to wander around, although the lack of squirrel bothering opportunities was worrying.
In DECEMBER something called Christmas was going to be celebrated this year. A tree suddenly appeared in the corner of the room, we were warned to stay away and not to play near it. Our walks became muddier, the sun seemed to disappear earlier and we didn’t get any leftovers from Christmas dinner.
Yet again however we lost many friends, colleagues and buddies. We all know that, one day, we will make our longest journey. We know that we will travel with love and affection permeating every part of our existence. However, the pain does not lessen with this thought. Too many friends have left an indelible paw print on too many humans. Maybe next year will be different. Maybe not so many of us will make the journey. Maybe we will be able to meet up, explore new places with old and new buddies. I hope so.
It was a bit chilly around these parts this morning. We set off for our daily walk together and managed to negotiate one of the local roads that some drivers treat like a race track. Sadly our normal path through the woods is cut off by an enormous tree which has fallen across it. In any case we managed to cross the road a few times and avoided being pummelled by the speeding cars and lorries.
We turned right onto a quieter road and climbed the short hill away from the hubbub of the morning rush. Squirrels darted left and right as we advanced upon them. Our parents complained that Lenny and I were in competition with one another to try and get to the squirrels. As we descended past the stables the lane stretched away and we strolled (pulled and yanked) along enjoying our walk. I was attached to mum and Lenny to dad so we were on opposite sides of the road and could scent and sniff to our hearts content. Dad told mum that he and Lenny were going to walk on a little further as Lenny had been on fairly short walks recently and needed a bit more scenting than I did. So, off they went, as mum and I turned and headed for home. I didn’t mind to be honest as it meant that I could zigzag across the road and scent both sides without the interference of my little brother.
When Lenny and dad returned about thirty minutes after us, Lenny could hardly contain his excitement. He had walked further and seen a lovely view across fields and sheep in the farthest field. They had turned for home and the sunlight drifted through the early morning haze and made the trees look all spooky.
I feigned indifference to his tales but secretly I was jealous of him having another walk with brilliant views. I suspect my walk also had good views but I was too busy with my nose to the ground.
Tomorrow we go again on our walks. This time I intend on making sure I keep Lenny firmly in my sights so I can also see the lovely views he gets to see. I just hope I remember to look up from my sniffing along in the grass.
The week after we had shown Raffa and her mum around London, we were asked most politely to show some more pals around the capital. Lucy lived in the US. Arizona to be exact. Her mum and dad were in the UK travelling and seeing all sorts of wonderful places as well as many friends who live here. It was our pleasure to be the final furry pals on their trip in December 2019.
We had another early start on 8th December to make sure we got to the station on time. On this occasion Lenny was up with the game and knew what we were doing. We’d only just recovered from the previous weekends shenanigans with Raffa but we made sure we had best bib and tucker on for this latest expedition.
We arrived in London, alighted at Barbican and strolled down Aldersgate Street towards St Pauls Cathedral. We announced our arrival in the usual beagle fashion and made auntie S and uncle J laugh at our antics. The day had started well. We tried to show them things that were a little off the beaten track and that visitors wouldn’t normally get to see. We wandered through Postmans Park, went around the back lanes to Spitalfields via the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange.
We strolled, chatted and showed them around. I aroooed at some police horses and the lady riders laughed as I was so loud that it reverberated through the empty streets. We were doing the breed proud as we marched on.
When we had lunched we took them to the Tower of London and sadly had to say goodbye.
We had fun again that day, our paws ached and we slept most of the way home on the all stations tube journey.
When they come for another visit hopefully we will be able to show them other places.
Being busy with the day to day chores of keeping parents and my brother (not biological but I allow him to live here) in check, I have missed an anniversary of a wonderful day that Lenny and I were privileged to take part in two years ago.
It was a chilly morning under our paws as we walked swiftly up the hill from our previous house to the train station. We were on a mission to show an excellent pal around London. The scenery whizzed past the window as we sped into London. A walk in the park, a trip on the tube and then the anticipation built until we heard Raffa and an entourage of adoring people walking up from the platform at Euston Station. Another quick tube ride was all that was needed to take us to our starting point.
Guildhall, Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Tower of London, London Bridge, Tate Modern via Shakespeare’s Globe was followed by a wobble across the Millennium Bridge for a photoshoot outside St Pauls.
Off to the pub for a cheeky half and thence along the Strand, where dad made everyone wait at the traffic lights by sternly telling Lenny and I to wait for the green cross man. It’s lucky he didn’t say “Sit”. Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Horseguards and then Buckingham Palace. A black cab ride back to the station for a fond farewell to Raffa and her mum.
We slept all the way home and I think it may have had something to do with the half marathon we had walked to see the sights. What a day, what an adventure, though sadly not to be repeated as Raffa took her longest journey in February 2020.
I will get back to London, and I will take Lenny again. We will show more friends around London so they can enjoy it as much as I did and still do. It goes without saying that I will tell you all about our adventures.
I have been remiss once more on the blogging front. I can only say that it has been busy around here and, as a result of our being occupied, there hasn’t been much to report.
As summer turns to autumn, we notice that the leaves are turning brown as we go on our walks, the winds rise and the rain becomes more frequent. The times of our walks are changed according to whether our parents are going to get soaked to the skin or not. No thought or consideration about Lenny or I getting bedraggled I notice. Having said that we are seeing that Lenny doesn’t like walking in the rain, nor does he like walking through puddles. This is strange as that doesn’t seem very beagle to me and I don’t understand him. I like to scour the hedges and roadside verges for critters and scents whilst Lenny seems happiest in the open areas so, again a strange boy. We went field walks over the weekend and he seems to have mastered the art of looking handsome and noble. Ok, treats were involved but I am proud of my tutoring.
We have revisited our good walk to the top of Chanctonbury Ring which affords us some lovely views over the surrounding countryside. We couldn’t go too far as there were cows grazing and I don’t do too well with cows to be honest. I tend to yell at them so the prospect of being chased around a hilltop by three quarters of a ton of ruminant isn’t particularly appealing.
I have thankfully recovered from my visit to the vets to have my teeth cleaned. I am not sure I have wholly forgiven my parents for tricking me into going there. Yet. I am back on proper food and I can still pull and jerk on the lead so I am feeling fine.
We are not looking forward to Guy Fawkes Night in a couple of days time. I despise fireworks and I always shiver and try to dig holes in the carpet to escape the sonic cacophony which erupts. I am hoping that it won’t be as bad this year as we have moved house and no longer live within two hundred metres of the local football club whose display was enormous and very scary for Lenny and myself. We shall see what transpires but we know we will be safe in the house and the television will probably be turned up far too loud to try and drown out any explosions.
It’s a busy life being a beagle, I seem to have something and nothing to do at the same time. I’m off for a lay down.
Hopefully I can report some more exciting shenanigans soon.
Sunday morning dawned grey and dull. We expected another day of wandering around the local lanes with associated scents and squirrel bothering. As we set off we turned away from our usual route and walked up and down the little local road. This normally meant that something was in the offing. I looked at Lenny who glanced back at me, with a wry grin.
We were duly turned around and headed back towards the house, stopping only for the car to be unlocked. We decided we would play dumb and not leap straight into our travel crates. It’s always fun to hear our parents grumble at one another about how heavy Lenny or I have become. They seem to blame each other for “extra biscuits”. I have no idea what this means. Once secured in our travel crates we set off along the main road turning right and left as we made our merry way to wherever we were going. Arriving at our destination we were allowed to scent the sea air and we realised we were back at the beach. Fun times would surely follow. Lenny tried to stick his head over the top of his travel crate only for mum to worry that his head was caught. He’s not that silly, I hope. Anyway we soon found ourselves on our toes and the crunch of the gravel, click of the stones and soft rush of the sand on the beach was under our paws. Mum and dad had sadly remembered that I had eaten something grim on our last trip so I was kept on a very short lead whilst we navigated through the seaweed and associated dead sea creatures strewn across the shoreline. This was most mean and totally unnecessary. It wasn’t like I had needed to go outside five times in one night after I had eaten the previous dead sea creature.
We strolled (read pulled and jerked on our leads) along the beach merrily baying at anyone who was in earshot. This would actually have been most of the town as I was baying very loudly. We passed spaniels, terriers, Scotties, a couple of Westies and even a poodle. Then we saw a German Wire haired Pointer which seemed to be wrestling with something large, sandy and quite deceased. Even after witnessing the spectacle of the Pointer shaking the devil out of the dead thing, our parents remarked on how well behaved the other dogs were compared to me. Sorry I mean us!
On the way back, Lenny managed to slip off one of the breakwaters but didnt do himself any harm. He just got up, shook himself down and carried on with a silly grin on his face. We arrived back at the car and positively leapt into our travel crates for the return journey home.
Needless to say we were swiftly sleeping once we had eaten our breakfast and run around our garden like a couple of possessed furs. There had been squirrels so I am not sure what else we were supposed to do.
In any case, we had a good time and it was fun to meet and greet so many other dogs. The beach is open to dogs “outside summer season”. I think we will visit again. I hope so as there are many sea creatures that need to be explored.
Another photo taken from the archives of my grandad. This ship is, however, a little easier to name.
Gadstone Star was built in Bremen in 1957 for Blue Star Line. She underwent sea trials in late 1957 along the Weser and then was registered in London in 1958. She was a Refrigerated Cargo Liner in the days before containerisation took hold of much of the worlds trade. Her trade route is likely to have been North western Europe to China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand via Suez. Her holds would have been entirely refrigerated and capable of carrying either chilled or frozen cargoes to and from various continents and countries. Upon arrival in New Zealand she would have loaded thousands of tons of chilled and frozen lamb, along with cheese and other dairy products for discharge in the UK.
Blue Star Line was inaugurated by the Vestey Brothers on 28 July 1911. They were predominantly butchers in Liverpool who had traded in meat from South America from 1904, on other shipping companies vessels. The high price of shipping the cargoes with other lines made them think about having their own company and thereby reducing their costs. The import of beef from South America and Lamb from New Zealand allowed them to become very rich indeed. Most of the vessels were requisitioned by the Royal Navy between both 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945. Some of the vessels carried passengers as well as cargoes and the voyages could take many weeks to complete due to the stevedoring (dockers) practices in many of the ports of call. After the introduction of containerisation in the late sixties, Blue Star gradually declined as it was easier and more efficient to carry frozen and chilled goods to more places in smaller quantities. Customers liked the cleaner and more efficient method of carrying their cargo in closed containers.
Gladstone Star was sold for the final time in 1982 and then demolished on Gardini Beach, Pakistan on 13 November 1982. It would have taken more than one day to demolish her! The photo must have been taken in her early days as she retains the original hull colours in which she was painted at the builders. Later photos show her with a grey or white hull.
The photo is a relic of a bygone era. Maybe a window as to how life was around 1958. These ships are long forgotten and are indeed anonymous to the masses around the world, most of whom only know their food comes from the supermarket. They care little as to how it arrived on the shelves. The crew who sailed on vessels such as Gladstone Star likely hold a significant affection for her.
Off we go for our walk this morning, little knowing what the day held. Down through the town and back through the little wooded area. I have been on shorter walks recently due to the allegation that I may have overdone my longer walk last Sunday and injured my wrist. What is an eleven year old beagle harrier supposed to do? Walk nicely? Anyway we returned home to have some breakfast and then wandered about whilst we allowed our parents to have some food too.
Suddenly we were re-harnessed, found ourselves strolled up and down a local road and then back to the car. This was different and I was extremely surprised to see Lenny jump straight into his travel crate. Hmm, what did he know that I didn’t? Off we went up the road, turn right, under the big road, left, right and a few more turns we arrived at a multi storey car park. Wow, if this was our final destination, it was a bit boring. Once our parents had worked out how to work the parking meter we found ourselves heading toward another ticket machine. Two tickets were delivered and we pulled our parents onto the train station. As the train pulled in, we tried to get on before the doors opened. We got reminded that this was criminally stupid and we should calm down. There were quite a few people on the train but we weren’t allowed to say hello. Ugh good grief, parents can be really boring sometimes. We whizzed along toward our destination and, all the while, the train filled with more people for us to try and befriend.
Quick sharp you two, we are here, was the call that Lenny and I got. As we exited the train we breathed in and then coughed as we tasted the stale air. London! We are in London. As neither Lenny or I can read we had to rely on the station announcer telling everyone this is London Bridge. Excellent, let the shenanigans commence. As we descended from the platform into the street the number of people increased dramatically. Our parents looked at one another with dread and fear etched on their faces. Anyway Lenny and I had other ideas so we quickly pulled them in the direction of London Bridge itself.
As we crossed we laughed and bumped into one another.
Turn right at the top and then stroll down Eastcheap and into Great Tower Street.
Past the Tower of London and we strolled quickly across Tower Bridge before finally turning right again into Tooley Street and back to the station.
All too soon we found ourselves on the return train back home and our adventure was nearly over.
For some reason we slept all the way home in the car and crashed out on our sofas after we had eaten our food. Sometimes we have good surprises from our parents.
A ship in a harbour? A grainy image of an unidentified vessel at anchor? Maybe not the most inspiring or interesting of views.
This photograph was taken by my grandad sometime between 1958 and 1960. The ship is in Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta. We have tried to find out the name of the ship and her purpose for being there but we cannot fathom (see what I did there) either answer. We suspect she is a cruise ship, but may be a troop carrier.
It is a moment in time, something that will never be repeated so surely holds an interest. Time passes so quickly now that small things like this are quickly forgotten. However, for some of those people on the ship on that day, maybe it isn’t forgotten. Sixty years is a long time but maybe people still recall that day.