An unexpected journey

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.

Monument to the Great Fire of London

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.

The Shard

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.

Through the eyes of others again

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.

Hello, pleased to meet you

Five years ago today I was on holiday in the Lake District. I decided that I should take my parents off to a place called Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of Ullswater. It is a lovely spot with views south across the water to the hills in the distance. The midges were out in force that day and there was quite a bit of mumbling and groaning from the parents about being “smothered in flies”.

We strolled about and watched the Ullswater Steamer come into the jetty to discharge its passengers and then make its return journey to Glenridding via Howtown. Smaller yachts bobbed gently on the water whilst, all the time, dad grumbled about the midges and that he wouldn’t need any lunch as he’d eaten so many of them.

We made the journey back to the holiday cottage, strolled about the lanes and byways of Patterdale, made a visit to the local store and then I was allowed to go for a restorative nap whilst the parents fussed about, doing stuff and things that parents do.

I had to insist that they take me to the pub for some food as well as allowing me to continue my snoozing. I got my customary gravy bone from the lady at the bar. I strolled past another lady we had met the night before who had told me I had the softest ears and then I took my rightful place on my settle mat. Cue extensive snoozing, twitching and the occasional snore for a while.

Suddenly I was awoken with a wet beagle nose which had pushed its way through the stair baluster. As I looked up Raffa was stood there with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Hello, you must be Dexter? I am, I arooed, much to the amusement of the pub clientele. Whilst the parents chatted, Raffa and I resumed our sleeping poses. She had made the journey from home and I had been on my paws all day. We had agreed that we would go out walking the following day so we knew we had enough time to sleep and recuperate now.

Our friendship blossomed from that moment and we shared many more adventures in the years to follow. I am so pleased I got to meet Raffa, a true and lovely pal to many.

Happy times

I’ve been blogging about sad subjects recently. In order to redress the balance I thought I would see what I was doing five years ago today. It seems like I was enjoying life and being on holiday in the Lake District in the UK.

It was my first trip, my first holiday if you will. We had sat in the car in a seemingly never ending queue of traffic along the motorways. When we arrived it was dark and I didn’t realise the beauty of the area until the following day.

Brotherswater. Stunning.

For a beagle or, I suspect any dog, the Lakes are a wonderful and magical kingdom of scents and sights. I went to Patterdale, at the lower end of Ullswater, for a week. We explored so many places that I could hardly take it all in.

I could get used to this.

It was fantastic.

Well, we weren’t expecting that

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

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

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

King of the Hill, when Dex allows me.

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

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

The path to the top.

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

Borde not bored.

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

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

Avenues of Lavender? Where are the squirrels?

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

I bravi beagle davanti alla fontana

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

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

Is this age creeping up on me?

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

If I ignore him, he might sniff somewhere else.

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

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

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

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

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

Did someone say squirrel.

Through the eyes of others once more.

Another picture from the archives of my grandad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Through the mists of time.

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

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

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

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

Lloyd’s of London

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

30 St Mary Axe

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

Through the eyes of others

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

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

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

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

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

I do wonder if all change is for the good.