I didn’t see that coming

I am going to hand over this blog to my younger brother who, whilst not actually a blood relation, is growing on me. Also I have allowed him to live here so he feels like a sibling. Over to you Lenny.

Waking up ten days ago I had no idea that something strange and wonderful was afoot. Now I am not great in the car as I used to get ill as soon as I was in my travel crate. However the parents have been taking us out for trips recently and clearly they were making me more comfortable travelling, without me noticing. It’s a little sneaky but it worked. We were walked a short distance first thing in the morning and then back home. Dex & I knew something was on the cards. Dad loaded stuff into the car and then we were lifted royally into our travel crates. Off we go. Who knew where. Quickly onto the motorway we seemed to be going for ages which was confirmed by some serious grumbling about traffic coming from the front of the car. One motorway merged into another, which merged into another and so on. We stopped a couple of times and stretched our legs which was a welcome relief from being cooped up in our travel crates. About ten hours later we pulled up outside a small cottage and we breathed in some clean air. What was this sorcery? All our baggage was unloaded into the house at which point we decided to decamp to the pub across the road which was packed with people and a fairly large number of dogs. Dex and I enjoyed their company as we lay quietly under a table. We went to bed tired but happy as we were told that we were in a place called Bassenthwaite. This was the exotic Lake District that Dex had been telling me about ever since I arrived.

The next day we strolled around the village so we could acquaint ourselves with the area. Then we decided to go to somewhere called Cockermouth which is a town in the northernmost part of the Lakes. It was quite quiet but we had a good stroll and got provisions for the coming days. As a precursor to what lay in wait, it was an easy start.

Monday arrived and we decided to seek out a place called Buttermere which was on the western side of the Lakes. Sadly dad was doing the navigation so we arrived at Crummock Water which was close but still needed a couple of miles walk. Of course we walked along by the side of the lake, drank the water, chatted with other dogs there and had a fun time. We had a great time.

Tuesday dawned and we were quickly onto our paws. A brisk stroll around the village meant we had to wait for the parents to finish their breakfast. Duly loaded into the car we travelled to Keswick. Dex seemed to know where he was going and pulled along the paths and lanes toward Derwentwater. As we gazed across the water from Friars Crag we realised this was the best fun we’d had for ages. It certainly wasnt time to go back to the car so a trip further around the shore was undertaken with much happiness.

Dex looking regal at Derwentwater

We wandered tired back through the town and visited a few shops, and then found ourselves in the car and whizzing along the lanes to the cottage. We fell asleep in the pub in the evening.

When we looked out on Wednesday it was still good weather so we did some more local exploring and then strolled down to the lake at Bassenthwaite near the cottage. This was great as it was almost deserted and we could stroll and sniff to our hearts content.

Bassenthwaite Lake

All this fresh air and tons of exercise was beginning to take its toll and we were getting sleepier and slower. Dex warned me that this was probably a ruse by the parents to slow us down. It worked, as we spent another evening quietly snoozing in the Sun Inn.

The Sun Inn, Bassenthwaite.

Thursday arrived and the rain poured. Then it rained some more and just for good measure, it continued to rain for most of the day. We had the fun bit of watching our parents getting their waterproof gear on to take us for a couple of walks however they both realised that their walking boots were so old that they weren’t fit for purpose. In fact their footwear was disintegrating as they walked along the lanes. We enjoyed Thursday as it was a down day so we could recharge our batteries for one final assault on our senses.

As we peered around the curtains on Friday we were filled with much trepidation. Thankfully it was bright and sunny so we knew an adventurous day was in the offing. Having been walked around the village and stopped outside the pub for the customary photo opportunity, we almost leapt into the car and wondered what was in store.

The best behaved beagles in The Sun Inn.

After an hour or so we were unloaded and found ourselves at the beach in a nice little place called Allonby. I remembered the last time that Dex & I hit the beach as we could eat all the dead creatures washed up. Unfortunately this beach was clear of dead sea creatures so we had to amuse ourselves with pulling our respective parents along the tide line for a few miles. We also took the time to sing the song of the breed to our friends over the border in Scotland.

That’s Scotland over there, Lenny.

As we left the beach we took a slightly different route which made me wonder where we were going. Dex & I looked at one another as we went left and right down little country lanes, up and over hills and fells until we arrived at a place called Wasdale. As we were let out of the car I couldn’t believe my eyes at the beauty of it all. Dex had told me about Wasdale and Wastwater and I thought he was exaggerating. No chance, it really was fabulous. We walked down by the water, we trampled through puddles, we paddled in the freezing cold lake, we climbed rocky outcrops, we gazed at the hills and mountains and felt like we never wanted to leave.

Wastwater. It’s beautiful.

Sadly for us, we had to listen to the parents who insisted that we return to the cottage so we could start packing. Dex & I knew this was the end of our holiday so we wandered dolefully back to the car and home for our last night.

As we awoke on Saturday it was clear that we were making tracks back to our home down south. We were loaded into the car which was pointed down the motorway and after one stop for a stroll about we arrived back to normality. I am very lucky to have been able to see places that are so pretty. I wont forget the trip in a hurry but, in the meantime, I have some sleeping to do.

Ferring or not Ferring.

We had an unexpected trip yesterday morning. As we left the house we saw that dad had his camera with him. Lenny and I also seemed to be going in the same direction. Mum asked dad “do you know where you’re going?” to which he rolled his eyes and got a poke in the ribs for being cheeky. As it turned out, he didn’t know exactly.

Along the little lane and then turned back towards home. We knew there was going to be a car journey. Great, another adventure. Soon after we had been lifted regally into our travel crates, we were off south bound. Right, left, straight over and then left into a car park overlooking the Channel.

This is going to be fun

We were allowed out and breathed in the sea air. As we looked up I saw a building called Sea Lane Cafe in Goring by Sea and then looked at dad, who looked at mum and sheepishly told her that this wasn’t the Bluebird Cafe in Ferring. I thought you knew the way! We all rolled our eyes at him and then set off east along the path and the edge of the beach. We strolled, counted beach huts, said hello to other dogs, strolled further and then found ourselves on the edge of Worthing.

There’s the pier at Worthing

We turned back at this point as it was getting warmer and the water bottle was running a little low. As we wandered past the Sea Lane Cafe (Not the Bluebird Cafe) we decided to see if it was possible to get to where we were supposed to be.

Lets go this way. No, lets go that way

Lenny was flagging by now as he has no stamina for longer walks. So yet again we turned and made our way toward the car.

I think Ferring is this way!

I have to admit that I was also tired by now so I was glad of a little rest in my travel crate. Once again we required to be regally lifted and placed in our respective places and off we set, retracing our journey northbound and to home. Maybe we will get to the correct cafe one day. When we got home we heard rumour that if breakfast had been taken al fresco, Lenny and I were on for snaffling some sausage.

Currently we are curled up dreaming of long walks on a pebbly beach with a stop off at a dog friendly cafe serving breakfast sausage fit for beagles. If only dad knew where he was going.

That was all too brief

Dad was taking the car into the garage early yesterday morning as it needed fixing. As such Lenny and I were in sole charge of our mum, so we knew we could have some fun. On “mum only” days we would leave the house, go up the old road, briefly into the woods, then out and around the fields. This gives us maximum chance of a snifari whilst giving mum a reasonable chance of keeping her shoulders in their sockets. Anyway we left and then turned right. Away from the old road? We had been this way once before and had strolled (read pulled on our respective leads) through the bigger woods on the other side of the big road. Surely she wasn’t making the same mistake again. Under the bridge, right along the footpath and then we descended the track toward the farm with the stagnant pond. We wandered (read pulled on our respective leads) along sniffing and wondering where we were going. Left turn and the gate was closed behind us. We sat and were told “You’ve got 25 minutes so no shenanigans”. No chance, we were at the Paw Paddock and we only had one parent to try and control us.

Boing boing boing

Lenny was first to be left off lead and he walked alongside mum instead of running about aroooing like a hound possessed. I always knew he was a “goodie four paws”. Then he was re-shackled and I was allowed off.

Don’t worry mum, I’ll stay close

For some strange reason I too strolled about quite calmly and only had a very quick run around with loud baying. Then we both got let off together and we surprised each other by just trotting along scenting and having a good time without bothering one another.

Yes, even I walk nicely sometimes

When called we both returned and sat nicely to allow our leads to be re-attached to our harnesses. There may have been tasty snack bribes but we can gloss over that bit.

We returned home, ate our breakfast and then wandered about the garden, making sure there were any squirrel invaders. Maybe I am getting old or, maybe, Lenny and I are just calming down when in the presence of each other.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Ernie’s mum who threatened to bring him along to the next Paw Paddock trip. This could be interesting.

South along the Downs Link

The avid readers amongst you may recall that Lenny accompanied me on a walk a couple of weeks ago from West Grinstead station north to a little village called Copsale. Today we returned to West Grinstead once more but, somewhat surprisingly, we went south along the path to a village called Partridge Green.

Tickets please!

We were shocked when we walked up and back along the old road near the house, finding ourselves at the car for the second day in a row. What was this sorcery? This was unheard of? Two trips in succession? We wondered if it was because today is a Bank Holiday and our parents felt like we needed something extra to amuse ourselves. In any case we drove a little way north and then east. We arrived at the little car park and we swiftly disembarked from our travel crates. Lenny is getting better at travelling and doesn’t seem to feel as ill as often as he did.

Heading under the road we followed our noses south along the old rail track which has been made into a path for walkers, riders, cyclists and often runners. We were swiftly into our stride of going to the grassy sides of the path as these areas held the best scents which, in turn, gave us the best chances of pulling parents this way and that. Through the old cuttings, past fields of stubble and then into little wooded areas, we strolled along with our noses 2 inches above the ground. Every now and then we were reined in as cyclists or runners went past us. After a good wander we looked up to see a little sign post confirming we were in Partridge Green. My parents of course had to find out where the pub was and we also found out that the Dark Star Brewery is located here. Dad boasted that he had been to the brewery but we weren’t particularly impressed and just wanted to continue on with our walk.

We were beginning to flag somewhat at this point and a water stop was needed. As we turned around and headed north along the track, I looked a little behind me and saw Lenny walking like a “good boy”. Apparently he was still a bit tired from yesterdays herculean efforts on Cissbury. That boy has no stamina, let me tell you. Thankfully the path is fairly flat so Lenny didn’t have too strenuous a return journey although we did have a little stop to rest his weary long legs.

We arrived at the station and were duly lifted back into our travel crates for the return home where breakfast was loudly requested by us running around the garden baying at the top of our lungs.

It’s alright Lenny, you can sleep on my chair.

We have been sleeping for the rest of the day as it is apparent to some that two days of fun walks are more than enough for a senior beagle and his vampiric sidekick. I’m not sure who these dogs are, but I wouldn’t mind meeting them.

Cissbury Ring ramble

I was going to ramble wordily around the houses as to what we did yesterday but the title gives it all away.

We allowed the parents a bit of a lie in as it was a Bank Holiday Sunday after all. Lenny and I had no idea what was happening until we turned out of our little road and went left along the old road. Sharply we were turned around and heading back to the house. Ok, so we weren’t going across the fields for a good scent of fox, rabbit and squirrel. Having ensured that we were lifted into our travel crates, we set off south along the main road. We scooted past our recent ascent of Chanctonbury and seemed to be on our way south. Surely we weren’t going to the beach. After listening to them grumbling about Lenny and I eating “dead stuff” on the previous occasions I wondered if they had relented and were going to give us another chance to visit the garden at all hours of the night for a few days. As I was wondering we turned left up a side road and into a gravel carpark. This was new and Lenny looked as bemused as me. As we leapt out and onto our paws we both looked up and up at a big hill in front of us and I could see the glint in Lenny’s eyes. We set off at a pace as Lenny decided he was going to scent his way along the path and dad was being pulled this way and that, as Lenny did a more than passable impression of a land shark through the long grass. Into the wood, then out and onto the next section of the hill.

I can see for miles, Lenny

Up the steep bank and we were greeted with a view back to Chanctonbury in one direction and the sea in the opposite.

See that clump of trees on the left? That’s our usual walk

This was fun as we could scent all sorts of creatures and we made sure that there wasn’t any laziness or strolling amongst the human fraternity. The walk seemed to be circular and we could see for miles. We went past runners, riders, walkers, other dogs and even other dogs with walkers. We got to the top of the hill, checked out the trig point and then started a descent and were abruptly halted as there were ponies in our way. Not that it mattered as we directed our parents along the path toward the little copse of trees and then out into the open where we overlooked Findon and Worthing.

I wonder if our friends can see us?

It all seemed quite small and far away. I was puffing and panting like a steam train so we made sure to stop a few times to top up on water. Then I heard the worst words a beagle can hear, “I think thats enough excitement for one day for a senior beagle. I think if he keeps on going at this rate, he’s going to do himself another injury”. And with that the fun was over. We retraced our path and descended to the car park, albeit via slightly different route so we could get some final sniffs.

Within two minutes of being in the car we were both snoozing in our travel crates and we returned home for breakfast. Our fun was finished. We slept and dreamed of more shenanigans to come.

Downs Link shenanigans

Come on, hurry up you two, Lenny and I want to go out exploring. A well placed nose on dads leg makes sure that our parents are out of bed and making ready to go and explore.

We were out sharply and expecting to have an hour or so exploring the local area. Instead we were turned left and strolled down the little lane before being turned around and found ourselves being led back towards the house. We knew this would mean that we were off for a ride in the car and, as expected, we were loaded into our travel crates and we turned left up the main road. This was different and when we turned right and then sharp left, Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically. We were indeed somewhere we had never been.

Welcome to West Grinstead Train Station read the sign. Ooh great, we are getting a train ride. As we were shackled and released from our crates we heard our parents mumble something about “This might be a bit boring as it will be flat and shingle covered”. We looked up and saw that there was no train and no track so what sort of train station is this? Not that it mattered as Lenny and I were quickly into our strides with our noses to the ground pulling and yanking on our leads as we scented all sorts of wildlife. We saw horses, other dogs, runners and more dogs. Walkers strolled toward us and smiled as we were pulling our parents one way and another. We met a spaniel who was having great fun in and out of the ditch at the side of the track. After a few miles we reached a place called Copsale whereupon we were turned around and headed back toward the start. More horses strolled past us, more walkers wandered towards us still smiling at our shenanigans and we saw the spaniel who was even dirtier than before. We even managed not to eat the field food which was on offer on so many different parts of the route. Back to the car and Lenny managed to leap in straightaway which means he was tired and had had fun. I was lifted in as my legs were so tired from all the exertions. When we got back home it was as much as we could do to eat our breakfasts and then fall asleep.

It turns out that there used to be a train line through West Grinstead but a man called Dr Beeching carried out a review of the UK rail network in 1963 under the direction of the government. As a result of his report, there were a large number of smaller rail lines which were closed and never re-opened. Most of the track and ballast were lifted and removed on the West Grinstead line between 1965-1970 and the area was left generally untended until part of the line was sold to the County Council in 1970. The scrub was cleared and a path was made linking the North Downs at St Martha’s Hill to the South Downs at Steyning and thence on to the coast at Shoreham, a total of 37 miles.

We pulled and messed about so much that no photos were taken on the walk, only a couple of Lenny and I snoozing at home afterwards. There was nothing boring about this walk, and I can say for sure we are going back. If you get the chance try a stroll along the Downs Link, we can vouch for it being fun.

An annual concern

Today is one of those days when I worry about what will happen next. I am reluctantly handing over my blog to my younger brother who isn’t really my brother. I have taken him under my wing so to speak and shown him the ways of the beagle. Anyway, here goes.

Hello, it is I, Lenny. I’m four today! I don’t know what that means but I do know it comes with treats, a birthday card, extra tickles and a stroll around my new favourite place, being the Paw Paddock. I think I can get used to this sort of attention. Dex has been told he has to be nice to me today (although he usually is!) and I get first dibs on biscuits and treats albeit for one day only.

We went nice and early to the Paw Paddock and I was let off lead to run around like a fur possessed. Instead I merely wandered off, sniffed and then strolled back to a parent to be re-shackled after fifteen minutes or so.

Chicken flavoured treats may have assisted in my recall however I want it known that I have been complemented on my recall generally in recent times. Dex was released and he too just strolled about and then disappeared to the other end of the paddock. When he returned, again to the sound of a treat bag being rustled, he was promptly re-attached and I was again released.

There were some tasty rabbit droppings that I wasn’t told off for eating so, I assume, it must be a special day.

We returned home just in time for the forecast rain to start falling. Its been dry as a bone here for a couple of months so this little period of rain is very welcome. We avoided getting wet and now I’ve been told I can laze on whichever chair I want for the rest of the afternoon. I wanted to laze on the big bed however that was deemed too cheeky and is out of bounds. In due course I will expect my food to be served and then I will relax for the rest of the day.

I’m a lucky lad to be honest and sensible for a moment. I want for little (apart from snoozing on the big bed) and Dex is a good brother to me. He’s had more of these birthday things than I have, although I shouldn’t say “three times as many”.

Paw Paddock runaround

My vampiric little brother, who isn’t an actual blood relation went off to the local, and new, enclosed paddock yesterday morning to test it out for our future entertainment. He appears to have given it a solid thumbs or he would if he had opposable thumbs. We would also be able to break into the treat jar if he had thumbs, but that’s for another blog.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand (or paw). A new paddock area has opened in my village and we decided we would try it out. Since I had shown signs of leg ache from the previous Beagle Derby the parents decided it was wiser to get Lenny to test it out and then I can go along the next day to make sure he was telling the truth.

In
Come
ing
Its fun.

He returned home with tales of fun and laughter, of scents and of freedom to run around like a fool for a while.

On the back of this advice I needed to make sure he was telling the truth so, this morning…

It is indeed fun

I can vouch for his honesty, on this occasion. I had a great time running about, scenting and trying to find field food to eat. We will be going back, of that I am certain. I suspect it wont be together as we tend to get a little over enthusiastic and I find myself a little lame in the hip for a day.

If my current snoring is anything to go by, I think it will be fairly soon. The parents are enjoying the peace and quiet. How rude.

Young in mind, young in body

Don’t you believe it. Awake at 6.30 on a Sunday listening to the chorus of complaint from a certain parent is always a good start. Six thirty he says, does this beagle not realise its a Sunday, he continues. Anyway a well placed kidney pounce from my brother brings a suitable conclusion to the laziness and Lenny and I find ourselves being walked along the old road. Now we don’t usually walk together as we tend to want the same scent at the same time and bitey face snout jousting often ensues. This can only mean one thing, we’re going on an adventure. Turned round halfway along the road only reaffirms my point. Lenny, we are going for a ride.

At the car Lenny leaps in and the boot is shut. Off we go, left along the road, past the roundabouts, through the traffic lights and then left onto the winding road. Left at the pub and then right. We’re here, we’re here! As the boot is opened the smell of freedom fills our nostrils. Paw Paddock, Hello!!! The gates are shut and we are released so stroll about. Sadly the next gate is still shut so it’s easy for us to be grappled and put on the leads and harnesses. Once into the paddock we are strolled part way round and then Lenny is off. With his back legs following the front ones, he’s bimbled across the paddock in no time at all. He returned on pain of missing a treat only to find he’s re-shackled.

Then it was my turn to run free, with the wind in my ears, and the grass a blur beneath my belly. I returned when asked and got a decent tickle with accompanying treat for being a “good lad”. I must admit at this point that I do like a good ear rub. In any case this swapping of free beagles continued for another twenty minutes. Then we heard the parents mumbling something about “well there’s only one way to find out”.

Both Lenny and I found ourselves unleashed at the same time. We stood there for a microsecond to wonder what was this sorcery until our beagle nature took over and we chased each other around the paddock like a couple of possessed idiots (these are not my words). It was surprising how quickly we calmed down and started to merely stroll about sniffing and snootering without annoying each other. When we were told that we were going back on the leads, neither of us complained, too much.

Then it was back in the car and home for breakfast and some well earned rest.

Now, here’s the thing. A twelve year old beagle chasing a four year old beagle around a large paddock for an extended period may cause said twelve year old body to feel a little strained. Having snoozed for a while I got up to find my rear right leg doesn’t work properly and it seems I have overexerted myself and strained my thigh muscles.

Oh dear, I can hear talk of a trip to the v-e-t tomorrow if it doesn’t clear up. Don’t believe the hype about young in mind and young in body. Take it easy and pace yourselves. This getting older lark takes some practice. It’s lucky that I am a hardy lad and won’t be complaining about my condition.

A nostalgic trip to Brighton

It’s summer, the heat is turned up, the people long for a trip away from their daily lives and a visit to the seaside is a British tradition. I have been to the beach on a number of occasions and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Eating dead sea creatures, walking through the tidal mud and sand, and pulling parents across the breakwaters seem to be a speciality. I have even taught Lenny to practice the art of parental misguidance when we are beach bound.

I have not been to one of the most famous beaches in Britain however and, looking through some of my grandads photos, I saw something that intrigued me. Here are some pictures taken in 1963 and the place is almost deserted compared to the hustle and bustle of today.

Tickets please.

I can say these were taken in 1963 as the Volks Railway opened on 3rd August 1883. The train pictured proudly states its the 80th anniversary. It is still operated as a historical seafront attention running between the Aquarium and Black Rock. Check the suited chaps on the deckchairs taking the sea air.

A stroll along the promenade was a popular way of getting some clean air, away from the smoke and grime of the big cities. Brighton became popular in the late 1700’s when the King, George IV was a regular visitor. The arrival of the railways in 1841 undoubtedly assisted further in its rise in popularity, as people with a few pennies to spare could escape from London for the day and spend their time at the beach.

Along the coast to the east

I enjoy the contrast in this picture. See the gent in the long coat and hat, and then notice the man and child just coming out of the water; the deck chairs filled with people in suits and dresses. I think it is roughly where Brighton Marina is now.

Many things have changed since these photos were taken. Many things. For good or bad? I will leave that to you to decide. I want to go to Brighton one day, maybe I will see these places and find out how much they’ve really changed.