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. 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.

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.

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.

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.

I’m back

I am wholly aware that I haven’t blogged in, what is for me, a long time. Even us furry wannabe bloggers get writers block sometimes; feeling that there is little or nothing to report which may be of interest. In any case I digress. Today I realised that there had actually been some things that had happened.

In late June Lenny and I were treated to another one of those things we like so much, a surprise trip out. We had no idea where we were going. All we knew was that we were being incarcerated in our travel crates and off we go on a magical mystery tour. I looked at Lenny who looked at me, we shrugged our collective shoulders and laid down to await our release. We arrived at our destination, a large gate was opened and then shut firmly behind the car. We looked out of the car and it resembled one of the scenes from the Great Escape. Out we got once we were on our leads and we were marched into a large semi grassed paddock area. Round the perimeter we walked, with the parents muttering to one another about safety, holes in the fence and keeping a close eye on us. Still we weren’t dissuaded that we were to bump into Ives, Big X and Hilts. Suddenly Lenny was released from his lead. He stood there, looked around and then strolled off. He was free to roam around which he duly took advantage of. I was still shackled so couldn’t join him in bitey face shenanigans with additional running around singing the song of the breed. He strolled, mooched and wandered. He was called back and duly returned for which he was given hefty congratulations and a gravy bone. Duly re-harnessed he then watched as I was unclipped from my lead and allowed to roam free for a while. I should countenance this by commenting that I heard both parents mutter under their collective breaths “this could be interesting and I suspect he’s not coming back on command”. Just to prove them wrong I wandered off, sniffed, ran about, bayed loudly, ran about some more and then came back upon recall.

This is fun

I was then re-harnessed and Lenny was released again. This went on for just shy of an hour and I have to admit it was great fun. Returning to the car we both slept until we arrived home and breakfast was supplied. Apparently we are going to go again to Paw Paddock near Horsham.

A puppy again.

It’s hot out there. Our walks seem to have got earlier as the summer has progressed but I wont complain. I am still going on separate walks to Lenny so we don’t encourage one another to pull and jerk on our leads when trying to get to the same place. I have mainly been strolling past the stables in the early morning when the sun hasn’t had a chance to scorch the grass brown. Lenny has been up hill and down dale past the little church, going either to the next village or down in the cool shady lane toward the woods. It’s ok actually as I am slowing down significantly now. I prefer to sniff and amble along so, not having Lenny to annoy me, is pleasing. He likes to go at his own pace which is apparently akin to a snail sometimes but he gets his enjoyment out of not being on my sniffari. Once home we are then confined to the house and garden during the day so we don’t have the chance of overheating and falling ill.

Pffft, too warm.

Finally for now it was highly amusing to see Lenny’s face last week when he was escorted to the vet for his annual check up. He was prodded, poked, jabbed and had kennel cough vaccine sprayed up his nose. The vet said he was in fine fettle and he was given a five day course of antibiotics for a little inflection he had. Thankfully that has now gone. Anyway I tried not to laugh at him when he came dolefully through the door into the house, complaining about being tricked into going to the vet and grumbling about parental chicanery. Like I say I did try not to laugh, kind of.

Go away, I’m not happy.

So now you’re all caught up. We cannot wait to get back to the relative freedom of the Paw Paddock but I think Lenny s counting the days until the next annual vet visit. He’s muttering something about going on holidays when that date comes around.

It’s dry, let’s go.

Lenny decided that he would take dad on a mystery tour on Friday. We split up as usual and Lenny pulled across the road toward the village whilst I ensured mum and I made good time on our way toward the stables. I shall let him tell you about his little adventure.

Along the lane and up the hill toward the church which sits looking south toward the north flank of Chanctonbury. Normally we turn left and descend into the hollow amongst the gnarled trees replete with squirrels and rabbits. I decided that we would turn right and explore the lane leading to the farm at Thakeham. There was the expected grumbling about it being muddy, having the wrong footwear and me having four-paw drive, that I knew this may only be a temporary detour. Only to the first gate I was told.

It’s dry, let’s go.

As I strolled along, pulling the reticent parent behind me, I saw that the quagmire that used to resemble a track had dried out. The farmer had filled in some of the larger holes with broken house bricks and, thus, the path was navigable. Oh joy of joys, we can go through and get to Thakeham for the first time in around three months.

Lovely Raffadils

Through the gate, along the track, through the next two gates and finally we are back on the tarmac and I can see St Marys church sitting resplendent to my right.

St Mary’s Church

I resumed some serious pulling on the lead as we strolled along the little back lane toward the green.

On The Green

Left onto the green and then down the steep steps and we are back on The Street. I was determined that we wouldn’t turn for home as that would be really boring so, trying not to listen to the constant grumbling about “only going as far as the little path”, we turned right and headed toward the end of the village. We went through the small wooden gate onto Woodland Walk and I made myself ready to stroll quickly down toward the mushroom farm. Foiled again, there was a big tree across the path. This gave dad the excuse to turn around, which he grabbed gleefully of course.

Ugh good grief

Retracing our steps, we marched briskly along The Street and thence back through the farm toward the wonderfully named Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Warminghurst. Before we got to the church I wanted to take another detour to have a look over the brow of the hill, so I dragged dad around the edge of the field to see if the view was any good. It was ok, I suppose, but was obscured by a large and overgrown hedge. My tummy was rumbling by now so we headed for home.

Once I had got home, I couldn’t wait to tell Dex about my adventures. However he was more interested in playing snout jousting so I gladly obliged, of course. I had a good day with a decent walk that I will repeat when the weather improves enough for the track to be passable every day. Hopefully I will be able to go along the lane with Dex next time.

What a let down

Today I noticed that Lenny seemed to be eager to get out and about on his walk. Its strange as he is usually somewhat hesitant about getting his harness and double leads clamped around his person in the morning. It’s something to do with feeling restricted and uncomfortable in his harness. Apparently it’s for his own safety and so he doesn’t run off “like an idiot”. Yesterday he went to Knepp and saw some big deer and he was keen to see them again. Dad took his camera in the hope of getting a decent picture, instead of the grainy images we have become used to.

Off they set along the road and down the lane, whilst mum and I went in the opposite direction for a few miles of sniffing squirrels and rabbits. Lenny said the scent was high as they strolled along the lane, past the stables and the farms and then across the little bridge over the river. Turn right into the farm yard, say hello to the horses in their stables and then the fun was to commence. Dad told him to shush as they didn’t want to frighten the deer although he seemed to have forgotten that he was wearing a bright yellow jacket so the drivers could see him and Lenny as they walked along the road. In any case, they ventured through the big gate, along the stony track and turned left onto the bridleway. The scent was still high as Lenny pulled this way and that, with dad trying to keep as quiet as possible. With his hand poised on the camera they trod carefully, scanning side to side for signs of deer. They went along the track to the lookout landing which people use to have a hidden view of the wildfowl on the little lake. Nothing, not a sausage, was seen so they decided to retrace their steps back to the farmyard. As they exited the big gate they looked at the sign which had been pinned up after Lenny and dad had gone adventuring which said “Keep to the paths, Deer cull in operation”. That would explain why they deer weren’t coming out to play this morning. Sadly they plodded back along the road and after a seven mile walk returned home downcast.

I tried not to laugh at their misfortune but it was difficult. There was only one thing left to do, sun puddle and sleep off our exertions. Oh well, maybe another day.