On the mend

“Bark.”

Splash. splashsplashsplash. Splash. Drip drip drip.

“Bark.”

Rufus wasn’t feeling well last weekend – he’d eaten something that disagreed with his tummy. I took him to the vet and made sure it wasn’t anything more serious, but it took a long time for him to get over it. By Tuesday, he was feeling miserable as he hadn’t been out for a proper walk and I’d had to leave him to go to work. He was off his food, lethargic and didn’t even want to flop down on my lap in the evenings. I was getting worried that it was more than just a tummy bug and I decided I’d take him to the vet on Wednesday morning.

But, just to see if it was nothing more than a touch of the stuck-in-the-house-blues, I took him down to a little stream on Gower, where I knew he would be able to have a paddle. Within minutes, the tail was wagging, there was barking and dredging of stones. When we got home, although he wasn’t 100% himself, he did show some interest in his food and he jumped onto my lap when we settled down to watch TV.

On Wednesday, we went to a bigger stream where I hoped he’d be able to swim. It’s the muddiest place in the world (I nearly lost my wellies several times just walking a few yards from the car to the water’s edge. But it was all worth it, as there was a large deep part of flowing water and many, many sticks. We were away from the car for 40 minutes and Rufus spent 30 of those minutes swimming. It was fantastic to see him enjoying himself, wagging his tail again and barking enthusiastically if I was a second late with the next stick. When we got home, he ate most of what I’d put down for him and slept on my lap all night.

We repeated the process on Thursday and Friday. Each time we spent longer out and Rufus spent longer in the water. And each time I could see an improvement in him when we got back to the house.

Today, we went back to one of Rufus’ favourite locations and spent two hours on the hills and in the river near the Cerrig Duon stone circle. As I’m writing this entry, he is flat out on the floor in front of the fire, snoring gently after having thoroughly dried himself off on my lap!

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April 3

It’s amazing what you can find on Wikipedia.

1328 years ago, Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ was crowned king of the Maya city of Calakmul. 149 years ago the first successful pony express service was run. 129 years ago, the internal combustion engine was patented. 81 years ago, the first flight over Everest was made.

Leslie Howard was born 121 years ago today, as was the American general Robert Sink (he’s referenced in Band of Brothers) 109 years ago. Doris Day would be celebrating her 92nd birthday with Marlon Brando (90) if he were alive, and they could share some cake with Tony Benn (89) if he were still with us.  Alec Bladwin, Leslie Sharp and Eddie Murphy would also be at the party, too.

But the special guests this year would definitely be Nigel Farage, and me. Born on the same day in the same year, but definitely not in the same place, I’m already feeling a bond!

Happy birthday y’all!

 

Staying with Dave

By Rufus

 

I’m staying with Dave. It’s not ideal – he has some odd habits, like going out at 7am and not coming back until 4.30pm. But it’s ok and I think I’m teaching him how to do things properly. Like going out in the garden. It’s an important task. I have to make sure that the garden is free from intruders, and I can only do that by frequent and random visits. I know best where this is concerned, despite what Dave thinks. And if I think I need to patrol at 5am, it’s for a good reason.

Where food is concerned, he seems to be under the impression that what is his, remains his. How naive is that? I let him have a lot of leeway on that matter, but I make sure that I give him one of my ‘everything you do is by my consent’ stares while he is eating. It works every time.

He has learned that the back bedroom is mine and he is only allowed to keep things in there because I am kind and generous. The bed, of course, is out of bounds and I have arranged the pillows in just the right way. They are perfectly set out for comfort.

He likes to play with the large bone chew. His favourite game is to chase me around the house trying to get it. I give him chances to take it from me but he never does. He particularly likes it when I growl – for some reason it makes him smile.

I had to help him out last week. He was trying to tear pieces of paper up and when I went to see what he was up to, he said something about shredding for security purposes. I don’t know why he didn’t think to ask me but I grabbed a piece of paper and showed him exactly how to shred. Once he saw how good I was at it, he let me have loads of paper to work on and I was much quicker than him.

He took me to have a haircut last week. To be fair, I was beginning to look like a hippy and some of the cats were calling me an Afghan Hound. But I’m looking much better now.

But all this looking after Dave I do is quite tiring and I do like to have a snooze now and again. One good thing about Dave’s house is that it has plenty of places where I can bask in the sun.

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Spring-ing

It’s time for cleansing. The sun is out and it inspires change.

No, don’t worry. I haven’t gone all hippy on you (well, no more than usual). I just find that feeling the sun on my face, looking at a cloudless sky and being able to enjoy an early morning without having to wear 17 layers of fleeces triggers some sort of renewal hormone in my brain.

I was out first thing this morning with Rufus and his real owner (I merely rent Rufus, of course, so that I appear to have a friend).  We spent a lovely two hours on the River Tawe, strolling up and down in the warm sunshine, stopping when we felt like it and, of course, throwing lots of stones for Rufus. We were early enough that for much of the time we had the river to ourselves. In the distance, a walking group appeared in a convoy of cars and set off for who knows where. By the time we were back at the car, it was still only just after 11am.

When we got home, I intended to watch the first Grand Prix of the season. I’ve been a motor racing fan for years but have become disillusioned with Formula 1 recently. However, this season promised to be different, as there had been a significant change in the rules resulting in radically different cars. A significant change for me was the prominence of the energy recovery system and the importance it plays in the performance of the car. Inevitably, this technology will filter down to the consumer and that can only be a good thing.

Instead both Rufus and I fell asleep. Not a reflection on the race but on my lack of fitness and Rufus’ tendency to cover 50% more distance than I do on walks.

But once I had surfaced, I felt ready to get on with some Spring stuff. There are two large fir trees in the garden and I’ve been planning to trim them for a while now. They block the afternoon sun and the night sky. So I had been building up to cutting the tops off. I’ve been put off in the past as I tend to leave it too late and they become a nesting place for birds. It seemed like a good idea to do it today.

I managed to trim the first tree and three quarters of the second tree before, to my absolute horror, I spotted a small white egg drop to the floor. It was quickly followed by a second, and the frantic fluttering of a pigeon. There, in one of the branches I had just cut, were the remains of a nest. The eggs were broken, the pigeon panicked and I was gutted. I should have checked before starting off, but in my defence, the trees were a dense mass of thick branches and it was difficult to get to each one.

I stopped, all the enthusiasm gone and as I cleared up, I saw the pigeon circling before it landed on a nearby roof. I took a quick look out from the kitchen, as the clouds rolled in to spoil the evening, and the pigeon was in the remains of the tree. I can’t look any more.

It needed doing. But I should have done it earlier.

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Whiteford

It was lovely out at 6 this morning. I know because my housemate, Rufus, insisted on demonstrating it to me. It was so nice that we decided to have a quick breakfast and head out for a nice walk in the sun.

At 7.30am, we were at Whiteford. The sun was up and shining although clouds partially obscured it. Nevertheless, we set off eager to wander through Cwm Ivy Wood and on to the dunes behind Whiteford beach. Alas, it was not to be. A small sign attached to the gatepost at the edge of the wood announced that the sea wall path was closed as it had been damaged in the storms we had recently. It’s a key part of the route – the difference between a circular walk and a rather short out and back sprint. So instead, we went through the village and on to the beach via Cwm Ivy Tor.

On the beach, the sun was out and busy warming up the morning. Rufus chased sticks into the sea and trotted up and down the beach. We walked without any firm direction up and down along the tide line. We met several dog walkers and a jogger and it seemed that everyone was in a good mood to match the fantastic morning. It was the longest walk we’d done since I got back from Kilimanjaro. I didn’t really want to stop as the day was so lovely. But both of us are getting on a bit now, and there were things to do at home, too. So reluctantly, we both set off back to the car.

Rufus attracted spotted a large group of walkers and he waded into a deep puddle and stood up to his belly in the cooling water as everyone walked past. Of course, people were remarking on it, and Rufus loved the attention. We strolled back tot he car and drove home.

Of course, all that sand and muddy water meant that Rufus was in need of a shower and it was the first thing we did when we got home. Despite silent protests, (he’s not keen on the idea of a shower although he’s very good while it’s happening) Rufus deposited what seemed like most of the beach into my shower and then careered around the house drying himself off on anything that would absorb water. It’s his way of getting revenge for the indignity of the ordeal of being cleaned!

We sat out in the garden for Rufus to dry off and for me to enjoy a cup of coffee. I could live like this all the time!

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River

Back to the river today. I am drawn to it by the photographic possibilities of so many little waterfalls and streams. Rufus just wants to be in the water, and catch or dredge for stones in it.

The stretch of the Tawe near it’s source, when it is still young and not really sure what it wants to be, is one of my favourite places to go. In the winter, it can be desolate in the snow and mist. In the spring and autumn, it can surprise with beautiful conditions like today, or it can be windswept and bleak. In the summer, it can be packed with tourists or if I’m early and lucky, quiet and still. A stone circle stands above the river, watching over it. In the distance, a standing stone directs people to the circle, and the path that has always existed through this valley.

There is a variety of wildlife on offer. I’ve have seen Red Kites wheeling in the sky and Pied Wagtails flying low along the course of the river. Many years ago I saw a Weasel or Stoat on the river bank but I wasn’t able to get a photograph. In addition to the inevitable sheep and lambs, there are horses and very occasionally, cows. Lizards squirm through the marshy ground near the riverbanks.

Ever since I started bring Rufus up here, he has loved playing in the water. He swims when it’s warm enough but he is mostly content to paddle or jump between stepping stone boulders. He enjoys chasing the stones I throw for him, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before.

I find the whole area very photogenic. I never tire of wandering the riverbanks with a camera and taking on the challenges it suggests. This morning, I took long exposure photos of the river, black and white shots of the valley and some close ups of Rufus (a challenge all of its own as he is rarely still). Then I watched as the wagtails flew around and I tried to capture them in flight, unsuccessfully. Finally, as we reached the car, I took a lovely shot down the valley.

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Out

Rufus is staying with me at the moment. He’s been pretty good this week, always lying on his fluffy cushion in the conservatory when I get home. So today, we went out to the river for a wander in the glorious sunshine. But it wasn’t sunny. A thick mist had descended during the night. Nevertheless, out we went.

We headed off to the river above Craig y Nos. There were waterfalls to photograph, and stones to throw. I suspected there would be more stone throwing that photographing. I was right.

Straight off, Rufus remembered what the tripod meant. As soon as I’d sent up the camera, he would position himself between it and the waterfall. Every time I got a nice composition, he would stand there, or jump into the water, or brush past, knocking the tripod.

We walked on, one of us wading, the other trying to keep dry. Eventually, the sun started to shine through the low cloud and before long, a patch of blue sky appeared. Within a few minutes, Fan Brecheiniog was visible and it started to get warmer. We walked up the side of Moel Feity and were rewarded with wonderful views down the Cerrig Duon valley. Not having done a lot of hill walking recently, we were both a little tired so after a couple of hours, we headed back home.

I was out in the afternoon. When I got home, Rufus was fast asleep on the cushion. I surprised him when I opened the door. But a little later, my neighbour called around to let me know that he’d seen Rufus out on the street, He’d tried to catch him, but couldn’t. Later he’d seen Rufus sneaking back through the side gate. I checked, as I’d blocked up a gap in it earlier in the week. But when I checked, there was another gap that appeared to be too small for him to squeeze through. My neighbour said he’d seen him push the wooden slat aside.

More fence work required tomorrow, I think.

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