Saturday, 17 March 2012

The strangest thing......

Thursday started as one of those misty, cold mornings when Jack Frost's icy tendrils reached out to cover even the hardiest of the surviving plants and cover them with minute crystals of ice, transforming the landscape once again into a mirror image of winter.

By 10am a wan sun was doing it's best to brighten things up and by 11 had succeeded, the mist dissipating almost as quickly as it had come, as once again the river and it's inhabitants delighted in the light and warmth and started to go about their day.

The river is tidal and today it was on it's way out when I finally reached the sea-wall to walk Harvey & Jada, two of my more energetic clients!

Harvey is a yellow Labrador and I've been looking after him since he was a puppy.  In that time he's grown from a cute, loveable pup into a handsome, loveable rogue.
 At 21 months he's filled with boundless energy and thinks everything in the world has been put there specifically for him to play with.  
He doesn't mind if it's animal, vegetable or mineral and will go to extraordinary lengths to convince one and all that he has to be their friend.  

Jada is a brindle and white Staffie who can run rings round Harvey  (literally) and now has him very firmly in the palm of her paw.  She's a year or so older and reminds me of a Sherman tank on legs.  Like all Staffies she's pure muscle with a surprising turn of speed  when she wants to run - which is often.  She, like Harvey, has the sweetest nature and watching them play together is the highlight of my day.

 On their own, they're confident and happy but together they're unstoppable and  live with perpetual grins on their faces.  Even the most gloomy day is brightened by their infectious happiness and joy for life

Anyway back to Thursday..........we started our walk, turning left at the Yacht Club, through the gate and onto the seawall.  It's a perfect place to walk dogs, far away from the nearest roads, bordered on one side by the river and the other by fields and they can run as far as they want to, which they do with the greatest enthusiasm.

The sun was hot and the dogs were beginning to slow down when I first heard the sound of the geese.   Barnacle Geese have over-wintered on the fens this year and spend much of their time grazing in the fields, but today the whole flock - probably a couple of hundred - were all out on the water.  It's a recent development that we've had this particular goose here in East Anglia and they've a very distinctive bickering sound.

Today however, there was something clearly holding their interest and
I stopped to watch, sitting idly on the river bank with a dog either side, all of us glad to take a breath.

The river is actually quite broad at this point and the gulls were wheeling overhead, their raucous cries in sharp competition to the geese as they soared above us, swooping down almost to the riverbed and then back up again, the sunlight glinting sharply on the droplets of water from their beaks.  A short way out a grey heron was standing watching the water intently and a couple of young cormorants were sitting on the jetty, a favourite resting place of theirs, wings outstretched, as the morning sun dried them.

Jada, who having given up on the 'sitting still' experiment (well she had for at least two minutes) was now mooching near the waters edge and had evidently found something to relieve her boredom. She looked up expectantly as I wandered down for a look and found her pawing a mussel which she had found on one of the now exposed rocks.  Much to her obvious delight it was open and she was evidently trying to extract it, having no luck she carefully picked it up, and then took it back to Harvey to show him.  Not particularly interested he feigned a glance in her direction and then went back to 'goose watching', whereby she promptly dropped it and rolled on it, a particularly self-satisfied look on her face.

Anyway the upshot of all this was that a large number of mussels had been left as the tide had gone out and the gulls were making the most of it, picking the molluscs up and then dropping them onto the rocks below whereby they had opened and were providing quite the feast.

All life was on the riverbank that day and I mused once again how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful and unspoiled area.


Friday, 2 March 2012


A neighbour called this evening to tell me that her 17yr old tortishell cat, Tilly, was missing. She had gone out in the early hours of yesterday morning and not come home.
NB: Tilly has been found safe and well a couple of roads away from her home

It doesn't take much of a leap of imagination to know what she was thinking, but dare not say, and as I sat there trying to console her I found myself remembering when Jax, in his youth, had done the exact same thing and how devastated I had been.
Backing onto fields, and hearing the foxes call at night, it's difficult not to think the worst.

I was lucky, Jax came home - eventually - after four days and three sleepless nights, there was a thud on the fence and there he was, as large as life and twice as beautiful. If I'd bet myself it was the first and last time, I would have been wrong.
Despite being neutered he's always had a penchant for being out at night when he can get away with it (which isn't often).....but sometimes he manages to slip past me and he's gone, disappearing like a shadow into the night.

For the most part he's come home again around 4am, yelling outside the bedroom window, demanding to be let  in, his joy at being home, compounded only by my own, that this time, he's safe.

Jet & Fudge wake, sleepily eyeing us up and down, rumbles of contented purrs echo in the quiet kitchen as Jax once again proves that he's far wiser than I, after all what other fool would be at his behest so willingly.  As I give him a few biscuits and turn out the light to go back to bed for what's left of the night, I turn and watch him settle down on the top of the scratching post, like a king surveying his kingdom and know that all's well with my world again - until the next time........