Guard dogs and chocolates

Sunday January 1, 2006

This morning’s inspection found the lane clear of snow so I got myself out for my first walk since before Christmas. Not the most inspiring of walks. Just along the lane, a right turn onto the road to Leake, and thence to Stickford bridge, where I rested up, turned back, and trudged back home.

The only down side of this particular walk is the large guard dog kept loose in the gated yard of a house right by the road. Fierce and purposeful in the pursuit of its duties, I’m never entirely convinced the gate is high enough to contain him if he really intended to clamber over it. Rotweillers are frightening dogs if you’re not a dog person. So, I take care to walk steadily, on the opposite side of the road, and to do nothing that he might regard as threatening. You hear nasty stories of this breed, and I don’t fancy my chances should he take it in his head to attack.

Hey ho. The main reason for the medicine walk is to get some cardio-vascular exercise every day, and my heart certainly thumps a bit as I walk past Mr Guard Dog. And again, on the return leg.

My main resting point on this walk is to perch my bottom on the rather mean bit of concrete balustrade on the bridge itself. There’s a good view along the straight road across the fens in the direction of Leake, both tempting and frustrating. On a good day I can make it all the way to the next bridge. Today I decided my legs had had enough so I turned back. It was much milder than I’d expected but even so I could feel the cold working into my joints and it’s daft to risk a sieze up, especially when Graham’s not at home.

Somewhere in the day-long gabble about the New Year on the radio I heard someone say that what you do, how you feel, and the state of mind you experience on New Year’s day influences the entire year ahead. Rather a silly assertion, that. There’s no reason why this one particular day on the calendar should be any different from the days around it. I’ve felt pretty good today, but it could just as easily have been otherwise. Experience tells me that bad days are generally followed by good ones, regardless of the date.

Other than a handy opportunity to buy a new calendar and a new desk diary to replace the tatty ones from the previous year, and an excuse for a final blast of the big end of year party, I don’t think there’s too much significance to the festival. Not for me, anyway.

Now, I know that many people make a big thing of the New Year and I wish them well in their preoccupation. To me, it’s no big deal, never has been.

I feel some excitement at the thought of what the year may bring. Apart from the likelihood of moving house, there’s also the challenge of adapting properly to the changes needed to meet my part of the challenge of Graham’s job. Last year I simply went with the flow and took the days as they came. There was always the possibility that he might decide he didn’t enjoy regular paid work after all these years. Happily, he loves it. Apart from the separation, that is. Neither of us enjoy that.

Even when we establish a base in Somerset, though, there will be busy times when he’ll need to stay on the holiday camp, returning home only once or twice a week. Oftentimes he doesn’t close the bars until the small hours of the morning and he’ll not enjoy the schlepping several miles in the dark only to return the next day. It’ll be good to be close enough to drive over at any time of day or night at the drop of a hat but we don’t intend to make it a regular thing.

The continuously busy part of the season, from May until October, will keep him fully occupied, with little time over to help with the house and garden. The winter months are largely free but even so, a worried little voice inside warns me against taking on a make-over this time round.

I’ve floated the idea of another nice modern house with a small garden as the best option and Graham is by no means hostile to the idea. So it may be that we shall go for a home on the edge of Bridgwater. Or Taunton. Bridgwater is cheaper, and just gearing up to go places. Taunton has a Starbucks, a Costa Coffee, and a splendid Cafe Nero, the latter housed in an old inn dating back to good Queen Bess’s golden times. Bridgwater has a greasy joe café that does one of the best full English breakfasts in the Kingdom.

We shall see. I’m not going to fall into the trap of planning the unplannable.

Whatever the outcome, down to and including another year here in Lincolnshire, I need to gear up for a more positive approach to the times when Dolly and I are to be left on guard duty. Not having a house that needs to be kept ready for sale would help enormously, though.

Life really is like a box of chocolates. Once you’ve pigged out on all your juicy favourites you simply have to settle down to what’s left over.


All gone

The next stage



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