Sometimes it’s nice when an idea that seems ok when first dreamt up, turns a little (quite a lot actually) difficult when half way through implementation and then comes up trumps when finally completed. Just like the other day, myself and my ever present, far from odourless, shadow hit the trails quite a bit earlier than usual hoping to perhaps surprise some early morning, half awake, wildlife with my not so impressive stalking skills (hence hoping for the half awake part!). The temperature was cold enough to warrant me wearing the excellent Jack Pyke coat (going to get withdrawal symptoms from that when the weather warms a little more) and I decided to try out the new haversack for the first time. Actually the temperature that early in the morning was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, but as we climbed the first slopes of the trail it had no effect on the blackbirds in the topmost branches whose songs pierced the early morning air with startling clarity, even making Lucy pause and gaze upwards for a while.
As we moved on the now familiar forest closed in around us and the morning songs of the blackbirds dulled into a distant, just heard, warble. Now it was the turn of the coal tit-marshes to scold us with their harsher warnings to stay away from ‘their patch’, which accompanied us as we followed the ever more twisting trail. Lucy had taken one of her sideways detours when in the distance, to my surprise, a large rabbit started legging it down the trail. I really didn’t expect a rabbit this far into woodland with little, as I thought, in the way of food to entice it here. As I slowly approached the side bank from where I assumed the critter had sprang from there was clear evidence that my still bleary eyes had not been mistaken, in the form of fresh droppings.
I just know that some of you would be fascinated with pictures of poo! With the dry weather that we’d experienced over the last couple of weeks the opportunities for Lucy to become covered in detritus are now becoming much less, unfortunately for me this has resulted in the four legged fiend and spawn of Satan to resurrect one of her more entertaining (for her that is ) and painful (for me that is) pastimes. I moved onwards down the trail becoming dimly aware that Lucy was coming up from behind me fast, too bloody fast! A vague, uneasy, memory tugged at the edges of my befuddled mind trying to warn me of the impending doom that was approaching. I was just about coming to the realisation of what was occurring when it hit me; no I mean it really did hit me! My next recollection is of gazing up at the blue sky, through the tapestry of overhead pine branches from my now newly recumbent position. Lifting my head off the floor I caught a glimpse of Lucy hurtling around the next bend with what was left of the branch that she had used to upend me, oh god I though, not this game , why can’t she play the ‘spook game’ or anything else for that matter, why the upend John game?
I cursed her enthusiasm for which she had reinstated this pastime, with the knowledge that this will not be the last time that yours truly will end up on his backside this year (note to self; take Lucy where there’s water – lots of dirty, deep, smelly water!).
I gingerly raised myself to my feet then paused to rest on a particular comfortable tree stump to wait for Lucy to stop her crashing through the nearby undergrowth and to examine my sore knee (she’s the perfect height to catch me in the crook of the leg with a particularly solid branch) and bruised ego. Whilst paused I enjoyed a thirst quenching apple and marvelled at the morning sun, now streaming through the trees, it was at this point that the aforementioned ‘great idea’ sprang to mind.
To divert Lucy’s attention from rendering me a limping, quivering wreck I decided to go off the beaten path and follow a little used, overgrown trail that we’d spotted the other week and were yet to explore. Excellent idea thought I and as we started along the beginning of the trail my judgement seemed justified with Lucy scampering off ahead, eager to explore unknown territory and at the same time scare off any wildlife before I’d have chance to come within touching distance, the little …..
The trail closed up rapidly and it became obvious that there had been little, if any, human traffic along it in some time. With the undergrowth virtually covering the path it caused us to slow and check our progress against the sun, but the day was warming nicely and thoughts of being lost never entered my thinking (after all there’s always backtracking) a couple of miles into the trail the reasons for the unused way were becoming obvious. With the ground rapidly drying out, trees weakened by the winter’s storms and exposed by earlier felling had given up their grip in the soft ground and tumbled across the path. Firstly singularly, which took little in the way of overcoming, but then in almost impenetrable swathes of fallen timber hiding the trail from our sight.
With a slight misgiving I decided to push on hoping that my sense of direction and location had not totally deserted me and that we’d soon reach the tree line. Even Lucy had given up her zig zagging excursions and now followed quietly behind me, her subdued attitude adding to my discomfort. We circled a mound of fallen trees that we’d been unable to climb or break through and just taken up the trail when the trees thinned dramatically. Within a few minutes we broke the tree line and were able to both breathe more easily. To my right a buzzard launched itself from low branches, untroubled by the out of breath idiots below who gazed after her with wide eyed wonder and awe, their latest mis-adventure already chalked up as another grand day out!
We then plotted our way back to the fun cruiser and reached it with out any further excitement, glad to be safe and already planning longer walks. It brought home to me that once we start exploring other locations further a field and away from our familiar comfort zone, that more care and preparation will have to take place for us to enjoy ourselves safely ‘out there’. Oh and a quick word about the haversack idea from fellow blogger, Le Loup, it worked really well, so much so that I think that I’ll try and do what many of you more experienced guys (and gals) would call a ‘kit review’ on it. But for now, so long.