rain, mud, testosterone and a jolly good read

Woke to the sound of rain on the roof. As we sleep in the attic, the weather is very much around us. We see huge skies, wheeling birds and spectacular clouds. The roof is well over 100 years old and has only been patched up, never replaced – so life is exciting, to say the least. When it rains, we often get drips on the bed. Gale force winds, though exhilarating, are quite scary as we wait for the whole roof to lift off and hurtle away. It will have to be repaired one day, but not yet as it’s a massive and expensive job and I’m not sure how easy it will be to find good slate now. Plus the not to be envied prospect of keeping five cats from escaping onto the road while builders tramp in and out.

Wet days are extra difficult for dog owners. Mud everywhere and the smell of damp doggy fur. Worst of all is the mess he makes of the garden, pounding up and down the lawn. He’s worn a track where the grass no longer grows. I’ve never had this sort of dog before: he’s a border collie cross, high octane, loopy as hell and a rescue dog to boot, which makes him rather less secure than he might have been. I’m used to Salukis – congenitally disobedient and can’t be let off lead near traffic or livestock, but quiet and dignified in the house and garden. Am very fond of Dennis though and he’s a dream to get back when he’s been off the lead (Salukis go “deaf” when you call them or slope along in front of you just out of reach).

Mic & Dennis at the White Horse (copyright Flick Merauld)

Saturday is a day for large green spaces filled with sweaty, heaving men, or so it appears from the television. If it’s rugby, the men are heavy on testosterone, tribal even, and seem to want to tear each other’s ears off whilst maintaining a gentlemanly courtesy; if a player gets wounded he keeps playing, bones crunching, skin hanging off in ribbons, blood everywhere. Footballers are rather more fastidious (though they swear at each other a lot) but if they are injured they roll around in agony and are carted off prone. Or so it seems to me, a Saturday sport virgin. I never thought I would tolerate hours of sport, but living with a lover of football, my horizons have broadened. I wouldn’t say I’m a convert, but I enjoy rugby once in a while and was as carried away as anyone over the World Cup. I watched Superbowl recently and that was hard to follow: the game kept stopping, then continued from the last point. Not fast moving at all, though as an entertainment spectacle it was amazing.

Still I’d rather read. I’m currently enjoying a wonderful book called Narrow Dog to Carcassonne. It’s a real life story about a retired English couple, and their whippet, who sailed their canal narrowboat across the English Channel and down through France. This may sound banal, but narrowboats, or longboats as they are sometimes called, are flat-bottomed vessels around 7’ wide and about 50’ long. They are meant for negotiating shallow canals and are manifestly not designed for rough seas and busy shipping lanes. Anyway, the link to their website is: http://www.narrowdog.com


Narrowboat at Jericho, Oxford (copyright Flick Merauld)


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