Temperatures soared to a heady 20C today in sunny England, and officially this has been the hottest day of the year so far. And when the sun does finally come out, we worship it. This triggered an impromptu family outing this afternoon in the beautiful Kent countryside. This was also a chance for Kim to show me one of her newly discovered walks. Ever since we started following the signs for a “Circular Walk” in the days before we got Theo, and got very lost within about a mile of our house (we later discovered circular walks are about 15 miles), I am a little skeptical when she invites me to go for a walk to somewhere new. In a similar way to Buzz from Toy Story who said “this isn’t flying, this is falling with style“, they elevate simple dog walks to something more in the spirit of “adventures with a curious ginger dog“. There’s always something new to see, just around the next corner…
So we set off from home, with the car windows down and Theo pushing his nose as close to them as he could before sneezing over the back of my neck. I think he finds it quite funny. Over the hills and through the woods we went. I believe they filmed the old TV series ‘The Darling Buds of May’ in our area and it was magnificent. We arrived around 3pm in the leafy village of Four Elms and started our adventure following a public right of way and over a few stiles. By way of an aside, Four Elms is just next to another village called Pootings which is my favourite place name; it sounds like something out of a Jeeves and Wooster novel.
We started our walk by discussing map-reading. Neither of us can actually read a map sufficiently well to actually work out the public rights of way on the official Ordnance Survey maps. The trick is to work out which paths will join up and navigate around private land. So we follow our noses, and Theo follows his.. and sometimes we all walk in the same direction! I showed Kim how the iphone has a compass app but simply knowing your longitude and latitude isn’t particularly useful when you’re trying to find a gap in a hedge in the back of a farmer’s field. And then we went out of range, and I discovered the down-side to relying on phone technology.. the compass goes blank. That said, it was a wonderful walk with the sounds, smells and sights of the English countryside absolutely bursting at the seams to blossom, grow and escape the long winter.
We put Theo on a long-line and let him wander about (but thankfully not far enough to run and meet the livestock in the surrounding fields!). He went for a dip in a stream and completely missed several rabbits that popped out of the hedgerow in plain sight. He does this quite a lot, if his focus is on sniffing something else then he just doesn’t notice anything in his peripheral vision. We walked for a little over an hour before finding our way back to the car. With a few detours and discoveries of new paths and hidden fields that would be great for a picnic sometime, we avoided getting lost this time. We promised ourselves that if we ever do win the lottery, we’ll get one of those manor houses we walked past on the lane. They were picture per-fick!
David Jason as Pa Larkin in ‘The Darling Buds of May’