I won’t walk with Cosmo on the evening of Nov.5 we will go out during the day time tomorrow, so tonight’s walk is the day before fireworks night.

We did see a few fireworks, but I think Cosmo has mellowed over the years and no longer barks at the occasional rocket while we are out. But I know tomorrow with prolonged outbursts of fireworks and loud whooshes and bangs  will be more than he can cope with,  and there is a fitful evening  ahead of us.

This evening it has stopped raining and I see the guy with the muzzled Lab, only it’s not muzzled and I remark on this.

He replies, ‘she’s going through a good spell……………… it won’t last’.

What he means is that the dog eats absolutely anything it can find, horse manure and worse. So a muzzle on what is actually a nice dog. We talk about Arsenal’s match against Anderlecht and exchange views on tactics in the final third Walcott’s return,  and radio commentary rather than TV!

We say goodnight and I realise I have an old man, rather taller than me asking me about my dog? It’s the usual Doodle conversation, and he goes on to say his dog is 13 years old. Brought home from the Dogs Trust by his wife saying the dog was 4 years old then. On the brink of death from neglect, not interested in anything, week and listless, glazed over hardly able to stand and not interested even by dog food. He told me he dribbled chicken fat on its nose and eventually the dog  began to lick it off. This was the start of a seven week hand feeding programme. The dog is now thirteen and they are very attached, and he was worried that their time together was not long now. How would he feel on the other side of the dogs death?

He said, ‘I bet your dog is as loyal and trusting as mine, and would follow you to into the underworld of hells fire’.

I said, ‘Indeed he would, and if never came out he’d still be waiting for me outside’.

‘Strange  how powerful the link’, he said, ‘Mankind does terrible terrible things and the betrayal and misuse of that  trust is one of the worst. Training dogs as bodyguards and living weapons is a shocker and the owners should be put down not the dogs’.

I had to agree with him and said goodnight.

Cosmo by now had found a family on the sea front lighting Chinese Lanterns. A grandmother in a wheel chair covered by a blanket, a mother with three children. I could see that they were agitated that they were not going to float away. I did say to them (as I explained that Cosmo was mine) that it took a long time for the small flame to heat the air inside the paper bag, but eventually it would lift away. The mother said that it was too cold to work, but I said no, I think they will float away in time. She explained that a family member had departed. I replied a nice tribute and I’ll watch them pass across when they go. I suspected the death of either the father or grandfather but felt unable to ask.  I walked away with Cosmo looking back to see if they had worked.

It was quite a distance away when they did float into view. Sadly there was practically no wind, but what there was had not sent them over the sea, but in the opposite direction inland. They moved towards the moon and I saw the first one go down still burning onto the roof of a bungalow on the other side of the green. The other 2 went out while high in the sky. On the way back the family had gone, but I found an unlaunched lantern about 100 yards from where I met them. It was broken, but I felt strongly enough to bring it home with me?  To find a shocking Arsenal score line after being 3 goals ahead. Equalizer in the last minute…ooh…………… probably still qualify though.

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We entered the woodland car park and as I swung the car into a position I noticed a plum coloured 3 piece suite in the corner…not there the last time we walked here! I had chosen these woods as I hoped that the autumn colours would be good, lots of sweet chestnut trees which goes a strong yellow, I had even brought my camera.
I could hear the babble of voices and we soon came across a mother with two young children and a black dog walking along the path, and I think they had the same idea as me to look at the colours of the trees. I marched on a bit after that as I didn’t really want people watching me take photos, didn’t even really know what I was going to take photos of but we went ‘off piste’ into yellowy part of the woods with no paths but it seemed to attract the sun. So we explored that bit. I found myself wanting to take my photos out of focus! We moved on thorough the yellow bit and came out on a path.

We met a woman walking with her dog and I wondered if she was going to ask me about my camera as that I was still holding, it felt very showy as I had a long lens attached. But no this conversation started with Cosmo as it often does, “isn’t he lovely….is he a doodle of some kind”? Yes I said and so is yours? (Cosmo is big and yellow, hers was small and black) She said, “he’s a Cockerpoo” and then the conversation begins to steer towards her previous dog and I beginning to realise I have met this woman 2-3 times before in these woods and now I know I definitely have as I can see her watching my face all the time I am talking.
She is roughly my age probably a little younger but completely deaf and her dog is a working dog that is her ears. She is amazing you would never know that she can’t hear a word you say.
I steer the conversation away from dog cancer (which accounted for her previous dog) to the age of dogs and she tells me her newish dog is about 2 years old she asks me how old Cosmo is? “He’s over 8 years now and if I add that up at one year = 7 years he is at least 56″! She says that ratio does not work all through their life it is slower at the younger part of their lives! I said that me and Cosmo are sharing our middle age together….she replied, laughing ….”I’m an adolescent”.

Next I see a friend of mine walking along holding hands with a blonde woman who I immediately recognise as not his wife! He has not seen me yet and I think I might turn right around now, but no, I carry on as I know he will recognise Cosmo who is crossing their path. They point at him and he says to me “I thought I recognised Cosmo”. I don’t quite know what to say as while I visually check that this is not his wife, and use Cosmo as a diversion as I see him drinking in a muddy puddle.”He’ll lie down in that puddle now” I say, and on cue Cosmo eases himself down slowly and settles into the puddle and makes himself comfortable. She puts her hands over her mouth and says ” Oh No”. Cosmo stands up muddy tide mark all the way around his body and water gushing down onto the ground. My friend says “Is he getting in the back of your car like that? I said not quite, he will find a load of leaves to roll in get some of it off before we get back to the car. I think he likes to take the smell of the walk home with him, so he can relive it again through smell during the night in his dreams!

After that my phone beeps and a have an old friend who wants to connect on Linked In. Cosmo finds a happy family climbing on a fallen tree. The children make a fuss of him and the farther (who is wearing a strange hat) asks me if there is a clearing just ahead? I said, it depends what you mean by a clearing? I was struggling to think what he meant.
He said, “We just met an old lady on crutches who said there was a clearing very close, just along here..she was adamant it was there”!
I said, “Well if you walk 5 mins along this path there is a cross roads and the trees thin out a bit as the paths are quite wide”.
he said, ” do you mean cross paths”
I said , “Yes it is not a road, the road is way over there” and pointed. This was a strange conversation. Interpretations of what a clearing and a path are, laughing children, Man with a strange hat and old ladies on crutches in the middle of very muddy slippery woods full of deep puddles, it all starts getting a little weird.
And we are back in the car listening to Kate Bush “In the Trees its coming” from the Hounds of Love.