Reculver Country Park
This morning’s dog walk was a joy, one of those walks that just ticked many of the boxes why I like dog walks. Yesterday evening was the opposite as it was cold, wet and dark and every step was rather under a cloud of; I really wish I wasn’t doing this.
But this morning it was a different story. We walked across what is probably best described as a meadow. Larks were singing, the sun was out, it was a clear bright morning with deep blue skies. I can’t describe it, other than to remember the phrase which goes: sometimes I sit and think – other times I just sit! There was nothing negative about this I was just walking and very happy doing only that.
No squirrels to chase, not even interested in the occasional seagull Fred was on the trail of something – probably lots of little trails but very happy. We met two boarder terriers one off the lead which was fine, the other on the lead was aggressive and nasty. We met an Alsatian with piercing white eyes that was OK. We met a black lab called Dudley who’s owner gave Freda a dog treat. Funny Fred always wants other peoples dog treats, yet his own are not interesting enough to distract him when things get a little over excited. The same group of people also had a Great Dane which had cancerous growths. It was a big dog, bigger than a big dog and very gentle and well behaved he was 8 years old. More like a pony than a dog if you get my drift.
Fred went down the cliff face and I could hear him walking on the pebbles below. I didn’t want to go down and walk along the beach for 2-3 reasons, one being it was a great view walking along the cliff top in this meadow so I stayed up. I knew he would come back up and I had my phone to take photos of him running up the cliff face towards me. But digital cameras on phones take so long – take out of pocket – release popper to open case – press the turn on button – slide up- enter pin code number – push camera ikon each of these steps has digital delay of only a second (which I had not really noticed before) but the long and short of it is Fred was down and back up quicker than I could take a photo. Sounds a ridiculous statement but true.
Skylarks singing is one of the most evocative sounds. A historic sound from a time when there was no bad in the world with only good times ahead and dreams came true!
Fred had a limp yesterday and seemed like he wanted to stay in so we didn’t go out. But Today it’s a miraculous recovery overnight and were out and so is the tide. This means there is a massive wide-open expanse to chase a few seagulls …. as expected. However it not the complete takeover of Fred’s consciousness as it has been before, he comes back to me quite soon, enough of chasing already.
So we climb the steps up to promenade and I hook Fred to the railings while I use the public facilities. I walk in and there is a guy in the loo wearing bright hi viz orange clothing and I can tell he is working on the seafront defences. I adjust my clothing accordingly and am surprised to hear quite a loud squeak ….. and again! I realise I have a squeaky, pink rubber elephant about the size of a tennis ball in my jacket pocket. This is a dog toy with large eyes and little tusks which I had forgotten I had brought with me. I remember now grabbing it thinking if I need to distract Fred’s attention for any reason I’ll squeak the elephant- squeak the elephant and overt a doggy mishap like Fred chasing a cyclist or a jogger! It’s a fantastic squeak on this toy really loud, the kind of noise a clown might use just as someone bends over, nothing rude about this noise but it’s a really great substitute for a rude noise. The guy is now drying his hands under the noisy dryer. No reaction at all to the previous squeaks. Now as I readjust my clothing to leave I am waiting for a repeat squeak and just as a second bloke walks in .. not two squeak’s its three, possibly even four and I am powerless to prevent them from happening. These are clearly audible over the sound of the dryer. I wait for some kind of reaction from either of these two men as this is quite a funny situation.
What I get is a hearty ‘Good Morning’ from the second man, and I feel him looking at me very intensely as I nod a rather low-key good morning back.
Other than that it’s an uneventful but pleasant walk along past the massive diggers and the groyne works which I really enjoy looking at. Then we are almost home and I see two women on the corner that I know, one of them has a small dog. Fred wants to cross over to say hello, I know the conversation could turn a bit Daily Mail quite quickly if I’m not careful. Sure enough the conversation is all about peoples cars being broken into and somehow I don’t know how but that is linked to the Parachute Murderer who tried to kill his wife! As we walk along the road Fred is switching from one side of the pavement to the other and back again, a zig zag fashion sort of sniffing and half boxing with the other dog. Suddenly one of the women falls down onto the pavement and her head is inches from my feet.
Now; young people ‘fall over’, but older people ‘have a fall’ and there is a huge difference. For a minute or two this is serious as we don’t know why she fell in the first place. Is it a fall or is something more serious happening? After a little while she is able to get up by herself and all is well. I said what happened – were the dogs leads tangled around your legs… no it appears to have been the classic proud paving slab! All is well and I say goodbye after broken ribs are ruled out. Yeh goodbye glad your OK – ‘she died you know alcohol poisoning’ – Bye- ‘alcoholism’ – Yeh goodbye – ‘terrible’ – Yeh goodbye – ‘Open Studios’ – goodbye – ‘are you?
I am shouting across the road, ‘No I’m not doing them this year’ – Sculpture of a horse in Canterbury’ – No bye….bye……………..bye I’m waving now.
We have been down the woods a few times recently. Looking at the colours and enjoying the walk not thinking much just experiencing the landscape. Fred is off searching and I’m just looking at the trees in a strange ‘semi place’ in my mind that is difficult to describe as it totally functioning but I don’t remember much. Then I become aware of a distant shouting and Fred is not in sight either! Easy to deduce Fred is the cause for the shouting. It is distant and locating the direction of the noise is impossible in an ocean of trees. So, I walk this way calling Fred, then I walk that way calling him. I can still hear the intermittent shouting and I know Fred is not going to come back as something has really got his attention. The shouting is beginning to worry me, as it sounds more urgent. What is going on here I walk this way and that and back again…no Fred…no nothing except this constant shouting which is really beginning to sound like someone is being murdered!! I whistle occasionally and call out and this is going on a worryingly along time. Then suddenly Fred is running towards me, I am expecting to see blood, injuries, wounds signs of fighting and violence!
Fred is absolutely fine, unmarked and seemingly very happy and pleased with himself. I put him on the lead and walk in the direction he came from. I can still hear the shouting and things are confusing me, as whatever this is all about is continuing to happen without Fred being involved. Then through the trees appears a figure with two dogs both on a single shared lead with the guy I recognised as the motorcyclist (the former motorcycle racer). He is hanging on being pulled by the two dogs which are the Husky and the Alsatian we encountered a week or two ago. The constant shouting turns out to be this guy trying to control his dogs, ‘DARRIUS – no Darrius – Darrius – get here, DARRIUS – this way – NO’. These dogs are both on the lead and I can’t tell which one is Darrius? The guy says your dog has been playing with these two and its been fine.
I apologise for taking a while to find Fred. He says we were on the other side of the brook when he found us and they have had a great time playing together. I asked if any of them were hurt. He says – no they enjoyed it!
I walk away and check Fred for injuries again but there are none. I walk back to the car relieved and feeling a little weird, we are nearly back when I see a woman with two dogs and I mention to her that there is a guy with two very formidable dogs an Alsatian and a Husky. She said Oh we know them, he is the man who shouts at his dogs all the time one is called ‘Darrius’. She thought it was an overreaction, trying to keep his two dogs in check and she didn’t like the way he spoke to his dogs. She also said he does keep them on the lead most of the time.
I walked on thinking what a drama, how things can appear from one perspective and are not what they seem? Perceptions of reality is blurred area!
Trees were nice.
Fred has cut his back leg and does not seem too fused about going out this morning. He is curled up comfortable – lots of licking going on but generally seems Ok. I think he must have cut his leg running after seagulls over barnacle encrusted rocks covered in sea weed while the tide was out yesterday. We got home and had a look at the gash on his leg and dabbed with TCP. I had forgotten just how strong the smell of TCP is!
So, not going out this morning, but remembering a walk a few days ago and something we witnessed on ‘the downs’ on the sea front. I saw a guy I recognised and he has 4 dogs which were all waiting their turn while he ‘worked’ them. I think the best way to describe things is that he gave me a demonstration on gun dog training. He threw a small canvas bag weighing about a pound to replicate the weight of a bird down the slope into the long grass and told his dog to find it. The dog would systematically search the slope traversing the area in a series of hair pin bends changing direction every time this guy blew his whistle. The bean bag found, retrieved and dropped for the owner. He explained he goes to Scotland and takes part in gun dog shooting events and his dogs are clearly very well trained indeed.
I explained Fred would chase birds make them fly up and if they flew across the road to get away Fred would follow them. He then went on to tell me that he had lost his best trained Labrador in such a manner. The Lab must have seen and chased a fox through a wood, the owner hearing a skid and a screech on the near by road not thinking any thing of it as his dog was working below in the wood. After a while of whistling for the dog and it not returning he thought something had happened? Found his dog on the road. So even well-trained dogs still have these uncontrollable instinctive behaviours which is a sad story. But I did feel better knowing how a such a perfectly trained dog has a switch just like the one in Fred’s head and can be flicked on and things for me become about anticipation and management of this scenario.
By the way – the grass slope where I saw this Spaniel find and bring the bag back was right by the line of trees where in the summer we have birds flocking, twisting and turning in the evenings sometimes. I don’t know how these things work but it not happening at the moment and I don’t know when it will begin again. Like I say Fred and birds are situations I tend to try and limit the damage.
I like the groyne works on the seafront. We walk together towards the town along the pebbly beach. I am climbing over the old groynes, ones that are not being replaced and the weathering and action of the tides has worn them smooth into very un-machined curves and lines, slightly organic in a such a practical man-made barrier defying nature. Little pebbles are lodged between the planking, holes been created and shaped. Each groyne has a high and a low side with 2-3 even 4 feet of banked up pebbles on the western side of each groyne. You have to walk all the way up the beach to find things levelled out. Instead me and Fred jump down each one until we areforced up the stairs by fences and Plant Machinery Crossing Ahead notices. I’m a little overwhelmed by the massive scale of everything, the wood the diggers, it’s an engineering project with big tools, big materials and a big site.
I wondered if Chesil Beach and Dungeness were places formed by not having groynes?
It’s all a bit King Canutesque using considerable resources. I tried to guess off the top of my head how many groynes in the Herne Bay coast line – 150? Only one sixth are being replaced. It’s a very large number of groynes around the whole coastline of the UK which needs to be replaced every 50 years.
Could they compress recycled plastic enough to give it sufficient strength, cast rebars into it?
Anyway, the 9x9inch uprights are huge pieces of wood. They are stacked in piles ready to use. These uprights are really attracting me and I keep seeing them every day. I have used this same Green Heart wood in the past to create a public bench. It is the hardest wood I have ever come across, it took me 15 minutes to drill a hole through it, (it was quite a long hole) and it soon made my drill bit rather blunt. Seeing these 9×9’s everywhere is a little like waiting for a bus for me when you never see huge uprights, then two situations with large uprights come along together. The other is an art situation. Not 9×9 Green Heart posts but 7×7 oak uprights. I will have to carve Celtic inspired imagery into the large posts and I will have to do it in situ from a scaffold tower. It would be better if they had not been installed yet and I could do it horizontally, but hey what’s not to like. That’s probably why I see posts everywhere. The story behind how the work came about is such a coming together of remote possibilities and circumstances as to be a little spooky! Another time may be.