One Man and His Dog
Posted on August 18, 2013
I have acquired a dog for two weeks whilst my fiancée is on holiday busily sunning herself with her two daughters in Crete. It is a working Cocker Spaniel that, despite being overs six years old (the same age as me in dog years apparently) has enough energy to wear you out just looking at her.
Dog’s need walking, especially this one, otherwise it will be a hyperactive and frustrated pain in the arse, doing several hundred laps of the house as you attempt to indulge in simple tasks such as watching the television.
Darcy: My companion for two weeks
This has given me the opportunity to exercise myself as well as the dog and in doing so, it has also offered me the opportunity to discover Hatch Warren. The place where I live that I had always assumed was an urban sprawl, actually features a plethora of fantastic walks through woodland and meadows that are a hive of nature. This morning alone, I saw a Green Woodpecker, a Nuthatch and a field mouse as well as numerous squirrels and rabbits.
In reality, I shouldn’t be surprised, as Hatch Warren was, just 25 years ago, part of Lord Portsmouth’s huge estate that takes in places such as Farleigh Wallop. He sold it off (for a handsome sum of cash) to developers who moved in and created a huge estate of private housing to satisfy the expanding population of Basingstoke that despite its poor reputation, has been a boom town of employment courtesy of Blue Chip companies such as IBM, the AA and Barclays Mercantile.
I have lived in this area since 1998 but I am ashamed to admit that this is the first time I have really explored it. I did try some time ago but everyone I saw had a dog, so I felt a bit out of place, almost suspicious looking. As a consequence, I promptly gave up. However, having Darcy has given me the incentive to get out and discover it all without the fear of looking like a potential rapist.
An example of this happened this morning when I was walking through a tunnel of trees. There was a woman in front of me with her spaniel and as a twig snapped under my foot, she turned and looked at me with temporary fear. Then Darcy popped out of the bushes and within seconds she was chatting away to me like I had known her for decades. Darcy, without knowing it, had stopped me getting reported to the police.
You need a dog to stroll through woods like these
If you are a middle aged man without a dog, I think it is near on impossible to do a woodland walk without looking suspicious. If I had been walking behind that woman without Darcy, I would have ultimately tried not to look suspicious, resulting in looking suspicious. Backing off and hiding behind a tree would be option but it would look terrifying, but gathering pace and catching up with her would be even worse. There is no winning formula.
In that situation, with my clumsy nature with words, without the safety of being armed with a good looking dog, I would have probably said “Don’t worry I am just walking on my own, I won’t hurt you.” This would ultimately result in an afternoon explaining my innocence in Basingstoke Police Station.
So for the next fortnight, I am going to enjoy being the owner of Darcy, she is great company for me and the boys and she also carries the added bonus of getting me out walking and discovering places I wouldn’t do otherwise.
You never know, I might even shed a pound or two!!