Amport in the Rain

Posted on May 18, 2016

When it rains and you have what is known as a working dog, you have little choice than to get wet, otherwise he will spend his day doing your head in, continually butting you with his wet nose.

Today has been one of those days, so rather than just getting wet, I thought I would get wet somewhere where I haven’t been before, but is not too far away from where I live. That place being Amport just west of Andover on the A303.

I have been suffering a bit of Danebury/Chilbolton/Goodworth Clatford apathy lately, so I thought it would be a nice change and also offer my dog the chance to be an utter pain in the arse as he became overwhelmed with the kind excitement that comes with new smells and the ability to cause countless cardiac arrests in the local duck community.

When I arrived in Amport, I parked next to the school (with a dog you can do this without suspicion) and tried to find the footpath that according to the map, was adjacent to the football field. The football pitch really played tricks on my mind as it was convincing me that I had played there as a child. Considering where I was brought up, this was a near on impossibility.

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However, all that I could see was a driveway meandering towards two big houses so I strolled up towards a bridge over a shallow trout stream where, by good fortune, a well to do looking chap was exiting his house with a Jack Russell that was heartily undertaking an outburst of small dog syndrome that was well worthy of it being volleyed into the nearby water.

It turned out that the owner was far more friendly than his dog and he informed me that the stream was in fact the Pillhill Brook that rises near Thruxton and joins my favourite river, The Anton, in Anna Valley. He also explained to me that the driveway to the houses I had seen was actually disguising what was a public footpath, which, when I returned, seemed an obvious and rather mean tactic.

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So, at the second time of asking I began my stroll in the rain. It took me uphill and past a heavily stocked trout pond especially created for men who have been emasculated by their inability to catch fish with a fly from the surrounding chalk streams, of which there are plenty.

Whether it is fly fishing or coarse fishing, stock ponds seems like an embarrassing cop out to me; they are an admission that you are useless at the real thing. I am useless at cricket but I can’t create a situation where someone bowls under arm at me with a tennis ball. That said, given the opportunity, I might be tempted.

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As I marched up the hill, briefly stopping to curtail my dog from his favorite hobby of annoying horses, I entered a green and lush wooded area that became denser and denser up to the point where I was almost in darkness. As I was sucked deeper in, my imagination started getting the better of me and I wondered whether this going to be the moment when I eventually found a corpse.

The rain was now cascading down off the trees and I was a little bit lost, so when I heard the obligatory snap of a twig somewhere behind me, I assumed I was about to be murdered as my hopeless dog pranced around befriending the perpetrator.

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Thankfully it was my friend from the bridge, now with his wife, the angry Jack Russell and a Labrador. After my dog had cleansed his muddy paws on his elated looking wife’s clothing that was the of type you never see in shops, he directed me back down to the church where I exited left and past some grand houses and back towards my car.

Amport is a sleepy little place that kind of reminded me of the villages in France that have shops that are never open and every day appears to be a Sunday, but it was a pleasant all the same, even in the rain.

It also distracted me from the fact that I was soaked.

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