Saturday, 31 July 2010

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nature boy

Bingley is a city boy: he’s more familiar with the smell of well-marked street corners than honeysuckle hedgerows and the sound of busy roads rather than the peaceful tranquillity of wide open fields.

Although we have plenty of green riverside walks on our doorstep, these green enclaves tend to be nestled in the midst of urbanity and evidence of the city is never far away.

These transient oases are fascinating places with a breadth of plant and animal life which is never short of amazing. But it’s still the city and the fields tend to lead on to disused workshops, whilst the river banks run down to old ship yards.

So our recent trips to North Wales have given city boy Bing his first chance to really explore the countryside and I have to say that he embraced this new lifestyle with all four paws! And I really do mean with all four paws: spontaneous giddy bum tucks were a frequent occurrence: one minute we’d all be trotting along a footpath, the next moment there’d be a blur of a Labrador running in a wide curve across the field before returning to us, breathless, with an ‘I love it here’ look on his face.

When he wasn’t bum tucking across the fields he was happy just high stepping through the tall grass running alongside the footpaths. Tall grass: home of ticks and allergies, but there was no telling Bingley that – it was his favourite place to walk! Still, he looked so happy trotting along with his head held high and the stalks of grass brushing against his face that it was difficult to stop him. And he chose that route whenever he could; at times the grass was so dense and his muzzle held so high that all we could see was the tip of his nose like the fin of a fish cutting through a green sea of grass.

Some aspects of this new green world did take him by surprise though: the first time he heard the sound of cows chewing cud on the other side of the quiet hedgerow, he stood there cocking his head in nervous bewilderment. And his first encounter with a kissing gate had him completely stumped!

By that stage he’d become accustomed to looking for well worn dog doors alongside the stiles we’d encountered, and as we stepped over one of those he’d come squeezing through the gap. But kiss gates were different and initially we had to help him figure out the technique for getting through these perplexing barriers! At first he thought he was going to be left behind; but Bingley’s a quick study and after a couple of practice sessions he was weaving through like an experienced agility gold.

On a hot summer’s day it’s a relief to head for the shady banks of a cool river. The River Tyne in Gateshead is cleaner than it used to be, but certainly not dog friendly! The River Dee on the other hand demands that dogs dive straight in, or, if your name is Bingley, at least go for a good paddle. Bingley hasn’t quite got the idea of swimming yet, even when he sees other dogs jumping in. But the Dee was different and although Bing still wouldn’t let go of the river bed altogether, he was happy to wade out into deeper water and stand there getting his tummy cooled.

Long rambles, river bank paddles, and a whole new catalogue of smells: Bingley might be a city boy, but he loved exploring the countryside. After just a few days in Wales he was visibly more relaxed, less reactive and somehow seemed even happier than he normally is. Part of this is probably a reflection of our own feelings, but much of it is certainly Bingley’s own response to being out in the open country. It appears that he could be a nature boy after all and we’re going back down to Wales next week just to make sure.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Croeso i GYMRU Bingley!

On the way on the longest day ~ Monday 21st June

Along the country lanes ~ Tuesday 22nd June

Ty Mawr ~ Wednesday 23rd June

Evening walk ~ Thursday 24th June

River bank rambles ~ Friday 25th June

On the road home ~ Saturday 26th June