So it turns out that about ten minutes from the house there is an old medieval road. I shit you not. Dating back at least 500 years, the Magna Via is the old road between Wakefield and Halifax and what is left of it passes not far from where I live. Now I didn’t intend to walk up it (this was my first time) but found it quite by chance and next thing you know me and Theo had been out of the house for 2 hours and had walked about 5 miles. That might sound fun, and it was, there was however the small matter of me only intending to pop out so I was wearing inappropriate footwear and was actually supposed to be working. I ended up taking a number of work calls from the hills around Hipperholme explaining that I would return to my desk and view the PowerPoint presentation once I was able to figure out where I was and how long it might take me to get home. Isn’t working from home just great.
It’s quite fabulous that you can be merrily walking along and then suddenly there you are, wandering a cobbled road that runs up through the countryside. The cobbles are a recent addition (around 1740) and in many places they are in pretty good order. In others they are long gone but all along the way there are so many reminders of a byway long abandoned to all but adventurous folk in sturdy footwear.
If you follow the road long enough it brings you out to Beacon hill which overlooks Halifax, but I kept that treat for next time. Anyway here are a few photos. Welcome to the past.
Theo and I wandering the local area with camera in hand
I realise this is frightfully dull but you might possibly find some pleasure in it.
“In what?” You ask..
Or perhaps you don’t. Well I am going to tell you anyway. Stone. Currently I am taking lots of pleasure in stone whilst Theo and I traverse the back roads and pathways of Halifax.
Whether its drystone walls or 16th century Tudor buildings, long trodden paths or ramshackle ruins of what once was, I’ve seen so many wonderful examples of what someone long forgotten crafted.
There’s a wonderful Weatheted permanence and whispered history, even when all that remains Is a shadow of what once stood proud. Wherever we go now I find myself looking With wonder at just how long so much of this has stood.
Here’s just A few pictures from the last week from our early morning walks.
This dog certainly has me out and about. I thought they just laid in front of the fire eating bones. No one warned me about this.
So I try do 10000 steps a day and have actually upped it because of how often Ive been able to spend time out and about with him. I’m conscious that he is still young, and Labradors have issues with their hips so you have to be careful not to overwalk them, but even with a limit on the time I take him out I am getting so much more exercise than I have for years.
And bloody hell I am knackered. In a good way. My legs ache, my feet hurt, I’m often cold and wet but definitely feeling better for it.
Plus I feel far more comfortable eating chocolate brownies for breakfast when I know I am off out for a walk and he will want to go out in the garden in a bit to play or do some training.
Living the dream eh.
Oh bugger, just remembered there’s a bag of poo in my coat pocket…
I think we all know that broadly you get out of life what you put in. It’s probably obvious to everyone with a dog that it applies very much to pooch ownership. Want a bell behaved dog? Spend time training him. Want him to not chew…well ,literally everything…then ensure he has chew toys and that you work hard to understands from an early age what is appropriate to chew and what is not.
(As you can see above, Theo is a huge fan of chewing loo rolls and yesterday I neglected to close the bathroom door and in just a few minutes he had shredded a couple he had got his pesky paws on.)
Anyway, back to my point.
Nowhere is the idea better demonstrated when it comes to dealing with what comes out of the other end to the end where things go in. It’s a curiously satisfying thing to have a dog with firm stools as it makes the pick up particularly easy. When we chose food for him I bought the best possible dry food I could so I am not feeding him any old stuff filled with sawdust and horse testicles. It’s the good stuff, so I am immensely proud when those dark chocolate coloured logs drop out and leave no residue when whisked from the pavement.
Conversely, I am filled with dread when faced with attempting to somehow cajole something akin to Christmas trifle into a small plastic bag whilst the dog stands by with a look on his face which says “Good luck with that fat boy, you got any sausages in your pocket?”
You know those artistic folk who do the wonderful chalk drawings on the pavements? Well imagine me as that artist. Instead of bright pastel colours and a picture of a young girl with a balloon or a unicorn majestically traversing a rainbow, my medium of choice is mustard coloured dog shit and I am smearing a hellish faecal vision on the pavements of Halifax which I have called “The benefits of fibre”.
So alas I must reduce the amount of human goodness he has been enjoying and be a more responsible owner. Well until he looks at me with those big brown eyes which demand the finest of delicacies be served up for his pleasure…
Dog tired, like a dog with a bone, dog eared – all phrases you will likely have heard of and being a few months in on dog ownership I can imagine how easily those phrases emerged and why they have stuck.
It has got me thinking though about my own experiences and a few turns of phrase that have become more…obvious…as the weeks have passed by.
I have enjoyed watching the jaw dropping shenannigans in the USA this past week so I thought I would combine my dog observations with a political slant.
“Donald desperately attempted to hold onto power with the steadfast immovability of a shitting dog.”
That works right? I think so. On many levels. What about…
“They stormed the once sacred halls, their eyes wild and their tongues lolling from their mouths like so many pink dog penises”
Hmm. Not as good. I think there is something to be discovered there though, something about…
“The sombre faces of the Democrats betrayed by the excited glint in their eyes, their righteous accusations springing forth like the pink points of the pointsetta’s penis.“
Too much alliteration I think. What about a last one.
“These were desperate times, and he reached for any sign of warmth in those around him. Even the friendship of Rudi Giuliani gave him some comfort, like a steaming bag of dog shit on cold hands on a frosty winters walk.”
I don’t think Mrs Afterwards is overly concerned that I do not regularly profess my undying love for her. In fact I am sure I said I did the day we married twenty years ago and that I would let her know if I changed my mind.
What does seem to irk her immeasurably is that I will not confess to loving the dog. I will walk him and feed him. I will gladly make him buttered toast and a nice cup of tea for his breakfast. (He prefers white bread not brown and never drinks the tea.) I will even quite happily take him outside to do whatever dogs enjoy doing outside as many times a day as he chooses despite the weather and the pandemic desperate to kill me right now.
In fact, I am quite happy to let him have the last sausage, the best piece of cheese and even lick me in ways no woman ever has despite once having the second worse breath I have ever encountered after eating something quite horrendous on one of our walks.
I don’t, however, feel the need to say I love him.
I have reserved my love for a discrete and quite specific assembly of peoples, places and things and I was not really prepared to open up that list. In fact, I am not at all certain that there is even room on the page for new things. I am 50 this year, I ought to be making bucket lists – not being overly fond of dogs. Even really cute ones. With floppy ears. And I swear he smiles sometimes even though that is surely not a thing dogs do. Smirk maybe, but not smile.
All said and done, I must admit that I really do like him, and not just as a friend and I think about him a lot and love every minute I spend with him and…Oh ffs, am I going to have to make a new list?
It’s a funny old thing but I had no idea how many people had dogs until we got our own. Everywhere I go there are people being dragged around the muddy byways of Halifax by hounds of such wonderfully varied shapes and sizes.
And what a friendly bunch they are. I have had more conversations with strangers than I thought possible and each time there seems to be an obligatory admiration of each others pooches and a standard set of questions as to age, breed and name.
It certainly feels like I have joined a club that has the requirements of having a pocket full of bagged dog poo as its membership card…
So…I’ve had him for about 5 weeks. How’s it going?
You know, I think I quite like being a dog owner. Or perhaps I like my dog. Either way, it’s been a pretty pleasant experience so far. We spend most of our time together given that I am working from home so I have had chance to put time into training him which means Ive been able to house train him with less than a dozen accidents (pee only) and he has also been sleeping all night so that’s some key boxes ticked.
He’s had his jabs now so from yesterday he can also go out for walks. That has been less successful but I just need to get him used to traffic and stuff. Nothing major to worry about. Equally, hes still a bit bitey but so much less than he was. He seems to have a thing for Mrs Afterwards’ feet which whilst funny is also dangerous as no one should touch her feet. Ever. The kids thought I was joking once and tried to tickle them and we nearly had to put them up for adoption afterwards. What has amazed me is how much he has grown. He has literally doubled in size in a month. I mean how is that even possible. He’s putting on weight faster than me in lockdown which is quite something indeed!
I have an experiment I am going to be posting about which is going to explore that a little more, keep an eye out for it trust me it’s some serious scientific stuff for sure!
I will admit that I didn’t think that I would like him as much as I do, but as Mrs afterwards’ keeps telling me, there is no love like that of a grumpy old man and the dog he did not want.
With Christmas on the way and lockdown easing a little bit here I am looking forward to seeing what the next month holds for us both. Should be fun.
So you know I got me a hound right? Well if not I did. Gorgeous little lab. Anyway, turns out despite having plenty of places to relieve himself he has become obsessed with befouling my beautiful lockdown rockery I worked so hard at.
This lovely little bouncing befouler seems hell bent on declining the offer of a whole selection of suitable defecation options in favour of besmirching my succulents.
Were working through it and I am not quite sure who will win to be honest. He already massacred one of my delicate alpines in a most upsetting manner after he had a few too many treats which agitated his tummy so 1-0 to him I guess.
On the upside though I did discover a hidden benefit of dog ownership when I got to the shop without a mask. Three poo bags tied around my head did the job nicely. Down side though was that I nearly bloody suffocated for the sake of toilet roll and a sliced loaf.
After 4 years of nagging by the youngest blonde child we were eventually worn down and last week we brought home our new puppy. He’s the cutest little fox red Labrador retriever and despite being very much against having one Im rather enjoying him…