Daily Archives: May 14, 2007

Best friends for life

That’s what the walk leader predicted, and he may well have been right.

Last Saturday morning loomed with a slight break in the torrential rain (thank goodness – yesterday’s Walk the Wight turned into Wade the Wight, and I was really pleased we hadn’t gone for it this year when we watched a parade of soggy and dripping walkers plodding past as we drove to church, and apparently one of our school kids opened her jacket after walking the last four miles and removed her walker number from her jumper beneath, only for it to disintegrate in her hands!). We packed waterproof clothing and a flask in our rucksack, put the walking boots in the car, and set off for Jubilee Down – yet another of my favourite places, and yet one that we haven’t been to for years.

As we drew into the car park, Smudgelet and I in the Smudgemobile, we both felt our hearts leap as we found ourselves parking alongside a van from which there disembarked five rather unusual passengers – llamas from Wight Llama Treks. For the morning was to be spent walking the Downs with a llama.
Are they here yet?

It was a little bit of an extravagence, considering I am supposed to be being really careful with money at the moment, but it was an opportunity that neither Smudgelet nor I were ready to miss. And getting there early gave us the advantage of getting to know all the llamas before the others arrived, and also for Smudgelet to choose which one he wanted to accompnay us on our walk. He selected Manuel, the white one here with Kipper and Bruce.
leader of the pack

And Manuel was rather fond of Smudgelet, too

Is that another thistle I see?

Ebenezer Here’s Ebenezer. Spotty was a bit too shy to get a good photo of him.

The llamas were wonderful. They didn’t spit – well, only once, and that was with good reason. They were excellent company, and so funny. Bruce was supposed to be the leader, but Manuel wasn’t really impressed to be in second place and kept increasing his pace until he was in front, where he was quite happy. The others were classic, though. They too would get up a burst of speed and overtake, trotting along quite happily at the front until all of a sudden they’d realise there was nobody in front of them and panic until someone else had caught up and taken the lead! They were determined to be allowed to munch en route, despite us being instructed to prevent them from doing so except at the set munching stations.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm..... As you can see, the llama’s were quite determined.

It was absolutely freezing, especially for poor Smudgelet who had forgotten his coat (the wally!) but he turned to me at one point and said it was the best day of his life. I know how he feels – we really did bond with Manuel, as well as getting really quite fond of the other four too, and would love to walk with him again. We went at a pace of about 2 miles an hour, a nice gentle stroll with several stops for munching, to allow extremely perplexed horses to pass unmolested, and for rather extended toilet stops (when one goes, they all go!) which gave us a perfect chance to take in the gorgeous (if rather windswept) view.

Say cheeeeeeeeeeese

It was a sad moment watching the llamas being led into their transport to go home – we watched and waited until the van was right out of sight…….. and then we hopped in the car and headed down to the field where we knew they lived (thanks to the Wightmeet treasure hunt and Rosamundi’s amazing llama-spotting skills) and raced to the south of the Island to wave to them again 😀

Heading for home - Manuel is last to leave

Interlude

You’ll like this:

You may have read in the blog below about the walk which my sister and I did, accompanied by Smudgelet on wheels, along the canal towpath to the rather nice little cafe at the waterside. You may or may not (I suspect the latter) be surprised to know that my sister and I decided to stop at said cafe for a cup of coffee and an icecream. Smudgelet, however, was reluctant to part company with his bike so he stayed on the towpath, cycling back and forth and, for fun, peeping over the wall at us and calling “hello”. The towpath itself was quite a bit lower than the cafe garden so he had to reach up with his hands, grab the stones of the wall, and leap up to do this, which was indeed quite amusing to see first some fingers and then a helmetted pair of eyes appear above the parapet and rapidly disappear again.

After a little while the whole body of a Smudgelet heaved itself up onto a slightly lower piece of wall further along the garden and, with a wave, sat there admiring the view. Then he turned and called to my sister in an “interested enquiry” voice: “Auntie J, which, if you dont’ mind me asking, is the path to Bath?” but pronouncing both a’s as long in a rather posh manner. “The parth to Barth?” we echoed. “Yes, the path to Bath!”.

“Now the question is, do you want the path to Bath or the parth to Barth?” Our accent, coming from the Midlands, naturally shortens the a while Smudgelet’s Isle of Wight accent lengthens it so it was enormous fun to tease him. From here we proceeded to tease still further: “To get to Barth you go up the stairs, holding onto the bannister for safety, along the landing and through the door immediately in front of you.” Smudgelet is such fun to tease – he gets so flustered and exhasperated 😀 “Stop being silly, will you? If I wanted to go to Bath, would I go to the left from here or to the right?” “Oh no, Smudgelet, you can’t have a bath in the canal, you’d be arrested!” “Look, just answer my question and stop messing around, you two. Which direction would I go if I wanted to go to the place called Bath?”

We gave in. Having absolutely no idea which way it was, we guessed and my sister said, “I think it’s more likely to be to the left than to the right -yes, I think it’s that way”.

Seconds later the top of two cycle helmets went past the wall alongside us in the direction we’d indicated, and a lady’s voice called out, “Thank you, mummy and Auntie J!”

Bank Holiday

Who cares about the weather when you’ve got good company and plenty of coffee?

We had a fantastic weekend at my sister’s. I hadn’t been there since Dad became ill so it was quite an adventure. It felt odd, driving there without Dad – I think I’d only ever done the journey once without him – but Smudgelet and I talked about him en route and it really felt rather nice, at last remembering him from when he was well rather than the old and frail man who is in my more recent memories.

It was a beautiful afternoon on the Saturday so we took Smudgelet’s bike with us to Bradford on Avon, one of my favourite places, and went for a walk along the canal to the cafe and then back along the river bank to the craft shops at the end. It was delightful. Each direction was totally different, though I think I liked the river best. There was a magic moment when we spotted a heron in a tree and spent ages taking photos (none came out!) and watching him as he turned this way and that, soaking up the sunshine.

S4021506 This was the pirate boat we saw, complete with skull and crossbones, much to Smudgelet’s delight. It was called the Black Pig. Particularly fitting as we are currently reading Arthur Ransome’s Peter Duck.

S4021508
What can beat countryside like this for destressing? “He leads me by still waters – he restores my soul”

S4021511
Never mind Where’s Wally. Spot Smudgelet!

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The boy’s mad – utterly mad!

Sunday we took it easy in the morning and then made our way over to Swindon. SHOPS! Actually, it was a bit disappointing as there was nothing much worth spending on in the designer village, although I did get a rather nice set of saucepans which were rather a bargain but hardly suitable attire for a night out! Oh, and Smudgelet wangled a pair of sandals. But the afternoon made up for it as we visited STEAM, the museum of the Great Western Railway. Oh my, that was absolutely wonderful, and Smudgelet was in seventh heaven.

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Monday’s torrential rain was just perfect too – gave us the ideal excuse for a lie in and a lazy morning drinking coffee and chatting 😀

What a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

God and Screwtape at loggerheads

Ha! Take that, Screwtape. I’ve got God on my side and you’re not going to win.
Mind you, I’d really rather you didn’t take that as a challenge to do your worst, cos I’d really rather you gave up right now. But I’ve got God on my side and you’re not going to win.

OK, so you sniggered up your sleeve when my car failed its MOT and looked like being out of action all weekend and presented me with a bill far outreaching my current bank balance. But you reckoned without my wonderful garage people who managed to get the part they needed extra speedily so that I was only without my car for a day; they felt so sorry for me having nothing to show for the great expense I was incurring so they gave me a voucher for a free car wash to make up for it; and a letter arrived to confirm that the Post Office had finally admitted defeat over our wrangling with them and were willing to let me have my little bonus nest-egg from Dad (the one that’s all mine and not shared with the siblings and thus accessible immediately) which just covered the cost of the car.

Defeated on that one, you took advantage of us going to church in a rush and not closing a door properly to tempt Charlie Cat into tackling the new gerbil cage. We came home to find sawdust everywhere, a cat-and-gerbil chase going on between Charlie and Ratty with Ratty cornered and facing his doom and no sign of Mousie to be had at all. But again you failed cos God loves gerbils too. I stepped inside the door and swept Ratty up into my open hand where he sat safe and sound while Smudgelet relocated Charlie into a bedroom. I put Ratty safely in his cage to recover but then faced the dilemma of finding Mousie. Surely Charlie hadn’t eaten him!

All the internal doors had been left open except the bedroom doors. How would we ever track him down? We couldn’t keep Charlie locked up for ever, yet it was obvious that he’d be the first to find our missing gerbil. A quick and fervent prayer… and what do you know? Smudgelet goes into the lounge and shouts “Mum, under the piano! I saw him!” and sure enough, there he is. It was a bit of a challenge to catch him without frightening or hurting him too much, but catch him we did and he’s now safe and sound with Ratty. The cage is relocated to my bedroom where they’ll be safe. I won’t get any sleep, mind, but it’s worth it to know that they’re out of Charlie’s reach. And after a night of being rather shaken and subdued, this morning they have eaten some food and nibbled a cardboard tube so I think they’re going to survive their rather shocking adventure.

And if God cares about two small gerbils (and who wouldn’t? They are rather lovely!) then he’s got to be holding my sons and me in the palm of his hand too! So I’ll trust him to guide us on Saturday and do with the interview what He will.