Walk in the Country


Tt’s always a treat when the Lovely New Forest Cousins come up to this part of sunny Hampshire and, as it happened, when they and the Family Pagan gathered at the home of the Immaculate In- Laws the sun did eventually shine.

The Pagan Pup is welcome at these gatherings along with the two elderly Spaniels belonging to the Lovely Cousins. The dogs tolerate each other apart from the occasional snap beneath the dining table and the Immaculate In-Laws do well to cope with twelve sets of claws skittering across the acres of polished oak that is their lounge.

In the knowledge that there would be an abundance of fabulous fare and Prosecco a- plenty we decided to walk the two or so miles from our Market Town to the rural idyll of the Immaculate In-Laws, plus there was a slim chance the walk would wear out the Pagan Pup for a while.

It’s funny, though not entirely unusual, but the older I get the more I value these get–togethers, the specialness of increasingly close family ties, a chance to spend quality times with relies making memories. Well that’s how I see it but I imagine I can hear my Immaculate Brother in Law retching…

Anyway, and so it was, having been beyond well fed and watered that the great outdoors beckoned. The sun was shinning, but for some while it had not shown it’s golden hue hence it was a tad boggy under foot…

Now the thing is the realities of living in the country are a little harsh to some. Whilst we all have the appropriate kit, (there’s no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing), and enough 4WD’s to keep the average Canadian happy, there is a little hesitance when it comes to actually getting out there. Star I reluctantly threw on his latest designer coat, (all logo and no substance), while Star II repeated his usual mantra,
“Do we HAVE to?” And had forgotten his walking boots.
I heard my Mum and Mary Poppins coming out of my mouth,
“Come along now, it’s a lovely day out there, spit spot”.

Still within half an hour our happy troop were out in the depths of the countryside.
Now the Lovely Cousin is a London girl with a love of fizz and an aversion for too much mileage on foot and any kind of incline. As we chatted along we lost track of, well, the track actually and the time. The light was beginning to fade and we could see the weather closing in; a short cut home was required.
“Up here!” the Immaculate Brother in-Law said with great authority and strode up hill with a pack of excited Spaniels around him just like a scene from Country File.
The rest of us grappled with the claggy mud of the ploughed field while the Lovely Cousin was heard to mutter, ”I hate bloody hills!”

There was no stile at the summit only a three row barred wire fence. The dogs were already through and the Immaculate Brother in-Law with an agility that defies his age climbed over.
My mind wondered what would happen if his Timberlands, (that’s boots not a euphemism), were just to catch the top wire as he climbed…I would of course be punished for such a thought.
The Immaculate Sister in-Law cleared the fence like a young gazelle and then it was my turn. Climbing was definitely out for fear of the posts not supporting my weight rendering me entangled like a scene from War Horse and The Husband saying,” Don’t worry Sandra I’ve got some wire cutters in the van”.
There was only one way to go about it- through the middle. Elegant it was not, think Rhino through the eye of a needle….

The Lovely Cousin was having none of it; “We don’t have mud like this in the New Forest! I can’t get over that wire!”

After some persuasion she decided to go under the bottom wire, bless her, there she was Commando style on her tummy wriggling through sodden earth- Tough Mudder had nothing on her, she was a real trooper.
Star I had captured the scene on his phone for prosperity and for YouTube no doubt.

While the Immaculate Sister in –Law explained that Hampshire mud was easily removed on a boil wash, I glanced down at the shoes of Star II that were indistinguishable from the mud around and all over him.
“Those aren’t your new Russell and Bromley boots are they?”
“Yeah Mum, they’re great! I really love walking now!”

I felt the urge for more Prosecco and a lie down…..
Sandra Pagan.