Thursday, 9 March 2017

Taking the dog for a ride....

The weather has been somewhat kinder for the last couple of days and my ride yesterday was an early start. The warmer temperatures combined with the moisture from recent precipitation has seen some unusually heavy mists around here, mingling with them as I ride my usual 15 mile route, has been a number of farm bonfires. These seem to smoulder on, all day and every day, the light fragrant smoke drifts horizontally over the fields and threads its way through the hedges. The countryside seem to disappear in a dream of pearl coloured vapour from which trees and hedges emerge like islands from a sleeping sea. Only immediately overhead is the sky visible, and the edge of the haze surrounding the blue above catches the beams of reflected sunlight in a charmed ring. All around the the earth seems to ripple with its melting folds of mists. The mystery and quiet beauty of it all seems beyond analysis.

After the thrashing from Storm Doris I'm surprised that there are still hazel catkins hanging limp, waiting. There are daisies too amongst Doris's debris, flowering among storm-strewn branches along the verges. My botanical knowledge is sadly lacking but i do recognise a patch of celandine, like fallen stars, unfolding on the banks next to the canal. Wordsworth was a lover of celandine - seeing them as symbols of the returning sun He used their petals cooked in lard as a treatment for piles and his enthusiasm for them was such that they can be found carved on his gravestone.

As I meander gently along my circular route the early morning sun elicits a kaleidoscopic dazzle of olive, emerald and violet - but on this stretch there's a perishing wind which seems to have persisted for weeks - it pushes through my garments and chills me to the bone. Up ahead I see two cyclists battling the headwind - and although I'm not moving quickly I can see I'm gaining on them. I hang back slightly, not wishing to overtake but soon I'm up behind them. They are a couple, man and wife, he with a large box somehow fixed, precariously, with bungee cords to his bike. He glances round to spot me as I settle in behind and moves into the side to allow me to pass - "It's okay I shout, "just admiring your saddlebag" - he laughs and says something but it's lost in the wind. Then I notice that inside the box is a dog - a Pug to be precise. There is a polythene window at the back of the box and two ventilation slits cut into the sides. The dog looks happy enough though. "He'll go to sleep in a minute" the man informs me.

We chat as we cycle along. The couple have sold up their house and jettisoned their belongings in favour of moving onto a narrowboat moored at Market Bosworth. He tells me how they've spent their first winter cuddled up next to the wood burner that he had installed - "Beautiful warm" he says "Good insulation as well" I'm interested enough to start questioning him about this but unfortunately they turn off at the next junction. As they swing off I can see that the dog has indeed settled and looks to be sleeping.

The barge man - and his dog-box!

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