It’s early evening and the first week that our pup is allowed Beyond The Gate. With great excitement, my daughters and I get ready for our first walk together with our new dog. Taking the vet’s advice, we head out to the fields rather than along the busy road, and I’m looking forward to a bit of late sunshine, listening to the birds chattering overhead and watching the breeze rustle the barley like a big golden sea.
We’ve gone less than a hundred yards when small daughter stings herself on a nettle. Of course, there are no dock leaves to be seen by this particular nettle plant so she deals with the problem by wailing at top volume, sounding for all the world as if she’s being murdered. Big daughter exclaims in amazement that she appears to have a wi-fi signal in the field and intends to let all her friends on Facebook know right now. I’m wrestling with small daughter who’s intent on marching back home whilst I’m about to march in the opposite direction to find a dock leaf, and when I look down the dog has found a Smell and is rolling in it. It’s not quite the idyllic walk that I had imagined.
At times like these, I have no hesitation in sending out a silent message for help and there, on the path in front of us, I see a dock plant. Thank goodness! Small arm wrapped in leaves, Facebook happily updated, we retrieve the dog from the Smell and carry on across the field. We spot a parachute in the distance and wonder where it might land. We stroke the soft seedheads of a thistle, in such contrast to the spiny leaves, and wonder how Eeyore could ever have thought they were good to eat. Big daughter wonders if we can make it as far as the houses at the other end of the path – a good half mile away. The dog snuffles happily, his tail in constant wag. The world is a happy place again and I offer a silent ‘thank you’.
We’ve gone far enough and it’s time to turn back. Small daughter’s legs are tired and she says it’s too far to walk back to our house. Big daughter wants to hold the dog’s lead now but is walking too fast for small daughter who wanted to be in front. The dog wants to be in front and pushes everyone else out of the way. Small daughter bursts into tears and demands to be carried. I’m putting it down to end of term tiredness and praying that it’s not a sign of what’s to come over the summer holidays. I manage to cajole everyone to walk on their own two (or four) legs and before long we’re back at the offending nettle plant.
“Make sure you don’t touch it this time,” I say, wondering if I should have picked another dock leaf just in case.
I’m so busy helping small daughter avoid the nettle that I’ve completely forgotten about the Smell. The dog hasn’t. Looks like it’s bath time all round when we get home. So much for a nice quiet walk! Same time, same place tomorrow, then?!