Friday, March 5, 2010

Sea shells and pine cones

Well after yesterdays solitary walk without the bog monster I was really looking forward to the days adventure, but before I speak of this days deeds a few words upon the events (or lack of them) of the day before. If you read my ramblings at fairly frequent intervals you’ll be aware that Lucy is never far from my side on my excursions ‘out there’. Her unceasing antics a constant source of pleasure to me. But with old smelly not quite in the first flush of youth anymore, Lucy that is, not me, well ok so I’m aging slightly and yes sometimes the air around me may not be as sweet as it could be at times! But anyway the point was to give the old gal a rest before the planned run up the coast, and also give me a chance to get a little closer to the fauna and bring back some spectacular photographs. Mmm yes the weather was excellent; barely a cloud in the sky and the first hints of smells and sights of spring assaulted my senses. Wildlife? as I left the fun cruiser behind I hear call the mewing of buzzards in the distance and the scolding of more than two dozen blue tit marshes’ as I disturb their spring courting rituals. Spectacular pictures? Bah the buzzards kept to limits of my field of vision for the whole walk, just skimming the far flung tree lines ahead (what few tree lines that are left that is!).

The newly opened expanses of er nothingness after the recent tree felling have already stared to encourage other creatures to venture onto the hillsides including a couple of kestrels hovering over the scared earth, probably looking for the now exposed shrews which I know are abundant up here. But these pesky critters too are camera shy, although to be honest I think that after the constant walking with Lucy I may well have lost any vestige of stealth in stalking and this I hope will improve with more lone trips in the future. One last word on this lone walking is the attitude of folk towards me on the lower trails where city types come to conquer the great, ahem, untamed wilderness. When accompanied by my unhinged companion, people acknowledge me with a smile, a nod, a quick hello or even a brief chat but hells bells and call me Mr.’ Hyde, take away old stinky and I suddenly become a leper whom most people shun, could it be that a man and his dog are perfectly acceptable upon the trails but a lone man is someone to be avoided by most? Or maybe they realise that the smell isn’t the dog anymore? I dunno but it’s true what they say; there’s nowt stranger than folk.

Enough of yesterday’s photographic non-entity, onward with today’s rather splendid seaside adventure. With the fun cruiser loaded up with sufficient supplies consisting of all my usual, ready for anything, paraphernalia with the addition of Lucy’s collapsible drinking bowl, 2 litres of water for her highness, two rather large scotch eggs for moi, and the Foo Fighters “skin and bones” acoustic album making the car speakers hum we set forth in cold but really bright and sunny conditions. Ninety minutes later, £3 pounds lighter for the car park (bloody rip off merchants) and with the last dull aches caused by a tad much cider (again) a distant memory the dynamic duo had arrived. Two minutes later due to Lucy’s over enthusiastic behaviour it was very nearly time to set off home, minus one dog!

We threaded our way through the steep sided sand dunes that shelter the forest from all but the worst of the sea’s winter waves, the vista that opened up before me was absolutely breath taking and spellbinding and I knew straight away that this is where I’m meant to be, a tall, dark, forest behind me, the sea gleaming in all its majestic strength before me, and on the horizon the snow capped welsh mountains beckoned, their feet bathed in the morning haze, yes I was truly home. I lack the words to truly described the emotions that surged through me and to be honest if anyone had been close enough to see they may well have seen the odd salty trickle of a tear or two escape from my eyes (damn it, so much for the rugged adventurer).

But there’s something missing here, mmm lets see now, sea? check, forest? check, dream like mountains floating in the distance? check, Lucy? Bloody hell fire like a bat out of hell the Muppet is tear arsing towards the, not inconsiderable, breakers at a fair old rate of knots, ears pinned back with the vision of the biggest stretch of bog water her bug eyes have ever clapped sight on. Oblivious to my panicked yelling she plunges in at full pelt, only to have the first wave bowl her over and the second commence to drag the floundering, spluttering and shocked fool under and outwards to the deepening water. With my heart pumping I raced into the breakers, yes I know all the arguments about putting yourself in danger for the sake of just a dog, but Lucy, for all my complaining is not a dog, she’s family, companion, confidant and down right nuisance and I’d be buggered if I was leaving her without doing my all for her. When I say raced into the breakers actually I only got as far as the first layers of spume on the water’s edge when a rather sheepish and bedraggled hound emerged from the swell and started swimming strongly back to shore, I’d forgotten how strong a swimmer she is, after all she’s usually only in slime up to her belly where swimming is not an option. With a wary eye I watch her gain the beach and then took her back to the fun cruiser for fresh water and a check over. All being well we set forth once more, this time with a little more care in Lucy’s approach to the sea.

The walk along the beach was invigorating to say the least, with sand dunes several meters high on one side and the sea just beginning to retreat leaving only a meter to walk between water and sand cliff, there was no lea from the fresh onshore breeze that swept across our path. We must have travelled for about four miles along this narrow, exposed course the sun and wind combining to make the flesh of my face tingle in a most satisfactory way. We rounded the headland and I was stopped dead in my tracks by snow capped mountains ahead now in clear view over the Menai straights, the earlier haze now burnt away by the strengthening sun high in the sky. As always they call to me and this year I’ll not disappoint them, with no excuse about fitness or time to hinder me I’m already planning my first tentative routes for early May, but that’s the future, no need to look too far ahead, I’ve plenty to occupy myself with for the time being. We retraced our footprints in the sand and paused at the fun cruiser for a bite and a drink (water not cider – honest).

Then it was time for a turn in the forest, though not as invigorating as the beach the tall pine trees whispering to each other in the breeze held us in their own type of magic and awe. Lucy, more at home now, stretched her legs fully and put up a pair of red squirrels, a pleasant change from the grey vermin that I usually encounter in the woods on the mainland. With an angry chattering they paused out of her range and continued to scold us both until we’d passed. And this is how the remainder of the afternoon was spent just wandering aimlessly through this magical forest catching glimpses of the Nutkin family members, being followed for some way by a brace of over curious rooks and listening the calming sound of the breakers which were never too far away. With both of us starting to feel our muscles tighten up we found our bearings and bee lined back to the fun cruiser.

I unloaded my pockets of the assortment of shells, cones and drift wood collected on a whim, finished off the scotch eggs, helped by you know who, and headed eastwards back home with just a tinge of regret that I didn’t actually live here, one day perhaps in my dotage maybe…. but lets not linger to long on regret for already the imagined smell of fish n chips is filling my senses, I’ve had the foresight to put some cider in the fridge, Clare will be home tomorrow and all is well. A simple, but happy life that’s all I can ask for and on days like today I’m answered back threefold.


2 Tramps said...

Wonderful dog, great adventures - lucky you!

Murphyfish said...

hey 2 tramps,
thats got to be the quickest comment i've ever had, it's 1.20 am over her (clare not back till tomorrow, i mean later today!)just thought i'd put up now yesterdays post up then off to bed, glad you still like my musings.
Nite nite,

Emily said...

Thanks for sharing these great pics! I look forward to hearing of your adventures in the mountains over there.

I'm so glad that Lucy is okay. I totally understand about going after a beloved pet. The last picture of her is great! I think she is either smiling or trying to recover from the drink of salty water.

LSP said...

Nice pics - epic post!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, John! That is a beautiful area to wander. How I wish I could express my enthusiasm as you do, or even only half as much. Your way with words is enviable. Thank you for sharing your day out, practically felt like I was there!

Le Loup said...

A dam fine post John, you do write very well. Your trip to the beach took me back, there are times when I would like to walk along a British beach again. We are thinking of coming over in your summer 2011, but we will have to wait and see. Accomidation and travel is so expensive these days so we are searching for less expensive alternatives to hotels and rented campervans!
I just love you honest matter of fact way of explaining things, no fancy long words or French comments to make me dive for the dictionary!
Regards, Le Loup.

Wolfy said...


Very nice photos and story. Labs have terific swimming instincts, even if they usually only wade in bog muck.

Your forest coming right uop to th enarrow sand beach is a feature I'm not used to seeing on the beaches I've been on. Most have been longer stretches of sand, and much flatter. Except in Maine.

Looks like you made it thru Clare's absence!


Leigh said...

Mountains, trees, the sea!!!! Sounds like heaven! I am sure to dream of the salty beach air tonight. I bet poor Lucy snoozed all the home.

Murphyfish said...

Thanks for dropping by, just caught up with your lab chase LOL. And no Lucy’s not smiling just working on her Elvis impression!

Thank you my good fellow, your comments are always welcome.

Glad that you enjoyed the post and thank you for the kind words, always a pleasure to receive praise from someone of your stature my good man.

Le Loup,
Thank you for the kind words, e-mail with your plans if your thinking of coming over and I’ll try and source some ideas from this end, but your right about travel being expensive!

Hey Wolfy,
Yep still alive, just! Thing about the bog monster is that she’s half Lab and half Boxer and I think that she’s inherited the maddest traits from both! To be honest the majority of beaches that I frequent are similar to what you describe, this one’s just that bit special.

Yep, Lucy was comatose for the whole trip back – woke up to share me fish n chips though! And yes it is heaven for me, like I say the simple things are what make days like these all the richer, and although usually without two pennys to rub together I consider my self a rich man indeed.

To one and all,
Once again thank you for taking the time to post your comments, your all fast becoming a part of my life that I look forward to every day.
Your friend,

Fish Whisperer said...

What a great read. I love your writing style and your bog monster.
There is nothing like the ocean and when the forest meets it, it is really special.

Bob Mc said...

A good post John. It’s been years since I’ve been to the coast and redwood country. Rain forest and mountains rising up almost from the beach. I grew up close to country like that, and I miss it somewhat. I have my mountains here all around me, but pine and cedar dominate. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the really big trees. Take care of old Lucy. I have one here that’s 14 years old. She sees me saddle a horse, and she wants to go to the mountains again, but I know she’s just not up to it anymore.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

I too enjoyed this one. Your words and descriptions can make me feel like I'm there. That's the best!

Murphyfish said...

Yes you’re right, such places are special indeed. Also to sight of the ocean has turned my thoughts to rod n line, me thinks that it’s time that fish are back on the menu.

Hey Bob,
Redwood country, now there’s a place I’d like to go wandering for a while, as for Lucy it’s hard to temper her excursions with a little caution now she’s feeling her bones a little (me too!), getting the balance right though will keep her ‘out there’ with me for sometime yet.

Hi Karen,
I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and that my attempts at relating my adventures are working for you.

To all,
Thank you again for taking the time to drop by and pass your more than welcome comments.
Best regards,

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Great post fella, your best yet

Murphyfish said...

Hey SBW,
Strong praise indeed from one such as your esteemed self, I'm honored and pleased that you're enjoying me scribbles, I must be doing something right. Thanks for dropping by matey.

Tovar Cerulli said...

Hey, Murphyfish, fun post. Glad neither you nor your four-legged companion got swallowed by the surf!

Murphyfish said...

Hi Tovar,
It was a heart in the mouth moment, thank you for dropping by and I'm glad that you enjoyed the post.

butchadams said...

thanks for the visit John. I like dogs with a little white on the face. I will be back for more UK pictures. Butch

Murphyfish said...

Hi Butch,
Glad you like the pictures, I'll try to keep them coming.

Shoreman said...

Hello John. Mark from Northern California Trout. Can't believe I didn't put my picture on your follow list. But, by doing so, I have the honor of being your 40th follower. You have a great way with words and it's nice to see pictures from across the pond. Keep the posts coming.


Murphyfish said...

Hi Mark,
No, the honour is all mine, for anybody to find my ramblings enjoyable enough to follow gives me a feeling of reward and pleasure. I only hope that I can keep on keeping you lot interested! Oh and congrats on being number 40 (wish that I still had that age to look forward to instead behind me!).
All the best,