15th July 2019
We only had a short walk today, having tired the poor chap out yesterday at two public events on the lead. This is his first day off the leash after his dentistry last week.
We played ball in the local woods as we usually do after breakfast. This woodland is about five minutes from home. The whole ground covering is old beech nut husks, and for those old enough to remember the old Joyce Grenfell monologue I am not collecting them to make “useful and acceptable gifts”.
Later in the morning we went for one of our exploratory walks. The dice dropped us at a point 3 Km west of home, in Ashford Hill. There are several footpaths and bridleways here, and I decided to take the south-north route past Brook Farm.
However, knowing that I could easily park at the destination, Oxford Bridge (circled), I decided to start at the finish, so to speak. At Oxford Bridge it was clear how little rain we have had lately.
We set off to the south, passing a paddock that bizarrely and possibly dangerously had electric fencing tape woven between the posts, such that for half the length it would deter horses from leaving the field and for the other half it would shock pedestrians who strayed too close! As no warnings were evident I hope for the landowner’s sake that the fence was not powered, but I was unwilling to experiment. (** see end of this post)
After about a quarter of a mile I got fed up with trying to beat back the brambles and nettles with my walking stick and retreated. This (to quote Michael Caine in the film “A Bridge Too Far”) is the wide part.
Returning to the road we took the path to the north instead. This looked more promising…
It opened into a well-beaten path through open woodland, that looks like it has been used for a recent cross-country cycle or running event, judging from the painted indicators on the trees.
After a couple of hundred yards we came to a wooden footbridge across the River Enborne, into which the largely stagnant stream we were following empties in normal weather conditions. The Enborne is a tributary of the Kennett, which feeds the Thames. Frequently it overflows into the flood plains, but not today.
Crossing a stile at the end of the bridge (Sparky finds stiles a bit of a puzzle) we crossed a field recently cut and baled for silage. The black plastic-wrapped bales were awaiting collection. At the end of the field we came to a confuse-a-dog gate, (x on the map above) beyond which was another overgrown path.
My bare legs having suffered enough on the earlier path, and consulting the map I saw that it was only about 300 yards to a narrow, winding, busy road, I declined further investigation and we returned the way we had come. Sparky made two new doggy acquaintances on the return walk.
** A story of electric fences. Many years ago, at “historical” re-enactment events, it was a common practice for the “soldiers” to take advantage of the then severely limited English public house licensing hours and liberally refresh themselves in the Beer Tent between 12 noon and 2 pm, when alcohol could legally be sold. Thus, by the battle start at 3 pm, most were in urgent need of bladder relief, and usually performed the action against any available hedge or fence immediately before (and sometimes after) entering the public area. Nowadays we have moved on, alcohol is more readily available at any time and thus common sense normally prevails, saving the drinking for after the excitement of battle.
However, on the occasion that I recall, an armoured pikeman walked up to a fence, not noticing that it was electrified, hooked his tassets (loose fitted metal plates hanging from waist height from his chest armour) over the wire fence and, standing in a puddle, released a stream of liquid from his most sensitive parts onto the electric tape, thus completing the electrical circuit by the shortest route. As a bystander, the result was most amusing. As I recall, he received a round of applause, which was probably little compensation.