This morning I let my feet do the directing. They took me into Morden Park and along the wooded paths, having approached them along the cleared route between the backs of Hillcross Avenue gardens and the park itself. An untended fenced section peters out into pleasant woodland in which I was confronted by a Rottweiler which was more surprised than me and turned tail to join its owner and spaniel companion. The gentleman walking these pets greeted me with ‘no dog?’, and there followed an entertaining conversation about our mutual need for exercise. While this was going on the elderly larger dog stood panting whilst the spaniel sat patiently. I had first met a Rottweiler on one of my training runs around Newark in the 1990s. I regularly ran twenty miles on a Sunday morning, often passing fairly isolated houses, animals belonging to the residents of which tended to get rather excited at my trotting past. They were not always fenced in, so I would slow to a walk and hope for the best. A snapping at the heels was the usual treatment. One day an agile representative of the breed cleared the gate in its boundary wall, leapt to my side, frolicked around, and nipped my wrist. Fortunately it seemed to be a playful puppy. I’m sure that had it had evil intent I would have lost my arm. I went into the yard, rang a bell, and politely informed the owner that her pet was a highjumper. She was rather surprised.
Whilst still on the first path today I stopped to look at a red phone box in someone’s garden. (Click here for a large collection in the garden of Oak Tree Farm) A man called out to me, wondering if I wanted anything. He, too, had a vociferous dog. Perhaps the sight of a white head peering over their high fence had somewhat purturbed them. I explained what I was doing and I think the gentleman was satisfied his security was not about to be breached. It was only after I had moved on that I remembered Kersall and the woman who had hosted a bed and breakfast holiday Jessica, Sam, Louisa, and I had enjoyed in 1987 in that village outside Newark. We had decided to stay up there for a fortnight and search for a house. My discovery, with my friend Giles Darvill, of Lindum House advertised by Gascoigne’s estate agency in Southwell, was the result.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember our hostess’s name, which is a pity because she ran an excellent establishment, and was instrumental in a campaign to save her hamlet’s famous red telephone box from extinction. She carpeted the box, and kept fresh flowers, a visitors book, pencil, and various telephone books inside it. It was regularly cleaned and sweet-scented, and received many visitors. Unfortunately it wasn’t profitable and whichever of our enlightened telephone operators was responsible for this treasure wished to close it. The battle to keep it functional continued into 2008, later residents having kept up the continuing care. I do not know the outcome.
Across the other side of the park today I met the man with the two dogs again. We greeted each other warmly. A very fit female runner also crossed my path several times. With us both still on the move, I suggested that she might one day run a marathon. She wasn’t convinced.
This evening Jackie and I dined on a sausage and pork casserole I had made some months earlier. In case anyone is worried that it might have been off, it came out of the freezer. I finished off the Maipo Merlot 2010 and began a rather fine Era Constana 2009 Rioja. Jackie preferred a Wickham Limited reserve white of 2010. She’d probably have drunk Hoegaarden had we any in, but we hadn’t.