A green lake

This healthy barley crop has benefited from hot sun and heavy rain in the past two weeks. As the wind catches the crop, it looks like a ruffled green lake. Tilly and The Happy Moonraker often jog past and we keep an eye on how near it is to being harvested. Not for a few weeks yet, though.

 

Spring is warmly welcomed

“Please may I have your number,” says one lamb to the other.

Tilly the terrier and the Happy Moonraker have loved watching spring unfold even more than usual this year. After that wet and muddy winter, a week or two of dry weather is welcome.

Snowdrops, primroses, daffodils and, my favourites, narcissi, have done well.

Fruit tree blossom has possibly been the best it’s ever been, and there are lambs, bluebells and wood anemones wherever you look. The persistent cold wind seems to have put off the more sensible butterflies from appearing so we’ve only seen one or two: small white, brimstone and a brave peacock.

There have also been some heavy frosts so anyone with a low-lying garden in a rural area unfortunately had their magnolias and then wisteria spoiled. Salisbury’s city centre ones did well. They are protected by buildings.

Lambs are everywhere, and it is lovely to see how active they become at the end of each day, leaving their mothers’ sides and gathering together for fun and games. A friend who keeps a few sheep next to her pony paddock has been surprised by several twin births and, for the first time, one group of triplets so her midwifery and post-natal skills have been put to the test.

The farmers are now keen for some prolonged rain, otherwise there will be a lot of stunted crops.

Spot the cock pheasant hiding among the bluebells under the apple tree, photographed through the window.

Tilly the terrier rests in the daisies.

 

A walk in the woods

Winter sunset across the pond: I just love the reflection, the trees looking like lace.

Winter sunset across the pond: I just love the reflection, the trees looking like lace.

IT takes a certain determination to overlook the grey skies and rain and try to have a busy day. The Happy Moonraker’s first thought is to curl up under the duvet and forget trying to do anything useful.

Tilly the terrier doesn’t seem to notice weather. One day is like any other to her: food, walk, run, food, walk, run, doze, bark, sleep, and then more of the same.

If we’ve managed to pick a time when it is not raining, we have had more lovely walks in the beech woods.

Tilly and the two dogs she knows best, Budleigh and Rosie, know exactly where to go. Tilly ignores them both and refuses to play but the others romp and run and make sure they get as muddy as possible.

Budleigh is an enthusiastic Labrador and Rosie is a high-speed lurcher.

A female roe deer suddenly saw us as we turned a corner on the edge of the wood. Then she was off, through the young crop of oilseed rape.

A female roe deer suddenly saw us as we turned a corner on the edge of the wood. Then she was off, through the young crop of oilseed rape.

Tilly investigates quietly, sniffing and sometimes digging, but she is never far from me. Everything changes, though, if she spots a squirrel. Then all hell breaks loose. That’s when she sounds like a pack of feral terriers.

These pretty fungi (see below) were in the beech woods, just by the path.

These pretty fungi (see below) were in the beech woods, just by the path.

I did well to photograph the little red mushrooms without Tilly’s snout dominating the shot. She was fascinated. According to an identification website, they are called Elf Cups (Sarcoscypha coccinea) and are quite common, although I have never seen them before. They are described as edible but I think I’ll give them a miss.

 

How to get warm but stay cool

COLD mornings and cold nights mean that you have to move a little faster. You certainly don’t have to resort to dressing your terrier in a knitted coat, however pretty it may be.

I almost sensed Tilly’s contempt as we walked past this terrier waiting for its owner outside M&S.

A well-dressed terrier on a cold morning. Or a dog-owner going a little OTT when it comes to the care of a hairy animal.

A well-dressed terrier on a cold morning. Or a dog-owner going a little OTT when it comes to the care of a hairy animal.

Tilly’s predecessor in The Happy Moonraker’s life, Herbert, was once given an attractive subtly coloured, hand-knitted coat but fortunately he never had to wear it because it was much too small.

Herbert the Jack Russell demonstrating that the coat he was given by a well-wisher was much too small.

Herbert the Jack Russell demonstrating that the coat he was given by a well-wisher was much too small.

How not to park

bad-parking-10-16

THE Happy Moonraker long ago realised that the world is divided into people who don’t pull the roller towel down to expose a clean section for the next person, and those who do.

It’s all a question of thoughtfulness and consideration for others.

The same can be said for parking.

Have you ever seen parking like this? Coming towards the junction from the right, how was I meant to turn left past this vehicle, without going so far into the narrow road that I was on the wrong side and likely to hit an oncoming vehicle on the blind bend ahead? To say nothing of obstructing any vehicle that might appear from my right.

It seems the Highway Code can be flouted when it is Salisbury Rugby Festival, Daddy has overslept and his little rugby player can’t be late.

Quote from the Highway Code: “The nearest you can park to a junction is 10 metres (or 32 feet). This is to allow drivers emerging from, or turning into, the junction a clear view of the road they are joining. It also allows them to see hazards such as pedestrians or cyclists at the junction.”

That sort of arrogant parking behaviour is on a par with that of people who leave their dog’s mess neatly bagged but next to the footpath or hanging in the hedge. Agreed, the offending heap has been picked up, but why assume someone else will deal with the bag?

Won over by the Olympics

THE Happy Moonraker had no intention of wasting time watching the Olympics, especially after the Russian doping controversy. And then we (Team GB, that is) started winning medals and, all of a sudden, I found myself checking the medal table several times a day, watching some of my favourite events and enjoying all the action.

I am probably not alone in feeling a lot of pride in our athletes for the hard work they’ve put in to achieve so much and to have reached home unscathed. That, by the way, is an oblique reference to the unforgivable misbehaviour of four US swimmers.

The past couple of weeks have given The Happy Moonraker time to dig out some slightly relevant photos.

The torso is of former Olympic swimmer Mark Foster who was one of the television pundits for Rio. This golden sculpture was created by Ben Dearnley. It formed part of his exhibition held in Salisbury Cathedral cloisters four years ago, and the passing tourist hamming it up behind the torso adds a nice touch.

When Heather Stanning won her second gold medal with fellow rower Helen Glover, I was reminded of the unwitting shot I took three months after the London Olympics of then Captain (now Major) Stanning leading her unit away from St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury, after the Remembrance Day service. It wasn’t until I looked at my photos on the computer a couple of hours later that I realised who it was.

The golden torso of Mark Foster with a tourist adding a little extra action.

The golden torso of Mark Foster with a tourist adding a little extra action.

The day job: double-Olympic gold medallist Major (then Captain) Heather Stanning marches at the head of her Royal Artillery unit in Salisbury.

The day job: double-Olympic gold medallist Major (then Captain) Heather Stanning marches at the head of her Royal Artillery unit in Salisbury.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major (pictured with Lord Hunt) was responsible for the decision to have a national lottery which has generously funded sport among many other things since the early 1990s.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major (pictured with Lord Hunt) was responsible for the decision to have a national lottery which has generously funded sport among many other things since the early 1990s.

Tilly the terrier was not in the slightest bit interested in the Olympics, of course, but she had to keep her eyes slightly open just in case she missed anything.

Tilly the terrier was not in the slightest bit interested in the Olympics, of course, but she had to keep her eyes slightly open just in case she missed anything.

A dog’s life in Salisbury’s shops

Tilly the terrier relaxes in bed after a busy morning of research in shops and cafés.

Tilly the terrier relaxes in bed after a busy morning of research in shops and cafés.

TILLY the terrier says it’s her turn now. She has been making a fairly thorough assessment of dog-friendly places in Salisbury and is keen to share the results of her findings with other dogs who may be reading The Happy Moonraker’s postings.

Whether it is sitting next to her human in a coffee shop or supervising the odd purchases in a charity shop, Tilly takes a keen interest in what is going on. Like any other self-respecting individual, human or canine, she hates to feel unwelcome,

She has heard her human moaning that every other shop in the town these days is a café or a charity shop, but in most of them she is welcome, which is good news.

Robert Lewis, who has the Belgian chocolate shop and café in the High Street, says: “We are dog-friendly if your dog is friendly.” No problems there, then.

Still in the High Street, Tilly has been into Raffinée, the Italian shoe shop, across the road to the High Street Post Office (she isn’t allowed into the main Post Office in Castle Street, though), into the India Shop, in Boston Tea Party (upstairs and downstairs), but she is turned away, with her little tail between her legs, from Café Rouge.

She is welcome in the Trussell Trust shop and also in the British Heart Foundation shop. As you would expect, she is always warmly welcomed into the Dogs’ Trust shop in Crane Street, but she is only allowed in to the Children’s Society shop if The Happy Moonraker is handing goods in.

As Tilly’s research is extensive she thinks it would be a good idea to divide her results into separate postings. She looks forward to telling you more about the shops and cafés that she has patronised, or been turned away from. In the meantime, she is resting.