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A Somerset Sojourn - Paddling with Paddy

Late June took us house sitting in a small Somerset village 5 miles from Glastonbury during festival week to dog sit Paddy, a Wheaten Terrier, who was a great big teddy bear of a dog. The owners had transformed the old village school house into a characterful, interesting and strikingly beautiful home with high ceilings, beams and lots of period detail. The River Bure runs through the village giving easy access to riverside walks at a time when the sun was shining, flowers were blooming and everything was green and lush. The idyllic location was completed by having a local shop with daily fresh bread, next to a fabulous friendly pub with great pub grub, less than a mile's walk from the house. House sitting and dog sitting at its best!

Paddy loved his twice a day walks but didn't like to walk too far, so we often took him out in the car to do riverside walks a bit further afield, though he was a little nervous when young bullocks came over to check him out. Thankfully, he was far more relaxed passing through fields of sheep though maybe this was due to the resemblance Paddy and the sheep bore each other!

On the way back to the car from our first distant riverside walk, we took Paddy to the water's edge where he thoroughly enjoyed a cooling paddle and a refreshing drink before setting off across the final field. Unfortunately for us, in the way of dogs the World over, Paddy decided to end his walk on a personal high by smearing himself with sheep's droppings and fox scat, not just his back, both sides and his head but also somehow inside his ear. He looked mighty pleased with himself. Why do dogs do this??? Lifting him into the back of the car was stomach-turningly unpleasant and the drive home was little better despite all the windows and the sun roof being fully open. Oh, the joys of dog sitting... He was most unimpressed to receive a full shampoo and bath in the back garden when we got home.

I don't think he fully forgave us until a few days later when we took him to Brean Sands where we discovered we could drive the car on the beach which was perfect for ensuring Paddy had a shaded area in which to relax. He enjoyed his shortish walk, and his paddle in the sea even more, before settling down for a snooze alongside the car. Unfortunately, his peace, and ours, was short lived when, despite having 5 miles of beach to choose from, a family of five packed tight into a small hatchback with a noisy, yappy dog added for good measure, parked themselves barely a door's width from our car. I think the whole family and the dog must have been hard of hearing as they communicated with each other, and the dog, by shouting as loudly as possible to each other the whole time. I raised my eyebrows exaggeratedly at Lynn who promptly accused me of being an intolerant, anti-social snob - all badges I wear with pride! So, before settling back into my book, I fished out my Walkman (yes, Walkman, that's how old I am!), set the volume to full and picked Wagner's Ring Cycle, Flight of the Valkyries. Then, as Wagner worked his magic, I transported myself to the role of door-gunner in one of the helicopters participating in the early morning beach attack in 'Apocalypse Now'. First target acquired. Small hatchback car, five frankly unattractive individuals and one small yappy dog. In my mind's eye, a short burst of machine gun fire and problem solved. Spared the dog of course. I'm not a complete animal and it's never the dog's fault. It's just bad owners!

I was jolted out of my reverie by a sharp prod from Lynn who hissed at me to get the car packed as we were moving. Guess who forgot her iPod??? Anyway, a four mile drive in the opposite direction, this time setting up near the National trust cafe where one gets a better class of beach-goer, proved the right decision and the rest of our dog-sitting day was joyful.

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