. . . when the Trinity House ship ‘Galatea’ visits our north Northumberland coast, delving into and deepening the through-ways between the islands and checking the buoys which keep the shipping lanes safe. This splendid bark always seems to arrive out of nowhere, glorifying the murky morning with its blazing lights and keeping alarmingly close to the shore but, by the time we catch up with it and can try to capture the spectacle on camera, it has cut back out to sea like a spaniel following a scent. Perhaps tomorrow we will see it again, and imagine the crew breakfasting out there amidst the light-show before beginning their important duties for the day.
. . . when all around us the chill closes in. But, despite the weatherman’s doom-laden prognostications about snowfall, to which in a funny sort of way we’ve been looking forward as a novelty for our young charge, there has been none here. Instead the sun has shone benignly and the wind been unremarkable. Inland and south of here snow has closed roads and airports but, once again, our magical coastline remains quiet and untroubled by such extremes – inexplicably protected like a magic land.
. . . when the dawn is earlier by the day, and our runs begin earlier too, giving us all an extra half an hour in which to honour the Great Spirit by our play and pondering; on wind-free days, as well, it is almost as if one can hear the snowdrops piercing the frost, and the gradual arrival of spring being numbered hour by hour, however distant it ultimately remains. Out in the garden Christopher Wren has been out and about quite regularly, eschewing his secret spaces for the titbits underneath the bird-table and feeders, darting under the ferns by the pond and even checking out his nest-box now and again.
. . . when Crufts comes around, and the appearance of the goldies at Discover Dogs. This year young Nicodemus will join us on our trip away and no doubt fresh in everyone’s minds will be what his little presence has added to our relentless round of doggy life. To most people who haven’t had a dog before, the true nature of this turmoil comes as a truly astounding shock: the work involved, the intensity of feeling generated. No wonder I haven’t had much time to ponder; there’s been too much to do! My new routine of ecstatic ball retrieving on the beach has relaxed me a lot, and I feel happier in his enthusiastic company; as an enthusiast myself, I am surprised by how sedate it’s possible for a three-year-old to feel, though I can feel by how fondly she holds and talks to me that Kemo Sabe wants to reassure me and I know I must be patient as the little one matures. He puts on weight so slowly, being a tiny lad – about an ounce a week at most (note to those considering a Golden Retriever: Old Uncle Noggsy once put on seven pounds in a week). It’s that time of year again when corners of one kind and another are turned and, though it will be a while before daisies pied and violets blue are adorning the grass above the icy rocks we cross so carefully every morning, every now and then one can feel the hounds of spring catching up with us.