Walking the walk and talking the talk

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With the onset of colder and wetter weather I’ve decided that it is time to buy a new pair of shoes as the old ones are beginning to let in water.

It’s not surprising really because I’m still wearing the walking shoes which I bought at the beginning of the year and I normally walk about 2,000 miles per year.

There’s a pedometer app for my iPhone which measures distances quite accurately when I remember to turn it on.

It also measures average speed and the number of calories burned as well as height climbed and even shows a map of where I’ve been and shows the fairly frequent stops made to talk, light my pipe or just have a rest and admire the scenery.

It isn’t the sort of thing I use every day, but I’ve used it enough on our regular walks to have established that our normal daily walks are of between six and eight miles.

Most of our walking is around Wetherby.

Suzie Whippet sleeps late in the morning and often has to be dragged out of bed; but once she has made the effort and done her morning stretches, she is quite keen to go up onto the field to meet all her friends – so long as it isn’t raining.

In wet weather she has to wear her coat and wants to turn back after only a few yards.

On a fine day there can be as many as 20 or more dogs on the field with their owners soon after nine o’clock and it is a good social occasion.

The dog-walkers stand and talk whilst the dogs go zooming around chasing each other and chasing balls thrown for them. Then a few of us walk along the Harland Way towards Spofforth.

All sorts of things are discussed in our unsuccessful attempts to put the world right.

We’re constantly being overtaken by runners and cyclists, many of whom stop for a chat.

We’ve got to know the names of most of the dogs, but often can’t remember the names of their owners.

There is Colin and Harry. Harry is the dog but somehow the two names go together and Colin gets called Harry – but he doesn’t seem to mind.

We meet all types of people on our walks and have some interesting conversations.

On one occasion we were passed by a family on bicycles and then soon caught up with them again when a pedal had fallen off a child’s bike and tools were required to fix it.

John instantly took charge of the situation and produced a pair of pliers from his pocket. One has to be prepared for every eventuality.

Another time Susie Whippet met two lovely Husky dogs on a walk with their owner, Steve Beanlands.

Teddy and Bobby were enjoying the sunshine and were originally from Sothern Italy we were told.

Unlike most dogs of that type, they thoroughly enjoy basking in the sun. They were both strays found on the streets outside a NATO sealed area ten years ago.

Bobby was in a coma; had distemper and only half a lung when found. But he was given treatment by a vet; recovered well and was brought back to England with Bobby and also a golden retriever and a cat. They all now have their own passports.

Steve is a Wing Commander in the RAF and rescued the dogs whilst stationed in Italy.

He is now based at RAF Whitton and is in charge of 49,000 houses and his job involves extensive travel throughout the UK. He and his wife Julie live in Wetherby and are quite used to commuting to Whitton.

One of the advantages of my advancing years is free bus travel and Susie also has free travel.

So we’re quite used to catching a bus to Thorp Arch, Spofforth or Collingham and other places and walking back.

We know the times of the buses and Susie seems to quite enjoy the journey and often tries to lead me into the bus station if she feels like having a longer walk.

Whilst the races were on, she saw a coach loading up with people and had to be dragged away, otherwise she’d have finished up in Newcastle or wherever it was going.

Another of our favourite places is the Dogs Trust shop in Wetherby.

Susie knows that when she visits the shop, she will find a bowl of dog biscuits behind the door.

They’re free of charge but I usually find myself buying a book there.

Sometimes her friend Pebbles will be in the shop.

If you haven’t already guessed, Pebbles is a Dalmatian whose spots look like pebbles.

I enjoy walking and the exercise is good for me.

The walk is much more fun with my friendly companion and there are some lovely walks around Wetherby.

With the changing seasons and weather, no two walks are ever the same.