There’s still a chilly wind around but there are distinct signs of spring in the air.

The boys and I went for one of our favourite walks this morning to Petts Wood. Our route takes us around a farm and through these beautiful National Trust-protected woodlands along the cross country run route taken by pupils at my old school.

I remember how I dreaded these runs.  Plagued, as I was, with uncontrolled and ignored asthma, hatred of the cold and a complete lack of fitness or motivation, I invariably came in last of all. Who would have thought then that 25 years later I would routinely run 30KM every week up and down the towpath of the Seine in Paris?

We like this walk, the dogs and I, partly because there is always so much to see and smell in these woods: spring flowers give way to dappled sunshine through deciduous leaves, a welcome relief from the heat. The autumn colours of foliage and fungi are glorious but I detest the stressful slippery mud that comes along for the worst three months of the year. It’s OK when the ground is silvery and frost deep frozen but horrid when it’s been raining.

The National Trust’s policy on dog waste here is unhelpful and, I’d say, counterproductive. There are no poo bins because the Trust does not wish to manage the waste. A sign where we park our cars asks us to take our dogs’ waste home with us but I think it’s unrealistic to ask people to sit in traffic with the miasma from their poo bags wafting around their car. It turns out that it is unrealistic: I bet the farmer is fed up of having to pick up full poo bags tossed into his fields by members of the public fed up with carrying them around looking for a bin for an hour or so.

Today there were signs that the mud is drying up and there is just a hint of green bloom on some of the trees. My dogs love to watch the sheep as they amble about the field chewing but Oscar is not keen on the five cows that trundle around one of the fields. They were too far away to take a reasonable photo today. Raffles largely ignores the animals but Oscar seems keen on the ponies that sometimes join the sheep.

We usually skirt around the little grassed woodland clearing where stands the William Williett memorial sundial: we barely register it these days but it’s worth seeing, I guess.


Choir practice tonight will be with members of the other two choirs singing Carmina Burana at the Fairfield Halls with us next week. I have no idea where we’re going to put everyone or, indeed, where they will all park their cars. There will be plenty of familiar faces from my old choir there as well so I hope it will be fun.  I want to be on reasonable form so I’m going to go off now and steam my throat and do a little top note practice. Must not let the side down!