Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘dogs

Paradise Valley

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The latest instalment in my rural idyll is here

Paradise Valley

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The latest instalment in the extraordinary story of the most beautiful place on the planet is available here.  Don’t miss it!

Heaven On Earth

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Israel Must Stop

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Be The Great Nation That You Can!

I have had an overwhelming response to many things that I have written about Israel.  It has reached a crescendo with the views I have expressed about the attack on the Gaza flotilla.  It polarises opinion.  You either agree with me or you want me put to death by the slowest and most painful means.

I’m just an ordinary Brit of proud Welsh descent from a family that was at the bottom of the heap (the slag heaps of South Wales) but has dragged itself upwards, entirely through its own efforts.  I’m not an anti-semite. I’m not a natural ally or an enemy of Arab, Jew, Muslim or anyone.  What I care about is truth, justice, freedom, beauty, love and my dogs!

I cannot stand by though and see the way that Israel behaves without shouting my protest and disgust.

Israel and its supporters must understand that many intelligent, considered men of principle throughout the world believe that the way you are now behaving is just as bad as the Nazis did against you!!

I condemn the great evil that Islam has become in the world but you give them so many excuses!   Gaza is now the biggest concentration camp ever and Israel oppresses, bullies, brutalises, starves and denies the rights of the Palestinian people.  It is shameful!

My country fought to create the state of Israel so that the Jews could have a homeland after the holocaust, the greatest tragedy in human history.  Israel has betrayed those who fought for it.  You are now as bad as those that offended against you.

I know that there are millions of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians, people just like me, who abhor violence and prejudice and oppression.  We must stand up against the zealots and the fanatics.  Justice must prevail!

There is much that is wrong on both sides but first, most urgently, Israel must draw back from Gaza, from the settlements, from oppression.  These are grave wrongs that must stop now!  You must not be surprised that retaliation is made against you but these are fireworks against your tanks and F16s.  You must stop first.

I am just an ordinary man with no particular interest but I know what justice is.

Israel must stop.

The Obnoxious People Of Bovingdon

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My parents live in a small Hertfordshire village not far from Watford. It’s commuter land, only 45 minutes by train to central London but on the edge of the delightful Chilterns countryside. It’s not quite as gorgeous as Dorset but the dogs and I enjoy the change of scenery when we visit about once every month.

The nearest place to find anything more than a village shop is the small town of Bovingdon. Every time I visit there I am dismayed, horrified even at the boorish, selfish and obnoxious behaviour of the local drivers.

There’s nowhere to park in Bovingdon but that doesn’t stop them. They park half on, half off the pavement in the most dangerous and inconsiderate places, often right opposite each other. The town is full of ostentatious, gaudy four-wheel drive Toyotas, Mitsubishis or, God preserve us from even more oriental invaders, Kias. Does no one buy British any more? These tasteless and clumsy status symbols are thrown about with abandon, aggression and a complete absence of any manners. My 17 year old nephew was literally forced off the road last week by yet another woman who simply cannot judge the width of her vehicle and so drives in the middle of narrow country lanes.

Of course, I am sure that there are many very nice and responsible people in Bovingdon but you can drive through the High Street at anytime of day to see recurrent displays of the most selfish, inconsiderate and dangerous behaviour.

There is one other observation though that, for me, condemns these unpleasant people out of hand. As I walk the dogs around the local countryside I am disgusted at the fly tipping and the disgraceful amount and variety of rubbish in the hedgerows. It’s difficult to understand why this wealthy and privileged part of the country is full of so many nasty, selfish and dirty people.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Paradise Valley

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I’ve lived in Sutton Poyntz for six months now. A mile to the south is the sea. A mile to the east is Osmington and half a mile to the north but up a very steep hill is the “top of my mountain”. Walking my dogs around this wonderful area has fulfilled every dream that I dared hope for when I first arrived.

The Mysteries Of the East

The Mysteries Of the East

We have perhaps half a dozen standard walks that we’ve learned, each one of which can be varied with diversions, extensions or shortcuts. Usually we walk for about and hour and a half. The one delight that is always there is a succession of dramatic and quite beautiful views. I never tire of these wonderful vistas across the valley, to the sea, the Isle of Portland and beyond.

I believe that being able to see some distance is fundamentally good for your psyche. Even in the midst of our ghastly capital city on the 12th floor of a vile 1970s tower block there was some consolation to be gained from

Go West Young Man

Go West Young Man

the view. In Paradise Valley the views move me every day as they change and develop with the seasons. Quite why just looking can make me well up and seems to touch my soul, I do not know but it fascinates me that the dogs will do the same thing. We reach the peak of a hill or come round a corner and they will stand on a wall or look over a hedge – and just look.

After one false start, spring is here. In the great national blizzard we got off lightly with merely an inch or so. A fortnight later though and we had our own intense Dorset storm and we woke up to four inches and twelve hours without power.

Taking In The View

Taking In The View

Another fortnight on and the daffodils and crocuses are out. There is already some intensity in the warmth of the sun and all around gardeners are beginning to dig and to sow, to dream of runner beans and strawberries. Up on the hill they were burning the gorse. Quite why I’m not sure. Then this week they brought in a formidable machine which seemed to crawl up and down the sides of the mountain completely demolishing the gorse bushes  and leaving an apparently smooth and fresh sward of pasture.

This required immediate investigation and so the dogs and I struck out for the top. Up closer we discovered a compact bulldozer on caterpillar tracks with a vicious flail mounted on front. The driver told me that it weighs bulldozer-workingsix tons and guiding it across the slope sometimes it would slip andbulldozer slide and nearly give him a heart attack. He explained that the gorse needs to be cut back simply to keep it under control. He’s a braver man than me. Perhaps he doesn’t know that others deliberately throw themselves off the mountain underneath paragliders.

So in a deepening wamth, for the first time since winter took hold, I find time to sit. With the absence of movement, without having to worry about negotiating the hills and the fields, with time just to sit and contemplate, the valley bursts into life. It’s like sitting in a huge and magnificent amphitheatre but there’s not just the single focus of a sport or contest. Every single part of the valley throbs with activity. A family of deer watch the dogs in trepidation.carla-watches-deer1 Countless beautiful, big, brown buzzards soar and swoop. A pair of kestrels hover over the gorse bushes. The biggest rabbit warren I have ever seen, a city full of bunnies, teems with bobbing white tails. The trees are developing that slightly misty look as millions of buds begin to swell and fill. The insect population is burgeoning and heading towards a total that must surely be in the billions, surely exceeding even the number of humans across the whole of our world.

Paradise Valley is blossoming and as it blooms with it will come ever more intense beauty and experience. This, surely, is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I live right here. For me it truly is paradise.

kestrels1

Walking The Dog 11

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The lights on Portland are warming up orange in the distance. Everywhere there’s a gunmetal grey murk with a few billowing black threats. It is cold, chilling cold and the wind is biting and penetrating.  This is the very nub of dusk and here we are back on the beach after a break of over a week.

It’s been a tough week, travelling everywhere, bad news about my Dad, a disastrous episode with my car.  Saturday morning in the valley was a welcome relief.  The ground was very very wet but the sun shone strong and as we hit the toughest part of the trek up the mountain a ginger blur up the near-vertical slope, the dogs in pursuit, the healthiest, most muscly fox I’ve ever seen.  And on top, two bobbing, weaving white backsides of deer escaping towards Dorchester.

I’m in the little red Citroen loan car from The Cartshed, generously offered as “you’re welcome to put your dogs in there” and I knew I had an appropriate stick stored in the garden.  Now I’m slipping and sliding down the grass bank to the beach while Capone and Carla tumble, fight and slither through the shingle to the water.

At high tide a three foot windblown chop is breaking 20 yards out but the undertow is ready to pull Capone capwav2right back under the next one.  Once, twice, three times he is wiped out, thumped in the face and chest with icy white water.  He ploughs on like a Chieftan tank, shaken but not stirred and reaches the stick at the very crest.

Around he comes, half drowned, half propelled by another wave, he disappears underneath a crashing cauldron of surf and then he’s back, Carla already grabbing the stick from him.  His fierce but playful growl penetrates all of nature’s noise.  They scamper away up the beach carrying the stick together and turn to the most satisfying tussle and chew while I give them a few moments to rest.

Carla is no fool and although I throw her a little twig while Capone is busy she frolicks into the shallowest surf but thinks better of it and turns back.  It’s much more fun to wait for Capone to go in, do the work and intercept him on the way back.

Man Of The Match - Andy Powell

Man Of The Match - Andy Powell

What more perfect end to a day when Wales have almost beaten the South Africans in Cardiff and shown enormous promise, invention and the usual courage.

In these conditions I have to be careful how much I push him because he would try and try, keep going back, ignoring the cold and the shortness of breath and the sucking, churning, remorseless waves.  He tackles the surf like a second row forward and nothing stands in his way.capwav11

He wants nothing more than another chance.  He would die for me in that seething, heaving water.

This connection with my animals, my countryside, my sea, my sky, my wind is my salvation.  When we understand what matters, who matters, whatever happens, then contentment comes a little easier.

Life makes a little more sense.

capwav32

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall And My Future

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I have become an immense fan of Hugh’s recently.  River Cottage was always a programme that I enjoyed but with the assistance of the marvellous torrent site (forget the iPlayer) www.thebox.bz   he has become an obsession.

If I need a little relaxation, a little soothing, noone does it better than Hugh.  It is, perhaps, ironic, that he shares the name of my younger brother who is the most sour, miserable character, for Mr F-W always lifts my spirits and inspires me towards a gentler life and to chop my onions, crush my garlic and delicately simmer my vegetables.

I confess that I do not always hold entirely true to his philosophy.  My pungent tomato soup tonight was nurtured from my homegrown coriander but the remaining ingredients were Tesco’s onions, garlic and tinned tomatoes and it tasted bloody marvellous.

It looks as if Emsworth is to see the back of me shortly – credit crunch, buy-to-let mortgage, landlord’s wife is pregnant – and I am inspired towards Dorset.  My clifftop writer’s retreat, above the crashing surf, my dogs, my garden, etc, etc.  Protest not! I am paid to dream and to chronicle my ambition and that is where it now lies.

This very week I am travelling west (as every young man should) and hoping that my nirvana is ahead.  I have set my sights betwen Lyme Regis and Swanage and somewhere there I intend to find my new home.