"Which way?"

"Tongue Lane and up to the church? We can go along the Rocks and then back up from the village. Or do you want to go round the lake? We didn't go for a run today."

"No, let's stick to the lanes. It might be muddy and I don't want the dog to get dirty. She hasn't been very well this week."

"Is it cold? Do I need a hat and gloves?"


"So not 'terribly mild' then like in the week?"

"What is 'terribly mild'?"

"More mild than it's got any business being."

"So, if mild means 'not fierce, not extreme, not noticably hot or cold, how do you make it more so? More of nothing much to notice?"

"Good question, would you say it's terribly mild in the middle of the Summer if the temperature is lower than normal, but not cold?"

"No. So they mean, it's terrible warm for the time of year but they don't want to say warm because relative to zero it's not so high."

"Cracked it!"

"Oh, I say, it's terribly mild for the time of year."

"Come on, get the dog on it's lead and let's go. We haven't got all day."

"The mist is clearing now," said the Webmaster as we walk down the lane. "It's been foggy nearly all week and it hasn't lifted for most of the day."

"Yep. That's my excuse for not going for a run. Dark and foggy. Too dangerous, and I'm not that keen. Do you think I've done enough training now to get round the race?"

"Haha. Three runs in the last four months. Well you'll get round its just a matter of how fast."

"Well, it's only supposed to be a fun run."

"If you take too long you'll have to walk back."

"Well that's not very friendly. You could just have an extra cup of tea."


"Whatever. It was a good lunch yesterday. Reminiscing about old times and considering the future, although most of those attending will be around for the best part of another year. But maybe I ate too much spicy food. I've still got belly ache. Couldn't do a run today."

The sun is struggling to burn off the mist, but patches of blue sky are showing through. The view which has been obscured for the last week is reappearing.

"We did a collection for the people leaving. Someone only had Euros because they just came back from Euroland and another person was explaining how he commuted on weekly basis from Lincolnshire to Paris. It was similar to F we saw in November."

"You should have told that to the bloke on Twitter."

"I wonder what he would think of a border if he lived next to one in mainland Europe. Would he expect a big wall or fence? What about in Ireland?"

The Old Dog turns right into the farm yard at the bottom of the lane.

"She knows it's Saturday and she's trying her luck," said the Webmaster. "Not that way to day. This way." The Old Dog looks up as though to say, but it's Saturday and then returns to the road.

"She isn't stopping as much as last week."

"Not so many interesting smells along the road as over the hill," suggested the Webmaster in an attempt to explain. He likes to think he knows about dogs. "So where is the Student now? Does she know what she's doing and is it all arranged."

"Los Angeles and yes."

"Don't get me involved in this."

"You are involved."


"I'm on holiday now. I've got a dental appointment on Monday afternoon, and we are going out for lunch on Thursday. I need to get some vouchers. We thought general vouchers would be best. I can get them on-line so we don't need to go into town. And we need to pick up the Christmas order from M&S on Friday at 3:30pm. I've got more vouchers coming for that so maybe we wont need any cash."

"How do you keep getting all these vouchers?"

"Because people appreciate me and nominate me for awards and I can convert them into vouchers for lots of different shops or donate to charity, but recently I've been using up that very old one that I thought had stopped working. You know, the one when I didn't know about the on-line scheme and missed the email because it came while I was on holiday. I was really annoyed when found it and it said it had timed out. Anyway, it was reactivated recently so I'm cashing it in now. The policy must have changed."

A car comes down the lane towards us and we move the dogs to the edge to let it pass. 

"The grocery order is coming on Wednesday. I couldn't get it for later even though I booked a slot months ago."

"Should be OK. We're doing better this year. At least we've posted the Christmas cards now."

We turn down Tongue Lane. The sun has burned off the mist and it is warming up. I take off my hat and gloves. "I didn't really need these." 

The Old Dog weaves back and forth, from side to side across the road, tangling with the Young Dog. 

"I still can't think where my Syria travel diary is. I really thought it was in the loft with the others. They are all older, from before we lived here. I went to Syria after we moved in but I still thought the diary would be in the same box. Then I looked in the old bureau desk. I found my training logs from 1983 and 1984 but it was all old stuff too. I can't transcribe it for my website if I don't find it. I haven't thrown it away."

"Well, not deliberately."

"No. I'm unlikely to have thrown it away by accident. We never throw anything away. Look at you and all your antique electronics. We could open a museum."

"I've cleared out a lot of old electronics."

"Mmh. Some. Not a lot. Anyway, I wanted to find my Syria diary and write about how it was when I was there in the early 90's. It's topical now, all the fighting, death and destruction and it looks like they are going to end up back under the rule of Assad. It was his dad when I was there."

"How did the middle east get so screwed up?"

"Don't know. I bet Britain was involved somewhere. Like with Yemen. That's another humanitarian disaster. Poor old Boris. In trouble when he lies and in trouble when he tells the truth."

"But he's putting billions of pounds of arms trades at risk if he pisses of the Saudis and for some reason that's a bigger problem than pissing of the Eurpeans and putting many times more billions at risk with Brexit."

"The 'people' have not spoken on Saudi or arms deals. Apart from the leftie luvvies who go on demos."

"Well, they all need sacking. It's a dysfunctional goverenment. They spend all their time on Brexit and still haven't got a plan. Spending our money on something more than half the population doesn't want when everything is in crisis and chaos."

"Prison riots and not much from the justice secretary, and what about Karen. Overruling proposed apointments to board of channel four, delaying the Levison phase 2, and what will she do about Murcoch's bid? NHS runnng out of money, housing and transport falling apart. If the Brexiters wanted to return to the good old days before the EU the government has delivered it without even leaving."

"So why are the train drivers on strike? According to that woman on Any Questions last night none of the conductors will be made redundant, they were all going to get some supervisor jobs."

"I don't know but that sounds unlikely, the unions are about protecting their members interests and how many supervisors do they need? But if it's true and no one is losing out, maybe it is all about safety. Workers won't go on strike for nothing."

"It could be political."

"So? Brexit is political, the choice not to fund NHS better is political, everything can be called political. Why should politics only be reserved for a select few. If people feel they are being exploited and delivering benefit they are not given a share of they may decide to strike. That is political. But why not? They are working for privatised organisations and all the issues of 'left behind', 'wealth gap' and apparent reasons for Brexit are caused by this unfair distribution. Owners take it all. Marx was right."

We walk down past the now repaired pot holes. The Old Dog turns at the stile and begins to look for a way to climb over, or rather in her case, crawl under, but we are not going that way, past the allotments. We continue to walk on down the lane until it crosses the feeder at the bottom of the hill and then turn to head back up the hill towards the Church.

"The Old Dog doesn't try to jump into the water now," comments the Webmaster. "I've noticed for last couple of weeks that on our weekday maintenance walks she avoids the mud and the puddles. Over thirteen years of deliberately seeking out and walking through every puddle or mud patch or trying to jump into any convenient water for a swim and then she suddenly stops doing it."

"Maybe she doesn't like being cold and wet and in this weather she doesn't dry out very quickly."

We walk up the path. There are no cows out grazing, the gate between the fields is open and we walk through. Easier than squeezing over the style by the prickly holly hedge. The mist has completely gone and the sun is bright. The effort of the uphill walk makes me feel hot and I stop to take off my fleece. "I don't think I needed this. I could have managed without. It wasn't as cold as you said."

"All the gates are open," says the Webmaster as we come to the second open gate out onto the track. It's easier with the dog."

At the top of the path the Old Dog walks across the filled in cattle grid, carefully placing her feet between the bars. In her youth she would have walked around.

"We could have been off to California."

"Oh well, think of the money you've saved."

"We didn't save it. It went on the Student's costs. We budgeted before Brexit."

"Bloody Bexit. At least Brexiters will have to pay more for their holidays too."

"What, you mean they don't think the UK is good enough for their holidays. I thought it was only us traitors and out of touch elite that ventured abroad these days."

"Nah, they'll be of to Costa del Little England for the sun."

"Haha. Except it isn't funny. Did you see the article by the Turkish journalist? Her analysis was that the use of 'out of touch' claims led to facts losing value and the current state of Turkey. Denigration of experts as elite and out of touch with 'real people' and the replacement of facts and evidence with more attractive populist lies. You should read it. It sounded like a path to totalitarianism, and I think she is right, it's happening here. She gave an example of Farage talking to journalists in his 'representing the ordinary person' role."

"Maybe he'll sod off and work for Trump."

"We need to listen to people like that journalist. There is a lot of discussion about the economic impact of Brexit and the Great Repeal Act, but I think what she was warning about is more serious. The power it has given to people like Farage and his ilk. It could lead us to something like the Chinese cultural revolution in slow motion, - can you have a revolution in slow motion? - creeping up on the unwary. "

We turn along the Rocks. The dogs are walking nicely and come to heel when we pass a woman and dog coming in the opposite direction. Occassionally they give the impression of being well trained.

We walk through the village and turn left, up the hill towards home. We keep the dogs on a short lead. This road can be quite busy.

"What time is the Student leaving?"

"Eleven something. It'll be after seven tonight our time. She should be getting a lift to the airport."

"And what time will she arrive tomorrow."

"Just after half past eight if she's on time."

"I'll wave you off when you go to the airport."

"What do you mean? You're coming too."

We stand at the side of the road to let traffic pass in both directions. The Old Dog pulls against her lead as though she wants to jump under the vehicles. It seems she is oblivious of all around. In a world of her own.

"Why does the dog do that? She used to move to the side and crouch down when cars went past, now she tries to move in front of them. Do you think she's deaf or a bit senile?"

"I don't think she's senile but she could be a bit deaf. It takes a bit to wake her in the morning. She doesn't hear me go in."

"She's slowing down now. This is too steep for her."

"It's her back legs. Hip problems but she seems happy enough."

We get to the top and turn left  towards the pub. As we turn a car turns left, moving at speed.

"Blimey," exclaimed the Webmaster. It's a good job we weren't going straight on. "Cars come round that corner far too fast. They never think of pedestrians who may be going straight along the top road."

"The pedestrians going straight on have right of way too, but I wouldn't just cross there without being very cautious. It reminds me of a rhymn we learned when we were kids: 'Here lies the body of Michael Shay who died maintaining his right of way.' You have to apply what I think of as the Indian highway code. The first time I went to India a local told me to forget the traffic rules. The only thing that was important was to give way to anything bigger. So if you were a pedestrian, that was everything else on the road."

We walk through the car park, up the steps and over the hill. It is a nice day, clearer than it has been for days.

"The Student can come with us tomorrow. Nice brisk walk in the winter sun with the dogs. She'll like that after sunny California."