"If you are willing to put trousers on we could do the long walk around the lake" said the Webmaster.
After a quick check on the weather I ignore him and dress in shorts and tee shirt. I'll take my chances with the nettles. "Do you think it will have dried out by now? When was the last time it rained?"
The usually muddy paths down to the wood and across the Head of Trent are surprisingly dry and there is little sign of damage from the torential rain and flash floods of last Tuesday. The dogs are pleased to be returning to the long walk, sniff paradise for them. The Old Dog is particularly spritely, forgets she no longer jumps stiles and bounds over several.
The loose, sandy soil path up through the woods is covered in a carpet of fallen leaves. The Young Dog pulls ahead, bounding and sniffing seemingly at random. Suddenly he kicks and scrapes the ground; leaves and soil fly backwards and upwards and the Old Dog, following behind is showered in debris.
"So what time is it in California?"
"3:15, eight hours behind".
"So she'll be asleep now. I hope she gets the hang of this so we don't get all the bings and bongs in the night keeping us awake. You were at it for hours last night."
"Only until 1:00. That was just the first night while she was travelling. I wanted her to let me know she was on the bus OK".
The path turns through a stile into an open field sloping down to the lake. The Young Dog bounds ahead and stumbles. The grass has shot up with the warm wet weather and is hiding large, muddy ruts. The Old Dog follows him, more slowly, but also stumbles into the hidden ruts. The grass is long and wet and within minutes the Webmaster is complaining of sodden feet. It is warm and sunny. Perfect for walking.
We reach the lake. The warm weather has brought out more walkers than usual and we let the dogs greet other dogs.
"I wonder if the fallen tree will still be there."
"I expect so, I don't think they'll move it far, although it looked like good wood. They might be able to use the wood" said the Webmaster.
A large branch of a very large, reputedly 200+ year old ash tree fell during a gale a few weeks ago and brought down several smaller branches with it, some reamined precariously connected to the trunk by peeled bark. The tip of one branch had hit the ground and formed an A frame againt the main tree.
"They must have made it safe," said the Webmaster, "otherwise it could fall onto kids as its entropy increases. Or is is decreases?"
"Increases. Increasing disorder. Isn't that how you can tell which direction time is going? Things moving from more ordered to less ordered. Is that the same as getting old?"
"Yes, look. The big branch has been moved."
"Does time pass or is all time now?"
The Young Dog sprang after a squirrel and the Webmaster lurched sideways as the lead tightened.
"Shall we go back the waterfall way? The feeder was a bit overgrown with nettles."
"That's why I said you needed trousers."
"Well it wasn't so much the nettles as the mud. We kept sliding into them last time." We follow the waterfall route. The Young Dog jumps into a waterfilled drainage ditch and sinks up to his shoulders in silt. We haul him out and he tries to jump in again. The couple walking along the path behind us with their well behaved, tidy looking dog laugh. We arrive at the waterfall. The top pool is much smaller than usual. Silt and gravel, presumably washed down during the floods has diverted the water flow, but the dogs still manage a short paddle. Most of the slilt washes from the Young Dog's legs.
By evening, clouds have blown in and the temperature has dropped. I change into trousers and pull on a fleece.
"Fancy a quick walk round Marshes Hill?"
"Better take the torches".
We head down the lane.
"So is the post office open? Will she be able to get her stuff?"
"I don't know, but she thinks so. She'll be moving in now. Did you know there is a service for the laundry, so they don't have to do it themselves?"
"I bet there is. How much does that cost then? Are there washers and driers for students to use?"
"Driers? Why would they need driers? Humidity less than 50% and temperature above 25 degrees. Things will just dry anyway. And California has just passed some laws to reduce energy use. Climate change stuff. Driers eat up energy. Why would people pay when they don't need it? I've never had a drier. Environmentally unfriendly and expensive."
"Yeah, well, people do. I put our washing out to dry when conditions are right. Sunny and breezy, but it isn't worth it very often 'cus it only needs a sudden shower and it is all wasted. The rack falls apart so it takes ages to move it."
"We should get a line. When I was a kid we had a line that we pushed up on props. We could get the washing in quite fast when it rained."
"You can't get much on a line. One of those whirly things we used to have might be better. In some new housing developments they can't hang washing out. There are covenants in the deeds against hanging out washing. Apparently brings the tone of the neighbourhood down. So I guess people need to buy driers."
"I've never had a drier, but what if you have a baby and a couple of kids in a small house, how do you dry your washing if you can't afford a drier? And anyway, rules like that should be banned because they push up energy use and are bad for the environment. Are housing developers in league with appliance manufacturers. Anyway, if I was in charge in California and wanted to reduce energy consumption by 20% I think driers would be on the hit list."
"There is a car on the car park. What time is it? When was lighting up time?"
"I don't know., but I think sunset was about 19:20"
"Mmm they'll have about 10 minutes before the man from the farm comes to lock the gate. Can you see anyone?
"No but the windows are open a little."
"Maybe they are on the back seat!"
"Well, I can't see anyone and if they are on the back seat I'm not knocking on to warn them."
"It's quite a posh car. Maybe he only locks in small cars driven by youngsters."