"The fog's cleared. We wouldn't have had this sunshine if we'd come out at our usual time."

"Tell that to the dogs. They've been waiting so long they'd almost given up," moaned the Webmaster.

"You asked me to look at the photo display code your dad sent."

"Yeah, well, I'm sure he'll like what you've done."


"What does he want it for? There are plenty of free photo slide shows he can download."

"I think it's a bit of a hobby for him to develop his own but he had got a bit stuck."

The dogs are pulling hard down the lane, as though keen to make sure we keep going. The air is warm and even the webmaster is only wearing a sweatshirt, no fleece.

"Nice day," I say. "Even the Student might only need one coat."

The Young Dog pulls across the road. "Watch out, move the dog". Cyclists are speeding down towards us and the dog's lead is across the road. I have visions of cyclists flying over handlebars and mangled bikes lying in the ditch. The Webmaster yanks the dog back just in time. The dog is too startled to bark at the cyclists.

We reach the style and decide to go up over the hill rather than follow the road. The Young Dog, recovered from its shock, bounds over the style and into the mud. The Webmaster mutters under his breath, but turns and grins when challenged as to what is troubling him.

"This is always a harder climb than it looks," the Webmaster pants. "This bit always gets me. I'm OK by the time we get to the top."

"You aren't warmed up. We just drift down the lane and this is the first time you have to put in any effort."

"That'll be it!"  At this time of year the cattle are inside so the ground is less cut up by hooves and less muddy. We reach the style with a gate and the Old Dog struggles through. It is a steeper climb from this side than approaching from the opposite direction. 

"It's not so warm up here," complains the Webmaster, cooling down after his exertion climbing. We have left the fields, the route to the top is less steep, sandy and crossing the heathland known as Marshes Hill. The dogs are making slow progress. This is sniff heaven for them and they are determined to make the most of it but with their sudden stopping and starting they are getting under our feet and tripping us up. 

There is a large group of people at the top, standing by the lookout point. Someone is obviously showing them around, making grand sweeping gestures with his arms and indicating points of interest in the surrounding area. Visitors being entertained by a proud local. When we get closer we see that the group comprises mainly Chinese visitors and the little scene looks more like a business meeting.

A mountain biker is wobbling towards us. We pull the dogs off the path to let him pass.

"Looks as though the Chinese are coming to buy up the area," whispers the Webmaster when we are a safe distance past them and descending the steps to the car park. "Maybe it's not just Birmingham". 

"Maybe. A bit ironic really. We outsource all the pottery jobs to China and then the Chinese come and buy the property the locals can no longer afford because the well paid jobs have gone. Capitalism gone mad. Only the rich getting richer, and Brexit will make it worse. Nice for the Chinese people though."

We reach the road and turn right to head down into the valley. The dogs know the way and begin to pull, trying to cross the road. They seem to like one side of the road better than the other. Better smells maybe.

"If the arch Brexiters get their way UK will become a low cost country so maybe the jobs will come back."

"Well that's what people want, more jobs."

"Yeah, but the Brexiters made out it was foreigners here taking the jobs, not the large corporations sending the jobs abroad. Bringing back low cost jobs to compete with the Chineses and Indians isn't going to deliver the improvement in living standards that were promised. Foreigners won't want jobs here."

"There'll be a lot of IT jobs coming up. Changing all the computer systems to deal with all the new regulations for exporting, importing and customs clearance."

"Will there be enough IT experts? If I'd been a student recently I wouldn't have thought of going into IT, not the commercial programming side anyway. Those jobs were sent off shore years ago. No one cried and pleaded for the IT people who lost their jobs or whose wages were depressed. Listening to the Brexiters now they don't seem to think of anything except the car industry. Certainly only goods. It's as if services don't matter."

"Yeah, well, you were part of that. Outsourcing jobs to India."

"And you lived off the money I earned doing it!"

"Jobs like IT can be done anywhere, almost. How do customs unions and borders affect IT?"

"Ah, the famous non tarfiff barriers. Location of the data could be significant. What if the UK drops out of the EU Data Privacy agreements? It could be the start of data centres moving abroad, not just the banks. As soon as there is a need for technology refresh companies may be tempted to go to where there are fewest legal hurdles. Price would have to be significantly lower here to compensate."

"But when data is in the cloud how do you know where it is physically stored? The cloud computer could be anywhere."

"A lot of European companies insist that the provider restricts the data to servers physically in the EEA, that's why I said it could impact UK data centres and IT providers if we aren't in the EEA and we don't maintain equivalent legal DP protections."

"We could do that."

"Of course but the EEA countries would have to accept it and we would have to keep to their regulations and red tape."

"We will anyway if we want to sell anything into their countries."

"Makes you wonder what Brexit will achieve. Bonfire of the regulations and taking back control. Still don't see it."

We reach the bottom of the lane and turn left through the style to head back up through the fields towards the church. All the gates are open. No cattle in the fields at this time of year. We trudge up the hill. Talk of Brexit has dampened our spirits. 

"We've been lucky with the weather. It's quite nice now, come on dogs. Let's keep going."

"I think the Old Dog has develped a habbit of pretending she stopped to sniff when she needs a rest. I know the routine. Like when you need a rest and stop running. You pretend you need to fasten your shoe laces or look meaningfully at your watch and stretch as though it was part of the plan."

"You recognise it do you?"

"Haha. I didn't say I do it. I used to be able to run up here as though it were flat. I didn't realise how steep it was for years. Have you noticed how the landscape changes as you get older? All the hills are steeper and longer."

We reach the top and turn towards the village. Saturday afternoon and it is very quiet. The Old Dog falls behind again as we plod up the steep hill out of the village and back to car park and the path over Marshes Hill. She is doing some very determined sniffing now.

The Chinese people have gone. There is a stiff breeze blowing and the Webmaster shivers. We speed up. A young man with two dogs is approaching us. His dogs find a muddy patch and he is calling them to move. 

"Is that the phodographer bloke?" I ask the Webmaster a little while later.


"The young bloke with the dogs. I thought he looked like the guy we met last year who was taking photographs of dogs."

"Don't know, I wasn't paying attention."

We decide to turn down the track and follow the road home. "I think it will be slippery getting off the hill and the dog is pulling, and I don't want muddy dogs in the house,"

The Webmaster always has the same excuse.