I went to see my mother at the weekend. Not a particularly promising topic for a blog post, but bear with me. My mum lives in a very picturesque corner of rural Somerset and, as she has recently hurt her knee and was hopping around like a demented pirate, Natalie and I offered to take her two border collies, Vasco and Hal, for a walk with Molly, our Labrador.
After spending the better part of an hour wandering through the fields, Natalie decided that she wanted to take a look at the plant nursery at Forde Abbey, which lay on our way back to my mum’s house. While dogs are allowed in the nursery, we thought that three might be pushing it. So while Natalie went in, I found a shady patch under a tree next to the river and sat down with two border collies, one Labrador and a big bag of dog biscuits.
It was quite pleasant sitting there and the dogs were behaving unusually well. Vasco and Hal were overjoyed to be out and about and Molly was just happy to be tagging along. And our little picture of perfection didn’t go unnoticed. Several people grinned at us as they walked past and, at one point, a lady with a car-full of kids pulled over and several of her offspring dangled out of the windows to get a better look.
After we’d been there for about twenty minutes or so, I noticed a middle aged couple bustling over in our direction. The man was clearly in a hurry and he left his wife trailing behind him as he charged towards us. When he was about twelve feet away, he pulled out a little camera. “This is just perfect,” he exclaimed. “Do you mind if I take your photo.” I was a little bemused. Vasco and Hal were unperturbed. Molly was delighted.
It turned out that the man and his wife were on holiday in the UK from their home in New Zealand. They are big fans of border collies and regularly play host to their neighbours’ own two dogs on their back porch. And I know this because the couple produced an iPad and backed up their story with photographic evidence. We spent a very pleasant quarter of an hour or so chatting about the various dogs that we have know and loved. And then, as quickly as they had arrived, they were on their way – and I returned to my patch in the sun, with Molly and the boys.