About Simon Perks

Writer, trail runner, hill walker, astronomer, kayaker, paddleboarder, photographer, nerd, tea drinker, lover of the sea, labrador wrangler

Search dog training in lockdown

We’ve been in lockdown for over a month now and, like most people, we’re learning how to live with it. Thankfully, we’re allowed out once a day for exercise, which means that we get to give the dogs a good run around in the fields near our house. I take them in the morning and Natalie takes them in the evening, so we both get some time (a) playing with the dogs and (b) out in the fresh air.

When it comes to Ozzy’s search dog training, though, we’ve had to make few changes. Clearly, doing our usual training with friends hiding from Ozzy in the woods and other public areas would probably be frowned upon in the current circumstances. So instead of looking for people, I’ve got Ozzy searching for the residual scent on things I’ve dug out of the laundry basket. It’s human scent, after all… Continue reading

Taking the world as it is

I’ve seen quite a lot of speculation over the last few days – some of it, I’m ashamed to say, from people who are related to me – that it’s time to stop putting the economy at risk for the sake of protecting the elderly and the vulnerable from COVID-19. We need, they claim, to send the kids back to school. And to allow everyone under the age of fifty to get back to work. Continue reading

The true start of the year

I’ve always felt that our calendar is a bit off. Because while the year starts all shiny and new with the month of January, it’s not until late March or early April that things begin to come to life.

It seems the early Romans agreed with me, because March used (apparently) to be the first month in their calendar. Winter didn’t get any formal months at all, just fifty-or-so days tacked on to the end of the ten-month year like something best politely ignored.

Which seems fair, given how the dark days at that time of year seem to merge into one long period of cold, damp misery. Continue reading

Hang on in there

I was going to write about how to work remotely or from home. After all, I’ve been doing it for more than a decade. But hundreds of people have beaten me to it. So you don’t need my advice about creating a work ‘zone’, managing your routine or making sure you stay in touch. Which is probably for the best, because it all somewhat misses the point. Continue reading

Trust your dog

We had a great search dog training session with Ozzy at the weekend. She’s picked up the ‘mechanics’ of the search, so we’re gradually increasing the size of the area to be searched and the time it takes her to locate the person who has kindly agreed to hide from her. It’s great to see her in action. But also a little bit terrifying. Continue reading

Canine communication

Molly and Ozzy are off to stay with some other Labradors this weekend. And so this morning I packed up their stuff and dropped them off at their temporary home. But before I did so, we had a brief discussion about the importance of behaving well and went through our usual ‘see you again soon’ ritual. Continue reading

I wish to obtain the services of an armoured bear

Like pretty much everyone who’s been watching His Dark Materials on Sunday evenings over the last few weeks, I feel that my life would be enhanced significantly through the presence of an armoured bear. But the more I think about it, the more I have to admit that life with an armoured bear might not be as easy as one would like. Continue reading

The morning after

I woke up this morning in a country that, while technically the same one in which I went to bed last night, already feels very different. Elections tend to bring change. And I’d long suspected that a majority Conservative government was a distinct possibility. But now that we have one it has hit me hard. And like many others, I’m struggling to know what to do about it. And how to feel towards those who brought us here. Continue reading

A house, a home

We’ve lived in our house for over a decade now. It’s nothing special as far as houses go. A three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex-Council house on the edge of a medium-sized market town in Somerset. But it’s a nice, well-built house, with friendly neighbours and a reasonably large garden for where it is. And it’s on a nice street in a nice part of town. But it’s not just our house. It’s our home. Continue reading