• Little Rea

NC500 - Day 27 to 29 (The End)

Updated: Jun 1, 2018

Sandyhills to Ullswater to Formby to Luton (383 Miles)

There were three nights between us and home, and although I was looking forward to barking at the squirrels again and a bit of home cooking (Mummy lies a lot about her domestic skills, even to me), we knew we had to make the most of the little time we had left with Bertie and being on the road. Before we set off, we ran down to the sands of Sandyhills and explored the beach for over two hours, rummaging in caves, splashing in sea streams and rock pools, chatting to other dogs, and chasing the waves as the the tide drew them away from the shore. It was our last Scottish beach and we wanted to remember every part of it.

It wasn’t an overly long drive to Ullswater and just as we were checking in at our home for two nights, I heard my Mummy squeal with delight as one of her oldest friends snuck up from behind and threw her arms around us. I didn’t know who this lady was but Mummy had told me we were meeting Cumbria’s version of Lara Croft so I knew straight away that it was Lara who had squeezed Mummy until she was blue in the face. Mummy had known Lara (AKA Jo) since she was about 14, although neither of them can agree on exactly how old they were back then, just that they both thought they were Madonna (and that Jo did it much better). My new friend took me for a little stroll as Mummy drove Bertie behind us to our spot, right opposite Jo’s tent. I wondered how she could survive in such a small home that moved in the wind ... and where did she wee or cook her food? My mummy wouldn’t survive in such a small place and definitely wouldn’t survive without the heating, but this is why Mummy calls her Lara Croft (and a mountain goat but that’s because she is always up a mountain somewhere, often on her own, with a smaller tent and less supplies). Lara Croft and Mummy didn’t stop talking for the first hour, talking over each other and making no sense, so I nudged then both to remind them that I needed attention and in return, I was taken to a magical fairy place in the woods with liquid silver running down its middle and giant splashes of water smacking into the pools below before trailing off into peaceful streams.

There were stories of fairies in little bluebell hats running silently between the bushes and dancing on the water bubbles that shimmered under the sunlight, and that these fairies were the only ones that could release the money from the money trees but they never did because each coin was a person’s wish and the wish disappeared if the coin was ever to be freed. Instead, the fairies scattered their gold glittering dust all over the coin wishes to protect them so no one could ever steal another person’s dream. Mummy whispered this to me as we climbed our way over rocks and fairy pools to capture the magic of the water in our camera. We slipped and slid but we knew we had to hold a picture back home, of the magical potions that ran through the land and splashed our faces.

If I’d had a coin I would have made a wish for my Mummy, that she would eat as well as me for just one night. I didn’t want to see her on soup again, or in a pub, but with home cooked food that she would eat every last piece of. The fairies must have heard me as I stood on the money tree because Lara Croft turned her tiny little blue home into a Jamie Oliver kitchen within minutes when we returned, and as soon as she did, Mummy was served with pink fizz and a plate full of the best food we had seen all month. I never knew who Lara Croft really was until I met JoJo. She had the power to whip up a glorious culinary delight while making extra chicken for me, and all within her blue Tardis, while telling stories of the mountains she has climbed and the people she has met along the way. Mummy laughed so much that I knew if she didn’t move soon to reach the loo, I’d be hanging my head in doggy shame.

We sat together, all wrapped up under the cold autumnal sun that was disappearing behind the clouds and mountains. It was so cold, even for Lara Croft, that we moved into Bertie and listened to the 80s music coming from his belly as Mummy and Lara drank wine (and hot chocolate) until the world switched its lights off and the moon went to sleep too.

With the sun not wanting to appear the next morning and the rain filling the air with a fine relentless mist, we sadly watched Lara packing away her tent. We could hear her boots squelching on the soggy ground and although we desperately wanted to help, we didn’t know how and Mummy knew if I went up to help I’d cover everything she had in lots of wet drippy paw prints, and Lara was all clean. With everything packed up, we hunted down some coffee and cake as a lazy moment together before Lara had to return home and become JoJo again. She had her own little fur babies to take care of and a serious job looking after the little people, so we waved our goodbyes and sat in Bertie on our own for the evening. It was only the second night that had felt quite lonely for Mummy, so we went to bed early, knowing that we had one last adventure to enjoy.

We left beautiful Ullswater with a rainbow behind us, and a tummy full of the saucy sausages.

Our drive to Formby was only a few hours and I slept all the way as Mummy sang along to the radio, drank Irn Bru and ate a Twix. I’ve been worried about her diet as she always feeds me so well but other than the meals I’ve told you about, Mummy has been living on tinned soup and chocolate. I don’t think she drinks nearly enough water even though she tells me to drink gallons of the stuff. I liked the drive to Liverpool as all the bumps on the roads had disappeared and Bertie didn’t rattle as much. For the first time in a month, I slept properly as Mummy drove, which made Mummy relax a lot more too. We have become tarmac gurus on our road trip, knowing as we see it in advance, what destruction it would cause inside Bertie, and how it would unsettle both me and Mummy. When we arrived at our last ever camp on our Scottish trip, we didn't feel sad because the gorgeous Winnie had been guarding our spot so we could park next to her for the night (thank you Julia for posting the photo on my Facebook page).

I love Winnie; she is one of my girl crushes and when she knew I had arrived, I could hear her crying to get to me. Bertie's door opened at the same time as Winnie escaped her own Bertie, and we ran across the pitch to find each other. There were grunts and howls, and cheek kisses before we Poo hugged and then chased each other with great speed, around the Bertie's as our mummies desperately tried to get us back on the leads because we weren't supposed to be running around, free.

When everything had settled down, Auntie Julie and Winnie went back to their Bertie and made themselves some lunch. I knew Mummy was hungry and didn't have anything in the fridge, so I taught her a very useful trick. We both sat on Bertie's step and stared at Winnie's van with puppy eyes. I kept watching Mummy to see if she was doing it right because I knew she needed food, and it worked. Oh, it worked. We were in Winnie's van, in the warm, with a big plate of ham salad, hot coffee, and best of all, Victoria sponge for dessert. It was such a treat for me to watch Mummy eat something not out of a tin, two days in a row.

After lunch, we decided to scope out the meeting place for our very last Poo walk of the trip, and made our way down to the dunes. It was so windy that I didn't like it one bit and kept trying to rub the sand from my eyes on the back of Mummy's legs. My moustache blew up into the air, around my sandy eyes so I couldn't see a thing, and even with my head down, I struggled to walk against the unhappy weather Gods who were obviously shouting at each other up above. We didn't stay out long on the walk because of me, and headed back so Mummy could start packing Bertie up for our long journey home the next day.

While she did this, I chased Winnie with more kisses, bottom nips and cheek teases. We played so hard that when it came to actually go on our real walk, we were slightly exhausted and less enthused. This didn't stop us from being excited though because we knew we were seeing the gorgeous boys, Jasper and Oakley again (thank you Jeanette, I have stolen your photo from Facebook).

We weren't just meeting the boys, we were seeing Rosie again (whom we met on our first road trip in May), and meeting new Poo friends we had only ever seen photos of. The wind had settled too (just a bit), and although I didn't like it just as much, I was rather distracted by seeing old friends again, and meeting the new. (Thank you Helen, for posting this on my Facebook page).

We played, and chased, flirted, and kissed our way along the beautiful sands of Formby beach for so long that nearly missed the pub food that Katie had organised for us at the Freshfield pub. PUB FOOD. Mummy was going to get to eat proper food twice in one day, and not only that, I would get some of it too!

Sitting around the table were lovely people, all with a passion for us fur babies. They had all come together for no other reason than to add to our adventures and to be part of what we were doing. During all the chatter, all the eating, and all the laughing, Mummy and I sat back together with food in our tummies once again, and smiled a very quiet and somewhat sad smile that was mixed with utter happiness, because our last night of the road trip was spent with people we would perhaps only meet once (or a few times) in our lives and yet they were sharing the adventure with us as if it were their own. We are always humbled on our travels, by the kindness that we are given but most of all, by the generosity of time we are given by those who come to meet us. They don't know (because Mummy isn't very good in person, with words), that they become part of our history, part of our memories, and because of them, these crazy dog people who join in all our fun, our adventures are made even more special, more complete.

When we curled up in our bed together for the last time, in a rather empty feeling Bertie, we didn't quite know what to feel. Our adventures had been challenging on many days; the weather had brought near defeat at times, and Mummy's aversion to anywhere the ticks were having parties often meant we didn't walk in places we would normally have wanted to walk. Long drives through mountainous terrain tested Mummy's resolve and energy levels, and I know I tested her too at times because my paws were always dirty, and I was usually always wet. I know at home she doesn't mind about these things, but with a deposit on Bertie of over £1,200, we both knew we had to take him back clean and intact, otherwise I wouldn't be getting any new bandanas for some time. Space was so limited in Bertie that storing or cooking food was problematic and eating out wasn't always possible when there was often nowhere to eat, or a pitch that could be lost. High in the sky, where the clouds touch your skin, there was often no signal, no TV, and when Mummy had read all her books, and the view was clouded by heavy blankets of rain, the only thing she had was me, and the inside of her brain. I was definitely the better option of course, but there is only so much English I have mastered at my young age, and I have yet to learn how to speak it. I am sure I could, with the right voice coach of course, because us Poos can do anything, but I could see at times that my Mummy was often unsettled. In those silent times when the full-bellied heaviness of rain drenched us, and the wild gales blew in from the side, I knew Mummy was being tested.

It was a strange test because as Scotland threw everything it had at Mummy, from pot-holes to hairpin bends, to winds so strong that Bertie rocked, and rain so hard that it hurt our skin some days, it also threw its beauty at us too. We have seen no other beaches as beautiful as the beaches in Scotland. The water is breathtakingly clear; on a calm sunny day, it is Caribbean blue, with lapping waters and silky white sands that delicately drift through the toes with utter delight. From the seas, mountains rise like imposing dramatic paintings that can't be touched, or ever reached, all tipped and topped with clouds no less dramatic than thunderous or heavenly, depending on the climate's mood in the hour that you choose to look. Between the mountains and the beaches, there are lochs, fairy glens, forests and vast spaces of lush green lands where you can almost hear the sounds of a Celtic wind whistle across the heather and bracken. Every turn in the road brought with it a different view, a different terrain, and from mountain roads we could see ruinous castles where clans once fought, and Kings once lived. Magic rose from the ground in Scotland like a mist rising from a morning stream, only it rose with more grandeur and more purpose, blanketing the lands we travelled, and the seas we looked out to.

These things Scotland threw at us, the unquestionable beauty and nobility of its soul, combined with the gritty challenges of a warrior's spirit, were the tests we underwent for a month on the road, and as we lie in bed, we were a bundle of every emotion we could possibly feel. We faced each other on our pillows, my paw on Mummy's nose as I stretched myself out, and we knew ... we weren't going home as the same people and Poo that had arrived. We didn't need to talk about it, the words were between us silently, floating invisibly in the air that sparked around us. We'd had an adventure together that no one else would truly know the full extent of, and that was our secret, our world, and part of our bond. I knew Mummy had a few shiny tears as she closed her eyes, so I pushed my paw further into her nose to let her know that I was there, and she gently tickled my face before kissing my head goodnight. Our adventure was over ... for now.


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