With the exception of Asian excursions and holidays, mornings have started in the same way for the last few years.
1. Get up.
2. Check face for new spots.
3. Get dressed in scruffy clothes, too many coats and green wellies.
4. Go outside and head towards stables.
5. Grab fork and wheelbarrow and get on with mucking out.
6. Feed hay.
7. Go inside and feed self.
Even though – in theory – my mornings should be much easier, I am finding it much harder to settle into urban life on account of one thing: poo bags.
One of the joys of living on a farm is that it’s quite simple to have a dog, and the dog can run free in the fields. And when the dog is running free in the fields, it can defecate.
Defecation in said fields is of little concern – if you happened to catch your dog doing the deed so you know where and where not to tread, give it a few days and all trace will have disappeared into the soil. Fabulous.
For the likes of me, who can cope perfectly well with cow and horse defecation on boots, on clothing and sometimes on hands, but who only just look at dog poo without flexing a gag reflex, farm-life dog ownership is ideal.
Not so ideal is when that gag reflex is tested daily, because as a responsible dog owner, I can no longer allow myself to believe that my dog is of a magical-no-poo variety and have to pick it up. Whilst hot and therefore, wafty.
Now, I can’t be the only one who has this problem. So why are poo bags so infuriatingly difficult to negotiate? They just don’t open. And the whole time they’re not opening, the smell is getting stronger and my likelihood to actually start gagging increasing. I try telling myself not to think about it, but it’s hard to when what you really need to concentrate on is opening a bag to put the bloody poo in in the first place.
Betty isn’t helping. She may be the cutest canine on the planet, but she’s really not helping. She seems to have discovered her inner exhibitionist, and rather than ‘doing it’ on a quiet street where I can gag in private, she has to ‘go’ in a particularly public place. Even if I give her a good tug, as if to imply, “wait, Betty, there are better places than here,” she ignores me. So now people are having to step around a gagging me and a steamy mess.
I’ve also totally not nailed looking chic on my dog walking escapades. Around me I see tailored camel coats wrapped tight, immaculate hair, colour co-ordinated luxury brands. But basically I have just thrown on as many layers as I can fit under my green coat with a multi-coloured scarf I found in my nan’s drawer and a bright orange hat bought on my dad’s account in the local farmers co-operative. To finish my look, I have some pink gardening gloves because they are waterproof. I look like a hybrid between the Michelin man and a modern-day-Rastafarian-dog-walking-Compo, gagging. True, there are clearly others who look as if, they too, are more concerned with warmth than looking on point, but they are mainly male and mainly over 55.
Still, at least I’m out and about, and walking my little pooch has been a brilliant way of seeing what’s what and where without being tempted to step inside and spend money. Just maybe next week, I might exercise some damage limitation: get out of bed an hour or two earlier and gag in peace.