Skip to main content

Donkey drama

It was when the donkeys started nibbling my arm that I decided the time had come for action.  Launching myself over the gate, I nervously approached a lady with hot pink hair.  "I'm very sorry," I started, "but could you possibly show me the way out?"

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Donkey_1_arp_750px.jpg

In case you think I've started blogging about my dreams, let me assure you that I was wide awake at the time.  The walk had started off innocently enough.  Theo was happily ensconced in the carrier, and we strode cheerfully across a green and growing field under a sunny sky.  A couple of stiles and a little bridge later, we found ourselves in a small wood.  Butterflies flitted by, and hazel trees arched over the path, creating an inviting tunnel.

A few steps in, though, I realised it was a rather muddy tunnel.  The wet underfoot was quickly seeping through my battered trainers.  My jeans had been not only clean that morning, but also brand new.  They were now decorated with dirt splashes up to the knees.  Things were quickly heading downhill.

Sure enough, the path promptly disappeared amongst the trees.  I kept catching tantalising glimpses of open fields outside of the wood, but at every turn my way seemed to be blocked by barbed wire and brambles.  Finally I found what appeared to be some kind of track, albeit one composed of knee-high wet grass trying to grow in a stream.  By this time my sodden shoes were beyond help.  I sploshed through.

We reached another dead end.  On my left was a broken sign with the name of the wood.  "Walkers welcome on waymarked paths" it read.  Muttering darkly about the standard of waymarking on these particular paths, I turned to my right, where there was a metal gate with - oh joy! - a field and a house beyond.  But.  No stile, and a distinct lack of waymarking.  Could I climb a five-bar gate with a 14-pound infant attached to my front?

As it turned out, yes I could.  But as it turned out, that barn at the top of the field contained three very inquisitive donkeys with no sense of personal space.  At first I wasn't worried, thinking they'd just come for a quick sniff.  Donkeys are pretty docile creatures, I thought.  But they pushed in closer.  And closer.  Hairy noses at every turn, and questing mouths taking much too close an interest in Theo's dangling feet.  And my arm.  Ouch!  By this point they jostled us up against the gate, but I didn't dare open it in case they all stampeded.  So it was up over the top again, and into, effectively, someone's front garden.

Fortunately the woman mowing the grass wasn't as alarming as her day-glo hair might suggest.  She took the arrival of an extremely muddy mother and baby entirely in her stride. Shutting off the mower, grabbed the largest dog, yelled at the other three, and walked me to the front gate.

I'll never look at donkeys in quite the same way again.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Three Mile an Hour God: Spiritual Formation Book 10

"The affirmed life must not become either a lazy life or a happy-ever-after, easy life. The affirmed life is not a life of the power of positive thinking. To be affirmed by God means to live with danger and promise."   Kosuke Koyama's book Three Mile an Hour God was written out of the experience of the Second World War and its aftermath in Japan. As Koyama says in his preface, it is "a collection of biblical reflections by one who is seeking the source of healing from the wounds... inflicted by the destructive power of idolatry." The title speaks of a God who moves at walking pace - three miles an hour - and even, in Jesus, comes to a "full stop" - nailed to a cross. If we try to move faster than the love of God, says Koyama, we fall into idolatry. What is the book about? Three Mile an Hour God has 45 chapters, each a separate short reflection headed by a Bible verse. Some deal specifically with Japan, considering her role in WWII, the damage inflicte

National Forest Way: Ellistown, Bagworth, Nailstone

You may well say, "Where?" I'd never heard of any of these three villages before I planned to walk through them. Back in the 1970s, it would have been possible to travel between them underground. All three had collieries producing exceptional amounts of coal (Bagworth set a Guinness World Record). Nailstone and Bagworth collieries were connected in 1967, and Ellistown was merged with the other two in 1971. All the mines are long closed now. The railway lines have been taken up, the winding wheels turned into civic sculptures, and the pit sites transformed into country parks. It was a beautiful sunny day, but we'd had a lot of rain recently. Within five minutes of leaving Ellistown, I was glad I'd worn my wellies.   The way took me alongside a quarry site and then into a collection of woods: Common Hill Wood, Workmans Wood, Battram Wood. The colours of the trees in the November sunshine were beautiful. The path was a muddy mess. At Battram village I crossed a newly

National Forest Way: Normanton le Heath to Ellistown

This 9-mile walk took me through the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Woods and Sence Valley Forest Park, and into the heavily-quarried countryside south of Coalville (no prizes for guessing what was mined there!) I originally planned to walk from Normanton le Heath to Donington le Heath, which had a pleasing symmetry. But I decided to go a bit further, to the hamlet of Ellistown.   It was a cold morning. I'd been in shorts the previous weekend, but today there was a frost. I added a flask of coffee, a scarf and gloves to my kit, and set off. For a small village, Normanton le Heath has a surprisingly wide road. I parked there rather than using the car park for the Jubilee Woods. That meant I was at my starting point straight away. I followed a road past some rather nice houses, crossed a field, and entered the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Woods. The NFW leaflet told me that I was on the route of the Via Devana, a Roman road from Colchester to Chester. There isn't much left of it. a mosaic,