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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Walking Alfie At Stockgrove Park

A pleasant sunny Saturday morning, so what better way to spend the time than walking Alfie at Stockgrove Country Park? We've been many times over the years. Quite sad in some ways, as it's the first time we've visited since our other dog, Poppy, died. It's near Leighton Buzzard, and around a 15-minute drive down the A5. Rushmere Park is part of the same area and was joined to Stockgrove Park  few years ago, making a larger area to explore. I had to get the cage out of the house before Alfie got the least inkling that we intended taking him out in the car. Carol had to keep him in the bedroom whilst I got the cage out of the spare room, but it didn't take him very long to catch on. Most of the neighbourhood was treated to the sound of him barking noisily as we got him into the cage in the back of the car. 

When I first visited Stockgrove Park (I don't exactly remember how many years ago now, but certainly quite a few) you drove into the carpark and then there was a voluntary payment scheme. You could put a £1 coin in the box on the wall, and if there wasn't room to park within the carpark you could always park along the roadside. I notice that now they have put posts all along the road side which would be to stop people parking there and using the carpark.  Now you have to drive in and use the barrier. All well and good. Then, on leaving, you have to pay £2 to get out. I have no problem with this, as long as the cash raised is used to keep the carpark and surrounding area maintained.

It was busy when we got there this morning. Lots of cars parked, people getting out of cars and others wandering about. We saw lots of families, children and dogs. It seems to be a very popular spot for dog-walking. You are supposed to keep your dog on it's lead. All very well, but Alfie expects to be let off his lead and run. He's sort of pent-up, a bit like a coiled spring, and the moment he's let off, he'll run off, but doesn't go too far and will return to you when you call. Anyway, as soon as we drew up in the carpark, Alfie was barking excitedly. Whenever we go out with him in the car and we arrive home, he seems to know exactly where we are and starts yapping and barking. Even  when we're out with him in the back of the car in the cage, and he quite clearly can't see out, as soon as we stop, at traffic lights or at the petrol station, he starts off barking. I think he has an idea we're at the destination and he'll be let out. He's a sharp little dog and knows exactly that when the car stops we're more than likely going to let him out of the back of the car.

We began walking round the park, walking along the path towards the lake. If we'd had Poppy with us we'd have had to avoid the lake or, indeed, any area of water, because she'd have been in it and swimming. No sort of fear of water. Also, the muddier and smellier the better, a good excuse to dive in, up to her tummy, and covered in the worst mud she could find, definitely the smellier the better. As she had a very thick coat, any mud took some time to get out and more likely we'd have to shove her in the bath to get the mud out of her coat. And taking her home in the car and covering the seats in the mud. Never mind. It was part of her personality. Just try keeping her out of water. Quite impossible and it was better to keep her on her lead and as far away from the water! She's be chasing the ducks on the lake and causing havoc! Alfie, on the other hand, has no interest in water, thank goodness. I think he's got more sense than to get wet and cold! He's been in water before, and he didn't like it, particularly the time we went down to the canal and he jumped over a small, low wall, not realising that there was water on the other side! Carol fished him out, cold and wet, and he had to endure walking home very miserable, so I think he learned his lesson not to get in water when we're out and about.

The first time we took Alfie to Stockgrove, when he was but a small puppy, he didn't enjoy it that much, because he got leaves caught in his coat. It was amusing watching him, stopping every now and again to sit down on the patch and attempt to pull twigs and leaves out of his coat. Even today he managed to get bits of twig caught in his coat. Not quite so particular about this, but he ran back to me to pulls the twigs out of his coat.

We did a circuit of the lake and met several dogs. one large labrador with it's master, chasing a ball he threw into the lake. Alfie just has no manners when he meets other dogs, running about madly. I'm not sure what these dogs think of him,  he moves so fast. We got back to the carpark and Carol suggested we have ice creams, which sounded a good idea. There was an ice-cream van set up in the carpark, engine running, but when we attempted to buy ice-cream the man wasn't there to sell them, so we decided to have bacon baguettes from the café which has a sort of window opening onto the area where there are tables to sit at. Very tasty and just what we needed after our walk around the park. Alfie sat under the table and was very good, no doubt exhausted after the exertions of his running around the lake. Incidentally, we were somewhat surprised to notice an almost complete absence of ducks on the lake. There are notices around telling you to 'Please do not feed the ducks.' I know why, as bread isn't actually the right sort of thing to feed ducks and bits of old bread left in the water goes mouldy. But why no more than a handful of ducks? Probably set up home elsewhere on another stretch of water. Lots of trees have been felled and new growth where the light has got in. Also, other managed coppice and a reed-bed system to deal with the water at the visitor centre.

It was a pleasant morning and definitely a good spot to visit with even more places to walk the other side of the road from the main carpark. We drove home and will return for another trip sometime over the long summer holiday period.
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