Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bring On The Mint Sauce !

It was a lovely day so for my exercise, I went out into the countryside for some well needed fresh air. And I got more fresh air than I needed really.

Windy ? Windy ? Just about blew my freckles off.

I drove to nearby Eccup Reservoir and parked the car close to the start of the public bridleway that I've been along a few times and posted about in A Walk In The Countryside last year.

As one of the photos in that post shows, the bridleway starts with a gate by the roadside and once through it, you're out in the true countryside - as my inappropriate white trainers found to their cost once again. I really must get some walking footwear if I'm going to go off road like this.

I soon came upon evidence of a secret UFO landing area or maybe it was an Irish crop circle but in any case, I searched for more evidence and found none.

The wind was at it's fiercest up on these exposed heights and it was hard to stand still long enough to take a decent photo.

A couple of hardy female walkers went past - at least I think they were female as they were so completely wrapped up against the wind and cold that they could've been of either persuasion.....or both !

I took some more photos of the whin bushes as usual but they were moving around so much in the wind that they were no better than my previous attempts with my old camera.

The bridleway got considerably wetter and thus muddier from this point onwards so at the request of my trainers, I retraced my steps and got back onto the paved road.

I walked another mile or so and came upon this awesome tree which somehow I'd never noticed before. Maybe I'd never seen it in winter as I'm sure it's a different proposition when it's dressed with leaves.

It looked like it had been hit by lightning at some point and I was on the lookout for the 3 witches as at that point, a bowl of steaming 'wing of bat' stew would've been very welcome.

I went back to the car to thaw out a bit and decided I'd had enough fresh air for a week.

I'd only driven a few hundred yards along the narrow paved country lane when I rounded a gentle bend and came upon a load of sheep which had someone escaped from a nearby field.
I'd have called them a flock of sheep but there weren't enough of them to justify the collective term.

As I approached, they took flight and ran off back to their field but I stopped the car and slowly they came back towards me. Inquisitive critters, sheep.

I slowly got out and with camera in hand, I stood by the back of the car so as not to scare them and one by one they came forward and happily munched on the lush grass on both sides of the road.

Every so often one or two would get jumpy and head off back down the road and being creatures renowned for being followers, the rest would scatter as well even though I'm sure they had no idea why they were doing so.

"Where are you going ?"
"I'm off mate..........back along this road"
"Why, the grass is good here"
"Cause the ewe went so I'm off too"
"I didn't go anywhere, I'm right here"
"Not you, ewe !"
"You you what ?"
"Oh shut up and lets go. We're the last to leave"
"Oh crap. You lead and I'll follow"

It doesn't do to try and analyse the workings of a sheep brain. It really doesn't.

I don't know if something spooked them again as a few minutes later they were heading back towards me so I stayed put behind the car and let them munch their way right up alongside me.

I think some sort of experimentation had been going on as I noticed one sheep didn't know if it was coming or going. Maybe it was imported from Kentucky for breeding purposes.

I suspect it's parents were close relatives but all's fair in the animal kingdom I guess.

At least there was some sort of equal racial equality going on in that gene pool and I named it Dolly 2 which seemed appropriate on several levels.

Some of the sheep were leaping about like the lambs I really wanted to find. I think this was more due to them getting too close to one another rather than any sort of adult frolic behaviour. One did catch my eye though as it was obviously an Irish sheep which had somehow sneaked into the flock.

While I watched in awe, this sheep suddenly broke into a rendition of Riverdance that Michael Flatley himself would've been proud to have witnessed.

It's little stick legs were a blur of movement and the clicking noise made by it's hoofs on the paved surface were just as I'd heard when watching the great man himself.

Oh if the old style variety shows ever come back on tv on a Saturday night, this sheep will be an overnight sensation.

Much as I enjoyed the free show, I needed to escape and get off home so I made my way to the car door and this prompted another mad dash off down the road for my new friends.

I started the car and slowly drove along the road towards them. I let a small van pass me as it was in more of a hurry and it managed to split the sheep to both sides of the road. Once the van had driven through them, they regrouped behind it and I looked with some alarm as they came stampeding towards me. Showing total contempt for the 15 mile an hour speed restriction in force there, they charged at me with ill disguised hatred in their eyes.

I sat terrified in the car and decided that a strain of CJD had somehow crossed over to sheep and I swore that if I survived this ordeal, I'd remove every lamb chop from my freezer.

They rushed right up to the front of the car and slowed down. A few brave ones went along both sides and the rest soon followed. I watched as they pressed their faces up against my windows as I tried not to make eye contact. They looked mean.

I slowly slid my Delia Smith cook book into the glove compartment (no point antagonising them after all) and sweated while they passed me by and started munching on the grass verges behind the car.

When the road ahead was clear, I sped off, glancing in the rear view mirror and shouting "mint sauce, mint sauce" in a futile show of bravado. I had been a part of the Great Sheep Attack Of 2007 and had survived. Something to tell the grandchilden I thought. Better get a wife and some kids first I also thought.

With pounding heart and an air of lightheadedness I rounded a slight corner and saw 2 horses in a field with their heads over the gate as if they'd been watching what had just taken place.

"Fun's over, Fred"
"Yeah...shame innit ?"
"Was good while it lasted though."
"Sure was. Same time tomorrow ?"
"Ok but you let them out next time, ok. I've done it twice in a row now"

Neither nag would've won a rosette at a show but they were friendly enough and posed nicely for the camera.

There had been an animal sanctuary nearby for many years until it closed down a few months ago. Going by the state of these horses, they must've been left behind in the move.

This white(ish) one wasn't too shabby and it came up and let me pet it on the head which was cool.

Then it's friend got jealous and came up to me as well and suddenly I remembered the sheep attack and I backed off just in case the CJD had jumped again.

But these 2 seemed docile enough. I tried out my whispering technique on them but they didn't respond. Maybe they'd heard the joke before as neither laughed at all.

When the brown horse wandered off to munch on some grass, I took the hint and got back in the car and came home.

I'd had a lovely walk in the countryside, seen some animals and taken 111 photographs - most of which were deleted once I'd had a close look at them !

God bless digital.

Later on when deciding what to get out to defrost for supper, I checked the freezer and found the lamb chops.
I remembered my promise to remove them if I survived the stampede.

Well I DID survive it and so, true to my word, I removed the chops from my freezer.

With some new potatoes and a little mint sauce, boy were they tasty !!! Sluuuuuurp !

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