If the weather were a person, judging by its recent behaviour, I think it would be someone who suffers from chronic indecision! Over the last month or so I have been reminded, on more than one occasion, of the song by Crowded House, Four Seasons in One Day! Nowhere did this seem more apt than the Exmoor National Park, it seems to have its own micro-climate. I guess, like a lot people who work out-of-doors, I have more than a passing interest in the weather. When I started my pet sitting career I had visions of summers spent dog walking in shorts and a t-shirt, disappointingly this wasn’t always the case. My years of looking after horses, however, taught me to be resilient and I could never have been described as a fair weather rider. As I get older though, hail, sleet, snow and driving rain have become more unappealing!

After a day or two of very welcome spring sunshine the weather took a turn for the worst and a cold, grey, damp, misty-murk descended over the Holnicote Estate. This was when I discovered that there was a knack to keeping the coal fire alive and as it heated the water for the cottage radiators letting it dwindle and die was not an option. Once the fire was blazing fiercely in the grate, however, the tiny cottage living room felt like an oven and I was shedding layers of clothing at a rapid rate.

It was with some relief then that I started my next home and pet sit in Minehead, looking after two poodles in a more modern property. I say modern, it was built in the 1920’s, rather than the 1800’s but it did have a more reliable source of warmth in the form of central heating.

At first I walked the poodles, Lola, a black standard bitch and Mishka a cream, toy bitch of thirteen months, up on North Hill but as the paths became muddier we headed for Minehead beach. Wet, sandy dogs being easier to deal with than wet, muddy dogs I reasoned. As Mishka was in season I’d been asked to keep her on the lead. “We don’t want any puppies thank-you!” My clients told me “Not unless they’re labradoodles, they do seem to be popular at the moment!” This was said in jest but my clients weren’t to know how close it came to happening when an entire, chocolate labrador bounded up to greet us on the beach one morning. Thankfully he made his first pass at Lola, who had been spayed, giving his owner time to run over and put him on the lead. He did look rather crest-fallen as his apologetic handler brought him to heal and dragged the reluctant lab out of temptation’s way!

Mishka didn’t remember me from my previous sit, it didn’t take her long however, to transfer her separation anxiety from her mistress to me! There was no way I was going allow her to join me in the bathroom so many was the time I had Mishkas ear-piercing vocal accompaniment to my ablutions. Having reached a stage in life where a certain daily morning routine can be easily undermined, I was very much looking forward to returning home where I could sit on my own toilet in peace!

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