I stumbled upon two very pleasant countryside walks in Oxford. I love walking. These were the kind of walks that just keep going straight, there was very little chance of getting lost. They were my kind of walks. What I wish to write about today though is them doggies.
Imagine walking serenely on a path with the Thames on one side and open fields on the other. You will meet people strolling, cycling or running from time to time. There are flowers to be clicked and admired, in that order. The weather was mild (gave me a mild sunburn later as I was not using sunscreen) and all is at peace in the world! Right? Wrong.
It was them doggies. In the countryside, people let their dogs off the leash. And that is a source of unmitigated terror to me! I am really truly completely afraid of dogs, even the tiny miny ones. So, on this walk when I faltered for the first time, predictably it was when I saw a huge dog let off the leash ( a labrador, deep down I know they are harmless). I looked to my right and asked a young lad if it would be alright to walk ahead and if the path leads somewhere? He gave his go ahead. Then he asked me something from afar and cycled around for a while but finally vanished. The dog owner could probably sense my tension and told me they were going for a dip in the river. The dog of course was running towards water without even sparing me a glance. That is the best thing he could do for me!
Then there was another man throwing a Frisbee to his dog, thankfully in the opposite direction. And of course the dog was quite interested in the game. Again I hurried past. This was the last of the doggies on the Oxford-Sandford walk. Lucky me? Not so soon.
The day after I did the Oxford Sandford walk, my original plan was to do nothing. That means walking around aimlessly around the accommodation in my lexicon. After wandering for a while I remembered a wooden gate that I gave a miss during my previous visit to Oxford. Not to make the same mistake twice (maybe not really a mistake as in October 2007 the sunset was really early around 4.00 pm and in June really late around 9.00 pm) I walked through the gate. The walk seemed promising till I encountered my nemesis.
On the narrow path there were two ladies on two high horses (literally) with their dog running ahead. Of course he was interested in me and I for sure was not. Not willing to offend anyone, I politely put my small shoulder bag in front of my legs and the intelligent dog understood my gesture. He went his way and I went mine, thanking my stars. Too soon, it turned out.
Can you see the serenity above? I was walking without a care. A few minutes later and then heard some footsteps running furiously. I turned back and my heart stopped. There was a dog taller than me (or so I thought) being chased by the dog with the ladies on the high horses! I was silently telling myself, “You had it, who the hell asked you to walk alone?” A moment later I realized the tall thing was a deer outracing the dog with an effort that clearly bored him to no end. Did I turn back? No, because as one of my professors aptly remarked that I like to “walk with a vengeance.”
Next were two really tiny miny dogs and as they bounded with glee towards me. I said in a croaking voice to their oblivious owners, “Please call them back, I am quite afraid of dogs.” Their faces contorted with surprise but they did call the dogs back. Was this the end? Did I turn back? Not quite.
I walked ahead for quite sometime and met no dogs. That gave me courage on my way back to venture into a forest like area to my left. I was desperately trying to remember the way full of mild turns. After a few turns I decided if I got lost my colleagues would have no sympathy for me. I turned back and there he was. He had a crooked front leg and a dirty color. The collar round the neck gave me some confidence, I resorted back to my shoulder bag trick but this one took offense. While he ran away, he let out blood curdling howls from a safe distance. Heart thudding in mouth, I negotiated my way. He kept barking after my shadow. After a long time he concluded that I was way too far away to do any more bag tricks.
The end of the country road was almost in sight. There were the two ladies on their high horses (literally, no pun intended) again. But these lovely ones had no doggies with them. What sweet ladies. I considered this a good omen and made a dash to safety of my room.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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