Smudge likes his routine: a walk in the morning about nine-ish and another in the evening around six-ish.
With summer now going full pelt, the evening walk can be a challenge. Surrounded by worked farmland, our walks involve a drive first to more dog-friendly territory. We park the car for walking (the merc, not the batmobile, which sits in the wood shed) under over-hanging trees to keep the heat off. Even so, by six pm on a sunny day, the thermometer in the car reads 29ºC and we set out with air conditioning full on and all windows open to get a through draught.
On these hot evenings our routine changes as we look for places with shade. There's a small park on the way into town, which is carved from an old country estate. Great plane trees shield the parking area and at lunchtime people sit on benches and eat their sandwiches in the relative cool. In the evenings young men park their cars with open doors side by side and share gossip, music and beers.
Across the grass, giant cedars with low sweeping branches and blue-green cones offer inviting shade. Smudge prefers the rubbish bins.
In one corner of the park there is a chapel with boarded up windows and door. In Spring it is surrounded by pink cyclamen and if you look carefully you can see tiny violets.