Sunday, 28 February 2016

My Secret Valentine

Did you survive the recent Valentine’s Day?  Are you currently loved up and enjoying a room still full of fading blooms or, like me, just very grateful to be presented with a bunch of supermarket roses that died twenty-four hours later?
          Actually, this Valentine’s Day was extra special for me.  It marked the publication of my sixth novel, Secrets.  Part of the book is set in Canada.  It was a joy to research in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.  Do the hero and heroine get their happy ending?  Well, without giving too much away, I always like my novels to have a happy ending, even if the characters do suddenly nip off and do things they really weren’t meant to.  I spent the morning of Valentine’s Day doing a bit of tweeting about Secrets, then switched off the computer and took my patient pooch, Molly Muddles, for a long walk.
          ‘Wait for me,’ said Mr V.  ‘It’s Valentine’s Day. I’ll be romantic and join you.’  Apparently not staying at home, glued to the football, is a gesture of romance.  I’m not complaining.  I’ll take whatever romance is on offer!
          We live in Fairseat, by the North Downs.  There are many wonderful places to walk. A favourite is Trosley Country Park. It’s only a few minutes away.  However, the brief stroll to the actual park isn’t without fraught moments.  Molly’s training has been continuous.  She is very obedient – until a major distraction comes along.  The biggest distraction on the walk to Trosley is a huge German Shepherd guarding a country pile.  Molly has to walk approximately three hundred feet past this guard dog who, on the other side of sturdy spiked railings, snarls and growls throughout our passage.  Molly, built like a whippet, puffs out her puny chest to make herself look bigger.  She then takes the “I’m bigger than you” thing to the extreme and stands up on her gangly hind legs, extending her long neck and even longer back.  Switching to kangaroo mode, she then bounces down the road on two legs, front paws paddling the air for balance, which sends the German Shepherd into a complete frenzy.
          Once in the safety of the country park, Molly comes off the lead.  She always bounds off with alacrity, then bounces back to check where we are before disappearing again.  This is pretty much how she behaves on a walk…exploring but needing to check in every minute or so to make sure you are still around.  The trails at Trosley are colour coded.  We opted for the blue trail thinking it might be comparable to a blue ski run.  Wrong!  At Trosley the red trail is shallow, whilst the blue is horrendously steep.  If you were a skier, it would be a black run, as my husband can attest when his size nines took off down an almost vertical path.
          Two hours later, wind-blown and starving, we had completed the circuitous route.  It was debatable, as the finishing line came into sight, which was the most fabulous view: the North Downs to the left, or the café straight ahead.  Molly Muddles had no doubts.  She zoomed off towards enticing smells of sausage, egg, bacon, and freshly brewed coffee.
          ‘Three all-day breakfasts, please,’ said Mr V to the serving lady.
          The lady looked between me and my husband.  ‘Three?’        Molly promptly plonked her paws on the counter and gave the serving lady a big grin.  ‘Three it is!’ the lady laughed.
          Dogs aren’t allowed to stay in the restaurant, but we didn’t mind at all.  Eating hot food outside in the bracing cold air somehow makes everything taste twice as scrumptious.  Molly certainly gave it her approval and licked all the plates clean.  Which reminds me.
          What’s a dog’s favourite pizza?  Pupperoni…

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