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Below Bill Ayling shares with you some of the things that come to mind as he walks around Purley on Thames with his dog Ruby

September 2019

Ruby in the Mud

Dogs are supposed to be colour blind, but if that is so, why did Ruby get stuck in the mud on the river bank under the impression that the green scum covering the mud was the same colour as the grass through which she had just galloped? Eileen had taken Ruby for a walk along the river footpath, and Ruby, seeing what she mistakenly thought was a stretch of flat green grass, dashed for it. She had gone about four leaps when the earth gave way under her legs and she sunk into thick, gluey black mud. She was absolutely plastered on all four legs up to her thighs, belly, neck and the lower part of her floppy ears. You have never seen a dirtier dog! Regrettably she became stuck in the mud and Eileen bravely went in after her, performing a rescue, but likewise was almost stuck in the mud.

At home I received the phone call! “Get some hot water ready!” I don’t know whether it was for Eileen or Ruby, but the dog won, by a short head. It was difficult to get the mud off Ruby for as soon as I had removed one lot of sludge and wrung out the cloth the water became as black as ink. I managed eventually to get her reasonable clean and then turned to pick up the dog’s towel. Ruby, seizing the fact the she was no longer under my control, dashed away and hid herself under the big hydrangea bush on the edge of the lawn. Once in that bush it is impossible to get her out without a severe wrench on the fur of her neck – that is if you can reach her.

Unfortunately on this occasion it was not possible to reach her as I cannot kneel.

Flowers at the lock

I managed to walk up to the lock last week-end. I could have done with a nice cup of tea (and a bacon sandwich), but unfortunately the café is now closed, although there was a notice saying that it would be opened again. NB when is he twelfth day of never?

Opposite the first bench inside the gate I was able to get a good view of the circle of flowers which I planted last year, it looked very pretty and the little green bushes which Margaret gave me a couple of years  ago  have now grown  and spread themselves around the outside of the circle. They will make an ideal background for the daffodils when they bloom next year.

Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Market is held on the second Saturday of the month in the large Barn at the Goosecroft. There is good value for money at the market with fresh vegetables, eggs and a couple of stalls selling meat of all descriptions. It is a pleasant place to meet up with some friends and it never ceases to amaze me with the number of people I know who gather together for a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake at the WI stall. In addition to those stalls there is the second hand books from Caroline on the Cats Protection stall, St Mary’s Church stall, the Purley Players advertising their next play, a Murder Mystery and, of course, the Parish Council stand always with one or two councillors in attendance.

On most months there is also a Pangbourne and Purley Scout’s stall where they have the ever popular breakfast rolls, with bacon, sausages and eggs- I feel hungry just writing about it! I’m sure that some people visit the market just to buy one of these delicious rolls. This last Market the MacMillan Nurses Association took over the stall and their bacon rolls were just as nice! From the remarks made by the people manning the stall I gather that the contributions made by the visitors were very satisfactory.

It will be an excellent move for the market if there are a few more stall holders in the large barn. In the small barn there is a wonderful display of crafts, photographic exhibitions and fashions.

If you are free on the Saturdays the Market is open, please pay a visit, you will meet so many interesting people there, and the produce is always excellent.

The garden

The garden is very dry at the moment and I have had to water the flower beds quite profusely. I think the sun is doing the grapes some good, but they are still in the semi-black stage. On the apple trees and the pear trees earlier this year there was a profusion of blossom – very pretty it looked – but unfortunately a late frost has caused many of the apples to wither on the bough.


Due to the continuing warm weather I am having to continually fill up the bird-bath. This is much appreciated by our feathered friends who spend hours, splashing about in the turgid water. The other morning I counted five blue tits having an early dip, they were having a grand time, until Ruby interfered with their aquatic recreations. Ruby, apparently, prefers drinking out of the stone bird-bath rather than her dog bowl, and was annoyed to find her drinking fountain invaded.

Ruby, I find, has developed a new trick. She has found that if she climbs on to the back of an armchair she can look out of the lounge widow and see whether any cats or pigeons are invading her territory. The blue tits swimming in the bird-bath remain in the back garden where they are safely out of her ken.

Cat’s Bell

In my last Bill’s Views I mentioned the bell on the ginger cat. When Eileen was recently helping me tidy up the garden (i.e. pulling up weeds and old geraniums) she said “Look what I’ve found!” It was a golden bell on a red ribbon. Attached to the ribbon was also a small silver container, inside of which I found the owner’s name and address. It was in minuscule writing and rolled into a tiny scroll, but it was legible, and we were able to take the ribbon and attachments back to the cat’s owner. Recently I had noticed that the ginger cat was wearing a new pretty pink ribbon – and a new bell!

Bill Ayling