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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

June 2019


There is an old saying “when one door closes, another opens”. In the instance of Fudge this is most certainly true. When I last wrote “Bill’s Views” and had to write about the demise of Fudge it seemed to be the end of the world. We, Eileen and I, were both disconsolate, and we felt very low, the house seemed empty and we were both very unhappy. We intended, at some time, to have another dog, but we couldn’t get around to finding one, we need not have bothered – Ruby found us!

Purely by chance I looked at Beagle Welfare on my lap top and saw a seven year old, female beagle. The incredible thing was that she was living in Tilehurst, just five miles away. Her owners were unable to keep her and asked Beagle Welfare to find a suitable home for her, she was very unhappy in kennels.
We arranged with her owner to meet up in Bucknells Meadow one evening. Imagine our delight when we saw this lively little beagle springing down Mapledurham Drive! It was love at first sight. When Ruby was let her off her leash it was very impressive  to see the speed at which  she dashed across the field

We invited the owners to visit us, and they were delighted to find that we had such a large garden, so was Ruby, for the first thing she did was to dig a large hole under my privet hedge! As the owners were going away for the weekend they asked if we would like to have her for a couple of days, to see how she (and we!) got on – it was a perfect love match. Eileen took her for a walk up to the lock, and we still had Fudge’s basket. We settled her down in the kitchen overnight, but she was happy being allowed to clamber over the furniture in the lounge. We were warned that she did not like cats or pigeons. She settled in with us very nicely, and when the owners came to retrieve her on the Tuesday, the house seemed empty once more.

On the Tuesday morning, the day of her being collected from us, I was still in bed that was when Ruby decided to pay me a visit and finished up totally beneath the blankets! The strange thing was that we could never get Fudge to go upstairs, but Ruby has very quickly taken over the house, upstairs, downstairs, in the kitchen and in the garden –it seems to have been made for her convenience.

She has taken over my armchairs, both in the lounge and in the conservatory. She has the oddest habit of wrapping a blanket completely around herself. All that can be seen of her is the tip of a shiny black nose– I liken it to the way a Red Indian wraps its baby up – is that a papoose?

We took her to Arundel with us a fortnight ago and when my great nephews and nieces came around to see her they took to her immediately. The children loved throwing a ball in the back garden and Ruby loved chasing it. Jane, my niece, very kindly sent me some photographs, on a Kindle book, which she and Martin (her husband) took of Ruby rushing about chasing a small yellow ball. In the snapshot Ruby’s long ears were flapping and, her tail was straight out behind her, with her little legs almost clearing the ground – it’s a wonder she didn’t take to the air!

Eileen is happy taking Ruby out in the morning and in the evening, and the other day I joined them with my rollator and actually managed to reach the lock. It was wonderful to see how she dashes about Blount’s Meadow – and she is not afraid of the cows! (That is Ruby I’m writing about – not Eileen!) For Fudge was frightened of the cows and wouldn’t go in the meadow if there were cows in the vicinity.

“Uncle Bill”

All of my Mapledurham Island Books (and I’ve just had my seventh book published) involve Uncle Bill. He relates stories to his great niece Scarlett. Christine the Clerk to the Parish Council, has very kindly drawn a black and white sketch of Uncle Bill in his battered old armchair and framed it. It really is very, very good, although she has given the character a little more hair than I actually have on my head. You can almost hear the old man relating his stories and I am very grateful to Christine for her kindness.

The rain

What a deluge we’ve had recently, if I knew exactly how much 150 mm measures in old money   I could let you know how much rain we’ve had fall in Purley on the past few weeks. Everything coloured green in the garden has gone wild, all except the new lawn which Paul has sown for me. That continues to be very slow growing with lots of weeds. Joe has very kindly paid me a visit with his rake and rotator, but even so the weeds continue to out strip the grass seeds in growth and numbers.

The old lawn is looking quite green, where I haven’t scalped it with the mower, but the fastest growing plant in the garden is the convolvuluses with its twining stems. The other day I went to pull some out, tripped up and lay on my back for several minutes unable to raise myself up. Fortunately after a while Eileen realised that I was particularly gone for a long time and came out into the garden to see if I was all right. I assured her from a laying position that I wasn’t. She returned with a wooden dining room chair which enabled me to get to my knees and then to clamber myself into an upright position. I now have a mobile telephone in my pocket on which I can call if an accident happens in the future.


I was somewhat alarmed when Graham told me recently that if I failed to walk each day I might lose the use of my legs. This is what happened to my mother-in-law a few years ago and consequently I have been making an effort to try to walk about the village more often. In my rambles It is interesting to see how many new houses have been built on two early roads, Oak Tree Walk and Mapledurham Drive although I still miss the huge walnut tree in Colyton Way! Almost completely gone now are the old “shacks” for which Purley was so well known, in their stead are some really well designed detached and semi-detached buildings. It is a different Purley on Thames now to what it was, even as recently as last year.

Bill Ayling