Walking with the Animals

It’s not long since I arrived home from my first group CBT session with Positive Step (at the time I began writing this, anyway). That’s an experience I’ll have to share with you another time and hopefully tomorrow evening. I know; I really should write about it now while it’s fresh in my mind but, I like to try and keep my posts in chronological order and there may be something to gain from twenty-four hours of hindsight and reflection. It’s a very positive experience so far though. 🙂

Before I go on, I’d just like to apologise to anyone who may have been affected or ‘triggered’ by the subject of my previous post. I did hope that the headline would be enough to ‘warn’ people without placing a ‘TW’ in the opening paragraph but it has received a more minute response than I would’ve expected. I’m sorry if it did affect anyone in any way. This is an on-going situation where it’s hard for me to accept that there’s only so-much I can do to help someone I care about. Someone I’m concerned for. But, I aim to do everything that I can, as a friend.

Tonight, I want to write about the walk I went on with the group on Sunday. If we weren’t trapped in this winter weather that has spanned almost one-third of a twelve-month period then, I would’ve been able to share some photos with you all.

A week earlier and I was planning to go on the longer walk across the Mendips. But another walk, postponed from earlier in the year, emerged on the site a couple of days earlier and, as we don’t often visit the Cotswolds, I was encouraged to head off to Tetbury with my friend and an eventual turn-out of three others, including the walk leader.

My very first walk with the group (back in November) started in nearby Didmarton, where we also passed through Westonbirt Arboretum on a circular walk back to our cars. We covered new ground and, with the overnight frost and daytime temperatures only a fraction above freezing, much of the muddy ground was still frozen and thereby passable. This is another reason I’m glad I decided not to do the Mendips walk, as I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like high on those hills, for twelve-miles, with the bitterly cold breeze!

There really isn’t much else I feel I can say about the walk itself. I met two other people I’d met before, plus one guy who had recently joined the group and I didn’t attempt much of a conversation with any of them. A lot of the events and fears from Friday were still fresh in my mind. Inside the Arboretum, we stopped off inside the cafe for a warm drink. I’m kind of glad my anxiety excluded me from buying anything… One person payed £1.50 for a single cookie and, as an issue with their machines meant they could only take cash payments, with only £5 in my wallet, I needed to save what I had in order to reimburse our driver for my share of the fuel cost for the trip there and back to Bristol.

Yes, this was the first time I’d allowed myself to let someone else do the drive and all five of us just about squeezed in to the single car! 😉

It was after leaving the Arboretum (where we discovered alternate footpaths for sneaking in for free…) that we came across several ‘unique exchanges’ with the local domesticated animals (hence the subject and title of this post)…

First, trekking through a field of sheep, a tiny, baby lamb came running over to say hello; puppy-like in his approach and desire for our affection. Again, if it wasn’t so cold, I’ve have snapped a photo as he (or she) explored my feet and lower legs. I’d seen sheep with wagging tails but this was a new and heart-warming experience for all of us! 🙂

Crossing a few more stiles and bypassing a section of farmyard, we were two-thirds of the way through another field before two powerful horses came bolting towards us from a distance to the left. We stopped in motion, huddled together in a group, as these two beasts began to surround and circle us. Yes, it was pretty scary!! It only got worse the minute one horse hooked on to someone’s bag and began pulling at it, fiercely, with its teeth! Then, the other horse decided to try and devour the hair on the back of my friend’s head (she wasn’t wearing a backpack)! Just as I thought I’d found a way to discreetly sneak past them and towards the gate (I wasn’t sure how that was going to save the others but, I felt as if it would come to me in a moment of inspiration…), it was my turn to fight for my bag, containing half-eaten lunch, keys to my van, my wallet and more!!

I could feel its upper lip or jaw repeatedly thumping against the space between my shoulders. This horse was content with winning this ‘fight’ – after only a few tugs, he’d freed the strap from my left shoulder!! Our leader manage to do something her hands near its face and we were just about able to make it to the stile and towards safety.

Never trust a pair of horses wearing coats!!!

It’s almost as if the equine are ‘biting back’ following the horse meat scandal and revelations…

Ironically, we’d previously passed through a larger field full of many more horses on our way to the Arboretum without any bother at all. Some said hello and didn’t mind us being so close as they fed.

This day of strangeness continued briefly after the Horse Incident when we noticed a large flock(?) of white doves sat suspiciously on top one roof as we passed between houses and on our way back in to the village.

After returning to the car to change our footwear, we mutually agreed to skip the routine pub visit which, I must admit, did please me because I never enjoy those parts. Before the walk even started, I managed to break the zip on one of my gaiters using good old brute-force to try and force it around my boot and over my ankle (the zip was stuck with mud)… If I go out again this weekend (on my birthday) as planned then, I could even up with wet and muddy ankles!!

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