Left the south in the blue dark, with a silver moon sailing full over the cedar trees. The forecast was for freezing fog, but, apart from a small patch near Nailsworth, there was none, only a rosy, violet dawn, and one of the prettiest mornings I ever saw.
At Stafford there was a a rainbow; at Stoke the rain felt in pelts. By Cumbria the light was amber and thick as honey.
Stanley slept most of the way, occasionally raising his head to examine me gravely in the rear view mirror. He turns out to be a miracle dog in the car.
We stopped for breakfast at Kirkby Lonsdale. It was the first time I had been there without either of the old dogs; there was an ache about that. But I felt glad I had my handsome lurcher to show the place.
‘You are in Lancashire now,’ I said to him. ‘Have you ever been to Lancashire before?’
I showed him Ruskin’s view and the lovely old churchyard and he was very calm and interested. It was their Christmas fair, so the small market town was packed with people. I had wondered if that might make the poor rescued fellow nervous, but not a bit of it. We went to Plato’s, my favourite place, for breakfast (a three-sausage sandwich and two lattes for under a tenner), and Stanley settled down on my coat, which made a remarkably good bed, as I read the Racing Post and ate. I was really quite surprised. I thought he might be restless or twitchy or nervy, but he acted as if he had always been coming to this elegant place for morning sausages.
To Tebay in time to watch the racing. Poor Stanley now has to understand that there will, on occasion, be shouting, especially as I had backed Bobs Worth in the Hennessy and the lovely fellow won.
‘This is your life now,’ I told the dog, seriously. ‘These are your Saturday afternoons; me, yelling Come on my son at the television.’ He looked mildly surprised.
There was so much else about the journey I wanted to say but 240 miles has taken it out of me and there is no more. Eyes are squinting; fingers slowing to a crawl. But that really was one very, very good dog. He was so amazingly well- behaved, polite and biddable and willing, that I felt stupidly proud.
Some Cumbrian hills:
A Very Good Dog:
So sorry. Too tired to read this through. Am keenly aware it is almost certainly disfigured with errors, but can’t squint any more.