Are you mad? I’m not going out in this weather for anyone…
Except Ralph of course.
On Wednesday I had 4 appointments planned with clients in the Essex area.
My alarm went off at 5.30 and the first thing I heard was the news reader telling the world that hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the roads in East Anglia…the roads that I planned to travel along. I opened the curtains momentarily to witness a ‘white out’…it was snowing heavily and with a strong wind blowing off the North Sea, I thought ”bugger that” and went back to bed!
Now before you start questioning my commitment, hear me out.
15 years ago at the age of 49 I found myself out of work and so got a job as a labourer on a building site. I worked with 5 carpenters doing all the manual work but I had one thing that none of them had…valuable contacts…and it was through these contacts that I started to win some really high value job opportunities, the only proviso being that we had to be prepared to travel, which initially was fine. But gradually the younger ones in the gang started to drift off because they didn’t like staying away, until only Colin and I were the only ones left.
Colin was a complex guy. He was an incredibly hard worker, brilliant at what he did but he had some really aggressive demons, which at times really tested my resolve. But with mounting debts I was forced to deal with his sometimes crazy behaviour purely for survival. Without Colin I was actually screwed BIG time…he became a very good friend.
For the next 3 years, Colin taught me how to build timber-frame houses while I continued to win jobs and looked after all the administration of what had become an equal share partnership. In the second year we both earned over £50,000 each which was more than I had ever earned in my life, but to do so, we worked bloody hard…and I mean bloody hard…in virtually any conditions and that included enduring arctic snow blasts in Cumbria, when we literally had to get a property built within the week, due to other commitments, regardless of weather conditions. I have never been so cold or miserable but as long as our gas operated Paslode nail guns worked…so did we…we completed the job, as we always did, on time.
So I have experienced real tough working conditions but as a 64 year old, self-employed consultant I have a more relaxed view of life and take fewer unnecessary risks.
So after having another 2 hours in bed on Wednesday, I got up to make some breakfast and looking out of our kitchen window I realised just what a sensible decision I had made. The ‘white out’ was continuing and huge swirls of freezing snow was engulfing our garden…”there is absolutely no way I am going out there today” I declared to Mrs C.
“What about Ralph?” she reasoned “he needs a walk”.
So 5 minutes later, there I was, trudging across a wind-swept meadow with our crazy cockapoo Ralph, who was clearly oblivious to the near arctic conditions, having the time of his life.
And as the snow started to gather around his face, every time he looked up at me, with that, “what the hell is wrong with you, this is fun” expression, I thought with a huge smile, Jesus our cockapoo is turning into a cross between Santa Claus and Roy Wood (ex – ELO).
Later in the day both Caroline and I drove up to the nearby forest to let Ralph have a second walk. There were a few hardy dog owners following our stance but in the main the woods were quiet. Ralph loves this particular forest and it is just the most wonderful thing for us to watch him charge through the undergrowth spooking the odd bird…and having fun.
I know both Stuart and Paul, like me, are converted dog owners.
We have only had Ralph for 9 months but the little fella has changed our lives, completed and certainly become a major contributor to the STRESS reduction programme I am on.
Whatever the weather or our own personal circumstances walking Ralph has proved time and time again to offer the most amazing therapeutic benefits to both of us … and I would advocate to anyone who is trying to deal with their internal demons alone, get a dog and immediately your focus will change for the positive.
Again it is freezing outside and yes only a mad man would venture out in this weather and yet I can’t wait until it’s time to take our crazy hound for a walk because the uplifting feelings I get from watching this little creature having unrestricted fun is seriously doing me good.