Every morning, to stretch my legs, I go for a nice walk. A short walk up my road leads me to a long, tree lined path to a nearby canal. It’s a nice, gentle walk and I pass friendly dog walkers, joggers and canal boat owners, all willing to exchange a nice “hello”. It gives me some interaction with the world around me, exercise and, generally, I return happy and content.
But not recently. Instead I’ve been laughed at by a dog-owner when their animal attacked me, and had abuse shouted at me by a driver for crossing a road.
The hedges along the canal have become quite overgrown recently (more on that in a bit) and, in places, it’s narrow and difficult to pass. On Friday I ended up behind a couple, walking quite slowly, side-by-side, each with a dog on a lead. I walked behind, at a respectful distance, quite patiently, waiting for them to realise and move (they were, after all, taking the entire width of the path by themselves) or for an opportunity to occur me to get past naturally.
Eventually a jogger comes along and ploughs her own path through them (they bunch to the side to let her past), so I take this opportunity to follow her. At this point, one of their dogs attacks me (I felt it’s mouth on my hand but no damage done). But rather than apologise, the woman who had hold of the dog’s lease, laughed. Laughed.
As I walked on it angered me more that this was the response of the owners. I was a bit shaken too and although the anger subsided quickly, the shock continued for a while.
Okay, back to the hedges. They’ve been over-grown for some time and, naturally, are only getting worse. Nettles stick out into the pathway and, as I said, in places it’s single-file only. So, on Friday I contacted, via Twitter, my local council.
As I said at the beginning, before I get to the path I have to walk to the end of my road. Well, it’s not technically the end as it bends sharply to the left. I have to walk over to the other side of the road, where the bend is to join the path to the canal. On the way there, there isn’t any pavement on the right so I have to walk on the left and then cross the road near the bend. Whether I do this before or after there will always be a blind spot from one direction so I generally pass before the bend, where the path on the right re-appears. I take a wide crossing, to ensure that anybody coming from the left has as much time as possible to see me. The road is quite quiet and I always check before and during crossing.
Today, a van, possibly going a little too quite for a blind bend, came round. It didn’t have to do an emergency stop or anything close but probably had to slow down a little when they saw me. Their response was to stop and hurl abuse at me for ‘being in the middle of the road’. I ignored them and carried walking. Rather than drive off they sat there for a while, watching me, I’m guessing to intimidate me. Eventually, they drove off.
I was also contacted by the council today to be told the over-grown hedges are not their responsibility but that of a charity. Really? Hedges surrounding a local pathway are nothing to do with them because they’re at the side of a canal? I pay my council tax and, yet, a charity has to be responsible for this? I’m quite shocked (yet, at the same time, not). I’ve contacted the charity in question but feel bad in doing so – it’s volunteers after all.
With everyone going on in the world today – Brexit, Trump, terrorism, global warming – it can be easy to become dismayed at how we, the human race, continue our existence. But you forget that when you see the small but important things around us – love, friendship, beauty. My walk is part of that for me and I hope the joy of it isn’t going to be destroyed over time by an unkind minority of society. For now, I remain positive – it is just 2 days, after all.