I took the dogs out earlier this morning for their walk. The idea was that I could get into the course a little earlier as my husband was at home and I could wave cheerfully at the three of them as I zoomed off to improve my mind.

As is normally the case with decisions like this that I make in a vain attempt to get ahead, fate attempted to intervene.

I had just got out of my car with the the dogs when I spotted a large brindle dog trotting down the pavement towards us on the other side of the road. As Archie generally goes berserk with larger dogs and I could see this one was a male, I moved the dogs into the park a little before checking to see what the other one was doing.

He had crossed over and followed us into the park, but he was clearly not going to run up and say hello. He was a young dog and was looking at us with little curiosity and quite a lot of suspicion. After getting the dogs on shorter leads, I tried to call him over, spare lead at the ready. He hesitated. I got a treat out of my bag. Then Archie lunged and made it clear that he was going to make this a very difficult thing to achieve unless I was able to tie my own dogs up and work without their ‘help’.

The escapee, who I could see had a collar and a council tag on, lay down on the grass to observe us from a safe distance. I got my phone out and rang the ranger. When you used to call the ranger, you could get straight through. This morning, I was introduced to their new five-tier phone menu, which I had to try and navigate while holding on to two dogs. I let the ranger service know where the dog was and that I was not sure how long he would hang around and then waited.

Instead of the ranger, though, a woman appeared whose dog decided to check out this interloper. This was enough for the young fellow, who got up and trotted off and I could do nothing as I uselessly watched him disappear. I rang the ranger service back to let them know that their quarry had escaped but to be fair I did see the van touring a few minutes later checking to see if he was still around.

I still managed to get to the course early and was surprised that despite the fact I was there a full hour before things were due to start, there were already a couple of other people sitting at the tables. I got a cup of tea and pulled out the two chapters I wanted to get through and then my phone rang. It was a lady I worked with last year who had a couple of concerns that she wanted to raise with me – and they were concerns that I shared so I was happy to chat. By the time I had finished the conversation it was too late to start any new reading.

I am going to have to work something out. Last night I had a load of papers spread out on the floor and was reading them – until Archie, who has presumably been researching cats, walked over sat on them. If I read in bed I fall asleep. If I try and do this at work, I am almost certainly doomed to failure and our local library has just been knocked down to make way for an Aldi supermarket.

Time to clean up the study, I think – it is overdue for a clear out anyway, I just hope I can get it all done in time for my first assignment due date, which is already looming close.


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