“Despair Dogs Me” or “A Tale of Two Hats”

Lesser men would have broken by now.

I don’t want this to be a sad post, I will just tell you what happened.

Yesterday I shrunk my hat. I had been out three times that day and when I finally got home I thought that my very old and much loved hat was a bit sweaty and dirty, so I threw it in the washing machine.

I should have read the washing instructions, “Wipe clean.”

This might not seem very important because I have two hats but only one of them has character.

HatsThese two hats are identical, they are both the same make and style and they were once the same colour. One of them is my hat and it has lived a life of adventure and has become a bit bleached by the sun.

Two years ago I was out shopping with a friend when I saw a copy of my hat in an end of line sale. “You must buy it,” she said, “One day you may lose your hat and I can’t imagine you without it.” So I did.

I kept it in my wardrobe and planned to wear it to weddings and funerals and maybe for the occasional court appearance but since then, well, I haven’t been arrested for ages and nobody has died, I have never worn it. I don’t really want to.

The good news is that today I defiantly wore my shrunken hat out. It was very windy and I found that it was quite an advantage to have a tight fitting hat.

Old hatI don’t know where this will end. Perhaps I am letting go of an old friend, gently.

My shoes are looking a bit shabby too.

Shabby

I expect that you would prefer to hear what Fizz and I have been up to for the last few days. We have been hunting Boars mostly.

Wild Boar have arrived on the farm. I knew that they were getting closer but a few day ago I stepped outside and came face to face with three of them at about two o’clock in the afternoon. They had just walked through my neighbours front garden and were standing in front of our house.

My landlord tells me that it is ten years since he saw a Boar on the farm but they are here now.

They always have been all around us but I have suspected that they were closing in for several weeks now. About three weeks ago I noticed fresh rooting just across the road from the house.

Rooting

RootingI didn’t really make anything of that at the time, we see a lot of that around here.

Then there was the extraordinary business of an animal eating all of the Arum Lilies.

Rooted ArumJust when I was thinking, “What sort of an animal would do that,” I stepped out of my front door and bumped right into them.

They have been here for a few weeks and I am pretty sure that they are here to stay now.

This is a superb opportunity for the naturalist in me, I can actually lie in bed and watch for them in the fields across from me. The trail camera is out.

It is not so good for everybody else. The Boar are not dangerous and they will always try and escape us unless..

A: You corner an animal and leave it no escape.

B: You or your dog attack their babies. They will defend their young and they are powerful animals.

In the wood that I owned in East Sussex a Rottweiller was killed by Boar just before I bought the land. It was an aggressive dog and the owner had taken to walking it in the wood at night to avoid other dog walkers. A Rottie is no match for a female boar with young. I don’t know what a Rottweiller normally weighs but my GSD was forty kilos and a mature female Boar would be about a hundred and twenty kilos and they are not pussy cats.

I have never considered them to be dangerous but then I have never tried to eat their babies. I am just not that stupid.

What it does mean is that there are places now where I cannot walk Fizz off lead (she is that stupid). The farm fields are still good as I can see everything around, tight and overgrown country lanes are out of bounds for a bit.

Fizz does a really good job of protecting me from Bears and Wolves, the very least that I can do in return is to protect her from herself.

Sentry DutyIs it still safe in the garden?

It’s safe.

Good girl.

I can walk her amongst the Boar on a lead. They will not attack me and if they come too close I will just pick her up. So we went up to the Bluebell woods to hunt for them.

WoodlandAt this point some sort of trained tracker dog would have been useful but I just had to go with what was available. In the video that I am about to show you (when You Tube has uploaded it) Fizz is really trying to find a Boar for me but she has never seen one and doesn’t realise how big they are. She keeps looking under leaves for them.

I am looking at how Boar relate to the Bluebells. One of the arguments put forward by their detractors is that Boar uproot and destroy bluebell woods and that they eat Bluebell bulbs. My old wood was a Bluebell wood with Wild Boar in it and I have been watching them for fifteen years. They have no interest in Bluebells.

Boar rooting.They root up the tracks that run through the Bluebells but they stay on the tracks and avoid the flowers. If they wanted to eat them these woods would be a feast for them. (This is where we filmed the young Boar recently, there are plenty of animals in this wood)

RootingBluebells are actually poisonous to most animals but then so are Arum Lilies.


We didn’t find any Boars but we did see some nice flowers.

Bluebell

BluebellThis characteristic one sided droop is often given as an identifying feature of our native Bluebells and it is but…

It is important to note that the flowers grow from all sides of the stem and this elegance is only a stage in their lives.

BluebellWhen the flowers first emerge the stem is completely upright and later as the flowers go to seed it straightens out again.

BluebellThis next flower is a genuine native Hyacinthoides non-scripta but just at a slightly inelegant stage of it’s development and that happens.

BluebellOn the edge of this wood the Arum Lilies are giving a fine display.

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatum

Arum maculatumEither the Boar here have no taste for this poisonous root or they just haven’t found them yet. I like this flower, I think that it is very beautiful and it is a shame to see it singled out for destruction but animals have to eat.

Arum maculatumOne of the nicest things about this wood is that the walk up here takes us through the farm fields. There is no danger of me being surprised by wild animals here and Fizz gets plenty of opportunity to run and play.

FarmI will leave you with a few images of Fizz preventing me from photographing a beautiful little Speedwell and otherwise doing what she does best 🙂

SpeedwellGet off me you stupid animal!

Stupid FizzThere is nothing in my pocket!

Stupid Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

Fizz

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46 thoughts on ““Despair Dogs Me” or “A Tale of Two Hats””

    1. Thank you Maggie 🙂 Whoops! Sorry, I was just laughing at myself 🙂 It can be pretty traumatic to lose a much loved old hat and the thought of starting all over again with a new hat just seems daunting. Then there is the business of choosing which new hat to live with. The next hat may be my last so I would want it to be a good one. I am not sure that I want to relive my past with the exact same style of hat. There is a Canadian firm called “Tilley” who make exceptional hats but they are quite expensive. I have a lot to think about now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Did youknow that is a recipe to remove skunk smell that works.We used on our dog and put him thecar 5 minutes laterwith no smell
    If interested I will look for it and see if by some miracle I still have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Bettylouise 🙂 I would be very interested in such a recipe. Perceptive as ever, I begin to think that you must have the second sight.

      We have two quite different Skunk problems in the Forest of Dean. In 2007 the UK government introduced new legislation making it illegal to remove the scent glands from Skunks. Instantly the bottom fell out of the pet Skunk market and many animals intended as pets were released into the wild. By 2009 Skunks were being reported as living in the forest here and there are now established colonies.

      The other problem that we have here concerns a type of marijuana known locally as skunk weed. Just as in parts of America the authorities experienced problems with illegal whiskey stills here in the forest, local people take advantage of the lush forest growth to conceal illegal plants. Growing skunk seems to be a popular local pastime. Since I have arrived here I have noticed stories in the local paper almost weekly.

      Either way, such a recipe would be very useful and much appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It has been a long time since I thought of this recipe. The skunk essence has sulfur and combines withe ingredients to form table salt. Use 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of ivory liquid. Combine. Immerse object in water for R 5 minutes. An animal check the eyes for damage and place a lubricant on them.

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  2. Like Maggie I was a bit apprehensive by your heading to day. But alls well that ends well.
    By the way, thanks for your comment on sect 25 but as I was reading it it just disappeared from my screen and some of the other comments instantly went to disapprove and I had to run down and hit approve again. I just wanted you to know in case you thought I had deleted you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John 🙂 No worries I am thoroughly enjoying that story and looking forward to the next instalment. I will see if I can just repost a similar comment.

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  3. Some beautiful shots of the flowers and Fizz and hope the boar keep well away from Fizz. We hardly see them in Spain during the day and when walking dogs but dusk and their habits show a lot are around. And too many for the hunters who love to hunt too!

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    1. Thank you Georgina 🙂 Hunters are a problem here too. For some time I have been wondering why the Forestry Commission are behaving as they are. By shooting guns at the Boar in the dark they are driving them out of the forest and into the surrounding villages and farms. It is such a stupid thing to do that it almost seems unbelievable, can they possibly be that stupid? Safe outside of the forest, the Boar are free to breed and multiply. For a while I have been wondering if I am missing the point. Perhaps they know exactly what they are doing. There is a lot of money to be made locally from hunting Boar on the surrounding farm land and estates and it benefits many to have the Boar driven out of the forest. Whatever the reason their ineffective cull is increasing the range and numbers of the Boar year on year and they are already beyond control. Maybe that was the plan or maybe they really are that stupid. I don’t know.

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      1. It is indeed hard to know and a bizarre world. To keep the hunters off our land we have to put up a notice, legal too which says ours is a private property for hunting! Which of course it isn’t but there is no legal sign for a nature reserve. Those boars need the true wildwood.

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      2. They do need the wildwood but we just don’t have it here. England is such a small and crowded place and I find it hard to imagine people welcoming them on to their farms and into their villages. They should have been kept in the forest or at least allowed to stay in the forest.

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  4. I just love Fizz – she is so darn cute! 🙂 Thanks for protecting her from the boars.
    Sorry about your hat and shoes, but I daresay they have served you well. All things must come to pass, as they say.
    I loved seeing the bluebell wood, that last scene was breath-taking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eliza 🙂 There are some much better Bluebell woods not far away and I really want to take Fizz out there and shoot better scenes for you. The weather has been against us so far and I am just hoping for a change before the Bluebells have gone. The wind seems to have dropped today, maybe a change is coming.

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  5. That was not a boaring post! But then they never are. This one was slightly unsettling and I’m pleased to hear you keep Fizz on her lead in boar territory. She’s a sweetie settled in amongst all the flowers of the garden like a doggie bluebell.

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    1. Thank you Sue 🙂 I was just losing myself in your blog for a moment, you have a good way with words and Oooh I wish I had more time for everything and every one, I really do. Thanks for your comment and I am glad that you liked the post 🙂

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  6. Almost didn’t read this one, didn’t want anything to have happened to Fizz or more lambs:( It’s beautiful where you live. If you come to Chicago I’ll walk with you through the fields of skyscrapers and flowers (we have beautiful gardens) and you can tell me where everything comes from:) I’ll tell you about the beauty of skyscrapers and you can identify the flowers and fauna:) Then we can have a nice lunch and the only wild animals you will have to watch out for is us:) Chicagoans are known to be friendly (during the day and in certain places). Maybe you will be better off at home. Think about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Gigi 🙂 It sounds wonderful and I would love to have lunch with you in Chicago. It is part of the wonderful thing called blogging, that I do get to see such places and I can travel the whole world in just a few hours. Visiting other peoples blogs is one of favourite things and it has been a problem in the past few weeks because of time limitations. I am planning to take a few days off soon just to catch up on everybody else. I can’t start that today because there is something wonderful happening that I haven’t told you about yet and also I have to get out to the Bluebell woods before they have gone (The problem here is that everything has it’s moment and if I don’t catch it now then I will have to wait another year, I have to do it today) but very soon I will catch up with everybody and visit you again in Chicago 🙂

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    1. Thank you Jan 🙂 A hat is like a walking stick. You live with it and grow with it, you share experiences and become joined and then one day something happens and you realise that life will never be the same again. Sometimes change can be a good thing 🙂

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  7. Oh I was afraid to wander into this one as well, and now I’ll be thinking of you and Fizz out among wild boars. When you faced them right there, what happened…..did they leave? It’s so good that you know their habits. Be well, and Fizz too.

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    1. Thank you Sarasin 🙂 It is not set in stone that an encounter with Boar would leave Fizz injured, nearly always they will just frighten the dog and such an encounter would probably be good for Fizz. It is just not a risk that I am willing to take. On this occasion I had fortunately just thrown the ball in the opposite direction to the Boar and Fizz didn’t even see them. As soon as I saw them I realised that I had to get Fizz under control and by the time I had done that I turned around to see them wandering out of the lane onto a busy road, by the time we got to the end of the lane they had vanished. I have had dozens of face to face encounters with Boar, including and often in the dead of night and they have never behaved aggressively toward me. Nobody has ever been injured by a Boar in this country since their return and I am not going to be the first. Fizz is completely safe with me 🙂

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      1. I know you know these animals, and have had experience with them before. I’m glad you have since they’re there now, cos your safety and Fizz’s relies on all your good knowledge. Thanks for such a great explanation!

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  8. The hat saga had me on edge. I’m glad it had a happy ending. Thirty years ago I was naive enough to allow my then GF to wash my cricket whites. I never wore them again. Duck-egg blue wasn’t a popular colour for cricket in the pre-Packer days. If you wear it primarily for court appearances and funerals I suggest a spare hat is going to be under-used. Driving a shi-tzu without due care and attention? Live dangerously and share it with Fizz. I occasionally sport a Panama – I find they add an air of fun to entomology. BTW, is botany now a crime? I know someone who was initially refused entry to the US of A because he declared his occupation as ornithologist. The immigration choppy thought it was a terrorist group. Our garden was dug up by a splendid Roe Stag this morning. I will post his picture when we have working internet again. I thought he was eating bluebells but maybe it was the docks. I am happy to share our habitat with such a fine creature and Lulu stays well clear, guarding her biscuit bowl at all costs. Perhaps I should get her a hat?

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    1. Thank you Andrew 🙂 Regarding an “air of fun” there is something wonderfully comical about seeing a man chasing his hat down the street on a windy day and I very often choose to wear this hat on windy days just for the opportunity to bring laughter into peoples lives. I really do that 🙂 Fizz likes it too. The Roe Stag sounds wonderful. There are loads of Fallow deer in our Bluebell woods and it is plain to see that they do not eat the Bluebells, nothing does, have you ever seen an eaten Bluebell wood? The Boar could certainly make an absolute mess of it if they wanted to but they don’t. Botany in itself is still not illegal in Gloucestershire yet but tree hugging can get you into trouble 🙂

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      1. I was accused of being a tree hugger once. I sat on a committee assessing ‘suitability’ of financing proposals from the point of view of environmental sustainability. I vetoed quite a few to my colleagues’ frustration.

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  9. Talking of the Killer Boars, I do hope you read the Daily Mail’s article “Do-gooders letting killer birds terrorise our countryside” on Monday. Kill immediately all the buzzards, sparrowhawks, red kites and even Herring Gulls, but no mention, yet, thank goodness, of any hybridisation between wild boar and goshawks. It’s an article well seeking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John 🙂 I haven’t seen it, I suppose that I could look for it but there is something that I must say first. When I was a youngster, forty years ago, there was a popular saying, “There are lies, damned lies and the Daily Mail.” I don’t know of any newspaper with a worse reputation for making stories up. The whole idea of “reading” the Daily Mail eludes me, there is much better humour to be found on the news stands. The Mail has a poor reputation when it comes to factual reporting, that is all that I am saying 🙂 I understand you being upset by such reporting but very often they deliberately invent stories to provoke a reaction and they don’t mind upsetting their readers. Too often these stories are aimed at minorities and cause real harm because there is always somebody who will believe them and others that would take advantage of such a situation. They set out to make you angry and they lie through their teeth. I don’t read newspapers or watch television any more but when I did it was the Guardian newspaper and the BBC it is not a perfect combination but it is as close as you can get to the truth from the media. There is very little honest journalism, most people see owning a newspaper as an opportunity to manipulate public opinion 🙂 Having said that I have known friends who have been interviewed by both the BBC and the Guardian and seen their stories completely distorted and glossed over in an innocent way but you say one thing to the press and something totally different comes out of the other end. The media is best avoided. Sorry to go on 🙂

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      1. Sorry again but I need to qualify what I just said. I do read the local press. I think that local media is more powerful than National because there is usually only one local paper and everybody reads it as their only source of information. I feel that I need to know why they feel the way that they do and especially, why on earth do they want to kill my animals 🙂

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  10. This Blog is filled with intrigue…..boar, friendly old hats and shoes, wonderful bluebells! I could spend the morning reading and re-reading. Thank you, once again, for time well spent. It could be fun for you to enjoy a new pair of shoes…what do you think? But, like you and your friendly old hat…my late husband refused to give up a pair of bedroom shoes that were so worn. I tossed them out one night after he went to sleep and replaced them with new ones. I was, if you will, in a bit of trouble for a time but he learned to accept them.

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    1. Thank you very much Ettel 🙂 I have some news on the wardrobe malfunction front. Today my hat fully dried out and returned to it’s normal size. It is a wonderful fit again and our journey can continue. It is not such good news for the shoes. I bought them for twenty pounds two and a half years ago. I didn’t expect to need them for more than a few weeks. We have been through a lot together. Those shoes have slept in ditches and accepted the friendship of strangers. They have run from danger, climbed trees and hid in the dark. They have walked many forest paths with me but we are not bound. They have had a full life but frankly I am surprised that they lasted this long. Today my new “Lowa” boots arrived. At a little over two hundred quid I already know that we are going to be close and I expect them to last me for a lifetime. They are very comfortable, Fizz and I took them for a test drive and they seem to be good at mud and underwater. All’s well that ends well, I hope 🙂

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  11. I have been very busy lately and when not busy I have rested because I haven’t been well so I am very behind with reading all the lovely blogs from my friends. This post started sad, continued mysterious and worried and ended optimistically. By the time I had read all the comments and your answers I had a very happy ending to the tale. I get very attached to my belongings and hate to have to get rid of them too

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  12. ’tis a sad day when shrinkage comes twixt a chap and his hat. What a glorious time you and Fizz had boar hunting amongst the bluebells, thank you for sharing your adventures 🙂

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  13. Fizz is just as adorable as ever. I like both hats, but I think you do need a new pair of shoes. If you’re like me, you hate new stuff; especially new shoes. They’re too hard to break in. Happy Trails!

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  14. Colin, Thanks for your visit today! It’s been a while since I’ve visited you. Fizz looks quite chipper–and yes, clueless about wild boars (as am I). I loved the video–especially the shots of the bluebell woods, and the sound of birds singing in the forest!
    Elouise

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  15. You definitely need new shoes, but it’s so hard to find comfy ones and then ‘wear them in’ though.

    (BTW I don’t seem to be getting your posts notifications lately OR maybe you just haven’t posted recently?).

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  16. So, even though you shrunk your hat, you can still wear it? The size difference is evident in the photo. Does Fizz seem partial to wearing the old hat?

    Will there be a problem if the boars continue to converge on the farm? The torn up earth reminded me of the pests we battle here. Boars are certainly more substantial than moles and gophers, and I imagine could do incredible damage to a garden in a short amount of time.

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