A photo of the English Heritage Board
We live on the edge of the wide open space that is the castle mound, the field surrounding it and the river enclosing the whole in a semicircle. My garden hedge runs alongside the dry moat and footpath leading to the castle ruins. It's summertime and on sunny days the trippers come, bringing children and dogs.
Valley's End is far off the beaten track, so the number of visitors is modest, by no means unpleasant.
The excited voices of little boys who run ahead of their parents across the bridge, and clamber up the hill, from where they get their first sight of the castle, always make me smile. "Dad, Dad, there's a castle! I can see it from here, come quick!" Their delighted squeals echo across the greensward. Many of the visitors come from the cities of the Midlands and to have this amount of space freely available is a treat for many of the children.
Dogs get equally excited. The moment they are let off the lead, they start their mad games, running the length of the field, jumping into the river and generally behave in a doglike fashion. Which pleases me.
But there is one thing which really irritates me and that is dog owners who lack training.
The river in late Spring
They've crossed the bridge, and let the dog go.
Almost instantly they shout the dog's name. The dog doesn't react, naturally. So they shout again. And again; and once more, for luck.
The dog is off, taking no notice. I can hear the dog owner's voice go the whole gamut from a normal call, through frustration, resignation, anger, alarm and, finally, panic. The beast has gone awol, having the time of its life.
And still the owners call their dog's name, over and over, never once adding a command. Up until now I have been able to keep my tongue in check, but I can't promise the same for the future.
Untrained dog owners:
Presumably, your dog knows its name,
tell it what you want it to do!