Talacre lighthouse and Tal-y-Fan

On Wednesday, we headed up to North Wales. We were going to the North Clwyd Animal Rescue Centre, to – so we thought – look at another Jack Russell, called Rafa, who we’d seen on Twitter. The poor thing has been in kennels for seven years – he’s clearly something of a difficult dog – and we’ve been toying with the idea of getting a companion for Bert for a while, so we thought we’d go and meet him.

We’re not 100 per cent sure that getting another dog will be the best thing for Bert – in some ways it could be great: he’s a playful thing, and sometimes, when he meets another young dog who also wants to play, he has a whale of a time. But other times he just decides he doesn’t like ’em and can be a really grumpy old man. So we’re not sure, but Rafa’s case seems special so we thought we would take a trip up there and see how we got on.

As it turned out, we didn’t get to meet Rafa – we spoke to one of the people at the kennels, and she convinced us that in actual fact, we probably wouldn’t be able to cope with him. We did meet another Jack Russell, called Frosty – because the poor little thing was found tied up outside the Rescue Centre gate at 8pm on a snowy night –  but it’s very hard. He and Bert got on OK: Bert was kind of tolerating the other dog, but was clearly a bit freaked out by the environment. Well, how would you feel if you went to choose a new housemate and had to meet them in a cramped, noisy block of flats where everybody was screaming and yelling and totally stressed out?

We came away with no decision made, and in need of some soothing of our souls (all three of us), so we headed for the seaside. Just north of the animal rescue centre is Point of Ayr, an RSPB reserve, just near the village of Talacre, which also happens to have a glorious sandy beach and one of the most photogenic lighthouses ever.

Here we also met a lady with three gorgeous, long-haired dachsunds, who clearly loved to go swimming (the dogs, not the lady) and who Bert seemed to want to go home with – he looked ready to disappear off down the beach with them! If only he could meet Frosty and any other potential housemates in an environment like this…

Souls soothed, and having thoroughly enjoyed some glorious sunshine, we then decided to make the most of our trip north and go for a walk up Tal-y-Fan, Wales’s most northerly Hewitt, and, scraping in at just 2,000 feet, only closely qualifying for the title.

It’s a bit of a cheat – you start the climb practically at the top of the hill. It was just right for me, but Graham kept looking longingly at the snowy tops over in the heart of the Carneddau mountains. He had to make do with doing a bit of practice bouldering on some of the slabs. Nonetheless it soothed our souls some more, and Bertie, in particular, was very happy when we reached the summit and he found a dropped bag of dog biscuits where a previous summiteer must have stopped for a picnic with his pooch.

So Bertie has conquered another Hewitt, and we have come to the decision to not make a decision regarding another dog just yet.

I would like to add here that, despite my own and Bertie’s stressed reaction, the North Clwyd Animal Rescue Centre was great. The people there, volunteers and workers, are doing an excellent job of giving a home and hope to the animals there. I have total admiration for them and their dedication to the animals. If you want to find out more about their work, visit www.ncar.org.uk, or follow Rafa on Twitter at @NCAR_Rafa


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