Alnmouth is one of my favourite places in the country – exclamation bark for emphasis. Jane and I first visited there 21 (dog) years ago when we were writing our book but we didn’t post it on here as we required some exclusives for our magnum opus. My magnum opus, actually, which means great work of literature and is not the same thing at all as the Magnum someone dropped on the pavement the other day which I had one swipe at before Jane pulled me away. The fun police –grrrrrrr.
Anyway, the best thing about Alnmouth is the beach – walk down the main street of the village, clamber down a grassy hill and there is a massive expanse of sand. If I had to measure the sand, I’d say it’s the length of a billion tennis balls thrown by Jane but she’s actually a bit of a rubbish thrower so perhaps it’s the length of half a million tennis balls whacked by Andy Murray.
This June, we returned to meet Jane’s friend Vicky and her Labrador mix Freda, who is young and rather jaunty and a replacement for Jess, Vicky’s old dog who went to the great kennel in the sky. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but once there was Jess who used to swipe me across the snout with her big thick tail and now there is Freda who Vicky found in Durham dog pound. (Freda is actually very good looking so I’m surprised she was in the dog pound – I’d have thought she’d be in the dog tenner or even the dog million pounds.)
As soon as we’ve alighted from our train and Jane and Vicky have hugged and Freda and I bottom sniffed I am in a great hurry to reach the beach. But first there is a lot of faffing to be done. There’s the get the bus to the village faff as it’s about a 20 minute walk from the train station and Jane feels lazy, and then there’s the check in to our dog-friendly B&B faff – Saddles, on the main street. When all that faffing is done the beach is calling me so loudly (“Attleeeeee”) that my ears sting with its salty breath. We meet dogs, hundreds of the blighters, walking up the street wet and smug after time spent on the sand – humble waggers, one and all. ‘I am going to the beach NOW,’ I growl at them – under my breath, obviously – but suddenly Jane is executing a sharp right turn and we are in the Red Lion pub garden.
Oh great – now it’s lunch and a glass of wine faff. In truth, this faff is quite enjoyable as Jane is doing Weight Watchers (why doesn’t she just burn calories chasing squirrels in the park?) so donates half of her portion of chips to me. But, after we’ve finished the chips, Vicky and Jane carry on chattering.
It’s especially frustrating as the beer garden in the Red Lion actually looks out over the sea and so it’s there, taunting us, while Jane blahs on and on to Vicky about her life. I can summarise Jane’s life in ten seconds flat – she gets up, we go to the park, then I have breakfast and sleep while she works and then we go to the park again; Dodger, the cat, is quite annoying and meows all the time; and occasionally we go to the pub. That’s Jane’s life summed up so I don’t know what took her so long in explaining it all to Vicky.
Finally – FINALLY – we are on the move and I am pulling Jane, at the end of my lead, towards the beach with all my might and then down the grassy dunes and LEAD OFF. I am free and this beach is mine to sprint across as this is Northumberland and not the Costa del Sol and even on a sunny Saturday in June there’s only a pawful of dogs and their servants around. Freda runs too – sometimes even into the sea, which is just showing off in my opinion. I don’t need to indulge in such gimmickry thank you very much although obviously I could if I wanted to as I am not scared of the sea in the slightest.