Week 18

Friday 30/04/2016

There is usually a set pattern to the walk. I turn up at my friends house at 8.30 am, just after the kids have gone to school. We then gather the others up on one of the paths in Birchanger woods. The number of walkers varies from day to day depending on work and other commitments. The group consists of four dog walkers and two fake dog walkers, so on a good day there are six of us catching up,  having a chat and enjoying the delights of the woods. Although we are not all dog owners we all have similar age children and it is a great support and advice network as well as a free fitness session.

'We are all different'

Fake dog walking facts:

​A new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress suggested that when people exercise regularly they may be able to slow the process of ageing. So I am going to keep going with my frequent, free and friendly fake dog walk. 

My dog waking buddies and dogs

The spring beauty of Birchanger Woods

Fake Dog Walking

Some women my age resort to fake boobs, fake tans, expensive facials and a whole range of anti-aging fake looking stuff to boost their confidence. I am not knocking it as we are free to choose our confidence boosters, within reason and legal confinements. However, it usually comes at a price. My husband and I made a pledge to grow old disgracefully (not sure what we meant at the time!) enjoy ourselves, live life to the full and embrace the ageing process with open arms and naturally. Some days are easier than others but what gives me a boost is time with friends and family combined with a good laugh.

This week,  I am celebrating  one of my friendship groups that I catch up with on Wednesdays for a chat and a walk;  my friendship as a 'fake dog walker' and my dog walking buddies. Bit confused? Well, most people are when I mention I am going for a fake dog walk, however my family are used to my strange ways and many understand perfectly what I am talking about. 

Most Wednesday mornings and occasional other random days I put on my walking boots and go for a brisk dog walk. I now don't own a dog but when I came to look after my brother's dog for several months I needed support as a complete dog novice. It was a bit like needing ante-natal classes when you have your first baby. I needed guidance, lots of reassurance and counselling from experienced dog owners. However, it has been a long time since my brother and his dog have been reunited but I still meet up with my dog walking supporters. I had got into a good fitness routine and really enjoyed and appreciated the company so I just kept turning up and so it has become known as my fake dog walk.

Birchanger Woods is 69 acres of ancient coppiced woodland of Hornbeam, Hazel, Ash, Birch, Oak, Sweet Chestnut and Cherry trees. It is owned by a charitable trust created exclusively to hold the wood for the public good. It is maintained beautifully by volunteers in accordance with a management plan drawn up by professional ecologists. 
We are lucky to have such a wonderful wood on our doorstep that is interesting and accessible throughout the seasons. I particularly enjoy this time of year as the English Bluebells and Wood Anemones offer a stunning carpet beneath the trees.

We have become a really sociable set. We have our own WhatsApp group to help co-ordinate walking times and share funny little snippets from our day and we've also started arranging nights out (all without dogs!). I won't disclose the title that appears on my phone every time a message pings from one of the girls as it is a bit rude. All I am going to say is a dog related pun. We are all very different but we can all have a laugh. My nickname is 'Mother Superior' because I am often accused of raising the tone of conversation from poo bags to politics. I also think it is because I am a non-drinker and therefore could be mistaken for a snob. However, the girls appreciate me as regular designated driver and I make sure they all get home safely from a night out as they do like a bit of a drink.