Tag Archives: Chorleywood

Crazy Horses

New Year’s Day dawned bright and crispy in the hood.

NY perfection (mrscarmichael)
new year perfection (mrscarmichael)

Having utterly disgraced myself on the 26th December by over- libating in an eight- hour marathon at the Christmas dinner table the night before and thus unable to entertain invited guests (indeed unable to stand, sit or speak), I resolved to drink little on New Year’s Eve, see 2015 in, withdraw to bed at a reasonable o’clock and rise early to walk the boy dog on Chorleywood Common on the first of the first. I walked and greeted other early risers – “Happy New Year”, “Happy New Year”, “Lovely morning”, “Don’t’ worry, my dog jumps up as well”, “Enjoy your walk”. Lyle walked, ran, gambolled with other dogs, ate horse poo, rolled in horse poo, braved the ice on not one but two of the ponds and got lots of cheese and apple treats. We both had a lovely outing.

Such a lovely outing we had and so full of joie de vivre were we, I decided to take my precious pup out for an afternoon amble. He deserved it and I was revelling in, not only my sobriety and steady pins but also my March 2014 decision to get another dog and the wonderful fulfilment he was affording Yours Truly on a daily basis. Hmmmm.

Just like high stakes gambling where the importance of knowing when to leave well alone, to gather your chips and to walk away from the vingt et un table is critical, so too is it imperative to understand that twinkle in your puppy’s eye, that quizzical head tilt and that canine thought bubble woofing ‘Fuck it’. Only Mrs C didn’t realise it at the critical moment so wrapt up in the wonderful was she.

Because the sky was darkening and birds were beginning to roost in the high oaks and elms overhead, I chose Phillipshill Wood over the more benign Chorleywood Common. Proximity to Casa Carmichael was the deciding factor. That, dear readers, was mistake number one.

‘Hi Lyle,’ (www.bologgingbe.com)

Mistake number two was opting for the hill trail downward and towards the bottom paddock. The bottom paddock has always provided intense interest for my naughty dogs (that is, two of the three dogs I have owned since Carmichael life began in the hood). If it wasn’t cowpats, it was the occasional ostrich (no word of a lie) and horse, shire or otherwise. Two or three or more. On the afternoon of New Year’s Day it was an equine equivalent to the D Day landings that caught Lyle’s attention. Huge beasts whinnying sweet nothings hurtled to greet him and drew his attention away from me, his mistress, totally and completely. Their siren song of welcome caused him to stop, to pause a moment, to cast a farewell glance at me, head cocked beguilingly. It forced him to canter away from me with nary a backward glance.

“No Lyle. Stay (hand raised as taught in April puppy training classes), stay, STAY, Lyle LYLE, LYLE LYLE!@£$%^&*(”

‘Fuck it,’ he thought as he sloped, eloped and then galloped down the remainder of the hill, under the metal gate and into the midst the advancing flotilla.

The horses must have regretted their invitation immediately. I could have told them and saved us all so much bother but I was too slow, too naive, too utterly out of control.

To this point in the tale my dignity, if not my authority, is still intact. Please stop now if you want it to remain that way. From here on in Mrs Carmichael lets herself down. Big time.

Serendipitously, I have just read an article about what to do when your dog runs away from you and towards danger. Apparently one is supposed to throw body and dignity on the ground flat like a pancake or roll into a ball. Apparently, the dog will see this as unknown and therefore interesting behaviour and return to your now muddy arms with alacrity. To my mind, there is an apparent flaw in the logic. Dogs do not have eyes in the back of their heads. Lyle certainly doesn’t.

My puppy did however come to a stop. Right under the belly of a big, nay huge, brown horse. The horse stood still and peered down and towards the boisterous cockapoo. The boisterous cockapoo ran around between its back legs, chest and whipping tail. Then the boisterous cockapoo tried to smell the horse’s bum. The horse didn’t like this. It snorted and stamped and began to twist around.

‘Great’, thought Lyle ‘it does want to play.’

‘Shit,’ thought I. ‘He’s going to die.’

“Lyle,” I screamed and scrambled, commando-like, across the paddock. “Come here.” Stern voice. “Come here!” Gritted teeth. “Come here you little bugger.” Terrified overtone.

Lyle gambolled around the snorting stamping horse. He gambolled around its friends. He ducked and weaved and dodged me successfully, beatific grin upon his chops. Then his day got even better. Smelling freshly deposited horse poo he traced a double chicane away from the horse and his mistress and hurtled at the steaming mound of dung, Mrs Carmichael in hot pursuit.

‘Numm, numm, numm,’ thought Lyle.

“Stay, stay, stay,” yelled I.

Then I hit him. Twice. Flat palm, big smacks. Mea culpa.

I couldn’t get the lead on and, as the red mist engulfed me, I hit him again. Mea, mea culpa.

He made not a sound but the smile was replaced by a horse poo encrusted look of horror. We turned as one and headed back to the gate.

By the gate stood a woman, Costa coffee cup in hand, a be-coated white dog at her feet. From a hundred yards I shouted something to the effect of, “Did you see that?”

“I saw everything,” she growled. “I saw you hitting your dog for no reason. I saw you screaming and hitting your dog for running in a field. If you can’t control him, keep him on the lead.”

“Oh, please, “ I said.

Sadly, she was only in first gear. “You shouldn’t be allowed to own a dog,” said she.

I was closing the gap between us now and it would be fair to say that Mrs Righteous was not helping the puppy/horse/paddock red mist one bit.

“You obviously didn’t see what happened,” I shouted still thinking I could fix the situation. “The horse or my dog could have been hurt.”

“People like you,” she spat with bulging eye. “People like you need reporting. Your. Poor. Dog. I feel sorry for it.” She retreated to the far side of the gate and slammed it behind her and in my face.

“Nice, “ I said.

She opened it. This is Chorleywood after all. We were now very close to each other.

“At least I’ve given you a supper story.”

“I’m thinking of calling the police, “ said she, face a foot or so from mine. Her breath engulfed me.

Dear reader, you know how much I love my puppy. Mist having morphed from red to midnight magenta I believe I was marginally outa’ control.

“You should stop smoking,” I told her. “It’s bad for your health.”

That stopped her in her tracks. No cigarette in hand the best she could come up with was, “Oh, get off your high horse.”

‘Topically ironic given the circumstances’ thought I.

And as we parted, she choosing my route, I further disgraced myself. “Your breath stinks,” I yelled and marched, dog heeling beautifully, in the utterly wrong but only available direction.


1: I have not hit Lyle before or since.

2: Lyle and I are now in our third week of refresher puppy training.

3: Another time I will take my friend, Gracie’s advice…… “Why didn’t you just ignore her?”

4: I have not, to my knowledge, seen Mrs Costa -Coffee- Cup since. I do not know if she’s taken my advice.

5: I’m thinking of taking up meditation/yoga. Lyle might enjoy it.

6: The horses were the only sane participants in this post.


butter wouldn't melt……. (mrscarmichael)
butter wouldn’t melt……. (mrscarmichael)























Oh No, Not Again or How Many Stations Did You Say Wembley Has?

It’s been over a week since my abortive attempt to buy some low cost photo frames at IKEA. My photographs languish, edges curling in the ‘to do’ pile and Mr Carmichael drives the Mini.

Mrs C is no syndicated television series so half of this post will not be a recap on previous episodes. All you need to know (if you don’t know already) is here: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Mrs Carmichael Reflects on Her Sunday…So Far). If you enjoy a full sensurround immersion take a moment and read it before you move on. It will put you in my mood.

I was ready for another outing and yesterday decided to let the train take the strain.

We are lucky in Chorleywood, transport-wise. Close to the M25 (London’s ring motorway) and with the M1, M40 and M4 handy as, we have driving choices. We also can take the tube or the train from our local station.

village station (mrscarmichael)
our local station (mrscarmichael)

Ever since London Transport gave us Metropolitan Line users new rolling stock and at the same time stealthily did away with the out of rush hour fast and semi-fast journeys to and from London town, I have tended to use the bi-hourly Chiltern Turbo into Marylebone. It’s way more comfortable, doesn’t stop every few moments and is therefore faster, if slightly more expensive.

All of those things were true twenty four hours ago as I rocketed into the capital and down to the South Bank to meet my friend K……. for a Hayward gallery viewing (interesting………) and a nice lunch and catch up in the sunshine.

The gallery visit didn’t take too long (but it is a good thing to expose oneself de temps en temps to the arts isn’t it?), finding the gallery took me a little longer but I managed to snap some good shots while I was lost. I began to develop a blister but we had a good old natter over Mexican street food and a white wine in Wahaca’s ‘pop up’ restaurant – yum. A balanced yin/yang of good and not so good.

We kissed ‘goodbye’ at Waterloo Station. K…… headed south for a rapid and stress free trip to Surrey while I, once again, chose the Chiltern Line over the tube. Fool that I am.

Marylebone Station is a nice place as stations go. So when the tannoy announced that no trains were currently coming in or out I bought a coffee, tended to my, now fulsome, blister and chatted to an elderly gentleman who was awaiting the same service.

Problem fixed we were off and on time to boot.

Six minutes in, the train slowed and stopped. This is not uncommon and not a problem when the carriage is air-conditioned (tick), one has a seat (tick) and time pressure is minimal (tick).

However when the driver announces that the points have failed and that the train is going no further than Wembley Stadium the level of problemisity increases.

Not too much though because the Met Line stops at Wembley doesn’t it? I’ve seen the Wembley arch right there, right by my tube window millions of times. It’s all good.

Or is it?

No. It’s not.

“Anyone going to Aylesbury can stay on this service,” the driver informed us minutes later. “Those wanting to get off in-between need to disembark, walk to Wembley Park Station and get the Metropolitan line to Amersham. I’m not sure what you will do from there.” Yes, he actually said that.

here is the station we walked to (www.wembleystadium.com)
here is the station we walked to (www.wembleystadium.com)

I did not realise quite how many stations there are in Wembley. There’s Wembley Stadium (which is nowhere near the stadium and at which we were thrown off). There’s Wembley Park (which is closer to the stadium, on the Met line, and over a mile from Wembley Stadium Station). There’s Wembley Central (which, thank god, I know not the tiniest thing about) and I think there may be Wembley North too (but who cares?).

Here is a map of Wembley and her stations:

omg (nationalrail.com)
omg (www.quickmap.com)
hell's bells (www.nationalrail.com)
hell’s bells (www.nationalrail.com)

Here are the first set of steps we, the middle-aged, the mothers with babies, the elderly, the infirm the et al had to climb to get out of the station.

“Thank goodness it’s not raining,” people were chirruping, still with joie de vivre and in good old war-time spirits.

No one had a clue where to go. No one from the station helped us. No one from Chiltern Rail helped us.

My other foot, feeling left out, developed a blister.

I made friends with Brian and we agreed to get a taxi to Wembley Park Station and if those points were failing too, all the way home.

He was dressed smartly in a suit, suitable for a business meeting but not for the mile plus clip we had to make in the heat of the day. He began to undress. I wondered if a taxi together was sensible. But my feet were killing so I decided it was. There were none.

People asked if we knew where we were going and followed us even though we weren’t at all sure that we did know where we were going.

It was very hot. I put my hair up and dabbed my face with a tissue. Brian undid his shirt a few more buttons.

“I’m running out of puff,” the woman following us said. I think plenty had already run out of ‘puff’ and were probably in stages various of distress on Wembley’s mean streets.

We got to the station. The Met Line was running. We got on the first train although it was not going to the right place. Brian and I felt it was a good thing to do in case the points failure was following us up the line.

I involved my daughter, reminding her of all the collections/drop offs I had performed for her over the years. She came and got me from Moor Park Station. I did not offer Brian a ride because I wanted to take my shoes off and thought there was a very good chance my feet were bloody and smelly. They were. But I did wait to see if his train was scheduled. It was, thank the lord.

These football fans at Wembley Park Station look happy because 1) they are coming down the steps 2) they got off at the right station 3) they haven’t lost the match yet and 4) they are probably seven sheets to the wind.

ouch (dailyrecord.co.uk)
ouch (dailyrecord.co.uk)
Chiltern Rail, duty of care? (CR website)
Chiltern Rail, duty of care? (CR website)

But Chiltern Trains, I think you have a duty of care to your passengers that you did not fulfill yesterday. Where is the gentleman I talked to at Marylebone station? Is he ok? Did he get home? And the mother with the twins, double buggy and toddler? The woman who was ‘running out of puff’, what about her? And all the rest of us too.

Brian, I hope you got home ok, still sporting a few overgarments.

My friend, Gracie is coming to collect me in her new convertible in a moment and we shall seize the day, take a drive through the beautiful Chiltern countryside and find somewhere nice to lunch.

I hope my recent travelling travails do not jinx the outing.