(This post took me much longer to write than usual, partially because so much had happened in the meantime and partially due to an inexplicable inertia caused by several periods of forced self isolation. For some strange reason your productivity sinks rapidly if you have actually nothing to do…..)
It is the end of May and once again I have returned to the happy team of the Abivale Veterinary Group in Oxfordshire and to the little flat above their branch in Wallingford, which is now my home for a few weeks.
On one of my free days I am stepping out of the front door and while being greeted by the resident red kite, which is calling the old Oak tree behind the surgery its own, I start walking……..
Thus is the beauty of working as a locum in different places – if you do it right, every day can be an adventure.
I carry with me just a light pack with a thermos flask, my rain gear, a couple of banknotes, my credit cards and my mobile phone and my aim is Oxford, which is circa 40 km away, if walking along the tow path of the nearby Thames.
The weather is fair, but bright sunshine is followed by occasional downpours which originate from some dramatic cloud formations on the sky above me. At this time of the year and with this light, it is picture postcard England at its finest.
Leaving Wallingford and its historic town center behind me, I am starting with a short cut, heading straight for the towering Wittenham Clumps, which used to be the site for a bronze age hill fort. These hills I had visited many times before for training sessions after work (mean uphill runs….) and so the real journey starts with the countryside North from here.
Hardly anyone is out walking today and while strolling along the fields, observing the livestock and the numerous waterfowl, my mind travels to some of the cases we saw over the last few days ……..
There was an anorexic 40 year old tortoise that had to be stomach tubed following her hibernation,
a bullterrier with a toxin induced life threatening hyperthermia, following the ill advised raiding of a litter bin
and a bitch spay that required an additional root extraction, which I would have overlooked without the brilliant nurse that was on duty that day ……
So absorbed in my typical veterinarian thoughts it didn’t take long until I had reached Abingdon, where over lunch I learned about a new alpine republic
and my sympathy was with the hapless marketing executive who had authorized this full page advert in a national broadsheet newspaper….
With an overpriced latte to go of my favorite coffee chain in my flask, I carried on walking and was soon not only greeted by Iron Man,
but I even came across a Norwegian lifeboat licensed for 70 passengers, which was now the humble abott of a Diogenesian character, sufficiently dressed for an Arctic winter, who convinced me to make a donation to the Air Ambulance Service in return for an image of him and his boat.
While the remaining clouds cleared away, I passed the serene setting at the locks near the Kings Arms
and soon the river became dominated by rowing boats and permanently moored colourful canal boats, indicating that Oxford was not far away.
The restaurants had just opened again for outdoor services and what better way to finish my excursion, than with an outstanding meal and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, while the sun was setting
next to the famous “Head of the River”.