A terrier, pointers, and the Hundred Acre Wood: Dr. Jason's Month in England
It’s hard to believe that we are finishing up our sabbatical time soon. The drizzly and frosty month of December we spent in England. Our first month-long stay was looking after a small terrier mix named Tilly in a small country village in the rolling South Downs area of West Sussex. This magical area of England inspired the illustrator for Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows - in fact, he lived right down the lane from our stone village house.
We did not want to attempt driving the winding country lanes on the other side of the road, so our country stay involved long hikes, and a few meandering buses to neighbouring medieval towns. Our time was spent hiking through the forests and hedgerows that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, with the trusty terrier by our side. We saw a few bounding rabbits and gentle deer, but only Tilly’s nose knew if there were foxes or badgers in the dens lining the hedgerows.
The woods were also a good source of greenery for our Christmas decoration - the song “Deck the Halls” doesn’t explain that bright green holly is also very prickly to handle. With plenty of holly and evergreen boughs, and a few bright red bows, we made the little stone house festive and joyful. The AGA stove kept us reasonably warm and we enjoyed drying our clothes on a room rack above the cast iron burner in the kitchen - just like Badger, Rattie and Mole.
We bought a nice small tree at the neighbouring Halfway Bridge pub, and I exercised my lumberjack skills hiking it back to the house, slung on my shoulder. The girls decorated the little tree with origami, and we celebrated Christmas with mince tarts, turkey and Yorkshire pudding, and English sparkling wine.
Eating at pubs is such a nice part of English culture. The girls and Arnica would drag me out into the frost and damp regularity, to slog through the fields to one of the nearby pubs. Even though I would generally protest on the way, even I was immediately cheered on arrival. It is such a nice experience to be able to bring your dog into a cozy space, and let them snuggle up by the fire, while you have a hearty meal and pint.
After a quiet New Years, we said goodbye to sweet Tilly and headed north to Cambridge for a more urban experience. At our very last house sit, we looked after two lovely English Pointers, Tango and Evie. This was an interesting breed for me, as English Pointers are not common in Canada at all. You would expect the long-legged working dogs to be hyper and active, but these two were certified couch potatoes that loved to cuddle. A couple short walks a day to check out areas of the famous college town, and they were good to go for a nap by the wood burner.
My herbal studies continued throughout December, and with Tilly, then Tango, on my lap, I completed the Dermatology and Immune-mediated section of the Chi Institute’s herbal courses. This was a valuable study, as skin issues and cancer are two huge areas where herbs can be useful as effective therapy. This was the second of four courses of study, on my way to becoming a Certified Veterinary Chinese Herbalist - more initials coming after my name soon, I expect.
After overcast Cambridge, and a short stop on London (underground restaurants and all) we hopped a short plane south to get some well-needed sun. England is lovely, but it is very gloomy in December, sort of like the Okanagan. Our last stop is the kingdom of Morocco, before heading home and back to work for February 1st. I’ll be sure to update you all on our Moroccan adventures in the next newsletter - hint: it will involve a lot of cats!
Dr. Jason is on a five month sabbatical traveling through Europe, the Balkans, the UK and Northern Africa. You can follow his adventures on Pandosy Vet's Instagram.