The all will be told later. For now, I have more pressing things to impart.
The Welsh holiday, for one thing. Eight hours it took us to get there. Eight. Hours. It should have taken four. The reason for our torment lay on the M4, a busy motorway at the best of times. On this fateful evening, three lanes of Friday evening traffic had been brought to a complete halt. A HUGE lorry fire (on a vast behemoth of a truck carrying nothing but bales of hay, for goodness' sake) impeded our progress. The three lanes of voluminous traffic had to gradually filter down to one, where a plucky fireman was letting two or three cars through at a time if the smoke was blowing in the opposite direction. It took us four hours to go @ six miles. We were very annoyed. My partner had the text messages of WS (now departed from the scene, but that is another story) to sustain her spirits, but I had no such comfort. And then we got lost trying to find our little holiday cottage at 11.30pm and my partner's parents had to drive out to find us and guide us there. Not an auspicious start to our holiday.
We didn't have quite as much fun as in previous years, as my partner's financial situation prevented us from joining in the group outings. We did, however, discover a lovely beach.
Me dozing, on the first day, after an initial swim in the sea and a quick browse through the 2009 Guide to Wales.
We had an enjoyable walk along part of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, ending up at an interesting Lighthouse.
my antics in a mucky bog.
She wasn't impressed.
Alas - just a day or two after these pictures were taken, there was a decided turn for the worse. The weather had been inclement, so we had not visited the beach. Determined to take at least some exercise, my partner and I set off for the hills, following a small footpath. Along a lane we walked and then, following the right of way, into a field containing three horses. At the far end of the field, we happened upon a stile. A quick inspection revealed that there was no dog-gap for me within the stile. No problem - my partner gently scooped me up and lifted me over the stile, carefully plopping me down on the other side of the wall. Much to our chagrin, we came across a number of other stiles, each of which we traversed as before. However, ultimately, with the rain driving down harder, we decided to turn and head for home.
THE SCENE OF THE DREADFUL ACCIDENT:
My partner was, by this point, struggling with the task of simultaneously lifting me and climbing the stile. I am not a fat chap, but I do consist mostly of 20kg of muscle, with brain and Little Jasper thrown in as well. In clambering atop the penultimate stile, which was the highest and scaled a stone wall, I decided to assist my partner. With a powerful thrust of my hind legs, I launched myself from the arms of my partner at the peak of the stile into the air. My partner gave a chilling scream of terror. Still airborne, my balance began to shift to the front. I did my best to correct myself, but I hit the ground with an horrific cracking sound. I landed on my chest, with my arms and shoulders bent back at a dreadful angle.
Now, I consider myself to be a brave man. However, I am not ashamed to admit to you that, as the first stabs of pain shot through me, I burst into tears and cried piteously.
My partner dropped to her knees on the wet clover beside me and added her tears to mine. She endeavoured to assist me to my paws, but each attempt was agony. My partner's gentle hands felt over my neck and shoulders. "Thank God." she breathed, "I don't think anything is broken." She burst into fresh tears. "I thought you were going to break your neck or your spine and die. Oh, why, why did you jump, Jasper?" I was too miserable to reply. My partner's fingertips explored the area around my right shoulder, which was projecting out at a most bizarre angle. I heard a sharp intake of breath from my partner. She wiped some of my tears and then looked me in the eye. "Jasper." she said, gravely. "I am so sorry. This is really, really, going to hurt. Look at those horses over there..."
I glanced over at the horses, who were watching the proceedings with amused interest. The gits. As I dwelt on what they were up to, my partner took a firm grasp of my right arm and gave it a powerful tug. There was a sudden click and I squealed in agony. I felt the shoulder bone slot back into place - a relief - yet, the pain was immense. My distraught partner fell on me, sobbing "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I had to do it. I'm sorry, Jasper, I love you so much."
I permitted her cuddles, and then tried to struggle to my paws. I fell instantly and shrieked once more. My partner encouraged me to try again. I staggered unsteadily to my paws, and my partner helped me to hobble a short distance. The pain was unutterable. I was determined to succeed in my journey home. My partner did try to lift me with the intention of carrying me home, but my pride would not permit her. We worked out a small routine whereby my partner walked on a short distance and waited. I hobbled painfully towards her, and received the reward of a cuddle whenever I reached her.
We were doing well with this method, although progress was slow and my partner was still in tears, when the situation took yet ANOTHER turn in a downward direction. The three horses in the field came dashing up to me, laughing uproariously. I froze in terror as they surrounded me. Now, I love horses. I have several equine friends and have generally found most horses to be polite, well-mannered and extremely agreeable. These three, however, guffawed and snorted cruelly.
"Kick him!" one cried.
"Look at him limping!" called another.
"Let's tip him!" added the third. And it continued:
"Yeah! Tip him over!"
"Tip him on his head!" And, with that, I felt a hoof tap my bottom, trying to tip me onto my head. I leaned over, with my bad arm completely flattened on the ground, and prepared for more pain and humiliation.
At that point, my partner shrieked again, and - without any thought for her own safety - she waded in amongst the trio of horses, yelled at them to stand back, picked me up and carried me all the way home.
All this took place in the late evening. Upon arrival at our cottage, my partner tucked me into bed, kissed me goodnight, and I fell fast asleep, in terrible pain and feeling utterly miserable. A swift call to the nearest vet resulted in an emergency appointment at 7am the following morning. It was confirmed. I had dislocated my right shoulder, which my partner had subsequently set back in its place. Very fortunately, I had not sustained any further damage, and was dispatched back home with maximum-strength painkillers and an anti-inflammatory injection. Happy days.
We may decide not to venture to Wales next year. I will certainly be avoiding all stiles in future.