I am just getting around to writing about my experience on Boxing Day (also referred to by some here as St. Stephens Day and Wren Day). We took our retreat house guests to the seaside for a hike along the beach. Obviously, a significant change for a prairie boy from Alberta. I took along our bocce ball set and two baseball gloves and a baseball. I thought it might be fun to introduce bocce and baseball to our guests. We had a pleasant game of bocce, or at least I thought it was pleasant. One guest whispered to me that it was one of the worst experiences of her life as she hated team sports. I just smiled and assured her that there were worst things in life. Little did I know I would have first hand experience.
After playing bocce on the seaside, I showed the Brits how to put on the baseball glove. One fellow took to it really well, and we had a some fun playing catch. I thought it was wonderful to be able to play Bocce and baseball on Boxing Day in grass that was still green. I thought it would create even a greater memory of my first Boxing Day in Britain if I actually went into the North Sea on December 26.
I took off my socks and shoes and placed them carefully on the great expanse of the beach. I was careful to ask one of our guests whether my shoes would be safe there, not wanting them to get wet or stolen. She laughed and assured me nothing would happen to my brown leather loafers. I then bravely entered the water and stood in the frigid waves while my picture was being taken (ever so slowly).
As I was standing posing for my picture, I noticed a man and woman walking along with their English Spaniel trotting ahead of them. Dogs are allowed to roam the beaches freely from October to May. Just as my photo was being snapped, I saw the dog take a beeline for my shoes. I immediately started to jog toward them, but quickly broke into a run and a scream as the dog centered itself in a deep knee bend squat overtop of my carefully placed footwear. Concurrently with high pitch screams, the owners started to yell at their sweet pooch. The dog, with a look of consternation and bother, slightly rose to a half crouch and shuffled its way about 10 feet to a half built sandcastle. The young boy and his mother who had been gleefully building the structure quickly scrambled to their feet as the dog deposited a not so special substance in the moat of the castle. What I saw the dog drop into the moat seemed of good solid form, so I thought I had escaped any droppings in my shoes. However, my concern for the sanitary condition of my shoes was reignited as the lady owner made her way over to my left shoe and picked it up to see if there was anything in it. My mind was racing through the possible things I might say, including the possibility of not saying anything. I thought once she heard my accent, she might take me for an American as so often happens. Not knowing whether she would be antagonistic enough towards me, would she then invite the offending mut to come back and try again. Fortunately, she left the scene before I got there and I quickly grabbed up my shoes to see what prize might be there. You can imagine that, finding no ‘prize’, my relief equalled Rover’s relief.
Laughing about the near miss and commenting on what a great story that would have been, the guests and I walked up to the parking lot. We all agreed it would have been better if the dog had actually gone through with its initial intention. As I was drying my feet, thankful that they were wet and dirty only from dipping into salt water, the guests bought soft ice cream cones from a street vendor (another first for me on boxing day). One of the ladies sprinkled some of her cone on the ground for the seagulls. I watched intently as this great flock of seagulls glided past to gracefully descend on the cone scraps. As I stood there marvelling at creation I heard this gentle ‘plop’ near my left ear. I turned to see a large white splotch on my shoulder. At first, I thought what was that? Then I knew. Yes, I then clearly knew that all animals in England hate me.