I’ve been trying to up my walking game recently. As a youth, I ‘did’ the 10 Tors on Dartmoor (45 mile route), and walked about 500 miles that winter and spring to train for it. I’ve always been keen on a good walk but laziness – both intrinsic and environmental – often gets the better of me.
The other day I finally did a walk I’d been talking about for ages: from Cerdanyola to the sea at Port Fòrum, by way of the river Besos. It’s a 21km route. So not too long, but not exactly a short stroll either. The walk leads you down the Riera de Sant Cugat to the river Besòs at Montcada, down through Santa Coloma (the Besòs has a great river bank path so much of this bit can be done walking on grass, if you prefer that sort of thing), and on to Sant Adrià de Besòs.
It’s a pleasant walk because it has a bit of everything. Annoying bike fascists, abandoned industrial colonies, and giant concrete white elephants. I also spotted a windmill under a bridge. If you’re willing to make a small diversion, you can witness the majesty of the Orange metro line, whose station at Can Peixauet is 40m deep – an unusual sight in Barcelona. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll see a yacht in Port Fòrum where a bikini photo-shoot is taking place. Or maybe they don’t do that every day.
At some point, probably more likely next year than this because of the dog, I plan to do the final section of GR10 from Canigou to Banyuls. More on that plan another day.
It seems like the goddess of spring had a lot planned for me this year. I’m no longer working where I used to work but instead have quite a lot of time on my hands. While looking into master’s courses at the local university, I’ve also been reading quite a bit about canine behaviour and intelligence. It’s a fascinating subject, but I’m probably over-fascinated because of Larry. He’s a Spanish Water Dog and he moved in with us around a week ago aged 8 weeks. Here he is with a toy I got him the other day:
While I grew up with a dog (Jack) and my mum has two dogs (Rosie and Skippy), I’ve never actually trained a puppy. It’s a big responsibility because I want Larry to be well behaved at home and outside, and a great walking partner. So before he arrived, I started to seek out advice and that’s when I stumbled upon crate training.
Crate training seems to be the big trend in the USA at the moment, and it’s popular in England too. Many of the kennel clubs and dog websites recommend it as a ‘must do’ element of training a new puppy. The amazing thing about it is that crate training really consists of keeping your puppy locked up in a small cage for hours on end and ‘rewarding’ it with moments of freedom.
I’m really quite shocked by how popular crating seems to be. As with many other barbaric ways that humans treat animals, its adherents are viciously defensive of the technique. Which reminds me of Louis CK’s story about pony punching which ends with the delicious line: “People who don’t punch their ponies in the face make me sick”.
In my studies, I’ve been re-reading parts of In Defence of Dogs and I’ve stumbled upon The Genius of Dogs – and both make for good reading even for a non dog-owner. The latter’s updated theories about the process of how wolves became domesticated are particularly interesting.
Spring is as good a moment for changes as any other and dedicating time to reading, training a dog and considering my academic options seems like a good investment.