I've never really been one of those people who enjoys hot weather. It's all just too, you know, hot. Warm is fine, I'm pretty comfy in rain, chilly is good, but hot, no. Part of the reason is because hot is just uncomfortable, obviously, but that's a comparatively minor niggle. Over the past ten or eleven years, though, I've come to not enjoy the hot weather more and more, if that makes sense.
Those readers intimate with the details of my extensive biography have probably already worked out the reason, and yes, you're right. Badger, our dog and as near-as-dammit-first-born, turned eleven back in April. He, being a large and healthy dog, needs a reasonable amount of exercise and we, being conscientious dog owners (or crushingly middle-class, or both), give him that exercise. Exercise for dogs equals, of course, walks in the park morning and evening.
Every morning and evening for the past eleven-plus years, almost without exception, Natalie or I have taken Badger (and since last autumn Monty too) for a walk. In recent years, we've alternated in the morning and I take him in the evening.
Strolling out with your dogs is top, especially in the afternoon. It really caps off the working day and lets you transition gently into the evening proper. For nine or more months of the year, chances are you have the park to yourself. You might see one or two other dog owners, but you don't have to talk to them if you don't want. Actually one of the weird things about meeting other dog owners is that you very rarely learn their names, only their dog's names. There are people I've known for years only as so-and-so's owner.
The solitude of the park is broken when the sun shines. When the sun has its hat on hordes, really hordes, of people descend on the park. I'm not sure what the thought process is, but it seems to be something along the lines of oh, it'll be beautiful in the park, let's go down there and strew litter about the place.
The fairweather park user, and I appreciate this is a generalisation but it's not a huge one, seems intent on one thing only and that thing is shagging the place up. They use those disposable barbecue things and kill of patches of grass and scorch trees. They drink cases of lager and leave the cans behind in a pile, so that everyone knows just how much they've had and, consequently, how hard they must be. They bring their dogs, their corpulant blinking-ow-the-sun-hurts-my-eyes why-do-you-keep-me-cooped-up-the-rest-of-the-year dogs, and pretend not to notice when their dog then drops a big turd even though their badly socialised untrustworthy dog's on the lead. They take picnics, forgetting that they have such poor motor skills that at least half the food misses that mouths and ends up on the floor. They smoke and ping their fag butts about the place. (Smokers, for fucks sake, fag ends are litter too and it's not ok to drop them where you damn well please.) They loll in awkwardly sprawling not-quite-sitting not-quite-reclining positions, scowling at people with the audacity to actually move around on their legs. They drive to the park. Gah! They drive to the park. They, and this might be Moseley specific, sit around playing slightly-out-of-tune guitars in a hey-man-look-at-me-I'm-an-artist-you-know way. I wish they'd all just sod off, and take their crap with them.
Parks are beautiful, wonderful places all year round. Except when the sun comes out.