A third of the way from the top the trees bend in and meet, dappling the cobbled path that clings to the side of the hill. Walking with the dogs down to the car I smiled and politely said 'Good Morning' to the elderly woman coming toward me. My Assistant had just disgraced herself by chasing a cat nearly in through its front door and so was back on lead. The Big Black Dog was freely mooching.
This old lady always wears a green sleeveless cardigan over her patterned polyester dress, her stick-thin legs clad in coloured tights and in white trainers. Her body is slightly hunched but her chin is always up and she faces the climb with vigour and determination whatever the weather. Holding in place the thin Heidi plait across her head there is always a knotted scarf. And I have never seen her without a slash of bright red lipstick to glamorise the face hidden behind enormous brown glasses.
We stopped on the hill to chat while she stroked My Assistant's head.
"Now don't tell me, this is a Sealyham isn't it?" Before I could explain she kept going. "No, no. It is an Aberdeen Terrier isn't it?"
I agreed because since My Assistant joined us we have learnt this is the very old-fashioned name by which Scottish Terriers are known.
"Kipling had two of these you know. Ah yes, I remember them well. Friend of my parents' you see. Even all those years ago and I can still remember them. Now, what were they called...let me see... yes, there was Wog and oh what was the other one called... James. Wog and James. Wog was sweet natured but James was a bit, well you know, ... oh how would you describe it ... yes, that's it, cantankerous!
Personally I prefer cats. I've always had cats. Dogs live to serve and worship whereas cats are used to being worshipped. The ancient Egyptians you know, Bast, worshipped her. Right then. Must be off. Goodbye."
I have heard stories that she worked for S.O.E. as part of the French Resistance.
I am willing to believe.