It's blooming freezing in Scotland just now. Summer, if you can call it that, is well and truly over and autumn is setting in at quite a pace. The tail end of hurricane katia earlier in the week has meant we've had some fairly wild weather conditions and the two days I spent down south this week in our head office at Godalming and in London for our team day quite literally felt like being abroad.
Yesterday however was lovely. It was chilly but the sun was shining brightly so when I finished work I decided to take advantage of the rare bit of sunshine and head out for a longer than usual walk with my two dogs. I had barely left the house when I heard the familiar sound of gun shots. It's not unusual where I live so I didn't give it much thought and carried on with little more than a hmmph under my breath.
I hoped the shots weren't coming from the direction I was planning to walk in but I hadn't got very far when I met another two dog walkers coming towards me looking less than happy. They stopped to tell me there were shooters further round the hill and that I was best advised to turn around. Much as I was enjoying my walk and looking forward to doing one of my favourite routes I didn't particularly fancy walking through the middle of a shoot. I reluctantly turned round and headed back in the direction I'd come from with two rather confused and disgruntled dogs.
As I headed back down the hill I saw that the couple who had stopped me were now talking to another couple and while I only nodded hello in passing I caught enough of the conversation to hear that they too were not impressed to have their evening walk cut short.
It got me thinking not only about how annoying this was but how unfair it is that large areas of countryside can just be effectively closed down to the people who live there so a few people can shoot. In the space of around ten minutes that was five people who had had their plans abruptly changed for them with no consultation. I doubt there were even as many as six shooters.
As I walked back towards safer territory, with a lot less of a spring in my step, I couldn't help but remember the terrible day when my neighbours' dog was killed in a snare. Their lovely springer spaniel was snared just a few minutes from where I was walking. Although it was a few years ago now I'll never forget the feeling as my friends carried the limp and lifeless body of their beloved pet home. The vet later said she had most likely been killed instantly as her neck had snapped due to the speed she ran into the snare. It was absolutely devastating.
I love the countryside and I love living here but these kind of things make me sick. The repercussions of the shooting industry go much further than just shooting a bird, the whole industry is based on cruelty, suffering and in my opinion downright selfishness. So while the shooters are out killing their birds and enjoying the countryside around my home I'm back at my desk with nothing more to do than look out the window at where I should have been walking.