Jake takes Billy for a walk
As he walks up the stone steps to his front door, Billy hears the rumble of Jake thundering down the stairs inside to meet him.
“Must have been have a siesta on my bed again” he thinks as he checks his pockets for his keys. “He's pushed the handle down and got in to doze in the sun.”
As the door swings open a black, part labrador, part whippet with one white eyepatch, leaps grinning up at him, bouncing on its back legs and exuding delight.
“Hello Jake! Yes, yes, I'm pleased to see you too. Just give me moment to put my bags down and we'll go.”
A minute later and Billy is striding along as Jake strains at the end of his lead, dragging him down the hill towards Foster Lane.
He's always liked this view. Right over the rooftops, down Valley Road, to the Town Hall and beyond. The big radio mast glinted in a shaft of afternoon sun slicing through the clouds, and beyond it, on the horizon, the two clumps of trees that he knew as the Wasp and the Poodle had almost fully regained their shapes after a skinny winter.
Turning into Foster Lane, and still ripping along, they pass a man sitting cross-legged on the pavement. “He'll get a cold backside” thinks Billy.
Past the little kids with their parents on the playground and onto the bridge where they screech to a halt, the scent of a dogs' message board too tempting for Jake to resist. The water level below had dropped right back down again after spilling over the wavy steps and almost on to the road the previous weekend and Billy could now see some of the larger rocks breaking the surface again.
Reluctantly, Jake tore himself away from the “Dog Times” and the pair stride on.
It was Tuesday so the market was being erected. “They say it'll most likely rain again tomorrow” one trader was shouting.
Turning left at the Town Hall, they stop for a moment on the bridge so Jake can have a token bark at the odd-looking ducks sitting on the island below, before crossing into St George's Square and stopping outside the newsagent and to pick up a copy of the Courier and some baccy.
As they enter Crown Street, Billy has cause to be grateful for the plastic bag in his pocket (the result of a trip to the Co-op the previous day and asked for when no-one was looking!) as Jake unceremoniously parts with his morning meal.
Jake ups the pace as they head towards the smell of fish and chips wafting their way. But past they shoot, turning left to stop and get £20 from the cashpoint, before covering the last 100 yards in moments.
He pushes the door and enters the warmth as the first drops of rain fell.
“Now then. Guinness Billy? And water for Jake?” says a familiar voice.