A day out in Oswestry

Once every couple of months I go in the car and take the dogs over to Oswestry to have them made beautiful.  It’s about an hour’s drive out from the yard, but worth it for a few reasons.

Firstly Debbie (www.thebristlesdoggrooming.com) is a genius with a pair of scissors – She is one of the top groomers in the country and does loads of  national competitions and demonstrations.  She specializes in Bichons and Poodles and has a divine full size poodle of her own. Going to her is like an ongoing course in dogs. Not just how to clip them either.  She’s a goldmine of information about them, their health, their psychology, their pedigree.  And of course she’s brilliant with them.  She has no problem with my two who just give in to her aura of confidence and care. In fact, she does do courses and a few years ago I did an afternoon with her on grooming and that’s why I feel able to keep the two of them looking ok between cuts and for the shows.  Mimi loves being pampered and Blue puts up with it! I will post a photo of them looking their best at the end of the blog so you can see Debbie’s great skill for yourself. 

Secondly a few hours in Oswestry is a holiday for me.  Away from the dogs I can wander around, go into places I never usually go, visit all the charity shops and the treat of the day is a spell in Wetherspoons.  No I haven’t fallen off the wagon and maybe for the first time it didn’t bother me to be just ordering a coffee.  Plus a Manager’s special for £2.99 and I feel I’m living!!  It’s where I’m writing this now.  I’m a great Wetherspoons fan, as I think I’ve mentioned before. Oswestry’s is a converted Post Office, named after Wilfred Owen, the first world war poet who was born here.  Not in the Post Office, but in the town! 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gurgling form the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as cud
Of vile, incurable sores on the innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Oswestry feels like so many of England’s small towns – a bit sad and run down really.  Lots of empty shops and desperate faces. But the up side is the charity shops and the bargain stores.  So I go to stock up on all the stuff I can’t find in Chester and have so far managed to save a fortune by shopping around between the various cheap shops.  I think the definition of poverty is doing a price comparison between B&M and Poundland!   But I don’t think I’m alone in that occupation, especially in Northern England today.  Perhaps we’d better avoid politics or you’ll really have me going…

The third thing is I love about Oswestry is just being a ‘flaneur’.  I love that word but more I love the notion behind it.  There’s no real equivalent in English.  Strolling, ambling – both too passive somehow.  It suggests something far more creative, artistic and active and I revel in it in my time in this town.  Over the years I have been coming here, many ideas and actions have grown from these few hours spent wandering enjoying what Balzac called ‘the gastronomy of the eye’.  Of course you can do it anywhere, but it does imply an urban not a rural stroll.  I do more than just wander, I drink it in, consume all the sights with relish, so ‘gastronomy’ is right.  Oswestry’s a great banquet for the flaneur.  Its wonderful history with the Welsh border running through the town.  Of course in the centenary year of the start of the Great War and with the link to Wilfred Owen there’s a lot going on here this year.  And it oozes out of the walls and I taste every drizzle.  Sometimes an idea will be buzzing in my brain, ready to burst out into some project or idea and today into this blog.

At the end when I collect the two cute canines, I feel regenerated and refreshed, and their stunning beauty, linked with the wonderful welcome they always give me, is the exclamation mark; the candles on the iced cake of the day.

If you have a chance, visit Oswestry.  You definitely wont be disappointed.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

PS  When I returned to pick up the pooches today, Debbie told me the sad (and in some ways happy) news that she is retiring in April, on doctor's orders.  A lifetime of lifting dogs has taken its toll with her back and she is going to lay down the scissors, although she is to continue with her adjudication of students.  My booked trip in March will be my last to be a flaneur in Oswestry, so I shall relish it, along with all the others when spring will, hopefully, be in the air and the promise of the new season just around the corner.   My goodness we will miss Debbie though!!!

Debbie, we wish you every joy and luck, and thanks for all you've taught us! (woof, woof, lick, lick!)

Mr Alexander