Most mornings I try to get up just after 5-30am to take little Monty out for an early morning run.
Latterly, as I’m stirring, it is still dark and, to avoid waking up Wifey, I have to place my spectacles, mobile phone and keys in specific spots so I can locate them easily in the dark and not cause any disturbance as I slip out of the bedroom.
Downstairs, I pull on my cycling gear while the kettle boils for the first brew of the day, make a slice of toast and go outside to load my bike onto the back of the car. It is at that point you really notice how night-time temperatures have started to slide in the last couple of weeks. Bike loaded, it’s back indoors to gulp down my tea while I catch the 6am news headlines.
But there is no time to linger. Monty never bothers to get out of bed to greet me during this time, as he likes his bed too much, but on my low whistle he shoots out of the front door ready to jump in the car after he has ... err ... stretched his legs over in the paddock, the grandiose name we give to the scruffy patch of land across the road.
By 6-15am, we are on the canal bank, and it is still fairly dark but the day-glow is present in the east.
The swallows have all gone now but the canal is alive with waterfowl, quietly stirring from slumber along the smokey waters.
It is just about light enough to see, but within 15 minutes we are in Hapton and the dawn mist is clearing from the canal and Monty, now getting into his stride, cranks up the speed.
There are a few people about, the chap with the spaniel, another with a bull terrier and another cyclist coming out from Rosegrove. It is a lovely time of day as the sleeping world starts to stir. On my return trip, I see Mr P. around 7am with his Lancashire Heeler, before we leave Hapton behind on our way back towards Clayton-le-Moors.
About this point, wood smoke starts to appear from the chimneys of the narrow boats and, if we are lucky, I catch the delicious scent of bacon cooking as breakfast is prepared. This whets my appetite for a proper breakfast when we get home, but we still have a few more miles to go.
Monty likes to cause mayhem among the ducks as he takes an early morning dip, at least he is doing so at the moment.
As temperatures fall, he becomes only an occasional bather, and who can blame him? Eventually we are back at the car and ready for home.
We come back to the house still without signs of life within, though the milk has arrived and Monty waits until he is in the hallway to shake himself dry and I go through to the kitchen for another brew and to prepare my breakfast.
Showing iron resolve, I resist bacon and opt for a fish finger butty or kipper instead. It’s all about statins, blood pressure and cholesterol these days!
As the 8-30am news comes on, Wifey appears at the door yawning “Morning love! Have you been up long!”
If only she knew.
The best part of the day is already gone.