Leaving the dog in kennels as I head to Bratislava

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was promising little Monty we would soon be home from our trip down South, and he would be enjoying almost daily outings to the Lakes and Dales, finishing off with a night spent in the comfort of his own bed. Unfortunately for him, however, I lied!

True enough we arrived home safely and his usual routines of walking and swimming, eating and sleeping were quickly re-established. His seemingly endless capacity for sleep was satisfied in the comfort of the bed he has made in what was once a cushion from the settee, but which is now, dare I say, a dog-eared, dog-hair covered disgusting old thing of dubious fragrance...but he loves it.

He should have got suspicious when I took him to the vet. He never batted an eyelid as he got his vaccination booster, just naively trusting his good friend and master not to let him down. Indeed, unlike his predecessor, who was terrified of anything to do with vets, he was quite comfortable amid the mixed fragrances of unknown cats, dogs and disinfectant, actually dozing off on the scales. Such was the trust he placed in me.

The trouble is Wifey trusted me to take her away for a proper holiday. I tried to get away with a barge trip to Sowerby Bridge followed by a pint and some chips in Hebden Bridge, but Wifey was having none of it. She fancied somewhere more exotic, and as we did Wigan last year, we ended up in Budapest and Bratislava.

Sadly taking Monty was not an option but I will never forget that look of utter betrayal in his eyes as I dropped him off at the boarding kennel, the steel grill slammed shut (on his luxury kennel), before I turned away to leave him behind.

Fortunately, Wifey was more than happy with her boat trip on the very un-blue Danube, and it was nice to see a much less familiar corner of Europe. Fortunately, I was in my comfort zone as the principal activity of this river cruise, sightseeing aside, was eating and drinking, both areas in which I excel.

Under remarkably sunny skies, given the time of year, I actually caught the sun, forcing me to try to rehydrate by my traditional policy of supporting local craft brewers, in close alliance with my support for local farmers, bakers, and perhaps above all, as we sailed closer to Vienna, local cake makers. It is an easy place to feel comfortable.

Not only that, our fellow travellers were mainly English so there was no need to feel homesick. Indeed, one lady came up to me and asked how Monty was, following as she did, the tales of his life in the Express. It’s a small world, and filled for the most part with thoroughly pleasant people.

Actually thoughts of poor Monty, in kennels for the first time, were never far from my mind. How was he doing? Fine I’m sure. He will probably come home like me, a few pounds heavier than last time we met, and having had loads of walks.

But when that steel grill slides open and we are reunited on Saturday, will he hesitate as he sees the man who betrayed him or will he do as old Rory used to do, rush towards me wagging his tale, delighted to be reunited with his master once more?

What I will say is, this time he can rest assured, the Lakes and Dales are still there, and he can count on spending a fair bit of time up there over the next few weeks. After all, Wifey has had her cruise so we should be in the clear for a few years at least.