PHIL CALVERT: Enjoying walks at first light

Phil Calvert
Phil Calvert

How many times have you watched something on the telly, quite late at night, and afterwards regretted it?

I have a fondness for spaghetti westerns, which, being out of fashion, tend only to be broadcast after 10 o’clock. In the past I have relented and, against my better judgement, stayed up and watched Clint Eastwood take on impossible odds with his six-shooter and end up cashing in the bodies of the bad guys for a few dollars.

These films tend to be rather short on dialogue but having seen them umpteen times, I know them pretty much word perfect anyway, and so I have to ask myself whether I did the right thing staying up into the early hours, rather than doing the sensible thing and getting some shut-eye.

During the short days of winter, I have been very disciplined in my television watching. Unless it was something I genuinely wanted to watch and had been looking forward to seeing, then I have turned the telly off or gone into the other room to do something else – listen to music perhaps, maybe read, or quite simply go to bed.

The result has been that I have slowly but surely, shifted my sleep pattern so that I am often in bed by 10-30 p.m. and up around 6 a.m. Of course, during the winter, it is dark until after 8 a.m. and I have busied myself catching up on this and that while the rest of the house has been asleep.

But as the weeks and months slide by, dawn has arrived earlier and earlier, so much so that it has recently been light at 5-30 a.m. Clearly it is a nonesense for everyone to be asleep during the hours of daylight when the evenings, as people return home from work are dark, and so the shift to summer time makes complete sense.

Before the clocks went forward, however, I got into the habit of making little excursions out with Monty. He’s a funny little dog. Always ready for the off, he nevertheless has an amusing reluctance to get out of bed – or off his cushion. He flicks his tail when I come down in the morning, looking at me with blood-shot eyes from the comfort of his bed. Encouraged to come over for a fuss, he stretches at the half-way point of the room, keeping me waiting a while, before belatedly nuzzling my hand enthusiastically. After a two-minute excursion into the garden he positively gallops into the house...and straight back to bed.

As I prepare to leave the house he leaves it until he spots me pulling on my coat before rushing over to join me. Latterly, this has simply been to have a quick run around the woods before a day at work, but a month ago it was a decent distance before a visit to the bakery and a hot pie for breakfast.

I loved those early morning excursions because, with much of the world still asleep, Monty and I rarely saw anyone else. There is a peace in being out alone in the blue light of dawn and strangely the weather is usually much more settled than even a couple of hours later.

Some might think I’m daft getting up so early, but I feel strangely self-righteous when I have the countryside to myself, before I go to work to earn a few more dollars.

Let me assure you, watching the early morning day glow over the moors to the east, flooding our local hills and valleys with light is a wonderful experience. So whether you think getting up early is good or bad, it is anything but ugly!