So rather than my sailing kit, I put Jack in the back of my car instead as we set off for South Cerney, thinking that if I'd missed the race, I could at least give him a walk by the lake.
It's a 40 minute drive to the club. We got there for 1230 and it was all locked up, so racing had obviously been cancelled. I could see the lake through the slatted security gate, whipped and beaten by the wind. Thinking to check on the boats anyway, I unlocked the padlock, slid the bolt back, and the wind threw the gate back against its hinges at me, almost taking me off my feet and throwing me across the bonnet of my car.
I put my shoulder into it and pushed, and gradually got the gate back into line, holding it in place with my foot wedged into the gravel at its base whilst I slid the bolt back into place and put the lock back on. There's a lot of windage on a 10 foot tall security gate. I could probably have opened it and got in if I'd been really desperate, but the risk of damaging the gate, my car or myself alone at the club just didn't seem worth it.
So Jack and I drove back towards home again and he and I went instead for a walk up Robinswood Hill.
We used to walk up there all the time when the dogs were young, but haven't climbed its slopes now for years, despite it being just out the back of my house.
It was very muddy, slippy and steep and wonderfully good fun. We didn't get all the way to the top, at nine and a half, Jack's an old boy now, if still willing, and gets a bit stiff sometimes, so I didn't want to completely wipe him out. But taking it slowly, we did reach a clearing just below the summit.
The views back over my hometown, out towards May Hill and the Malverns, are gorgeous, even when they're greyed out by the murk of a storm-washed sky. The city itself sprawls across the top of the Severn Valley. There are no high-rise buildings to break the skyline, so the graceful spire of the Cathedral is juxtaposed against the looming concrete edifice of the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and clearly visible.
The threatening rain held off until we made it back to the car; coming back down was, at times, something of a perilous slide, but be both made it back without mishap.
The weather is still rotten, but the nights are starting to draw out again now. It's still just about light when I finish work of an evening. Jack and I have promised each other we're going to spend more time back on the hill again this year. We'd forgotten how much we missed it.