I turned the computer on tonight to do one thing. And ended up doing something completely different.
What I was going to do was to continue ‘housekeeping’ on my newly revamped PC by checking all was in order with my digital photos, before writing a post about what I found during my recent tidy of the loft. What I actually did was to log on to WordPress and got sucked into reading a freshly pressed blog post entitled Surrounded by Sheep.
To steal a line from the author, Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe, I too am ‘… forever surrounded by sheep.’
I have loved sheep for a very long time now. I think I can trace it back to my first visit to the Lake District, where I fell in love with all Cumbria has to offer. Now every time I see a sheep, I am transported in my mind to the majestic mountains of North West England.
One of my early encounters with a sheep was on the summit of Pillar, where friends and I got talking to a group of walkers who had got into difficulties the night before and slept on the mountain in preference to heading down the mountain in the dark. The group leader had asked us to take some of their surplus food to ease their load on the way down, which we did without question – but this lone sheep on the summit had his own ideas of how to help. Keen to check out the left-overs, he proceeded to munch his way through a packet of cream crackers, thus earning himself the nickname, ‘Jacob’, and then devoured a nectarine before deftly spitting out the stone.
Over the years I have collected, and been given as presents, many ‘sheep’ objects – among them a sheep puppet which I bought for myself at a psychology conference in Vienna; a wooden 3d sheep jigsaw which now serves as a worthy addition to our Nativity crib at Christmas; three ceramic ‘flying’ sheep (like Hilda Ogden’s flying ducks), not to mention numerous photographs and pictures, cards and notepaper, pens, pots, keyrings and fridge magnets.
My prize sheep though is the rocking sheep given to me as a 29th birthday present from my parents. As a child I was desperate to own a rocking horse – of course now I am a parent myself I know what a ridiculously expensive present this is to covet – yet my grandparents went some way towards satisfying my childish wants and bought me a rocking chair, which I still own.
But my lovely dad always remembered this childhood desire of mine, so of course when he saw a rocking sheep sitting outside a shop, somewhere on the way up to London I believe, he persuaded Mother of Mine that nothing else would do as a present that year. Of course, Daughter of Mine came along about 18 months later, followed by Son of Mine, so it has been played with by children as it was intended, but always on the understanding that it’s ‘Mummy’s special rocking sheep.’ It’s now back in my room, at the foot of the bed – so the memories are always in sight.
So I’ll leave ewe with a few more of my photographic memories of being ‘surrounded by sheep’…