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Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

I grew up in the little seaside village of Castlerock, right up on the north coast of Ireland. In some ways it was a fantastic place to be a child, with the whole beach as my playground, and the muted crash and hiss of the waves my nightly lullaby. But in my teenage years I felt isolated from the groovy happening places like the nearby towns of Coleraine or Portrush, awash with their trendy discothèques and cinemas. Public transport was sparse, and going anywhere on a Friday or Saturday night was dependent on the ability to get a lift home.

I took Max to visit Castlerock a few months back. He's roughly a teenager in dog years, but in contrast to my ennui, he was ecstatic with the facilities on offer, and showed no sign of requiring a lift home from a niteclub. He loves rushing around at great speed, and so was delighted by the vast stretch of hard golden sand at our disposal, although it was a bit cold for dipping any toes or paws into the surf. We slowed our pace down as we braved the walk along the slippery Barmouth, which guides the River Bann out into the ocean, and admired the powerful swell and mighty spray at the end. We had great fun leaving deep footprints and pawprints in the soft sand which runs beside the river, and we made friends with a few fishermen and plenty of other doggies.

That was only a couple of months ago, but already it feels like it might be a lifetime away. Max is currently undergoing treatment for a painful shoulder joint, which is causing him to limp. So there'll be no leaping about for another month, and even then, we may need to curb his enthusiasm and keep him on a lead for walkies. I can barely even think about that as an outcome—the sight of him leaping with great gusto up and down crumbly sandhills, and chasing seagulls at full tilt across the sand has to be more than just a memory. Doesn't it?

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