I reckon I’ve got my research questionnaire nailed, and I’ve submitted it with my ethics form. I should be able to start handing them out as soon as I’ve got all the photocopying and randomisation of scenario allocation done. I have to get a minimum of 80 (preferably around 100) participants, so I’m going to be haunting mother and toddler groups looking for women who’ve given birth in the last three years.

Much more interesting stuff: Had another great walk with Sparky and Willis. We went up the old track through Lady Wood, and into Oliver Wood and Jordon Wood. I used to ride in the last two all the time – about 25 years ago – and I had forgotten how weird they can feel. Very nice one second, then you go round a corner and nearly fall into 1) what looks like a rather ancient outdoor swimming pool, lined with mildewed brick/ tiles and filled with deep green water 2) knee deep mud because the path has turned into a drainage ditch 3) a sheer sided pond full of black water so you can’t see the bottom or 4) a slippy slidey muddy path which is so well used by horses, and shaded by trees, that it never dries out, even at the height of summer. The dogs loved it, of course, but I felt much better once we’d worked our way round to the edge and I could see the sky. Here are the pictures of our trek:

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That’s Willis, at the bottom of Lady Wood. We’ve walked alongside the railway line, where “I don’t know my own name’ Willis is kept firmly on the lead, but now we’re into the woods he is delighted to be let loose.

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This is the path round the edge of the wood. Willis is sprinting back to me as I have a pocketful of dog treats. In fact, once he realised the treats were there, he stuck closer to me than Sparky did.

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Here he is again, because I thought he looked so funny skidding along the stone flags.

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I’ve put this pic in because it shows the old roads. The hillside these woods are on has many of these tracks, with two rows of flagstones (where the cartwheels would run) and an earth gutter in between where a horse would walk. It seems strange that none of them turned into modern roads. In many places one line of flags has been swallowed by encroaching hedges, so it becomes a single file path.

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We’re out of Lady Wood and crossing the fields at the top. Sparky and Willis took the opportunity to act like mad March hares.

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My girl, looking gorgeous in the sunlight.

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Looking back at Lady Wood. See that dint between the two hilltops? That’s the Dewsbury-Batley valley.

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Willis doing his clown impersonation.

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This spot is on the edge of Jordon Wood. This whole hillside (which my grandad used to refer to as “round back o’t’moon) was mined extensively a hundred years ago or so, and you come across occasional slag heaps with mature trees growing out of them.

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And they have these craters in the middle of them. They don’t have the alien beauty of the china clay lakes in Cornwall, but they’re pretty other-worldly, all the same.

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Sparky and Willis decided it was the perfect place for a five minute madness. See Willis’ spots? He has had his thick dirty white coat stripped out, and the spots appeared in his undercoat.

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 More canine craziness – I can assure you, they weren’t using any teeth. Just gumming one another to death. Plus I liked the light on this one. When I look at my photos – and compare them to those taken by the Pioneer Woman – I seem to live in a sort of dim half light. But then, if I lived somewhere brighter the line between my eyebrows would be even deeper as I would spend my whole life with my eyes screwed up.

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The path leading away from Jordon Wood. I really like this path, and the trees and bushes which line it. Lovely light.

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Further down the same path. See what I mean about tracks which have turned into footpaths? Although this one is made of cinders or brick chips rather than flagged.

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A final pic before we headed back through Lady Wood. Sparky found a really big stick – and wasn’t prepared to share it.

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