After picking up our new dog, Lady, from Raymond Terrace this morning, we drove over to the historic town of Morpeth, which is located on the Hunter River near Maitland. I adore Morpeth with its old historic buildings and streets so wide you could turn a bullock train around back in the day. As a serious lover of history, I’m not a great one for living in the present.
Even though Morpeth is only a couple of hour’s drive away from home, I don’t seem to get there very often. I think it has been two years since my last epic visit. If you haven’t been to Morpeth, you are really missing out. In terms of architecture, Morpeth is something of a time capsule dating back to the mid 1800s with rugged cobbled footpaths and colonial buildings with broad verandahs. There is even an original slab bark hut dating back to the 1830s which has been restored. In a sense you could also describe Morpeth as a shopper’s paradise but it’s not some trashy shopping mall but more of an experience with Miss Lilly’s Lollyshop, Morpeth Sourdough, ginger beer numerous cafes, old wares shops and irresistible boutiques. You can read about my previous trips to Morpeth here:
As much as I love visiting Morpeth and almost sent us broke on one particular trip when it seemed like I almost bought up the place, our visit today was about spending time exploring together and having our first adventure with Lady.
With a name like Lady, you would half expect her to be traveling to Morpeth in coach perched up on a plush, velvet cushion. However, she is a Lady, not the Queen and yet I still picture her doing the royal wave. Well, she would if she could. I don’t believe dogs can wave but there’s always someone keen to prove me wrong!!
It was really exciting to take Lady for her first walk but it was truly memorable to take her for her first walk in Morpeth, watching her run over the cobblestones with the kids. My daughter seems to have claimed Lady as her dog at this stage and she loved running along with her. Our original dog, Bilbo, is a big dog and a bit too much for her to take on her own for a walk. Lady is the perfect size for Miss. I think Miss also likes the fact Lady is a girl dog. As an 8 years old, boys are mostly annoying pests!
While Lady wasn’t too happy being tied up outside Miss Lilly’s Lollyshop, we were able to have lunch with Lady at a local cafe called Grazers, which has a cute cow theme. Lady comes from a farm with real cows so I don’t know what she thought when we photographed her next to a metal cow sculpture. I could almost hear her calling out through the obvious confusion: “Please explain!” While she might have been a bit baffled by the metal cow, there was no confusion over the kids’ ,meat pies. We had been warned that Lady can really jump and she was particularly keen on the kids’ meat pies. A dog is a dog, after all!
Lady was also quite a traffic stopper as well. Being a Monday, there weren’t that many people out in Morpeth and most of the shops were shut but a few passers-by stopped for a pat and a chat. Lady is so friendly and affectionate wagging her tail and nuzzling up to everyone she meets. She almost seems to manufacture happiness itself and I can’t help feeling she’s exactly what our family needs…a breath of fresh air.
The historic bridge crossing the Hunter River is one of Morpeth’s main landmarks. We walked down a very steep set of stairs to walk beside the riverbank where Miss managed to find a bunch of prickles and blackberries but after just a scratch, she manged to extricate herself unscathed with a few directions from Mum. Mister loved exploring the river bank and lay down in the grass in the shade. It’s now spring and it was quite a warm, sunny day where a bit of shade went a long way.
We had so much fun!!
Yet, as much as I love Morpeth, I also wanted to get home before dark and we still had to introduce the two dogs. It was time for the next chapter to begin. Would they be anther Romeo and Juliet? Time would tell.
Driving back home from Morpeth was a bit more complicated than I’d hoped. Morpeth is out past Maitland, which out on the New England Highway and it seems out this way all roads lead to Newcastle, whereas I was wanting Sydney. Somehow, I kept missing the turn off and I was driving back and forwards between Hexham and the Newcastle suburb of Beresfield. We ended up going back and forwards and even tried a back way only to find ourselves back on the road heading north. We weren’t lost. I knew we were facing the wrong way and heading for Brisbane listed wasn’t a good thing. I just couldn’t join up the dots and find our way out. Personally, I found the signs quite inadequate. Being a huge city, Sydney deserves a big sign not some kind of footnote while the Hunter Valley Vineyards has a huge, rather distracting sign.
As we arrived closer to home, I started briefing the kids on the all important new arrival. Or to be more particular, how we were going to introduce Lady to Bilbo. While Bilbo isn’t quite an old dog, he is very set on his ways and he’s quite wary of strangers. He’s an excellent guard dog and doorbell. We always know when someone’s turned up. The plan was to introduce the dogs in neutral territory out the front and hope for the best. I’m no dog expert but I knew this was going to take time and at least a bit of massaging. As much as I thought Bilbo might like a girlfriend and had been told about his new “friend”, as far as he was concerned, nobody had consulted his opinion and like all foreign bodies, Bilbo would no doubt want Lady out. At the same time, Bilbo had been warming up to other dogs at the beach and I thought he was ready to take the step step.
Well, as ready as he was going to be.