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James and Misty at Moseley Bog

Posted: Wednesday 19th July 2017 by evaphillips

While Misty plays with her ball and paddles in the stream with her doggy friends, James lets his thoughts wander and his mind clear, finding peace in the trees and bird song We believe everyone should have access to nature

I first meet James and his gorgeous dog Misty on the first warm day of spring, the Friends of Moseley Bog Conservation Group are collecting barrows of earth to shore up paths that have deteriorated over Winter and are backbreakingly spreading and compressing it. James watches what they are doing, then with a gleam in his eye he launches his electric scooter at the patch and uses it to press down the path, a fast solution to the problem.

James is definitely handy. A month later he shows me round the reserve, telling me of his military history before he trained to make horse saddles. He is proud that he went from knowing nothing of the trade to Foreman in the buffing shop before he was forced to quit because of his health, the same auto immune problems that forced him out of the army and put his life in danger several times since.

James can no longer drive thanks to severe epileptic seizures, he discovered he had it after waking up in hospital, the last thing he remembered was parking outside his home, he was told his car had carried on reversing and shoved three other cars down the road. He has had pneumonia ten times, many times ending in hospital as his body tried to fight the infection. His osteo arthritis means he struggles to sit and stand and is in a lot of pain – his hip replacement, that would increase mobility and decrease pain was cancelled thanks to the undiagnosed epilepsy.

But still, every day, James and Misty come to Moseley Bog. Misty was mistreated as a puppy and is nervous of new people, she’s been with James for eight years and it’s obvious that they adore each other. I am shown pictures of them dressed in identical rugby shirts and Misty sitting cross legged on the sofa watching TV. James tells me they love coming out and seeing the same people and dogs every day, it can get lonely living on your own and he misses the freedom of his car. The scooter brings him independence, the green space brings peace.

James’ childhood was more difficult than most, he spent a year homeless before joining up. He used to come to the bog when he was young, to get out of the house, even camping there with his mates. He used to bring the cadets he taught here to train, his first kiss happened here…

The walkways and paths that have been installed and repaired thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding mean James can still explore the area he loves on his scooter, he laughs when he tells me sometimes the mud is still tough in Winter and several times he has become stuck and had to use his crutch to push the scooter out. He takes pride in being unstoppable. the Trust Conservation Officer Natalie Norton tells me she has just had funding approved for additional walkways and access improvements from Veolia Environmental Trust, meaning even more people will be able to enjoy the site.

You should go take a look, keep an eye out for James and Misty, and see what a wander through Moseley Bog and Joy’s Wood Nature Reserve can mean to you.


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