Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Un-Doggers.

The Un-Doggers and no I am not talking about the group of people that are known as 'Doggers' and frequent more or less the same places as the 'Un-Doggers' or even the 'Dog Walkers', I am talking about the 'Un-Doggers' the middle aged people often accompanied by small children that are extended family to whom they are treating to a nice walk in the country.

The weather hasn't warmed up, in fact today it is positively freezing, but the hedges are are trying to change colour from the grey bleak tones of mid winter to the fresh hues of green that signal the return of Spring.  Daffodils are opening their yellow heads and turning them towards the sun's weak rays on days when the sky is blue and cloudless, Snowdrops are nodding quietly under the hedgerows listening to the birds chattering over the price of bedding they are foraging for to build nests for their impending young, the tractors are ploughing the fields ready for the farmers to plant their crops.  Even the dog walkers are starting to remove some layers of winter walking clothing, heralding, indeed, the coming of warmer days.

The 'Un-Doggers' must not be confused with the fishermen, the hardened blokes that walk the banks of the river in waders, thick Aran jumpers and flat caps dragging behind them on trolleys enough equipment to catch a small fishing fleets quota of sea crab. Their rods over their shoulders as they work their way across the muddy fields in search of the break in the barbed wire fence that has been cut by someone before them making access to the river bank easier than negotiating the kissing gates in place.  It should be noted that whilst cutting the barbed wire fences, or any fences, is unethical and most likely unlawful it is handy for the fishermen and also for the odd dog walker that is trying to remain upright on the river path that has been flooded several times over winter and is now a bog of quick sand and therefore so much easier to walk along the fields edge.

Neither should the 'Un-Doggers' be likened to young lovers, those couples whose ages vary from the older teenager or twenty-somethings wanting some time alone together away from parents or siblings to the older couples, newly mated, that are trying to rekindle their youth and hopefully not jar a hip or pull a muscle whilst negotiating the well worn paths through the woods.

The last group to not be associated with 'Un-Doggers' is the joggers, those people who feel that dressing up in bright vivid colours and charging through the countryside not stopping to admire the catkins bursting open or the ducks washing in the river their heads dipping below the water line sending ripples out across the water, the sun catching the droplets and creating tiny rainbows that glitter like jewels, to be a good activity for a weekend.  No, joggers, runners and even the kayakers and rowers they too are not 'Un-Doggers'.

'Un-Doggers' are those people that dress in white jackets, light beige trousers, shoes rather than walking boots or wellies.   (I know joggers wear trainers but they are usually covered in mud so therefore they are not 'Un-Doggers').  They have camera's around their necks and their young are dressed in bright fabrics, all clean and iron pressed their fluffy hats new for the season, occasionally you get a child with bright clean, brand new wellingtons but as a rule they are few and far between.  They flap their arms in the air when they see a bee or wasp and pick the bluebells that cover the ancient woodland floor because they are pretty, only to dump them further up the path as they have tired of carrying them so far.    Their children scream and shout and point at the nice 'doggy' as if it is a foaming at the mouth wolf from the hidden depths of the woods.  The adults berate the local mud splattered, dressed for the time of year, dog walkers that their dogs should be on leads as their small people don't like dogs, all this whilst waving their cameras and handbags in the air.  They never move to one side to allow you to pass or even restrain their squawking  off spring from grabbing tails or ears.  They encourage said off spring to bark at the 'doggies' to make friends - honestly this really has happened to me! - and even throw a stick because 'all doggies like sticks'.  The 'Un-Doggers' have even been known to say that the country paths through the woods should be paved for easier access. 

I do appreciate that not everyone likes dogs or even animals as pets, cows give them nightmares and sheep stink, which does beg the question of why they walk in areas that are frequented by dog owners and farm animals?   If, I was to walk my dogs in town or through a children's play area of course I would have them on the lead, although why I would want to walk near a play area when I don't like other peoples kids (didn't like my own much when they were little!) but they are in the open fields, they are well behaved, friendly dogs that like to roll in the mud and have a good time.  They will walk behind you waiting for you to step to the side to allow them to pass.  There has been many an occasion when a group of us dog walkers meet up and we have as many as 8-10 happy dogs running around, chasing, barking, playing, rolling in mud...  they are having a good time, should we see a party of 'Un-Doggers' we call our dogs and move to the side, wishing them a pleasant walk.  So please, when you see a dog walker, restrain your off spring, don't let them bark in the faces of my dogs, don't throw sticks its dangerous and for goodness sake its a dog not a doggie!

Creative Sundays Blog Hop

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Insomnia and interesting romance....

Bit of a rant in this blog as this week hasn't gone to plan, yes I had a lovely evening out with friends on Thursday, fine wine... well Barcardi and coke, three of, with a rather delicious Indian curry at our favourite curry house in Hereford, Sweet Chilli, if you are local and have never been, get round to Bridge Street just before Left Bank, great food, good clean airy space with soft lighting and music and excellent staff that really can't do more for you.

Friday I had another friend come and visit... secretly I think I am just the tea maker as Gordy is her favourite she being his biggest fan and bringer of cheese, which he now knows there is some left with his  name on in the fridge making getting in and out of there a drama waiting to happen.  So far only whiskers have been skimmed by the closing door but it won't be long before he gets his tail or head stuck!  

Unfortunately I have felt hungover all week and not through drink but through lack of sleep.  I am an insomnia sufferer who has been in remission for years until this week.  Tuesday night it started.

I woke up around 2am having gone to bed around 10.30 and read until almost 12 (will talk about books in a minute!) so as you do when you are over 40 and wake up in the night you immediately head to the bathroom as ones bladder isn't the strong 'can wait until morning' type any more despite not drinking after 10pm and having a wee before bed.  So I go to the bathroom, alone, leaving dogs, husband and Gordy snoring on the bed, Teeko is in my daughters room curled up tight as a ball snoring amongst lots of space as she is at the boyfriends.  Get back into bed, shuffle my way under a dog, elbow the husband to make him roll over and stop snoring, to which, like all men, he farts and perfumes the room with rotten egg smell, Defi having heard a fart decides that he too needs to release wind and promptly does, then gets off the bed wafting his tail and swishing the revolting aromas around.  Gordy doesn't wake up and is stretched across the bed with more room than anyone else!

About 30 minutes later I decide I am thirsty so head downstairs for a drink of diet coke, just a small one still hoping to nod back off and don't want to get up for another wee later.

Go back to bed and shuffle back under huffing Izabel who is not pleased to be disturbed again, raises her head and throws me the 'do you mind' look 'some of us are sleeping'.  I apologize quietly whispering under my breath but loud enough to be heard over Gordy and the husband snoring.  Elbow the husband and avoid the cat with my legs.

I clock watch.

I am bored.

Go back downstairs to get my notebook as it has a Kindle app on it, end up on FB making up silly stories on a friends alien beads she has up for sale in a couple of the selling groups on there.

Battery dies.

Its now 5.45am and I am feeling sleepy.  Start to nod off.  My son gets up for work at 5.55am, he is 10 mins late (apparently if I was awake I should have known this and got him up!)  He makes enough noise to wake the dead.  I am awake again....

6.45am.  I elbow the husband again, can he get up and feed the dogs? I am shattered as I haven't slept.  He starts to talk to me, ask me questions on why I am feeling sleepy now and not in the night.  He gets told to go away.  I am not very polite!

I snooze for about an hour then decide that really its not happening and get up. Wednesday night will be better I think.

It wasn't.

I went to bed around 10.30pm as normal and nodded off almost straight away after reading my book for about 45 minutes - no matter how tired or drunk I might be at night I have to read at least a page of a book - oh heaven I was asleep.  My husband came up to bed just after midnight so he disturbed me but I managed to stay half asleep, before long he was snoring, Gordy was snoring, Defi was breathing deeply on the wooden floor of the bedroom and Iz was snuggled right in to the duvet stealing most of it.  Then the noise.  Oh the noise.  Wide awake I stared at the bedroom ceiling, no one else in the room seemed to notice anything unusal, was I making it up?  was I so tired the noise was in my head?  No.  The noise was a bloody rat in the loft, practising his tap dancing in clogs and he was at it for hours and hours....and hours....  Now, I don't mind rats, used to keep Fancy Rats as pets years ago, I love the part most people hate, their long silky scaley tails, but this tap dancing rat was really cruisin' for a brusin' and if I wasn't scared of heights I would have scaled the walls like Spiderman gone through the loft hatch and strangled his ratty little neck but I was reduced to lying in bed, staring at the ceiling thinking up  rat recipes should I be so inclined.

Thursday morning came and I had managed approx 2 hours of sleep during the night.  The meal out with friends was something I really was looking forward to for the last few weeks now felt like a chore, but despite being tired I had a thoroughly good time and was back home for 11pm and in bed not long after.  

My brain wouldn't switch off.  I clock watched the hours slowly ticking by waiting for Rattie to do his dancing whilst murderous thoughts raged through my mind.  He. thankfully was silent.  The husband however competed with Gordy for loudest snore and I was truly unsure whom I disliked most around 3am.

I dozed on and off Thursday night, Friday night would be better I thought, husband was going to work (nights) and I would have the bed to myself, well me, Iz, Defi and Gordy... practically empty!

10pm Friday night, I was in bed, too tired to lift up the book let alone read a word, my eyes stung, my limbs ached I was desperate for sleep.  I saw the clock 10.06pm.....2.54am.  Nearly 5 hours!!  Why did I wake up?  My husband came home at 2.30am, he made enough noise to wake up the neighbours - our nearest one being a field away down a country lane - and then when he was upstairs he began to chat to the dog!!  I was murderous, I muttered at him to shut up and tried to drift back to oblivion.  Do you think I could?  no chance.  I lay there until 6am thinking how much pressure did I have to use on the husbands snoring face with my pillow.

Last night, Saturday night, everyone in the house, including Rattie whose days are numbered anyway, was under pain of death if they disturbed me.  Husband worked again but came home around 4am and was trying so hard to be quiet - man quiet is NOT woman quiet - that I don't have the heart to tell him he woke me, but I had SIX WHOLE HOURS of sleep last night and feel like I have been reborn, in fact I have just had a mad clean through the house, one bathroom, one shower room, one utility room - all walls washed - hall, bedroom, living room and kitchen hoovered and 2 loads of washing done.  Its amazing what sleep can do!!  

So, books.

I love to read and one day I will be an author, for now I am writing for Cat World magazine and this blog but a real bona fide book deal would be brilliant!

I love buying books and our local hospice shop has a huge selection and so inexpensive that I just can't help myself and I reason that they take my unwanted goods for nothing so I support that by buying their books.  This is one of the last lot I got the other week (I can't tell you exactly how many I got just in case the husband reads this and finds out...I also have raided the shelves of The Works that closed down their outlet within our local garden centre and as he paid for that collection I have to be a be quiet on the book front....)

Lots of short stories, perfect for bedtime reading if you are  a bit tired but still need a word fix, with several of my favourite fantasy writers, Jean Johnson the author of the Sons of Destiny series being just one of them.  If you fancy a bit of out of this world romance, this book is for you, indulge in the romantic werewolf, angels, humans with a sixth sense, the beautiful Selkie, drift to sleep (if you are really lucky!) with visions of the other side playing out in your sub conscious mind......

This blog is part of the Sunday Creative Blog Hop

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Home is where the heart is........

A special blog for someone who will remain nameless, lets call her Betsy and anyone else who might just be wondering the same thing.

Where do I hang out when I am home?

 Above is one corner of my studio, the corner I sit at the torch.  My studio is in the garden under an enormous great tree that goes the most beautiful rustic reds in the Autumn.  I get lots of Jays, Sparrows, Magpies, Robins, Pigeons the odd duck and bird of prey in that tree too.

I took all these photos this morning, Sunday February 14th 2016, its not tidy in my kitchen, or anywhere in the house really I have been poorly for a few weeks and my husband has worked nights all week so cleaning has been a bit lapse.

When on my laptop writing, loitering on FB, wrapping beads for sending as well as eating, cooking - ok watching the husband cook - lighting fires  and a myriad of other tasks I am in the kitchen.  My kitchen is a big room, the dinning table at one end and the pantry at the other.  Three doors lead from the kitchen one to the utility room - no photos if the rest of the house is bad this room is strictly off limits! one to the pantry and the other by the fridge to the hall. The utility leads to a small shower room and a door takes you outside, this is the back door but is the front door as its most used and has the letter box.  Like my life the house is a bit back to front and upside down, perfect living really.

So, photo above facing the dining table, as you can see Iz and Defi have had breakfast and their raised bowl stand will be put away in a minute...  or two.  Can you see the prone shape on the fire hearth?  

The corner to the right of the dining table is where my book that I am currently writing is housed in a rather bespoke box that looks like an old encyclopedia, I love that box!

Facing the other end of the room, my rocking chair I stole from one brother who had stole it from our other brother.. they are twins and I am the eldest, I liked it, I pinched it, its been with me for about 20 years!  

The door on the left is the pantry the other door leads to the room of doom, otherwise known as the utility room...shudders at visions of mud splattered walls and dirty laundry....

The third door from the kitchen takes you into the hall and the monolith that is Gordy Towers is across the front door that we don't use.  A bookcase stands to the right and that is where the cats eat and the stairs take you to the bedrooms.  I like the glass doors, we have this one and the one from the hall into the living room which is on the left of Gordy Towers: the glass is always covered in nose prints and dribble and although they are smeared and in need of constant cleaning I can spy on Gordy when he is playing by himself in the hall, in turn he can sit and sulk at the door to come in when he is banished at cooking times!

My living room, bit of a mess!  this is the corner you could see from the door way and my 'end of the sofa'  I have drawing pads, pencils, crochet hooks, yarn and fish tanks.  I love my nursery fish tank on my old hexagonal table, one day I really will decorate this table in the style of the narrowboats.  I have said that for the 15 years I have had it!!

Close up of the 'stuff' on my table and its all mine.... 

Stuffed between the fish tank and the sofa, filling for crochet toys, my bag of hooks and my sewing box my son brought me for Christmas that has my fine threads in that I will probably hoard for a few years before using and my toys eyes.  NO ONE else in the house is allowed piles but I follow my own rules!

The fish tank and me still in my dressing gown and pj's!!

From the right of Gordy Towers in the hall, at the bottom of the stairs is a window that shows you the back of the garden.  The house sits not quite in the middle of the gardens so we don't have a front and back but this is to the back of the house, just a corner mind the garden is a lovely big size, surrounded by fields and country lane.  This is my studio shed under the big tree (right photo below) that is still quite bare.  My garden is not at its finest and this part faces North so it does get the wind and rain.

The left hand photo was taken from the window in the living room at the front and shows my very impressive bamboo and my sons van that is actually in pieces!!  Bloody kids!!  I can't show you the other end of the drive that wraps around the house and takes you back to the kitchen and utility because to be quite honest its a mess of mud, cars, wood for the fire...   Tucked in the bamboo is my bird table so I have some lovely movement and chirrping from this area.

Taken from the same window in the living room but pointing to the left of the garden, the sun was just rising this morning.  This is the gate that leads out onto the lane, that telephone line that stretches the length of the lane quite often has big rooks, ravens, crows, magpies, pigeons, owls, red kite and many other beautiful birds sitting on it annoying Defi and making him bark!

Remember the prone figure from above?  You guessed it just another morning protest at the lack of fire for his lordship!

...and on the table is the most recent copy of Gordy and Me in Cat World Magazine, I leave it there to remind the family what a fabulous writer I am and that I really need time to finish the book and do next months article.

How is that Betsy?  Now you know where I live and how, creativity chaotic!!

This blog post is part of the Creative Sunday Blog Hop hosted by Jill of Kiln Fired Art

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Fat camp.

Izzzy Wizzy Wizole Wumps... or Izabel for short.  10 years young this coming August, so technically 9 and a bit.  Heavy - that is those big sturdy Welsh bones - very fluffy and desperately in need of a good groom; which is this afternoon's big job!

Iz in the snow 2014.

Gorgeous, isn't she?  I might be a bit biased as she is my baby, the first.. .and last.... puppy we will ever own.  Having always had rescue dogs (and cats before Iz and since) Iz was the puppy we choose to live with us and our now departed Suki (Lurcher X).  Having never had a puppy, we, as a family, decided we would give it a go, she was hard work but worth it.  Obviously the family all wanted to help out with walking, grooming, picking up the poo, training and all the  jobs that go with being responsible dog owners.  It was them telling me how helpful they would be that convinced me to have a third dog.  Their good intentions barely lasted the week but by then my maternal instincts had kicked in and I was super protective of my fluffy bundle of mischief and despite her reluctance to be less than the stubborn lead tugging creature she still remains we enrolled in obedience classes. It wasn't long before she made the trainer use the F word due to her refusal to come back preferring instead to wander over to the nursing home residents (the group ran in the grounds of a beautiful old nursing home) introduce herself and get fed cake! 

It was not her finest moment but in later classes we could console a young girl whose Spaniel was being particularly naughty and the girl was in tears, after telling her she wasn't doing too bad the trainer was yet to swear at her dog in exasperation she cheered up no end.

And so life has pretty much been run her way ever since.  We tried the halti to stop the lead pulling, she threw herself on the floor and I dragged her down the drive on her side until she relented for a second - and a piece of sausage - and got to her paws.  She was not to remain standing the second the sausage hit the stomach she threw herself back down on the lane.  

We don't use a halti.

Christmas Day 2015 up Skirrig Fawr with Jacqui (my friend), Defi on the left, Basil on the right and Dils at the back.

We have always had big dogs.  Our first dog together, the husband and I, was Ricky a big black and gold German Shepherd with 'issues'.  He really set the precedence for having animals that needed a forever home and I learn't very quickly that dealing with animals that have not had the best start in life was hard work but very rewarding.

Ricky lived to be 15 years old and was with us for 14 of those years.  In all that time I was very careful to balance his daily diet with his weight and exercise.  Big dogs, especially Shepherds, have problems with their back legs and carrying too much weight shortens their activity and life.  We found the right balance with Ricky and he was still wandering around, albeit slowly, on his own steam the day he died.

Time for a snooze whilst I work in the glass studio.  January 2016.

 Suki, our beautiful 'old lady dogs' as I called her was a barrel!  A Heinz 57 mix of just about every breed but narrowed down by the rescue home as Lurcher X.  She was lovely was Suki, biddable happy little soul that sadly left us too young at 13 with cancer.  It was Suki that welcomed Iz as a puppy, although welcomed was pushing it, it took a good 3 months for Suki to forgive us for introducing such a bundle of energy into her sedate life and accept Iz as a friend, once the bond was forged they spent 4 or 5 years playing together in the garden and taking long walks, made longer by Izabel's insistence on not coming back!

January 2016, buddies in mud!  Izabel left, Defi right.

If Suki taught Iz one thing it was to be lazy, not that Suki was lazy she was an active little thing in her day charging about like a loon and jumping into my husbands arms at the end of the day when he walked in through the door and of course she grew up with two kids who were under 10 in those days and so much fun in the garden was shared as well as crayon eating: Suki did like to munch on a good crayon and our garden was often bright and sparkly from red, purple, green.. glitter poos!

Iz excelled in one lesson at dog training.  Down, stay.  She would lie down and go to sleep. She would probably be there now if I hadn't woke her up with sausages and brought her home!

She loved agility, she ran the see saw like a professional in the agility ring, the tunnel was zipped through at the speed of light - once we figured out how to stop her lying down in the middle of it for a quick snooze, the other dogs crashing like a cartoon into the back of her and causing congestion round the circuit!  The long jump, she flew through the air her soft feathers floating like angel wings on a cloud.  She was brilliant.....

...right up to when the trainer tried to tell her how to do things properly, that is, not her way.  After weeks of her refusing to jump, get up, move at all.. we got busted down from the top group to the toy terrier group.  I was humiliated.  When the class ended and it was fun time, she was back on form and top of the group.  Tell her what to do......

We left agility soon after.

Iz @2012

Then there was Gordy.  The day he arrived Iz lay down in front of him and he climbed onto her back for comfort.  She looked at me, I looked at the husband, we all looked at Gordy and Iz went back to sleep.  When Gordy is having a bad day, when the dribble is flowing like a leaky faucet it is always Iz that he climbs onto for comfort.  He gets a bit hot does Gord and Iz will raise her head get eye contact which means 'please remove him' before getting off the sofa.  She is a great step mum to Gordy, she doesn't play with him like Defi does but she does the important work of caring, when he is not his normal self.

Iz and Gordy December 2015
So Monday February 1st 2016 dawned on an unusually dry day here in Hereford and the husband and I set off for a visit to the vet with Iz.  Nothing serious just annual check up and boosters with a quick stand on the doggy scales to check that weight.


Now I knew she had gained a pound or two but 10kgs in 1 year!! I couldn't believe it.  Iz was fat!  The vet started talking to me about Fat Club for Dogs held monthly at the surgery, that made me choke a bit but the husband nearly passed out when the vet told him about this special new food for over weight dogs which of course in vet language means a small mortgage to feed your dog each month!  

I was mortified, I had an over weight pet.  I have never had an over weight pet before I had always been so careful, obviously with Iz not careful enough.  I am sure she was nearly in tears too as the vet discussed how she was at risk of diabetis, heart problems... death!  

Other than the ENORMOUS weight gain, Iz is as healthy as can be and now on a strict diet and exercise program.

I did get home and Google (I love Google he knows everything, he is like a husband to whom you are not married!) the dog food I am currently feeding my dogs having changed to this particular brand approx 9 months ago, the last food, excellent stuff, made the dogs poo orange and I was being a bit posh and snobby over having dog poo in the garden that you can see from space.  So Google told me that this brand of dog food is most likely one of the worst kind for additives and 'doggy sugars'.  I did start reading about calorific value and it did get all scientific and clever so I turned Google off and advised the husband person that we are going back to glow in the dark poo and the brand that creates that.

We also take the ball down to the fields again.  In a week I have lost a pound and a half because Izabel thinks the game is leaving the bloody thing behind us and waiting for me to fetch it!