Monday 22 December 2014

Christmas is Coming at Last

Tomorrow Jade and I are off to stay at my daughter's for a couple of weeks, so I'm not sure when I will be able to post again. It was touch and go whether I'd be able to take Jade with me tomorrow as my daughter's dog has been unwell with a tummy bug, but it seems he's now on the mend.

My son and his girlfriend will also be joining us for Christmas Day, so I'll have all my offspring with me. We were together last year as well, but at my house, and hubby was there as well.

I received this pic of Eryn with Santa today by email. She and her mum had taken the toddler they were looking after today, but I have cropped him out of the picture as I don't have permission to feature him here.

My gorgeous second granddaughter is now eleven years old and nearly as tall as me.

Saturday 20 December 2014

A Little Colour to Brighten the Day

Apart from sweeping up leavers, I haven't had the heart to do much in the garden at this end of the year. It's a bit of a wilderness, I'm afraid. But here's what I found among the weeds today.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Dog Friendly Pubs

Yesterday we went to Shaftesbury to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law at The Fountain Inn, a pub run by some friends. They had recently won the 'Best Pub' category in the Taste of Dorset 2014 Awards, so we treated ourselves to a good lunch as we all swapped Christmas cards and presents. I had taken Jade for a short walk on Park Walk and took in the amazing views.

After that we all arrived in the pub car park at the same time, and Jade was overjoyed to meet some friends when she got out of the car. The first thing she did was jump up on bro's pristine trousers with her muddy paws. (One of these days, those paws are going to get her into real trouble.) The Fountain is very dog friendly so she knows she'll get lots of attention when we go inside.

On Sunday we went for lunch to another pub where they welcome dogs. This is the Blue Boar in Poole - a real favourite with local dog owners. There are always a number of dogs to be found in the bar. Jade is very good on these occasions. She lies under the table until we've all finished eating and then looks for her leftovers. I always take a small dish for her and some water to wash it down. I think Jade likes eating out.

Friday 12 December 2014

Camera Shy or Feeling Guilty?

Which do you think it is?

Wednesday 3 December 2014

More on the London Weekend

My weekend in London also included a visit to Tower Hill to see what was left of the poppies in the moat of the Tower to honour those who sacrificed their lives in World War I which began 100 years ago. The 180,000+ ceramic poppies were planted here - one for each life lost. Of course that would not include people like my grandfather who was invalided back after being gassed in the trenches and lived only a few years more unable to leave his bed.

The display was rather disappointing as I thought there would be more of them left, only one week after Remembrance Sunday, but the dismantling was going along apace. They were still drawing the crowds though, as you can probably make out from the viewers at the far end of the picture.

From our vantage point, we also got this rather ethereal view of The Shard with its top shrouded in cloud, and a flock of birds doing a fly past.

Monday 1 December 2014

Walking at Baiter

I wanted to get a few small stocking filler presents for my great grandchildren today, as we are hoping to go and see them on Saturday, so the gifts can be taken along and left with my eldest granddaughter, their mother. This is very exciting as I still haven’t seen the baby girl born in May. We’ve had several attempts to arrange to get together, but they haven’t worked out. Anyway I decided to take Jade for a walk at Baiter Park as it is not far from the Sainsburys car park and we could go there afterwards.

  pic by Mike Faherty

The photo I found at Wikimedia Commons  was actually taken nearly seven years ago, but it still looks virtually the same. Even the waterlogged areas are the same at this time of year. Today there was colony of Canada geese parked right across the middle of the field. 

The path you can see in the foreground runs alongside the shoreline of Poole Harbour, and we walked past this seat on our circuit of the field. Here’s the footpath again (in one of my own old photos) looking in the other direction past the old ruin that makes the picture more interesting.  

Beyond are boats that are moored and one of the local yacht clubs. If you follow the road around the harbour in that direction, you eventually come to the Sandbanks peninsular with the open sea on its far side.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

The Spanish Riding School Stallions from Vienna

This is just a tiny bit of what I went to see during my recent break. Sorry about the quality. As you can see we were seated quite high up in the Wembley Arena and the video was taken on my daughter's i-phone.

Monday 24 November 2014

A Very Moving Story

I've been catching up with the blogs I follow and when I was reading the posts on My Quality Day I found that Sharkbytes has been really unwell, but is hopefully recovering now. Wishing you well, Joan. She normally posts daily after deciding on the day's 'redeeming quality', but has missed a few days recently, so she must have been really ill.

One of her earlier posts pointed me to the wonderful story of her adopted sons from Vietnam, and how one of them was rescued by a US combatant. It was so moving, and an article that I think everyone should read. Find it at

Saturday 22 November 2014

Visiting Friends

Before I went away last week, I sent off all the work that was due before I came home again. It hadn’t been too difficult to get ahead because I had drastically cut down the monthly workload when I resumed working after my bereavement. However, because there are likely to be big changes to my domestic circumstances next year, I have a great deal to do in the house to get ready for that. I decided that, on the same email, I would warn my client that the start of 1915 would be time for me to take more time off and perhaps retire. I came back to a heart-warming reply wishing me well and saying that the door would always be open if I wanted assignments. I do feel loved and lucky.

My first destination last Wednesday was the home of some old friends who had invited me to stay with them. My old school friend’s house is a real oasis of peace, despite the fact that she and her husband are busy pensioners heavily into village community life. The first morning they went off to volunteer activities at a popular lunch club. Early afternoons were taken up by dog walks as they have a rescued dog called Ginger, who gets on well with Jade. 

 One evening I was treated to a complete run through rehearsal of Jack and the Beanstalk as my friend is in the chorus of the village panto. She also showed me a number of costumes she had been making for it. Great fun was had by all.

Unfortunately almost as soon as I came home I went down with an unpleasant bug that is wearing me out. I’ll tell you about the rest of my travels in another post.

Monday 10 November 2014

Walking at Sandbanks

pic by Nigel Mykura

We went to Sandbanks this afternoon and did a loop from the car to walk the beach past the ocean facing backs of the multi-million pound dwellings and then back to the car on the harbour side of the peninsular. It was windy and the tide was quite high; there wasn't much beach to negotiate in places. The photo above showing some of the luxury houses was clearly taken in warmer weather.

Jade had her usual fun with the pebbles and we met a few other dog walkers. Lots of kite surfers were out on the waves adding bright blobs of colour to the greyness of the sea and sky.

pic by Tony Hisgett

Walking was tougher for me coming back with the wind in my face, but not as bad as the last time we did this. Then we were with George and he had to grab me a couple of times to stop me being blown back. I don't think it affected Jade at all as she is so close to the ground.

pic by Mike Faherty

It's going to be a week or so before I can post again as Jade and I are off on our travels once more. I'll report on that when I'm back next week.

Friday 7 November 2014

Jade and Friend

No, this not Jade. It's ceramic. Someone gave it to me. Lifelike, isn't it?

Here they are together.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Our Ham Common Walk

This year arsonists ensured that much of Ham Common was denuded of vegetation. Only bare earth and the blackened skeletons of destroyed bushes were left after the spring. Now though, the ground is covered by new life with plants pushing up and even disguising those sad skeletons.

Jade and I had the paths of the common to ourselves this afternoon. Only once we had descended to steps to Rockley Beach did we see other people enjoying the autumn sun and the long stretches of sand and mud pools exposed by a very low tide.

By the time we got back to the car park, the sun was obscured by a dark cloud, so we were happy to make for home, where I got some cleaning jobs done before settling back to work in my office. 

I can't seem to write more than one article a day at the moment, so I have to be careful how much commissioned work I take on. I'll be working this weekend so I can meet all the deadlines due to fall while I'm away again next week.

Monday 3 November 2014

Weekend in Wales

I’ve just had a great 24 hours in the Cardiff area. The weekend  was booked months ago. It was one of those annual outings to meet old friends that George usually declined to attend. But he always provided a chauffeur service either to the area we chose, or to and from a convenient railway station. I hadn’t thought that I’d have to make my own arrangements this time, and it took some thought and organisation.

Cardiff is north-west from here. Going from my nearest railway station, though, would involve travelling directly east to Southampton before going north to Salisbury and changing to the line that heads westwards. It would be very expensive and take so long I wouldn’t have the time I wanted at my destination unless I went the day before.  Driving all the way would wear me out and I’d be so nervous about finding the hotel and parking etc. it would spoil my enjoyment of the reunion.

In the end I decided to drive to Salisbury – a bit under an hour away by road - and paid for a private parking space with, thinking it would be safer than leaving the car overnight in the station car park. That should have been a perfect solution if I hadn’t found someone else parked in the space allocated to me. And if the owner of it had not been working all night in a hotel and had to be woken by my urgent phone calls so he could get up to sort it out. I had to double park behind his car and leave him my key. But he would be at work when I returned for the car the next evening, so we also had to agree a hiding place where I could find it.

That sorted, the rest of the journey was a straightforward train journey.  Coming back was another story that involved a bus journey between two stations because of work being done on the railway line. I determined to avoid thinking about that while I was with my friends - and abut whether I’d be able to get my car and drive home through the Dorset countryside in the dark.

Isn’t it great when you can get together with people you only see about once a year and find you are just picking up where you left off? We met in a pub at noon and spent some time there, then went off by bus to Cardiff Bay to see how it has been developed.  

We were quite impressed. It was heaving with people who were not all from the UK. We took a look at the Norwegian Church where Roald Dahl was baptised. That was a little disappointing since, although it has a perfect black and white exterior and some stained glass windows, the inside has been turned into a café. (The pristine toilets were appreciated though.)

photo by Pauline Eccles 

Months ago I had booked us all into the Mount Sorrel Hotel in Barry, a few miles from Cardiff. Hotels in Cardiff were either far too expensive or full up, probably because Cardiff were playing Leeds (at football/soccer) in the city that afternoon. We timed our travels to avoid meeting up with fans and were in Barry for the evening. The hotel was a gem, inexpensive so we weren’t expecting any frills, and didn’t need them. Full English breakfast was included and the rooms were comfortable. £30 is very reasonable for all that.

The next morning we took the 10 am train back to Cardiff to visit the castle. 

photo by Wolfgang Sauber

When I’d been in Cardiff before, it had been for work and I’d never had time for sightseeing. I had walked past the castle many times with no time to visit, so I had looked forward to that. And I wasn’t disappointed. I think a description of it will need to be covered in another post as I’m now running out of time.

I was on the 2.40 train for the first leg of my journey home, which all went to plan despite my anxieties. At about 6.50 I was welcomed back by Jade who had been collected by my son from the dog minder. He had also undertaken to cook a roast dinner for us before going back to the flat he shares with his girlfriend, so they could get ready for work on Monday morning. They said they thought it was better for me than coming back to an empty house. 

I must count my blessings.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Canine Friends

We had a house full over the weekend and until Tuesday afternoon. The visitors included Rafi. He and Jade get on well most of the time, even cuddling up on the settee.

It 's really only at mealtimes that Jade has to be top dog and chases him away if he comes too close while I'm filling their food bowls. Once she has her nose in her bowl, I can feed Rafi in another room with the door closed between them. Afterwards everything goes back to normal. They've even been known to share the same dog bed, and Jade is happy for him to play with her toys as well.

The house is very quiet since they all left. Yesterday was a murky sort of day. Jade and I met another dog and his walker on Rockley beach in the afternoon. She said she found the mist on the harbour very beautiful but spooky, and I had to agree. It was perfect Halloween weather, just a couple of days early.

Friday 24 October 2014

Moon River

At my singing group today we sang this lovely piece. There are a number of versions of it on youtube. I think I like this one best.

Monday 20 October 2014

Another Torquay Interlude

Jade and I have had a very pleasant stay for a few nights with my sister and brother-in-law in Torquay. I haven't had to look at a computer or do any cooking or housework, but spent time walking  by a different seashore, and cuddling up with Jade on the settee while chatting or watching TV or films.

The picture shows the headland called Corbyn's Head and the beach that Jade and I trekked down to yesterday morning. The tide was not in as far as is shown here, so we were able to walk in front of these wooden structures which are the bases for the beach huts that have been removed for the winter months.

We've had a really lovely break and now I'm home again with batteries recharged and ready to get back to work.

The photo is from Wikimedia Commons by Derek Harper.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Back to Work After a Long Career Break

This very brief video came to me by email, and I just had to share it. Of course, you have to be old enough to know about life before computers to appreciate the joke. I just cracked up.

Monday 13 October 2014

Catching up with Friends and a Star Dieter

Yesterday I went out to lunch with my son and his girlfriend, and we drove to a pub run by friends near where we used to live. It was good to catch up with the landlord and his wife although, of course, they were too busy to have more than a few minutes with us. But our ex-next door neighbours also came along for a drink and a chat for the first time without George being with us.  Although we felt a little sad, we had some good laughs as well, remembering our old times together.

Jade wasn’t left out as she got petted, and I had taken along a dish for her to have some leftovers and a drink after we’d eaten. I was quite proud because a woman at the next table said she had never seen a King Charles look so slim before. They are renowned for wanting to eat and eat. 

If you are a regular reader, you may remember that when Jade went for her annual check-up in March, she was pronounced over weight and I had to reduce her food intake. The way I managed it was to halve her daily amount of Science Diet nuts, exchanging it for boiled rice and a little cooked chicken at breakfast time, and giving her perhaps a little less in the evening.  I also had to cut down the calories she was getting from treats during the day. It’s worked really well; we’ve seen a steady weight loss every month since, and the vet says she is their star dieter.

She now looks very svelte and has lots more energy for running around when we go out. Not today though as it has been heavy rain and we’ve just made a couple of quick trips to the park at the end of our road, with both of us snuggled into raincoats.

Friday 10 October 2014

Mature Studenthood

I've not been known to choose the easy route. I'd rather go over the mountain than around it. When I was offered a place to start in year 2 of an English degree course at Kingston Polytechnic in walking distance from my home (after completing a 2 year certificate in Higher Education when I was in my thirties), I passed it up for the 3 year Media Studies course for which I had to commute to the West End of London. This in spite of the fact that by then I was a single parent with two school age children and an unhelpful ex-husband.

Now it seems that my daughter could be a chip off the old block. She is making tentative plans to spend 4 years gaining her own degree leading to a complete change of career. She has mooted this before but there were too many barriers and it came to nothing. But it is her dream and I really hope that she can make it work this time.

I also have a selfish motive as she would have to move near me so that I can supply child and dog care when needed. So lots more change could be on the horizon. It certainly beats me trying to banish thoughts of my recent widowhood all the time.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

A Good Dog Book

I bought this book at the Pound Puppy Rescue fundraising bazaar on Saturday and it went to the top of my to be read pile immediately. Tomorrow I will pass it on to my dog minder who asked if it was making me cry. At the time I was not even half way through and I said, "No." But that was premature. It did have some parts that made this softie well up a bit.

The author, Jon Katz, relates the trials and tribulations of introducing a wild, two-year-old border collie  to his placid household and a very long suffering but luckily understanding neighbourhood. At times it seems that they will never properly bond, and you will have to read it to find out how it comes about.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who loves dogs. My only gripe about it is that the sweet picture on the cover can't be of Devon when Jon first got him, because he was then two years old.

When I checked  Amazon, I found it still available along with a number of other doggie books by this author. Apparently this one was a catalyst for him writing in the genre (if you can call it that). I'll probably start buying them for my Kindle when my to be read list is depleted.

Monday 6 October 2014

A Morning's Work and Afternoon in the Great Outdoors

This pic of the beach at Canford Cliffs is
by Chris Downer

In the mornings, my computer draws me, calls me. All the while I feel it and have to resist until the time is right. I’ll have gone through my exercise routine, been out with Jade, fed her and myself, groomed her, and I really  want to get into my office, check my emails and Facebook, do some blog hopping, see what’s happening at Constant Content and whether I have made any sales there. If I succumb to the pull, the kitchen will remain a mess, the lounge untidied, the bed unmade, my teeth unbrushed (unlike Jade’s) and my face bare of make-up.

This happens more times than I care to admit, but not this morning. Although Jade woke me just after six, it was almost 10.30 before I found myself sitting in front of my monitor with all those irritating tasks completed. I’m still feeling quite pleased with myself having completed the article I was scheduled to write, and taken Jade for a lovely wild walk on the beach below Canford Cliffs. You can always find a free parking space there on days like today.

The beach was almost as empty of people as it is in the photo above, although we did see a few other people out with their dogs. We were all taking advantage of the fact that this part of the beach is open to dogs between October and April each year.

The sand was much smoother than it appears in the photo and the waves were bigger and wilder with white tops after this morning's wind and rain. Jade had a great time chasing the stones I picked up and threw for her, and then digging them into the pristine sand and gouging great holes so she could get them into her mouth again. It's a good way to get her running around to get some exercise instead of just trotting at my heels.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Trying to Get Back to Normal

I can't believe I haven't posted for another 10 days. Of course I don't have as much time now since I have to do everything myself. I do realise how much I relied on George now that he's not her any more. And I find I'm being more particular because I want to prove I can cope. Late this afternoon I swept up the leaves and cobwebs in the side passage, and then wiped the door and window ledges and frames. It has never looked so clean. As well as this, taking Jade on a couple of walks and running some errands, I also wrote an article for a law firm today,  and am trying to get back in the habit of writing every day. I really want to get back to posting here three times a week as well.

On Sunday I made a huge effort to get to a fun dog show with Jade. Fortunately it was in a Dorset village on a route I was familiar with, so I had no problem finding it in my 15 year old car, which now has a new clutch, and which I hope will continue to serve me for another year or so.

The dog show was fun, even though it was strange being there on my own with Jade. There were a number of familiar faces, and people and dogs to chat to. I entered Jade in just one class - best rescue dog. And was flabbergasted when we came out with first prize. Afterwards we paraded round our  neighbourhood with her red rosette pinned to her collar, and she is now known to the local dog loving fraternity as Princess Jade.

She also had her first professional photo shoot at the show, with a photographer who is a supporter of Pound Puppy Animal Rescue which had organised it. I thought it only fair to buy a print for £10. It's the close up I've added above. Although I can see on the A4 version that the detail of her fur and whiskers is well picked out, I'm not sure that the composition makes for a better photo than some I've taken myself. But heigh ho. It was all in a good cause.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Flowers for George

Some people still like to send flowers for a funeral, and a casket without a floral topping never seems right. I gave the flower option as well as one for charity donations to the British Heart Foundation. Sadly you can no longer pass on flowers to hospitals or hospices, so we collected George's on Wednesday, and they are now decorating my back garden.

I chose a woodland theme for the coffin spray, that sits nicely on the bench by the back fence.

 Jade managed to get a look in on this pretty posy.

Florists are so clever with their beautiful arrangements.

One gorgeous bunch filled two vases for my kitchen diner after I released it 
from the waterproof paper surrounding it inside a tall box.

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The Final Goodbye

Today lots of our family and friends got together to celebrate George's life and times and give him a lovely send off at Poole Crematorium. He's no longer around to object to his photo on my blog so here he is on holiday in Herefordshire with me a few years ago. There aren't many recent photos of him as he was really quite camera shy, and I often had to catch him unawares, Here he has just turned to respond to me calling him, and this is the pic I carefully cropped to use on the Order of Service.

I was very proud of his daughter who read out a lovely poem, and of my son, who read a tribute that gave everyone a picture of him over the years - not an easy task for either of them. It was wonderful also that so many people travelled many miles to join me in the last goodbye. He went out to the sound track of The Great Escape, which used to be one of his favourite films.

Monday 25 August 2014


Unfortunately my hubby did not recover from all the complications that followed his stroke. I was with him when he passed away peacefully yesterday. I'm going to be lost and sad for a long time I know, but I'm glad his suffering is over, and he would have hated being disabled by his stroke, even if he had come home again.

Monday 18 August 2014

Family Crisis

After the last lot of happy news, things are turned around again. In the early hours of last Thursday, my poor hubby had a heart attack and then, while he was being treated for that, he had a stroke. They told me it was all caused by blood clots. While his heart has hardly been damaged, he has lost the use of his right side and his speech is badly impaired. We're lucky he is still with us, but it's going to be a long road to recovery.

Naturally I'm spending a lot of time at the hospital with him. Meanwhile the neighbours are fighting over who will look after Jade and take her for lovely walks. Yesterday she was taken around Badbury Rings again. I think she is still pleased to see me when I collect her in the evening, even if she is just looking forward to her supper. It's so good to have her company in my empty house.

Monday 11 August 2014

A Hectic Couple of Weeks

Hmm. Two weeks and five days since my last post. Sorry. I'm slipping. But it has been pretty hectic. I had to get all my July work finished and invoiced early and  get ahead with the early August stuff. And then I had two  happy but hectic weeks off. The first one was spent at Clover Cottage in Galmpton (which I highly recommend as a self catering option for that part of the world), a pretty village sandwiched between glorious Torbay beaches and the banks of the River Dart. I'll post more about that later.

While there I took a call from my friend from New York, whom I haven't seen for a few years. She was coming over for a flying visit to London and wanted to arrange to meet on Monday after I got back. She invited me to lunch at Galvin at Windows, which is the restaurant on the 28th floor of the Hilton in Park Lane, normally way out of my league.

So I was on the 9 am train and managed to get there before her and sit in the bar contemplating the incredible 360% views and looking forward to the complimentary bellini (reminder of my Venice trip). My friend looked well, and it was so good to see her. We thoroughly enjoyed our  catch up over a lingering meal with waiters hovering to fulfil our every wish. getting home was rather tedious. I missed the through train and had to change at four different stations. It was worth it though.

I was busy with domestic stuff the rest of the week and on Friday family arrived - my daughter with hers and her dog. My son will turn 50 tomorrow and his partner had organised a surprise party for him on Saturday night in a private room in a Bournemouth bar. I took my granddaughter over there by train and we got a lift back at 11 pm while the ravers continued partying till about 2.30. I think my boy had a ball, and his girlfriend did really well to organise it all in secret.

We also did some great dog walks over the weekend and Jade got much more active than usual running around with her pal, Rafi. They get on quite well now he's a bit older and doesn't hassle her to play indoors. We just have to keep them apart at feeding time. Jade is very jealous of her food.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

A Later Dog Walk

It's been so hot, we didn't take Jade for her afternoon walk till nearly 7 pm, and it was still baking up on the common above the beach. When we got down there, lots of dogs were in the sea, but Jade still won't get her feet wet.

In the photo, the car park is pretty empty, but this evening it was nearly full and I only just managed to get a slot. I had to drive because hubby had already had a couple of lagers. I hate driving him and he hates sitting in the passenger seat, so it isn't much fun. I always drive so much better when I'm on my own or with pretty well anyone else. Still we made it and had a slow meander round the circuit. I think everyone is glad to be home though. As I write I'm sipping a glass of white wine over ice. Bliss.

Next week we'll be away on our hols. I don't suppose we'll have this weather then.

Friday 18 July 2014

Singing Again

It was hot for singing today. But we just got on with it, like the troupers we are.
We tried a new song that took me right back to my youth.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

The Orchid on the Windowsill

This orchid was a present from my daughter a couple of years ago. It's about the fourth time it has flowered. The blooms hang around for a while before they drop off and when they are all gone, it looks as though it will never flower again. Then after a while it suddenly starts to develop these little pips, which grow into the exotic and fiercely alien looking flowers.

There's no doubt they are very beautiful, but to me they are also quite spooky, especially the snake like growths at the base. I wonder if there is a story about to erupt. (My stories usually wake me up in the middle of the night, making me go downstairs to type them up.)

Monday 14 July 2014

Good Brainstorming

I worked as a proposal adviser for a major international accountancy and management consultancy firm for over eight years. For a while we were a team of two in the London marketing department specialising in that area. We helped bidding teams in a number of regional offices and those in other European countries. I even went to Sydney, Australia on one memorable occasion.

photo by Lhixon

Among the techniques we developed was a way to organise brainstorming to get the most out of each session in the time available. We would end up with lists of ideas written up on flip charts and blue tacked up all around the room, so we were nicknamed the Flipchart Queens.

Lately I wrote an article with 10 tips about this to sell at Constant Content. It has already sold once but I retain the rights to it. Here is an excerpt - tips six and seven:

“6. Set one important rule: no immediate discussion of the ideas. That will come later. Anything goes at the ideas generation stage. Encourage contributions from everyone. Even the office gopher could come up with something you could make workable. If people find some humour in the exercise, they’ll start to enjoy it. Inhibitions will be lost and you’ll get more out of it.

7. If it’s difficult to get started, try turning your objective on its head and asking for ideas on how to put that potential client off, or whatever the opposite of your question is. Then you might be able to work out the positive sides of those negative ideas.”

Want to read more or buy my piece? Check it out at in my portfolio at Constant Content.

Friday 11 July 2014

Garden Sculpture

Looking through my photos for some inspiration for this post, I came across this piece of garden sculpture. I captured it on my digicam at the Wheal Martyn clay museum near St Austell on our 2012 holiday. I'd like to see what happens to it in heavy rain.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

The Dog Loving Community

Jade has introduced me to so many people since we got her.

The other day I was walking Jade by the lake in Ham Common which runs alongside Rockley Beach, and I saw a really huge fish sail by majestically with a languid wave of its tail in the shallow water near the bank. A solitary man was nearby, on his own with no dog. I was so excited by the size of this fish that I spoke to him.

" I just saw the most enormous fish." I indicated the size with my hands.

"Oh yes. There are some big ones in there. I used to fish here and come down with my dog, but we lost her a couple of weeks ago. She had cancer and we couldn't let her go on suffering." I made sympathetic noises and he made a fuss of Jade and then fell into step as we retraced our steps towards the car park. I felt a bit nervous then, as there was no-one else in sight, but I needn't have worried.

Over a couple of hundred yards before we went our separate ways, it seemed like I got his life story and he said, "We are thinking about getting another dog, but in 12 years time I'll be 72 and I don't know if I could cope." I had to laugh.

"We are both over 70 and we have Jade and it's fine. She gets me up in the morning and she gets us out every day." I hope I meet him again, walking another dog.

When Jade and I go to the local park in the morning, we meet a selection of dog walking neighbours. You always learn the dog's name first; then over time you might learn their owners'names. There is Max, the cocker spaniel who comes to work with his mistress in a factory on the industrial estate across the road from the park. She seems to start work at 7.30 after she lets Max stretch his legs and complete his toilet in the park. I'm not sure if she is called Heather or Vicky. We have to be early to meet up with them.

The first couple we ever met was Charlie, the springer spaniel, and his owner Olivia who is a dog minder, so a very useful person to know. Then there is Leo, the border terrier, who has had owners, Tony and Jeanette, very worried about his health but he is better now. Bobby is another smaller terrier who has  recovered from having a growth removed that turned out to be benign. I don't know his owners' names but they have a little boy who sometimes comes out with a football, and the dad cleans ovens for a living.

Rafa is a bit of a black and white mixture and belongs to Dot who always has a pocket full of small dog biscuits. If she puts her hand in her pocket, dogs appear like magic to sit around her as they won't get one unless they sit nicely. They live in a flat below Indy, a Jack Russell who was bitten by a staffie that we no longer see. The bite got infected and it was touch and go for a while but he pulled through ok. The newest bitch on the block is Tandy, another heinz type dog owned by Keith.

I didn't realise I knew so many nearby dog lovers until I started listed them here.

Monday 7 July 2014

Back Garden Growth

The first  roses are  fading, but they have quite a few siblings that are thriving.
The lawn has seen better days before the advent of Jade.

The lobellia are escaping the hanging baskets.

The bean flowers are the same shade as their neighbouring nasturtiums and a contrast
to the self seeded poppies, all of which I cannot treat as weeds.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

When I took this photo, I thought I was standing on the Bridge of Sighs as I was using a rather inadequate map. Now I know better. The bridge in question is the covered one high above this canal. It is said to be where convicted criminals got their last view of Venice through its windows as they passed from the interrogation room in the Doges Palace on the left to the prison building on the right. Its name is derived from the sighs of these unfortunates.

Monday 30 June 2014

A Busy Weekend

After the Friday singing, it was writing work on Saturday morning and Folk on the Quay with a friend in the early evening. I didn't take my camera, but here's a pic of the quay on a quieter day. When we arrived on Saturday, it was packed with people all along this road, which of course was closed to traffic. A folk group called The Jesters from Oxford  were performing under the shelter visible on the right edge of the pic and we stayed to watch for a while. They were very good and, unusual for a folk group, included a double bass. The rouondabout was edged with stalls selling cheap jewellery and bright hippy type clothing. My friend bought a pair of earrings I liked as well.

photo by Chris Downer

She had a sleepover and I had a business meeting here on Sunday afternoon. Jade got her walks fitted in, but the house didn't get cleaned.

Weekends when I am at home are usually pretty low key, with house chores top of the agenda, followed by recuperating from the week. I'm feeling a tad weary today.

Friday 27 June 2014

Singing for Fun

I went to a singing group this afternoon at our local library. It is being run by a friend of a friend whom I know slightly. He had been approached to run it by a local NHS service to help people with breathing problems, but he was happy for me and my friend to go along, although strictly speaking we don't qualify. In my youth, I used to belong to choirs and even an operatic society, but that was many years ago. I found that I still love to sing. It was great fun and I met some some lovely people there. They encouraged me to go again, so I probably will, although I can't next week as I'll be away on child and dog minding duties.

We sang old favourites like I Believe and Oh Shenandoah. Then we were told that every session ends with a rousing rendition of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Cue video for a bit more fun.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Summer Growth

In April, the new pots I put in the front garden looked like this.

Now they look like this.

Monday 23 June 2014

My Life by Jade: Hot Weather Lament

Mummy wanted me to write a traditional tanka. She told me it has to have 31 syllables in five lines, where the syllables line up 5-7-5-7-7.

So I came up with this:

Pavements burn my paws.
Minutes after leaving house
I am panting hard.
Best not walk in blazing heat.
Wait till the sun has gone down. 

Friday 20 June 2014

In the Back Garden

The potatoes are flowering so we'll soon be lifting them.

The first rose has bloomed.

And the hanging baskets seem happy.

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