She sets the world on fire

Well, it’s been a while! Not sure where July and August went to, but here’s a little funkadelic for your Tuesday evening. I know it’s not Monday. That’s how out of sync I am. And I know I’ve missed a gazillion weeks as well. Oh well.

Well, what have I been up to at all?

To tell the truth, it’s been a whirlwind of catch-up. I’ve got foster dogs, foster kittens, articles, advertising, calendars, Christmas, publicity and assignments coming out of my ear holes. I’m longing for September when there will be fewer demands on my time. Is that wrong?

Féfelle and Mimir are still with me – my two rather large fosterees. I knew it would be like that. Luckily, they’ve had a good month to adjust before I’ll be back to full-time work. Their owner – God knows what the story is – but they are big old boys and big old boys don’t move quickly from the refuge at all. Mimir is blind and he’s advertised everywhere – UK, Germany, France… but when you’re 9, even if you’re not the slightest bit of bother, nobody wants you. It’s pretty shit. He is so easy and it makes me so sad that he has to be here, because you know, who wants an easy, loveable dog who’s not a stick of bother?! Féfelle is a bit more of a challenge since he’s a bigger boy and he’s like Curious George. I suspect he’d never even seen dogs running before!!

I’ve still got kittens in the bathroom as well, which they are not appreciating because today it’s 37°C and they’re bored.

The refuge calendar is well under way – a bit of a difference from last year’s calendar, since I’ve had more time to prepare and I have more animals in their homes. It’s been lovely doing photoshoots of adopted dogs outside the refuge. I don’t see enough of our happy dogs and it does get you down when all you see are the sad stories. We’ve had a really virulent strain of kennel cough at the refuge as well, which has meant fewer adoptions as we tried to contain it. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the puppies abandoned, the one-day-old kittens left in a bin bag on someone’s gate or the dogs surrendered for growling at kids. Every day, it seems like people leave their brains behind and have bigger and bigger expectations of their animals.

I’m also a good way into a diploma in Canine Psychology and Behaviour, which I’m absolutely loving. It’s not before time. Luckily, most of the things on the reading list are things I’ve already read, but those first assignments were tough and scientific! It’s a challenging course with sixteen 3000-word assignments to complete, case studies and a thesis at the end, but I’m enjoying it so much. The tutors are really inspirational and I feel very much in an environment that suits my own view of animals. What I’m loving is the leaps in knowledge that it drives me to make – you know me and how much I love reading and doing assignments! Everything had been very arse-backward for me with practice before theory.

My own four are their usual selves. Tobby is way past his sixteen-month anniversary and is as wobbly as usual. Seeing him being herded by Féfelle was quite comical. A herder herding a herder. Tobby didn’t get what was going on with that! Tilly has had infection after infection, compounded by a flea collar failure (grrrr! and grrrr to my own self for taking so long to really investigate the scratching, so now she is on an elimination diet of turkey and sweet potato. So far, scratching is little better, but at least the fleas have gone. Curses, Seresto, you monsters. That set me back a good 60€ in Advantix and another 20€ in flea spray. Mostly, I think it’s the kittens that bring them, since the last three families have been infested. I pulled 50 fleas off one kitten in one sitting a few weeks ago. Trouble is that they are so small and fragile, you can’t use a flea treatment. In the end, we decided that we had to – flea anemia would have killed them.

Well, I had planned to get a couple of new e-books out for GCSE English Literature, but I think pulling them together will be more of a winter-time pursuit. Still, my teacher blog is getting a LOT of traffic, which is great. Woof Like To Meet, my dog blog, is also getting a lot of traffic as well, which is even better. Very glad about those two things!

Anyway, it is time to give Tilly her Thanksgiving elimination diet and get on with a bit of poetry analysis in preparation for a long-overdue post for my teacher blog, which has gone sadly neglected for an embarrassing amount of time. Nothing like a bit of Shelley to get you ready for the new school term. I have to say though, with temperatures up in the 30s, it doesn’t feel like September, even if the trees are saying it is and even if the mornings are dark until 7am.

Have a good week and hopefully I’ll manage to get myself on track!

The story of where you came from

Bit of Kings of Leon for you this Monday – well, what’s left of it. I got caught up in a mire of exam papers and dog measuring!

Tomorrow, I shall mostly be sitting inside and staying out of the ridiculous heat. 38°C today and 40°C tomorrow. Silly hot. It was just lovely last week for about 5 days, where it was sub-30°C and  gentle breezes. Saturday morning was just perfect. Now we’re already all too hot and it’s hit ridiculous by 10am. I did a mad errand dash at nine to get shopping in and sort out the post and Tobby’s been panting like a crazy dog since 8.30 when it was already 24°C.

It is a good day to stay inside. Today, all set allocations for exam marking are finished and the rest of the unmarked papers are in a collective pot, so it’s a bit of a free-for-all. They tend to go very quickly and you’ve got to be on the ball to get many. I’ve been trying my best to get through some, but my stamina has gone and it’s too hot everywhere in my house.

I’m going to get a cold drink and try and plough on. I will be glad when there are no papers left and I don’t feel the pressure to keep marking! My fourth lot of kittens are at the vet tomorrow for their vaccinations and microchips – we’re at the point in the year where there just aren’t enough adoptions of kittens and too many coming in. I can’t even begin to tell you the sadness of the little one-day-olds found in a plastic bag. Only a few have survived. But they’re coming in thick and fast now – barely a day without arrivals. The dogs are too hot and kennel cough has hit epidemic proportions, meaning no adoptions unless the dogs are healthy enough to leave. No dogs going off to Germany, no dogs leaving… too hot for walks. Tough times indeed.

Roll on next Monday, that’s all I can say!

All the nightmares came today

Bit of David Bowie for you this Monday morning

Last week got away from me, what with the Brexit vote and the exam marking. Ironically, this year’s question asking pupils what they think the future of education should be is revealing I’d rather put my trust in the Foundation tier candidates than in the politicians. Reading them is making me very sad, but also very hopeful. If a hundred thousand foundation tier kids know what they need to help them in the future, I don’t know why we’re spending all our time avoiding listening to them.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what’s going on in the universe, but it feels like all hell has broken loose, globally speaking. Time to batten down the hatches, I think. I can’t remember the last time things felt so very uncertain. For those of us living in Europe, we’re living in a time of speculation and hesitation – nobody knows what will happen, if anything will happen, or when it will happen. Our fate for the largest part rests in politicians that we did not vote for and hold immense power over our future. No wonder I’ve got indigestion. It’s all gone a bit Shakespearean tragedy from my point of view.

The internet seems rife with petty spats and disputes, people feeling like it’s a great time to spew nonsense and generally air their grievances. I can’t count the number of fall-outs that have happened recently, the number of head-to-heads. I’m just staying indoors and playing with kittens. Seems the best thing to do. Tobby’s obviously feeling the global disturbance and has a wanderlust spirit because he’s got his wandering head on again. It’s been months since he toddled off out of one of his escape routes in the garden, yet he’s done a bunk twice in the last week. He’s obviously very sensitive to global unrest! That or he’s sick of me marking and spending very little time outside. Plus, I’ve been running backwards and forwards hither and thither for days – something that doesn’t seem like ending any time soon.

Well, short but sweet. No love at all for the most part this Monday morning, so feel free to send me a little of your leftovers. Here’s to friends who take a few hours out of their weekend for pop-up picnics, who bring new meaning to ‘re-education’, who make you laugh til your cheeks hurt and who bring you little boxes of joy. Most love to Game of Thrones which ended on a particularly dramatic finish, lost in the mire of all the politics. I think Boris Johnson did a more spectacular job of bringing down the ruling classes than all of Cersei’s wildfire.

Enjoy your Monday, you pretty things. I predict a long and stagnant summer ahead. Let’s have some sunshine, please. I’m tired of storm-clouds and grey skies.

No turning back

Bit late, but hey. Thank your lucky stars you have anything of me at all given the marking pile that sits in front of me.

What is Monday without a bit of thunder?

Given the disaster of Fat Axl taking over, I think it’s time AC/DC called it a day. I would, however, like to propose a suggestion. All AC/DC tracks should be covered by a variety of musicians once in their life. The same is true of The Who. I mean, My Generation doesn’t really cut it when you’re as old as dirt. The same for punk. 60-year-old punk doesn’t quite wash.

Thunderstruck is a great tune. One of the best. But you can’t beat a bit of flame-throwing bagpiping punkage.

Or a bit of hillybilly redneck thunder with an anvil and a banjo.

It’s the kind of week where we all need a bit of tenderness – I was watching the stormclouds on Thursday and it all felt a bit prophetic. The lesson finished with the news of the shooting of Batley MP Jo Cox. It really does feel that there’s an awful lot of stirred-up emotion globally, when it’s probably a good time to put down words and weapons and give in to a musical interlude.

Much love this Monday for the lovely people who took on a dog called Edith. Though she may have only had three weeks in her home before her health gave way, she was certainly loved. Anyone who takes on an oldie and doesn’t care how long they’ll have gets an A-plus in the world if you ask me.

Much love as well to the local vets. When you spend as much time as I do at the vets, you get to know how fantastic they are. Anyone who takes care of animals is also an A-plus in my book.

Much love to all the people in the world who realise how infinite our possibilities are, despite the restraints of the human condition. To the altruists, the kind, the neighbourly, the generous of spirit, those who give you a hug and put the world to rights. More please!

Have a great rest-of-Monday❤

A change of scenery

Bit late, but hey, that’s Monday

It’s Monday and it’s a miserable Manchester. James just couldn’t be more fitting. Funny, this track always reminds me of sailing back from St Malo in 1995 with a Walkman and four cassettes. James was on one side and Depeche Mode on the other. I miss making mix tapes.

I’ve Much Love for Manchester, of course. Who wouldn’t? These streets are in my blood. It’s a bit like looking at someone after a facelift, remembering what was once where. It’s not the gritty city that it used to be. I think you need to be old to appreciate stuff. You need to remember those stinky, smoky seats on the Bury-Manchester line, the pawnbrokers and jewellers in the tiny shops as you left Victoria… I was in a hotel near Piccadilly, a building that has risen from the ashes of the Manchester Employment Exchange, which you can see photos of here. It really was a horribly grim building, but I think it very much speaks to Manchester’s resurrection. I love this post about it on the Skyliner.

Other than rainy Manchester, spending hours in Waterstones and passing the hours uncovering the murky Christmas Present of some of my school friends, Much Love also to catching up with my Nana, who looked more marvellous than the Queen, even if she didn’t have a hat on.

I confess it’s strange to feel lots of anniversaries weighing in. I’ve been marking GCSE papers for 20 years. We didn’t spend our time in marker meetings in the Piccadilly Basin in those days. Canal Street was just reaching its sticky glory days and it’s strange to think that the age of consent was only equalised in 2001. We’ve come a long way in those twenty years. Even so, walking back down Minshull Street and Canal Street yesterday, it really did make me realise that there is still a long way to go. Whilst we debate how Canal St should move forward, the Orlando shootings make it perfectly clear that there’s a lot of ground to cover. The flags lowered, the sombre atmosphere…. it’s hard even so to think of freedom and safety when you’re in the relative security of a cosmopolitan city.

Coming home on the tram, I accidentally got onto a tram past Heaton Park, where it was Parklife 2016. The tram was packed, but there was a fantastic atmosphere. It might have been wet, but nobody in Manchester cared. It might have been loud and lairy, there might have been more people on the tram than I’ve ever seen before, but it felt like Manchester. Nobody even cared that the tram was stuck for twenty minutes. It made me really, really miss that magnificent melting pot that is Manchester. Funnily, I’ve been reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers about how circumstances conspire to make fertile grounds for genius and growth. Manchester definitely had all of that. I do love you Manchester.

As for the rest of the week, it’s a short sharp shock of high-speed catch-up and lessons, then standardising before marking starts. Not quite sure I’m ready for it, but I’ve had my Starbucks fill to top up my caffeine levels in preparation.

 

Comes in like the flood

A bit of the Eurythmics for you this fine Monday morning.

Annie Lennox has one of those voices that are just too good for us mere mortals.

Last week and the weeks before have been ‘can of worms’ weeks – you know where you think you’re going to do something simple and it turns into a full saga? I hate that. I wish I knew things would be a full saga from the beginning. There’s not a day at the moment where the refuge isn’t taking complaints about the treatment of animals. I went last week to look at a donkey’s feet and ended up uncovering a village full of pregnant stray dogs, kittens everywhere and a good number of other animals whose care is negligible. This week it’s not much different… three complaints on the list for Tuesday.

I passed on one family of kittens last Sunday to a very lovely family who are fostering… and a second lot are going tomorrow to another fosterer. I’m picking up some that have been at another fosterer’s…. it’s feline pass-the-parcel. Luckily, there are not huge numbers at the refuge, and the number of deaths has been very small. Sadly, one of those was Miss Pitty, my pitbull-a-like kitten. She came in at 173g and I just couldn’t keep the weight on her. It’s touch and go for one of the other sisters too. Fingers crossed. Mocha also went back to the refuge – she has an infinitely better chance of finding a home there than she does in foster. Once you get to the chip-and-vaccination stage, they’re more robust and you can also know for sure that their health is good or not – so you know what condition the kittens are in that you are putting them in with.

One of our dogs went on a trial adoption on Friday… and it put me in a frame of mind of school once more. There are sometimes students who I call “Stringer Bell” students, after the Idris Elba character in The Wire… Brighter than you could ever fathom, sharp as a tack, born on the wrong side of the tracks and faced with a world that they navigate in the best way they know how. These are the students you try so hard through school to keep on the straight and narrow, knowing just how much potential they have, fighting desperately against the circumstances that surround them. You hope against hope that you can do your best for them and can’t help but feel disappointed if they drop out of the system and end up in a job that in no way supports their potential…

I felt a bit like this about this adoption this week. You have such great expectations for some, hoping that some amazing home will present itself, equal to the dog’s needs and requirements, and accepting a second-best home because it’s better than 23 and a half hours a day of refuge life, especially when you’ve had a trial adoption already that didn’t work and you’re a dog that’s hard to handle. Nanou said it best – better to try  in a home prepared to take him than wait forever for the right home at the refuge. It’s still hard though. It’s that same pang of disappointment when your Stringer Bell students drop out of school and take a job that is way beneath them. Better that than the alternative. But even so… And it also makes me sad because then I realise that I’ve thought that child deserved something more than others did, that I value smarts rather than any of the other amazing qualities other students have. I feel that way about the dogs – I hate that I don’t feel the same for all of our dogs, that I have thought some dogs have deserved some amazing dog trainer person and I’m happy that others just have a garden and a walk and owners who love them. They ALL deserve the best homes. I know I might have been tempted to turn the offer of a home down, to recommend a “lesser” dog, and that makes me sad, because they aren’t “lesser” dogs in any way, shape or form. I’ve been working with Jack and Hagrid – two other smart males at the refuge. Well, Jack’s biddable. Not quite so sharp. Hagrid is like Tobby in a young body. I think this is why I like him so much. These two have a hard enough job finding a home – they are anti-social and unruly. Hopefully I will be glad and supportive when they find a home, instead of being a bit disappointed that they won’t be the sole focus of their new owner’s life (as if my own dogs get my attention 16 hours a day!)

hagrid20
This is the amazing Hagrid. I call him Tobby about twenty times during our walks. He mouths my arms in the same way Tobby does, double taps on the doors in the same way, looks round to check on me in the same way … has that wily Malinois about him. He is a joy to be with. But am I wrong to want a home where he will be the only dog, where he will be walked twice a day, where someone will continue his education, maybe try a little agility with him, a little tracking? Why do I expect this super-duper unrealistic home for Hagrid, for Jack, for Helboy?

And when I think about it, it’s not just the Stringer Bell kids, or the Stringer Bell dogs. It’s all of them. All I want for any of the students in my care is that they find a path in life that brings them happiness. And all I want for the dogs are homes that meet the needs of each and every one of them… gentle, loving homes with kind hands, huge comfy sofas and big hearts for our scaredy hounds… homes with kids prepared to throw ball after ball for our labradors… homes for our puppies where they are allowed to be puppies and learn about the world rather than expected to just “know” how to behave?

Anyway, here’s to the homes prepared to take on our super-smart Stringer Bell dogs. God knows we need as many of those homes as we can find. The more I see of the world beyond the refuge, how so many animals live in real life, I know my expectations are ridiculously high. I’m not changing that for anything though. We see so often adoptants who take on dogs with enormous challenges and they help those dogs rise to the challenge – so often I find the homes offered by our adoptants far surpass my expectations, when I think of dogs who’ve gone on to be adopted from the refuge and find enormous happiness after a life of misery and misfortune.

Much love to all those homes. Much love to all the people who help care for the dogs and cats in the interim. Much love to those people who help our animals find homes, who help raise standards of animal care, who battle endlessly for animal welfare. Much love to all my colleagues on the conseil at the refuge who find energy from nowhere, who are tireless. I should add here that a guy came to the refuge on Saturday to explain how we need a Facebook page rather than a group. He’s both right and he’s wrong. But when I told him that it’s a full time job for Corinne and Clara, who deal with enquiries, complaints and posts, who keep up-to-date photos for each and every one of the three hundred animals in our care, who post post-adoption stories and share our animals’ profiles far and wide, who know which animals to share, what details to share, where they came from, where they end up… I think he realised that what he sees is just the tip of the iceberg, and the real work lurks deep beneath the surface. Much Monday Love to the staff too. I have no idea how they keep going so often. The average Joe has no idea how much shit (literally and metaphorically!) they have to deal with on a daily basis, and the average Joe would crumble before they’d completed the first hour.

Not Much Love to the GCSE exam board who have given me an enormous GCSE marker team. That’s my June and July gone!

Right… last minute revision classes to prepare and kittens to deliver. Best get a move on!

Robbing people with a six gun

A bit of Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds for you this wet Monday morning.

It’s been storms here all week and not much by way of sunshine – apparently this week doesn’t look much better either. So much for spring, that’s all I can say. It’s been a good year for grass.

I’ve finally caught up on a backlog of (most) tasks and I’m hoping a productive Monday will help me break the back of them. Can’t believe it’s only two weeks until exam marking starts – unbelieveable. The year is practically evaporating!

Last week it was nice to catch up with so many people. I wish I had time to stop more for coffee with people. Catching up with Sue, a lady I used to work with, is always good.  I think it says something that a lot of the people who retired out here are as hard to get hold of as I am.

The biggest deal of last week was petrol. Petrol, cars and kittens. I didn’t have any problems getting petrol myself, but I know a lot of people who did, and I think my only success was due to timing. I often go at lunch-time. Out here in the sticks, lunchtime is still sacrosanct and the pumps are usually quiet. The only people in the supermarket are English speakers who don’t realise it isn’t “done” to shop in lunchtimes. A peculiar idiosyncracy of France.

This week it’s full steam ahead. The GCSE Literature exams might be done, but the English Language students are preparing for exams, meaning extra lessons wherever I can squash them. It’s that time of year where we all just get our heads down and plough on, knowing there are five weeks left until the end of term and we can make it through – you never lose that mentality I don’t think when you’re a teacher. Those last weeks are a grind and nothing eases up. In 30 school days’ time, I don’t even want to think about how many papers I’ll have marked!

Anyway, enjoy a bit of folk punk, hope the weather is brighter where you are. Feels all a bit Mancunian here!

 

Just one thing I couldn’t do

Given the most foul weather here, it definitely feels more like early spring. Here’s a bit of the Jesus and Mary Chain to advance the seasons a little.

Last week was just insane. The weather doesn’t help. Saturday brought temperatures of 35°C and storms. Friday was mild and Sunday heaved down with rain. It’s great grass-growing weather and terrible gardening weather. This week, I’m losing my phone and my internet just to get a bit of peace and quiet!

Heston had his vet visit for the new Leishmaniosis vaccination. Another side effect of climate change. The wet, warm weather is bringing sandflies further up north and we’re getting more and more infections. The vet warned me repeatedly about ticks – not happy with only the Seresto collar. I’ve added Advantix as well for Heston as he’s always getting ticks. The second visit was for the kitties I’ve had here. They were having their microchip and vaccinations. Sadly, the reservation for Mocha fell through. Well, at least I think it did. I do love it when people don’t bother answering their phones or emails. I’d prefer a “thanks, but we’ve changed our minds” or a “sorry, but this has turned out to be a really bad time for us” – instead I’m left with a little girl who’s looking for a home. I’m sure she will though. She’s a beauty!

noire

She is currently listening to the screaming of the EIGHT kittens who arrived in a box on Saturday evening and who are now home with me. They’re tiny tots. Four are still being bottle-fed, but four are weaned. I’m hoping to spread the burden a little this week!

As for the rest of everything, most of it was only loosely connected to me, but it did seem like a globally crappy week. This week is not looking much better – which is why I plan on throwing my phone away!

I did have a very lovely Sunday afternoon Game of Thrones catch up. Oh My God. That’s all I can say. I can’t get enough of this series. I’m afraid for everything else, I managed to re-read about the same five pages of Jean Donaldson’s book Culture Clash. 

I definitely need a bit of love this Monday morning…

So what’s on my favourites? A bit of 80s Stone Roses. A bit more Jean Donaldson, oh she of the infinite wisdom about dogs. A bit of TLC from Sarah. A lot of love for those people who step up and pick up the slack when I can’t. Electric blankets which stop me from the February-like temperatures when I’m JUST NOT lighting a fire as it’s nearly June. Lovely, lovely kitty adoptants who restore all of my faith in kindness. Foxgloves finally flowering. How green everything is.

How long is it until the exams are over and schools are finished?! Right… a jiggle on is needed. Second feed of the day!

Mind like a landmine

Gosh that got late quickly!

Here’s a Monday track for you, even if Monday is only 6 hours from being over.

Bit of a Them Crooked Vultures vibe at the moment. This is one of my favourite tracks of theirs.

Been a busy weekend of course, but a very good one. Well good overall. It was the Hope booksale, so Friday, Saturday and Sunday evaporated in a sea of books and chat. It was a bit of a miserable wet one on Friday – I got into bed about 8pm and didn’t get back out again. It takes it out of you getting up early. I’m always trying to make sure the dogs have had plenty of exercise before I go out – but the morning fields are full of creatures, and it sometimes gets a bit torturous trying to walk past pheasants and rabbits, hare and deer. It’s a bit of a trek up to Sauzé Vaussais, though I’ve got the route in my head. Amigo came with me on Friday and Saturday – he was absolutely exhausted. Tobby came with me yesterday to represent the refuge. He had his thirteen-month anniversary here last week and he was as excited as ever to be at the booksale. Forget being fourteen and having rotten teeth and arthritic legs. In his head, he’s still a pup. Still, even he slept all the way home.

Saturday night was also Eurovision. Not quite sure how I drove home at 1am and didn’t end up asleep at the side of the road. I was representing Israel – you have no idea how often I wear my white wig and frilly petticoat, let me tell you. Perennial fancy dress favourites.

Needless to say, last night I was in bed by 9pm. I spent a lot of the evening trying to gather information about some nutbags that have bred their dogs and didn’t bother to do it properly. In usual circumstances, it doesn’t even matter, but these dogs need to be pedigree otherwise the police or town hall can insist they are removed and they can fine the owners. Removal often means euthanasia as well. Whether or not you believe in breed-specific regulatory legislation, the fact is that it exists, and to breed dogs on purpose when you know that you are running foul of the law makes you utterly irresponsible in my eyes. Worst is that it’s me that comes off looking like a villain. Trouble is that with a number of dogs like this at the refuge, unable to be advertised, given away or adopted in France, it leaves us with very limited options. What makes me most mad is that dogs who are restricted for legal reasons have more of a need to be extremely well socialised since they have yearly behavioural evaluations, and these puppies at 15 weeks have entirely missed the socialisation window.

I had long chats with other associations at the weekend – we all have very high standards for adoption. I know you might think we’d all be happy to adopt any dog to any person, but we aren’t. Old people wanting puppies and kittens are a particular sticking point. Hunters wanting cheap stock is another. We all wish people would think of rescue dogs as RESCUE dogs rather than CHEAP pets.

As for this week… it’s a usual busy one. Last week’s rain means this week’s gardening tasks are not only on a backlog but also much less fun. Good lord, does stuff grow round here. It doesn’t even much look like it’s warming up this week. Mild and hazy seems to be the general forecast. None of the forecasts look dry. I find myself hopping from one to another, vainly hoping that I’ll find one that is less bad than the others, and I can have a little faith in it. I don’t know why I care. My week is virtually a write-off right the way through to next Monday. Best get busy!

Cherry Ice Cream Smile

Men with highlights, cream suits and ties on a yacht? It can only be Duran Duran.

I don’t think you get more 80s than Duran Duran. Well, except for Wham! I think we all need a bit of Duran Duran to get the summer started. It feels wrong to start without them. Mind you, despite last Thursday’s lush 26°C, yesterday ended with some fair cold winds.

Yesterday was the refuge bric-a-brac, and it was a really busy day, which is good. It’s all so weather-dependent. The year before last, or last year, I can’t remember which, started with rain round 10am and everyone packed up and went home. It was busy enough yesterday for us to run out of sausages by mid-lunchtime. It was also nice to get to chat to people rather than being constantly busy. I’d loosely agreed to take a little old poodle home as well – another one whose owner had gone into hospital – you know the story. Luckily, she went on a trial adoption, otherwise people would really start to question my reputation. You know I’m going to end up one of those old ladies who smells of talcum powder and has a little old poodle.

Next weekend is the Hope booksale in Clussais La Pommeraie, and I’ve spent a lot of time clearing the decks to make sure I’ve got a three-day run clear. I can’t believe how everything just ramps up to super-speed until the summer holidays kick in. It’s only a month until I go back to the UK for the weekend for GCSE marker training, and then that ends up being a four-week block of intense marking. I’m beginning to get those piles of paper on my dinner table, little lists of things I need to remember to do and sort out. I’m hoping I can clear them all by the end of the week too.

Other than that, not much changes. I’ve been trying to clear out various outbuildings – you can’t believe that in six years, you can accumulate quite so much stuff. I could open a scrapyard with all the chainsaw parts I found. I’m pretty sure my hangar is where old chainsaws and strimmers come to die. Either that or they’ve been reproducing. I don’t think much of their offspring – they’re mostly in need of putting out of their misery.

Kitties are all growing up and at the terrorist point in running around attacking legs and stuff. I think vaccinations will be next week, meaning these babies have been with me much longer than most. The season always starts like this. They are still very young at this point in the year. Later on, they come in aged 7 or 8 weeks and just have to wait out the quarantine. Plus, they’re not quite so in need of cleaning and treatments. It tends to speed up as the year goes on. I miss cats though. I’m going to miss mum a great deal. Dogs just aren’t petting sponges like cats are. There is something so therapeutic about spending half an hour with a cat on your lap, even if you’re a virtual prisoner. Dogs are very needy in comparison.

Anyway, busy day ahead… dog walk, lessons, lessons, lessons. Mum cat is going back to the refuge to be spayed in the morning. She’s been a great mum, but it’s no life having babies when you’re a baby yourself. Have a very lovely week – I’m looking forward to next Monday which is a bank holiday in France. Although I’m stacked up with lessons, it still feels more relaxed; I don’t know why that is.