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!


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.

I wish it was me

Bit of light pop for you this Monday morning with Scouting for Girls and Elvis Ain’t Dead

I think there’s some Mondays that you just need a bit of enthusiasm!

Last week was bitterly cold and it doesn’t feel like summer is ever going to get here – there’s a North wind sitting up there just making everything arctic. The north of France even had snow! Still, I’m at that point in the year where I am just not making a fire. It’s May! That’s not to say I’m happy tolerating it though. Despite the mild winter, everything is a long way behind where it normally is – except for the crops, which are happily tolerating all the rain and the blue skies. I don’t think they care that it was only 2°C on Friday morning.

We’re in a 9-week build-up to the end of term, and it feels like such a lot has to happen before that block is finished. Next week is the refuge bric-a-brac, which I can only hope is as productive as the one I went to yesterday with Sarah. The first thing I saw was a kitchen sink. You can literally buy everything AND the kitchen sink at a French bric-a-brac. Well, not everything. The second thing I saw was a boy sporting a rat-tail hair cut. If I could have bought scissors I might have chopped that offensive lock off and sent it back to the 1980s. You can’t buy sharp scissors at a bric-a-brac, and that’s for sure. I picked up two rather kitsch F. Lolylle paintings (you know, the big-eyed 1970s waify-looking kids… I can’t be bothered to post a photo) for 2 euros and you can’t sniff at that. I’m looking for a kitschy theme for my kitschy cabin and I just thought I needed to stop messing about choosing… Sad-eyed kids is kind of weird for a teacher, but hey, it’s all for art’s sake. Anyway, next week I’ll be rooting through the goods on display at the refuge.

It’s also that time of year when parents and students decide that now is a really good time to book last minute revision, and last week I ended up with more requests for lessons than I can handle. It’s going to be a long nine weeks, let me tell you. I can’t believe there’s booksales and GCSE marking and gardening and decorating all to come in those 63 days.

For that reason, stuff is no doubt bound to be short and sweet these next few weeks, though I promise you I am beavering away as per. I think I’ll stack up on the coffee and get my head down as best I can! A bit hard when I’m in three cardigans and a hat, but worse things have happened. Anyway, enjoy your week and hopefully it will be warmer than mine!

Times are Changing

I’d have started today as I start many Mondays with a bit of Prince, but the chance of something by Prince, who was very anti-Youtube, staying on Youtube for more than a month is nigh-on unbelieveable.

In a bit of a funk and soul mood, here’s Booker T and the MGs instead

It is an utter blog catastrophe not to be able to rely on a plethora of Prince tracks when you are looking for something to start your Monday off right and I know I’d have worked my way though the classics and the not-so classics. If you ever needed proof that a weird little short guy could ever be hot, well, Prince was it. Kylie called him sex on a stick and that he was. He sat in my teenage record collection with Janet Jackson, the pair of them a weird, incongruous couple beside Depeche Mode and the Smiths. And talk about genius. Plus, he never got to that point where he was a bit sad and embarrassing like Michael Jackson or Madonna, even in his skin tight pants and heels. In fact, those things just made him even hotter. He sang Gett Off in his gran’s hair net and he was still hot. Nicky Minaj has a lot to learn. And my favourite album? Lovesexy. Favourite track? Anna Stesia.  It’s a tough call between that album and 1999 or Purple Rain, or Sign Of The Times or about ten others. Ahhhhhh. I can’t choose. Much Love Mr Prince Rogers Nelson.

Anyway, the week starts a little better than the crazy chaos of last week, when I had a ridiculously long to-do list. I’ve still got four or five big things to do. Strangely, a post I wrote on another blog a month ago ended up going viral last week – over 100000 reads in two weeks, which is CRAZY! Still, I had a few follow-ups to do for that, which is great. The best thing is that it got shared and pinned by a lot of shelters across the globe, which is kind of cool. It was just about how taking dogs home from shelters can be really stressful for them. In fact, there was only one piece of negative feedback, wondering why ‘anyone’ would think a dog would be happy to leave the shelter and wondering why I hadn’t thought of it before. Duh. I guess all those “before/after” photos of sad-looking dog looking ecstatic to have been adopted just got me thinking that maybe a dog might be happy to come home from the shelter. You can’t please everyone. Mad to see it being shared by sites on Facebook with thousands of fans. I’m glad it hit a chord anyway, and if it means just one person is a little more patient with their new arrival, if just one person is a little less gung-ho about everything they want their new dog to experience, it’s all for the good.

Of course, it’s also GCSE season, and hits on my teacher blog go through the window at this point in the year as well. Nothing like last minute revision, is there? I love those questions the night before the exam – this year I’m doing another chatroom pay-to-join lesson the night before the exam: it’s usually pretty popular. I charge only a small sum for the revision lessons but I get lots of people joining which makes it worthwhile. Having seen just how many teachers are leaving the profession in the UK, coupled with endless changes from the government, I’ve never been so happy to be independent. It’s a high-pressure arena these days with very little by way of reward. I do love blogging though. I love the unpredictability of what works – you just have no idea what’ll float the global boat. Well, you kind of do. I know sad eyed dogs, small dogs and pedigree pooches will get far more shares than the happy-looking hefty muttleys, which makes me very sad. But my old dogs get a fair few shares too and that’s great.

In fact, there was a bit of a Facebook scrap last week on a professional pet photography group I’m part of (I know! I’ve got simply no sense of my own lack of importance or talent…  though somebody asked me to join, which was pretty cool) A photographer in the UK (a pretty fabulous one too, if you ask me) posted a pet photo for a shelter and asked if she could have a little marketing help in promoting it, as her posts weren’t getting the shares they should. Well, as the girl who made Bob The Dog global, with 140,000 shares and over 10 million views, I thought I could offer insights (in how not to do it) The trouble was, I couldn’t help feeling that the photos were very, very similar in style to a very famous pet photographer’s. Before I did our ‘Back in Black’ project, I’d asked Fred Levy (of the Black Dog Project) if I could. He was super gracious and even gave me a leg up, some tips and a share on his site. I’d asked if she’d contacted the original photographer. Turned out that she had and the original photographer had essentially said yes, but don’t take it to the media, so there was really no way the photographer could even ask for the shares, which was a bit of a shame. I did think that she should have gone in her own direction with the idea – nobody is flattered by complete copying & she’s a talented photographer – but the reaction from the original photographer – also a member of the group – was a little sharp. Still, her reaction is not only to be expected, but forgiven. She works tirelessly to promote pit bulls and she deserves not to have her ideas ripped off. Still, she was a bit mean about the other photos. I’m no photographic judge, but they looked fabulous to me. There’s no need to be a snippy primadonna. Once, I went to a paid training day, where the “trainer” presented my work, my research and even my photographs without any reference to me – I did mention it to her in private at the end and I was surprised by just how little shame she seemed to feel for directly ripping me off. Still, she’s always going to be a barefaced thief and I didn’t come across as a snippy primadonna. I tend to think that the world – like Google – is very good at sussing out original ideas and rewarding those who come up with them. Pretty sure Prince would agree with me on that.

Anyhow, this week is another week of meetings a-go-go. Friday I might as well just give up on. Yesterday, I managed to get a little ahead of myself just enough to spend an hour reading in the garden: everything is far too wet to mow still. It was a bitter wind out there – April has been a lot of a wash-out, it must be said. So much for warm springs. They definitely feel like something from the past. It’s a good four years since we had a warm spring. I should just get used to it. Thank God for electric blankets!

Enjoy Booker T, grab a bit of Prince and enjoy your Monday!

We always want what we can’t have

A bit of late 80s glam metal for you with Vain today, and No Respect

1989 was a great year for me and I loved this album very much. Not quite as fun as Faster Pussycat, I loved them all the same. I think I’m going to have a 1989 week. Tigertailz, Quireboys and Bang Tango, watch out.

And yes, I know it’s barely Monday any more.

It’s been one of those weeks.

Anyway, this week can only be quieter than last – the skies are blue for a change and though it’s still a cold wind blowing, you don’t half build up a sweat in the garden. Today, I had a guest at the gate at lunchtime. It was one of our local farmers. My first thought was that his dog was out. His dog is always out. My second thought was that someone else’s dog was out – I’m the go-to girl in my village if there’s a dog issue. What he said and what was actually true were a bit different. He told me there was a “bouc” in my garden – a billy goat. That didn’t make much sense. It made even less sense when I saw it was a calf and not a goat. I don’t even know how he’d got in given that by and large, Tobby can’t get out.

It did make me realise that catching a dog or a cat is usually easy work. He tore through three of my fences before we could corner him and rope him.

Nothing like a bit of excitement and a few old toothless farmers running around lassoing calves to spice up your lunchtime.

Yesterday was a toothless saga as well. We were doing a food drive in a local rural town. It is true to say that we get a different type of customer in the rural supermarkets than we do in the city ones. Last week, following a late night with the local vets, I took Amigo for his follow-up vaccinations to our vet. “Town vets!” said my vet, who’d been at the meeting. “They have no idea what happens ten kilometres from the town!”

She has a point.

I don’t know about vets being needed, but a dentist surely was. No judgement intended, but the dental care down that neck of the woods left a lot to be desired. A lady spent a good ten minutes telling us about all her cats and how she drowns the kittens. “I don’t think you’re supposed to do that any more….” I said, not wanting to be impolite yet not quite knowing the etiquette in situations where people confess to crimes. “I’m 90,” she said. “What are they going to do if they catch me doing it?”

I know better than to tell 90 year olds how to live by the law.

It really is a different world outside of the town though.

It did get all a bit crazy last week with impromptu vet visits and endless cleaning up after animals. I think my own dogs forgot what I looked like. On the plus side, all the kittens are now reserved, and there’s just the matter of finding a home for mum. On Friday, I also took up our first lot of dogs to go to Germany this year – very happy to see them go. There have been few adoptions recently, and the hunt dogs just keep rolling in. Pretty soon, they may well outnumber the labrador crosses, and that’s saying something.

I even had an overnighter here as well last Thursday. Friends of a friend in Brittany were adopting Florette, a ten year old German Shepherd x Griffon and I brought her here so she could get a head-start on the journey on Friday. She was just adorable. If they’d decided that they couldn’t have another dog at the last minute, I think I would have been sorely tempted to keep her, she was that easy. That took me up to ten mouths under the roof. I know there will be more by the height of kitty season – I had a family in the attic, a family in the bathroom and a family in the spare bedroom last year at one point.

Sometimes, there’s also days where there is just happy fall-out from other blogs I write – I had a few follow-ups and A LOT of hits on a post I wrote about trigger stacking – how we accidentally overwhelm dogs on their first day home after adoption and how it can cause fear for our new arrivals. That’s good – it’s brought in a bit of extra work though. Plus, given that the exam syllabus is going to change and I knew I couldn’t rely on Curley’s Wife to keep bringing in GCSE clients, I’d started a series of blogs on the new AQA poetry anthology, which is also gathering a lot of interest. It’s still good old Curley’s Wife bringing in the hits this year, but I know that it won’t be the same when Of Mice and Men is removed from AQA’s GCSE syllabus, so I got in early with some other posts. Glad to see that a couple are on the first page of Google when you search for the poem. That bodes well for next year, at least. I know a lot of people think that social media success is largely accidental, but it is not, and it is a lot of work to advertise in this way. I’ve still got this week’s to do. I don’t half set myself a standard. Luckily, the only person who has to live by the insane standards I set myself is me.

Anyhow, it’s 8pm, I still have 11 things on my to-do list, and an epic list tomorrow as well… I better get a move-on!

Have a great week!


Read the signs and walk away

Bit of Supertramp this morning for you with It’s Raining Again. It sure feels that way here.

It’s not been a particularly joyful spring, just cold and damp with sharp winds. I’m still doing everything with a hat on, it’s that bad.

Yesterday, it was Tobby’s one-year anniversary of being here. I can’t believe he’s still going strong. Really, I took him very soon after Ralf died, because I was worried about him. He’d fallen over three or four times on his last walk, and he was wobbly and thin.


Glad to see my grass is about as long as it is right now! Rains must have been as bad last year! Not so good seeing my Tobby’s ribs. He was 21kg. He’s 26kg now, which is about right. Funnily enough, he’s asleep in the exact same position he first slept in.

Bar one or two moments, he’s been the perfect guest. He and Heston have an uneasy tolerance of one another. They never growl – I never heard Tobby growl even once, though he does bark. He had that lovely note on his file to say ‘No Children’ which usually means they have nipped someone. Here, we’re all used to his toy-hogging ways. If Tobby has a toy, he does not want to play. He just wants to walk around with it in his mouth.


I mean, I thought it would be days or weeks, not months. A year seems almost incredible. He’s fab. He still follows me everywhere – still sleeps at my bedside. He climbs up next to me for cuddles in the evening and still races down the garden as if he didn’t have arthritis at all. At fourteen, he’s had a very good innings but you can see in his eyes that he’s not ready to be old yet. This is why I love my Mali boy. I love the way he sleeps with his tongue hanging out and I love his very very gentle kisses. He’s got the gnarliest teeth I’ve ever seen on a dog, but any kind of anaesthesia at his age would be a risk.

Funnily enough, speaking of anaesthesia, we had a meeting with the local vets on Friday night. That’s what we do for fun these days. No bars and clubs. No, we end up discussing the legalities of vouchers for cheap sterilisation at midnight. The vets around here are surprisingly handsome or surprisingly beautiful, it must be said. One of them is called Dr Gorgeous. Well, almost. Dr Gorgues. I’m passing no comment. I think All Creatures Great and Small gave me very low expectations over the presentation of vets. Mind you, I’m of an age where I now find Christopher Timothy not without his charms, in his younger days it must be said. I re-read all the James Herriot books last year and some parts had me crying laughing.

Anyhow, it wasn’t quite so merry on Friday night discussing at what age cats can be sterilised, or whether morphine or gas is better for surgery…

It’s timely, of course. Kitten season is about to really set in. My four are doing fabulously. Two were reserved on Saturday, leaving just the little white boy and the little black girl. It’ll be a good month before they’re ready to go though. They’re still at the staggering-falling kind of stage, though it’s fantastic to see what a good job mum is doing of keeping them clean.

It’s a refuge-y kind of week this week. There had been problems with the transporter to Germany which meant that a lot of dogs were reserved but we had no way of getting them there. This Friday, I’m doing the drop-off in Poitiers. We have five dogs going up this week, and more later in the month. We’ve also got a food drive next weekend, so I’ll be collecting dog and cat food at the supermarket. Luckily, I have a couple of clients on holiday this week otherwise I’d be very short on time. I suspect my to-do list will be really quite unwieldy by the end of the week though. And the weather is doing a good job of getting in the way of good progress – showers predicted all week. We even had storms and rainbows yesterday. Let’s hope it gets a bit warmer though. It’s time to put the jumpers away.

Anyway, I’ve got a gazillion errands to run. Have a fantastic Monday and hope it’s not raining again where you are.

If there’s a way I wish we’d see it

Bit of late eighties pre-grunge craziness for you this morning with Dinosaur Jr and Freak Scene.

If truth be told, I’ve had a bit of a Primus-kind of love affair for the last week or so, but I thought it’d be a bit of a shock to the system for those of us who are suffering after the clocks went forward. I feel like I’ve been in a time fog. Every morning, I wake up and it’s still dark, the dogs are all excited to be awake and I’m all “Go back to bed, you sons of biscuits.” I’m not functional until at least 10am at the moment and it’s all just a bit of a grumpy start to the day.

Plus, it’s just not warming up. No. It’s still yuck and wet and cold. By my reckoning, the blossom is a good two weeks behind where it might be, and there seems to have been a very short blossom period. I don’t hold much hope for fruit this year, I must say. Usually by now, stuff is growing. I’ve only got a few bitty lettuces and the baby toms I planted weeks ago. Looking like it’ll be one short summer again. That said, last April was cold too.

April is a month of doggie anniversaries. Amigo arrived here almost two years ago and old Wobbly Bob has been here a full-on year. You know, I was preparing myself for him dying after two weeks. It’s obviously been good living for the old Wobbler. He’s still just as wobbly, but it’s been a good year. They are such great dogs. I mostly love just how well they all get along together. They have grumbles, but they’ve long since stopped being arsey with each other. They’re not a pack – is ever a group of dogs really a pack? – kind of a hodge-podge assortment of Emma’s randomness.

That’s kind of how it is with me. I love variation. Beggars and Kings – good to have friends from the ranks. Music and Movies – nothing like a bit of disco right alongside a bit of punk. I realised last week I can’t even really decide on a job I’d like to do. That’s fine with me. I’m enjoying having a variety. Eclectic in everything.

Funnily enough, I have a momma cat in foster at the moment and her four little fluffy jellybeans. One white. One siamese. One dark tortie. One tabby. She got about a bit, did mum. Mum’s BEAUTIFUL. She is just great. I miss not handfeeding kittens, it’s true. You get a real bond with them. These ones, I just have to go and feed momma a couple of times a day and clean out her litter. They’ve got conjunctivitis, so I’m cleaning eyes, but it’s not the same. They are all putting on weight, though the little white one isn’t as strong as the others. I love watching them change each day. They’re more lively now – crawls rather than wiggling – I reckon about three weeks old maybe.

Lovely Mummy Cat is my favourite thing this week. She’s just delicious. I wish people would spay their cats though. I’ll be happiest when my bathroom is free for longer than a short twelve week block. Ideally, when it is free for good.

This week is a week of stuff – meetings and appointment changes – always leaves me feeling as shellshocked as the clocks going forward. But the week after, it’s officially the holidays for schools in our area, and I’m hoping for a slight reduction in teaching. Just a little. That said, with GCSEs, A levels, Baccs and Brevets coming up, I should imagine any time freed up will be quickly taken up by someone else. Usually, only a handful of my clients are away, these days.

Anyhow, got to squash all my errands into a super-short dash this morning, in amid trying to get on top of the garden. Wet, warm days and everything is on growth-overdrive. I heard the first cuckoo of spring on the 1st April too… spring’s definitely in there somewhere, between the showers.




We like dancing and we look divine

Always in the mood for a little DB and Rebel Rebel.

It’s been a windy, squally kind of week of warm sun and heavy showers. Yesterday, I got soaked through when I was walking the dogs. We started in sunshine and the clouds came over quickly.

It doesn’t feel like much of an Easter to be honest. I’d moved some of my Saturday lessons to Easter Sunday because I was taking a little dog up to the new Hope shop in Confolens. Tilly’s been ill again and we’re back to square one trying to find a food that suits her stomach. Couple getting up two or three times a night with too much to do and you’ve got one tired old Emma. Two weeks to go before the school break and I largely suspect I’ll not have much off as the exams are approaching and I’ve got various animals to look after.

The garden is in full growth now and I’m just trying to make sure it’s enough under control before April and May set in. I spent most of last week trying to catch up and chasing my tail. You do get to a point where you just think you are so far behind that you are never going to catch up. I’ve not got the energy – all the extra demands of the last two weeks have really zapped me. What was nice was spending an hour or so on Friday evening just chewing the fat with Robyn at the refuge – so many people do so many incomprehensible things that if you didn’t go “!§%*!#^*%” once in a while, you might explode.

Take this week. I have had a busy one as you can tell. Back in February, Angie, the refuge secretary, asked if I could stop by a house in a town I pass through sometimes. A woman had taken a puppy just after Christmas. She’d left a cheque, but she’d asked if she could come down the day after with the cash, so it was still sitting in her file. She hadn’t come back. The phone was ringing though with no answer at all.

The first address – the one on the contract – was a completely wrong address. It was an old lady who was a bit bewildered to find a strange English lady on her doorstep.

Angie did a bit of hunting and found the address on the cheque. It was kind of similar, but a different town completely. I did a second drive-by the week after. No answer, though the house seemed to be inhabited. I left a note saying we’d tried to call and that I’d stopped by, could she call the refuge.

The week after, no response. I stopped by again and then went to the mairie. Often, they’ll help us out if they have someone who can stop off and knock on. And if there’s trouble in town, they know it. Secretaries in mairies can be very gossipy. They’d not heard anything, but she gave me the number of one of the council workers and said I could ask him if he’d stop by.

He stopped by every day for a week. No response, no sign of life. No dog.

I’d reached the end of what was reasonable when I had a quick thought. We’d always been in work hours. She might be there at lunch. And she was, complete with dog. She was utterly bemused by her own story about paying by cash, said the cheque had been cashed, had no idea why her phone wasn’t working or why she’d not found the various notes I’d left. The dog was fine, she said. And he was. I saw him and gave him a quick check – eyes, nails, fur, ears. He gave me lots of kisses and she told me everything was good. “Can we cash the cheque?” I asked. “You’ve already cashed it.” and so we went round again. I’m standing with a cheque in my hand and she’s telling me we’ve not cashed it.

Cash the cheque, I told Angie. She says we’ve already cashed it.

Ten days later, the lady calls up.

“I don’t want the dog any more.”

“But you told Emma that the dog was fine.”

“The dog IS fine. I’m moving to an apartment, I’ve split up with my boyfriend. I can’t look after the dog…” blah blah blah.

“Can you send someone to pick the dog up?”

Angie calls me and asks. Can we pick the dog up? FFS. Really? You don’t want the dog and you can’t get him back to us?!

I called the woman. “Can you pick him up before Thursday? I’m moving on Thursday.”

I could go at 2pm. Not good enough. It had to be morning.

“I’m working in the morning.” I told her.

“Can you come in the lunch hour?”

What is it with people wanting the moon on a stick?

“Is he okay in the car?” I asked.

“Oh no. He needs medication to go in a car. He’s very stressed.”

Are you flipping kidding me??!

Anyway, because I’m a mug, I prepared myself. I sorted the car out and made sure there were secure harnesses, put sheeting down in case he was sick or worse, only for Angie to give me another call the night before.

“She’s given the dog away to a hunter.”

Cue another saga of trying to get the address, to retrieve the dog, to sort out this further complication. I mean, she still hadn’t paid – the cheque was returned to us for insufficient funding – and it’s not like she owned the dog. Bloody crackers, some people.

Anyhow, that was my saga of last week. No wonder it took me and Robyn an hour to offload all the things that needed offloading!

It would test the patience of a saint.

Thank God for a healthy circle of volunteers and staff who help you put it all in perspective. At least in this case, no animals were hurt. Not so the little scruff that turned up missing a leg from above the knee. She’d obviously been caught in a trap. Never mind that traps are illegal. And suddenly, walking Heston on a lead all the time seems like the sensible option.

Anyway, Much Love to all the shelter staff and volunteers across the world who put up with human foibles, madnesses and insanities.

And Much Love for Easter Monday and a day off work. Well, teaching, anyway. I’ve a million bits of paperwork to do and a couple of articles to write. I’ve 15 things on my to-do list and I’m determined to conquer it!

Have a fabulous Easter Monday – let’s hope for some blue skies later.





You can’t figure out the bag I’m in

Bit of Sly and the Family Stone for you today. Such a beautiful day, we can do with a bit of soul just to remind us that we’re all Everyday People.

I’m in the middle of a two-week block of busy. It was the refuge Open Weekend this weekend. It’s been a bit of a dead spell of late with very few adoptions and lots of arrivals. It’s the end of the hunt season and it seems to me that we’ve got a lot of sad-eyed boys and girls in. We’ve also not had as many adoptions to Germany or Northern Europe because of transportation issues, so the hunt dogs have stayed and stayed. The weekend saw the final adoptions of several dogs, and a couple of dogs adopted who’d gone right out of the refuge without a trial. Most people take dogs on trial these days. It’s a great idea. I had a broken-hearted little soul here on Friday, called Fripouille. He’s a six year old poodle whose owner had died. He’s obviously been very, very loved and he was completely lost. I’m still sad for him. You just can’t tell a dog that their whole world has changed and that the life they knew has gone. He was agitated on Saturday morning, pacing up and down. He finally found what he was looking for: his lead. He sat with his lead as if to say, “Lovely sleepover. Time to go home.” That poor little soul. It’s not the first time I’ve taken a dog on arrival, and they’re the only ones who are really sad to be here. They’ve lost everything and they don’t understand why. All the other dogs who come here are on a stopover out of the refuge, and they’re all “yeah!! Space! Whoooooo dogs!!!!” Not so for those who’ve lost everything.


He was the kind of dog I’d have definitely ended up keeping by accident, even though perfumed poodles are not my thing. Luckily, he went on a trial adoption and there are a couple of other people who were interested too if it all falls through. I’ll stick with my random posse of weirdy misfits.

I also had my first lunch outside last Monday, though it seems longer ago than that. Lovely to catch up with people and actually sit and chat like a human being and grown-up with a group of actual people for once. A few of us met up again on Thursday for a co-working session and lunch at the café in Gourville, which was just lovely. Lunch was very good. Two lunches in one week, though! Not looking like that this week.

The river in my garden has finally gone back underground, leaving me with a knee-high tick zone. Looks like a few of the local creatures have been having a bit of a frolic. Spring is definitely in the air. This week, I’ll be mostly trying to get the grass under control. Everything else has benefited from a winter of heavy pruning. One of my peaches seems to have given up the ghost. It was planted in a hedge of conifers, which was rather strange. I’ve been roughly planning out a new bed and wondering if I can fit in a quick plant-buying trip at some point. I’m determined that the garden will be more flowery on my departure.

Anyway, I must get busy and get out of here – a million and one errands to do. By this time next Monday, things should be on slightly more of an even keel up to the holidays. Just where is the year going to?