Everything’s gonna be real fine

Another Monday, another bit of punk rock for you… Ramones, with Oh Oh I Love Her So

I did have a mini-Ramones obsession when I was about 18. Funny, actually, since yesterday I put on this old checked fleece I got when I was about that age from the Army Surplus Stores. It’s still in good shape. That’s how clothing should be. Dirt cheap and will last you a good twenty five years or more. None of this stuff that falls apart. I bought some new socks last week and one has already got a hole in it. What’s that even about??! A week!!

I got some really good stuff at that Army surplus store, including a canvas rucksack and a pair of combat boots that lasted me a good four or five years. The Army surplus stores are like a survivalists’ paradise but the younger me did love a bit of military surplus gear. Those combat boots were a quarter of the price of Doc Martens. I did a lot of walking when I was at university – I got a bus pass that lasted a month and then figured I could save myself the fiver it cost me by walking everywhere. I think it was usually a forty-minute walk to the campus. In the winter, I’d quite often wear that red check lumberjack fleece with a patchwork skirt and my combat boots. No sense of coordination at all, the teenage me. You can still buy those kit bags for a tenner. Even my North Face rucksack has wear and tear. Those canvas things last forever.

I still love walking everywhere. Yesterday, I took the dogs for an epic forest jaunt before the cold weather gets here and I try and spend as little time outside as I can. The forest was busy yesterday, as it gets. We saw a good few people out picking mushrooms, and loads of cyclists. Great to see how much progress Heston has made with other dogs – there were at least five or six dogs off lead whose owners should have known better than to let them off lead. They’d all come up for a sniff. We’ve been working on “sit” and “eyes” when other animals are near. It’s not easy when a Jack Russell is ferreting around, let me tell you. Not one bark though or over-reaction.


Most of the forest is pretty flat – it’s not easy to get a sense of where you are if you are lost (it’s been years since I was lost here though, even though I used to worry about it all the time and draw scrappy paper maps to keep in my pocket!) But today I got a rare view from the top of one of the hills – we walked from the lightest blue bit. It’s a circuit of about 11km. I love this forest.


Most of the time, you don’t see anyone here at all. There are many days when I don’t see a single soul. Better than the fields where I normally go, since there were about five million hunters out this morning with their various setters and spaniels.

After lunch, I did a bit of a crafty afternoon and put together a patchwork curtain for under the sink. I’ll show you the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos and you’ll see why I have taken to decorating this foul little corner of my house. I was very slapdash in the actual patchwork bit; let’s just say the patchwork queens will be choking on their coffee, but it’s only to go under the sink so I don’t care much. It doesn’t even go with the blue spotty curtains I made for the kitchen window. Like I care about things like that!! As my lumberjack shirt, combat boots and patchwork skirt à la Kate Bush would go to show, I don’t care much for matching things up. I used to be so well-matched at work. It was not really the authentic me, I think.

Next Sunday will be the last day I have without other obligations for a while. The week after, it’s the refuge open day and it’s all hands on deck. I’m also trying to put together the refuge calendar as well. Cross your fingers that it doesn’t look bad! The week after that is the Hope booksale. That is sure to be a busy one. Then it’s half term, when I have to get my act together for my classes leading up to Christmas. So next Sunday, I’m back with my paintbrush and drill and I’m going to put up all the things that need putting up, and paint the things that need painting. I still can’t decide if the former owner painted them cream or if they started white. I suspect the latter.

Anyhow, now that my (almost) internet-free Sunday is over I better pick up the pieces!

Have a good week!

Drug store lovin’

What better way to start a Monday than with a bit of Otis? I love this tune. It’s a complete feelgood track. Your Monday won’t get better than Otis.

It was a busy one last week, and busy this week too. Last week was nothing but vet visits. I’m sure people will start talking about me and the vet. Our local vet has been off work for a while and her replacement is a rather chatty type. Well, if I wasn’t having eyes checked out and kittens vaccinated, holding dogs in queues at the refuge and having Tobby’s back end checked out, I was bumping in to him in supermarkets. He’s about twelve, bless him. I know I’m getting old when vets look young. He seriously must think I have about five hundred dogs. Even the vet’s secretary looks at me now and says, “Do I bill the refuge or 30 Millions d’Amis?”

Still, sitting around in vets’ surgeries at least beat the weather. It feels more like the end of October at the moment rather than the middle of September (okay, middle and a bit). Yesterday was nicer, but it’s been very autumnal. I’m blaming that for my sudden interest in pensioner pastimes like making soup and getting my craft on. I don’t know why I say pensioner pastimes. The craft world is very much in vogue. Well, it always has been with me.

I’ve been trying to use up all the stuff I’ve got hanging around the house, paint and fabric-wise, as well as spending a little time doing stuff I like, rather than being at everyone else’s beck and call. I’ve been spending my Sunday afternoons doing stuff, if I’m free from other obligations. A couple of weeks ago, I used up some paint remnants and painted a console table a lively shade of green.



I think it looks quite splendid. Nothing like a bit of colour to make you feel more vibrant. Plus, now it’s nice and pretty, it’ll stop me treating it as a dumping ground for things that have been in my handbag too long.


Yesterday, my Sunday afternoon project was to make some tab-top curtains for the kitchen. I actually bought the fabric in 2010 before I moved to France. Not quite sure why I’ve been waiting so long, but I’ve long since used the lining fabric for other things, so they won’t be finished til next Sunday. Best laid plans and all that. Still, it beats spending the day online. I’ve been switching off the laptop from noon until evening and it’s amazing how productive I can be.



I’m now also through the main bit of my sock. They’ve been epic, these socks. Knee-length, seven colours, complex patterns, but they are totally amazing. I shall be very glad when they are finished, and no mistake. No way on earth I’ll be able to go to the fabric shop to pick up lining fabric and not peruse the wool on sale for my next project, whatever that might be. I daren’t look on Ravelry yet; it’s a bit like cheating on your boyfriend to move on to your next project before you’ve properly finished the last.


This week is a week of meetings, meetings and meetings. I really thought I might get a breather after the foire, but no. It is not to be. Maybe next week will be a little quieter. It did get to the point in the week where I was eating tinned stuff as I’d not had a minute to go to the supermarket. Amazing what you can make with an onion, a potato, a can of tomatoes, a can of chickpeas and some spices.

My little Coco was adopted last week. I’d taken Dodger with me because I kind of hoped I could find him a friend. I thought he might be a bit lonely in the laundry by himself. It’s no life for a kitten. I’m not sure I’d trust at least two of my dogs with a cat. Anyhow, I ended up leaving him at the refuge as someone brought in a box of seven tiny kittens. They’d been sealed in a cardboard box and thrown in the bin. A quarantine was needed so I took three. These ones are real hooligans. They’re the Shameless family of cats. I miss my little Dodger. In truth, I have been tormenting myself over him. I hope he is adopted soon otherwise I fear I’ll be trying to come to some solution about how to keep him in a foster until he can be adopted. He is just beautiful. He’s just your average-looking moggy, but he is so gentle and so loving. The new little lot just bomb around like maniacs and hang off my legs like insects.

Today is a meeting about a Christmas foire (ah yes, it’s that time already) and then hopefully back in the garden. I got in a good couple of hours yesterday, trying to tidy up the latest bramble patch and getting distracted by how beautiful everything is


It’s apple season and grape season. Mostly that involves me picking stuff so that Wobbly, Greedy and Needy don’t eat them. There’s been some wind in this house, let me tell you.


Apples I don’t mind so much but I do wish Tobby wouldn’t leave the stalks dotted around the house. It makes a change, him carrying fruit around instead of a toy. He had used it as an opportunity to secrete all his toys and bones in my bed on Saturday when I was out for the best part of the day. He obviously feels like nesting too!

Have a wonderful Monday. Hope you enjoyed Otis.

Sleepless Nights

I’m a bit late. I guess you’ll forgive me. I’ve had foires to organise, don’t you know?

Here’s your late-night Monday blast with Buzzcocks and What do I get? You’ve got to love a bit of Manc Punk when you’re feeling in need of a burst of energy. It’s a musical kick up the proverbial.

We Brits might have bad teeth but we do make good music. Maybe the two things are connected?

Last week was just a frantic burst of fair-ness. It’s amazing how many things you remember at the last minute even when you have lists that you thought were completely exhaustive. Luckily, I had the wonderful Ju and Su of JuSu wooden stuff to chivvy me along and help me with boggles and putting up marquees and decide where people have to go and who has to go next to whom. You wouldn’t believe the requests you get. Julie taught me a great phrase about “the moon on a stick” and that pretty much sums it up. Everybody who is anybody wanted to go next to Ruth of Crochez Moi. I don’t know why. We had four requests to go next to Ruth. Every time I saw her, she was crocheting stuff so I don’t know why she was just quite so popular, despite being very lovely indeed. Put me next to the cake lady. She’s also very nice indeed. Plus she has cakes and samples. All friends are good friends until they come with cake samples.

Although the heavens opened until 9am and everyone was wondering whether it’d be a complete wash-out, people-wise, it was just lovely to spend time with so many great people (and eat their cakes).

dames foire 2

I think you’ll agree, it’s a talented bunch of marketeers. Truthfully, I walked around a couple of markets recently, trying to encourage more market stalls to come, and I walked past so many thinking “I know some people who do better stuff than that”, or “that’s not very good quality”. I also got at least half of my Christmas presents sorted, and picked up some great value plants. I’ve fallen well-and-truly in love with gaura this year and so I’ve picked up a few to plant for next year.

Anyway, I have finally – finally! – booked myself onto a crochet course with Ruth. If anyone can turn my knitting fervour into crochet fervour, she is the woman. I like the versatility of crochet and you can do cute stuff. I like knitting, but crochet is just another thing I want to be able to do. Who’d have thought, a couple of years ago, that I’d be able to knit a Christmas bauble on 5 double-pointed needles with four colour changes and a Skandi pattern? Not Sylvie, that’s for sure, given how hard it was to even cast on that very first bauble. Doing 31 of the little bleeders last Christmas kind of took all the challenge out of it. As for my socks, I’ve finally finished sock number 1 and I’m on to sock number 2. They are just awesome. Seven different colours, lord knows how many changes and pattern combos. If you can knit a pair of Arne and Carlos Christmas socks, crochet should be no challenge at all – yet I find it strangely difficult. I managed to find one day where the schools are on holidays and I have a free afternoon, late in October. I am so giddy about it that I can barely speak.


As for this week, I shall mostly be at the vet’s. Not my dogs, I hasten to add. I’ve got various holding-downs and eye-cleanings and vaccinations to attend, which will be lots of fun. Little Coco the grey kittie is hopefully off to her new home tomorrow afternoon. I knew she would find a home easily. What a shame so many people are kitten racists and colour matters. I’ve had tabbies and whites, gingers and black cats, and they’ve all been very cattish. Dodger has the misfortune of being tabby and white, which means he’s second-to-bottom in the colour attractiveness charts. I bet you never thought there was such a thing as a kitten-colour-attractiveness chart, but there is. Pedigree cats are at the top with their creams and Siamese point. Greys are up there as well. Gingers are popular too. Tortoiseshell, tabby and black bring up the rear. If you ask me, Dodger is a much lovelier kitten as he’s super-affectionate and very purry, but he’s just not quite pretty enough. Plus, he’s a boy. Poor Dodger. He might be all alone by tomorrow evening.


Coco is pretty though. And she knows it.


Nothing Dodger can do is as appealing. Poor boy. I love him.

I’m hoping that he’s gone before the next lot are old enough for vaccinations – my attic room is also serving as a cattery as well. Kittens have been coming out of my ears, quite literally. Still, it means that the kitties are clean and disease-free until their vaccinations, and they stand a better chance of living. Last year, so many kittens at the refuge spent their first few weeks being nursed through cat flu. Far too many didn’t make it. I’m glad these two are fat and healthy.

Apart from that, I’ll be braving the weather to try and make sure the garden is sufficiently under control before next spring; I’ve got a new ‘hot’ flower bed on the make, and I’m starting to prepare a huge new bed for next summer. I do love planting things – there is no therapy quite like it.

Have a fabulous week people and I hope you get a little green therapy if that floats your boat.

You taught me everything I know

Another busy week – I can’t tell you how much I’m waiting for next Monday! Here’s a lovely Monday Buzz from The Killers with Human

God I love this band. I’ve got a very special spot for Brendan Flower. I could quite easily have a full playlist only of the Killers and never get bored.

I’m back to full-time classes this week – the first week of school always starts slowly and some students were still off last week. Then it’s back to cake-making duties for the weekend as it’s Les Dames de FER foire at Condac. Fingers crossed for good weather and that everything runs smoothly. There’ve been some busy bodies behind the scenes, and Saturday will be a full-on day of putting up marquees and getting everything ready. All we can do then is hope for lots of clients! It’s been in all the magazines and publications, so I’m hoping for a few faces at least. There are some very lovely stalls coming – would not be hard to spend a bit of cash. I’ve got my eye on the plants.

FB 900 x 1200 (2)

Sylvie does all our lovely graphics and I can’t tell you how much she does behind the scenes. She puts me to shame. Her tea-towel empire (yes, such a thing does exist!) has really taken off and she’s even in this month’s Devon Life magazine.

Expect a very tired version of me this time next week.

The refuge website went live last week and you can see the fruits of our labours here


To move from a 1990s-style forum where you couldn’t really see any of the animals at all to this wonderful beast is quite a miracle. It’s still in the development stages, but the photos of the dogs are what I spend my Fridays doing. I’ve got plans for the 2016 calendar underway and today I need to get myself into gear to start planning that. It’s my next big project after the foire is out of the way. Then it’ll be the Hope October booksale! How time flies!

The main event of my week last week was putting my book on Kindle. I’m pleased to report good sales and nobody’s said how terrible it is.


The best bit of the week was briefly being above Cesar Millan on the Amazon rankings. I can’t tell you how much that man hurts my sensibilities. He’s single-handedly responsible for all the nonsense jargon about dogs and why the word ‘dominant’ is so frequently bandied about these days. Needless to say, I’m no doubt dominated by my dogs all the time. They’re constantly trying to get the better of me and outsmart me. It’s just a matter of time before I’m answering their every whim, responding to their beck and call, moving chairs just so they can sleep on undisturbed, petting them every time they come near. Hang on… that sounds like living with cats. Why has nobody worked out that the real dominance problem is with those cats who won’t be happy until they’re our overlords?

Like cats are not in control of the universe anyway!

A study was out last week that said that cats don’t need us to survive. Like that’s news. By implication, then, cats just hang around us because they have got us under their thumb and even though they don’t need us, they have us whipped into servitude. I’d like to see Cesar Millan do his stuff with a cat. Has anyone ever alpha rolled a cat and lived to tell the tale? Most dogs know not to mess with cats.

Anyway, if you’d like to buy my book you can find it here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon.com. You can buy it at any Amazon store for a truly great price (and all proceeds are going to help me buy stuff to improve the refuge photographs even more) I’m even a few thousand words into the next one, which still needs a name. It’s kind of weepy writing about all the calendar dogs who found a home, and the two that haven’t yet: Gentil and Tulipe. If you’re in France, the UK or northern Europe and you know someone who hasn’t got other animals and wouldn’t mind being home to a pensioner doggie, let me know!

My own pensioner doggie Tobby is having a bit of a time. He had a couple of falls last week. He does so love to be excited and race about. I wish he’d understand how much better it’d be if he wouldn’t throw himself about. He is an amazing dog. He manages to haul himself up onto the couch next to me for cuddles of an evening (or, if you’re a Cesar Millan fan, in his bid to dominate me and have control over my couch) and he is just the biggest sweetheart. He is almost never without a toy, God love him. He doesn’t want you to play with him or to take it from him. He doesn’t want you to throw it or play fetch or tug of war. He just wants to carry it about. I wish I knew his story and where he’d come from. He’s an amazing dog.


He and Heston had a scrap last week. Not sure what it was over. I was in the barn and something moved. Heston got excited and I’m not sure if Tobby was right behind him. I’m pretty sure Tobby started it and before I could blink, they were rolling around on the floor. Luckily, it was all noise and even though I couldn’t pull Heston off, there were no teeth involved. I went to turn the hose on and by the time I had, the fight was over. Tobby looked a bit sheepish and Heston looked like nothing had happened at all. They’re back to their usual behaviours, but I’m keeping an eye out. Tobby’s always loved Amigo and will happily lie next to him licking his ears, but though he’s tried to give Heston the same, Heston just grumbles in a general way of “yeah, none of your ear-licking for me, mate” whereas Amigo just looks at me in a way that says, “please make him stop!”

Needless to say, whilst Heston and Tobby were sorting out their differences, Amigo, Tilly and I stood around being useless and making a lot of noise. I do wonder always if they smell a change on each other. Heston was always very well-behaved around Ralf, right up until three weeks before Ralf died, when Heston tried twice to hump him. I’d never seen him do that before and if anything, Ralf was boss and had humped Heston on arrival. Boys! So temperamental.

I say this knowing full well that I have ONE princess in this house and she is more temperamental than the lot of them. She’s definitely the boss of all of them. One cocker to rule them all.

Anyway, have a lovely Monday. May your week be less stressful than mine! See you on the other side.

See how big and strong I’ve grown

What better way to start the week with a little Manchester love? Here’s The Mock Turtles with Can You Dig It? They’re no Stone Roses, but still.

This is Martin Coogan, brother to Steve Coogan. Manchester does have some talent (present company excluded of course) Steve Coogan does make me laugh. He plays such a great selection of people with no self-awareness whatsoever. The Courtney Love/Steve Coogan story has to be the most unlikely coupling of celebrities ever, except for Gareth Gates and Katie Price.

Anyhow… it’s been the last week of the summer holidays here and I’ve been as busy as usual. Most of my little students are already back to lessons with me and last week was no exception. I’ve still got Sunday 13th September as my End Goal – once I get past the Les Dames de FER foire, I’ve got a bit less on the old agenda.

The new refuge website is almost ready. There has been some toil behind the scenes, let me tell you. Nobody usually ever stops to thank Sophie, the president of the refuge, but I will. A full-time job as a full-time volunteer. André, who designed the site, has also done a lot of the data transfer which saved me a job. I’d volunteered in a mad moment, thinking my summer would be quieter than it was. Luckily all I had to do was sort through the photos and try and make sure everybody had a photo and that they had a pretty one. It’s not so easy since some dogs are in foster care and have photos that are years old, but apart from that, it seems to have worked.

a vos marques
pretsAs for the other things, I’ve uploaded my book called Finding Shelter to Kindle. It can take up to 72 hours to be published, but then it is available to all. I’ll share the links here when it’s uploaded. If you can read this, you can read the book, should you so wish. I guess you might be interested if you’ve stuck with me so far. Honestly, I can’t believe I finished it but I’m also kind of excited to start the next book. To finish with the advent calendar that I did last year, without saying who was adopted, seems as good a cliffhanger as any. Between you, me and the doorpost, Tulipe is now reserved which leaves Gentil.

adopted august

There will always be Drack, who died before he could find his forever home, and so the calendar will never be completed with ‘adopted’ signs, but let’s keep our fingers crossed for Tulipe. She deserves a home. Anyway, given the way the public responded to the appeal for Bob, I could write a book about that experience! That gives me a good title for the next book: Viral Dogs. Dogs In Cyberspace. That’s only funny if you remember Pigs In Space. How bad is it that the Muppets are my greatest cultural influence?

By the way, eight of those dogs went to English-speaking homes and at least six went to homes in Northern Europe, so it was well worth doing the posts in English, German and French. I’ve already got my plans for Christmas 2015, although truth be told, the dogs we have left who have been here longer than a year are the ones who are going to be hard to home. Mind you, I thought that about this crazy lot, like Ufo with seven years at the refuge, and Usty, Tino and Edge with a whopping fifteen years between them. I will be very pleased if all my Christmas dogs find homes again for this time next year. I’ve also been charged with the calendar for 2016 for the refuge, which I’ve also got some great plans for.

I’m really hoping that the book raises some money to help me buy more camera equipment for the refuge. If nothing else, it’s not just a shameless demand for money. I did put some work in to it! I’ve got my eye on some professional backgrounds and various props, as well as a good tripod and some lighting equipment. I’ll settle for being able to buy a subscription to Picmonkey for 2016 (that’s about fifteen copies) though in reality it would probably have been more sensible to take on a hundred hours of content mill writing and put the measly earnings from that in a pot instead. If it looks grim, that’s what I’ll be doing this November instead of churning out the second in the series.

I spent a lot of the week smelling of cake as well, and not in a good way. It’s been disgustingly hot here and being stuck in a hot kitchen on Wednesday making cakes for the Charroux Literary Festival kind of took the proverbial biscuit. Worst thing about it was making seven cakes I really, really wanted to test.

Today is a planning meeting for the foire – the end is nearly in sight. When you organise something, it’s always fraught with ‘Will people come?’ so cross your fingers that we have good weather. Then I’m back to lessons.

Not a week for turning heels and watching television then. When will it be winter again? I could do with a break!

Enjoy the Mock Turtles and a bit of Manchester loveliness. Have a good one!


Perspective Pushes Through

A bit of the lovely Amy for you this Monday morning with Tears Dry On Their Own

I never hear her any more without the profound regret of a huge talent gone. I loved Back to Black. Some lives are too short. I can’t listen to Janis Joplin without the same feeling either. You’ve got to love a bit of heart and soul first thing on a Monday.

Truth is that it’s getting busier and busier, though I shall be glad to get back to a routine of lessons since my diary can’t cope with changes and alterations. I’m too old to make sense of it any more.

Last week was a bit of a mad one – trying to get the refuge website sorted out with plenty of photos. I’m kind of there. A few more and I think I’m ready. The Notorious Bob reached seven million people in the end. He’s on a trial adoption about fifteen miles away. Nobody flew in from the USA with a private jet to come and pick him up, but he certainly reached the nether edges of the globe. At the end, I started getting all the sad messages from people who had lost a dog and were convinced it was Bob. It does make you realise how hard it can be to recognise a dog from a photo in a pound. I’m sure many people look at photos of lost dogs when they are searching for their own and they end up thinking a dog is not theirs when it really is. It is tough when you are so desperate to find your dog that you wonder if he’s made his way over the channel or over the Atlantic. Stranger things have happened, I guess.

I’d picked up a book when I was on my brief UK holiday… Arne and Carlos’s ‘Knitting Scandinavian Style’ which has some amazing patterns in it. I’ve started on a pair of socks (because, yes, winter IS coming, Game of Thrones geeks)




7 colours of wool, innumerable changes of colour, complex knitting patterns, DPNs, heel turns and watch me go! I do like complex knitting. It gives me something to think about. I do about three rows a day once I’ve had my lunch – so it’ll be Christmas by the time they’re finished.

I’m also putting the finishing touches to the book I’ve been writing – hopefully I’ll have a September 1st release. It’ll be on Kindle, but you can download the Kindle app to any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop so you’ve no excuse not to buy it.

The final preparations are also underway for the Dames de FER foire on September 13th in Condac. I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm for that. I’ve set the 14th September as an intermittent goal post after which I can slow down a bit, but I can’t see that it’s very likely. It’s more like a milestone to pass rather than a finish line. This evening is going to be nothing but Dames-y.

Last week, there were quite a few festivities as well. Lots of lovely evenings with friends. It felt almost like a mini-break to get out and sit under umbrellas or pergolas of an evening and have a bit of company. My Friday evenings are not normally quite so lovely these days, and I had a most marvellous time, including picking up a goodie bag including this very lovely item.


Any guesses?

Nik uses it to plant strawberries, but I shudder to think of its origins. I was admiring her planter collection some time ago and she’d obviously thought she’d pass it on. At the moment, it has Marmite and Angel Delight in it. In their packets of course. Even I am not so strange as to eat Marmite and Angel Delight in one sitting. I’m very much going to miss my Tuesday lessons at their house, let me tell you.

There were storms a-plenty this weekend and one of my cypresses has lost a huge limb. A plum was uprooted as well. Today’s going to be a tidy-up job. Bloody weather. In fact, it’s as gusty today and I’m not looking forward to trying to get anything done out there. Don’t know what happened to August. To be honest, quite often it’s a catastrophe in France. I think it upsets the universal harmony when all the Parisians move out of their home and make for the coast. I blame it on them. They’re all returning northwards now so fingers crossed that September ends up better than August.

I’d better go and batten down the hatches!

Oh how I want to be free

Bit of Queen for you this morning. You can’t beat Queen if you need a Monday morning boost. Here’s my favourite cross-dressing mustached man with a vacuum cleaner for you

I most love this video because of Freddie Mercury dancing. Who doesn’t love that?!

I have to confess I don’t know what happened the last couple of weeks or so. I’ve been insanely busy as per usual. Last week was one of those weeks where you don’t seem to achieve anything. I made lots of phone calls, spent a lot of time sorting things out, but don’t feel like I got anywhere.

I say that and I’ve spent the weekend managing the notoriety of one of the refuge dogs. I did a post for Bob last Friday… and Bob went viral! Three million views, seventy five thousand shares, offers of homes from the UK to the Philippines, from Canada to Australia.

bob poster

It’s also true that Bob has now made the average number of shares to find a home skyrocket. Now I’ll have to say ‘On average, a dog needs 3000000 views and 50000 shares to find a home.’ Thanks Internet. You just made my job insanely hard.

I ran the advert together on Friday afternoon and it just seemed to take off. Forty or fifty shares by tea-time. Seventy thousand views by bedtime, and eight thousand shares. When I woke up on Saturday morning, Bob’s post had been shared over ten thousand times and he had two hundred and fifty thousand views. That just got silly. I spent all Saturday evening trying to manage the posts. He has four hundred comments!

So if you saw Bob on Facebook, or you shared him… whooooo!

It was silly that he’d been at the refuge for a month. He’s a great dog.

Admittedly, it’s not the kind of content you want to go viral. What’s the point in three million views when the vast majority are out of the country? Even though the post clearly said he was in France, I did spend a fair few minutes explaining to those people who’d not read it that he wasn’t available for adoption in Australia or Canada. Well, not easily anyhow. Plus, there must be Bobs in shelters there, I’m sure of it. And then when he was reserved, there were still loads of people sharing him. Oh well. I got what I asked for, in spades. Who moans about going viral?!

I then spent the best part of Sunday morning realising that people from all over the world were now liking my Woof Like To Meet page and I had to go through and add ‘FRANCE’ to every single photo I had up. It does say it everywhere, but even so. Then Facebook had a fit because it didn’t like me copying and pasting, or adding ‘adopted’ where appropriate and it blocked me from posting on my own profile for a few hours – which was slightly frustrating! People were trooping through all the photos on my timeline and asking who dogs were that I’d snapped in March. Oops! Nothing like a panicked clear up, is there?

That about sums up my crazy week.

I spent a lot of it on the phone trying to sort out ghosts in the machine. Orders that had gone awol. Post that hadn’t arrived. Emails that had bounced or not bounced. I suspect my hotmail account is having a meltdown, but I can’t have been the only one as I got a group email on Thursday about a meeting on Thursday night and it seems that a few people didn’t get it, or got it late. Luckily, by that point my diary chaos had left it free and we ended up chatting til the wee hours. You know it’s going to be a long one when the drinks come out after the work has been done. We’ve been working on the new refuge website. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. I’m just crying at the length of the list of the photos that need redoing over the next couple of weeks before the site goes live. The Hope Association have just bought some fancy new gear for the refuge that I can’t wait to trial once I get all the other bits as well.

Some of my time was just faff time. Like the fact that my car has had a fault light on since last week and although I’m fairly sure that the good people of my lovely local garage have fixed what’s causing it, the fault light is still on. I’m pretty happy that they got what they should have (or that they would have said ‘Bloody hell! Your exhaust is falling off and hanging on by a whisker!!’) but it still needs a diagnostic. My bike is busted too. Lucky I have legs.

Other faff time was just the inordinate amount of publicity I did for things last week. No wonder Bob went viral! Very heavy on the charity stuff though and not so good for paid work. I worked like a demon though. So much so that I’m sure that’s how I burst a couple of blood vessels in my eye. Yes, that’s how hard I work.

On top of that, Wednesday morning found me shoulder-deep in a flooded manhole trying to turn off my water to see if the leak that had turned into a small stream outside my property was coming from my side (and therefore my cost) or the side of the water board (and therefore their problem and their cost) Happily, the men that turned up said it was their side and if they fixed it or not, the leak has stopped. Still, I had to go and round up more clients for a market we’re doing in September and I hadn’t showered. I don’t know what they thought of the smell. At least my arm was clean from the immersion whilst I tried to find the stop tap.

Worse still, I have no idea what happened to my diary last week – and all my clients seem to have been the same. I missed an appointment and then I turned up for another when they were still away. I’m very glad I wasn’t the only one to have diary malfunctions and email malfunctions. I ended up with a rescheduled-reschedule that drifted from Monday to Wednesday, then weather conditions meant what I was doing on Thursday got bumped to Wednesday so I bumped the rescheduled-reschedule to the only time we both had free – my sacred Friday afternoon, which I did not like very much but the next time we were both free was going to be two weeks on Monday! No wonder last week’s diary ended up with more crossings-out than usual. I think there was quite likely a universal mishap bug going about. I went to do photos on Thursday afternoon at the refuge and ended up waiting for the vet instead as there were so few volunteers. It’s kitty season so all the kitties in foster families got to push in first. It’ll be my time next week so I shouldn’t moan.

A week where I should just have stayed in bed, I think. Design work, photography, website innards, adverts, car malfunctions, oil changes, air filters, diary issues, weather dilemmas, appointment changes, forgotten appointments and cancellations, viral dogs, puppy returns, kitties in every room I have with a door… Perhaps Freddie is right. Life still goes on. No wonder I want to break free! Roll on September where I get a bit of order again.

Bet you never thought I’d be saying that!

I had kind of hoped to launch the book ‘Finding Shelter’ this week, but I’ve not finished the final edit, or putting photos in. That’s this week’s task. I’m going to ride the Bob rollercoaster and hope that some of those 500 people who’ve liked Woof Like To Meet this weekend might buy a copy too. Might as well take advantage of Bob’s notoriety. I think I’m going to call him ‘The Dog That Broke Facebook’ and he could have a series of photos like Kim Kardashian’s ‘Selfish’. ‘Doggish’ by Bob the Labrador.

Anyway, have a good week. If anyone needs a job (no pay), Bob needs a social secretary.

Counting on the night for a beautiful day

I’ve been on Kings of Leon overload this weekend, so here’s Be Somebody to give your Monday a lift.

And heaven knows I need a lift this Monday.

First on the agenda is a market that Les Dames de FER is setting up for September. Luckily I’ve got a whole load of superbly organised people on the team as I’ve got a list of about five hundred questions to work through this morning. All the artwork has been done by the amazing Sylvie and if the market’s not busy in September, it’s not for want of trying! Still, I’m going round trying to round up as many stallholders as I can and it’s not so easy.

“You want me to earn some money? All I have to do is show up? Nah…. not sure about that. What’s in it for me?”

People are so suspicious these days.

We’ve got six weeks before the event and I know it’s going to be all swan-like with lots of flapping beneath the surface to look even slightly graceful on the day.

Then I’ve got another big thing coming, which is a book I wrote last November (!) and have just got around to reworking to make a book. It’s called Finding Shelter. I’m hoping I can have it ready for mid-month. It’s about my year at the refuge last year. This year, during National Novel Writing Month, I’m going to write the sequel. Hopefully it will raise me enough money to buy a dedicated camera for the refuge. Mine is dirty and grimy, the battery died last week and the charger is busted. I’d love it if I could buy some higher-end lenses. I’ve been looking at some ‘professionals’ photos and (in my very humble opinion) all that’s better about them is the focal length I can’t get from my lens. I am very proud of my ability to get dogs to look at the camera and take a winning photo, since most of the other photos I see don’t manage to get that.


Before I do it, I’ve got a few website hiccups to fix. You  know, the kind where your host deletes all your content and can’t find it again. It was partially my fault as I seem to have been in a confused torpor when I was reordering the domain name. I knew I should have set it on automatic!

It’s been hard re-reading it. So much has happened since I finished it last November – so many dogs adopted and some deaths too. Very hard reading the bit about Ralf. I miss that crazy big fool. Tobby just isn’t quite silly enough, giddy enough, stubborn enough or stupid enough. That said, he did get out three times last week – mostly inspired by some little fosters I have here I think. He’s had enough of young and energetic. I caught him trotting down the road like an arthritic Littlest Hobo.

Last week was a very hard week at the refuge – two dogs died of parvovirus (and you can imagine my delight over a thread of discussion on Facebook about how dog vaccinations are just there to rip us off, how we vaccinate too much. As I said there, perhaps a little harshly, 27 dogs died of a completely preventable disease last year at the refuge. No dog died as a result of their vaccination. Watch some dog die of a horrible allergic reaction now… )

Worse still, sweet little Jojo, a fox terrier, died last week too – he’d had parvo earlier in the year and I don’t know if he was just weak as a result.

Then there was Drack.

Drack was a 12 year old shepherd cross who was one of my favourites. He’d been there sixteen months, seen three pen-mates adopted, never had a chance himself. It was tough – he needed a home with no cats and no male dogs. Those are tough homes to find for an old boy. When you’re big and old, that’s two strikes against your name. Nobody wants to take a chance on you. He died of a stomach torsion during the night on Friday. He’d been having increasing problems over the last six weeks or so. 12 is a good age for a big dog, just as 13 was for Ralf. Doesn’t make it better though. No dog should die at the refuge.

What really got me was the reaction of a few people, as if the refuge was negligent in some way. Why don’t we have night staff, they asked. Why are we allowing dogs to die? Suffice to say these are people who hadn’t shared his photo when he was alive or helped me find him a home, so in my opinion, you don’t get to be outraged when he dies. Be outraged at the fact dogs are mistreated and dumped. Be outraged at this careless throwaway society. But don’t be outraged at the hardest-working, most dedicated, most caring team of people I ever met, doing it on a tiny budget with nothing to spare.

I wouldn’t mind but three of our closest refuge/pound neighbours euthanise dogs for space. Two associations exist solely to help deal with the euthanasia/space issue. Another refuge doesn’t always vaccinate, chip or sterilise the dogs that leave them (even though it’s illegal to advertise dogs who aren’t identified). One refuge cherry-picks dogs that arrive. One makes you make an appointment to see their dogs and the woman who runs it would rather poke her eyes out than let a dog be adopted from ‘her’ refuge. One of our English-speaking associations has in its coffers half of our yearly budget and isn’t spending it on rehoming animals. That’s what makes me mad. Mornac is a great place where volunteers are up at all hours sharing photos, writing stories, helping our dogs and cats get seen in the wider world. Many of the staff regularly work twice as many hours as they are paid to, and come back to volunteer when they’re on holiday!! Everybody works so hard, and to be judged by ill-informed people when you have just lost one of the animals you’ve tried so hard to give a second chance to, well, it’s nothing short of soul-destroying.

Anyway, as I said in the book, “Suck it up, buttercup.” I shall take my own advice.

Enjoy the Kings. I am. Today I’m back on punk and searching for energy. Exams are finished, the new refuge website is under construction, my Woof Like To Meet website is gradually finding its content again, my little foster cats are almost all ready to be advertised for adoption, the book is coming together, the September foire is lucky to have a dedicated team to pull it all together and I’m happy to know that today I will be spending my time with ladies who work just as hard as I do, if not harder. Lessons this afternoon and this evening. Busy week right through until the weekend. Let’s hope a burst of energy today will carry me through!



A wish and a prayer

It’s been too long since I had a bit of 80s glam metal to start the week off, so here’s Cinderella with Gypsy Road

You’d think that I’d have a bit of quiet in the summer when some of my students are on holiday – but it has not been that way. I’ve still got most of my students diligently working away, although the marking has finished now. With kitties and dogs coming overnight, with dog-sitting and late night dog walks, mini book sales, magazine deliveries, dog adoptions, dog viewings, website building and ambitious attempts to finish a monstrous piece of writing, I don’t think I stopped all week. It looks like it’ll be mid-August before I’ve got time to stop again.

I said last week that I was doing autumn jobs – and yesterday and today have been much cooler. Surely summer can’t be over? August hasn’t even started yet! It didn’t really reach that point where you get tired of how hot it is, or you can’t find anywhere cool. I think we’ll have temperature revivals next week though. We even had rain the last few days. I got thoroughly drenched on Friday walking Diabolo, a handsome dalmatian. Then I just got dry before the heavens opened again when I was walking Balou the boxer. I took out a couple of muddy jumpy dogs in between and I was properly filthy by the time I finished.

Yesterday there was a small book sale for the Hope Association just up the road so I took up all the refuge stuff to do a stand there. I managed to resist buying any books which is quite something; I’ve still not finished Go Set A Watchman and I don’t know if that says something about the book or something about me, or both. It’s kind of nice to catch up on characters you have loved from To Kill a Mockingbird but it definitely feels like a determined agent’s work to make a bit of cash rather than anything else. Not to say that it’s not enjoyable, but to be honest, Atticus and Calpurnia are untouchable paragons of virtue in my eyes and I’m kind of torn over seeing them turn back into mere mortals again.

I got to have a good catch up with a few people which I enjoyed very much – I always wish I had more time to do that. Still not quite long enough – since I only saw one lady at the end of the day and she’d been there all day! Two kittens went to new homes, although I didn’t take mine. They’ve been wormed now but can’t be vaccinated for another two weeks, so I don’t want to risk infection when they’ve not benefited from the whole Mum-milk package. And they are so little bother, you’d hardly notice they were here. The boy is an absolute dreamboat – he’s called Dodger. He is so placid and he just loves being petted. She’s a little more choosy. I’ve decided she’s Lady Jane (she’s grey!) and Lady for short. She was Rose at first, but she’s not a Rose, or a Rosie.


She is smaller than he is and less affectionate, a little more shy and much less sociable. He’s just a sweetheart. They’ll be ready for adoption in a couple of weeks.

dodgerThese photos are from a couple of weeks ago – my camera charger died last week and so I am temporarily without camera. This is a bad thing for the refuge since I’ve got a list of thirty dogs to photograph, but it is a good thing for me because it means I can have a bit of a break.

It’s nice to have the kitties though – my house is not well adapted for cats given the location. The road and the local wildlife are not cat friendly. Ralf wasn’t particularly trustworthy around small things either. Keeping them in foster whilst they are so small means that they can be protected from the diseases they will come into contact with at the refuge – things like typhus and coryza, infectious peritonitis and ringworm. It’s a win-win. Recently, the Charente pound set up a campaign with Fondation 30 Millions d’Amis to pay for wild cats to be trapped, sterilised, identified and released. This is a big change from the current situation, which is not good for feral cats. If they can’t be socialised, they can’t be rehomed. Other schemes exist which don’t involve identification – but an unidentified feral cat, sterilised or not, if trapped, is likely to face euthanasia. The sad fact is that trap-and-release schemes also need support for food and other health checks otherwise the feral populations face infighting, disease and even starvation. At least it stops the over-population and inter-breeding that happens though. Not a fate that awaits Lady and Dodger, luckily.

Anyhow, enjoy the delights of Tom Keifer and co. I have cleaning to do!


September’s coming soon

Today’s Mellow Monday comes with the delightful Nightswimming by R.E.M. because who doesn’t love the gorgeousness of this track?

Automatic for the People is perhaps my favourite album of 1992 – it’s the soundtrack to my first year in Sheffield and it’s one of the only tracks I can listen to on endless repeat. (Another is Badly Drawn Boy’s Silent Sigh – I just love the pianos, obviously!) John Paul Jones did the orchestral arrangements I think – nothing he ever touches is bad. It’s a tough call for best albums of that year though, since I’m pretty sure I spent the year being angry with Rage Against The Machine and Angel Dust. That’s a great album as well. They all remind me of Monty’s – this tiny club we used to go to in Bury – I think we’d got past the shiny hair and make-up of Rockworld and sunk quite happily into the grunge era that Monty’s seems to encapsulate in my mind. Those joyful years of being sixteen and seventeen with Poison and Motley Crue were long gone and R.E.M. just caught me at a time when I needed it. I still can’t listen to Everybody Hurts. 1992 was the year one of my best friends committed suicide and I cry before four notes are out. Nightswimming was the soothing I needed after the frustrated sadness. It still brings me a kind of calm.

And true to the song, it really does feel like September’s coming soon. I’m doing all my September tasks – lots of leaves coming down already and it feels like September in a weird way. It’s been so hot and dry here that a lot of plants are packing up and going home early. It’s still super-hot – we had 39°C last week on a couple of days, and Saturday was stifling, waiting for a storm that never came. This week brings a new wave of heat as well. Lots of early morning walks and stealth gardening.

The kitties are now weaned – though there are only two now. The tiny little one didn’t make it – no miracle for her. I knew she wouldn’t and I tried so hard to keep her going. She was only taking food via a syringe and although she was having 8 feeds a day and pooping and weeing normally, she wasn’t gaining weight. The vet said it’s like that sometimes. I took her on Wednesday and the vet said she wasn’t likely to make it. It makes me so sad that so many animals are destined to a short little life of misery. Caring for an oldie is fine – it’s uplifting to know they have some moments of joy with you in the last days of their life. They’ve lived. They’ve had joy, even if they ended up at the refuge for weeks, if not months or even years. You give them what you can. But the babies who are three weeks old and know nothing but hunger and misery and pain – that’s just not right at all. I suspect she just gave up trying to live. 

Amigo is very much enjoying the kittens, though I can’t tell if it’s in a ‘I’d like to eat them’ kind of way. He’s fascinated but there’s some alarming lip licking going on. Tobby kisses them all. He is such a kissy dog. He will happily lie next to Amigo of an evening and wash his head. Amigo’s not so keen, but Tobby seems happy. He’d like to wash Heston too but Heston’s not into boy-on-boy bonding. Not sure why, but Tobby is not interested in stinky Tilly at all. He’s definitely a man’s dog. He got all gooey when he met Jim last week. He even sat and gave him a paw. I don’t get that from him. Tilly and I just have nothing to offer the old bromance-seeker.

Last week was a sorting-out kind of a week and a catching-up kind of a week. This week I’ve got a few more lessons and work to do – but I’ve managed to squash in a cheeky Udemy course, since they were very kindly offering a $400 course for $10. Seemed rude not to. Never mind night swimming, I miss night school. This week will be a mostly cleaning kind of a week in between work, since I’ve not cleaned the house since before the marking started. In Bolton, that wouldn’t have mattered. Here, with four dogs and two kittens, it matters. Plus, I have about twenty favours people have asked me to do – hopefully will be able to sort those out and not feel so flipping guilty that I haven’t had time to do them. I’ve a stack of photos of dogs to process as well. Better get on with it!

Have a very mellow Monday