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


When I needed sunshine I got rain

Okay, so it’s a few weeks late, but better late than never… Today’s Much Love Monday comes to you with the delightful sounds of Reeves and Mortimer, with I’m a Believer. 

Nothing like the smell of Reeves and Mortimer to give you a bit of a lift. Ironically, my massive workload is coming to an end and it’s time to start on some bigger projects. That said, I’ve still got students to teach. The exam marking, which has taken up a good six week block of my life, is coming to an end and it’s just into the final tidying up stages. Now it’s time to catch up on all the things I’d put to one side for six weeks.

So what has happened in the last three months?

Mostly work. A lot of that. With two sets of cross-channel students, the brevet, the bacc, GCSEs and A levels put a lot of pressure on students and so I’ve been cramming in lessons here, there and everywhere. There’s been a lot of change as well with five of my students returning to the UK. Some of my former students are going back to go to university in the UK as well and they’ve all had phenomenal results.

Then a lot of gardening. A lot. It’s been great gardening weather on the whole and every spare moment in the garden is a pleasure even if it is work. Everything is yellow right now and it looks kind of autumnal. I pruned back the giant hebe bush that brought back such sad memories – It finished flowering much later last year and I spent a lot of time down at the end of the garden with Ralf. Sad to know that he’s not here to enjoy the garden like he used to. I’m still filling in the holes he dug but he had such a great time doing it, I didn’t have the heart to stop him. Tobby very much loves a potter and has really settled in.

IMG_1676His arthritis is still bad, but it’s manageable. He doesn’t fall and he’s much stronger. He’s gained a couple of kilos and is now at a great weight – no ribs and hips sticking out. I don’t want him to be porky – very bad for arthritis – but he didn’t have much by way of muscle tissue either, at 21kg. He wanders around all day with a toy in his mouth, never wanting anyone to play with him. He puts it down to have a wee or to eat but it’s quite usual to find toys all over the garden where he’s dropped one and picked up another somewhere else. Heston’s taken to copying him and the pair of them wander around with toys in their mouth like weird dog dummies.

I had a couple of guests as well. First there was Chops, a Newfoundland. I’d gone to the refuge to drop off some paperwork on Wednesday and saw Chops there – his proper name is Gothic but he suits Chops better. He was one of the Juillaguet 160 – 160 dogs taken from a breeder 20 miles away from the refuge. He was born three days before arrival at the refuge and once he was weaned, he found a home. Unfortunately, dogs who are part of a court case are in legal limbo and he couldn’t be adopted definitively. When his family were moving to Paris and to smaller premises, they brought Chops back. No gentle attempt to rehome him, no preparation. Just a “here’s your dog back!”

Poor Chops was so stressed that I brought him home with me. It didn’t get better either as he was rehomed with someone who called me after three weeks and asked me to rehome him as he’d chewed a slipper and chased their cats. The cat thing happened before they signed the paperwork so I guess the slipper chewing broke the camel’s back. Luckily, I found him another home with a gorgeous family and he is happy as Larry. He looks it from the photos anyway. He had a great time here and played with Heston. I think it was the first time he’d ever played in his life, but he had great fun. Gorgeous dog. I’m so glad that he’s now in a home where dogs are more important than the things they chew.


We went up to eight dogs overnight as well as it was the Hope booksale and I desperately wanted to find a home for Hoppy and Edona. These two came to the refuge looking and smelling like they’d never been cared for in their short lives. Hoppy had lost his paw, probably because of the impacted hair around his feet which had cut off the circulation to his paw. Nicky and Jocelyn cut off over a kilo of hair from each one. Whether it’s because they had to go as a pair or because Hoppy was three-footed, they didn’t shift. I hoped the booksale would find them a home. It turned out that it was the short-term foster care that made the difference and within a week, a lady came for Hoppy and Edona.

hoppy and edona

I fell completely in love with Edona. She is just the sweetest little dog. Hoppy is a sweetie too and I know everyone was in love with him, but Edona had this quiet love and took a bit of time to warm up to you, but when she did – ah! She was only here a week but I miss her. Fatal, this fostering malarky.

They’re now in the UK enjoying life, renamed Charlie and Daisy. You can always tell when people love their dogs as their dogs have names that really suit them. Hoppy is such a Charlie Dog and Edona makes a lovely Daisy. That’s like Chops. He’s Chops through and through. No wonder they’re sticking to Chops!

The garden is back under control and although I’ve not done much by way of vegetables, it’s good to know that it’s a little tamer than it was.


The big cherry on the right was a victim of last year’s storms – it had come down 25 years ago and regrown, and is putting out leaves, but it’ll need taking out completely. I’ve been putting in a couple of shade beds and next year, I’ll put in a few more. There is a fence down the midline of this photo which is about the limit of the flood water. The area is usually under shade as there are several big trees there, not least the fabulous Indian Bean tree and a huge pine.

No shade for the lovely dahlias.


This is a new bed I put in this year. I thought it got more sun than it does, so I’ll be replanting some things in here. I’ve put in a lot of perennials and some biennials. Foxgloves, rudbeckia, physalis, dianthus, echinacaea and verbena are in there at the moment. There are also a few annuals too like the scabious and the cornflowers. Hopefully there’ll be some blooming this year any how.

IMG_1713Besides work, dogs and garden, there’s been a deal of volunteer work, whether it be for Les Dames de FER, the enterprise group I’m co-president of, or for the refuge. I’m now part of the steering committee for the refuge, which is fun. We’re working on websitey stuff and as always I’m stunned by just how much time people give and how much kindness there is in the world.

And then there are walks. Always walks.


Thinking space, reflection, meditation and exercise all in one. Today, a mixed bag of work and dog-sitting, gardening and a desperate attempt to find a little time to myself to read the much-awaited Harper Lee follow-up. I’ve got 3 three-week-old kittens that are needing hand-feeding – though truth be told, two of them are fat and handsome and ready for solids. One – well, I’m still not sure she’s going to make it. She is not thriving, poor thing. The vet can’t do anything and it’s just a matter of time to see whether she survives or not. Not so ill to need to be given a helping hand to a little peace in her short life, not so well that I can put aside my worries that she won’t make it to cat-hood. I can only cross my fingers and hope for a small miracle.

We will see.




A rock and roll child

Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you by the Most Fabulous Marc Bolan and T. Rex with Metal Guru. 

This Top of the Pops performance is a mere two weeks after my birth. Noel Edmonds doesn’t look much different in his cheeky Sherwood Green. It’s funny watching this video in seeing just how much Marc Bolan influenced Noel Fielding – whether he acknowledges it or not. They’re both what I love about English guys: quirky, eccentric and a bit of a fruit-loop. Who wouldn’t love a cheeky English chap with his bad teeth, pallid complexion and odd-ball sense of humour?

I had a proper T. Rex morning yesterday when I was clearing out the garden. I’m still tackling brambles, but there are lots of clear patches and a HHUUUUUGGGE heap of garden waste. Nothing makes you feel more Sunday than a bit of gardening. I don’t care if I end up aching when I’ve got a bit of glittery T Rex love in my soul.

I don’t think I sat down at all last week. Everything’s in manic-grow mode. Plus, it’s the last two weeks before the holidays and I’ve got a lot of work as per. On Friday, we’re doing a stand at a ladies’ networking event in Magnac-sur-Touvre, so my usual Friday afternoon of dog photos will have to find another occasion. Plus, I have an association meeting in the morning. Why does everything always happen together?

Tobby has been getting on just fine – the metacam’s taking its toll on his digestive system, so we’ve eased off a bit. He’s finally got enough meat on him so that I can’t see each individual rib any longer, so he gets to level off the food as well. He’s a comical dog – never remembers that his body isn’t up to it any more and goes haring off down the garden, legs going every which way. I couldn’t decide yesterday whether the vet only gave me a small bottle of medicine for him because she doesn’t think he’ll last long enough to finish it, or whether she was being kind on the wallet. I’d like to say I’ve seen some improvement, but apart from being a little more in control of his legs than he was, the best I can say is that he’s not much worse. He has quite bad separation anxiety when I walk the others and we’re all out – I’ve been walking Tilly or Amigo in alternance with Heston – he seems much less distressed when he’s got a friend. If I thought he had longer to go, it would be an issue, but I don’t think that I’ll make much headway before his body finally gives up on him. Honestly, it’s quite heart-breaking because he’s still so young in his ways. He has no concept of the fact he’d be much better to plod a bit and take long naps. That’s probably why Ralf lasted as long as he did. Boy, that dog could sleep.

Until that moment, though, it’s nothing but love and kisses for my gorgeous old dude.

It’s also been a year since Amigo arrived – my sweetest dog. He’s just a cuddly bucket of nibbly kisses. He’s the one dog who never shows me up, God love him. If Amigo were a person, he’d be Richard Briars. He’s all gentle and lovely and twinkly eyed.

Happy 1st Adoption Birthday Meeglou. Meegy also goes by the name of Meego Beego, Meegle and The Meegle Beagle. He’s not a beagle.



Funny how dogs get other names than the one they have. Ralf was often Ralferton. Tilly is more often than not Pippin these days. She’s my Tilly Pip. Heston is mostly Heston. Tobby is often Wobbly Bob or Tobster. He doesn’t know or care. Tobby’s definitely not a name he knows.

Seedlings, dogs, greenery and gardens… A new season of Game of Thrones and a girl is content. It’s that time of year when everything is new and fresh and green; the year is not yet tired and old. It’s still cool enough to work outside in, and warm enough to eat lunch outside too. A few stolen lunchtime moments reading a copy of Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain instead of answering emails… definitely better for the spirit.

Enjoy your week: hopefully you’re not all of a springtime frenzy.

You disturb my natural emotions

Some of Manchester’s finest for you this Monday morning.  Buzzcocks with Ever Fallen In Love.

In fact, not even Manchester’s finest, but Leigh’s finest. Leigh might be within striking distance of Manchester, but it is a world away. None of the cosmopolitan charm of Manchester, it’s still a pit village and a mill village that is accidentally connected to bigger places. I knew kids in Westleigh that hadn’t been to Leigh, let alone Wigan, Bolton or – dare I say it – Manchester. I remember explaining to some Leigh kids that I lived in Bolton, some seven miles away. I might as well have said I came from the moon.

Got to love Pete Shelley, anyway, who can still belt it out when needed.

He’s not the only old dude I’m loving this Monday morning. I’d like to introduce you all to someone.

This is Tobby!


Tobby is a thirteen-year-old Malinois Belgian Shepherd and he found himself in the refuge 14 months ago. He has very severe arthritis – a real Wobbly Bob – and while I have a space and he needs a home, I couldn’t not. Though he gets care in the refuge, and food, he was getting so bad that you had to wonder how long he would have left. He arrived on Friday, was impeccably behaved with Heston and has taken to following Amigo everywhere. Amigo’s having none of it. Tobby’s already on a double dose of metacam, an arthritis medicine for dogs, but I think the rest is doing Tobby the world of good. He’s much less wobbly in the mornings now, even though that’s the longest time from his medication, but he’s progressively wobblier as the day goes on. He really is a magnificent dog and he hasn’t done any of the things I let Ralf get away with. No holes. No grabbing food from the side. No lying in the middle of the floor like a giant obstacle. He doesn’t like being on his own, which he’ll have to get used to, because I can’t take him for walks, and definitely not the kind of walks that Heston needs. I hoped he was okay on his own, but I suspect he’s been doing a lot of barking and is a bit distressed. I don’t even think he would be bothered if he were with the other dogs as company.


It’s not a case of a space for anyone, this home that Ralf has left. No. There are plenty of other dogs who would just fit right in. I don’t need four. This is a space for a dog who doesn’t have much time left and needs to profit from it whilst he can. Watch him go on to make a miracle recovery now! I wouldn’t care if he did. He’s very welcome. I just can’t believe such a magnificent dog, like so many of the others, has found himself at the refuge. If I lost one of my dogs, I’d not rest until I found them or until I’d exhausted all the possibilities of finding them. Despite everything, his coat is still in good condition, though he is very thin – he’s always been so thin you can see his ribs. I just wish I knew a little of his history – he’s such a gorgeous fellow that you can’t but wonder who loved him all his life.


I’m sure Ralf would be very happy to know he paved the way for another oldie.

Tobby is very much enjoying the garden as well – the sun has returned and there is work to be done. You have no idea just how big my garden rubbish pile is now. I’ve done nothing but pull up brambles and thistles, cut down suckers and pick nettles. Nettles are fine – they will make a hellishly stinky nettle tea for other things later in the year. Brambles are a pain. Other stuff is much easier. This week will see temperatures of 27°C and aren’t I glad about that? Soon I’ll be moaning that it’s too hot. Truth be told, I am loving being back in the garden again. Nothing is nicer. I actually managed to spend a sit-down half-hour yesterday outside with a book and my lunch. Walking the dogs afterwards in 22°C, endless blue skies through the yellow fields and it’s days like that when you wish time could stand still forever.

Anyway, have a lovely Monday. Busy day ahead for me. The week is my last really busy one until the holidays start in two weeks’ time. Next week is a little more relaxed and peaceful and then it’s the holidays! Not that I ever have much of a holiday as I have probably 75% of my clients still, but even so, it’s a bit of a break.

Hope your blue skies are as blue as mine.

Drug Store Lovin

Blue skies, bank holidays and a Much Love Tuesday with a little bit of Otis

I don’t think there’s anyone in the whole world who’s impervious to the sound of a trumpet and a bit of Otis.

I confess I got a little carried away yesterday. I spent the morning wrestling brambles in the garden, feeling like She-Ra and looking like Alan Titchmarsh. Luckily, I came away without visible injuries. The same won’t be true when it comes to the yucca bushes. Who even likes that prickly nightmare? I’ve got three as well. They look all nasty and bedraggled. If I don’t cut all the deadness off, they just look even worse. If it were an easy and painless thing, I’d chainsaw the lot of them. I get the feeling they’d fight back.

Afterwards, we had a bit of a romp in the sunshine and cold winds – it’s right what they say. April is definitely cold even though the skies are blue. The plum blossom has come and gone. The peaches are in blossom. The cherries look like they’re about to burst into blossom at any moment. This year, I need to plant a few more fruit trees – I’ve lost a good six or seven to storms in the last couple of years. I lost my big cherry last year and I’m still sad about it. Why can’t the storms take those ugly yuccas and whip them over towards the face of someone unpleasant? That’s how I know there’s no such thing as karma.


In the afternoon, I got to have a lot of Monday Love; I went to a craft market in Mansle that was hosted by a lady who adopted the most lovely Ufo back on my birthday (you don’t forget a thing like that) Ufo had been at the refuge for seven years. As his new owner said, she had no idea why he’d been there that long. He is still as greedy as ever, but he is totally in love with his new owner. I think my happiest moment was when he looked up at Martine for reassurance – he clearly dotes on her. She says he’s afraid of the dark and won’t go outside in the dark. He also has to get in bed for a cuddle before he goes to sleep. Twenty minutes is enough for him and then he’s happy. Sadly, being big, black, male and old are a poor combination and it means these dogs get overlooked time and time again.

Not only did I get to see the handsome Ufo but I had a right good rummage in people’s buttons. It did get a bit ‘League of Gentlemen’ with several of the stallholders eyeing Sarah and I suspiciously as if we were about to rob all of the precious things of the shop.





Then Sarah took me back to hers and let me rummage in her button box. Life doesn’t get better than that.

Except if there’s cake.

Anyway, today I’m off to see the lovely Roni and to plan a campaign of world domination. Roni is one of those people who make you feel all excited the moment that you meet her. She is a mighty force in pink Doc Martens. Afterwards, a bit of a run-around for appointments. Hopefully there will be adoptions today at the refuge as well, though I don’t know if I’ll get down to see the dogs going to their new homes.

Happy Tuesday to you.