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.




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