Monthly Archives: April 2016

Times are Changing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We always want what we can’t have

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

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

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

It’s been one of those weeks.

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

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

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

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

She has a point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!


Read the signs and walk away

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

If there’s a way I wish we’d see it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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