In the hands of these erroneous fools

The first Monday of 2017 and it’s about time we had The Guillemots with Trains to Brazil

Time definitely seems to be going faster than it ever did. I didn’t ever really get used to it being 2016, let alone 2017. I was in bed by 9.30 last night – puppies were all wormed again yesterday and it zapped them a little bit. They have a big burst of energy from about 6.30 til about 8.30, a bit of a sleep and then some more playing til about lunchtime. And yes, it’s the Feff who’s up before any of us, excited to start his day – or, more likely, giddy for breakfast.

It’s back to work for me today, and I’m hoping I can tire the puppies out this afternoon as I’ve got some Skype lessons this evening. Nothing like puppies barking at each other to put you off your Macbeth. Funny to think that this time last year, I just had a little Rocky kitten other than my own dogs – it is still strange not to have kittens in the bathroom. The puppies have been much noisier than the kittens, it must be said. By the time breakfasts are done, my dogs are walked, I’ve cleaned up the puppies and visited the other dogs I’m looking after, it’s usually lunchtime. I’d stupidly thought I’d be able to get some of my assignments done for my canine behaviour practitioner course. I’m at unit 9 out of 16 – and although that might seem good to you, I’ve still a way to go. Trying to get them out of the way before June will be the challenge so that I’m free to do all my marking duties.

2017 will see me back in the UK much more than I ever had to be before. New jobs and contracts mean more visits will be necessary, and probably longer ones too.

Last year, I had no real resolutions as such. I tried to do a 366-day photo challenge, but it proved too much and I got up to about 100. That’s not to say I didn’t take a lot of photos (9,900 to be exact) but that I didn’t spend much time on Photoshop once spring kicked in. You can kind of understand that, I guess. I got to April and it was all kittens.


I got more experimental by the end of the year. This snow process was actually really straightforward. Can’t remember how the hell I did it, but it beat real snow for sure.

If 2016 brought me anything, it was a love of that super-duper 50mm lens. My nifty-fifty didn’t leave my camera.


It is a marvellous lens.


Between Photoshop, Picmonkey and my nifty fifty, I really fell in love with photography all over again.

I did a lot of reading as well in 2016. Alright. A lot of it was dog reading. I even managed to get through a whole 28 books! Mind you, there were endless science reports as well that I read – I don’t suppose they count!


Some of those books were absolute crap that I didn’t finish. That High Pyrenees book needs burning it was so bad, and likewise for I am Pilgrim. Winter in Madrid and All the Light We Cannot See made me weep. Prisoners of Geography and Outliers were great. In fact, I’ve probably got quite a few more I need to add to this list.

I only have one real plan for next year: I’m doing the 1000 miles challenge, which means walking 1000 miles before the end of the year. It’s the equivalent of just over 38 marathons. I’m doing it to raise a bit of cash for the refuge – with budget cuts and vans breaking down for good, all money is needed.

You can contribute here if you’d like to help us. All money goes directly to the refuge.

Although one or two of my responsibilities have ended, I’ve still plenty to keep me busy in 2017, not least the assistant principal examiner post which will see most of my summer spent in dark rooms, carrying right through to re-marks and November marking. I have really, really had a lot of success from a couple of my blogs this year – Madame Anglaise just never fails to surprise me given how little I invested in it. Last year, knowing the syllabus was changing, I decided to aim for a post a week – and saw my great stats triple, which was really, really cool. Woof Like To Meet also went viral, with one post getting over a quarter of a million reads. It’s at that point when you think “I should monetise this!” but I’ve always thought that if you give stuff away free, people are generally pretty grateful and happy to pass you on to someone who will not mind paying for your services.

Losing Tobby was the saddest part of my year – sad that I only got to have nineteen months of him, which was eighteen more than I expected, but even so. Shepherds connect with you in ways other dogs don’t, that’s all I can say. Or maybe I spent so long thinking it would be my last week with him that I truly, truly treasured him. Tilly trotted on, infection after infection, treatment after treatment. I’m sandwiched between Tilly and Amigo as I write – and there is no greater joy than being sandwiched between two old giffers. The Feff is still here – his German adoption fell through. He’s on the market once again and leaving me whether I can really manage with four dogs. We will see.

Here’s to a marvellously successful 2017 for everyone. Who knows what the year will bring in France – we can’t even begin to speculate. This marks my seventh year in France, and wondering whether I’m feeling the seven year itch. Normally I’m so ADHD that I manage three years before deciding it’s time for a change! All I want these days is a bit of stability!

Have a good week, anyway, and remember that Spring is one day closer.

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