Tag Archives: Tilly

Almost Silent Sunday









Those of you who knew Tilly before Heston will probably join me in complete astonishment that she plays at all. She used to look at Molly and César playing and wonder what the hell they were doing. She’d bark at them and get upset. She was the least likely dog ever to play with a puppy. The chances of her being playful were about the same as the chance that Victoria Beckham might give a natural smile. And that, as you know, is not a very big chance at all.

And now there is a lot of playing in this house. She might be a good three inches shorter than him now, with a tiny little mouth and jaw, and blunt little claws, but she plays and plays. It’s amazing to watch this sad little unsocialised dog learn to play for the first time. When she arrived at our house, she didn’t play at all. Jake taught her to run for a ball, and sometimes she’d play with a bit of bone, but the chance of her playing with Molly was nil. She still won’t run for a ball, but she’s turned into a completely different dog. Hopefully she’ll learn that chest down, bum up, tail wagging, playful bark means ‘Come On! Come and Wrestle With Me!’

Where it’s at

I’m not usually a Saturday blogger. Recently, I’ve been squeezing out only my Sunday and Monday blogs – bit difficult to blog when all my computer represents is work. That’s a bit easier now, of course. The tough thing is switching off when you’ve been switched on for such a long time. I never quite know what to do with myself. In England, this would be where I’d waste five hours on MTV, flicking through the channels.

Anyway, it’s not like I’m stuck for things to do. The garden is coming back under control slowly – it’s still wet so I tend to do a day or two, then it rains and it’s too wet to do anything with.

So my time is spent with the animals. Of course, Heston is a darling. With a lab/collie mix, he’s bound to be smart as a whip. He’s been with me precisely ten days and he knows ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ and ‘walk’. He is getting used to having the lead on and walking around the house with it on. Slowly, slowly. It’s like breaking in a horse. You don’t want them to think it’s a tug of war on their neck. He will walk to heel too – especially if he’s in unfamiliar surroundings. In the house, there’s too much to distract him. He will chase and fetch already, too, and is learning to give. Not bad. Two weeks, six commands.

He’s getting better at sleeping. Not quite there yet, with two 5:50 get ups, though I blame Noireau. Damn cat decides it’s time to play with my wardrobe. I don’t know why but he’s fascinated by it. He tries to open it every single morning. That wakes Heston up. Then he wants a wee. That wakes me up. I get up and that wakes Tilly up. We all go out for a wee, then the beasts think it’s breakfast time. I hold off feeding them all until 7:00 am. If they’re in the habit of waking up for breakfast and know I’ll get up to give to them, then that’s a no-brainer. I don’t want him training me. Yes, he whines to go out. That I can live with. We go out. Then we go back to bed, or I get up, but breakfast is 7 am. No way he’s connecting getting up with eating. That’s a recipe for disaster. After a restless Monday and Tuesday, I was all ready to get the crate out and crate him overnight, but I think he knew. Wednesday, he slept until Noireau woke us all up. No puddles. No whining.

What’s totally cute though is the change in Tilly. When she first arrived, I did some basic training with her, but she was not so easy to train. She managed ‘sit down’ and ‘out’ (of the kitchen) but that was about it. To be honest, she walks to heel, never runs off and is only in need of some correcting on her jealousy and guarding, so it didn’t seem worth it. She had no interest at the time in being petted and she was only interested in a reward.

As the eighteen months have passed, she’s become much more affectionate. She always guards me when we have guests. She sits between me and them as if to say I’m hers and they can’t have me. She sleeps on the bed and will abide being petted without growling. She even likes cuddles now, too. Fancy being a dog who didn’t like cuddles! She still barks a lot more than I wish she would, and she’s still a nervous little dog, but she’s really stepping up where Heston is concerned.

First, she would sit. She wasn’t good at waiting. She never waited for a treat. Why bother? She’d just lose attention.

She doesn’t like playing, though she’ll sometimes chase a bone now, despite watching dogs play and play and play.

However, the other day, she sat down for a treat, and totally spontaneously, her paw came up. It was a kind of weird ‘don’t know how that happened’ kind of a paw, but she gave me a paw all the same. Now she wasn’t asked, but she did it anyway and it was too cute. It was so cute I gave her two treats. Heston’s lightning-quick but Tilly’s special, and for her to have learned to wait is a big deal. And, after two years of teaching, she’s given me a paw.

No matter how clever and lovely Heston is, my Tilly-Woo is the cutest little doggie ever. God love her!

I try to be like Grace Kelly…

…but her looks were too sad.

Today’s Much Love Monday’s soundtrack is Mika with Grace Kelly.

Sometimes a little Freddie (Mercury) makes everyone feel a little better.

So… here’s Monday once again

What do I have Much Love for this sunny Monday?

  • the sun returning and finally being able to get in the garden to sort it out
  • being able to start the strimmer myself. You may think this is a paltry achievement, but petrol tools with a pull start always freak me out
  • the firework show at Exideuil and the very lovely company
  • doggie play dates
  • the spaniel romance between Dillon and Tilly. It’s one-sided as yet, but as soon as she realises Dillon is going to leave her alone and they can grumble about pups in peace, things will be fabulous
  • Heston who is as smart as a whip and can now also sit and wait for a treat. Ten days, two tricks. Clever boy
  • Tilly who has also learned to wait for a treat – who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? It must really irritate her that a puppy can do it. I think she could have, all along, if she’d wanted to, and maybe she feels a bit shown up by the puppy
  • Noireau – mauser general who can catch on command, even though he’s partially sighted
  • Summer pudding. Ah, fruit. How I’ve missed you
  • Grand garden plans
  • My new garden patch, which has grown from nothing to something beginning to be marvellous:

I’m also coming towards the end of the work year… whilst I have some clients over the summer, many are on holiday or take a break, so I finally have some time to catch up with people who I’ve not spoken to or seen for a while. I’ve finished the script I was translating, and it’s excellent. I can’t claim any credit for it of course, but it was really pleasurable work. The GCSE papers are almost finished. The writing questions have been really nice to mark  – there’s been a lot of variety in what they’ve written and the candidates seem to have written really well, compared to last year. They had to write a script for a radio show, and it’s really been good to mark. They’ve written in interesting ways and it’s been a nice format for them. The other piece was a letter to a celebrity persuading them to come to school – and it’s nice to have a variation from Steven Gerrard and Katie Price in a similar vein on a previous question. Jamie Oliver gets lots of mentions, as does David Beckham. It seems an awful lot of English school children are bothered about healthy meals, not just one little girl in Scotland. Several politicians have had a look-in as well, which is good.

The system might still be as frustrating, but it’s reminded me why I do it – so English children get the mark they deserve. I enjoy reading what they have to say. It’s like having 1000 teenagers telling you what they think. Nobody gets that experience and it’s interesting to see, from my perspective, how many children have switched from ‘fame’ being a shallow concept to ‘fame’ being something of note because you have achieved something. The Queen, Alan Sugar, various football managers, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Boris Johnson and even David Cameron have had a look in, and there are far fewer names I don’t know. It’s a little sad to me how many of them are men. Is this a reflection on the percentage of boys taking foundation tier, or on the fact that many women in the public eye are famous for nothing, or for having big boobs, rather than for having any actual talent? I think their responses are a whole lot less shallow and more thoughtful than they were in 2007 or 2008. Perhaps austerity, recession and positive national pride for the Diamond Jubilee and for the Olympics have brought out more thoughtful responses. Or perhaps the public is just tired of plastic people who have nothing to offer. Either way, it makes for good reading!

The summer holidays are also bringing several very exciting summer guests and people I’ve not seen for a couple of years. I will be very, very glad to see them, let me tell you!

You can’t take a goldfish for a walk

Today’s Much Love Monday is brought to you by way of Lita Roza with her version of How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Heston has been with us now since Thursday and there’s nothing not to love. He’s beautiful! He’s super-intelligent, very playful and lots of fun. He has already learned to sit down, though he still runs off from time to time when he’s done something naughty (or wants to!) and he’s sleeping in his basket next to my bed. He has lots of accidents and is a tinkler rather than a piddler, meaning he goes to the toilet ALL the time rather than waiting til his bladder is full. This is a bit of an issue, but his wees are so little they’re hardly worth bothering about.

Tilly is also being lovely. She won’t play with Heston, and it worries her he might steal all of her things (including her place in my heart) but he’ll never do that. Yesterday, we went on a doggie play date with Mme V and Tilly found an admirer in Dillon, Mme V’s spaniel. He’s bigger than she is, but it’s a match made in heaven from his perspective. She has a crusty nose, some aoutie wounds, she smells bad, she’s a bit deaf, she’s blonde and cute. She doesn’t want to play or fuss and she has a bottom that smells divine to Dillon. What’s not to love?

Tilly’s not so enamoured, but then Dillon has nothing to offer her. He is not made of biscuits. She has foregone sex and swapped it for eating, so Dillon is just an annoyance to her. She tolerates his nose in her behind, but she’s more found of being petted. Despite some little yaps, she soon got over her nerves when she realised Dillon was a lover not a warrior.

Molly has been brilliant with him, but she’s a bit afraid she’ll break him. He wants to play with her and she looks like she’s worried she might drop him and break him, a bit like those women who don’t want to hold a baby in case they hurt it.

Much Love to doggie playdates. Heston, Tilly and Molly had a ball, as did Jake.

Much Love to the weekend of sun, though it’s back to rain again.

Not Much Love to the e-marker system. We pair-mark. This means I mark a thing, somebody else marks it too, and our marks are compared. If there’s a difference, we’re both stopped. Somebody more important looks at them and decides who’s right. If you are wrong, you ‘fail’ and you have one more opportunity before you are stopped. You can be re-trained, but then you are stopped again if you fail to be the ‘right’ marker on four paired-marking scripts.

You’d maybe want the check to be 20% maximum. That’s 45 scripts for me. I can live with that. Yesterday, I had 8 in a row. 8. And then I marked 7 scripts, and I had 5 more. The checking seems to be running at 50% at the moment, which is ridiculous, considering I was ‘right’ on 13 scripts and somebody else was ‘wrong’. That’s at least 4 people whose script was not inline with mine. I wasn’t wrong. I’ve done half of my writing paper marking and I’ve been checked 45% of the time. It’s a little overkill, especially when English marking is based on quality. It’s like that Minefield game.

Not only that, you have to wait whilst unresolved scripts are adjudicated. I wasted 90 minutes yesterday waiting for my marking to be checked. It’s longer today. It’s infuriating.

Anyway, I shall get back to playing with my puppy.

Not Much Love, either, for hiccups. I’ve had them since 7 am on and off. Drinking from the wrong side of the glass, holding my breath, none of it worked.

Silent Sunday…

It’s been a while!

I love my cutie Popsicle
Winter is on his way out
First major planting of 2012 - a little later than last year because of the snow
Moved into the tunnel for a little warmth
Hand-painted pots
Three of my ladies
Good to go!

Much love Mondays…

I might not have managed much silence yesterday, but I’m sure I can manage a little Monday Morning love. It’s Monday. It’s December. Here, it’s bleak, wet and miserable – it rained all yesterday and the house looks like a Chinese laundry as I try to dry all the clothes off. It’s yucky. Steve won’t let me start my Christmas playlist and got all Grinchy when it accidentally started itself (I swear I had nothing to do with it!) so Much ♥ Monday is Much Needed…

So what are my raves today?

♥ my sister who has put together a mystery package and I’m so excited I can barely contain myself

♥  Tilly who got very wet yesterday and I had to wash her in Timotei because I’d run out of dog shampoo. It’s not so bad. I once used Dog Shampoo to wash my hair, so fair’s fair.

♥ the fact I’m up to Medusa in the poetry anthology and I ♥  Carol Anne Duffy in a non-lesbionic way – she rocks the poetry world.

♥ Aurelio Zen – just working my way through the second book.

♥ Fires and cute dogs.

♥ Marge’s new tail feathers, even though she still looks very pale and her legs are very yellow – moulting must be horrible

Marge's new tail feathers!

♥ that it’s only 10 days to my birthday

♥  planning a new Alphabet lesson for Lilia – teaching primary literacy is SO much fun!

♥  Christmas tinsel

♥  Mr Fox who is scabby but purring. I ♥  Mr Fox our beautiful cannelle cat

♥  having great ideas about what to do with that big square of  “grass” that is really just dandelions and mud – oh just you wait and see!

♥ my Christmas ladder

Simple minds and simple pleasures

I make no secret of the fact I moved to France to put an end to the miserable, crabby, cross me. Life is too short to spend it so angry. I used to do lists of rants and I didn’t have a short fuse. I had an incredibly long fuse. But aside from the sleep-work-sleep routine, the only joy I really got was at work, and that’s never a good thing. Escaping for holidays here and there just wasn’t enough to help me cope with the ten tonnes of pressure that work life can bring when you know that your results can generate an Ofsted inspection with a team of inspectors who  have already made up their mind upon seeing your results that your school is failing. And the results they look at? English and Maths. No improvements? Schools are closed within a year. Up to 1,800 students, their parents, a staff of 200 depending on you. No wonder I was working from 7am – 7 pm and then bringing work home.

But I don’t have that pressure here. It’s a different sort of pressure, like where the next euro is coming from or whether the hens have got mites. I used to have all kinds of little things to get me through the day – my Paperchase pens, my cute stationery, a well-decorated office, good coffee, lovely make-up, a beautiful car – and here it’s no exception. It’s always the little things that bring a smile to my face. It used to be those days when the English department would all be using furry, light-up Mr Incredible pens or when I’d prank-call Phil for the fiftieth time. Now it’s different stuff that brings a smile to my face.

  • Tilly when she wags her tail in the mornings because she’s so glad to be awake and she lies with her back legs sticking out and her tail wagging and wagging
  • Seeing the stars out of my bedroom window over the quince tree
  • Mr Fox coming in and purring
  • Tilly wagging to see Foxy. Never was a dog so happy to see a cat
  • Feeling cool air blowing in through the kitchen window after a hot night
  • Cool tiles under my feet
  • The quiet of the house in the morning
  • Tilly popping up onto the settee at the side of me for a little bit of company (but not too much or she’ll get off!)
  • Spending a couple of hours digging and unearthing a few kilos of potatoes
  • Clearing weeds – never did I think brown earth could be so satisfying!
  • Baguettes for lunch with egg mayo
  • Seeing the chicken ladies sitting on the windowsill
  • Seeing a chicken run
  • Picking apples from the tree and eating them in the garden
  • Picking up walnuts from the floor
  • Eating grapes off the vine
  • Picking a few kilos of tomatoes for passata and sauce and home-made ketchup and soups
  • Pulling up vegetables
  • Walking in my vegetable garden – leeks, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes, beetroot, carrots and parsnips still to come
  • Planting  a handful of seeds
  • Picking fresh herbs to dry
  • Collecting the eggs
  • Making cakes and jams and jellies and chutneys and pies with stuff from the garden
  • Cuddles from Molly and curling up with her for an afternoon nap
  • Looking out of the window to see the cows across the street – our nearest neighbours with a heart-beat
  • Tilly foraging for tomatoes
  • Teaching French people to say ‘bath’ properly, and ‘mother’ properly so that it doesn’t sound like ‘muzzer’
  • Seeing people go from one-or-two words of English to being able to have a conversation
A tired Tilly Pop - too tired to stand up to drink
  • When Tilly’s been for a walk and she lies on the kitchen floor with her head resting on her water bowl because she’s too tired to do anything else
  • When Molly wants to get in her bed but she can’t because it’s been stolen by Mr Fox
  • When Fox lies almost on top of Molly on the settee – and Molly is too uncomfortable to sleep and too polite to move

Things I love today…

Loving The Bird and The Fox, who play all day long. Fox has caught two mice today and no birds. Both of them have played underneath the sofa for at least an hour, climbing under the throw.

Loving the long evenings

Loving the fact my Mum will be here on Friday

Loving having my Dad over here too

Loving my turnips which are coming on great guns

Loving the garden

Loving the Tilly Flop when she skip-dances and when she skips back to the door, her ears flapping

Loving the Moll and her random energy bursts where she races about

Loving being in my comfy bed

Loving having  a bedroom that’s now 16 degrees at night

Loving having a posse of boys wave at me and call me Madame Lee

Loving how gorgeously made-up Marine, one of my Bac students, is – subtlety and style – no thick make-up that I went for when I was too young and dumb to realise what perfect skin I had.

Loving Deb and Joanne: how lovely it is to have some sensible company beyond my family

Loving cauliflower cheese and hoping that my cauliflowers grow into big ones

Loving finding photos of Dylan I’d forgotten I’d taken

And loving Jake, who is very sweet and very funny. I hope he knows he’s fantastic.

He came in after school and asked me what a ‘tire-bouchon’ was. I didn’t know. I know a bouchon is a cork or a traffic jam, a bottle neck. And I know tirer is to take. So ‘take-cork’??! Corkscrew of course. Not only did he have to read in class, but he handled it with aplomb. I’m so proud of him. Later, I was uncorking a bottle of wine for Steve and I said to Jake: “What’s this?” as I brandished the corkscrew.

“It’s a C-O-R-K-S-C-R-E-W…” he said, totally deadpan. “God, Emma, you’re so clever, but you don’t even know that??!”

And not loving??

Death threats

Sore ankles and feet from being on my feet all day

Tilly jingling all night last night. Back to the crate

How some people spend less time on their kids than I do with my plants. 81 minutes a week, say the stats. How can you justify that??

Why oh why…

Did I want two more dogs??

I might as well have Dog Slave and Boy Slave written on me in permanence. I do nothing but pander to the whims of the various animals from dawn to dusk.

First is Moll waking me up by wanting to get under the covers and then get out again. Because I’m blanketed up, she’s got three to get under or out of. Thus, I have to be fully awake to unwrap and re-wrap her. This is Steve’s fault for letting her sleep in the bed. Now she’s entitled.

Second is navigating cat shit. Basil no longer wants to go outside on account of the other dogs and so he’s back on litter box duty. However, he misses. Today he shat in my last box of card from The Card Factory.

Third is navigating Tilly’s ‘girlie accidents’ (according to the ad about her from her previous owners – actually, completely un-housetrained… hmmmm)  and mopping up before letting them all out, having safely secured Basil in a dog-free eating environment so that he can eat his precious cat food in peace without being molested by Saffy or Tilly. Molly wouldn’t dare, but Saffy and Tilly are greedy and their eyes are bigger than their consciences or fear of punishment.

Then comes petting Tilly after she’s weed and congratulating her on weeing outside or doing a big shit. I’m going to start congratulating everyone for shitting where they should. I might stand near my brother and go “Good Aim!” when he gets it in the bowl.

Following this, I have to then retrieve Basil from his cold dog-free buffet and settle the dogs down again.

Mostly, things are fairly calm until I need to go out. It’s not so much the going out that’s the problem, it’s the coming back. Tilly sits on the back of the settee so she can look through the window, which is very cute and thus I am heart-broken upon leaving. Then when I get back, I have not to greet Tilly until she’s weed, and fuss Saffy who barks until you do and pet Molly who I like fussing when I come back because she doesn’t wee or bark. Then they rifle through my bags.

I then have to have three dogs underfoot in the kitchen until I send them all packing. I do a good line in ‘Out! Out!’ until they all disappear, before sneaking back in. Then the whole rigmarole again.

Tilly, not being house-trained, likes to sit near the door knowing full well whenever she does we’ll let her out. Then Saffy follows her, not wanting to miss anything. Tilly used to go out to drink – both dogs are compulsive drinkers, because they’re so used to it and doing it out of boredom. Tilly goes outside to drink from the laundry basket and then comes in and wees in Jake’s room or the dining room, or the kitchen, or some other place I’ve yet to find and I mop again. Saffy barks every time she goes outside because she’s so excited to be outside and nobody has ever told her not to. So if they go out, I have to follow – firstly to inspect peeing and nervous drinking – and secondly to stop the barking and chicken chasing.

Molly also has got into the habit of sitting in Steve’s chair, behind him. The chair isn’t big enough for both of them, so Steve usually falls off the edge as Molly shoves her way in. Tilly sits near the door desperate for some extra water or a sniff at some cat food. Saffy, thankfully, is sleeping.

This is obviously not even including the walking and the fussing and the constant attention to dog psychology.

But, I must say, I love it really.

Walking in the January sunshine

I have kind of made a mental note to keep a seasonal journal of what the weather is like, what gets planted and so on. I started doing this last August and lasted about a couple of months, but then life got in the way. The great Reptily Family blog keeps a record in the same way, and I like it. It’s super-organised. It also helps me make sense of what’s going on seasonally, and how things compare year-on-year. Plus, it helps to know how to do things better next year.

I also decided I would take a photo a day, to capture the weather and the mood and the moment. Kind of a photographic haiku. I like haiku. I might write one for each photo. At least, I’d intend to. Starting things is my forte, finishing them, not so. If every idea I had came to fruition, I’d need 200 of me.

Moss-covered stone-fall

Cold January Landscapes

A French Karesansui!

I did keep to week 1 of my resolutions: to take the dogs for three long walks a week. We’ve done seven hours of long walks this week. I’d forgotten today was hunting – and the forest was thick with men in 4x4s (cat-cats as they are in Morocco – or quatre-quatre if you don’t know what I’m on about!) with big dogs and guns – and although I’m always worried about a dog getting shot, I’m more worried one of the hunters will run us over in his bloody great Mitsubishi off-roader. Is there really a need??!

Saturday – New Year’s Day – was bleak and felt colder than it was. Don’t think we saw the sun that day, though I saw a flock of egrets about 50 deep! I think it got to about 4 degrees, but it felt a whole lot colder. Too cold to be outside other than for walks. We went on the bitches’ walk (really, Lac de la Biche, which is actually a puddle, but the walk is about 3 km) and got back quickly to the warmth.

La Nouvelle Année:

Solitary wanderer

and three happy dogs

Sunday – the 2nd – was a little brighter – we got bursts of sun. I’d started out on the 9 km ‘route du Gros Fayard’ but immediately took a wrong turning, ended up off the beaten track (always better walks, but with me – a huge sense of being able to get lost and die and be eaten by dogs) and walked through some absolutely wonderful woodland – the kind of woodland you imagine in  Little Red Riding Hood. Although Charles Perrault was Paris-born and bred, you can imagine the fairy stories he collected coming from people who’d grown up in places like this.

Molly swinging on a dog-swing

Molly found a ‘dog swing’ – a branch still attached – and swung up and down on it for ages. It was just the right height for her to grab, but I had visions of her being catapulted over the woods.

Today – the 3rd – I’d planned on going back to do the 9 km walk I’d planned yesterday, but to no avail. Having broken the cistern, I spent much of the afternoon fashioning a makeshift device to keep it water-free until Steve returns tomorrow. I really wanted to fix it and to fix it properly, but my will was lost the second cold water spurted in my face. So… a shorter 2 hour walk, but in glorious late-afternoon winter-cold sunshine.

Winter-blue cold skies

Wood-cutters  in the distance

Do they look up too?

I had planned on planting my leeks this week, as well as getting some begonias and petunias started, and with the temperatures predicted to rise above 5 degrees from Thursday, it seemed like a good time to do it. However, the French seem to be fairly obsessed by Lunar gardening (it’s an obsession when you can buy several magazines based on the premise…) and Rustica said it was an inauspicious time to do it. Apparently there is a solar eclipse tomorrow – cool! I don’t know how I missed the one in 2000, but I did. Maybe I was sleeping.

So… the leeks will wait for more auspicious weather.