26 September 2008

Answers on a postcard

Question: If five greyhounds will accommodate themselves happily on a five foot bed, why have we got a 25ft motorhome?

Or then again, if five greyhounds will accommodate themselves happily on a five foot bed and we've got a 25ft motorhome, why shouldn't we have another dog? Or two?

Dog pillow

My dogs don’t do cuddle-up-together-cute. Lots of greys do, but mine don’t. They don’t share baskets and they like their own space. But sometimes, in the confines of a motorhome, miracles do happen.

25 September 2008

In situ

Well this is nice, I must say. And no, that is not me being sarcastic. We’re on a lovely site here in Ashbourne (Blackwall Plantation, if you really want to know) and for today at least, it’s nearly empty. I’ve just been a good girl and done an hour’s work but I feel the lure of a magazine coming on. We had a trouble-free trip and took advantage of our proximity to Derby by calling in at Stenson and having lunch at the excellent cafe by the lock. I munched my egg and bacon sandwich while watching two boats wrestle with that very tricky equation of getting 14ft of boat to go through 12 feet of gate aperture. Like so many of the locks down to Chester that we recently encountered, the bottom gates wouldn’t go right back and so made for a problematic exit – thankfully, both boats were around the 60ft mark so they just about managed to manoeuvre themselves around and out.

We arrived here about 2.30pm and quickly installed ourselves. That is one of the joys of having a motorhome. A just does a handbrake turn, plugs in the electric and we’ve got the kettle on in less than 2 minutes. Pity the poor caravanners who take two hours to struggle with their aquarolls, wastemasters and awnings. Sometimes, they’ve barely finished when it’s time to go home again. How they must be dying for a cuppa by the end of it. Anyway, this is a perfect site for us. Good dog-walking plus woods and grass immediately

around us for post-prandial and early morning wees. We’re in a little enclave of our own at the moment but I’m told that the site is full tomorrow night so we’re expecting a big influx Friday afternoon. We’ve got the double whammy here of it being a Caravan Club site (always full at weekends seemingly) and it being in the Peak District, which is of course the back garden for about six cities. So expect it to be teeming. I’ve been told that there’s a path to the Carsington Water reservoir which might make for a good dog walk when Mike and Liz come over. Apparently there’s a path all the way round too. I thought that sounded nice....nine miles in total, said the warden. Mmm, that’s about eight miles too many, said I. And no, it’s not laziness, it’s my sciatica. (One complaint that sounds at home on an Italian menu, I always think)

And now I think it’s time for tea. Stick the kettle on, darling. Sorry, what was that you said? What off?

24 September 2008

Feeling Peaky

We’re off to the Peak District tomorrow – yippee! The van is in that state of motorhome nirvana akin to the FFEE of the narrowboat – full water, empty cassette, empty waste tank. I daresay we’ll have to shove some diesel in at some stage so then it’ll be empty wallet too. We always have the same routine when heading north, which consists of a coffee and pastry stop at Cambridge services. If I’m feeling fat and determined, I’ll skip the pastry; if I’m feeling fat and carefree, then I’ll have two. I’m very partial to the cinnamon whirl and the raisin and custard Danish and sometimes it’s just too hard to choose... I also take the opportunity to have a dekko at the roadmap to see where we’re actually going – nothing like being prepared. Saturday is the designated fun day with the Snecklifter crew – it will be great to catch up with Mike and Liz and there is the promise of dog-walking, tea-supping, cake eating and pub visiting. Life doesn’t get much better than that. Actually it does, as the weather forecast promises sun. Now if I can just get through the weekend without a dog bleeding all over the plush...

P.S. We're off to the boat for a 'working week' soon but one job on the 'leisure' list is fitting the new poo tank gauge. Why do I get the feeling there may be some reluctance to get started on this particular chore?

Alternative greyhound racing

From time to time, when I have a free minute to myself, I dip into YouTube and see if there are any interesting vids there, usually greyhound related. Well, I found a couple last night that really tickled me. Just watch closely. 

21 September 2008

Adoption update

My photo and certificate from GRWE confirming my sponsorship of Heather arrived this week. She is now stuck on the fridge and will soon be joined by Harvey, whom A sponsored over the weekend. Harvey was found covered in tar and diesel oil with burnt ears, bald patches all over his body and Ricketts. I daresay more certificates will be arriving in due course as we go through the rest of the sponsor dog list....good job I’ve got a very big fridge.

Coffee, claws and cancelled canal cruises

Okay, okay, I’ve been very slack of late. But I’m blaming work and a missing muse. To be honest, I’m getting a bit peed off as everyone’s either cruising or planning a cruise. For someone who’s had to can their autumn sojourn on the cut, that’s all a bit galling – especially as we’re having some cracking weather at the moment. I could have been tootling down the Stratford catching up with Contented Souls but I’m stuck here wondering whether you’ll believe me if I tell you that Monty ripped his dew claw on Friday – yes, really, a week to the day since Susie and Miffy did theirs. I’m amazed I haven’t had a visit from the RSPCA as the vets are definitely looking at me queer – or maybe it’s because I come in covered in blood. Note to self: look in mirror and wash hands before taking injured pet for treatment.

The one bright spot is next weekend when we’re planning to head up to the Peak District and rendezvous with the Holloways of Snecklifter fame. It’ll be wonderful to catch up with Liz and Mike – especially if there’s some date and walnut on offer. I’ve also made the executive decision to take the last week of November off and do the bit of the Llangollen that’s open – some compensation for cancelling September’s cruise because of my new client. Well, I didn’t think it was very fair to take his money and then bugger off for a fortnight.

Oh and staying at home does have some compensations as I get to play with my new coffee grinder and new coffee beans. Sadly A has not yet sanctioned the purchase of the Rolls Royce of coffees, the Jamaican Blue Mountain, coming in at a cute £43 per 500g bag. But there are plenty of other choices, all roasted and sent out the same day by the Roast and Post Coffee Company. I’ve been dabbling with Celebes Kalossi Taraja, which sounds like something you could get arrested for, but actually it’s a medium roast, rich and full bodied coffee. I have to say that it wasn’t what I expected, that is, it didn’t match up to my idea of rich and full bodied. I think I’ll have to go for a darker roast and there are some new fairly Satanic looking additions to the coffee list on the company’s website. Who’s up for a Guatemalan Huehuetenango? It’s all a far cry from those Mellow Birds days....

P.S. Hurrah, Mafeking is relieved. Cinders, you won’t go to the ball! Yes, I wangled my way out of that awards ceremony so the frock’s gone back in the box. The diet was ditched instantly...

17 September 2008

For frock's sake

We’re back from Knaresborough. Nice place, rains a lot. Find of the trip was the brand spanking new Moto services at Wetherby. Not something to get excited about normally except that it contained a Costa Coffee franchise – curious that as CC is usually to be found only at Road Chefs. But I wasn’t complaining as I slurped my popcorn bucket sized latte washed down with a side order of pain au raisin.

Two weird things with the van. The dodgy battery behaved itself impeccably and the fridge that was kaput started working again. Goody, chilled KitKats.  One cute thing. Ranger getting caught in the homicidal nets (still not swapped over) and doing a lovely impression of a little Amish boy, just like in Witness. Oooh, note to self: do not let Ranger greet you again after 7 hours separation within the confines of a motorhome. Although A was ‘at home’ all day, as soon as Mum trooped in, he went, well, I can only describe it as ‘ballistic in a washing machine’. Round and round and round, jumping from one sofa to another, jumping up, down, all around, barking, growling, crying, singing, all this carry on for a good five minutes. How we weren’t ejected from the site I have no idea. And we really have to keep our noses clean here as this will be our regular haunt when I have northern meetings with my new client.

The reason for our mini-adventure - my induction - was lengthy and spirit sapping but at least we did it all in one day, allowing us to start trundling home this morning. Then I picked up an email from the inducters inviting me to an awards ceremony next week. I can’t really say no and as we’re up that way anyway (heading for a Snecklifter ashore rendezvous), I’m facing the prospect of having to put on a frock. Now me and frocks just don’t go – I have a genetic predisposition to trembling hot sweats if dresses are even mentioned. I had an enforced rummaged through the wardrobe today and dragged out this black thing that has that chic ‘shapeless sack’ look - despite oscillating up and down 16 dress sizes over the years, it still fits, except that it touches more than it used to. Strange. Never mind – I’ll go for the loads-of-jewellery-round-the-neck-to-distract-them option.

I will need to get some new opaque tights mind – and one of those old roll-on things my mother used to wear to keep the wretched things up. I don’t want to be worried about the elevation of my pantyhose, that’s for sure. You can’t be talking to a senior partner at a law firm with visions of Nora Batty playing around the edges of your mind.  Fingers crossed, after next Thursday, I can put the whole ruddy lot back in the wardrobe for another five years. Together with the silly pointy shoes that I dug out of the shoe rack today, complete with the sort of dusty carapace not seen since Miss Haverhsam renounced Mr Sheen. I say pointy, it’s just that my G width foot finds even Timberlands pinch a bit.   My toes are already cramped in pain in anticipation. Sod it – maybe I should just be my maverick self and turn up in jeans and trainers? It’s not as if anyone will be looking at me...And the award for the worst dressed person at tonight’s dinner goes to....the girl with greyhound fluff on her bum. Hurrah!

Miffy works out by opening her eye

16 September 2008

Waiter, there's a dog in my bed

It really is my bed. No, really it is. I just lend it to the dogs. Problem is, they won't give it back.

The game of the name

I'm back but I need to be quick - I'm dashing around like a blue-arsed doodah at the mo. I love appropriately named people - my peronal favourite has long been the MD of a lifejacket company, Steve Drowned (absolutely true). But having just read my Talking Greyhounds mag from GRWE, my current no.1 is dog rescuer, Su Wooffitt.

14 September 2008

Bloody hell

One of Victor Meldrew’s lesser known phrases was ‘What in the name of bloody hell?’, a rather more fruity alternative to the one for which he became famous. I only mention this because last night was a night for trotting out such a pertinent line. You see, A and I were in the kitchen fighting over the Chinese peanuts when suddenly there came this high-pitched death whine from the living room. Somehow, Susie, standing alone on the rug and doing nothing, had succeeded in breaking off her left dew claw. She was in obvious pain so I didn’t hang about, whisking her down to the vets just before closing time – they were getting their coats so weren’t best pleased. But forty minutes later she emerged, groggy, wobbly and with the most humungous bandage on her foot. Having already treated Arthur, heaven knows what the vets thought was going on at my house – some doggy variant of Guantanamo Bay perhaps?

Of course, with Susie in a weakened state, Miffy thought she’d make hay and go for top dog status even just for one night. So that meant a lot of tailing of Susie and sticking her nose up her bum, which elicited throaty effoff growls from the target despite her debilitation. And then around about 9pm, with the sedation wearing off, Miffy saw her window of opportunity closing and went for one last botty hunt. Except, before she got there, and out of sight of us, there came a squeak and a cry. Talk about ground-dog day! Off we went on an inspection and yes, she’d also ripped her dew claw. Somehow. No idea what happened, ditto with Susie. The whole thing was quite remarkable – we’ve had the dogs for an aggregate 17 years and I’ve never experienced a claw injury; now we’d had three in two weeks, and two in four hours. Is it a record? Thankfully, Miffy’s was nowhere as bad as Susie’s and we simply wrapped up her foot in some flexi-bandage. It didn’t stop her really milking it though, hopping around like an amputee. They don’t half lay it on thick these dogs...

What particularly impressed me throughout both these incidents was A’s sense of priorities. Get the dog off the rug, it’s bleeding. Quick, quick, and here he comes with his Bounty and Carpet Rescue. Bless him. Never mind the sore paw, just worry about the blood. Considering this is the same rug that’s been pissed and pooped, I didn’t see the panic myself...

12 September 2008

Dog update

Ranger has become a PAT dog. No, not Pets as Therapy, Pets as Thieves. He’s been made honorary chair...no doubt he’ll steal that as well.

Arthur’s little paw is nearly healed although he does occasionally start hopping to try and garner extra sympathy and chicken bits.

Miffy had a little in-her-basket mishap last night, the first time in ages. Apparently, spayed females can develop incontinence through a looseness in their essentials – it can be tightened up with medication, so every so often we have to get the ‘piss syrup’ out of the cupboard.  

Susie has been keeping a low profile this week, although this afternoon’s tiptoeing up to my banana bread and attempted illicit lickage was not appreciated.

Monty is just Monty. He found some rabbit entrails in the churchyard so we played tug of war as I tried to keep him away from the crunchy bits. Then he found some pigeon feathers, his favourite, and I stopped him scoffing those too. I’m such a killjoy in his eyes.

If we get the time, they’re all being measured for their winter wear this weekend. The jury’s still out on full-on PJs – maybe just fleecy coats for now. We don’t want those Caxton boys turning up making fun. 

Sling thing

Did I ever tell you about our first two weeks of boat ownership? The fact that despite being out with the boat on our inaugural cruise, we spent hardly a second on board? No? Well gather round then. Like a lot of people, we like to relax with a mix of TV, music and books. For the telly, we thought that buying a satellite dish and bringing our Sky box from home would be a sensible solution. The thing is, at that point in time we had not been initiated into the wonders of the Kersten mini-dish and its clamp-me-down-and-you’ll-be-buggered-if-you’re-ever-going-to-get-me-off-again-without-breaking-your-nails magnetic plate. No, we’d gone down the caravan shop hadn’t we? Landed ourselves with Joddrell Bank on a tripod, which already made us look like a right couple of eejits before we’d even stooped down to set the thing up. 

And you know, it was great – it could find every satellite under the sun, including ruddy Sputnik, but it couldn’t find Sky. Two weeks we were out on the towpath, twiddling and fiddling, disconnecting everything, putting everything back together, shaking the tuner, shaking the dish, skaking one another. I can tell you, if it weren’t for our devout anti-littering ethos, we would have tossed the whole blinking lot in the cut. I don’t think I sat down in my virgin recliners once that fortnight. Fortunately, not many months passed before we stumbled on the Road Pro stand at a National and we were sorted in a trice. For about a year afterwards, we religiously unplugged our Sky box and brought it up with us but then we stopped being bothered, relying more on our Freeview box or indeed a good book to wile away the evenings. 

To be honest, I think I became tired of inching round the gunwales in all  weathers, getting a quality signal only for the wind and/or rain to mess it all up. So the idea of being able to receive Sky without a dish or a box, direct to my laptop, no external faffing about required, immediately had my attention. And here it is, our new arrival. Yes, I know it looks like a Swiss chocolate bar but it is in fact a Slingbox Pro, a nifty little gadget that’s been around for a while now in less advanced forms but still doing essentially the same thing. 

And that is, it takes your TV signal at home and via wireless/internet, it delivers it to your PC, laptop, even mobile phone. The software that comes with it allows you to control your Sky or digibox remote and to even turn the box on and off – despite being hundreds of miles away. Or thousands, as it works wherever you can get online. Imagine that, Coronation Street in Timbuktoo. And if we aren’t using it, and friends out there can get a broadband or wireless connection, we can set you up with your favourite viewing – we just need to give you the magic code. 

At home, it means that we don’t have to fork out for multi-room Sky, instead we take A’s PI Sony Ericsson to bed and fall asleep watching that instead. And as wi-fi is becoming increasingly prevalent on caravan sites, it’s a great option for the van too. At present, we only have a 7inch pull down telly in the cab - which is about as much use as tits on a fish - so it’ll make a nice change to be able to see what’s actually going on. How can you follow a whodunit when you can’t see whodidit? The only downside that I can see is that having UK Gold playing on my laptop all day might impinge slightly on my productivity. Especially if it’s back to back One Foot In the Graves all day. Oh sod it, there’s always tomorrow.....


11 September 2008

Van plans

We’re off to Knaresborough at the weekend. And before you start, it’s for work! I have a 2-day induction with a new client on the Monday and Tuesday, so rather than staying overnight in a hotel all on my lonesome, we’re all going up in the van and staying at the Caravan Club site there. Of course, some silly moo (me) then somehow managed to book a meeting in London for the Wednesday so we’ll have to drive back on the Tuesday night – heaven knows when the dogs will get fed. Maybe a Maccy D’s on the way home...has anyone ordered a dozen hamburgers in one go before? They’ll clock my Amazonian frame and conclude that I’m a right greedy lard arse...no, the greedy gits are over there drooling all over their paws and suffering from an acute case of beef pattie mania.

What this trip does mean is that we’ll have to get the van sorted on Saturday before we head off on Sunday. We’ve got a dodgy battery, a kaput fridge and dangerous curtains. Yes, we must be the only people on the planet to have homicidal nets. You see, the hem has come loose on the bottom edge, forming a loop...or more accurately a noose, as Susie (whose favourite sofa is just below the affected window) keeps unwittingly sticking her head through it. She doesn’t know it’s there, so when she moves, the material tightens round her throat. It’s only the sounds of choking and coughing that alert me to the fact that she’s about to pop her claws so I have to run to the rescue, regardless of the fact that we’re doing 60mph up the motorway. I particularly like the way that A invariably asks for a can of pop while I’m struggling to keep my balance – you know, seeing as you’re up, dear. It’s a good job he doesn’t ask for nuts as I know exactly where I’d go for those – he can drive without them....

10 September 2008


So...not only does he steal jammy confections, he appropriates all the sofa cushions too. A class act.

And here he is toning pleasantly with a rug he hasn't whizzed on...

"Doughnuts, doughnuts, show me the doughnuts..."

Reality cheque

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ranger with every fibre of my being. But this morning I discovered that in the Great Doughnut Robbery of yesterday, the big furry git had somehow managed to snaffle not one, but TWO! And what’s more, he expected to get his share when they were divvied out this morning! I said no, absolutely not, as it wasn’t fair on the other dogs – then he sat down, gave me his best doe eyed hard-done-by look and...well, he’s not getting one tomorrow, and I am unanimous in that.

Following on from yesterday’s coup de foudre I realise that my Barney love-in will in all probability remain a virtual affair. I feel as if I’ve somehow failed him already so to make myself feel better, I decided that I would look into sponsoring a dog. Sue and Richard on Indigo Dream already do this and it’s a brilliant way to get involved and do one’s bit, particularly if you want to support the hounds but can’t actually rehome one yourself. So off I toddled to Greyhound Rescue West of England, one of the most active and diligent organisations in the UK. I ended up here -http://www.grwe.com/howToHelp_sponsorADog.asp. Don’t read the stories if you’re easily upset. If you go there, be warned they get more distressing as you go down the page, culminating in the story of Heather (the picture on the right will get you blubbing if nothing else does) Ultimately, as these dogs are all now safe and loved, it is actually a very uplifting read but have a tissue handy. Somehow, after reading this, I didn’t have the energy to get worked up about silly square bollards...

My dilemma, of course, is who do I sponsor? How do I possibly choose? It’s £15 per dog per year so if some of my clients pay their bills in the next week or so, I think I shall just go ahead and sponsor them all. Apparently I’ll receive a certificate and a photo, so that’s going to fill out the wallet a bit. Pictures of my children? Oh yes, here they are. All 15 of them....

P.S. I've just this minute started with Heather. She'll need more ear warmers for winter, poor love.

09 September 2008

Melting for Barney

I would have blogged earlier, it's just that I melted in the heat of the Squirrel-fired boat and it's taken two days in the freezer to reconstitute myself. Just in time to go shopping, in fact, and to get home and start packing away. As usual, I had Ranger ferretting round sticking his nose in my Bags for Life (slightly optimistic branding in my opinion) and then suddenly he retreated, furiously chomping his jaws. The little sod had only bust into the doughnut box and nabbed one without per; relieved of any further temptation down there, he then moved his attentions upwards, counter surfing for my iced fingers. He is so shameless! And what with Susie's ice cream mania growing by the day, such that she's whining as soon as she has sight of a lolly stick, it's getting a bit like a mad house. Sorry, a more mad house. 

Given these circumstances, why on earth do I continue with that incredibly dangerous weekly activity, looking at the RGT Croftview website? Why do I run even the slightest risk of finding number six? Of course, I'm really only checking on who's gone out and who's come in - it's wonderful to see long-stayers finally get a home, for instance - but sometimes, as with DonutBoy, you see one and you just know...that you are completely insane. I know five is our limit, I know there is no more room in the boat or the motorhome, I know that I don't want so much PetPlan paperwork that I could redecorate the downstairs bog, but that was before I saw Barney. What a cutie. And he's the same age as my lot. 

Even the name works. You see, unlike the one syllable name crew on Indigo Dream, we're a two syllable name operation here - Susie, Arthur, Miffy, Monty, Ranger....and Barney. Oh yes. If he's still there by Christmas, my stocking could be greyhound shaped...

07 September 2008

Gee, lumme, lordy, bonkers

Many intelligent, gifted academics and commentators have attempted to analyse the differences between Americans and the British. Many have agreed with the Shavian notion that we are 'Two nations divided by a common language' but today I submit my own hypothesis of why the gulf between us is greater than any lexicological divide: to put it simply, they are all barking. Please see adopted US greyhound exhibits 1, 2, 3 and 4 as evidence. At least my doggy pyjamas have a purpose!

and the piece de resistance

I actually think this counts as dog cruelty. Monty wouldn't be seen dead in pink....

The end is nigh

I’ve always regarded the future of the DogsonTour blog as being heavily dependent on continued marital harmony. Have happiness, will travel. Well, a certain someone who shall remain nameless has just bought yet another broken keyboard on Ebay – and we have to call in tomorrow on the way home to pick it up. I think this may be grounds for divorce – I think this may be the end for DoT. I mean, a husband should caress his wife, not a soldering iron; I’d like bouquets and blandishments but all I get is him buffing up his sharps and flats. And the first person to make a joke about a man fiddling with his organ gets a slap...

06 September 2008

Busy, busy, busy

You may have heard that I’ve been busy, hence the more erratic blogging of late. Well , today was particularly hectic – after a longish dog walk, we went off for breakfast at Nantwich Canal Centre, where we remained heavily focused on sausage, egg, bacon, tomato and black pudding. And toast. And jam. A large white coffee was also on the agenda. We then went for a wander to burn off five calories and got chatting to Ian and Jane off Delilah. They introduced us to Murphy and Sadie, their extremely gorgeous black flat-coated retrievers – you Caxton pups have got some serious competition but I still love you best. Then it was back to the boat where we really got stuck in, chatting to fellow moorers, topping up the tan in the hot sun (yes, you did read that correctly) and starting a new book: we didn’t stop all afternoon. There was simply no time to do anything else, but you’ll be pleased to hear that I am handling the pressure...well, just. I should be able to manage the Thai supper this evening but it might be a close run thing. Gosh, whatever happened to that stress-free life I had?

05 September 2008

Service interruption

We're sorry to report that this blog is experiencing some disruption to normal service due to circumstances beyond our control. We are reliably informed that Greygal is finally having to pull her finger out and actually do some work, which is restricting the time available for writing and reading blogs. However, we are pleased to confirm that she is now happily ensconced in a long, thin place with a Squirrel throwing out a steady 85 degree heat. Who would have thought that a small woodland creature could burn so well? And are his nuts combustible?

04 September 2008

Dog rescue II

Now before I tell you this story, I need to relay some facts that will aid understanding. First, Ranger is a very, very needy dog; you leave him for a couple of hours and he’ll greet you on your return like a whirling Dervish; secondly, the doors in our house all have closers and Ranger is very partial to walking through (literally) a door in search of me and then not being able to get out again; and thirdly, our new withdrawing room has a lovely rug fresh out of the polythene. So onto last night....

The trouble began with a disjointed going to bed – I went up, with A promising to follow behind shortly. That resulted in me only getting four of the five dogs to come up with me, Miffy choosing to stay in her bed under the table. When A finally pitched up an hour later, he announced that he couldn’t get Miffy to move, so he’d left her downstairs. I then took the executive decision of leaving the bedroom door open in case she decided to wander up later, calculating that the dogs were not likely to do any nocturnal wanderings (too snoozy). That’s all fine and we drop off to sleep. I end up in a Hound of the Baskervilles dream, with this horrible howling and desperate barking filling my unconsciousness. Only it wasn’t, my unconsciousness I mean. Because I was now awake and could still hear it. Immediately thinking that something had happened to Miffy – even though it didn’t sound anything like her, I stumbled out of bed, only to clock Susie on the landing. Oh my god, what had she done? Had she beaten Miffy up again and was she now sleeping the sleep of the righteous alpha female who shall brook the existence of no other girlie dog? Eventually descending to the hall, I’m relieved to see my little girl dart out from the living room, unmarked and far too bouncy for 3.30am. More to the point, she’s not making a squeak.

Realisation dawned. Quickly I pushed open the door of the withdrawing room and out of the darkness shot this giant golden ball of fuzz wailing and woofing and generally having a monster-sized canine panic attack. Yes, Ranger had gone exploring in the middle of the night and got himself locked in the room, in the pitch dark. Heaven knows how long he’d been trapped there, all I know is that it was long enough for him to leave two presents on the rug. I don’t think I have ever seen a dog so stressed – the anxiety poured from every paw and pore. When I at last got him upstairs, he even took the unprecedented step of jumping up into bed with me (that’s a morning treat only), inadvertently using Susie as a trampoline and getting a big doggie ‘effoff’ for his troubles. Lying next to me, he went about vigorously licking his privates and then moved onto my face, which I wouldn’t have appreciated at any time, let alone the wee small hours of the morning. He eventually went back to his own bed and the panting slowly subsided before he drifted off. Thankfully, dogs live totally in the moment so come 7.30am, he was off down the stairs and into someone’s leftover dinner before you could say ‘traumatised greyhound – not’.

I related the story to A over a cup of in bed tea where he was highly sympathetic and proceeded to give pooch lots of fuss, laughing gently as the story unfolded. I then told him that Ranger had crapped and pissed the new rug, upon which he had a total sense of humour failure (he likes to keep things ‘nice’, which is difficult living with the disaster area that is his wife, let alone five dogs). I promised him there was no stain, only a drying wet patch. With a granite face and a foot up Ranger's bum, he assured me that he wouldn’t be lying down on it anytime soon...

03 September 2008

To my credit

I could paper my walls with all the various credit cards I've collected over the years but there is one I still use regularly as our 'joint spending card'. It doesn't have any deals attached to it, there are no free balance transfers or zero interest purchase periods, it doesn't even have that big a credit limit. What it does have is this: an affinity tie-in with the Retired Greyhound Trust that ensures they get a little something every time I get a little something. It also has a very cute picture that everyone always comments on, allowing me to promote greys at the same time. It's the perfect recipe for guilt-free retail therapy, a sound rationale for opening the wallet on a regular basis. Oh yeah, like I need an excuse...

Dog rescue I

Who says cats have nine lives?


In future, I shall 'paws' to have a look round before whipping up the paddles...

02 September 2008


One of the great things about getting older is that you no longer stand on your dignity. Embarrassment, mortification even, are now things of the past, thrown away with those birthday cards with the unflattering numbers on. Which is a good thing really considering that at my osteopath-cum-acupuncturist this morning, I was lying face down on the couch, knickers at half mast, with two needles stuck into the wobbling cellulite of my left buttock.

How does that feel, said Mr T as he turned up the electro-probes? Well, it’s like a hot needle, said I. Is it bearable, asks he? Oh yes, said I. Right, I’ll turn it up then. Cue tensing of flabby bum cheek as it all gets a little intense down there. But it’s working, so I forgive him. Besides, any man who can pull down my keks without laughing is alright by me...

Holloways ashore

There are many boaters out there who will tell you it was a sad day when Mike and Liz Holloway of Snecklifter fame decided to hang up their windlasses and head back to dry land. With the news that their trusty boat - and home of seven years – has now been sold, it is truly the end of an era. Mike and Liz represented everything that is good about the canal community – they were (and indeed remain) warm, charming, hospitable, fun, generous, helpful and hugely appreciative of the unique way of life they enjoyed. For them, cruising the canals was always regarded as a privilege, not a right, and their wonderful journal will stand as fitting testimony to their gentle exercising of this privilege. One thing I always liked about the Snecklifter posts was that it was rare indeed to find a discordant note struck at any time – read blog posts today and it doesn’t take too long to find someone moaning about something. Don’t you realise how lucky we are to be able to do this?!

It says all you need to know about the humility of the site’s main author, Mike, that when he left the cut, he didn’t want to continue writing because he didn’t think we’d find it that interesting. I remember stuffing my face with one of Liz’s ham sandwiches (or was it a slice of date and walnut) and telling him that he was mad if we thought it was just the cut that brought us all running. Following Mike’s logic, no-one from ‘those days’ would ever bother with them again – and yet there they are firmly ensconced in the Peak District, enjoying regular visits and emails from all the old gang. What we valued then and what we continue to value now is not two folks who go boating (or walking or down the pub) but two folks who welcome complete strangers as long-lost friends.

Thankfully, the Snecklifter site lives on. Liz has manfully stepped into the breach vis a vis updating it but I’m hopeful of persuading Mike to come out of purdah and pick up his pen again. Not to mention his windlass, because if they think they’re done with Bosley locks, they’ve got another thing coming. In fact, they’re pencilled in for most of the Huddersfield Narrow as well but sssshhh, don’t say anything....

01 September 2008

Where next?

Buoyed by the success of their first ‘big’ cruise, John and Cathy on Marmaduke are now eagerly wondering where to go next. Well, my vote at this time of year would be to go up the Stourbridge Canal, do all the Dudley/Merry Hill squiggly bits, stop over in Birmingham central for a couple of days (perfectly doable with dogs – just more at the farthest point of the westerly main line visitor moorings and you have miles of empty towpath to play with) and then head down the Worcester and Birmingham, finishing off with a gentle run up (?) river from Diglis back to Stourport. It won't be busy and more importantly it will give some new dimensions to their cruising – a bit or urban, some classic city centre regeneration, two contrasting mega tunnels, a monster flight, some river pootling, lots of heritage and wonderful scenery. The W&B doesn’t tend to feature much in boaty blogs, well, not when compared to the Oxford, Thames and Kennet & Avon, and I think it is a much underrated canal. Okay, so the beginning and end aren’t the most prepossessing (they are interesting though) but the middle bit is corking. The Stourbridge isn’t half bad either. But the canal world really is J&C's oyster at the moment....plenty of pearls hopefully and not too many swines.

I scream

Having slaved over a wicked spag bol this evening, I treated myself to the remains of the Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream tub. Did you hear that Monty? Ben and Jerry’s. Nowhere on the packaging does it say Ben and Monty’s. So how is it that when I came to put my spoon in to winkle out another piece of doughy deliciousness I found my cutlery’s passage barred by your humfing great greyhound head shoved inside the carton licking for all you’re worth? And you got the last yummy dough piece. All this after Susie half-inched my white Magnum the other day. What next, your own personal 99 at the beach? Actually, I think we may have already done that but A and I nicked the Flakes....