Tag Archives: Dog

An evening of two halves

‘Cheers’ said Whizz as we clinked together our champagne flutes to welcome in 2015.

‘Here’s to a hospital free year’ I rejoined.

We almost made it!

Yesterday, late afternoon, turned out to be a bit frantic. I worked a bit of overtime at work, the car fuel-gauge was so low that the needle did not even move when the car was on a hill, the dog needed walking, a repeat prescription that should have been delivered to Pebbleditch, remained in Tinkle Town to be collected urgently, and it was Community Film night, which meant that Whizz needed dinner by 6pm in order to be at the village hall, erecting the big screen and setting up equipment at 6.30. At lunch time there had been a lot of talk about Christmas and I was painfully aware that I had done absolutely nothing towards the festive preparations, despite the fact that I am hosting my beloved family for several days.

Dog needs walking however busy one is
Whatever needs doing must make way for the dog walk.

I decided I should load the dog into the car, head to the petrol station first, then on to the doctor, after which I would walk, in the dark, around Tinkle Park.

I will digress a bit here and admit to something very personal. I am trying (I won’t say I am, one yet) to become a Buddhist. To many this may seem completely bonkers but I am deadly serious. I didn’t like the person I was becoming and felt the  need to make a change. Nichiren Buddhism is a branch of the ‘religeon’ that places responsibility on the individual. Instead of asking a deity to help achieve something, the emphasis is firmly on the person, to examine their heart and change their own karma, thus enabling their Buddahood to emerge.

I am completely happy with the self examination and improvement aspect of Buddhism, but I have some issue with the idea that a person can chant to get the things they want. I am assured by the people who attend the sessions that there are millionaires who have achieved their wealth through chanting ‘Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō’.

Having set the scene I will continue. Grabbing my dog vest (a fishing vest that contains all the accouterments needed for a walk: treats, ball, poo bags, torch, curry comb etc) and my muddy walking boots, I loaded them, and the dog into the back of the car. With some trepidation I ignited the engine and reversed into the road, looking at the fuel gauge and hoping for the best. I kept the revs low to reduce consumption and as I neared Tinkle, had the awful premonition that the petrol station may be accepting a fuel delivery and be closed.

The idea of chanting for what you want, entered my mind, and to the concern of the dog I began to chant, really convincing myself that the garage would be open and I would get petrol.

As I rounded the corner, there it was, open and with pumps available so I pulled up in a vacant spot. It was then I realised that of all the things I had remembered, money was not among them.

petrol pump nozzle
Thanks to the Daily Mirror for this image.

‘Bugger’ I announced to the dog. He cocked his head on one side, no doubt wondering if that was code for ‘Time for a walk’.

I probably wouldn’t make the return journey without fuel so I crossed the forecourt and stood just inside the doorway of the shoppy thing, where a lady customer was completing her transaction.

The guy behind the counter met my eyes.

‘I’ve come here on a very empty tank and found that I have forgotten my purse.’ I explained with some discomfort, ‘Is there any way you could let me squirt a bit of petrol into the tank, enough to go home and fetch my purse?’

‘The guy appraised me. ‘Where have you come from?’


I think he would have granted my request but at that moment, the woman at the counter pulled out her purse and thrust two ten pound notes at me.

‘Here,’ she said, ‘take this.’

I was horrified.

‘I couldn’t possibly take that,’ I insisted,

‘Come on,’ the lady responded. ‘Take it, quickly. I’ve got a baby in the car.’

Still not quite believing what had happened, I clutched two crisp ten pound notes and watched the lady leave, tears of gratitude in my eyes.

As I went back towards my car, the lovely lady was still sitting in the driver’s seat of her own vehicle, and it dawned on me that I would not need twenty pounds to get home, so I knocked on her windscreen and passed back one of the notes through her lowered side window, effusing my gratitude once more. Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō.

I continued with my mission, to the doctor’s, the pharmacy and, wisely avoiding the park, decided that the chalk meadow was a safer bet to walk the dog. He received a shorter walk than usual as the dinner still needed to be cooked, and time was marching on. The idea of fish and chips sprang to mind on the way home. I was pretty hungry as I had not had any lunch, and I knew my family would be delighted, nay disbelieving, at their luck. Junk food, and it was Mum’s idea? Never.

After dropping the dog home I set off back to Tinkle. It was the night of the Victorian Market and the car park was already filling up, but I managed to find a slot, and even remembered to buy a parking ticket.

Filled with the wonder of life, I strode towards the centre of town and my eye was caught by a closing down sale. Aware of my shortcomings in the area of Christmas shopping, I looked with interest at the window display.

It is not good practice to walk in one direction while looking in another and as my toe hit the curbstone I found my body launched towards the wet pavement, bag clutched to my chest. There was no saving myself, my centre of gravity was at about my knees, and as I landed on my bag, my body see sawed over it and my face hit the pavement. Grit filled my mouth as I heard the concerned voices of two ladies, whose feet soon appeared in my field of vision

‘Are you alright?’ Asked an anxious voice.

‘I think so.’ I replied from my undignified position.

‘Sue!’ Announced another voice and I turned my head a little to observe a friend.

‘Hi Bess.’ I struggled to my knees. Everything seemed intact, in fact nothing hurt.

‘We must have coffee some time,’ the friend murmured as she kissed me goodbye.

‘Yes.’ I promised, feeling shaken and surreal.

I rubbed the dirt from my face and having bought two cod and one haddock, all with chips, I sped home, where all was warm, normal and hungry. I told Whizz and Mavis what had happened but I played it down a bit because no harm had been done.

Of course when I woke up the next morning I had a headache and was very stiff in the shoulders and knees. The headache worried me and thoughts of hemorrhages and detached retinas floated before me. Whizz was still asleep so I got up, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to nip down to A&E. Just to be on the safe side.

I woke Whizz and as we set of for the hospital, Sounds of the 60s began playing Poetry in Motion. Whizz and I began to giggle, years of marriage has placed us both firmly on the same basic level of humour.

‘Falling tree in motion’ sang Whizz.

‘Launching by my side,’ I sang back.

Our visit to A&E was much briefer than we expected. We were sent to the Urgent Care department and were seen in about 15 minutes. Brilliant NHS.

I had whiplash and a bashed TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), the cause of the pain.

Apparently I need to talk less to rest it!


Walking the Dog in the Chalk Meadow

Oxeye daisy illustration for poem about chalk meadow
Oxeye daisy

These daisies,

Ox eyed,

Damask and canary,

Brushing my legs,

They dance in soft air in their thousands, with devout faces that watch the sun wherever it hangs.

Ecstatic worshipers, giving more attention than my small students.

I dawdle through humming heat, searching for brave orchids among the tender vetch and yolk-ish buttercups.

Butterflies: small, blue, copper, brimstone-yellow,

Dive across my path like dancing petals.

Beside me, the dog’s breath chuffs like a desperate steam engine.

Exhausted, leaking sweat from his tongue and yet,

Determined to chase the ball.

Dogs and Cats

How we got our cats

Although we have always loved her, Gizmo, our small, black cat, had a traumatic life, coming as she did from a single parent home. She arrived in our lives when Horace turned seven, a guilt present because I had split up with Horace’s dad. We already owned/were owned by, Ben, a brown tabby with a demanding personality, who peed in the toilet, and had a steel pin in his leg – the result of an argument with a car.

So, about Horace’s birthday preparations – it’s a bit of a shaggy cat story, I’m afraid. Horace and I crawled in the car through narrow country lanes to seek out an eccentric cat lady, recommended by a local. From a kitchen writhing with, and stinking of felines of all designs and ages, Horace selected a tiny patchwork scrap, the smallest and weakest-looking one there. This handful of fluff was not yet ready to leave home so we left, and I agreed to collect it on the morning of Horace’s birthday.

Continue reading Dogs and Cats


Whizz and I have spent months agonising over whether to buy a dog. First (for me at least) was Horace’s attitude to the decision. Horace had been flatly refused a dog when she was Mavis’s age. She is not Whizz’s daughter so I was anxious that she would not feel rejected if Mavis had a dog and she hadn’t been allowed one.

Secondly came the worry about how much we would be tied down. No more casual weekends away or holidays in the sun, well not for a while anyway.

The cats were a serious consideration. They are both old and used to their routine.

Then there was the cost: Dog, insurance, vet’s bills, food, damage and so on.

Next consideration, the upheaval and extra work involved in training a puppy. I spoke to lots of people, most of whom said Don’t do it! Followed some time later by But I wouldn’t be without him.

And that proved to be the crux of it. Not inconvenience, not cost, not the commitment but the love and life a dog would bring to our home.

We were careful to manage Mavis’s expectations. We would wait until the summer when the cats could go outside at night; we must be sure that we chose the right breed and character of dog, this may take some time so don’t expect one tomorrow.

Whizz and I had both had border collies crossed with something, in my case, a labrador. Both of us agreed that they were wonderful, intelligent pets. So as we lay in bed that night I said ‘How about a Lab/collie cross?’ Whizz said ‘Good idea’ and that was that.

The next day I started trawling the Internet to discover that that particular combination of breeds was pretty rare. Then I happened upon a litter, ready to leave their mother, on a farm in Lincolnshire (Miles away). I rang up and arranged the appointment for that afternoon. Again we firmly explained to Mavis that we might not get a dog, we were just looking and even if we chose one, we couldn’t take it away that day as we weren’t prepared at all.

We drove up, fell in love, paid a deposit and two days later went back to collect him. The most difficult thing was choosing his name. There were three of us to please and for each name two of us loved, the third one didn’t like. Mavis wanted to call him Dumbledore. Whizz and I drew the line at shouting ‘Come here Dumbledore’ across the park. Then she wanted doughnut; Whizz didn’t like that. Whizz liked Skittle, I didn’t. I said we must decide on a name before we picked him up and we finally settled on Milo at the eleventh hour.

Milo, small

Who could resist him?

Unfortunately Whizz, who has been a bit short on work lately, found himself inundated, and is currently staying in Lowestoft, returning briefly for a few days before heading off to South Africa for three weeks. Sunday night was Whizz’s first night away and Mavis got the tummy ache. She was weeping and wailing while Milo was having a psychotic half hour. He attacked a cushion, I took it away, he grabbed another and tried to murder it. I took that away. Mavis was wailing ‘You don’t care about me, you only care about Milo!!’ I tried to reassure her as I watched Milo squat down and pee on the carpet. I cleaned it up, Mavis groaned. I knew we must have a conversation about going to school in the morning and we started one of those debates that can only be had with a 10-year-old. ‘Mavis, you know this isn’t bad enough for a day off school.’ Said I

‘But what if I’m still ill in the morning, can I stay off then?’

‘You’ll be fine in the morning now let’s get you to bed. Milo! No!!!!’ I stopped him from joining us on the sofa and returned him to the floor from whence he sprung straight back up beside us. After several repetitions of this he finally got the message and with a sigh, slumped to the floor and dozed. Thank goodness!

Back to the discussion. I had an eye on the clock and was now thinking that it would be nigh on impossible to get Mavis up in the morning. It was about 10.00pm. My resolve was weakening, after all she might really be ill. ‘OK,’ I decided, ‘We’ll watch the end of Masterchef together (foodie as ever) then you can go to bed in my bed and I’ll ring the doctor tomorrow. If the doctor says you are well enough then you can go to school straight from the surgery.’

This morning we went to the doctor’s and she said Mavis had a raised temperature (.5 degrees) and a mysterious stomach pain that was not caused by her appendix or anything else serious. She said I should keep her at home until the pain went away. Talk about giving Mavis an open ticket to stay at home.

To be honest it’s been quite handy to have her at home. She has, of course, made a miraculous recovery and has willingly kept Milo entertained all day allowing me to plan for tomorrow when I have to do the work I didn’t manage to get done today. Cooking 24 portions of steak and kidney pie filling and 12 portions of steak and onion pie filling for our local pub.

The dog will have to howl his time away until I can return to clean him up and give him, and the house, some fresh air before returning to the pub kitchen. By the evening he will be stir crazy and I envisage a cushion battle occurring again!