Monday, 31 October 2011

Countdown Word Challenge Number 8

                                              Quickstepping .

Well, dear readers , I think it's about time you all learned a little about me . I have been hiding behind the childhood photo on my profile for far too long . And so I thought I would tell you something about my teenage years .
Long before I was a dog groomer my first love was dancing . I trained from an early age , first in ballet and tap and then , when it became obvious that I would never be a Margot Fonteyn , I began ballroom dancing .
I loved to dance and soon became very proficient  in this dicipline . My teacher was amazed by my progress and by the time I was 17 my partner Freddie and I were winning competitions the length and breadth of the country. We  Tangoed and  Cha-cha'd and  Quickstepped our way to the top of the amateur world and won all the contests we possibly could . We needed another target . Freddie said that we should turn professional and , with help from our dear old dancing instructor we were soon booked to give demonstrations on a cruise ship .
We were so excited , we packed our costumes and shoes and headed for Southampton , with visions of fame and fortune . When we arrived at the docks , the ship looked huge and we were a little afraid , but we went aboard like lambs to the slaughter .
There was another professional couple on the bill . They were older and more experienced and were not happy to see Freddie and I . They thought we were silly little no-talent upstarts and resented our youth . The situation became even worse when the passengers aboard the ship obviously liked our fresh, energetic style .
In particular the passengers loved our  Paso Doble and would clap along in time to the stirring Spanish music as we performed .
This was the final straw for  Arthur and  Jean , the older couple . Arthur would stand on the sidelines and taunt and curse us and  Jean would give one of her pouts .  They encouraged their homies to join in the teasing and Freddie became very angry because he knew how much it upset me .
It all came to a head one night when we were doing a joint demonstration . We were in the middle of a Tango when  Arthur and  Jean danced dangerously near and  made a disgustingly suggestive comment . Well , Freddie went beserk and spun me round , plonked me onto a chair , punched  Arthur in the face and hurled  Jean to the floor . Of course chaos followed . Plates were broken , crystal glasses were smashed , the whole  audience joined in and somehow in the melee I twisted my knee rather badly .
We were asked to leave the ship at the very next port and sadly the knee injury meant that I haven't danced professionally since .


The above piece of fiction was brought to you by way of my attempt at   Matt Mascarenhas' Word Game and the words ;


If you would like to try the Game details and rules can be found on Matts blog page     I hope you will try it .

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I have always disliked fireworks . It's the noise I hate . I like the sparkle and the colour and the gentle ones that  'swoosh' and make everyone say ,  "Ohhh !" and , " Ahhhh!", but the noisy ones , the bangs and whines that sound as though we are under aerial attack ; those I hate .
So while I was growing up Bonfire Night , or November 5th, was a trial , a day to be endured rather than enjoyed .
When I was very young the fireworks were gentle things . In fact the lighting of the blue touch-paper was probably the most exciting part . But even then there was danger . I well remember my father insisting we all stand behind the garden shed,  for safety, when yet another firework had failed to light . He would creep carefully towards it , my mother clutching her coat and scarcely daring to breathe , while we peered nervously from our vantage point . Often the offending squib would suddenly spring to life and crackle and fizz and we would all cover our faces with woolly-mittened hands and hope it didn't shoot our way .
Even sparklers were much too frightening for me and as I grew older I would run indoors and hide , terrified my hair would catch fire , as little children half my age ran round waving them and laughing .
Then there were the bonfires . Red hot sparks flying up into the starry night and silly boys running round with lighted sticks . I was a  'girly ' girl and hated the soot and the smoke in my eyes and the burnt baked potatoes and the sheer brashness of it all . Everything about Bonfire Night worried me and puzzled me and it still does .

Ah, but  Hallowe'en , that was more my style !!  My  Great Aunt visited the  United States and  Canada quite often and brought back exciting tales of  Hallowe'en celebrations in those countries . In addition we lived much of my childhood in the  North of England and many  Hallowe'en traditions were still upheld . And so it was that our family celebrated  All Hallows Eve many years before it became the huge commercial event of today .
About a week before,  we carved  Jack o' Lanterns out of turnips ......pumpkins not being widely available in 1950/60s  Northern England . The younger children often carved out some larger potatoes and beets too .  These were distributed all around the house  with candles burning precariously inside to keep away the  'evil spirits' .
We held a party on the night itself , inviting all our friends and neighbours . This was great fun and we took part in all the traditional  party games . A waterproof covering would be spread over the carpet and then we would all kneel on the floor around an old tin bath  filled with water . We  'bobbed ' for apples , hands behind our backs , faces wet and shiny , plaits dangling into the water , gasping for breath and spluttering and giggling .
We ate toffee apples and cinder toffee and fruit cake . The cake traditionally had charms put in prior to baking and whoever found a ring would certainly marry within the year ! An interesting prospect when you are only  9yrs old !
Apples were peeled in one long , continuous strip . This strip was then thrown over your shoulder and supposed to land in the shape of the first letter of the name of your future spouse .
And , of course , there was the dressing up  ! Those of you who know me well will know that anything that involves theatrical costumes will get my vote . I loved to dress up and still do , that was the best part !
From about the age of  8  I always sewed my own costumes , starting weeks before  Hallowe'en .  Scrounging bits of cloth , lace , ribbon , anything I could beg from  parents and  grand-parents . Old velvet cushion covers , lace table-cloths , damask curtains . All were utilised and on the night itself  I would appear in my latest creation . Goodness knows what I looked like , but it was always voted  'the best ' and  I would glow with pride  ! Just think  ' Vivienne Westwood ' and you will get the idea !
Oh, and there were indoor fireworks ! Now these , I liked . No bangs , no sudden shocks  or life threatening flames , just gentle little paper things that smouldered slowly to reveal  flower shapes  or wriggly snakes and little Chinese pagodas . So much more lady-like .
When all the energetic games and eating was over and little Joey had been rescued from the tin bath and given the  'kiss of life'  and Susie had stopped throwing up after eating almost all the cinder toffee , we all settled down around the log fire for the ghost stories . The tales of haunted houses  and walking skeletons and witches on broomsticks . We were all terrified and listened , wide eyed , sometimes hugging each other for comfort during really scarey bits . An adult would creep up behind the huddled group of children and touch a shoulder or ruffle someones hair and we would all scream in terror and then disolve into giggles when the joke was revealed . Then , finally the party ended and our friends went off to their various homes , secretly glancing skyward , to catch a glimpse of a witch flying through the night .  When we were safe in our little beds , each and every one of us pulled the covers over our heads ... just in case !


Some  Hallowe'en Facts ;

In ancient times  New Year was celebrated on  November 1st .  In 835 AD  the Catholic  Church declared  November 1st to be  All Saints Day . The  festival began on  All Hallows  Eve , October 31st.
Hallows is an archaic word for saint .

Celts believed that evil spirits visited the living during the long dark , winter hours . They also believed that on  All Hallows Eve  the barriers between  our world and the spirit world were at their weakest and therefore spirits were more likely to be seen .
Bonfires were lit to frighten away these spirits .
People dressed  up so that ghosts would not recognise them as living , but rather mistake them for their fellow spirits and so leave them alone .

The Jack o' Lantern is thought to be named after an Irish fellow named Jack . He had been denied admittance to heaven  because he was a miser . This Jack had played jokes on the Devil  so he was also fobidden to enter hell . He was forced to wander the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day .

I hope you all have a Happy Hallowe'en and don't encounter any weird, scarey spirits , or 9yr old girls in hand stitched costumes !  I'm not sure which would be more frightening !!!!


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Countdown Word Challenge Number 7.

Hello dear readers and thank you for joining me for another word game . This is the invention of the marvellous Matt Mascarenhas and details can be found on his blog page
I'm sure you all know the rules by now so without further ado lets look at the words for todays game ;


Well I don't know if I was distracted or something . Maybe I was just very tired ,  but I just didn't  'feel' these  words at all . Usually one or two in the list  seem to jump out at me and I write the story around them . Today the only word that shone was  'plaid'  and to a quirky fashion lover such as myself , that meant only one thing ...... Alexander Mc Queen !!  Well, easy enough to write a story about fashion  but the other words just didn't seem to fit . So I had to come up with something else ! Here is my meagre attempt , it more or less wrote itself .

                                                                   Loves Labours

The kitchen lights suddenly failed and Maria groped about in the gloom , searching for the candles . Oh, on top of everything else , all she needed was a blooming power outage . She was already in enough trouble , this was supposed to be a special night .
" Quails and grapes in special sauce never fails to win a mans heart " , she thought to herself , as she lit the candles and placed them round the room .  But her special sauce would never work if a vital ingredient was missing !
Just then the lights flickered and she sighed  impatiently and rushed to stir the simmering liquid on the stove .
She had thought that she had remembered everything on her list , but had been distracted by a window display in an expensive store . Alexander McQueen  plaid leotards teamed with purple tulle skirts ! Wow!!
She knew she would look fantastic in one of those . Oh , yes , she couldn't wait to show her sister  Elena , they could both dress up . It would be so much better than their usual outfits .  She glanced down at the long black dress that covered her body , it seemed to sparkle slightly in the candlelight . Oh, she was so bored with it  !!
However , Elena had not been so enthusiastic . She had admonished her and said it was not the image they were aiming for and the glossy carrier bag had been flung into a cupboard .  Maria had sighed and then they had started  the preparations for tonights meal .
They had weighed out all the ingredients and looked in  Elenas large recipe book to check they had everything in the correct dosages and thats when the discrepancy was noticed . They just did not have the most important ingredient !!
Elena had forgotten her manners completely and in an angry riposte had said that  Maria couldn't be trusted to do anything correctly and that next time  Maria wanted any help with a meal or needed to borrow a large pot she would have to go to someone else as  Elena would not be the loaner anymore .
Maria had sobbed pitifully and said she was sorry . Elena gave her a hankie and told her to dry her eyes and stir the pot and then  she had grabbed her wrap and flown off into the night to obtain the missing item .
An hour had passed and Maria kept her eyes trained on the door , stirred the huge pot and hoped  Elena would be back before  HE arrived . The table was all laid , the fire was burning brightly and the air was filled with the most delicious aromas , tonight was the night .
Oh, where on earth had  Elena got to ? He would soon be here .
Suddenly , there was a swirl of wind outside , the door blew open and in flew  Elena in a flurry of long wild hair , billowing cloak and  Autumn leaves .  She placed her broomstick in the corner and passed a package to Maria ,
" Goodness " ,  she said , breathlessly , " I've had the devil of a time getting this  'ear of squirrel' ...... they've all blooming well hibernated  !! Now hurry up with that  ' Love Potion ' , He's almost here . I've just flown over him on the  forest road  ! "

So there we have it . I feel certain that every one of you can do so much better . Why don't you give it a go ?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Choices .

Our lives are shaped by the choices we make and can be changed on a whim ; the snap of a finger or the blink of an eye .
If only we hadn't driven  'that ' way home , we would not have had that accident ; flat tyre ; run out of petrol .
If only we had taken the train instead of the bus we wouldn't have missed the job interview . The one that could have meant a new career , a new direction .
What would have happened if we had said  "Yes" instead of  "No" , or vice versa ?
And if we hadn't been in a certain place at a certain time we would never have met our  partners , best friends , long lost relations , whatever !
The wonderings and  "What if..." s go on in a never ending list .
I often wonder if I would do things differently if I had the chance to try again . Or would I make the same decisions , choose the same path ? Of course , I am assuming I would have the chance to make these choices with the benefit of hindsight . That would be the easy way . Wouldn't we all change  "something" if we could ? Or perhaps you are all so contented  with your lives that you would do it all again exactly as before ?
Its enticing to imagine that we could choose another direction , but,  of course, our choices have a  "knock on " effect . They involve other peoples lives too . If I had done things differently I may not have my children and delightful grand children , my dogs and my friends . But would I have another ,  different family ?  I will never know .
I am wrestling with some difficult choices now , we all  do every day . Whatever I decide , it will shape my life in the future . I made choices so lightly in the past , with all the carelessness of youth . But now I  am older I have come to realise how one little decision can change everything .
I would love to hear what you think . Would you change anything ? Do you have regrets ?
I have  thought carefully about those questions and  have decided that , in the main , there is very little I would change . Just the odd thing , here and there . Although , perhaps in the 80s , I  wouldn't have had a green streak in my hair !!

Friday, 21 October 2011

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

                                                                  THANK YOU.

And so we come to the final day of the   PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE . Let us look back and see what we have achieved .  Well, we have raised  £ £27,520  so far  (total at 8am )  so a big  " Thank you ",  you have been marvellous !
I hope I have persuaded you to think about the plight of abandoned dogs and I hope you have enjoyed my tales of the joys of dog ownership , as we have laughed and cried together .
But , I would hate to think that once this special week is over , everything we have learned is quickly forgotten .
Lucy Greenfield on  has provided some very disturbing facts and figures throughout this week . These statistics do not apply  for just one short week . They go on and on , day after day , in an endless stream of horror . Marvellous people work tirelessly to try and reduce the  terrible suffering that man inflicts on all animals , not just our  Canine friends .
So maybe , in the future , you will occasionally think of the  Rescue Centres and  Animal Shelters and , if you can , spare some loose change or even go and adopt a dog .
I realise many of you are not in a position to do either . Life is never easy , everyones circumstances are different  and nothing is ever just  'black and white' . Perhaps then , you could help in other ways . It is just as important to spread the word , pass on everything you have read this week and involve your friends and family .  Oh, and you could walk  Ripley a few more times too !!!

And so , dear readers , I would like to thank you all for visiting this page this week . The response has been overwhelming .  I would also like to thank Pedigree for inviting me to contribute to their  Campaign and to thank them for their wonderful generousity and concern for abandoned dogs .

I leave you with some photos of some of my own dogs and some websites you may find interesting  .

                                                                  Terrible Tarquin

                                                                    Stripey Joe

                                                                Maltese Puppies



Some useful websites :

The Charities ;

The Mayhew Animal Home


Scottish SPCA

HULA Animal Rescue


Manchester and Cheshire Dogs home  

Newcastle Dogs & Cats Home

Thursday, 20 October 2011

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

                                                                 Happy Endings

Well, maybe I have used the emotional blackmail card a little too much this week , I don't want you to have red eyes every  day !  So today I thought I would share some photos of the happy endings for previously abandoned dogs .Perhaps this will persuade you to think of adopting a dog one day .

Some of you may be thinking , " Oh , a rescue dog is not for me ! It wouldn't fit in to my lifestyle . Oh , it wouldn't mix well with other dogs , it would be too nervous , too traumatised  etc. etc "
I used to help with  Afghan Hound rescue . It can be a heart-breaking task , seeing the frightened , abused dogs with matted coats and sores on their skin . But after a spell of care and attention and weeks of good food , the transformation is amazing . It never ceases to astound  me when I see the trust return , the great capacity for loyalty and the love these poor creatures give to their new owners  .
And so , here are just a few photos of  Afghans I have helped . There are many, many more and they all have their happy endings .








The last photo is of Wellinton , or Welly as he became to be known .  When he first came into rescue he was a worried , frightened boy . Very shy and nervous . He had been kept in a shed , with no window and hardly any human contact for days on end . Not strictly  'abandoned'  in the true sense , but certainly abandoned in every other way , cut off from the world .
My brother , John ,saw him and asked if he could take him and perhaps bring him out of his shell  with help and advice from me .
Well , my brother was , at the time , a real outdoors type and I wondered if Welly could cope with  the  'big outdoors' , the fishing trips and such . But, he didnt only cope , he positively thrived on it and joined  in too !
He accompanied my brother where ever he went . One of Johns hobbies was diving , viewing ancient wreck sites off the  South coast . Of course  Welly could not do that but believe it or not he did join in another aquatic sport ....... wind surfing !!!  He would jump onto the board and sit at Johns feet , leaning at just the right angle when required . They became quite an attraction on the  South coast .  Welly , the wind-surfing Afghan !!

So , why not think of adopting a dog one day ?  Or , if that is totally impossible and you have no intention of ever going wind-surfing  ( haha ) you can still help some unfortunate dog to have his happy ending .
Just click on Ripleys lead and take her for a virtual walk .
This will unlock £1 from Pedigree's total fund of £100,000 .
The money raised will be used to help  Rescue Centres and Animal Shelters all over the UK .
Also , could you please tell all your family and friends about this  Campaign and ask them to join in ?

                                                                Thank you !

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

Well , dear readers , its Wednesday . The third day of  the PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE  and you are all doing so much to help raise much needed money to help Rescue Centres and  Animal Shelters all over the country . But you might have guessed that I wouldnt let you off the hook so lightly ! Oh and all you cat lovers , please don't feel excluded . I am just as anxious to help abandoned cats and have rescued many myself . I adore cats. However , back to the task in hand and my daily post . Yesterday someone told me on Twitter that I should post a  'tear in the eye ' warning ! Well you may need a tissue or two for this one !

                                                        Kindness and Devotion .

Dogs do not only enrich our lives , they care for each other too , often showing extraordinary sensitivity and understanding .  I have had the great priviledge of witnessing this  on many occasions .

My daughter had an  American Cocker Spaniel ..... Tilly .... who sadly went blind .  Tilly coped very well , as dogs do , but as she got older it became more difficult . She was becoming quite deaf too . However , my daughters  Afghan Hound ,  Stanley , took it upon himself to be her guide . Her eyes and ears . It was heartwarming to see them together , Stanley gently steering Tilly , making sure she avoided any obstacle , looking out for any dangers . Whenever my daughter called out for them , Stanley would go and wake  Tilly or fetch her from the garden and gently steer her into the kitchen , or where ever my daughter happened to be .  When  Tilly died ,  Stanley was devastated and searched for her for weeks .

Then there was dear Tarquin . The  ' Terrible Tarquin ' of many of my blog entries had the kindest of hearts .
For all his naughtiness he was a true softie . When we arrived home with a new puppy .... Stripey Joe .... Tarquin rushed to his toybox , brought out all his toys and laid them at  Joe's feet !  His generous nature could also be overwhelming . One day I found a tiny kitten in the garden . It had obviously been dropped by  a feral cat , who must have been transporting her litter to a new location .  It had lain on the frosty ground for goodness knows  how long . All alone on a Scottish Winters day . I thought at first it was dead , but ,detecting a very small heartbeat , I took the tiny scrap indoors . I rubbed some life into it and wrapped it in a heated towel and placed the precious bundle in a cardboard box beside the Aga . While  I was preparing some warm milky mixture for it , Tarquin came into the kitchen , poked his nose into the box and then dashed off . Thank goodness I was there , as he came racing back with his huge marrow bone and dropped it into the box for the kitten and then ran off for more toys .  Luckily the kitten survived the  'marrow bone gift' and grew up to be strong and healthy and a much loved member of the family . And , of course , Tarquins  special chum .

                                                                 Joe and Sophie

Sometimes dogs can become so attached to one another that they are inseparable . Two of our Afghans formed this bond  .  Sophie , a beautiful cream  Afghan , was always a bit feisty , a bit of a bully . So she obviously needed a companion who could fend for himself .  Joe was that companion . Feisty and confidant , he became her kennel mate . They spent most of their time together and became just like an old married couple . Sophie would bark and grumble at him  and Joe would just turn his back and sit in a corner with his eyes closed . Sophie waited patiently while Joe was away at  shows and I swear he told her all about his day and just exactly what he thought of the judging , when he returned . They were wonderful together and totally devoted to each other .  Sophie was a couple of years older than Joe and when she passed away the change in him was startling.  This once healthy , robust dog pined away so badly that I had to force food down his throat by hand in a vain attempt to get him to eat . He became listless and lost all interest in life .
One morning ,I placed his breakfast in front of him and told him I had to go out for a short time , but I expected to see all the food finished when I returned . An hour and a half later I came home to find him lying dead beside  Sophies grave . I'm sure he had deliberately waited till I went out . It was exactly two weeks since she had passed away and  Joe had simply died of a broken heart.

 So , if dogs can display such devotion to each other , why do people cruelly abandon them ?
Help Pedigree make a difference to the lives of so many abandoned dogs by clicking on Ripleys lead and taking her for a walk .
It only takes a few minutes , but the money raised could mean a lifetime of love for some lonely dog .
Thank You !

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

My best friend Lucy Greenfield and I have both decided to write dog related posts  throughout this week in an effort to persuade you to keep visiting our pages and take Ripley for walks .
You can read Lucys wonderful blog on . She is the statistic expert , she will zap you with facts and figures and marvellous links to inspiring videos . She has a much more logical brain and I am in awe of her grasp of the whole IT world . I can just about manage to turn on this laptop . So while Lucy dazzles you with her marvellous blog I will unashamedly use a bit of emotional blackmail !

                                                         Dogs Save Lives

Dogs save lives and sanity everyday . Search and Rescue dogs help find victims of earthquakes and people lost on mountains . They sniff out explosives , saving soldiers from certain death . They detect cancer and sense when their owners are going to have a fit . They guide sight impaired people across busy roads and through crowded streets. They alert their hearing impaired owners when the telephone rings or a visitor knocks on the door . They even help load washing machines and fetch various items for their disabled owners .
These are the celebrated , well known , life savers . The wonderful well trained dogs , doing an important job , tirelessly and without question .
However, there are thousands of unsung heroes . Dogs who save lives and sanity every day by just  'being there' . The little dog that comforts the ill , that just sits quietly while his owner recovers from chemotherapy or some dreadful illness or operation . Snuggles and offers a soft head to stroke , an understanding nuzzle of his wet nose , silent comforting companionship .
Some dogs are the only other living thing their owner will see today ! Many older people are isolated and infirm , too frail to venture outside and sometimes too afraid . their dogs are a  " hairy heartbeat at their feet " .  They talk to their dogs and the dogs listen , head on one side , ears cocked , tails wagging . They give their owners a reason to live

One such dog saved my life too . Or , if not my life, my sanity.
In the early 80s  I had been very ill . No need to go into details here , suffice to say  it was extremely serious and I began to feel very sorry for myself . Its hard to always be positive and though I tried to stay cheerful the  'mean reds ' began to take hold .
My husband decided that I needed something new to occupy my mind and so he hatched a cunning plan .
I had always had dogs in my life  but never one of my own . He knew I had a longing for a Maltese , the glorious little , white , long haired dogs . So he tracked down a breeder and Tiffany came into my life on the understanding that I would be solely responsible for her care. And she saved me .

Tiffany at 12 weeks

Finally I had something that relied on me alone , a little white scrap who looked to me for food , exercise and love  . I had to haul myself out of my misery and take her out , I had to house train her , lead train her and groom her every day .
Yes , I had to commit totally to her welfare but she gave so much back . Dogs love unconditionally . They couldnt give a fig if your hair is falling out  or you look ghastly from the medication , you are their world .
Tiffany became my constant companion , my shadow and soulmate . She taught me to love the world again , to regain my confidence and return to the  'real me ' .  When I recovered from my illness she introduced me to  the world of   'Dog Showing ' , which became a passion and also the inspiration for a long career in Dog Grooming .
I have had many wonderful canine companions since and they each have a place in my heart . But I will always have a special place for a very special little life saver  . Thank you , Tiffany


I really hope you find your  'perfect ' dog . I suspect many of you already have . I would love to hear about them . We can also ensure that thousands of abandoned dogs find their  'perfect ' owners . Help Pedigree achieve this by clicking on Ripleys lead and taking her for a walk .

Monday, 17 October 2011

Countdown Word Challenge Number 6

Another week, another word game . This is the invention of the marvellous Matt Mascarenhas and you can find the rules on his blog  page at  . Basically , the object of the game is to write a story or article using all the winning words from todays Countdown TV programme .
Well , todays words were the usual strange assortment but this is my effort ............

The words are ;


                                                         Aloha Baby .

" Don't get eaten by a cougar !" Were the very last words he said to me .
We had laughed and joked about the question of our holiday . I wanted to go camping in the Rockies and he wanted to go to  Hawaii . But , after the laughing came the shouting ..... the arguments !
That summed up our relationship nowadays , we never could have a rational discussion !  He would frown and scowl and his features became all wizened and I knew that was that . End of story  !!
So I thought  " Sod it ". If we can't agree , I will go my way and he can go to bloody  Hawaii !
I told him my decision , with a few choice phrases for good measure  and then I stuck out my tongue and flounced off ! Childish , I know , but so what , I'd had enough .

I phoned my best friend Lucy and she came over straight away . We were all excited and soon we were darting about , packing our rucksacks and tent . She's an artist , she sculpts with various metals and stuff.  Really talented too , but as shes  'self employed' she can take time off at a minutes notice .
He watched us pack and laughed in a derisory manner . He was grinning and saying how marvellous it would be in the sunshine of  Honolulu and how quiet too , without my incessant chattering . Funny sod ! I don't think he ever thought we would actually go . But , once we had the packing nailed ,  I kissed him goodbye and leapt into  the car . He was still laughing as his last words to me drifted in the air and I accelerated past the houses and  off  Westward into the setting sun .

Well, Lucy and I had a wonderful time and we came back tanned and happy . Him ? Oh yeah , he went to Hawaii ......... thats where the shark got him  !
So , dear readers , why dont you have a go . Its great fun  . I'd love to see  what you come up with .                                                       

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

Today is the start of a very special week , the PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE . Anytime during this week  you can visit this blog page and take RIPLEY , the campaign dog , for a  'virtual' walk .
Every time RIPLEY is walked  PEDIGREE will release  £1 donation from their £100,000 total fund . I hope all of you will participate in this exciting and vital project . The money raised will help Rescue Centres across the country  help more abandoned dogs to find a safe haven , where they can have their broken , unloved little bodies restored and where they can stay until new homes are found .
Too many dogs end up having one  'Last Walk' ......... the walk to the vets and the fatal injection .
With this in mind , I have written a story with two possible endings . I would be grateful if you would read it and choose the appropriate end  and then I would like you to take  RIPLEY for a walk .

So here is Timmys story , his fate and the fate of all abandoned dogs , is in your hands .

                                                         Timmy's Walk .

Timmy was sure today was a special day . He walked around his small enclosure and sniffed the air . The only window was high above his head . Far too high to jump up and catch a glimpse of the outside world , He knew because he had tried . Bouncing up and down like a black and white hairy beach ball, ears flopping and back legs aching , until he was exhausted . The window was slightly open and through the gap floated so many delicious smells , so many interesting scents .
He wandered over to his water bowl and gave it a shove with his paw , stuck his black nose into the water and blew bubbles . Oh , that was fun , so he tried it again , snorting and snuffling and shaking his head .
Tiring of his game , he went and lay in his little bed , cuddled into his fleecy blanket and started to lick his paws .
At least he was safe here , safe from the terrifying experience of being abandoned . He had been discarded like rubbish , pushed out of a car by the family he loved , straight onto a busy road , left to his fate .
He had picked himself up out of a muddy puddle , dragged his bruised little body to the pavement and crept under a bench next to a bus stop.  There he lay , bewildered , shivering with cold and soaking wet . Cars rushed by sending up huge sprays of muddy water , making him even wetter and colder .
Some boys came by and began throwing stones at the bedraggled little dog , laughing at his lop-sided ears and scruffy, patchy coat . Timmy fled , yelping as a stone struck him on his rump . He ran , straight into the path of an oncoming car , heard the screeching of brakes and the shouted abuse from the startled driver . On he ran , on and on , too afraid to stop , searching for a safe haven . Tired and aching he found himself near a little parade of shops . Some cardboard boxes had been put out , ready for tomorrows waste collection . Climbing inside the largest one , Timmy sheltered from the rain and wondered what he had done wrong . He was cold , he was hungry and he was all alone .
It was here that the kindly lady had found him the next morning . A little scrap curled up tight , shivering and afraid . She had brought him here , to this place , where he had been bathed and dried and  wrapped in fleecy towels . He had been fed and taken care of , given his own little pen . A tiled floor , three solid walls and one huge steel gate .
Strange people walked by each day and looked at him . Families with giggling children peered at him through the bars and sometimes he was taken out to meet them , out into the corridor . The children kneeled down, made a fuss of him and stroked his sparse coat , but the adults looked at each other over the childrens kneeling bodies and shook their heads and he heard the words  " Too old ".
And so time passed .
He didn't know how long he had been here , but he knew there was something special about today . He had been examined by the white-coated girls who looked after him and they seemed to have made more of a fuss of him than usual . Yes , something special was definitely going to happen today .............

Story Ending Option A

The gate of the pen opened and one of the white-coated girls came in . Tenderly she clipped a lead to his thin red collar and patted him gently . Then , together they walked down the long corridor to the room at the end . A kindly man waited and Timmy was lifted onto a table .  What was going on ? The girl reassured him as the man used a weird buzzing thing to shave a patch on  Timmy's leg and then , as the girl held him tightly in her arms , Timmy felt the slight scratch of a needle ...............................................

Story Ending Option B

The gate of the pen opened and a white-coated girl came in . Tenderly , she bent and clipped a lead to his thin red collar and then she stood up . Looking past the girl ,  Timmy saw an elderly couple waiting in the corridor . He was sure he had seen them just the day before . He had liked them . They had patted him and played with him and he hadn't heard the words   " Too old " . No, what was it he had heard  ?  Oh yes  , " Just right "
The elderly lady bent down and placed a kiss on his scruffy little head ,
" Come on darling ," she said , " Come on , you are going to your new home !  Oh , you are going to love it . We will love you and take care of you . Don't be afraid . Oh, the walks we shall have ............."
Timmy looked up at them and he felt safe . Then he padded happily down the corridor with his new family . Just before they reached the room at the end , they turned right , through big double doors and together the three of them walked out into the sunshine .

So , which option did you choose ?  I'm sure you are all yelling
" Option B , option B "
Lets try to ensure that all abandoned dogs get their happy ending . Take Ripley for a  'virtual' walk and help PEDIGREE give more dogs like Timmy a second chance .

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Dreams part Two ... " Perchance to Dream "

After my previous blog entry about dreams I have had a few requests to write more on the subject . I am certainly not an expert and all my musings are just that , speculative thoughts and questions about a fascinating subject .
Just recently I have had some very strange experiences that I can hardly believe are real dreams .
I am in the habit of dreaming about things I know , things I have experienced or at least with which I have some familiarity , even if these dreams  do take place in some weird location . As I said before , I do find myself in places that  seem familiar with a feeling of  'deja vu' . However the people that appear in my dreams are usually characters from my real life , people who I have actually met at some time ,possibly in my childhood . Naturally I also dream occasionally of some celebrity who has perhaps recently appeared on my TV screen or in some magazine . I have no control over this , they pop up at random and disappear just as quickly . Unfortunately I don't dream of Johnny Depp nearly as often as I would  like !! But I am almost always aware that this is only a dream and I am most definitely always asleep .
Recently , however , I have found myself awake and restless ... my insomnia is always there , ready to strike . So, yes , awake, but in a dreamlike state . This is the time that I find I am visited by what I can only say is a  'spirit' . It is a real person , but someone I have never met . I can feel their presence and even feel the touch of their hand on my skin . I half expect to look down at my arm and see the imprint of their fingers , the touch is so firm . I feel their breath on my cheek and hear their words in my head . Then suddenly there is a sound from outside , or a creak of a floorboard and they are gone . I sit up and get out of bed and everything is normal .
Now , dear reader , am I awake or am I dreaming that I am awake ?  I don't know , all I know is that I am totally aware of my surroundings the whole time , I can hear the clock ticking , can hear the sound of my husband breathing next to me , can feel the breeze blowing softly through the open window .
I have some idea of the identity of the  'spirit' , some idea of what is going on but I 'm keeping that information to myself . You would all think it was ridiculous and anyway , I would like you to come to your own conclusions .
I have always been a bit of a  'witch' - a bit  'fey' so ... maybe it is not a dream at all  ....................

......................... to be continued .

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Free Range Gardening

Vast swathes of Scotland are planted with man-made forests.  Line after line of fir trees standing in neat rows . They give a uniform look to the hills and glens . The mist clings to them , deer shelter in them , birds nest in them , but they can look very boring ! I fully understand the need for these sustainable forests , I also ungerstand the huge profit that can be made by uber-rich individuals with enough money to invest in such a long term venture .
Aberdeenshire has many of these forests , the rich soil of the region is ideal for growing a variety of plants and trees .
When we first moved to Aberdeenshire we lived on a brand new esate beside the River Don . The gardens were just squares or rectangles of grass with no flowers , trees or distinguishing features whatsoever . My next door neighbour , Esther and I worked hard to make our gardens reflect our unique individuality, but the local  Garden Centre had nothing in the way of saplings and so our designs lacked height .
We were very alike and both disliked the uniform look of the man-made forests that stretched for miles all around our village . But most of all we hated the devastation that accompanied the logging operations when it was time for the trees to be  'harvested' .
Over the years , while the forests were growing , other trees had crept around the edges . Seeded by wind or animals , pretty  Rowan trees dripping with orange berries and slender  Silver  Birch , with its tactile bark , had mingled with the ubiquitous fir trees . Unwanted by the timber merchants , these trees were indiginous to the area , they had a right to be there .
However,  we had both seen what happened to these gorgeous trees . When the lumberjacks arrived with their heavy lorries and caterpillar tractors , chainsaws and cranes , the tender trees were destroyed . Crushed underfoot , ground into the soil by wheels , in the quest to reach the main prize ; the firs .
We often passed these logging areas and saw the poor broken branches , squashed saplings and bare roots lying dicarded beside the piles of neatly cut timber .
Now  Esther and I were always involved in some madcap scheme . ( see my blog entry  "The Roup" )  Our husbands both worked away from home most of the time and so we had plenty of opportunities to be as silly as we liked with no  'grown-ups' to supervise us !!  So when we found out , through the grapevine , that part of a forest very close to the village was  due to be cut down , we resolved to do something to save some of the little trees .  In retrospect , I'm sure this was all totally illegal but we didn't think about that !!

Well , bright and early the next morning , after my son and Esthers daughter had been bundled off to school , we grabbed our gardening gloves and my 3yr old daughter  Louisa  and set off for the forest .  We took  Esthers estate car as it would be a lot more suitable than my silly little MGB roadster , we had plans !!
It was a sweltering hot late Spring morning and we were already far too warm in our sweatshirts and jeans , but we were on a mission and there would be midges where we were going .
We pulled into the forest road and followed the bumpy track for a few yards and then stopped in a little clearing . The air was still and heavy with the heat and the only sound was that of  birds singing and the occasional flap of wings as we disturbed a wood pigeon perched on a nearby branch .
And then we set to our task , carefully uprooting the little  Birch saplings and  Rowan trees that were growing around the edges of the main forest . The ground was rich and peaty and so it was fairly easy to just pull and pull until the roots slowly slipped from the soil . And of course, we were very determined !  We walked further into the forest , Louisa trailing behind , attempting to  'help' by pulling up sticks and grass . We carefully carried the trees back to the car each time and deposited them in a neat pile . A pile which was growing larger !
By now sweat was running down our backs , I am only 5ft 2ins and weighed 7st , soaking wet . Esther was about the same , so we were exhausted . Leaves and twigs in our hair , faces pink with the heat and the famous  Scottish midges biting any exposed bit of skin , we must have looked like  Worzel Gummidge !!
On and on we worked , always going for  " Just one more " until we eventually turned and surveyed our pile of trees . It was enormous ! Oh dear, our enthusiasm always did run away with us . How on earth were we going to get everything into the car ?
We were all tired and completely parched , this was back in the days before everyone went round with a bottle of  Evian permanently attached to their person . But we had to save the trees , so we popped poor Louisa into the back seat and then began threading trees around her . We piled them into the back of the car , through the tailgate . We poked them out of the windows on the passenger side . We stuck them up through the sunroof , there were trees everywhere . We used the belt off my jeans  to secure the tailgate as tree branches trailed out of the car , almost touching the ground . Then I squeezed into the passenger seat and  Esther placed the remaining saplings all around me . Then we set off !
We had about 3 miles to travel home and Louisa and I were completely covered in trees . Even Esther had limited vision through the windscreen , it was going to be an interesting journey.  We were fine as long as Esther drove in the middle of the road , but it got a bit hairy when oncoming vehicles appeared , With so many branches sticking out , we couldnt really pull over to the left very easily . I dont think we stopped laughing the whole 3 miles . What a sight we must have been , trees poking out of every window and growing out of the sunroof , like some mobile woodland .
As we approached the village we noticed some people strolling along the pavement . They had to dodge out of the way to avoid being hit by stray branches , protruding from my window . I tried to avoid their stares , thinking they would be annoyed and shout abuse . But , instead they just smiled indulgently as though to say ,
" Oh its those two again . the mad English women "

We finally reached home , desperate for a cool drink, but first we had to unload so that we could retrieve poor  Louisa , who had been so quiet during the journey that we feared the worse !  However , there she was , like a  'Babe in the Wood' , fast asleep in a nest of branches ! 
Well, dear reader , we began counting the saplings as we unloaded ........ we stopped counting after we got to 80 !!!    Good heavens , 80 trees to plant ........ we had forgotten about that part .
We worked for the rest of the day and well into the night , digging and planting and watering .  Children foraged for their own suppers , pots were left unwashed , until at last the final tree was in its new home .
Esther and I had the prettiest , most wooded gardens in the area .

Perhaps I will tell you all about the  'Rockery' sometime  !!

Well, now that I have told you this story , I suppose I should expect a visit from the  Forestry Commission and the  NSPCC .

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

I know many of my readers are dog owners and even if you don't actually own a dog at present I'm sure you are all animal lovers . I believe the measure of a man or woman is  judged by how they  treat animals .
So I  want you all ,  just for a moment , to try and imagine how it feels to be an abandoned dog . It could be that you have been left alone in a house or flat , all alone , not realising that your owner has left and will never return . Becoming frantic with worry and hunger , throat dry with thirst . Scratching at the door , whining, barking , trying to get attention . Becoming weaker , giving up hope .
It could be that you have been taken by the owner you loved and dumped , your lead tied to a lamp-post or tree . There you wait for his return , shivering and frightened as the dark begins to engulf you and you start to realise that he is never coming back .
It could be that you have been thrown from a speeding car , your poor thin body bouncing off the tarmac , maybe into the path of another car . If you are lucky you manage to haul yourself into the gutter and lie there , broken and terrified and alone .

The above scenarios are unfortunately very common . Every day these things , and worse, happen to dogs across the country . Rescue centres do their best but space is short and they do not have deep pockets. Inevitably , many dogs have to take the   "Last Walk" to be put to sleep.

The PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE is committed to helping the centres provide a safe haven for abandoned dogs  , with veterinary facilities and essential equipment .

For a week beginning Monday 17th October , I will be hosting a virtual kennel on this page . You will be able to visit this kennel and take  RIPLEY the campaign dog , for a virtual walk .  Every completed walk will unlock £1 donation from Pedigree until they hit their target of  £100,000

So , how easy it is to make a difference , how easy to help an unfortunate dog . I do hope you will all find time to visit  RIPLEY sometime next week . She will be waiting for you

Thank you for taking the time to read this , I do appreciate it .

Next week I will be telling you the story of an abandoned dog  and asking you to choose from two possible endings .  Lets hope we can make some  real life  "happy endings "  too .

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 5

Today is my Wedding Anniversary .  My husband and I met in  April 1968 and were married 7 months later . Everyone was surprised and , almost to a man , said ,
" It will never last !!" , or words to that effect . I realise we were very young .  My parents were probably the most amazed , they had always thought that I would never marry , I was far too feisty and independant  And so it is a testament to my husband , a very special man , for having patience and kindness . For indulging my fantasies , crazy plans and keeping my feet on the ground .
Together , we have shared triumph and disaster and all manner of emotions in between . We laugh every day , usually at my silliness. Who else but he would endure my dreadful singing , my noisy tap dancing on tiled floors , my penchant for dreadful jokes and all the various animals that I have brought into the house ?
During his working life he was often away from home , doing a difficult and dangerous job in a hostile environment , but he never complained , he wanted to give his family everything he possibly could .
And so today my main reason to be cheerful is my dear husband .

Other things that have made me glad this week are ;

                                                  Fresh mangoes ,
                                                  Twitter friends ,
                                                  Dark nights ,
                                                 "The Great Gatsby "
                                                  Family ,
                                                  The last Summer flowers .

I hope you are enjoying this occasional series of blog posts . We all have reasons to be cheerful and I know some of you now make your own lists . Lists do not always have to be written down . Sometimes we carry a special thing deep in our heart , something we can always take out , look at and then return back to its place . Unseen , but always there . If you have something special , something that makes you happy , cherish it . I hope you all have a wonderful , happy day .

Monday, 10 October 2011

Countdown Word Challenge Number 5

Hello dear readers , another week has passed and here we are doing Matt Mascarenhas Word Challenge . Have you tried it yet ? Details can be found on Matt's blog  . Basically , the object is to write an article or story and include all the winning words from todays Countdown  TV programme .

Todays words are ;


                                                        Send In The Clowns

Back in the day I toured with a travelling circus .  I had no real talent for any of the traditional circus skills , but I could dance a little and looked good in a leotard . So, there I was , six nights a week and twice on Saturdays ,  in me sparkly tights and pink tutu , dancing round with the clown , who was , in reality, a goitred , balding old man with wandering hands .  He must have been about 90 .  This really was a crummy circus , I mean , to call it second rate would be praising it far beyond its worth . All the performers were right old   has beens , well past their best  . I was the youngest there , the bloomin'  baby !  We had no decent costumes or equipment because the owner was a right old skinflint . I had to sit after each performance , mending the rips in me tights and stuff , because the mean old bugger wouldnt cough up for new ones . The elephant handler was usually lying drunk nearby after imbibing huge doses of whisky . There  he'd be , snoring and grunting like the pig he was . The old clown used to sneak away from his caravan and try to woo me , while his missus was preparing dinner for the whole company.  She'd be mashing potatoes to top the  Shepherds pie we had every blooming night . She hated me , I'd often see her at the grubby window , waiting for the bread to rise , or cutting slices of cake . The old clown often told me that she was a terrible taunter and would often reprove him for the slightest thing ,
" She spites me whenever she can ", he whined .  I wasnt surprised , he really was 'orrible and I dont think he ever washed .
The worst part of my act was when I had to pirouette round  him and pretend to fall over into his arms . He was supposed to catch me and then drop me and all the kids would laugh and giggle at my misfortune .  Well , this particular night I was prancing about , trying to delay the moment when I had to get close to him when he just keels over , I mean flat on the floor . Dead as a bloomin' dead thing ! Heart attack !
After the funeral the circus owner said not to worry , he would ask his nephew to come over from the next town . He could fill in for the old clown ,till a replacement was found  .  So , sure enough, this car turns up , roaring down the lane past the fields of reapers . I remember the car , it had a spoiler on its boot and I remember thinking to myself ,
'He's gonna be a bit flash for a clown '  Well out he gets , gives me a wink and dashes into the bosses caravan . He must 've been 30ish , quite dishy too .
So, there we are doing our act slap bang in the middle of the ring while Glenda goes round and round on that horse of hers , blooming old nag it was . Well I get to the part where I have to fall into the clowns arms so I do a quick twirl and pretend to slip and ....well he up and kisses me full on the lips ! I mean , a REAL kiss and he didnt stop there ! Fair took my breath away  'e did !  Well all the Mums and Dads start covering their kids faces  because they ain't never seen such things , not in a family show . Old Glenda fell off  'er horse in shock and the lion tamer had to drag us out of the ring .
Yeah , me an' the clown left that crummy circus the next morning ................ I wonder where he is now .

Ok love , a double whopper cheese burger twice ,was it . Do you want fries with that ?

PEDIGREE ADOPTION DRIVE ..... 17th - 21st October 2011

Last year over 120,000 dogs were abandoned in the  UK . And 7,571 of those dogs had to be put down .

The  Pedigree  Adoption  Drive was launched in 2008 . Since its launch over £1million has been raised for rescue centres up and down the country . These centres work tirelessly to find new and loving homes for abandoned dogs . Last year alone , grants of almost a quarter of a million pounds were distributed to 34 rescue homes and went towards funding the vital refurbishment of dilapidated kennel blocks , desperately needed veterinary facilities and the supply of essential surgical equipment.

I will be posting special blogs and information during the week beginning 17th October and explaining how you can get involved .

All too often these abandoned dogs have one  " Last Walk " , The walk to the vets room and the inevitable fatal injection .

Pedigree are working to ensure that more dogs can be spared this sad  "Last Walk " . This is a project very close to my heart and I hope you will all visit this site regularly for more information on how you can help  Pedigree achieve their goal.

A virtual kennel will be set up on this site and Pedigree will donate £1 everytime Ripley, the campaign dog , is taken for a   'virtual' walk . I hope you will all join in with this exciting campaign .

Thank you for sparing the time to read this post  .

Friday, 7 October 2011

Writers Block

Some of you may be aware that I am attempting to write a novel . Its been years since I flexed my literary muscles and so I am terribly guilty of avoiding the task , telling myself I can't do it , I don't have time , etc. etc. So , I try to write something every day .  Apparently that is the way to train my brain to knuckle down and damn well  DO IT !!  I have been given the task of writing about a certain emotion . I shall not tell you what it is , I will tell you after you have read this short story  . I have also been given a time limit of an hour . This took ten minutes so dont expect  Shakespeare !!!  LOL

                                                         No More Goodbyes

He stood inside the church and the vast coolness of the building made him shiver slightly .  His friend stood beside him and , noticing the shiver , placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder .
Soft light shone through the beautiful stained glass windows , leaving pools of colour on the worn stone floor . The heady scent of roses , violets and lilies-of-the-valley filled the air , overwhelming his senses and making him dizzy . His friend guided him to the nearest pew and they sat.  Soft music filled the air , she had chosen the tune and planned the whole day . She was always organising his life and he knew she had left nothing to chance, nothing he need worry about , all he had to do was be there . Everything would be perfect , that was her way .
People started filling the church , murmuring to each other , looking over at him , nodding and smiling in his direction .
He was almost in a trance , he had  never thought this day would  arrive . After today they would never have to say  " Goodbye "  again.
His mind drifted , filled with memories . It seemed that they were always saying  " Goodbye " .
" Goodbye " , when she had urged him to spread his wings , write his wonderful music , travel the world for inspiration . He had not wanted to go but she had been right to encourage him , set him free . He had become successful  and she revelled in his fame , pushed him into the limelight ,she stayed out of sight .
" Goodbye " , when he went to the premieres and awards events . Where  he was photographed with starlets and celebrities . She had  watched him on TV and glowed with pride , thrilled that his talent was being celebrated . She had always had faith in him and knew he would return whenever he could . Return to her and walk through meadows of wildflowers , past  sparkling streams . Meet in woods carpeted with bluebells , forget about the world .
" Goodbye " when he moved to New York , to join the prestigious orchestra and she was , once again,  left behind . They were victims of their circumstances , living in separate worlds , having to bow to convention . Then every phone call was filled with longing and always ended with that hated word  " Goodbye "
The vicar slowly approached and gently spoke to him . He came out of his reverie , back to reality , back to today  He stood up as the beautiful music soared  and filled the church and he thought he would faint .  He knew she was here .
The coffin was slowly carried to the sacred place in front of the altar . It was covered in the flowers she had loved . Roses , violets and lily-of-the-valley .
This was their final  " Goodbye ".

So, readers , the emotion I was challenged to write about was  " Sadness ".  I hope you are all crying !!!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful ..... Part 4

Most of you who read my Blog  will be aware that I am on  Twitter . I hesitantly joined the Social Media  merry-go-round on  Christmas Day  last year. Dipping my toes into the ether and wondering what I would find .
Well, dear reader, I found a fabulously eclectic mix of people , a kaleidoscope of talent and one or two people who have become real friends .
On any given day I can 'talk' to people in the  USA and Australia , in  Ireland and Malaysia and all over Europe , different time zones and cultures all chatting together .
I have learnt so much too ! I have endless tips on everything from a 'greener' way to clean my oven , to making funky Christmas cards or growing tomatoes and fly-tying !  I have learned about diseases I never knew existed and had the priviledge of 'chatting' with the wonderfully brave and inspiring people who live so cheerfully with these cruel illnesses .
Authors , poets , artists , photographers and musicians share their worlds with me and enrich  my day.  I follow and am followed by so many talented , friendly, kind and caring people .They are like a big , happy , extended family , there to support me on sad days , offering comfort and virtual hugs . Laughing and sharing jokes through the good times and indulging my silly sense of humour and 'ditzyness'.  And , in turn, I have shared their ups and downs , their bad days , their struggles with bureaucracy or delivery men or missing Rayburns and poorly sheep .  I know a little about their families , their animals and what they had for dinner !
People say to me ,
"Oh , they are not real people , they are not real friends . Why on Earth are you on Twitter ? "
Well , I say to those people ,
" Try it for yourself , you will be amazed . Especially if you stumble upon the lovely folk I follow  !"
So today my main reason to be cheerful is quite simply  Twitter  and my wonderful  Twitter friends  !!

And now for the rest of my  'Glad List ' :

                                                          Poetry ,
                                                          Swirling Autumn leaves ,
                                                          Natural  yogurt ,
                                                          Family ,
                                                          Laughing with friends ,
                                                          Strong black coffee ,
                                                          Touche Eclat  ( Too many late nights )

I hope you all make your own  'Glad List ' and look at it when days are black .   Oh, and take care out there in the  big wide world ,  YOU  may be on someones list  !!                          

Monday, 3 October 2011

Countdown Word Challenge Number 4

Well, here we go folks , the now customary Word game invented by  Matt Mascarenhas . The object of the game is to make a story using all the words from todays Countdown TV programme  . Details and rules can be found on Matt's blog on
Well today the words were very unusual and seemed to be trying to steer me in a certain direction , or maybe thats just me . However , I think I managed to avoid the trap !

Todays words are :

                                                  "  Beaulah , peel me a grape !"
" Have you got mah shawl , Beaulah ? "
The old lady picked up the silken fringed object and placed it round the shoulders of the elaborately coiffured woman .
"Gee now , honey , where were we ? "
The journalist flicked through his notepad , but before he had chance to reply,
" Oh yeah , Ah know ! Ah was telling you all about those gals . Well , witches they were ! Ah mean the studios were just like covens when those bitches were on set !............ Beaulah , bring me mah iced tea , will ya honey ? "
Beaulah lumbered over and placed the glass of liquid on the dressing table , amongst all the potions and lotions , powder and paint and all the other detritus  littering the surface .

" Go on , Miss  Moronso , please " , said the journalist  " The readers of  'Film Life'  will  be so interested in your story "
Miss  Moronso adjusted her ample bosom ,  glanced at her red finger nails , crossed her large thighs  and leaned forward ,
" Well , sugar-pie , Cecil ...... he let me call him that , ya know , but just me , He was Mr De Mille to everyone else !!  He kept himself apart from the cast , kept the upper hand , he wouldnt join in with any of the banter on set. Ah remember , even when we were filming that sledging scene ! Ya know the little continuity girl had all these potages lined up , ready for the  Winter picnic scene . Well the sledge came whizzing down , went clean through the table and exited stage left !!  Well ya shoulda seen their faces . Ah mean  Glorias little dog just started to lick it all up . He licked everything , floor , table legs , 'best boys 'jacket , everything !  Yeah , a right little licker he was , scruffy little mutt .  Now , where was I ? ..... Beaulah , is mah costume ready ?"

" Overture and beginners " came the call from the corridor outside .

The journalist shifted in his chair and tried to  regain  the ageing film stars attention .
" Miss Moronso , can you tell our readers how you came to be appearing here tonight ? "
" Oh sure honey ,  Beaulah , bring me ma shoes will ya ?  Now then ,  well ya know , Ah git so many letters and scripts   through mah door . Everyone wants  me to return to the silver screen , but Ah wanted to do theatre , Shakespeare , its in mah blood  !  Ya know , dear Arthur wanted to write a film part just for me , but Ah was filming with Minnelli at the time so Marilyn did it .  Of couse he made her character randier , Ah dont like that , its not nice .   Anyways , there Ah was in mah lil' house in Georgia ,  thinking the world had forgotten about lil ole me and mah agent rings up ,  Ah thought he was dead !   Well he rings up and says   ' Lila , honey , ya got an offer from London !'   Well , Ah was here like a shot .... Ah mean , the West End !!! "
" Well almost ,  Miss Moronso . Almost ! "

The door opened and the stage manager said ,
" Thats it  Miss  Moronso , Ugly Sisters are on in two minutes , are you ready ? "


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Track and Field Events

So here we go again with the continuing story of Tarquin the terrible !

The tree uprooting incident at  SKC  did not deter us and we went to more shows . I was determined to persevere and everyone kept on telling me that he would settle down eventually .  Everyone was wrong !!
We thought we would try Open Shows as they were smaller , less stressful and more fun .
More fun ?  Well they certainly were for Tarquin . He continued to bounce round the ring like  'Tigger' on speed and I was dragged round sports halls , the length and breadth of  Scotland . He played with every dog in sight  and made me very unpopular with my fellow handlers ,  as their dogs copied Tarquin .  Before long , the younger  Afghan classes began to resemble 'pogo-ing ' displays , with Tarquin as the star performer .
People tried to avoid standing anywhere near me in the ring , when I showed Tarquin I was poor '  Billy no-mates ' !
I could never , usually , take my eyes off him for a second as he would start to chew the barrier ropes , or steal the rosettes from the  Stewards table , or eat the treats out of someones pocket or showbag . He was incorrigible !

One day , however , we were at a show in a sports venue in  Perth and Tarquin actually lay down in the ring ! I was amazed , but pleased because it meant that I could relax and try to regain the feeling in my hands .  The class was huge and many other dogs were sitting , relaxing as the judge took his time examining the dogs at the head of the line . Tarquin seemed to be quite contented , his head resting on his huge front paws . I even began to chat to the chap next to me  and my grip on the lead loosened even more .
All was calm and I idly watched the puppies ahead of me as they pranced round the ring  , this was more like it , this was how showing used to be .
The laughter began as a ripple and grew to a roar , people round the ring had obviously seen something hilarious . I looked around to see what was happening but could see nothing funny . Then the guy next to me gestured in the direction of my feet so I looked down .  There was Tarquin , half sitting half lying , next to me , but in his mouth was the corner of a fleecy blanket , which he was slowly and deliberately pulling into the ring . ......... On the blanket , sitting bolt upright , was a terrified Cocker Spaniel !!

Tarquin was becoming famous , for all the wrong reasons . However , I didnt realise just how well he was known until we went to Leicester Championship Show .
This show no longer exists as a Champ show . The Kennel Club decided to remove that status years ago . But in the mid 80s it was a huge affair and the rings and trade stands were spread out over a vast area in a large park in the suburbs .
We had got into the habit of always arriving very early at the venues . This enabled me to walk Tarquin round the huge showgrounds in the extremely vain attempt to calm him down . It had never worked so far , but Im a glutton for punishment !
So , there I was , walking around , well being dragged around , through the trade stands , round the rings and in and out of the benching area . I had been there a couple of hours , it felt as though I had been there forever !  The showground had begun to fill and get very busy , with people and dogs as far as the eye could see .  Judging had begun but I didnt rush as , by now , Tarquin had graduated to the Junior class and there was plenty of time . I stopped by a ringside for a few minutes to watch the  Shih Tzus and thats when it happened ........ Tarquin saw something he wanted and lunged ! He was so strong and so determined to get to his target that he snapped his check chain and just took off .  I have no idea how he did it as these chains are thick and strong !
Off went Tarquin , with me in hot pursuit . My hubby saw Tarquin zip by and joined the chase , along with about a dozen of our friends . Round the showground went my naughty dog , neatly side stepping and swerving to foil all attempts to grab him  . people were running and calling out and trying to tempt him with treats but to no avail . Two huge rugby playing types thought they had the answer and stood side by side , ready to block his path  but Tarquin just ran straight for them and crashed through the middle , knocking the men to the ground .  He ran into judging rings and did circuits round and round , making  Poodles  and  Basset Hounds startle and bark . He ran round trade stands , knocking over displays and taking crafty mouthfuls of  food as he whizzed past . By now I was in a state of complete panic as I was so worried that he would be hurt or would get out of the showground and be lost or run over or some such disaster .
Finally , after what seemed like an eternity , he suddenly decided he had caused enough chaos and trotted up to my husband , who quickly secured him and all was well .  A friend came over and asked if it had been a sneaky plan , designed to make sure Tarquin was too worn out to misbehave in his class .  I just smiled because , by now , embarrassment had replaced concern .  Embarrassment because I realised that all the time Tarquin had been racing round and causing havoc , the showground had reverberated to the sound of almost every person present calling out to him .......... by name !!!!

Oh , heavens ! Everyone knew him !  Oh, and he still had the energy to do cartwheels and act like a clown in his class !!