Escape Artists

Mike with Tarka at Kingston Lacy
Mike with Tarka at Kingston Lacy
Mike with Tarka at Kingston Lacy


Nobody said it would be easy. We foolishly thought our garden was dog-proof. From past experience, we should have realised that a dog will find a way of escape. Tarka is no exception.

Last Sunday morning she escaped from our back garden for the third time. I let her out around 7 o’clock in the morning; I was still in my night attire. I walked down the garden with her. In no time she’d picked up a trail of a night-time visitor, probably a rat. (She’s already killed one which was taking a short-cut across our garden.) Nose to the ground, she was oblivious to anything other than her quest. I saw her one minute, darting in and out of the undergrowth. The next moment, no sign. I called – nothing – again and again, no movement or sight of her. The danger is that on the other side of the hedge is easy access to a road, busy at times. The hedge is not our boundary, but belongs to our neighbours. Only the previous Monday, the young man who helps us with the garden now had put mesh against the full length of the hedge, but Tarka is small enough to pull it up and wriggle beneath it.

My heart pounding, I ran to the front of our house, opened the front door, and thankfully Tarka was running along the path adjacent to the houses towards me, looking very pleased with herself.

Esky on the loose in Spain

As the title of this piece suggests, we’ve had experience of escaping dogs before. Our first two dogs were not prone to escaping, but when we moved to Spain to live, over 13 years ago, we inherited two dogs, Esky and Gizmo. Although the land we were living on was fenced in with good quality wire, both of them escaped regularly. They climbed over the top, or burrowed underneath it. Esky was the pack leader for the whole area (life is very different in Spain for dogs in the countryside), and we heard how he controlled the others when they were howling. One growl from him and they would stop. Gizmo just came back muddy as he’d rolled in the nearby stream.

We didn’t have Esky for long; there was a lot of animosity between the two dogs, and Esky was taken to the local dog pound, where somebody could rehome him. He was so beautiful to look at that he would not have stayed long without somebody wanting him.

Gizmo in his later years
Gizmo in his later years

Gizmo of course stayed with us until last year when he passsed away at nearly 17 years old.

The next escapee was Cara – my beautiful dog brought up inside the trunk of an olive tree and raised in the wild. We moved house, and had fencing erected, but the workers did not do a good job and again the two of them, Gizmo and Cara, would find a way out. Not as serious a problem as it is here as there was so much land to roam. Still a worry though, especially as Cara was young and I never knew if she could find her way home, so we tried to stop the escaping, blocking up holes in the wires wherever we could. One day, when the orange pickers had arrived on the opposite side of a nearby river, Cara escaped and went visiting with them. I ran after her, but she was so quick and agile, and I rarely caught a glimpse of her between the rows of orange trees. Eventually she came to me, looking as if she was grinning at my worries! A dog with a sense of humour for sure.

Cara with me in our Spanish garden.
Cara with me in our Spanish garden.

Dear Cara sadly passed away aged only 6 from bone cancer. She will always be ‘my puppy from a tree’.

So, those are our experiences with these canine escape artists.

When we go out now, we try to go somewhere for Tarka too. She can’t always go to every part of National Trust properties, but she was able to visit Kingston Lacy with us on Monday last. She is sitting with my husband Mike in the photo at the top of the page. Other dog photos are not of good quality as they are old and just snaps taken when I was not interested in photography, (silly me.)



A New Addition



For the past four weeks, I have been extra busy with the new addition to our family. Say hello to Tarka, a Border Terrier.

Tarka has come to us from the Margaret Green Animal Rescue Centre. She is 6 years old, and so lovely with people, but comes with issues with other dogs. It’s such a shame, as she becomes very aggressive if they come too close, so she now wears a yellow bandana to warn other dog owners. Shame that the dogs can’t read too.yellowbandana3wp

At home she’s a little angel though, just perfect. She seems to have come from a good home, but was given up, we were told, because she didn’t get on with the other family pet. We can definitely see that now. I’ve never had a terrier before, and she’s quite difficult when out in other ways. She wants to chase anything, and at present can only be walked on the lead. I’d like to get some help for her, so that she will obey me all the time, not just when she wants! It seems a pity that she can’t play with other dogs, so professional help may be the only way. At 6 years though, the bad habits may be ingrained.

The house has become a home again with a new addition to the family. Having had dogs for so many years, I really missed the loving welcome and companionship, so feel more complete again now. I couldn’t have a larger dog at my age, so she is just right for me. More adventures to report in the future I suspect, and I’m only hoping that they will be good ones.


Alleys, blind or not.

11 Spain cruise Aviles

3 Exmouth boats at rest

11 Spain cruise Aviles

Whether you write fact or fiction, there is invariably some research to do. I find it much too easy to be side-tracked. When researching, there are many alleys to tempt me. Some of them are a complete waste of time – blind alleys – others can lead to new work. In most cases they are interesting.

For example, while delving into facts about a small town in Devon, I came across a list of notable figures who had a connection with the town, however slight.Some were born there, others educated in the town, while some had died there. A link led me to a modern-day author who lives in the town, among other people of interest. That was as far as I went that day.

However, the very next day I was in our local library and my eye was caught by a book which had recently been returned. It was by that very same author, a man I’d not heard of before my interest in the town. Naturally I had to borrow that book. As I’ve only just started reading it, I’ve yet to discover if this will lead me to further points of interest. What I will say though is that, having read only six pages so far, the story opens in an area of Hampshire where I once lived. I just love these coincidences.

As for the original article I’d wanted to write, it has yet to be started. There are just too many alleys to explore.11 Spain cruise Aviles





Trelissick Revisited

71 Cornwall Trelissick

When we visited Cornwall in April, we had forgotten just how advanced the seasons can be in that part of the West Country. The rhododendrons in full bloom gave us a good reminder. This was taken in the grounds of Trelissick – a National Trust property.

74 Cornwall dining room

On previous visits, many years ago, the house was not open to the public. Now, however, parts are available to view. There are many repairs needed to the property, but more areas will be opened as and when these are done. The house has a lovely view across to the water.81 Cornwall view from Trelissick towards Falmouth

The above view was taken from just outside the house, looking towards Falmouth.

77 Cornwall blooms at Trelissick

We were not disappointed with our trip to Cornwall, and hope that it won’t be as long before we visit again.

Catching up with Cornwall

6 Cornwall St Just in Roseland church graveyard2

Hello again. I’ve been away from home for a couple of weeks, following which I have a lot to catch up with. Not only have I not been writing anything, I’ve also not been able to read any blogs; as my mother used to say I’m all behind like a cow’s tail. Anyway, I shall be trying to read all your blogs and also write something myself and post a few photographs.

As if things are not slow enough, I have major problems with my laptop and am just putting off the day when I need to send it in for repair. I’ve tried fixing it myself but it has become too advanced for me now.
8 Cornwall tropical trees St Just26 Cornwall St Just in Roseland church graveyard2

20 Cornwall St Just churchyard216 Cornwall inside St Just in Roseland church2

These are a few more photos from our visit to Cornwall, all from St Just in Roseland church. Next time there will be more photos from Cornwall.

More from Cornwall

39 Cornwall Portscatho2

Portscatho sits gently on top of the South Cornwall coast, with wonderful views in all directions.
32 Cornwall Portscatho2

It has always been one of our favourite spots to visit when in Cornwall.

There is a memorial there to the men who died in the Burma campaign, not easy to read,but I hope you can make out the words.
33 Cornwall memorial Portscatho2



The village caters well for holiday-makers and is popular with those walking the South West coastal path.

35 Cornwall just rounding the point at Portscatho2


We stayed at St Mawes; the day before we arrived they had a terrific storm, and we wondered if the weather would be kind. We arrived to find a calm sea, blue skies and only the aftermath of the storm to be seen. Several windows had been broken, and stones were strewn across the road. The men arrived with their JCB to clear it all away.

66 Cornwall after the storm2

Nothing can detract from the natural beauty of the area, and we so enjoyed our nostalgic trip.

42 Cornwall looking towards Place from St Mawes2

St Just in Roseland

View from the churchyard
19 Cornwall across the water at St Just in Roseland
View from the churchyard

Sir John Betjeman, who was Poet Laureate in the United Kingdom from 1972 until his death in 1984, considered that St Just in Roseland churchyard was the most beautiful on earth. He certainly had a point; it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen for sure. It must be what the Garden of Eden looks like.

The church itself is small and attractive, dating from the 13th century (although it apparently has an older Celtic Heritage). It is its position though, which makes it so special, along with the wonderful plants. Set on the side of the creek with its outstanding beauty, it is surrounded by sub-tropical grounds.

13 St Just in Roseland church
Of course, in that part of Cornwall, sub-tropical gardens are not rare, but there is such an air of peace at St Just and this makes it extra special.

We have made several visits here before. We used to live not too far from the Roseland Peninsula. We were there for about 14 years, and discovered this gem quite early on. Whenever we had visitors staying with us we took them. Without exception, they all found it delightful.



7 Cornwall gunnera at St Just churchyard
Gunnera at St Just in Roseland church

We’d not been back to Cornwall for many years, but we’re now trying to fit short breaks away between our various medical appointments. Earlier this month we had a four-night break at St Mawes, near to St Just. It was a lovely nostalgic trip and we were able to meet up with friends we’d not seen for quite some time. The weather was kind to us for the time of year, so it all looked lush and wonderful.

18 Cornwall beautiful stained-glass window St Just in Roseland

22 Cornwall tree ferns in graveyard
Tree Ferns at St Just churchyard


If you ever have the chance to visit, please do so. It is well worth it.

Starting the Year Again

This wooden seat outside A La Ronde does not look too comfortable.
28 Exmouth wooden seat outside A La Ronde 2
This wooden seat outside A La Ronde does not look too comfortable.

When I learn of the problems other people have or have had in their lives, I’m humbled. I realise how lucky I am. My worries are as nothing compared to many unfortunates.

Nevertheless, we did not have a good start to 2016, so we’re starting again!

The letter which arrived for me from the hospital at the end of December did make my blood run cold. I have to admit I was scared, more so because it was unexpected. I’d had a CT scan for my ongoing thyroid problems and thought no more of it as I have a follow-up with the consultant in April. The news on that was fairly good, but the scan had shown a change in my pancreas – a lesion. While the doctors thought it may not be significant, I was concerned as a cousin of mine had died from pancreatic cancer when she was younger than I am now. That disease is hard to diagnose too.

Trying to sort this out was impossible until the surgery opened in the New Year, but I have to say our local surgery acted promptly in referring me and taking blood tests. The radiologists had suggested a special scan, an endoscopic ultrasound.

However, the first appointment to see the relevant consultant could not take place until March, so with the help of a mutual society in funding me, I decided to ‘go private’. Even this was not straightforward, as after several false starts, I discovered there is only one consultant in the whole are who can perform this test, whether on the NHS or private.

I managed to have an appointment with him quite quickly and he tried to reassure me that it quite possibly was not cancer, but he couldn’t be sure without the test. I went ahead with the request, but still had to wait several long weeks. If it was necessary and safe to do so, the consultant would perform a fine needle aspiration through the wall of the stomach to the pancreas, a procedure not without a few risks. If it looked like cancer, he would not be able to do it due to the position of the lesion; it could spread cancer cells, so he would not take that risk.

In the event, when I had the test, on the 25th February, he could tell without using the needle test, that in fact there are two cysts on the pancreas, which he believes will not trouble me. No cancer! What a relief, and since then I’m recovering from the stress of the wait. After all, I should realise that I’m no youngster and anything can happen at any age, but I love being here and hope to stay for a few more years yet. My guardian angel has taken care of me once more.

At the end of that week,  I had some good fortune with my writing as well, as if to say that life is on the up again. I received a small cheque from the Crystal Magazine as winner of the previous issue. Just what I needed to spur me on to try some more writing.

There’s nothing like a health scare to galvanise one into action. My office (cupboard under the stairs) has never been as clear as it is now. It’s not perfect even now, as I hoard so much, but boxes of magazines, which I had hoped would provide inspiration for writing, have now been thrown out. A lot of unfinished writing has been placed in a pile to be completed; some has been discarded as worthless. I’ve tried to organise my personal affairs so that in any sudden change of circumstances, my dear husband Mike would not have problems. He has several health problems anyway, and he’s not happy dealing with paperwork, so I’ve tried to simplify everything. Not a bad thing to do really and all because of a scare. I intend to continue with the task by clearing out unwanted clothes and other items. We don’t need as much as we seem to accumulate.

Now we’ve had a weekend break away in Exmouth, in sunny Devon, to clear the stress from our bodies, and make a fresh start. Photos are from that area. Happy New Year.

6 Exmouth calm waters 2
calm waters at Exmouth
35 Exmouth A La Ronde 2
A La Ronde, a National Trust property near Exmouth







Fact or Fiction – you Decide

Thomas Hardy's desk - Copy
Thomas Hardy's desk - Copy
The desk where Thomas Hardy wrote

Writers are often urged to write about what they know. On the face of it, that must be good advice, particularly if you want to write non-fiction.

If you have an area of expertise, you are able to write articles and even text-books. If you need further facts there are plenty of ways to research and learn more about your chosen subject.

Even if you think you have insufficient knowledge of any one subject, think again. We all know something, for example about emotions. We’ve all experienced joy, grief, surprise, fear and any other emotion known to man. We can write about any of these, and many writers do in one form or another.

Moving away from the idea of writing about what you know, where would we be without imagination? There would be few novels if we only stuck to our own experiences. We don’t expect that every crime novelist should break the law simply to be able to write their books. A writer of science-fiction has, as far as we know, never met with an alien from another planet. Although their stories must be believable, they are figments of their vivid imaginations.

So, whether you want to write fiction or non-fiction, it’s entirely up to you and your knowledge and creative mind.

thomas hardy's heart lies 2
Grave of Thomas Hardy, where his heart lies

Entertainment World and Mortality


Whipped up waves

A cold December morning in Swanage



The entertainment world has lost a few of its member in recent weeks, including David Bowie and Alan Rickman. It seems to have been a shock to so many. Maybe by today’s standards they were young – I speak as one who is older than they were. The members of the public were not aware of their illnesses. Why should they be?

To me, the outpourings of grief, particularly for David Bowie, have been excessive. His death is sad to those who knew and loved him of course. They will miss his presence in their lives. Fans only knew his public persona, not the real person; to treat him like a God or icon is not, in my opinion, a healthy thing to do. We are all born, we live our lives, and we die. We don’t know in advance when this will be. It’s what happens while we live that makes the difference. David Bowie’s musical talent is undisputed, but as a person we can only know what we read, and not believe everything we read.

By all means feel sad about somebody you admired, but perhaps we should keep things in perspective. We are all mortal.



Snowdrops at Kingston Lacy