Confession

Hello folks, I have a confession to make. My camera has not been out of the house for well over two months. Time has just flown and the past few months have passed in a blur of appointments, professional visitors like physiotherapists, occupational therapists and workmen. Simply no time for photography. I’m pinching a bit of me time to write this as I don’t want to lose touch entirely with my blogging world.

One thing I do have now is a smartphone. Yes, I’m being dragged into the modern age, but mainly I don’t use it as a smartphone but simply as my old mobile phone, but with one difference. It has a camera, and quite a decent one at that. Not exactly sure what I’m doing so far, but have taken one or two. 

This is Tarka wondering what she should eat from the garden next!

One of the reasons I bought this phone is that our photography group has closed for now, but our leader has said he may start up a new course later using smartphones, and since I needed a new model, it seemed the ideal time to invest.

I hope to catch up a little with reading your various posts, but it will be slow progress. In the meantime, keep up the good work you all do with your blogs when life allows.

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Exploits from Tarka

With the advent of summer, bees buzzing around the garden and lots more insects doing what they do best, Tarka has decided that they are fair game. I’m doing my best to dissuade her from snapping at them, for her own good, and for theirs. After all, bees are suffering enough in this world of pesticides and other enemies. I’m really not sure how Tarka has reached this age without being stung so badly that she won’t do it again, but nothing seems to put her off.

Last month she had a really good haircut, and looked so gorgeous afterwards. I wasn’t sure about leaving her at the groomer’s for a lengthy time, but she absolutely loved being pampered. I’ve not had a dog who needed anything like this treatment before, and in general don’t like dogs to be too fussed over, but her fur was so long and it needed to be stripped out. I didn’t trust myself to do it, so left it to the experts. I was not disappointed.

Tarka looking gorgeous wp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarka’s favourite toy is a soft ‘donut’ which she carries everywhere and even sleeps with it in her bed. Here she is wearing it.Tarka with donut on head wp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the writing front, there is little progress, due to lack of time mainly. My caring duties mean that I have little time to myself, so although I have things in the pipeline, they are not making much headway. It can’t be helped; that’s life and I need to prioritise. Some of the work requires a fair bit of research, so I try to carry on with that in odd moments, and also write even just a sentence here and there.

Routine – Friend or Foe?

Some people believe that sticking to a routine stifles creativity. Maybe if everything is regimented it does. However, I think that when times are difficult, familiarity can be comforting. Things work better, leaving time for other thoughts. What do you think about it?

We all have to leave our comfort zones sometimes, but the everyday matters can be dealt with if we have a routine, so that they at least don’t worry us. It’s also good to leave your routines behind when you have a holiday or short break. Do something that you don’t normally do, and it gives you a lift.

Dogs and other animals thrive on routine. I know that my Tarka knows what time her food is due, when she should go for a walk, and anything out of the routine  can upset her until normality is restored.

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On a different note, the blossom on our cherry tree has been glorious this year. A couple of years ago we feared that it was dying, but it’s now making up for it.

cherry blossom

Likewise the magnolia tree. These beautiful flowers really lift the spirits after the dullness of winter, letting us know that we are really into spring now.

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Foggy days

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Firstly I’d like to offer an apology to my followers on WordPress, and those I follow. If I haven’t visited your site, liked or commented for a while, it’s simply that I haven’t had time, with many other commitments and appointments. I’m not sure the situation will improve, but I’d like to assure you that I really enjoy reading the variety of blogs, and seeing some wonderful photographs too, so I’m really missing you all.

We’ve had quite a few foggy days this winter, and that weather is not something I enjoy, don’t like driving in it either, but it does make for some atmospheric photographs. We had occasion to visit Dorchester, our County town, on one day like this, so I took the opportunity of visiting the gardens there and taking one or two photos.

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Tarka did not accompany us that day, as we had appointments, but she is continuing to hate other dogs, but be loving to all humans. No doubt she has her reasons. I’m continuing with her training, and she is a little better when passing other dogs on leads, as long as they don’t come too close. She is tending to ignore them more, which is fine by me. Her coat is very long at the moment, but I’ve decided that it will be cut soon as spring is arriving here.

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Finally, one showing our lovely coastline again, taken last week on a photography group meeting at Durlston Castle.

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A Belated Happy New Year

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This is a little late, but I wish you all a Happy New Year. Let’s hope this year will see more peace on the earth, and less suffering.

A new year, and a new laptop for me. The old one had been misbehaving for some time; it was sometimes taking over 20 minutes just to open one email, so it has been frustrating. Just before Christmas it crash-dumped on me. I’m not sure what that means, but it looked serious, and I had great difficulty restarting it. The time had come, I decided, to buy a new one. It’s not a very expensive state-of-the-art model, but it works for me, and the difference in speed is amazing. It seems that the more you pay, the faster the model, but this is not too bad at all.

I’ve been encouraged now to start writing again, and even do more research into small articles which I’ve been wanting to write. I know I can use a library, but it’s not always convenient and when time is short, the computer at home is a great asset.

Time has been short so far this year anyway, with many appointments for us both, mainly medical but not entirely. January is passing in a flash.

Tarka continues to be very adorable at home, and I think she is a little better with other dogs when she’s out walking on the lead, but not to be trusted with them when she’s off the lead. We’ve had a couple of incidents, which shook me up at the time, as I know what it’s like if there is confrontation. My last dog, poor Gizmo, was half-killed by a dog attack on our nearby recreation ground, and I dread that Tarka would cause real damage to another animal. I just need to be vigilant and continue with her training.

Due to a lack of time, I’ve not been taking any photos recently, so have inserted a couple from a year or so ago, to cheer up the weather at this time of year. The snowdrop always offers hope for a good spring.

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Christmas season

Bill and Ellen's nativity scene

I make no apologies for posting this nativity scene again. The shops are full of brilliant lighting, tempting us in to spend money. The scenes are bright and cheerful, which we surely need at this time of the winter, when the weather is anything but bright. I’ve no objection to decorations, but where are the Nativity scenes? We should not forget why we celebrate this season.

A reason for not displaying Nativity scenes seems to be that we may offend somebody who is not a Christian. How can anyone be offended by being reminded how Christians want to live their lives? We’re not offended by the religious celebrations of other faiths,  and we should remember that this is a Christian nation basically. Of course these days there are many other religions groups within our land, and mainly we live in harmony, without offending each other. It would be such a shame if the young children of today grow up to think that Christmas is just about what Santa is going to bring them.

What we should be offended by, whatever our faith, or lack of faith, is the suffering going on around the world, places such as Aleppo in Syria, the Yemen, and many other places where people suffer.

The best present we could pass on to the young would be Peace in our world – a difficult thing to achieve, but we should all strive to pass on the message of Peace and harmony.

Just to show that I’m not a complete killjoy, I’ll pass on my wishes to you all for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, with a photo to match.mincepiedisplay-wp

Autumn at Kingston Lacy

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One of the reasons for our visit to Kingston Lacy last month was to see the autumn colours before they disappear for the winter. Tarka was allowed into some areas, such as the Japanese garden, a particular favourite of mine. However, she could not reach the garden by the normal route, a few hundred yards away. She had to go round a couple of miles through pathways. She and I started off on the route, leaving Mike to browse closer to the main area as he cannot walk too far.

Before too long though I hit a few hazards. In one field there were sheep, in another, and much closer to us, there were cattle, including some rather large bulls. As I’m aware how Tarka is with other dogs, I had no idea how she would react to cattle or sheep, even though she was on the lead of course. I certainly didn’t want to start a cattle stampede! Discretion became the better part of valour as the saying goes. We turned back, and found Mike in a place where he could sit with Tarka while I rushed down to the Japanese garden to take a look.

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I was not disappointed, especially as the sun was shining. Kingston Lacy has something to offer at each season, but autumn is usually the best.

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On my way back to the house and outbuildings where Mike and Tarka were waiting, I saw the lovely yellow rose. Could this be the last rose of summer?

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Tarka is coming along nicely. We still have issues with other dogs, but when our local field is not too occupied by others, I am now able to let her off the lead. She loves to chase birds, never catching them of course, but runs like the wind before returning to me for a well-earned treat.

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Escape Artists

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.

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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

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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.

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Alleys, blind or not.

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