Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Well all I can say is I'm really pleased to be seeing the back on 2014. It's not been the best of years. So come on in 2015 and give us all some cheer!

Happy New Year to you all and I wish you all you'd wish yourselves.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Bye bye Odi

Yesterday Mountain Man and I took Odi to Forfar for the next stage of her journey. When we arrived she was excited to get in and say hello to all those doggy chums waiting for her, so much so that with a quick wag of her tail at us, she just trotted off very happily to her new life.

At Forfar

I'm sure she'd have been thrilled yesterday when her tea time was at 4 pm and not the 6pm that she'd been getting at home, but then by this morning, when there was no breakfast as she's being spayed today, I'm not so sure she'd be quite so happy!

Vespa spent the day with Tweedy, a lovely 10 month old lab/retriever cross who lives in Tweedbank and looks very similar to Odi. He was absolutely exhausted by the time he got home and didn't even bother to have a mad half hour, he just flopped for the evening instead.

Tweedy and Vespa

This morning felt very quiet with just one pup to deal with and in some ways it feels like the end of an era. I know Odi's been away before, but with her coming back it seemed to change things for me. I'll hear in a couple of days how the op went and how she's getting on, but essentially that's our path together well and truly over.

Such a gorgeous dog.

Odi at 7.5 weeks

Odi at 15.5 months

Sunday, 28 December 2014

I survived!

My Christmas was actually far better than I ever expected.

It started with my mother complementing me on my onesie, which is, let's face it, pretty ugly and it just went uphill from there.

I am apparently a wonderful hostess, brilliant cook, fab mother, incredible daughter and she had the best Christmas ever, which considering the last time she came 3 years ago and she said that was the best Christmas ever it's hard to know what to think. I just hope my brother, who she spends Christmas with pretty much every year doesn't find out.

I'm just very relieved it's over and at least I won't have to do it again for another couple of years so I can breathe easy.

Christmas rocks and where I look somewhat 'neckless' due to a wriggling puppy on my knee!

Today is our last day with Odi who we take to Forfar tomorrow. It's a mixed blessing. I feel quite sad, but also pleased that she'll be going to be doing what she was born to do. She's being spayed first and then will enter her training. We won't know for a while how she's doing, but Vespa will keep us well occupied so we probably won't have time to think about it too much.

And to finish with here's a lovely pic of Odi I took yesterday:

Odi looking gorgeous

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

After a weekend on fundraising duties, where Odi behaved so perfectly and the compliments we got were so many, it's back to the reality that Christmas is almost upon us.

The tidying hasn't gone so brilliantly as I seem to have moved the piles from one room to another, but in true stork like behaviour, as long as no-one but me goes into my office or the back kitchen, all will be well.

Meanwhile, Mountain Man, who went to Edinburgh yesterday to do some shopping, had the disaster of his car breaking down and not getting anything done but lots of time hanging around waiting for the RAC to come and rescue him on the outskirts of Edinburgh with not so much as a corner shop nearby to be able to get anything. He eventually got home at 8.30 last night.

With only today left before my mother and the boys come and we've still lots of food to still get and last minute things to do, MM's car in the garage and mine off for the day for a service, I think I'm going for the 'fly by the seat of my pants' Christmas this year and just hope it'll all work out ok.

I mean what's not to work? A critical mother, two energetic puppies, two noisy boys (well, ok, men), not enough food, not all the presents bought (that's MM's ones he was going to get yesterday)... yup, I see no stress there!

Still, we have alcohol, we have central heating, we have games... so in actual fact we're pretty sorted and Christmas is really about getting together and having a good time and I'm sure we can manage that pretty damn well.

So people, I don't think I'll be writing again before the day, so all I can do now is wish you all a very happy Christmas and I'll be back to report on mine in a few days.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Catching up

Can't believe it's been over a week since I last wrote on here and I'm sure you must be dying to know how London went. No? Oh well, I'll tell you anyway.

It wasn't the best of starts as my mother, who'd only just got back from New York, was in a bit of a state as she couldn't find her cheque book and cards. Luckily she found them the next day in a drawer, safe and sound, which lead to a bit of an emotional moment as her jet lag and the relief caught up with her. After that drama she put aside her emotions and, stoic that she is when a party is in the offing, pulled herself together.

I spent my morning at the Apple Store in Regent Street trying to see what the problem with my iPhone was. The battery had started to run down really quickly. It took them almost an hour to tell me the battery wasn't long for this world and I could either have a new battery installed or buy a new phone. I have to admit that I would have bought a new phone, but they're all bigger than my 4S and wouldn't fit in my purse thing, so decided I'd have to forgo my penchant for new gadgets and opt for a new battery. It was going to take too long to wait for them to do and I knew I'd be drinking at lunch and might not make it back to the shop before it closed, so decided I'd get it fixed in Edinburgh. So then it was time for the Xmas lunch.

The actual lunch was lovely with lots of laughs and was good fun. People started to leave around 3 (we started at 12), but Xanthe, who works in the office, and I put our best Xmas feet forward and were the last to leave just before 7.

I got in a cab to go back to my mother's, but the traffic was so awful we only got about 500 yards and the fare was racking up, so I paid up and left to walk back. It was at this point I realised just how much I'd had to drink and also how much I needed a pee. I managed to weave my way through London's streets going in slightly the wrong direction, but this did mean that I found myself at the Ritz in Piccadilly, so popped in there to use their loo. I sat there in the salubrious surroundings trying my best to sober up. When I got back my mother told me I looked a bit squiffy... I think that was an understatement!

The next day, surprisingly un-hangovered, I got back to Scotland with no problems.

On Monday my younger son came to dinner, which was just great. He was originally going to stay the night, but had to scoot back to Edinburgh to help his girlfriend sort out a problem. Still, it was lovely to see him even for such a short time.

Tuesday was Mountain Man's time to be away so I was on dog duty. We had a very ordered day of walking and sleeping. Vespa's due his last lot of jags on Saturday, which will be great so he and Odi will be able to go running together at last.

Wednesday saw Odi and I spend a day in Edinburgh getting my phone fixed and lunch with my friend Shirley at Jamie Oliver's. Odi was fantastic and slept her way around Edinburgh showing everyone how well trained she was. I was so proud of her. When we got home she decided she wanted to be a small puppy again and spent the whole evening in Vespa's first puppy bed and wouldn't give him a look-in!

Odi takes over the puppy bed, while Vespa is confined to her cushion!

Thursday I did a bit of work and then today I went to the bowls Xmas lunch in Tweedbank, where my team lost both games - though I do have to say I played quite well (I was playing lead), but the guy playing second kept knocking my good bowls off, so much so I began to wonder whose team he was really playing for and sadly our skip was having an off day - and then I had the worst nut roast ever. I don't know who thinks that putting raisins and cranberries is a good idea in a savoury roast, but it was disgusting.

I'm just getting my head round the fact that Xmas day is only 6 days away and after bowls rushed off to Marks to get a turkey breast, so at least the boys will have proper, traditional Xmas dinner and I'll be making a nut roast for Mountain Man, my mother and me. I can't trust buying one from anywhere, just in case any dratted dried fruits sneak in.

My weekend is going to see me doing my bit for charity at Sainsburys in Kelso. Tomorrow, Odi and I are fundraising for Guide Dogs and then on Sunday I'm bag packing for Borders Search and Rescue.

In between all that I'm going to try and break the back of the rest of the food shopping and then clean the house. My mother's coming you see, so unless I end up shoving things under beds and into cupboards I'm going to have to pull my finger out and get it done, though to be frank those cupboards are looking mighty tempting!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

On the road to recovery

Luck has been on my side... I had a phone call on Tuesday to say that the physio had had a cancellation and would I like to take up an appointment yesterday afternoon (my previous appointment had been scheduled for January 21st) and I leapt at the opportunity.

Odi and I went off to the Borders General Hospital in the foulest of weathers and she was just brilliant. We arrived in good time for my appointment and spent a happy time changing a young farmer's mind about what he termed 'how sad it must be to be a Guide Dog' (with Odi wagging her tail in appropriate places), and the oohs and aahs from all that passed us until it was time for us to go off with Lorna the Physio.

She was wonderful! It's not ligament damage in my knee, but cartilage. Not that it makes it a whole lot better, but at least I know. The sad bit is that it could take up to a year to mend totally. And as to my back, her comment was 'Youch, that is not good!' The verdict is that it was a nasty fall and I was very lucky not to have more extensive damage and the nerve will take time to heal.

I came away with lots of exercises to do for both knee and back and feeling a whole lot more sore than when I went in, but also a whole lot better psychologically knowing that I most probably will be able to avoid any surgery unless my knee locks again. But I'm not thinking about that now as it has only done it the once.

And now I'm off to London for the annual family/office Xmas party. My brother and his wife have already called off due to flu, so now I only have my mother to deal with on the family side. I am looking forward to spending time with the office staff as they're always up for a laugh.

So that's me for a couple of days. Hopefully not to much snow of the wrong kind will be on the rail tracks between Berwick-upon-Tweed and London and I'll get there and back in one piece.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Odi gives in

It all started so quietly. Both the dogs seemed very settled.

I love my Odi cushion!
And then, for some unfathomable reason last night, Vespa was full of energy. He just wouldn't settle. I gave both dogs a bone, but every time Odi was having a good old chew of hers, Vespa wanted the one she had and in the end, much to my amazement, she got so fed up she left him to it and took off to her bed.

They're both mine!
He's turning into one greedy pup!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

And it goes on

I can hardly believe it's been a week since the accident, which has seen me brave on (or some might say stupidly brave on) to get to work and try to keep some semblance of normality. It all broke down on Thursday when I woke with a slight migraine and a bad temper.

Thursday started with an early appointment with the massage therapist, who took one look at my back and spent an hour tutting to herself while delicately working to release my tightly held body. What happened from that was I became an immediate emotional wreck with a thumping migraine - though my migraine medication took good care of that, which I'm not sure was the most sensible of actions. I had a lunch appointment that I felt I had to make and then a meeting in the afternoon, but since then I've been in a state of near collapse.

The migraine proliferated over Friday, until in the end with a sore head and sore body I ended up in bed yesterday at lunch time and am only just beginning to surface now. I even missed Strictly, which shows how bad I was!

After all that awfulness I'm now hoping I'm on the mend and can face a week with possible snow, certain freezing temperatures and a trip to London on Thursday for the office Xmas party, which includes staying with my mother - a trial all of it's own - so a body that doesn't hurt and a head that doesn't ache would be of huge benefit.

I can only hope!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Trying to look on the bright side

After last week's disasters, things got worse!

I had a fall, which was not just painful, but a bit disgusting too, so if you're of a delicate constitution I strongly advise you to skip the next paragraph:

I was on pup duty on Sunday morning. It all started so well, but when it came to feeding and going out to pee and poo, Vespa decided he didn't want to poo. I asked him if he was sure and he assured me he was, so in he came. I was washing the dog bowls when Odi came and looked at me in a way that told me all wasn't right and so I went in the kitchen to find Vespa squatting on the floor. I grabbed him and took him out to the poo place and went in to clear up the mess in the kitchen and after that went out to clear up outside. What I missed was the other, rather large dump he'd done at the bottom of the concrete step and I stood in it, slipping as I went and landed with my back on the edge of the concrete step. To say I was shocked was an understatement and the pain was worse. I managed to get up and hobble into the kitchen, take my clothes off and wash them and my shoes (thank god for Crocs!) under the tap and then clothes straight in the machine for a 60 degree wash! By the time Mountain Man came down for breakfast I was in need of going back to bed and lying down.

So Sunday ended up a duvet day. I couldn't shake the tiredness I felt and I could hardly walk either. As well as a rather unsightly scrape down my arm and a burgeoning large bruise on my back I seem to have trapped a nerve in my coccyx and every time I tried to take a step... well I don't think I need to tell you how painful that can be and going to the loo...? Well I'll leave that to your imaginations! This all didn't bode well for a trip up to Inverness I was supposed to take on Monday, but when Monday came the pain had eased a touch and I thought I could probably make it.

Dosed up with painkillers and my heated front seats I negotiated the A9 with minimal problems - apart that is from the new restrictions, which had me watching my speedometer rather than the road and my concentration was taken up trying to work out if I'd followed a truck going 50 mph for 15 miles how much longer I'd have to follow before I could overtake and not ruin my average 60 mph speed. And the potholes didn't help. However, arriving in Inverness was another story and it took me a few minutes to actually negotiate getting out of the car.

The all day meeting yesterday went ok and my back had eased a touch more, so by the time I got back in the car I felt not too bad. Once I got home, though that was another story, so I ended up with a fairly early night, which turned into a fairly sleepless night and here I am today, with my back still twinging, but walking doesn't seem too much of an issue, which is just as well as I have to head to Edinburgh for work this afternoon.

One of the good things about all this though is that the pain in my back has superseded the pain in my knee. There's always a silver lining to every cloud!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A bad mood day

After days of knee pain I went to see the doctor today. It seems as though I might have torn a ligament so badminton is off until the New Year and I have an anxious wait to see if it'll mend.

I'm also exhausted and that's not just with knee pain. Mountain Man and I are doing a night each with Vespa, the idea being that at least one of us will get a good night's sleep, but I seem to do sympathetic waking up at all hours on my nights off, which isn't great. Last night was my night on however, which coincided with Vespa having 'one of those nights'.

It started so well, with me going for an early night as I'd been up at 5.30 yesterday morning and out the door before 7 so I could get to a meeting in Glasgow. I was pretty tired when I got home so MM agreed to me going to bed early and wasn't thrilled to be woken up from a very deep sleep at 10.30 by Vespa demanding a pee.

At 2.30 am I was woken again, but this time, after a pee, Vespa wanted to play with Odi. I'm sure you can guess what my response to that was! After 20+ minutes trying to get him to quiet down I decided on the 'parrot approach' and covered the front of his cage (the sides and back already being covered) so he couldn't see out at all and it all went instantly quiet. I couldn't get back to sleep until well past 4 though and the 6.30 wake up squeak wasn't at all welcome.

Now I'm tired and in pain and those two things don't bode well for a good mood. To add to that the weather is shite and I feel utterly miserable. So watch out MM, Vespa and Odi, you have been warned!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Disaster strikes

Not with either of the pups, but me.

Both puppies are doing ok. Vespa seems to go to bed every night and get up so much bigger the next day! He's due for jags on Saturday so will get weighed. It'll be interesting to see how much he's really put on.

Odi's feeling under the weather with her season, but is battling on regardless and in the 2 weeks she's been back has still managed to kill a couple of toys, while Vespa, who's been with us over a month, has killed none. I think she'd prefer to go to bed with a hot water bottle and some chocolate until her season's over, but no such luck for her as she's continually either being shoved out of her bed or having to share it by her young companion. Also I don't think she really likes the 5.30 am start as she doesn't get fed til 7 and that's an awful long time for her to wait, but I'm really pleased that at least Vespa sleeps for around 7 hours now.

Meanwhile my so-called 'good knee' has done something and is causing me a lot of problems.

A few weeks ago I got up from the floor and it cracked extremely loudly and since then has given me a lot of pain. Last night I got up for a pee and it locked, which was ultra painful and didn't help with my sleep which isn't good at the best of times. I managed to hobble back to bed and wait til the pain subsided, but it's not great today.

I'm going to give it until next week to settle down, but if not then it'll be a visit to the doc who no doubt will tell me it's wear and tear etc etc.

Having no knee in my right leg makes me ultra conscious about my left one, but there's nothing I can do but hope.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Into the routine

While Mountain Man has been away helping the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Ride to get over 2 million pounds I've been at home doing 'routine'.

This revolves around puppy feeding, puppy playing, puppy walking and puppy sleeping. In between I've tried to get some work done with limited success. I had a report to read (about 100 pages) and it's taken me 3 days to get to the end and as to how much I've digested, well that's questionable. The rest of the work I need to do has had to take a back seat until MM comes home to rescue me.

Yesterday we had a visit from the Puppy Supervisor to sign paperwork for Vespa and so she could enlighten me as to what's going to happen with Odi. Apparently it's all down to when she comes into season. And here's the extraordinary thing... the PS left the house at 2 ish and within 2 hours Odi had come into season. I'm sure she was listening to all the permutations of what might happen if it didn't happen soon!

Vespa is responding well to the housetraining situation and is asking to go out and doing his business when asked. We've had a few puddles on the floor, especially the first couple of days of Odi's return as she drinks water by the gallon and he seemed to think it was only polite to keep up with her... the consequences were his needing to go out every 20 minutes, which was exhausting for me but quite a good exercise routine I suppose, but he seems to be back to normal now. And today, miracle of miracles, he walked to the village shop and back on his lead without demanding to be picked up once. Ok, it is only 200 yards away and it took 5 minutes to get there and 5 minutes back, but I was really chuffed.

The two of them are getting on pretty well. Odi's pretty patient with him most of the time and has, today, allowed him to get in her bed for a bit of a cuddle. Before today every time he got on her bed she got off.

Cuddle time

MM comes home tonight and then is off again tomorrow on Borders Search and Rescue training, so that's me sorted until Monday when hopefully I'll actually get something more done than opening the door for dogs to go out!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

My girl comes home

Yesterday I had a meeting in Edinburgh so left Vespa in the capable hands of Susan, who puppy walks Folly the German Shepherd/Retriever cross, for the day.

Vespa and Folly

At about 11 am I got a text from the Puppy Supervisor to alert me Odi was on the puppy wagon and we arranged to meet at Straiton outside Pets At Home for pick up at 3.30. After the meeting I did a hasty shop and made my way to the meeting point. It was a strange feeling when Odi jumped out of the back of the PS's car and, although she seemed a bit subdued, she greeted me and then jumped into my car as though it was just yesterday I'd dropped her off and not 3 weeks ago.

Once home and told very firmly to leave the toys in Vespa's cage alone, I fed her and she settled back to being at home no problem. I, though, was in bits. It was very emotional for me to have her back and I'm not used to her being subdued. Of course it didn't last, neither my emotional bit nor her being subdued!

A bit of a subdued puppy
Susan brought Vespa back at about 6 and the 2 of them got to know each other and sort out who was going to be top dog (Odi though Vespa was trying hard to assert himself) and after Vespa was fed and I poured myself a glass of wine, we settled into an evening of Odi showing Vespa how to rip toys! In the 3 weeks he's been with me he hasn't so much as put a hole in any of his toys and within minutes 2 toys were already consigned to the waiting room of Dr Vee's Toy Surgery ready for morning opening time!

The calm before the storm

What with all the newness it didn't surprise me at all that Vespa woke during the night and needed out, but apart from that it was all quiet until just after 6.30 this morning.

I realised pdq that I've got to get into a routine, so it was up and out and fed, time for a play, then bed while I went and showered and dressed. Then it was Vespa's turn for a quick walk to the village shop for eggs and back, then he went in his cage while I took Odi out on a longer walk. On our return it was playtime again, til time for food and then another sleep. So far so good and I think this will be the pattern of our days. It would be good if Vespa was exhausted enough tonight to sleep through (he was beginning to before Odi got back), but I'm not holding out hope for that while he gets to know the new regime.

Odi's been wonderfully patient with Vespa and has relaxed totally into being back at home and even she seems quite pleased when he goes off for a sleep though!

That dog sure knows how to relax!

Monday, 10 November 2014

A week goes by

Can't believe it's been a whole 7 days since I last posted and Mountain Man has offed and left us to do his bit on Children in Need Trishaw ride and in that time Vespa has peed in Tesco, and pooed both in there and in M&S. Luckily I had my kitbag with me on both occasions, but I think I need to take my makeup bag with me as well to cover my embarrassment. He was very good in Boots though and made a firm friend with the pharmacist, which is always useful!

Vespa with the Boots pharmacist

On Friday my dear friend Shirley came over for her birthday lunch. I was going to take her out, but the thought of having to deal with a puppy and feed ourselves in between his feeds etc etc was just going to be a bit stressful, so she very kindly came to mine. Given it was her 60th I thought it was lovely of her. And, I took a pic of her in exactly the same position that I took of her and Odi a year ago, when Odi was 9 weeks.

Odi at 9 weeks

Vespa at 9 weeks

He had so much fun having Shirley here that he collapsed into his basket when she left and fell asleep for hours!

Thank you Shirley!

Then on Saturday Milo the French Bulldog puppy (now 4 months old) came for a play. They had a great time together.

Vespa and Milo fight it out

Although he's still a wee thing, Vespa has grown a lot in the 3 weeks he's been here. He's gone from the very first hole in the teeny Guide Dog collar to the 3rd hole, which is about an inch, and he's beginning to feel quite heavy when I have to carry him.

He's still very cute though.
Butter wouldn't melt

Monday, 3 November 2014

And it goes on

Poor Odi isn't coming back tomorrow after all. She's now got kennel cough and so is at Leamington Spa for yet another week. We're keeping our fingers crossed for next week, but given what's been going on with her I'm not going to even hazard a guess as to whether or not she'll be back then.

Meanwhile, Vespa's cuteness factor goes on. We were in Galashiels this afternoon and a whole shop went 'aahh' when he sat on command and just looked at me. I was told to come back anytime (is this a pattern?) and I was just so pleased with him. Of course it changed seconds later when the little bugger wouldn't walk down the street on his lead and insisted on being carried!

We took a trip to the vet for a quick weigh in and he's put on over a kilo since he's been with us and now weighs in at 5.5 kg. He's still teeny, but has grown so much he looks almost double the size from when he came.

Here's a couple of extremely cute photos so you can go 'aahh' too:

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Goodness, how time consuming having a puppy can be! I've hardly done a thing!

We had a hysterical day on Tuesday when Folly came for a play date and Vespa spent most of the time chasing her tongue. Poor Folly (like Odi) spends a lot of time with her tongue hanging out and he just couldn't resist. They had a wonderful game of tug, which in spite of his small stature, Vespa won.

And then Folly took a liking to his bed, which is rather small for such a large dog.

And Vespa spent the rest of the day in recovery.

Today I took Vespa to Sainburys for a quick shop, which doesn't exist with a small pup - that's a quick shop, not Sainsburys obviously! He was absolutely wonderful. I carried him for most of it, but then when we got to the checkout he did a perfect sit and stay and then walked out beside the trolley quite the thing. It almost made me cry it was so perfect.

Then a quick stop off at the fishmonger's where I was told he could come back anytime as he sat and waited perfectly there too - please note although they've always welcomed Odi in the fishmonger's they've never said same about her!

The whole thing has exhausted him and we're now in for a quiet evening, I think, while he recovers.

What could be more perfect than that?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Plans still going awry

I had a weekend away on a Qiqong Instructor course in East Kilbride (of all places!) and left Mountain Man on pup duty.

The course went well but what was absolutely fab was getting back to a tiny black puppy jumping up and down when he saw me. There's something very special about being recognised by an animal and given that Vespa'd only been with us for less than a week, it was very special indeed.

He's still a little bit unsettled at night and as last night was my turn to be on duty and the drive back from East Kilbride had been hell in awful weather so I was tired to start with, I've ended up today beyond tired. Thank goodness MM is back on duty tonight.

Odi news is that she's not coming home tomorrow, but hopefully next week. The dog she's been sharing a kennel with developed a cough and, just in case she's infectious, she's not allowed to travel with puppies that are being delivered to their new homes, so she's staying in Leamington for another week . All my plans for what we were going to do this week are, consequently, out the window.

However, to make up for it, tomorrow the lovely Folly is coming for a visit. She's a German Shepherd/retriever cross and absolutely gorgeous. No worries, photos will be taken, so you'll be able see for yourselves.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Expect the unexpected...

... or at least that's going to be my motto for the future!

Just as I was heading out to the vet to get Vespa registered and weighed, I got a call from the Puppy Supervisor. Odi's coming home! Sadly she failed one of the Guide Dogs stringent tests (it's minor but rules her out as a brood bitch), so after all that, she's coming back and staying with us while she goes through her next season and then 4 weeks after that she potentially goes to Forfar to get speyed. Which means she could be with us for a very long time.

And this just as I was coming to terms with not having a crossover and having wee Vespa here with no big dog to learn from. Now all I have to hope is that Odi doesn't teach him all her bad habits, or be too rough with him. Some hope for either of those not happening!

We've now had Vespa for 24 hours. Yesterday, after picking him up in Edinburgh, he was full of life and not the calm, sleepy pup I was hoping for, but on the plus side he seems very settled today and has slept quite a bit.

Vespa's first photo

I had to go to work last night as I had a group to run, so 3 hours after Vespa arrived I was off back up to Edinburgh to do my bit and didn't get home til 10.30. Mountain Man had spent the evening having a jolly good cuddle-fest and was quite tired from all that sitting about with a puppy on his lap!

We'd decided that I'd do the first night and I settled Vespa in his bed just after 11. Five minutes later he was crying so I went down and let him out then settled him again and lo and behold, he went to sleep. 2.5 hours later he cried again, so I got up and let him out and settled him and lo and behold etc etc. This went on til 7 am when I got up and thought I'd wake him so at least we'd start the day on my terms. Oh yes, and when I took him out he never once had a pee, but every time I went back upstairs I did (I know, too much information, but there you go!).

Today has gone well. He's eaten and played and done his business. He didn't like travelling to the vet and I'm hoping that isn't a sign of things to come, but he's put on weight since his last weigh-in when he was 3.79 kg and is now 4.3 kg (with his collar and Guide Dog tag on) so that's all good.

'You mean to say I have to carry this for the rest of my life?'

Mountain Man is on puppy duty again this evening while I go out bowling and then I think (hope) he's doing the overnight shift as I'm pretty tired, but then I am away on a course this weekend so not sure quite how fair it is for him to do 2 nights on the trot if I don't too... but then of course when he's away working on the Children In Need event I'll be on my own with the 2 pups for 10 days, so I take it back... perfectly fair!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

While we wait

I thought I'd give you a coffee plant update while we wait for the phone call to tell us it's time to collect our new pup.

Growth continues

As you can see there's growth on all 4 of them with the usual bit of brown leaves as Winter approaches, but all in all they're doing well.. I still ponder sometimes on how come the biggest one is so much bigger than all the others considering they all started in the same place. Of course now it's firmly ensconced in its own space I wouldn't dare move it around at all to give the others a fair go of the light as they just don't like moving anywhere at all. And the other 3 seem totally happy where they are now.

I thought I'd finish today's post with a pic of Odi saying goodbye to the boys. I took her up to Edinburgh for a farewell hug, but boys being boys... well you can see for yourselves!

No comment!

Monday, 20 October 2014

The end of the journey

And so today, 348 days after she arrived, Odi left to start her new life. I can hardly believe it. She was such an enthusiastic presence in our lives and will be greatly missed.

My first ever photo of Odi

My last ever photo of Odi

I had to take her over to Lauder, where Alec and Jackie were with Nancy who was also going (though to Forfar and not on to Leamington), to wait for the Puppy Supervisor to collect them. The dogs, of course, thought it was playtime and enjoyed themselves thoroughly while Jackie fought back the tears and Quaver (who's 4 months old) tried to join in with the big girls.

I was ok. I'd shed a few tears on the way over there for our last car ride together, but felt quite positive once there.

The PS came and we did all the paperwork involved and then it was time for off. Odi jumped willingly into the PS's car, while Nancy had to be lifted. That didn't help Jackie at all and she burst into more tears. Then it was time for a quick wave and off they went, leaving us all standing on the pavement and a nonplussed Quaver not understanding what was going on at all.

Apparently it'll be a week or so before I hear what's going to happen with Odi. She has a couple of tests to do once she gets to the National Breeding Centre in Leamington Spa, and not only does she have to come out of those with 100%, all her sibs have to be tested for things too and if one of them fails anything then she'll be pulled out of the Brood Bitch Programme. As Odi was one of 10, it's going to be touch and go all the way.

If she does get to be a brood bitch then she goes to a family for life and they, apparently, have to live within a 30 mile radius of the Breed Centre. If she doesn't get to be a brood bitch she goes and trains to be a Guide Dog down South and then we still have to wait and see if she makes that.

Tomorrow we welcome our new pup, who we have to go and pick up just as Scotland gets hit by Hurricane Gonzalo... that should be fun.

But tonight I want to spend slob out time with some happy memories and some lovely photos. This one is a particular favourite, which I took on the 13th November when she was just coming up 9 weeks old.

What a cutie!

Friday, 17 October 2014

An energetic afternoon

Yesterday afternoon I took the puppies over to see Nancy and Quaver. Nancy is Odi's best friend and is a month older than she is and the two of them are off on the next stage of their Guide Dog journey together on Monday - at least for Monday day when they head for Forfar with the Puppy Supervisor and then Odi stays with the PS and heads off to Leamington while Nancy stays in Forfar for her training.

Alec, Nancy's puppy walker and I thought it would be lovely for the two of them to have a final run out together. It also so happens that Quaver and Cinders are both 4 months old, so we thought it might be fun for them too.

And being on my own with the 2 pups since Mountain Man left for recce duties in France on Wednesday afternoon, I felt doing something energetic with them would be a good thing.

Luckily the weather was on our side as the rain from the morning disappeared and the sun came out to accompany us on the madness of 4 puppies racing madly round a field. Well, when I say 4, it's really 3 as Cinders doesn't race, she gallumphs. I've nicknamed her The Lump. She's huge compared to all the others (when the big ones were her age), especially little Quaver who makes up for her lack of size with definite Napoleonic tendencies!

Cinders is just the most gorgeous pup ever. She's cute as anything and very cuddly and best of all she sleeps LOTS. I'm so hoping our next one is going to be like her, but knowing my luck I'll probably end up with another high energy soul like Odi. Ah well, I'll know soon enough on Tuesday when I go to pick him up.

Anyway, back to yesterday... the pups had a wonderful time. Nancy adored Cinders (Nancy is also a low energy dog and seemed to recognise a kindred spirit), Odi adored everyone (as she does) and Quaver went off investigating on her own quite a bit while Cinders tried her very best to keep up with Nancy and Odi with limited success. Jackie (Alec's wife) did her very best to get some nice pics for us.

At one point Nancy decided to show Odi her favourite place... the burn. I was not amused when 2 very wet dogs came surging towards me and decided to shake themselves an inch away from me and then raced back for another dip. I was so pleased Cinders was downright slow and didn't make it to the burn before being called back.

By the time we got home Odi was banned from anywhere but the kitchen til she'd dried off and Cinders went to sleep (surprise, surprise) - though I am detecting she's being led slightly astray by Odi and is tending to want to play a bit more and sleep a bit less in the evenings.

Happy times for happy dogs.

Cinders tries to keep up

Alec, Nancy and Quaver. Me, Cinders and Odi... I do wish that dog would put her tongue away!

At Alec and Jackie's banned to outside for being wet!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A weekend away

Ok, well not actually a weekend, but it felt like it.

I took a trip down to see Denise, who lives not far from Dumfries to have a couple of days of chatting, hot-tubbing and being loved by her gorgeous dogs.

Amber and Rolf

Denise and Chico

It was real r&r time for me, though not sure about for Denise!

As well as dogs, Denise has horses, who're stabled nearby and not at home, but she does have some adorable chickens out back. They are absolutely fascinating to watch and the 2 cockerels, which Denise bred from eggs with the help of the now deceased Evie, are amazing. Here's a couple of pics. Tweetie Pie is definitely the leader, and Gonk his second-in-command. They are gorgeous.

Tweetie Pie struts his stuff

Gonk in the middle of the girls

And now I'm home for my last few Odi days. She's with us til Monday, along with Cinders, who will also be leaving us on Monday and then our new pup (who'll be called Vasco, Vespa, Vernie or Van, not sure which as the Puppy Supervisor's phone died), will be with us sometime on Tuesday I think... but then, knowing Guide Dog stuff, it may well be Wednesday before the puppy actually arrives with us... all will unfold in time.
I will be very sad to see Odi go. She's so lovely and such a positive presence to have around. I just hope the next one has the same outlook on life, but with rather less energy! When I said to another puppy walker that I'd like one who slept like Cinders does (which is a lot) she said I'd probably be bored... but you know what? It might be nice to be a bored in that kind of way for a while!

Odi and Cinders doing a very good sit

Friday, 10 October 2014

It seems to be working

Apart from the first day of peppermint spraying the parts of the house that I thought giant spiders might be using as an entrance, when there was one small one and a largish one but both were far from the usual places, we haven't had a spider (that we've seen) since then.

I've been hypervigilant I can assure you, but still none have appeared.

I actually think the peppermint spray might well be working!

For the record, if any of you want to try it: I got a large spray bottle (one of the cheap ones from a garden centre) and filled it 3/4 full of water and then (contrary to the recipe on the internet, which seemed too weak and was, I thought, the non-deterrant of the first night) put in about 30 drops of peppermint oil (the pure oil kind not the kind in the baking section of a supermarket). I spray every night. The smell isn't too overwhelming and doesn't seem to affect the dogs at all.

Of course it might just be that your prayers were the thing that really warded them off, but I'm still sticking to my peppermint oil!

Thursday, 9 October 2014


A quiet moment!

Today the lovely Cinders came to stay. She's a 4 month old lab/retriever cross and is quite a chunky girl, who's more on the retriever side of things.

Odi's in seventh heaven. Her only disappointment is that Cinders seems to sleep a lot (far more, in fact, than Odi ever did at that age). I had to laugh a bit this morning when her Puppy Walker brought her over telling us that Cinders is quite rough and quite energetic... I think she needs Odi for a day to see what a rough, energetic dog is really like! Poor Cinders took herself off to her cage to get away from the hooligan on several occasions, but essentially they get on great and seem to have lots of fun together. Mountain Man and I even managed to take both dogs to Sainsbury's for a quick shop, where 20 minutes felt like a lifetime.

I think MM may well be regretting saying ok to my going to a workshop on Saturday and staying over in Edinburgh that night followed by a 2 day visit with Denise near Dumfries next week!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The 'grand plan' goes awry

When I started doing the Guide Dog puppy walking I heard great stories of how those that went on to train in Forfar (better known as Big School) had visits from their puppy walkers and the pw's were kept in touch with them and got letters about their pup's activities and pictures of them. So I thought we'd be no different.

I was also told that doing a 'cross-over' i.e. getting another puppy before the big one went off, would be a good thing to do so that the new puppy can learn from the older puppy and have another dog to play with/fight with/dig its sharp teeth into. I decided to absolutely go for this option.

Today I got a phone call from the Puppy Supervisor to tell me that Odi had passed all her x-rays and was now wanted at the Guide Dog Centre in Leamington Spa as soon as possible, bypassing Forfar altogether. And, even if she doesn't make it as a brood bitch during the next round of tests, she'll undoubtedly be doing her proper Guide Dog training down there and not at Forfar, so the likelihood of us ever seeing her again is nil.

Arrangements have been made and Odi is going off on October 20th. Our new puppy arrives on 21st. So much for cross-over. So much for visiting my lovely Odi in Forfar.

I feel quite tearful.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Almost perfection

Today Odi and I had to go and do our bit for Guide Dogs as the Scottish Law Society was holding it's annual conference in the very high class Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh and Guide Dogs is it's charity of the year.

It also coincided with the coldest, rainiest day we've had in quite a while, so with a heavy heart I decided on driving all the way there and parking in their extremely expensive car park (£6 for two hours) instead of parking at No. 2 Son's and getting the bus, as the the thought of wet dog smell amongst all those lawyers might well have been a turn-off rather than helping raise funds.

When we arrived Guide Dog Oona was in residence at the Guide Dog stand and Odi went a bit nuts to try and play. She ended up going on her back and trying to crawl underneath Oona! After a minute or two of frantic bad behaviour she then settled down and, from that moment on, was the most perfectly behaved dog I could've wished for.

Whilst I got my lunch (those lawyers certainly know how to treat their own!) Odi lay on the floor sleeping and then, when all the legal eagles came out for their's Odi lay there allowing loads of people to troop on by her oohing and aahing while she just batted her eyelids. The only time she got a little excited was when she saw herself in a mirror, but she calmed down pretty quickly when she realised she couldn't play with that darn illusive dog.

We talked to loads of people and Odi was great. Not getting too excited when petted and was a real hit with all and sundry.

It's going to be a real wrench when she goes as having a dog who's almost perfect is such a joy. Still at least she'll (hopefully) be perfect for the next people she's with.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Old Lady badminton strikes

I went back to Old Lady badminton yesterday in spite of still having the virus hanging around. You'll remember that Old Lady badminton is the one where we stop half way through for a coffee break and sometimes involves cake too. I decided I couldn't hold off any longer as the virus might well be with me for at least another couple of months (from what others who've had it have reported) and really I feel alright apart from still needing to cough quite a bit at times.

The cough wasn't the only thing activated by playing though. Also activated was my competitive spirit and muscles that haven't been used in simply ages.

I'm pleased to say that I won all my games and although tired by the end of 2 hours, came away feeling quite up and positive.

However, by this morning it was a different story. Talk about feeling tired and sore!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Puppy news

I had a phone call from the Puppy Supervisor yesterday to give me a choice of dates and puppies. We've gone for 21st October as I've got a few things on until then and I don't want to be away and leave Mountain Man with Odi and a teeny pup to deal with all on his own. And we've put ourselves down for a black male threequarters lab/quarter retriever cross who's name begins with V, but no inkling what ridiculous name it actually might have.

But anyway, none of this may come to pass as the PS also said that there are quite a few 10 - 12 week old pups without homes at present and who are stuck in Forfar or in temporary homes, so we might well get one of those instead. It depends on her boss.

Then we also got the news of when Odi might be going. The answer is no-one knows. If she passed her scan test from last week then she could go as quickly as next week or fairly soon after, but we won't know til next week. If she hasn't passed then she'll have to be spayed and will be leaving us in November.

The only thing that we do know for sure - apart from the actual date of a new puppy of some kind arriving - is that next week we are playing host to Cinders, a 4 month old black lab/retriever cross, who'll be with us til 20th October as her puppy walkers are on holiday.

Odi will be thrilled to have her own live playmate here for so long. Mountain Man and I aren't quite so sure!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

If only they'd asked

Odi came back from her visit to Forfar seemingly with no after-effects.

It was lovely to have her home and I was relieved that Gordon, who brought her back for me, had asked how she'd got on.

The reply was that she was a lovely dog who got on really well with the other dogs and kennels didn't seem to bother her. The only problem they had was that she had 'a lot of energy' and apparently this was said with a sigh.

Gordon and I had to laugh (he and his wife, Susan, sometimes take Odi for a day if I've got to work, to play with their pup, Folly).... if only they'd asked we both could've told them that!

Friday, 26 September 2014


Last night, there I was sitting quietly and having just decided I'd watch the second Hobbit film on Netflix and the credits were rolling, I suddenly saw a large spider galloping across the sofa towards me and it literally launched itself at me!

I have to admit that I leapt up with a girly scream and flapped around for a minute or two before calming myself and running to get the vacuum. I vacuumed the room but no spider appeared and just as I was about to settle myself down again, there it was on the sofa again. I'm sorry to say that I vacuumed it up. I'm not bad with small spiders these days, but having large ones is a different matter.

We'd already had 2 very large ones in the last week and I'd researched on the web for a humane way to discourage them. Apparently peppermint oil does the trick, but could I find any locally? No... so the other day I'd resorted to Amazon and said peppermint oil was due to arrive this morning.

Was I ever pleased it turned up on time. Now my living room has been vacuumed to within an inch of it's life and sprayed. I'm now off to do the rest of the house as best I can and pray that it works.

Oh yes, and prayers from other sources would be gratefully received... please... I'm very needy here!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

And finally....

Day 1: Arriving in Jerez
My friend Larraine and I arrived in Jerez on a beautiful, sunny, blue sky morning. How we actually managed to meet up in Seville is beyond belief, but we did in spite of my not quite getting the right bus stop and with very limited Spanish (ola, being about as good as it got). What always makes me laugh when I get to Europe is how I immediately begin speaking fairly fluent French and it was this that got me by with 2 police people who pointed me in what they thought might be the right direction. And eventually, as we were both wandering about in the vicinity of the station, we saw each other across a crowded concourse or something like that. Anyway, we arrived.

We were staying in L's sister's apartment, which was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful views across the city and a roof top to sit in the sun and read. There was one tiny hitch and that is that the phone L's sister had lent her didn't have any battery or any money on it. L looked for the battery charger but swore she couldn't find one to fit, so we used my phone to text L's other sister, Annie, who lives in Jerez with her partner, Lesley. L and I then trotted off to have something to eat and drink at a local place and meet up with Annie. All good so far, but then Annie didn't turn up. We ate and drank some more and then we saw Annie walking down the street. Apparently she'd been waiting at another cafe!

Off we went to the phone shop where L spent 8 Euros on a new charger and then we met up with Annie's partner Lesley and, with promises of getting together later that night, we went off for a quick shop for supplies and then back to the apartment to charge the phone.

By 9.30 my eyes were closing (I had been up since 3.45 am) so we excused ourselves from socialising and stayed in and played Scrabble (I won) and drank a glass or two of vino and then it was bed. Was I ever grateful for that.

Day 2: An afternoon at the Bodegas
We got up and realised the phone hadn't charged. The new charger didn't seem to be working. Off we trotted back to the phone shop, where the guy blushingly admitted that they'd given L the wrong cable as the one she'd bought fitted into the headphone socket (!) and he swapped it for the right one. Of course at this point L realised there was a cable back at the apartment and she'd been trying to fit it into the headphone socket too! Ah well... now at least we could charge the phone!

After all that phone drama it was lovely to go and spend the afternoon in a local Bodegas, Bodegas Tradicion. This is an unusual Bodegas as it doesn't have it's own vineyard but specialises in creating sherry and brandy for niche market sales. At the end we had a tasting, which was really interesting and cemented some of the learning we'd had on the tour. However, what's really unusual about this Bodegas is that they have the most extraordinary art collection in a temperature controlled gallery. Paintings by El Greco, Velasquez and Goya to name just three. It was unbelievable to see such art in a private collection.

Our tour guide, Sabrina, is a friend of both of Larraine's sisters and we were lucky enough to have a free tour.

The gallery at Bodegas Tradicion - that's 2 Goya's at the end!
The Goya's slightly closer up

Napoleon by someone famous, but I can't remember who!

More food and drink to finish our day followed.

Day 3: Phonegate and bollardgate
L had work to do as she had her final essay to write for her current OU course, so while she sat at the desk working away, I went and sat on the roof in the sunshine.

Larraine hard at work

L had arranged to go and have something to eat with a friend of hers (I joined them later), but in her haste to go she managed to drop the phone (yes that dratted phone) down the loo. She tried to dry it but hey it had got a real soaking and stopped working. I know I shouldn't have, but I found it extremely funny. L was not amused!

The phone was taken back to the phone shop where L said the guy managed to hide a smirk when she told him what had happened, but the important thing is that he fixed it. Phonegate was over. What a relief.

As we were wandering about the town I managed to turn round quickly and walk straight into a bollard. It was L's turn to laugh at me as I grew a 'spare knee' in no time at all!

Our evening was spent at Annie and Lesley's for dinner along with Sabrina from the Bodegas. Much fun was had by all as well as lots of lovely food and wine and Sabrina gave us a lift back which was really nice.

Day 4: The rock concert
A relaxing day sitting watching the world go by while eating and drinking on one of the main streets, Porvera. Tapas followed by siesta. After that we went out for the evening, had more to eat and drink and then whilst wandering around the town came across a rock band playing. It was hysterical to watch as the audience were sitting in chairs (only one guy danced) politely clapping when they came to the end of a song. At about 9.30 an old lady came out of her house and poked the drummer in the ribs whilst he was playing. She was gesticulating and suggesting they were too loud. They stopped playing not long after that!

Then we wandered around the Alcazar and on to have a quick look at the wine festival, but there were too many people for us so we headed back to the apartment.

Day 5: Out with the horses
As a treat for me (as well as her) Larraine had booked us into the weekly tour and display at La Reserva de Caballos Cartujanos. This is the stud farm for Carthusian horses. What a beautiful place and beautiful display. It was a really hot day and one of the people we had met in Jerez a few days before and was on the tour, fainted. Luckily she wasn't hurt. Luckily the rest of our trip went without incident as we watched the horses do their thing. Mares, stallions, foals, the works. Just gorgeous.

Carriage horses

The stables

Two of the riders

The stallion

9 mares being led by one guy

Mares and foals

Another meal out that night, this time at La Cruz Blanca, a well known Jerez restaurant. The food was lovely, especially the deep fried seabass with a red pepper sauce. The only thing not so good was the service as we had to order twice before we got our drinks and it was all a bit slow, but worth it when it came.

Around the corner from the restaurant a mock Beatles band started up. At least at this concert people were dancing even though the music was fairly awful. We didn't stay long.

Day 6: Eyelidgate
Larraine woke up in the morning with burnt, swollen eyelids. She'd spent too much time in the sun at the stud even though she swore she'd put on suncream. We took a trip to the pharmacy where the pharmacist told her just to put a cold compress on, but she did look at L with an 'idiot tourist' look!

On the Porvera we bumped into the woman who'd fainted the day before. There were no after effects so that was good. Then we went off to meet up with Annie and Lesley for a coffee and chat with them and other friends, David and Joanna. David's first remark to me when he heard I came from Scotland was 'Yes or no?' and I thought he'd gone bonkers. I'd totally forgotten about the Scottish Referendum as relaxed holiday mode had definitely taken over. Once David had got over my faux pas we had a laugh about it while drinking delicious orange juice and then I went off with Lesley to a hotel for a swim and some lunch, leaving L to go to her sister's and get on with her OU studies and avoid the sun.

I had a lovely, relaxing afternoon in the sun, reading my Kindle with the odd swim thrown in for good measure. This is when I discovered that the elastic in my bikini was well past it's best and had to hold on to the bottoms before they drifted off!

Another lovely dinner with Annie and Lesley and then on the way home to the apartment we discovered a flamenco singer singing in the square.

Day 7: L finishes her EMA
L really needed to get her essay sent off so she went back to Annie's to use the computer while I had a lovely day wandering about on my own. I went to the Alcazar where it was free to get in, but I couldn't go up to the Camera Obscura. Gorgeous gardens, ancient walls, giant olive press and all sorts to capture the avid tourist.

The inner court at the Alcazar


Fab garden
Then I did a bit of shopping and back to the apartment to spend my siesta time sitting on the roof in the sunshine before heading back to Annie and Lesleys' to pick up L who'd got her assignment sent off and was feeling hugely relieved. We stayed for a couple of hours chatting and Annie gave me an olive dish (as I had tried to find one, but couldn't, as a pressie for No. 2 Son as I'd broken his many years ago and thought it'd be nice to replace it), which was very sweet.

And after all that it was off for our final meal out. We went to Albala and had the best meal of all in Jerez. What a way to finish! If you ever do get to Jerez do go and have the prawn hamburger - no meat at all and came with rice noodles and was absolutely delish and the tempura asparagus were also fantastic.

Day 8: Time to go home
I had to get up at 4.45 am to get the train to Seville. L very kindly accompanied me to the station and waved me off. I managed the journey from the train station at Seville to the airport with no problems at all. Once at the airport I bought a fresh orange juice from an amazing machine, which chopped the oranges in half, squeezed them, threw out the squeezed orange juice halves and fresh juice appeared. It took 3 to make one glass and was lovely.

My flight to Gatwick was uneventful and I arrived back London with enough time to go to my mother's and dump my suitcase before heading off to a meeting, which lasted all afternoon. I had time after this to go back to my mother's and freshen up before heading out to the theatre with my cousin from the US who'd gotten us tickets to see Richard III with Martin Freeman and Gina McKee. It was really good and made me think how nothing much changes. People who want power will do anything pretty much to get it. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.

And there you have it. My hols in Jerez. I had a lovely relaxing time, ate loads, drank more than I usually do and enjoyed it all immensely. I'm going to leave you with my two favourite photos both taken at the Alcazar:

An unusual window with a great view

Sometimes looking up says it all