Monday, 24 February 2014

The measuring stick

Yesterday we spent a lovely lunch/afternoon at Andy and Shirley's in Tullibody. The four of us get together at New Year and play games and each year we say, 'We must do this not just at New Year' and each year the time goes by and we end up back at New Year's Eve saying exactly the same thing. By some miracle this year we actually managed it.

Because we had Odi with us we couldn't spend the whole day/night playing like we usually do... this is partly because I'd only taken her lunch time feed with me and not her evening one for some unknown reason (she's still on 3 meals a day for another few weeks). She had a lovely runabout in the morning before we went and she was on pretty much exemplary behaviour while we were at Shirley and Andy's, which was great. She fell in love with Andy and spent time staring up at him lovingly. I'm not sure he noticed!

Every team Mountain Man was on was the one that won... apart from Scrabble Trickster that is, which I'm happy to say I won, but only by using my cards in strategic places and shutting Shirley out of the game on her turn, otherwise I'm afraid I would've lost spectacularly.

We are aware that Odi is getting bigger and still got quite a bit of growth to do, but sometimes it's not easy to see that growth as we're with her the whole time. I decided ages ago that Shirley is my measuring stick, so here's the three photos of Shirley and Odi to show you how big our girl is getting.

9 weeks old

New Year

23rd Feb and 23 weeks old - far too big to be sitting on people's knees

Friday, 21 February 2014

Green light

Today the Puppy Supervisor came for a check-up. I decided to take Odi out on a bit of a walk in the woods before she came, so energy was used up and naughty things might not happen during the visit. It worked to a degree.

Odi had a wonderful time leaping in and out of muddy puddles for a good long time and my nice, clean utility room floor that'd just been cleaned before we went for the walk needed another scrubbing by the time I'd finished towelling her down. Still she had fun.

When the PS arrived Odi behaved pretty well, until that is she peed on the floor. And then we went out on a supervised walk and she peed and peed and peed. Turns out the poor wee soul has another urinary tract infection so she's back on the antibiotics tonight. Still we caught it in it's very early stages and I'm hoping the antibiotics start to work soon as I could do with not having to get up in the night to take her out.

I'm pleased to report that Odi passed with flying colours in spite of the urinary problems and we have the green light as Puppy Walkers to continue the job we're doing. That's a relief I can tell you!

Odi was exhausted with all the day's activities and her teeth - all lovely and shiny white big fang-like things - continue to grow at quite a rate. I never knew teeth could grow quite so quickly.

A fine set of fangs

Monday, 17 February 2014


Today I had to go to a meeting in Edinburgh. We'd arranged to meet at the City Arts Centre Cafe, a rather nice place near to Waverley. I already checked that it'd be ok for me to take Odi in.

So the two of us set off this morning, but not before Odi'd had a good chase around the garden to get rid of a bit of energy. I parked and we headed off to the cafe, which would usually take me about 10 minutes, but because I'm trying (hard) to get Odi to walk to heel, it took us around 20 minutes and by the time we got there she'd pretty much got the hang of it.

I settled her under the table with a bone with some kind of disgusting filling that she loves and asked the folk I was meeting with not to pay any attention to her. She was great and lay on the floor gnawing at her bone. I changed it for a chew once she was getting a little distracted and that kept her occupied for quite a bit longer.

Almost 2 hours from arriving we left and Odi was still very settled. Oh joy! But even better the people I was meeting up with said they'd all forgotten she was even there. Now that really is testament to her ability to not demand attention and behave well... well ok, she did have to be occupied with food, but in my book it was a total, unmitigated success.

Who knows... maybe at this rate she will make it guide dog status.

Sunday, 16 February 2014


Su, my friend who lives in Australia and with whom I share a shed load of experiences from as far back as 1971, sent me a photo yesterday. It's of Mountain Man and our lovely Nell who died on 6th June 2012.

Where you go, I follow

Summer in the Highlands meant lots of mowing. Nell used to love this activity and would spend her time following him up and down usually with a ball in her mouth. She would wait for him to stop to empty the grass and plonk the ball down in front of the mower, demanding him to throw it for her. It was one of her favourite activities.

What lovely memories this pic conjures up.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

The joys of Winter Olympics

This last week has been one where I've been feeling under the weather - headachy, stomachachy, sinusy - which has seemingly coincided with Odi becoming rather an anxious wee soul. I think it's because she's been teething rather dramatically (last night I heard her crunching at least 2 of them) and wanting to be cuddled on a regular basis. However, her training has taken a sharp downturn as she's gone back to where she was when she first came and her dislike of lorries, or rather the sound of them trundling down the street has come to the fore. I felt slightly heartened today when she was much perkier when she got up this morning and back to wanting to rough-house.

Yesterday I managed to drag myself off to a Valentine bowls competition and, in spite of feeling crap, I played quite well and my team were runners-up which was quite a surprise, tho obviously a very pleasant one. By the time we'd finished I'd started a migraine.

Mountain Man had gone and bought an M&S meal for us, which was lovely, but after eating it all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep.

In some ways I've been lucky, because with a body that hasn't wanted to function much this week it's been great that the Winter Olympics has been on. However, the cost of hours watching others at the extreme end of sporting achievement seems to be that my arse is now spreading on the couch!

Monday, 10 February 2014

A tale of the unexpected

I had a really lovely time with my OU pals. We hot-tubbed, we drank, we talked and we had dogs to sit on our knees and cuddle up to. It was exhausting!

Larraine with Chico (her new bf) and Rolf in the background

Denise and Amber

However, I wanted to tell you about something else that happened to me on my way to Denise's.

My not-so-new car came with an audio pack. Good cd player, radio etc, but I haven't been able to plug in my iPod as it didn't come with a cable. As I wasn't sure exactly which cable I decided I'd go to an Audi dealer and ask. The one in Edinburgh is a bitch to get to and I never pass, so as Denise's place is not so far from Carlisle I thought I might drop in there on my way down.

As I arrived at the Audi garage they had a Prestige Event on. They obviously thought I had come to join in as a couple of smiling, besuited guys with clipboards greeted me. When I said I wanted a cable they said, 'Park up and we'll get someone to help you.'

I parked. I couldn't get the key out of the ignition. I felt completely stupid when the guy who came to help said with a smile on his face, 'You'll need to put it in Park not in Neutral.' I did. They key came out no problem. Oh dear... at least I gave them something to laugh about for the rest of the day!

He took one look at the audio pack and took me inside to get Gareth who could find the right cable. And how much would this cable cost, I enquired? £45... I tried not to swallow too loudly. But hey... it'll fit my phone too, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Gareth looked about 18 and was very sweet. He took me and the cable and said he'd show me how it all worked. I was just hoping I wouldn't have one of my embarrassing tunes on (the ones I play loudly in my car when no-one else is around) as he switched the system on. Thank goodness for Jimi as All Along The Watchtower blared out.

I thanked Gareth for his help and he said 'no problem' and was just about to walk off when I said, 'Hang on and I'll just turn the ignition off and come and pay.' 'No need,' he said, 'you can have that one, it's a spare I had hanging about in the drawer. Have a good day.'

I was shocked. What a lovely, kind thing to do. And so unexpected. I drove off smiling and waving and turned Jimi off as I ramped up the volume and played... you know what? I think I'll leave you guessing on that one!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Off on a jolly with a bit of Zen included

I'm off to Dumfries to hang out with a couple of OU pals for the weekend. A hot-tub beckons along with some wine and probably a whole lot of not-so-good-for-me food. We're celebrating Christmas (cos we couldn't make it before Christmas last year), New Year, Burns Night, Easter and any other celebration we can think of. Can't wait!

Meanwhile, I finished Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell. I liked it a lot. I loved the way she weaved each family member's backstory into the storyline. Although others have criticised her lack of conclusive ending, it struck a chord with me. A very good read.

Before I do head off I wanted to tell you some exciting news and that is that my little book 'START to Stress Less' has had a mention in Nicola Morgan's brand new newsletter, which is all about wellbeing and happiness and teenagers (if you're interested in her newsletter you have to sign up for it and you can do so here). She also talks about me (in very flattering terms - she said I oozed Zen!) and my book (also in very flattering terms and I quote: 'a great pocket book full of practical tips for managing stress, which I strongly recommend. The writing is concise, crisp and unpatronising').
Apparently my book is to be the focus of a slot in the next newsletter.

There was just one teeny tiny problem and that is Nicola's idea that Mindfulness requires less practice than meditation... I almost freaked at that one, but then decided to try and live up to her view of me and calmed down and emailed her a correction which she tells me is going to go into the next newsletter.

Ok that's me away now, off to practice being Zen, partying and a whole lot more. I'm back on Sunday and I can promise you I won't be telling all!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

City slicker

One of the things about living in the country and training a Guide Dog Puppy is that there are certain things that just can't be done in our village... or even the next village or the one after that. So a trip to the big city offers all kinds of training opportunities for Odi.

Today Odi and I went into Edinburgh to have a coffee with No. 2 Son. As she hasn't been on a train yet I thought it would be a good idea to go to Waverley and take in the sights and sounds and see if we could get on and off a train without actually going anywhere just as an exercise.

We started out by getting a bus to Princes Street and Odi is now a dab hand at buses. No problem there. When we alighted we had to negotiate the steps at Waverley and this was a completely new experience for Odi. She pelted down them at a hell of a rate. I only managed to stay on my feet by holding onto the rail. No amount of shouting 'heel' or 'steady' did anything at all!

When we got to the bottom there were so many people and pigeons and sounds and smells that poor Odi didn't know where to look first. She was relatively well behaved, but had to be told in no uncertain terms that pigeons were only to be looked at.

The train people were lovely and told us a train was due in at Platform 8 and would be staying put for 10 minutes so we could go on and off at will. No. 2 Son and I thought it would be good to give her a go in a lift - her first ever one - down to the platform. That was fun! When we got there, there was another train that was in situ for a few minutes so we decided to start with that one. But Odi didn't like the gap at all, nor the sound of the engine hissing. I had to pick her up and carry her on and off until she relaxed a bit, but then it was time for that train to go, so after spending a moment or two sitting on the train we got off smartish before we headed for Glasgow.

Before long the other train arrived and, although not keen initially, after a few minutes she was hopping on and off like a pro!

Then it was time for a cafe experience, but as we were walking up the street I noticed Odi was avoiding manhole covers, so we did a bit of manhole cover training before heading into a cafe for a much needed cuppa.

I don't know about Odi, but I was exhausted by the whole thing. It was lovely to get home and have our lunch in the peace and quiet of the Scottish Borders. However, it was great for her to get into the city and do something a bit different.

This month there's a few things I have to be in Edinburgh for so I'm pleased we've had a bit of a practice. I'm sure next time will be a whole lot easier for both of us.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Growing up

Odi is now 20 weeks and weighs in a staggering 16 kg! That means she's pretty much 4 times the dog she was when she arrived a mere 12 weeks ago - she was 4.4 kg on arrival.

However, she's not all that grown up. She's still very puppy-like, very affectionate and loves nothing more than a cuddle when she's tired and had enough of running around and, what you don't get from this photo, she can't get her legs to work properly! It's very funny to watch and looks just like a cartoon.

The other thing you don't get from the photo is her teeth. They are growing like weeds! Luckily those little shark teeth she came with are dropping out and being replaced by a very nice, large set of gnashers.

And she's still a very, very pretty girl... but I'm biased, of course!