Monthly Archives: June 2008

New arrivals

I didn’t manage to go dog walking today. I was far too busy getting our home ready for the arrival of the new addition to the family. The RSPCA had to do a home-check of course, make sure we were well prepared for our new responsibility and knew what we were letting ourself in for. So that meant making sure everywhere was clean and tidy and just right for the inspection and then taking myself and the home over to Merstone to the RSPCA.

What do you mean, doesn’t the inspector come to us? That’d be a bit unnecessary don’t you think?

Hold on, you didn’t think we were getting a dog, did you? I told you, I don’t like dogs as pets. And being out at work, it wouldn’t be fair to have a dog either. Besides, how would I explain that to Charlie.

No, Pavlova is a roborovski hamster. Or rather, Pavlova are roborovski hamsters. It is the most adorable little family of five, a mother and four daughters (thus swinging the balance of the sexes in this household back in my favour) and Smudgelet has decided that it is fair to name them all the same. After all, they’re fairly indistinguishable from each other and it’d be very rude to refer to them by the wrong name. This was, if anyone asks “Which one is your favourite?”, we can quite honestly answer “Pavlova” without hurting the feelings of any of them.

They are actually “watching pets” rather than “handling pets”, as they’re small and fast and very squirmy, but tame as tame can be and so inquisitive. And they’re full of fun – running and playing and squabbling and climbing and exploring and very keen to come and see what you’re up to every time you walk past. If you think Smudgelet isn’t the only one to be totally enchanted by them, you’d be right. They’re about 4cm long and have white eyebrows over their beady, sparkly eyes. And they’re gorgeous!

Pavlova Pavlova

Pavlova Pavlova

Dog (s) of the day (s)

It’s only today that I’ve found the lead to let me download the latest photos onto Flickr.
Computer lead, that is, not dog lead.
I managed two trips to the RSPCA during the week last week – despite having to take the car to the garage yet again – and spent time with two dogs. One was our lovely little friend Muffin, who on Tuesday went out for a drag – the spirit was willing but the little legs were weak! – but on Thursday was so full of beans that he virtually skipped all the way round the walk and even broke out into quite an energetic run. He’s such a sweetheart – one of those dogs who simply has to make eye contact with you again and again and walks so close to your legs that you could wear him as a slipper!

My new acquaintance, who confirmed my reasons for preferring cats to dogs, was Naz. Smudgelet has been in hysterics at my impression of this bow-legged treasure with a sleek coat and no manners whatsoever. This is a real “man” dog. No silly fussing and skipping for Naz, he was out for two things and two things only – to roll in anything disgusting he could find and to eat poo. Bless him. I can’t say I fell in love with this one, though I’m sure he has his endearing qualities. But there’s no mistaking, this is a dog with a mission and he’s not the dog for me.

Naz

Today we went for a mega-walk, staying long enough to take three dogs on the circuit. The first was our friend Muffin. It really is so sweet how utterly attached this little dog is to the Smudgelet. Muffin

Then we got to meet our second Westie. His name’s Oscar and he’s quite a contrast to Muffin. An elderly gent, he went round at a more sedate pace, stopping to water every daisy, and managed only a single circuit (though taking probably twice as long to complete it). His ears are really poorly and manky inside and he’s deaf as a post. Stubborn little fellow, though. I did rather like him, even though he hadn’t got Muffin’s spring.
Oscar

In contrast, our third dog of the day was Blue. Smudgelet loved walking this one because this dog wanted to play. In fact, wanted to play almost too much! Strong and stubborn but totally friendly and adorable, this dog gave my shoulder muscles a good workout. Strangely he is unable to eat solid food at all, and needs help to swallow liquids, so it meant we had to make sure he didn’t eat anything and we couldn’t give him a biscuit, however tempting it was.
Blue

So you think I have been protesting too much about my determination not to have a dog? Well, watch this space for news of a new addition to the family…… *blush*

What? Pay £130?

The staffroom noticeboard offered us tickets for £130.
But that would have been a bit extravagent seeing as how we can hear it from here. And that’s with the windows closed!!!
I must remember to set out early for church tomorrow.

I love the Isle of Wight Festival! :o)

Talking of being a proud mummy

I think he has an eye for a good photo, and even he was taken aback by how they looked when I printed them out in A4 and put them in a frame.

He still thinks I’m just saying it to make him feel good, though. He won’t believe he has a good awareness of what makes a good photo. But this set on Flickr are the ones he took in Scotland – yes, they were taken with a digital camera so he could have taken hundreds and picked the best, but these were all the photos he took, some fairly run-of-the-mill though with something in each to redeem it, some rather nicely composed (I think, but then I’m biased). Clicking on a photo will take you to the rest.

My favourites:

Scotland 1

Scotland 6

Scotland 5

Scotland 13

Work Experience

Those of you who know Tiddles will probably be interested to know that he had a really positive time on both his work experiences. His first week was at the RSPCA, working in all areas and having chance to talk to the inspector. He learnt things about doing repetitive work as carefully as the interesting stuff, he learnt about not going out in the evening if you’ve got to be up early next day ( ! ), he learnt about making his own lunch and arranging his own transport, he learnt about the importance of health and safety rules (even if it is a bit ridiculous that a boy who can shear a sheep and who drives, feeds and milks the cows isn’t deemed old enough to hold the lead when walking a dog!). He fell in love with ferrets, an animal he’d never liked before, and the lovely one-eyed, deaf cat called Belle who cannot be rehomed. And he learned that if you have to put a presentation together about your week’s work, it isn’t a good idea to leave taking the photographs all for the last day!

I was very impressed that he wrote to thank them for having him there and, even more so, that he set himself the challenge of baking them a cake for his last day there!

His second week was spent at the Hospice. He’d wanted to work there originally when he’d been thinking of going into nursing and decided that he’d go ahead with the work experience, even though he’d decided he wanted to work with animals in preference to people… just to make sure, like.

It was a doddle of a week in some respects. He didn’t have to be there until 9.30 am and finished at 3.15pm. And he wasn’t able to work in the wards, so was just doing the job of a volunteer in day care, making teas and coffees and keeping the patients company. (We made the most of his short hours, however, by finding plenty of jobs for him to do helping his uncle with the DIY jobs before and after work!) But he learnt things of far more value. He learnt that he brushes up quite nicely and looks really rather grown up and cool in a shirt and slacks. He learnt that he has a skill that not many teenagers have, that of talking to people clearly and making eye contact and actually taking the first step to talk to someone even though feeling a little shy. He learnt that he has loads to offer people who are weak and needful of help, that he is sensitive to their needs and enjoys meeting them. He learnt that working with people is actually more to his liking than with animals and that he’s determined at least to volunteer at the hospice during his holidays. And he learnt that he misses his grandad more than he actually realised.

He also learned that it was not just mummy boosting his confidence when she told him that he is skillful with people but also a skillful photographer. He took some of his photographs in for the art teacher to put in their folder of pictures and also a framed one to put in the raffle, and was astounded at the enthusiastic reception of them.

My son grew a good two inches in stature over the fortnight. Standing tall, confident, high in self esteem. I am a proud mum, regardless of the trouble he’s caused. He’s a smashing lad.

Birthday treat – on a small scale

My youngest son is a man of taste.

This weekend we celebrated his birthday (only a couple of weeks late) in style. Given the choice of a birthday party or a family treat, he asked very politely whether it would be possible for him and a friend to spend a night in a posh hotel. Hmmm… this, of course, meant that I had to spend a night in a posh hotel too. What hardship. The downside, of course, was that I had to share my room with two small boys. In fact, I had to share it with two small boys AND a smelly teenager! But luxury it was… and there was an extra treat.

A bit of internet searching and I came up with a rather marvellous hotel – the Crowne Plaza in Heathrow. I had decided to look for a mainland hotel as it added the excitement of going abroad and at no extra cost as I was taking Tiddles back to school anyway. Google it and have a look at the photo tour. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven! The food was delicious and in plentiful supply, and the boys were wowed at the attentive and friendly service. The bedroom was a little palace with everything we could possibly desire (well, not quite everything, after all I was sharing it with three kids and with only two kingsize beds there wasn’t really room for anyone else ;o) ). And the swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room… well, I am surprised we didn’t turn into prunes. Utter bliss. I introduced both my boys to the delight of a sauna and a steam room – needless to say, they both loved it, even though I only let them stay in a minute or two. They even loved the freezing cold plunge bath afterwards, though I must admit that I only managed to plunge to waist deep – there are parts of my body that I am extremely reluctant voluntarily to subject to low temperatures!

So why did I choose Heathrow, of all places, when Tiddles’ school is so far in the other direction? Well, that’s where the extra treat comes in. Legoland! Can you believe I got a deal which gave us two days at Legoland and a night in a 5* hotel with breakfast for only £50 a head? It was an offer that was far far too good to refuse, even if it did mean a 7 hour drive to take Tiddles to school. And despite the fact that I booked it for the boys and I went with the expectation of enduring the weekend for their sakes, I had the most wonderfully fantastically fun weekend.

My Flickr account has loads of photos, but here’s a taster:

Why should the kids have all the fun?

We will, we will ROCK YOU

Luxury!

Buckingham Palace

Home, sweet home

The Thinker

Nikki Lauder

Chocolate Waffles

Dog-free day

No dog walking Saturday as we were otherwise engaged. Photos to follow when I can wrest my brother’s camera off him and download the pictures. Guess who took her own camera out for the day and forgot she’d left the SD card in the laptop!

Yesterday we adopted a subtle plan – so’s not to get too attached to Paddy (too late, too late) we decided we’d walk two dogs, Paddy and another. It was a good ploy. We walked Paddy first, and were warned that by next weekend he’ll almost certainly be gone. I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat. I hasten to add that I have not, at any point whatsoever, been imagining our home with a little black dog in it. Nor have I glanced at Charlie and wondered what he’d think of a dog in the family. Stupid, isn’t it? I really am not a dog lover at all and I know that I do not want one – I don’t want the commitment, the smell (I really don’t like the smell), the constant following, the smell, the being-tied-down, the smell or the simple dogginess of a dog and I couldn’t be happier with Charlie, and what’s more I know that we would not be able to give a dog the time and attention it would deserve. But I really am rather smitten with little Paddy and will be sad the day I turn up to walk him and find him gone. I keep reminding Smudgelet that the sad thing is that he is there for us to walk him as it means he hasn’t a home and spends most of his day shut in a kennel. For Paddy, the day that he’s not there will be a good day.

So, enter our new friend…. Muffin

Muffin

Isn’t that one gorgeous little fellow? And much more sedate! To Smudgelet’s delight, Muffin instantly idolised him. Whenever Smudgelet dropped behind when we were walking, Muffin just had to wait for him to catch up. If Smudgelet walked a little faster, Muffin’s little legs started to trot to catch up. And heaven forbid that I should try to walk in between the two of them. I was just holder of the lead, otherwise surplus to requirements.

For the first time it was a shame I couldn’t hand the lead over. You have to be 16 to be a dog walker for the RSPCA (Even Tiddles isn’t really allowed to hold the lead) so poor Smudgelet is left with a less exciting job. He’s the SUPER DUPER POOPER SCOOPER!

True love Super duper Pooper Scooper