Saga of a woman old enough to know better who lets her life be governed by the ridiculous hobby of breeding and showing dogs, musing on life, the twenty first century, Cameron and his mini-me, and the occasional sheep.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Boxing Day - did we have fun.......? Posted by Picasa
.......sure we did! Posted by Picasa
Seasonal Afghan puppies, doing Christmas cute. Posted by Picasa


Yes, of course I had a good Christmas. I always do. Eat too much and ignore those little family disagreements that so characterise the festive season. We had a lovely meal and then all repaired to do Afghan puppy tails - the ends are taped into a ring and then sprayed with the delightfully named Yuk (TM) to discourage chewing (often it discourages it for a whole twenty minutes...) The Afghan puppies are delightful and blissfully unaware that they are still lookng for permanent homes.

Boxing Day as usual involved a visit to my Italian relatives for an amazing ten course meal and lots of present giving and jollity. I was ferried there by my cousin, who can have strange brainstorms when it comes to buying Christmas presents. It`s as though when we hit the Christmas week his common sense announces that it`s having a seasonal holiday in Bermuda and isn`t leaving a contact number.....

This year when I got into the van I realised that he had discovered a rubber fetish. I pushed my way in through a forest of round stiff leaves. Yes, everyone was getting a four-foot rubber plant from Santa...remember, that was first on the list you left out for him?

We staggered into the house, laden with foliage. It looked like the last act of Macbeth, with Birnam wood on the move. You could see all the welcoming smiles freeze. Someone in the background muttered, "Remember the ducks?"

Ah yes, the year of the ducks. Everyone got a duck (no, NOT rubber!) Not oven ready either. Ducks au naturel, unwrapped, with feet, heads and feathers. Not even a trace of tinsel. Just try
to produce a jolly "Ho Ho HO!" as you hand that over, swinging by the legs. (No, he doesn`t hunt - heaven only knows where they came from.)

I must admit that my heart sank, as I am the world`s worst plucker - all tears and nubs. Other people, who don`t like to think their meat was ever alive, let alone had sad eyes and big yellow feet, and smelt a bit, looked pale. I could see those people this time looking a bit relieved. It could, they realised, be worse....there is no known recipe for rubber plant.

I had a seriously jolly time.

And I now have a four foot rubber plant in my very tiny bathroom.

It looks a bit nervous.

It should.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

MERRY CHRISTMAS ! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Cressida at Christmas - "What`s so great about this holly stuff, anyway?" Posted by Picasa


Ho ho ho! Not three working girls, but a surprise phone call from the local Tesco informing me that I had won a whole Christmas in a shopping trolley!

I trailed into town again to collect this unlikely windfall, managed to bribe an intrepid taxi driver with one of the bottles from it to take me back over the mudslide, and am now sitting looking at piles of Crackers, Christmas puddings, booze, trifles, booze, 3 varieties of mince pie, tins of sweets, shortbread, crisps, nibbles, booze, a Santa hat and suspicious festive things I haven`t opened yet.

No respectable charity would have a use for any of it.

And I`m going away for Christmas.

I always visit doggy cousins for Christmas with Afghans, this year including a litter most of which haven`t quite found homes yet......and what`s a home without an Afghan? (Or twelve...)

I always visit Italian relatives for Boxing Day and an enormous Christmas/Italian spread.

And after that I`ll probably be unable to even look at this lot.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A seasonal fire... Posted by Picasa


Well, I suppose that if you go back far enough you find that Christmas is fitted over an ancient midwinter fire festival. So it should have come as no surprise that to celebrate the season someone saw fit to set fire to the ruined cottage next door again.

I was on my way out with Celeste to have her arthritis checked. No sane taxi driver would brave the inferno, so I set out on foot, and had to edge past the blaze. As I hiked to the end of the road, I was met by two fire engines. I told them the fire had been set, and headed off up the hill. Celeste was by now obeying the law of physics that states that the weight of an item increases exponentially with the distance carried....

Trailing back in the dark, I found the road still blocked by two brightly-lit appliances. Totally blocked. An obliging and possibly slightly mad fireman eventually carried me round via the ditch, while another lugged Celeste.

In the cold light of day I discovered that the road was not only flooded but virtually destroyed in one soft place by the heavy vehicles, and I am now cut off for Christmas - unless you have four wheel drive, or preferably caterpillar tracks. Or waders. Or a helicopter.

Not many of my friends have helicopters.

All very festive.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fieldfare - feathered locust Posted by Picasa


Trying to recover the Christmas spirit now thatSonja is improving, I headed out into the overgrown back garden to find holly and berries for the Christmas wreath.

I have lots of holly, both sexes, all the females planted within a few yards of their husbands - I love that fact that you need different sexed trees to produce the berries. And there`s always the cotoneaster that was absolutely guaranteed not to make 25 feet when bought many years ago....So I went quite hopefully.

I looked everywhere. Bunches of stalks, waving cheerfully in the breeze. Not a berry.

And I thought -

"Damned Fieldfares!"

They came and went a week ago. They come coasting in, huge flocks of big grey thrushes straight from Scandinavia and Germany, strip off everything edible, and fly off at once. Feathered locusts. They would take the leaves off the trees if there were any left. You can see the local birds hanging about in sullen groups, beaks open, muttering about illegal aliens, and that after all, we won the war. And the next day the feeders are very busy indeed.

I found some berries on the variegated hollies nearest the house, but it`s a very skimpy wreath indeed this year.

Next year the Papillons will be trained to go on holly patrol.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A very cold stallholder - "Big someone-or other" Posted by Picasa
All the excitement of the local market Posted by Picasa


A bit of a lost week, the last one - Sonja came down with multiple infections, my vet had to be pressured into giving an appropriate antibiotic, and I have been nursing round the clock. A bad time.

But she`s getting better, so yesterday I came out blinking into the light of day and headed to the chilly, windswept market.

And here`s where we descend into the local criminal underworld. I was looking for DVDs of certain current children`s blockbuster films out in the cinema right now. And I wasn`t going to wait till next Christmas for them. To be specific, I was looking for Big George and his pirate DVD stall.

It`s a funny thing, this "big" title. Scotsmen - I must put this delicately - while not exactly vertically challenged, are not world famous for being tall. But they all like to be called "big". I know Big Tam the taxi driver, Big John who runs the local fabric shop, Big Jim - I could go on and on and, whisper it, none of these men is exactly all that big. The classic Scottish honorific with which to offer respect is "Big Man" . In fact the only local exception I can think of was Wee Skin the barber - and he committed suicide.......

Anyway, I slogged on round the windswept freezing market, hunting for a seedy stall run by a furtive guy with a big cardboard box of DVDs. No luck. At last Big Andy, selling cut-price fags, provenance unknown, enlightened me. No Christmas kiddy films this year.

I went on home, pondering how to explain to two seriously disappointed little girls on Christmas Day the concept of "at present helping the police with their enquiries".....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Red Sonja (aka Red Sofa) looking amazingly pleased with herself. Posted by Picasa


`Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house the canine maternity ward was in full swing. (Well it feels like all through the house... what with Tamara`s puppy Cressida discovering what human ankles taste like, and Sonja`s brood taking over the bedroom.)

Yes, Marcus` mountaineering episode bore fruit, and two days ago Red Sonja, between 6.20 and 8.20 am produced four daughters. Having been up all night listening to her scraping, digging and panting like a steam engine, I was a bit too tired to fully appreciate the event when it finally happened. Canine births are usually protracted. They don`t go in for sudden deliveries en route in ambulances rushing to the maternity ward . Instinct tells them to dig out a nest first, and they can dig for a day beforehand. (If wise, one does not let them do this out of doors..)

I remember explaining this to a nurse I know and she was amazed. "Wouldn`t it be great if human mothers gave you that much warning!" I had an instant vision of all the pregnant mums- to-be dashing to the garden shed and searching wildly for a spade, and husbands phoning in a panic -

"I think we need an ambulance now - she`s dug twelve trenches, a water feature and a hole for a septic tank!"

Anyway, Red Sonja is now the proud and astonished mother of four. (I think she thought they only came in pairs). But the last placenta was retained, so we had a rushed trip to the vet. I heaved out the vast and resentful Sonja, aka Red Sofa, for Hans to examine. I felt I had to apologise for her size.

"She`s put on a bit of weight, I`m afraid."

"Well now," said Hans, "pregnant ladies will have their little cravings."

I was thankful that he hadn`t seen her two days previously, downing entire sausage rolls - they disappeared like Eurostar into the Channel tunnel, and after three of them she turned to the dry dog food with a look that said - "At last, the main course - mind you, the starters were good."

(No I didn`t give her three sausage rolls. She conned me out of one. Then she stole two.)

So there she sits in her glory, still panting and surrounded by tiny grubby puppies. (Sonja never quite got the hang of keeping her offspring clean. Her sister used to sneer at her mucky lot beside her own spotless offspring, obviously saying to her children - "Be kind to those puppies - they come from a poor home")

It`s a full house for Christmas


Sunday, December 04, 2005


The media have gushed on and on about George Best. I find it incomprehensible.

Now let`s get it straight - the beautiful game means nothing to me. If football disappeared from the earth tomorrow, I couldn`t care less - in fact it might take me some time to even notice. The notion that a bunch of lads kicking a ball about deserve worship is quite beyond me, and the fact that in Scotland football fires up sectarian hatred is indisputable and disgusting.

Yet here we are, drowning in a sea of adulation of someone who spent a short time kicking a ball and a long time drinking....one of the few people who have managed to drink two livers to death. His choice, you might quite legitimately say. His life.

But he is being touted as a genius - a word I wouldn`t use lightly - and a great example to youth today. And that`s where I get off. He kicked a ball accurately but as to his lifestyle I would hate to think anyone young would be urged to follow his example. He walked out of his profession early and devoted the remainder of his life to drink, specialising in drunk driving. I remember wondering how he managed to acquire a liver transplant so quickly - fame and money get you anything, I suppose -and whether someone deserving but forced to rely on the NHS had lost out to him.

I can`t discover that he did anything for young people, Irish sport at grassroots level, or Ireland at all for that matter. And this is the great shining example for youth?

Ireland is a fine country and has produced many great men who deserve our admiration.

This poor sad character wasn`t one of them.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Allegra being Very Serious Posted by Picasa
Allegra and her friend Fara (not mine) at training class, mesmerised by slices of chicken Posted by Picasa


Stuck in with the worst cold in the world, and feeling very sorry for myself, I`ve been thinking back over the year`s shows and judges.

Judges come in all kinds. and we`ve had most of them. There are:

The honest judge (three cheers!)
The honest and knowledgable judge (hen`s teeth)
The judge who owes a lot of favours (look, there`s Senga who put my dog up last time..)
The judge who remembers her friends
The judge who remembers her enemies (much more entertaining!)
The judge with many influential friends and no experience in dogs
The judge who only likes reds
The judge who only likes small ones
The head judge (all that matters is the pretty head -never mind that the dog has only 3 legs..)
The face judge (only looks at the top end of the lead)
The judge from another breed (omigod! - none of these looks a bit like a Peke...)
The Big All-Rounder (gosh, this breed is so boring...when do I get lunch?)
The judge with no idea at all.

....and still to come for us next year...

the judge who once did the wife of an important member of the Kennel Club a Really Big Favour.

Wonder why we bother?

Our last open show had a very honest judge, but one who was feeling her way in the breed(not her own), which made for a very slow event in a little hall whose quaint antique heating system was not at all equal to the day. We all politely froze, and I ran about with a camera and tried to show at the same time and generally made a nuisance of myself. (Not half as much a nuisance as Allegra who was on top hyper form.)

I got Florian back. He had spent some time in what my friend who took him in referred to as "boot camp", a visit due to his sudden notion that when you walk a triangle, as you have to, Bad Things will jump out at you. It seems to have worked. His pavor triangularis was overcome by the realisation that the world is a big place, and parts of it don`t have your mum in them. He has been making sure I am still there ever since, and that keeps him too busy for silly imaginings. And I missed him too.

Mr Lentil behaved superbly, although whenever separated from Allegra he cried dismally - he is quite devoted.

And Allegra, almost under control some of the time, went Best Puppy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Glasgow invaded by Christmas shoppers - why does the word "anthill' rather than "festive" spring to mind? Posted by Picasa
Shop till you drop Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 01, 2005


It`s true. It`s official. This is a woman who has absolutely and finally finished her Christmas shopping. It`s all sitting there in a big box, waiting to be wrapped.

I did an all-out day in Glasgow and shopped till I dropped, elbowing crowds and watching the sleet pinging off the naked midriffs of the fashionable young. I even got something for the cousin who was delighted two years ago by "Diseases of the Racing Pigeon Vol 1". (no, not vol 2).

Had more trouble finding something to wear at the parties. Everything I fancied was either over two hundred pounds or under size ten. Did you know that FCUK start their sizes at 6? That borders on obscene. 6! I`d need to buy something else for the other leg!

Meanwhile on the maternity ward, Tamara`s daughter is doing well. She is currently at the "how do I stand up?" stage. The front legs work well, but the back ones are completely unreliable, and she sits down suddenly rather a lot. She is vaguely aware that without control of all 4, the wonders of the world are closed to her, and is trying hard.

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