Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Spot's Spot: Introduction

Hello everyone

I will pay homage to my predecessor Django who by all accounts was a really lovely chap and a cool dude to boot, I'm sad that I never met him :(  for the first week I was here, my humans kept calling me Django instead of Lazlo so I know that they miss him, they seem to be settling in now though.   I hope he won't mind me taking over his spot here, especially as I do have plenty of tummy spots.

Sooooo I got taken away from my brothers and sisters and driven for MILES to this new place, which was a bit scary but I did manage to sleep on the way. The humans seem nice and gave me lots of cuddles, and it's quite nice getting all the attention with no-one to compete with. 

I'm told that the garden is not the whole world and that there is more of it out there! Holy Moly! I'm not sure how I'll cope with that, my little legs get tired just running up and down here!


I have to say I've been feeling the heat this week, but I learned something cool - if I stick my tongue out and breathe it cools me down!  I've also learned that barking is fun, but it doesn't seem to have the effect that I want, the toys don't move and the humans just laugh at me - they should be SCARED!

My vet is really nice and apparently I might get an invitation to a party soon - what should I wear?

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Reasons to get up

In December I wrote that the loss of Django had left a huge hole and a feeling of having nothing to care for, and how it felt as though there was no reason to get up in the morning.

Now we have a new reason to get up in the morning, in the form of Lazlo.... 

 
Lazlo, aka Hawkfield Tamarack
 
With the hillclimbing we are doing with the car, we didn't intend to have another puppy until later in the year, but when the right one comes along there's nothing you can do!   Lazlo comes from a laid back home and shared his first 8 weeks with 7 brothers and sisters, poultry and ducks and rabbits. It was after a visit to see Wendy at Hawkfield with a view to getting a pup later in the year from the same lines, that we met her pups and decided that we wanted one from her - we liked the way they were being brought up, and our approaches to dogs and puppies seemed to match!  We reckoned that these pups have had a brilliant start to life and would fit in with us just perfectly, and thankfully Wendy must have decided that we were suitable to be trusted with one of her pups.
 
Lazlo was born on 8th May so turns 9 weeks old today.  We picked him up last Friday night and he has settled in brilliantly, seemingly already house-trained (no need to keep getting the free Telegraph from Waitrose then!) and interested in EVERYTHING.  He loves the garden which has plenty of obscure places to explore and birds to stalk, and likes to sit on the edge of the veranda and watch what's going on in his estate.
 
 
Going back to my December post, I feel incredibly protective towards this little man, and Mr H says his life is now complete again.  Lazlo is not just a puppy, he is a member of our family that depends upon us completely, and that is definitely a good reason to get up in the morning.
 
   
 
 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Still here!

Where have I been? It's not that I have nothing to say or to talk about, perhaps the issue is that I have too much to talk about and don't want to have to choose?

I am 1/3 of the way through my penultimate OU module which is Social Psychology and fascinating. Off goes my mind in all sorts of directions again!  I'm a bit nervous about the project and having to interview people, but I'm sure I'm worrying about nothing. I'm focussing on embodiment and talking to people who have had joint replacements to hear their experiences. 

Mr H and I are keeping busy with hill climbing the Hillman Imp and still loving it.  We really feel part of the hillclimb 'family' now, in the south west at least. Big news though this month is that Mr H has gone back to the Forestry Commission as a works supervisor. I hadn't realised how concerned I was about him moving away again, until he got this job on our doorstep. A big relief for me, I can't speak for him though ;)

We don't have a new puppy yet... It would be too hard on the puppy and us to have one mid-hillclimb season. We have some contacts though and hope to be cuddling a Pointer by October. It should be old enough to come to hillclimbs by April 2015!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The ties that bind

I've felt like this before, when Django went to stay in Scotland with Mr H for a month or more - what is the point of life with nothing to care for?  Is it a human or a female need to care for a vulnerable person or animal? Something that relies on you totally?

It may annoy us sometimes, the ties and the inability to be 'free', but it gives us a good reason to get up in the morning.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Farewell to Spot..

11/12/13 might have been a lucky date for some, but for us yesterday evening marked both the end of a long friendship, and the end of an era. After a very difficult year for Django, and for me and Mr H, just one month off his 14th birthday we let our puppy go before he began suffering any more. No matter how right the decision, it is the hardest thing any pet owner has to do, and nothing prepares you for the hole it leaves in your heart.

Over those 14 years, but particularly since he became the lone dog in our house early in 2008, Django shared experiences with us from camping holidays in Scotland to patiently hanging around while we indulged our new motorsport hobby. He spent many weeks accompanying Mr H on his Forestry Commission work in Scotland in all weathers, and made human friends wherever he went.

As a youngster from 6 months old until he was about two, Django (aka Pebblegate Blackjack at Lightspeed) tolerated the dog-showing world with many class wins and a placing at Crufts Dog Show. However, he retired from the show ring when he remained smaller than the breed standard height (and we were getting tired of the politics anyway), so spent the rest of his life blissfully un-washed and un-fussed over, while retaining his fear of slippery wooden school hall floors! His early showing years did mean that he was comfortable with having his mouth / ears / feet investigated and examined, and he was totally trusting of people. On one occasion he let us extract a large piece of wood that had embedded itself in his pad, without a murmur.

Django's favourite place was on our laps at the end of the day, where he would relax like a ragdoll and drop into such a deep sleep that it was hard to wake him to put him to bed!  His clock was set for 9pm when he would come and give us That Look, before either being invited up or just working his way up one paw at a time. His other main interests were pheasants, cats, food and sitting down. Much fonder of people than other dogs, Django could take it or leave it when he met dogs on walks, and could not understand it if they tried imposing their dominance. Django had nothing to prove, he was just cool.

We will truly miss the company of this very special dog.   And the end of an era? Mr H has never known a house without dogs, and I only had a 5 year gap as a teenager, before getting my own puppy  almost 30 years ago.   Life is going to be very different....

Django on Forestry Commission duty in Scotland

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Me and Beyonce - making friends

I had a good couple of hours this morning - despite it raining I booked to go on a mini-Elephant ride (a short ride, not on a mini-elephant), as I never do that sort of thing and I needed to get out of the hotel. It's so different being somewhere alone rather than in a couple or group, especially in an unfamiliar country and culture, and I am much less likely to hire a car or do touristy things all on my own, it's far too scary!

I was picked up outside the hotel at 1130 along with a young Australian couple and a group of three Japanese, and was driven away to I know not where, since my Phuket geography is not very good other than Patong is north, Nai Harn is south, and that sort of thing.  I had been told that there were elephants down near Nai Harn so I'm guessing that is where we went.

I had been in two minds whether to go on this trip, wondering whether it was exploitation and how the elephants should be in the wild, but when we arrived the people seemed very nice and the elephants well looked after. And at least they are safe and not risking being killed for their tusks.

The first part of the trip was to feed the two very cute baby elephants (whose names I’ve forgotten) with little bananas which they would either take with trunks or ask for it straight into their mouths. Each of us then went in with them and got big suction kisses on our cheeks and ears which was very funny, they were so gentle and the ends of their trunks were surprisingly dry and not slobbery at all. With the (verbal) encouragement of their trainers/carers the youngsters then entertained us with a drum and a harmonica and played some Lady Gaga (apparently).



After much amusement doing this, we set off for our 30 minute ride on a wooden seat on the back of the elephant, complete with a safety lap belt, and umbrellas as it was still raining. Phuket is very green and tropical and getting wet really doesn’t matter much when the rain is so warm. My elephant was a 25 year old named Beyonce, apparently because she had a generously sized bottom! My ‘driver’ was quite chatty and half-way round he invited me to ride sitting behind Beyonce’s ears while he got down and walked and took photos with my camera. Of course I knew that the ‘don’t tell anyone that I let you do this’ was just a ruse to get an extra tip, as I’m sure it was standard policy despite the big sign saying that it was against the rules! But I didn’t mind because it was fun and this is Thailand.

I have to say that I didn’t feel very secure sitting there, especially with Beyonce lumbering on along the twisting path and over uneven ground following the instruction of the walking ‘driver’, but I know I would have regretted it if I hadn’t taken the opportunity. BeyoncĂ© had very tough skin and hard black hairs on her head, but even wearing shorts it didn't irritate the skin at all sitting astride her. However, I was quite relieved when could sit back in the seat again! And then we were back and it was time to climb off and feed Beyonce some bananas before the drive back to the hotel for a shower, especially to wash the elephant kisses off my neck...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Letter from Phuket 2

There was a little cock-roach-y thing in my bathroom this morning. And if I leave an open bag of sugar on the tea tray (because I don't use a whole one) then a group of little bugs take up residence - always check before using it again!  But to be honest this being the 6th time I've been here I'm used to it and it doesn't phase me any more. Just so long as the friends of the now deceased cockroach thing don't come into my bed. There have been more mozzies about than usual, probably because it's been quite thundery with heavy showers, and is forecast to be the same for the rest of the week I think.

I got a bit of a lie-in this morning, having gone back to sleep and woken up at what I thought was 8.30am - what!? - but turned out to be 7.30 as my watch had clicked forward to HKG time. I had my customary breakfast of fruit salad and yoghurt, fried egg or omelette, and toast. I'm afraid I cannot stomach pate or spicy potatoes for breakfast. Lunch is usually either a rice or noodles dish with varying levels of spicy-ness and you have to watch out for the red and green bits....

So, it's Monday and I'm enjoying some time off although I do need to get on with some of my normal work. The wifi connection here is pretty dire though so there is much swearing, clenching of fists and hair-tearing going on. They are also doing some electricity works outside the hotel apparently so we keep having powercuts too. Those words 'your connection has been lost, trying to re-connect, attempt 3 of 20' are enough to turn the air blue especially when there is an owner waiting by the table for information.


Everything got pretty much sorted by the briefing at 4.30pm yesterday.  Last year we extended the measurement to 3 days from 2, and it has made a huge difference;  a lot of boats were done and dusted on Friday which meant that blood-pressure on Saturday and Sunday was a bit lower for everyone.

The opening party was last night, I was late to it because I had a sporadic Skype conversation with Mr H, which involved me having to sit on the floor just inside my bedroom door to pick up good enough connection, which then kept dropping. Still we managed a bit of a conversation and then agreed that email letters were going to be a lot less stressful. Anyway, I did get to the party in time to get some pasta and rice and red wine, and chat to a few people before heading off to bed (refusing an invitation to go out to a local bar since I'd already had my quota for the night!).

The political demonstrations up in Bangkok has meant that I am not really looking forward to my trip home on Sunday, since I change at Bangkok airport (although I am feeling quite homesick for my dusty little house, elderly dog and lovely husband). There is nothing I can do about it, but I am one of those people who imagines the worst in such scenarios - and I know where I get that from! Yesterday the race director here said that when he'd driven from home to Kata the road was blocked by police, and another road was blocked by a truck on its side, so it had taken 1.5 hours instead of 20 minutes. (He is the opposite to me and just takes everything in his stride from stroppy yachties to Thai political tensions, "Oh yes, they're off again, just the same as normal"). Anyway, Oh my god I thought, what is this, rioting on the Phuket streets? But no, the road was closed because of a triathlon that was on, and the truck was just someone not able to drive properly!

So, I shall try not to worry about it or let it spoil my week. Right, time for lunch then on with some work.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Letter from Phuket 1

I am writing this at 5am, I am sitting in bed awake, wishing it wasn’t dark outside so I could go for a swim. I’m back in Phuket (Thailand) for the 6th time for the King’s Cup yachting regatta. It feels very familiar although a few vital things have changed, such as the colour of the pool towels and sunbeds…

I still get the little butterflies of ‘will it all go ok? Will I cope?’ when I think about the manic two days of regatta registration coming up. Silly though because it always goes OK and on Sunday night it all comes together, and I finally close my laptop satisfied that everyone has a legal certificate and they can go racing on Monday morning.

Heathrow terminal 3 never seems to change. I shopped in Boots and had tea in Costa, and got invited by a man to have my photo taken next to a cardboard cutout of the Queen as I was idly inspecting the Royal Wedding gift shelves. I said ‘no thank you, I’m English’ which made it sound as though I could have my photo taken with the Queen any day of the week.

My flight out was uneventful and I had two seats to myself, in fact the plane was very empty. Clearly Wednesday is not a popular travelling day! I spent most of the 11.5 hr flight to Bangkok not sleeping. I read an entire Dick Francis novel which I then left on the plane to be recycled, and watched a couple of episodes of an American drama called ‘Nashville’, about a country singer and her family, and of course an up-and-coming rival singer. There was then a couple of hours at Bangkok before a 90 minute flight down to Phuket and an hour’s taxi ride to the hotel.


Having arrived at Kata Beach at around midday yesterday (Thursday), I just wanted to sleep and did manage a couple of hours dozing, but was totally out of sync and it feels wrong being in bed in the middle of the day. A quick walk on the beach confirmed yet again that this is definitely not my ideal holiday destination and that Mr H would absolutely hate it. Couples and families either lying on the crowded beach, splashing about in the sea, walking around in skimpy swimwear with their bellies hanging out (male and female) or zooming around on SeaDoos. The majority of tourists here now seem to be Russian, with some Brits and other Europeans thrown in.

So, it’s warm and most of the time it’s sunny. But for holidays give me the Scottish wild lands any day. I dined alone last night, having gone for a stroll into the village (ie. stepped outside the hotel front gates) on impulse I stopped in at an outdoor restaurant and ate Pad Thai (noodles) with prawns and a bottle of Heineken, followed by banana split. It didn’t feel at all odd being in the restaurant on my own and I could watch the world walking by on their way home from the beach, or locals driving past in their pickups and tuktuks but mainly on scooters. A baby elephant went by in the back of a truck, some animal screamed in an alley across the road, and the Russians sitting at the table next to me argued with the waiter about exactly what it was they wanted.


Today we start sail measurement and it is a bit of a warm-up day before tomorrow’s mayhem. I might go back to sleep for half an hour.