Categories
Learning

Jail Time

On the way home from work on Friday, on the spur of the moment, I decided to visit Colchester Castle and make the most of my resident’s pass. It was dark, the gates to the park were barely open, and the Castle itself was about to close to the public for the night. Randomly, I thought I would shop local! in the museum shop. Specifically, I was looking for a Christmas tree topper with a difference and hoping for a Boudicca (ideally with chariot), but I would have settled for a centurion or Saint Helena (Colchester’s patron saint). Sadly, there were no such decorations, and nothing which could be adapted to suit.

As I was the only visitor, members of staff were eager to tell me what I was looking at; to act as my personal guides. I declined their help, I wanted to be alone with my ancestry, and I escaped to the Castle gaol. It ceased to be used for that purpose in 1835; but in its 600-year history, the gaol had held prisoners of war, convicted criminals, and suspected witches. A sound and light show is activated when visitors enter and reflects this latter part of the story – when Matthew Hopkins, the ‘Witchfinder General’ came to Colchester in the 1640s. He was busy here; more ‘witches’ were executed in Essex than in any other county in England. But we Colcestrians persist, as we must.

(Happily, dear reader, I headed home to make my own Christmas tree topper and – naturally – there is now a decorated dog topping my tree, to add to the two live ones ‘decorating’ its base).

Categories
Loving

That Look

When you know you’ve got a best friend. That look.

That Look
Frank
Categories
Smiling

La Vie est Belle

As seen in Nice, France by Frank-dog.

Categories
Making

Double Trouble

My two terrierists, Zoe and Frank, captured beautifully (and adeptly) in a rare still moment by Tori Andrews

Image: © Tori Andrews

Categories
Moving

Light Relief

For a final Saturday-swim that day, the salty-feisty sea-dog and her fine-warm human took me to the Light House beach at Kiotari. Earlier, we’d ventured into the blue and then relaxed cheek to cheek. The freddo cappuccino, the laid-back soundtrack, the soothing shade and the cooling sea provided the ultimate chill on a hot afternoon.

Categories
Moving

Cheek to Cheek

Me, with salty-feisty sea-dog and captain of our trip, Zumba, in the beach tent at Lachania, Rhodes, Greece.

Just after our first swim, not our last, into the blue.

Categories
Moving

Into the Blue

One September Saturday, together with a good friend and her salty-feisty sea-dog, we went swimming here.

At Lachania, on the island of Rhodes, Greece, the beach is close enough to the village to take its name and distant enough to keep its integrity.

Categories
Moving

The Dog-cation

After the morning walk, and a fish lunch at the pub, it’s time for the cottage canines to head for the shade – away from the afternoon heat. How familiar these positions, how easily they’ve made themselves at home…

Categories
Smiling

Packing – A Timeline (a guest post)

Let me say it straight away: humans are notoriously flighty. They are often to be found in dark corners with suitcases. They have no sense of pack loyalty; they believe we need only a ‘sitter’ (when that is clearly OUR job). The first sign of their betrayal is whispering, then comes the gesticulating and finally THAT bag. The one with the zippers and wheels; very noisy indeed. Of course, I am prepared by the time it appears. Immediately, I go on patrol and circle this offending object. I force myself to sniff it, then claim it as my own by jumping into it. Pah! Putting it on the bed is no object! Once the human starts selecting items to pack, I do, too. It’s only right that I should have final say over what stays and goes. My favorite keepy-backies are underpants and shoes, though I’ll settle for socks and slippers if all else fails. Once the underpants are firmly in my jaw, I must deactivate them. Socks fall to the same fate. All small, soft items must be rendered useless to the infidel. On a good day, I allow she-whose-time-will-come to assist me (yes, she’s still here…her time WILL come, have no doubt). Two of us and a tug of war in the front yard and it’s ‘farewell frillies fast!’ Shoes are ‘saved’ through concealment. It is a golden rule that only one of each pair should be taken. She-whose-time-will-come never joins in this activity. She cares little for canine ritual, in fact for very little other than her own selfish needs. Altruism and the greater good of the pack fall squarely and solely to me, The Leader. It is hard, but I do what I can. Despite my endeavors, the case is usually full by the time the shoe has been concealed. So, the next move is to jump on the case. If the foolish one has left it open, I roll all over the items within, leaving a clear fur trail. No-one will forget me! If the case is closed, it makes a handy skateboard and the zippers are a poor dog’s chew treat. This last stage of my preparations usually results in the case being placed somewhere ‘safe’. Finally, I dog the steps of the departing one to trip them up – they will not leave (or, at least, not without bruising to the shins). This task complete, I manage my prize-winning sit, open my eyes wide and cry intermittently while mounting breathtaking displays of sickeningly saccharine affection. I shall never be forgotten, I tell you! Never!

Frank, his mark.

Categories
Smiling

Frankly Speaking – the Last Dog Days (a guest post)

Yes, my dies caniculares are coming to an end for this year. It’s been an eventful time with my star in the ascendent and the adoring hordes clamoring for my personal attention, but I have made it through with my ears perked, tail aloft and nose up. This, despite extreme heat in a restricted space with a neurotic bitch. She knows who she is. Her time will come.

My pack went one down. No, not her (her time will come) – the other male slipped out under cover of darkness. Of course, I knew – how could I not? It’s hard for a leader to recover poise after such a blow, but since that curious incident of the human in the night time, I have been especially attentive. These creatures need a leader, especially those beasts who arrive from the sea confused and directionless. Who better to guide them? Many arrive lost without their own pack, which they have misguidedly left where they call ‘home’. Fools! I can only do so much to help them without a treat incentive. All these tricks and sitting pretty consume a vast amount of energy.

Speaking of which, the remaining human in my immediate pack has instituted a regime. I should have been wary when I started the week on fresh fish and pasta and was given the new name ‘pachyderm’. Since then, it’s been strictly kibble and that human throwing itself between me and digestives shouting ‘NO!’ Females, eh? Embarrassing. I am allowed only a dog treat from an opening in a nearby building. Even for this, I must jump. Occasionally, when I locate it, I mark the vehicle of ‘the one who calls me Fred’ and then my human rewards me.

As these days pass, I spend more time challenging the sea – it keeps moving and remains defiantly undrinkable. I persist. To hide my frustration, I dig furiously into the sand. Sometimes, even I am disgusted by what I discover there. And don’t get me started on the state of the nearby park. Humans! Ugh! Mine still won’t let me ‘clean’ the super-old bits of town, though. Ungracious.

Time flies, now to have a wash, take a walk, find dirt, have another wash, and choose a bed unchewed by she whose time will come. Her head fits in my jaw. Just sayin’. To sleep to dream of treats…

Frank ‘Scrapper’ Tyke, his mark