Home Learning

I know, I know – it’s been a very long time since my last blog and I do apologise. If I’m right, I last wrote just after Christmas and that was weeks ago. This isn’t my fault, Readers – none of my family has spared me the time to help with the blog and this is very disappointing as we’re in yet another Lockdown so it’s not like there is a lot else to do. Anyway, sit back with a nice drink and I will try to bring you up to date.

New Year came and went in a fairly underwhelming sort of way due to Lockdown and I’m sure it was the same for you. She and I shared the sofa on New Year’s Eve with Netflix and something nice to eat, and of course She’s good friend Gordon popped round too. Clink clink. We were in bed well before anyone let off any fireworks and I think there was a general reluctance to do any celebrating. That suited me just fine. Although a plate of Tempura Prawns wouldn’t have gone amiss to be honest.

The Christmas decorations were torn down as early as possible this year and the tree – which definitely looked better than the Lidl one from last year – has been plonked out in the back garden where I imagine it will stay until the summer. Or possibly next Christmas. Young Lad and Lad were ordered to put all the decorations back up in the roof as a team-building, bonding type of exercise. Lad climbed up into the roof and reached down for the boxes which Young Lad was meant to stand on a lower rung and pass up to him. You would think this was straightforward.

It wasn’t. Lids weren’t properly on boxes, and some boxes had no lids at all so there were many escaping baubles and rolls of gold ribbon. I ask you- it is not that difficult, is it, just to take a little time and care. What’s the saying, Friends – a stitch in time? But no, everything had been crammed into boxes any old way with a strong whiff of, “thank God that’s over” and so it was carnage . Lad became cross with Young Lad and Young Lad became cross with everyone and so it went on. The final straw was when Young Lad couldn’t lift a particularly heavy box and lots of shouting ensued – eventually She pointed out very, very snippily that She had got ALL the decorations out of the roof BY HERSELF WITH NO HELP WHATSOEVER.

When everything was finally away there was some bad-tempered hoovering but then the house was relatively tidy and not a sign of bldy Christmas remained.

Since then, Readers, it has been very quiet most of the time. This is because Lad has been studying very hard for his exams – yes, I thought we’d left all that behind when he finished school, too – and whilst it’s commendable that Lad works so hard, I do wish he wouldn’t keep reading his work aloud and muttering when I’m trying to sleep in my chair. I don’t understand a word of what he’s talking about – it’s degree level Psychology – and as none of it is about food I couldn’t care less. And yet still he mumbles and says key words to himself. Boring as.

And then, Friends, there is the Utter Joy that is Home Learning. Hurrah! cried absolutely no parent, when the schools were closed once again (even though they are ‘very safe’ places, apparently. I know!) and all pupils from the age of five upwards are once again enjoying Home Learning. Now, this wasn’t too much of a shock for Young Lad as you may remember that Young Lad has barely set foot in his school for what seems like a year or two. As soon as Year 10 were allowed in, somebody always tested positive for coronavirus and they were all sent home again. It was like the Okey Cokey for Young Lad and Year 10. So they were quite used to the idea of taking part in Zoom lessons in their pyjamas and playing on their phones out of sight of the camera.

I try to liven up the days for Lad and Young Lad by whining to go out in the garden in the middle of Maths or Science, and then as soon as Young Lad has let me out and run back to his lesson (ok maybe not actually run, more wandered back via the cupboard where the Pringles are kept) I stand and bark to be let back in. Personally I would have thought this counts as PE for Young Lad but allegedly it is very irritating and Young Lad has to say sorry to his teachers, that he is having to let the dog out/in. So for the rest of this week I am going to daycare with my dear friends Pippa and Ebony as I am never a pain at their houses and behave impeccably.

Readers, I don’t know what your experience of Home Learning has been like but I find the quality of Young Lad’s questionable at times. Today, for example, he had Media Studies for which the instruction was, “Watch the film Spectre.” That’s it. Then for English the instruction was, “Watch Macbeth.” Hmmmm. Young Lad is yawning and saying he feels he’s worked very hard today but She said he wouldn’t know hard work if it bit him on the nose, which is a little harsh. Young Lad didn’t set these tasks, after all.

She worked from home today. This is unheard of and I don’t remember it ever happening before. I tried to liven things up for her, too, during all the Zoom calls by wanting to go out in the garden a lot – look, if you put a load of stale bread out on the bird table, of COURSE I will want to go in and out of the garden ALL BLDY DAY to see if any has fallen on the lawn. Boy was I moaned at. She is going back to work tomorrow as working from home whilst keeping an eye on Year 10 Home Learning is not the fun it sounds. We did have a lovely long walk this afternoon over the bridge and up into Pheasant Field – I could hear some pheasants but none showed themselves near me, which is just as well for them as I am a hunting dog, after all. It was quite muddy in Pheasant Field but nowhere near as muddy as up in the woods where we went yesterday – under the ill-thought-through notion that it wouldn’t be as muddy in the woods as the trees stop some of the rain getting through. It’s winter and there aren’t any leaves. So the rain does get through, the ground turns to a bog and teenagers ride their BMX bikes up and down in the woods. It wasn’t the best decision, Readers.

I’ve seen so many people recently out my walks as this is now what passes as a social life for everyone. Waving at someone across a field counts as intimate social contact in these strange days of Lockdown. Several people have had dog treats with them – indeed I bumped into dear, dear Ebony and her Pack Leader last week, and of course they had treats for me. Alas, in my excitement I forgot to be gentle and nearly took off Ebony’s Pack Leader’s arm as I grabbed it. I was scolded. But I can be gentle when taking tasty snacks from the hands of nice people with food – you just have to remind me. Several times.

Returning to the subject of Home Learning, I’m sure many of you and your offpsring have resorted to Youtube videos to help with expanding brackets in Maths or learning how to re-boot your laptop. It seems there is a Youtube video for everything these days. Readers, I don’t know how to tell you this. At the weekend, a Youtube video called, “How to express your dog’s anal glands” was found and pored over with interest. True, I was having a few problems with blockage in that area and the stench of old oily fish was everywhere, but normally this either sorts itself out when I pass a good hard motion, or I go to see the Evil Vet who drains them for me. Never before have we ‘had a go’ at home.

Well. All I will say is that I was forced into my muzzle – upside down initially as She has no clue how to put it on – and squashed up against the kitchen cupboards. Rubber gloves and kitchen paper were required, as was someone to hold up my tail and stand well back. A lot of prodding and squeezing later, a small amount of clear yet foul-smelling liquid was released and I was set free. I was FURIOUS!!! I will not be treated like this, even if it does save the vet bill. It hurt, both my backside and my dignity. Whoever made a Youtube video instructing Pack Leaders on how to express their dog’s anal glands needs shooting. This takes Home Learning to a whole new level. Really, I was aghast.

Because we are in Lockdown again and only allowed out for essential reasons or exercise, there have been lots of times we have combined the two and exercised ourselves by walking through the Rec and into town, where one can buy a take away coffee to support local businesses and then exercise all the way back home again. I do quite enjoy these outings but it would be nice if anyone thought about providing me with some light refreshment halfway through our exercising, too. It’s all very self-centred. Young Lad’s exercise is normally restricted to emptying the airing cupboard or other domestic chores, poor Young Lad, so imagine his excitement today when his PE task was to walk down the road and round the corner to Lovelydor’s house with some lemon drizzle cake. This gave Young Lad fresh air and exercise at the same time!

Alas, Young Lad is meant to have done his Food Tech practical work today and everyone has forgotten. Young Lad is meant to have made meringues and lemon curd from scratch – the ingredients are all here and ready, but there was so much Online Learning and Zooming going on that the Food Tech practical work has only just been remembered and ‘hell can freeze over’ before She embarks on supervising Food Tech practical work at 8pm. This isn’t the right attitude and is yet another example – amongst so many – of shoddy parenting. Anyway, Young Lad is on the Xbox after a tough day of Home Learning, so it’s doubtful he would be thrilled at the prospect either. I’m not sure when Young Lad’s Food tech practical will now be done, Readers. Poor Young Lad.

Perhaps if a little more effort had been put into parenting at the weekend, Friends, things wouldn’t have gone so awry. Apart from the lovely muddy walks, the weekend was spent ‘relaxing’ – watching Netflix and Sky Atlantic – after a tricky week at work. Yes the house was calm, relaxed and everyone was very happy. Yes this is very unusual here. But really – a little thought about the educational needs of one’s offspring wouldn’t have taken much out of the weekend, would it? Poor Young Lad and his meringues. I will let you know when he finally gets round to making them, and I will also give you some feedback regarding their quality.

Stay safe and well in these strange times, Readers, and check out that Youtube video.

See you soon,

Russell

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Boxing Day Blues

Well, Readers, what a strange Christmas that was for so many of us. I do hope you managed to eat, drink and be merry even if you weren’t able to be with the people you wanted to see. I certainly managed to eat and drink, and made my own fun as you can see by trashing the Boxing Day game of Monopoly. Gingercat had already walked across the board and knocked the dog and car off their squares, and then he sat down by the Bank, while I lay on the board and waggled my ears and paws around to knock everything else off. It was hilarious in all honesty, and served them right for not sitting up at the table.

Young Lad won, in case you were wondering, by having houses on Park Lane and Mayfair. Lad had embarked on a strange strategy of staying in jail as long as possible so that he wasn’t landing on people’s property and thus paying rent. She was very cross and said this is against the rules but when they looked it up, it wasn’t. Well done, Lad.

But let’s go back a little. Christmas Eve is always one of my favourite days as people are busy rushing around and let down their guard on the hiding food front. Regular Readers will know that on previous Christmas Eves, I have eaten an entire large bag of McCain frozen chips, a whole pack of Tesco finest mini mince pies, and various chocolates. None of these have ever killed me. So I was looking forward to December 24th this year, to see what foodstuffs were left within my reach. Nothing was. This was very disappointing Friends, and is yet another dark legacy of coronavirus as we are in Tier 4 and nobody is allowed out, and therefore leaving- a- turkey- on -the- kitchen- worksurface -while- we- pop -to -the= neighbours- for- drinks scenarios are unlikely.

However all was not lost as I was given some wonderful dog snacks and I really did enjoy those. My dear friend Delilah the Basset Hound had also sent me some of her home-made dog biscuits which are divine. Later in the afternoon on Christmas Eve a cheeseboard and crackers was produced – again, no social niceties such as sitting at the table, but these were consumed on the sofa slumped in front of Netflix and so by making my brown eyes go extra large and appealing, I was able to successfully beg for bits of cracker. This Christmas Eve wasn’t quite up there in the food stakes with the McCain oven chips/mince pies ones, but I did get a lot of cuddles and love, so you just have to take what you can get these days.

Sadly there was a lack of Tempura prawns on Christmas Eve this year. This was because She had opened the Tempura prawns two days prior to Christmas Eve, which shows an appalling lack of self-discipline and blatant disregard for yuletide convention. By the time Christmas Eve came round, the Tempura prawns had been finished, there wasn’t much smoked salmon left and as for the tree chocolates…Readers I know this has been a year like no other, but I don’t feel such a cavalier ‘sod it’ attitude is a good example to others. Thus a late Christmas Eve afternoon dash to M&S food was needed to stock up on Tempura prawns and smoked salmon. I ask you.

Christmas Eve evening was unusual but rather lovely as we all sat together on the sofa under cuddly blankets and watched a film. Thankfully there were bowls of snacks to keep us going through this and I enjoyed myself very much. In many ways it was a wonderful evening, as due to the lack of visitors for Christmas lunch the following day, She did not need to spend the evening running round polishing cutlery, making bread sauce, wrapping presents, drinking and snapping at everyone. This was possibly the most peaceful Christmas Eve we’ve ever had. Every cloud and all that.

Oh the smells as Christmas lunch was cooked , Friends – I’m sure your homes were similarly fragrant. I’m never quite sure whether it’s the turkey, or stuffing, or roast potatoes that give off that wonderful smell – and I don’t really care. The kitchen smelled heavenly. I would happily have stayed there for the entire morning but no, of course, I was dragged out on a Long Christmas Day walk. There were hundreds of other dogs being dragged out too, – some of them had been made to wear ridiculous Santa coats – and all the Pack Leaders were very jolly and wished each other Happy Christmas. This isn’t everyone’s idea of fun and I have to agree – it bores me rigid stopping to say hello to everyone. She had every intention of taking me for a very long walk up across the fields beyond the river – however, due to some spectacular rainfall, the river had burst its banks again and we couldn’t get across the bridge. She did try, as knee-high wellington boots might just have been enough (please note, no thought whatsoever as to how I would stay above the water level), but the middle of the bridge was too deep even for this and She had to turn back. A man called out, “chicken!” at her in a jolly festive way and everyone laughed. Thankfully we then went home for Christmas Dinner – I had had quite enough of that.

Blow me down with an hors d’oeuvre – after Christmas lunch I was dragged out again! To be fair so were Lad and Young Lad, as they Needed Some Fresh Air, apparently, and so we walked to Lovelydor’s house down the road to say thank you for our presents. Lovelydor didn’t hear us knocking on the door, despite Young Lad giving it some welly, so Readers you can make your own mind up as to whether Lovelydor had started on the sherry a little early, or was having a nap.

Lad and Young Lad have been stuck at home for quite a while now, due to Tier 4, and it is very frustrating for everyone. They have been very good, Readers, and not moaned when forced into manual labour – Young Lad has to empty the airing cupboard and sort out the washing on a regular basis, and hoover, and do the dishwasher. I know, I feel this is unreasonable too. Poor Young Lad. Lad hasn’t done quite so much to help, but then Lad has been studying very hard and in fact only had Christmas Day and Boxing Day away from his studies. This shows great determination and work ethic. Well done, Lad. I’m sure it is not just because “there is xxxx all else to do,” as Lad muttered the other day. In fact Lad has been improving his mind by watching documentaries about the Vietnam War on Netflix, which whilst not terribly uplifting, have been informative. Young Lad has mostly stuck to Family Guy and Top Gear. She and her friends all whatsapp each other with suggestions of what to watch next on Netflix, and occasionally a subsequent message pings through saying, “not with the boys, lots of sex.” I have no idea what this is all about and just sleep soundly in my chair.

Readers, the reason I need so much sleep at the moment is the ludicrous amount of walking I am forced to do. For the past week or so there have been at least two walks a day – one into town to buy a takeaway coffee, and the other as my proper exercise in the fields. One would be ample. On the coffee walk, we usually stand and talk Loadsakids or some such friends, and they marvel at how exciting it is to go upstairs in Tesco – yes, it’s still open! – where the decidedly non-essentail items are. During these difficult days in Tier 4, it is apparently a wonderful experience to still be able to browse through highlighter pens, saucepans or scented candles.

Friends you won’t believe this, but on one of our coffee walks, we did not ‘bump into’ a friend. Thus we arrived at Costalotta and there was nowhere to tie me up outside – I could have been stolen, Readers! – and She became very agitated at not being able to go in to buy an Americano. She smiled through the glass door a lot in the hope that one of the baristas would come to the door and take our order – for goodness’ sake – but this didn’t happen. In the end I was left with a COMPLETE STRANGER while She went in to buy her coffee! Honestly, anything could have happened to me. This very Good Samaritan said they would hold my lead as they could see She was about to cry, but they could have been any Tom, Dick or Harry. I was furious!

Then yesterday, Friends, we agreed to meet our friend Madame for coffee in the Public Gardens (dogs aren’t allowed in there but She said who is going to care at the moment?) and the idea was a coffee and dog walk. TWO AND A HALF HOURS LATER, Readers, I crawled back up our road to my home. We had trekked through knee-high mud for miles and miles and miles. I had seen parts of the county that I didn’t know existed and I was EXHAUSTED. The funny thing was that the conversation between Madame and She didn’t dry up once, throughout this epic walk – I really don’t know how they do it.

Would you believe it – this morning we have met another friend for a ‘dog walk’. At least this time there was another dog to keep me company, but again it was two hours of non-stop walking and talking….there will be nothing left of me by New Year.

Well, Friends, I hope you are safe and well and have survivied Christmas. I know that many of you will be googling Monopoly rules now to see if Lad was right about being able to earn rent on his properties whilst sitting in jail – well, there isn’t much else to do I suppose.

See you soon,

Russell

Tier 4

Here is Gingercat, Readers, being very immature and climbing into a carrier bag this afternoon. This is very dangerous and extremely silly. I looked on disdainfully as Gingercat did this, and even more disdainfully when he started knocking a wind-up pigs in blanket toy around the lounge floor. Gingercat is at least 12 years old which is very elderly for a cat and he should be well past the point of such juvenile behaviour. Honestly.

To be fair the sight of Gingercat climbing into a plastic bag provided some light relief in a tricky weekend. Yesterday there was sharp intake of breath round here at just after 4pm, when it was announced that our area is now in Tier 4. I have no idea what this means and couldn’t care less. So long as it doesn’t affect my food supply or involve me leaving my armchair, life is tickety boo for me. Not so for everyone else, it seems. The atmosphere here moved from tense, to irritable to emotional and then back to irritable, which is where it has stayed. It appears that due to a new strain of coronavirus, nobody is allowed to leave home again, other than for essential visits to the supermarket or dentist – which is good news for Young Lad as he has a dentist appointment in a couple of days’ time. Young Lad is pleased this hasn’t been disrupted by Tier 4.

There was much huffing and sighing last night and it was all a little over-dramatic if you ask me. She immediately messaged her good friend Loadsakids so that they could wail together over Whatsapp, and of course one of their main worries was whether coffee shops were still open for takeaways. This hardly seems important in light of what’s going on but She snapped something about “our bldy mental health” and it would not have been wise to argue at this point. She and Loadsakids and thousands of other people now face being stuck indoors with their teenagers and dogs for weeks, including the whole of the Christmas period, and it seems takeaway coffee is akin to Valium in being able to survive this.

As it turned out, coffee shops are still open for takeaway only and whilst nobody is supposed to be meeting anyone else, if one happens to walk one’s dog into town and buy a takeaway coffee at the same time as one’s friend walks their dog into town and coincidentally buys a takeaway coffee from the same coffee shop, what can one do? And so it was this morning, that I was walked briskly and purposefully into town – I wasn’t allowed to stop and sniff much on the way – and blow me down with a feather! There was Loadsakids with her dog. Well I never. So Loadsakids’ dog and I sniffed each other’s backsides as this doesn’t spread coronavirus, not even the new strain, whilst She and Loadsakids stood apart outside the betting shop, drinking their coffee and saying “dear me how vexing this all is,” quite a lot. I think that’s what they said, anyway. I was bored out of my mind, to be honest, and mightily relieved when they decided to move away from the betting shop as there were a few strange people hanging around, and instead chose to go and look at the queue for Tesco as this now counts as entertainment in Tier 4.

I nearly had a Lovely Moment, actually, Readers, while She was inside the coffee shop buying her coffee – dogs aren’t allowed in so there was no choice but for Loadsakids to hold my lead outside, with her own dog. A very nice man walked up to us and asked Loadsakids if he could stroke me – I was looking particularly beguiling this morning – but Loadsakids noticed he was holding a croissant and said, “I wouldn’t if I was you.” I was annoyed by this.

Then while we were standing looking at the queue for Tesco, Loadsakids’ dog and I noticed a large golden retriever coming round the corner. However, this retriever had on some sort of harness and a high vis thing – I can tell you, I found this very alarming and sinister. We barked and growled ferociously at the dog in the harness and high vis thing, just to make it clear that we were not to be messed with, but She shouted at us and it turns out that the retriever was a guide dog, and actually belonged to someone She knew who was rather tentatively trying to walk past us while Loadsakids’ dog and I tried to kill his helpful canine friend. Apparently I am “an embarrassment.”

Then this afternoon I was dragged out on another walk, down to the river and up to the fields and lake, because it will be important for our ‘mental well-being’ to get out of the house as much as possible over the next few weeks. I don’t think my well-being is being considered at all in this. Young Lad was forced to come on this walk. Young Lad was not happy about this at all, and whined quite a bit, but She said that if he ever wanted to see the bldy Xbox again in his entire life, he would quit the whingeing and put his trainers on. I ask you. Poor Young Lad. As if this wasn’t bad enough, when we returned home he was made to empty the airing cupboard. It’s Christmas for goodness’ sake!

And what of Lad, I hear you ask? Lad has a lot of studying to do, Friends, and as usual he is working hard. Lad was not let off the chores though, Readers – oh no. Lad was told to put away the bags of Tesco shopping while we were out on our walk – this was an arduous task as there were several bags of shopping and rather a lot to fit into the fridge. Poor Lad. I wonder how Lad and Young Lad are feeling about being stuck indoors with She for the foreseeable future.

Regular Readers will remember that in my last blog, all hell had broken loose as Young Lad had lost his electric toothbrush. Nobody knew how this could have happened as electric toothbrushes are quite large and easy to spot, but there you go. Friends, you will be overwhelmed with relief to know that Young Lad’s electric toothbrush has been found!! It was in the other bathroom. Yes, there are just the two bathrooms and you would have thought somebody might have thought of looking there, but such is life in my house. Instead of this find being celebrated, Young Lad was admonished further for being so useless at looking for things.

You’ll also be pleased to know, Regular Readers, that She finally found the time to read Lad’s essay on which he’d worked so hard. She left a note outside Lad’s bedroom door before going to work which read, ” v good, well done, changed grammar a bit, love you.” Really – would it have been too much trouble to write a full sentence?

I was taken to the Evil Vet on Friday night, Friends. I wasn’t happy about this but as usual nobody consulted me. I have had itchy ears for a while and everyone was fed up with me shaking my head and scratching, so off we went. Due to coronavirus, we weren’t allowed in but had to stand out in the rain, until the Evil Vet was ready for me. The the Evil Vet took me inside and looked down my ears – of course, he’d been warned he would need to muzzle me, which wasn’t difficult as he gave me a biscuit before producing the muzzle. My ears need to have drops applied twice a day and so far I have tried to chew off the hand of anyone who comes near me with the bottle. It hasn’t gone well. I will not be treated like this.

Lad is trying to tell She all about an idea he has for a business enterprise he has thought of, with the benefit of studying degree-level Psychology. She is nodding and saying “mmm” quite a lot but I can tell She isn’t really listening. This is so rude. Poor Lad.

I suspect She is thinking about the clink of ice and the swoosh of the tonic water, as the afternoon has been spent trying to hang up the bldy Christmas cards. These will have all fallen down by tomorrow morning and we go through the same pantomime every single year. I know for a fact a drawing pin dropped on the wooden floor in the hall and hasn’t been found, so I imagine someone will step on that soon, too.

Readers, I am rather worried about how often I’m going to be dragged out for walks over the next week or two in Tier 4. I will be fading away to nothing if they are not careful. It’s all very well She being happy to find that one friend can still be visited as they count as a support bubble, but Readers I have no support bubble. I, too would be overjoyed if this was the case, but alas, there is no support bubble in any tier whatsoever for me. I will have no choice but to carry on ripping up the recycling and dragging it round the garden over the next few days as this is the only fun I have.

Stay safe, Readers, wash those hands and if you’re in Tier 4 like us, get yourself a takeaway coffee now and again.

See you soon,

Russell

Michael Bauble

Well, Friends, as you can see the Michael Buble CD finally made it out of storage and the Christmas decorations were put up. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was a festive atmosphere here but at least there are some twinkly lights and the odd angel around in my house now. It was a nice Christmas tree this year – a much better shape than the one from Lidl last year – and lessons have been learned about false economy. The fact that it was a nicer, more expensive tree however meant nothing to me and I pulled it over, as you can see, as soon as I was able to.

It wasn’t my fault. Lad is back from university – more of that later – and it was Lad’s fault entirely for leaving the lounge door open when he went to the gym. She had hung Cadbury’s chocolate tree decorations on the tree only the previous night – I had watched carefully to see where they had been put – and of course they were all up quite high so I had to pull the entire tree down to get at them. I ate all the chocolate tree decorations (there were 12 in the packet originally but She had eaten 3 before they even made it onto the tree due to STRESS) so in all that was 9 chocolate tree decorations, including their foil wrappers and gold string. Still hungry, though, I wandered round the lounge and dining room to see what else was around and as luck would have it, just managed to reach Young Lad’s Lindt chocolate advent calendar that was pushed not quite far back enough on the table. So I had that, too. It was December 8th, so you do the Maths and work out how many days left of Lindt chocolate there were.

Before you all start worrying about chocolate being poisonous for dogs, you know very well that I have eaten many, many bad things over the years and suffered no lasting ill effects. The triple-layer 10- inch chocolate birthday cake with lashings of rich chocolate buttercream that had been lovingly made for Lad’s 16th birthday was probably the most poisonous of them all, but even that only ended with a lot of unpleasant comfort breaks in the garden that were difficult to clear up. And a lot of wind. Then there was the infamous Christmas Eve two years ago when I ate a packet of mini mince pies (Tesco Finest with Courvoisier brandy) while my family were next door at the neighbour’s house, which resulted in the late night visit to the emergency vet to make me sick it all up again. The fun I always have at Christmas! So don’t worry Friends, the chocolates from the tree and advent calendar have passed through and so has the foil and gold string. She had such a nice time in the wet garden this morning clearing everything up. “Living the bldy dream,” She said.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, considering we’ve only just come out of another Lockdown and nobody can do anything much. Lad came home from university last weekend and I was SO pleased to see him – I have been trying to sleep on his bed for a while now, as it had all been made up nicely with a brushed cotton duvet set for the Prodigal Son’s return but I was constantly being pulled off and shouted at for crumpling the bed covers. For heavens’ sake! As if Lad would care!! He’s a student. Anyway, it’s great having Lad back (not least because he leaves the lounge door open) and within what seemed like minutes the bathroom floor was covered in wet towels, there were mugs and plates everywhere and an interesting line up of beer bottles on the windowsill by the Xbox. Lad has made our home look just like his student accommodation which must be very comforting for him – well done, Lad.

She of course has moaned non-stop and told him to clear up.

Lad has been working very hard, Readers, with online lectures and lots of essays to write. Lad has asked She to read his essays this weekend to check them for him, and to be honest it’s disappointing that this was met with a sigh and less than enthusiastic “oh all right then.” Most parents would be delighted to read their offspring’s essays about Milgram’s psychology experiments. Yes, it’s a busy time of year but what’s more important? The Christmas Amazon order or improving one’s mind and supporting one’s son? I shake my head in disbelief at times, Friends.

Poor Lad has a lot of work to do, and barely has time to drink beer or go on the Xbox. Young Lad, on the other hand, seems to have lots of spare time – even more now, as Young Lad’s school have lots of positive Covid cases again and have sent Year 10, 11 and 13 home. Yes, Readers, AGAIN. This is Young Lad’s third lot of being sent home from school in a few weeks, but in all fairness he had just completed one week of being in the school building before the doors shut again. There was a lot of swearing and stomping around when She received the text message to say that Year 10 were not required in school yet again, and don’t need to go back until January. So this coming week, Readers, I have both Lad and Young Lad at home with me while She goes to work. We’ll have such a nice time!

However, as Lad is very busy with his online lectures and essays, it would be very unfair to expect him to take me for walks as well and so I have been out with dear, dear Pippa and dear, dear Ebony this week. One morning, whilst out with Pippa, I rolled in loads of fox cack and Pippa’s Pack Leader Male had to bathe me when we got home. He was much more gentle than my own Pack Leader is when bathing me.

As it is only two weeks until Christmas, and due to Covid and not knowing which Tier we will be in by this time next week, there is a certain amount of tension and bad mood round here. There is A Lot To Do apparently, and yet because we don’t really know what we’re doing when, it’s Difficult To Plan. This causes Stress. Give me strength. Due to the Stress, there is a lot less tolerance when things go wrong – for example, Young Lad lost his electric toothbrush this week and you would have thought the world had ended. Young Lad had his electric toothbrush on Monday, but then it disappeared. How one can lose a large electric toothbrush is a puzzle, but there was no need to shout and accuse Lad of taking it, or pulling everything out of the laundry basket to see if it had fallen in, or empty the box of Action Men in the bathroom in case they had taken it. Poor Young Lad has been moaned at non-stop for managing to lose his electric toothbrush somewhere in the house. Young Lad doesn’t seem all that bothered.

Then this afternoon, She thought it would be a nice festive family thing to go shopping together. It wasn’t. Neither Lad nor Young Lad really wanted to go but knew better than to protest, and had been promised a trip to Costalotta, so they set off. It was raining and dull, and there were queues everywhere. In the end they just went to Tesco but even this was traumatic as half way round She realised the shopping bags weren’t on the trolley. Young Lad and Lad were asked crossly what they had done with the shopping bags, and neither of them had the faintest idea, so everyone had to re-trace their steps round Tesco in search of shopping bags lying on the floor. There weren’t any. What there was, however, was the original trolley with the shopping bags on it back at the beginning, so it seems Lad and Young Lad had been pushing the wrong trolley round after all. They were chastised for this.

Readers it is barely 6pm and I can hear a clink of ice and the hiss from the tonic bottle – this does seem to get earlier and earlier every week.

I hope you are all staying safe and I’m sure you are waiting on tenterhooks just like us to find out which Tier we are in from next week, and therefore be able to Plan Christmas properly at long last. Or not, as the case may be.

Take care,

Russell

Yumy

Readers, please don’t worry – there is not a rare mis-spelling or typo in my title today. This is indeed the interesting spelling of a particular cafe in my town which I visited recently. The more traditional spelling of the word would have double ‘m’, granted, but I will forgive the cafe owners this mistake as they were VERY kind to me.

Why was I visiting a cafe in town during Lockdown, I hear you ask? Well, it was a Sunday morning and She and her good friend Loadsakids often meet up for a coffee and to put the world to rights on Sundays – usually after the Andrew Marr show so they can discuss highbrow things – but because we are in National Lockdown yet again, they could not meet in Costalotta. Instead they came up with a brilliant idea – of walking their respective dogs into town and standing outside a cafe that was open for takeaway coffee. There is an awning, luckily, so one can stand there drinking takeaway coffee and not get wet if the weather is inclement. I’m not convinced that this counts as an ‘essential journey’ or even ‘exercise’ but doubtless She would argue otherwise and mutter something about mental health.

Anyway, the other dog and I were extremely well-behaved and patient whilst 45 minutes of dull conversation took place over a cappucino and Americano. I felt we did very well as in all honesty there was nothing to do and not much to look at, once we’d sniffed each other’s backsides.

The thing is, even though our Pack Leaders were taking no notice of us, Friends, the cafe owner was far more observant and could see how dreary this was for a pedigree Spaniel and Beagle. Imagine our surprise when he came outside with two foil dishes of roast beef trimmings and bacon pieces!! The cafe owner asked our Pack Leaders if we were allowed to have them – She of course snapped ‘no, he’s too fat already’ (pot, kettle) – but then in a moment of conscience realised how rude this looked when a nice man had gone to the trouble of providing food for us. So with a sigh and reluctant “oh all right then,” the foil containers of meat were put on the ground. Loadsakids’ dog gently chewed and licked her portion as she has very genteel manners , whereas I snarled and grabbed mine, gulping the whole lot down in three mouthfuls like a demented wolf. Passers-by laughed and found this entertaining. She told me off for showing her up and marched me straight home.

I have not been taken back to Yumy since, even though I know for a fact that She has met Loadsakids there again. Loadsakids took her dog because of course her dog doesn’t show her up. I was left at home. I feel this is unfair.

Lockdown is very wearing, Friends, as I’m sure you will agree. Everyone is a little fed up of having nowhere to go, so even though it is still November for several more days yet many people have put up their Christmas decorations in an attempt to cheer everyone up. Not in my household, of course. The decorations will be staying in the loft until well into December as we don’t do festive cheer very well here. That said, last year’s Christmas tree from Lidl has been mentioned by several people lately, as they remember it with great affection. Our tree from Lidl became something of a cause celebre locally last year, as Regular Readers might remember, and I doubt very much we will find one quite like it this year. Here it is.

Unique, wasn’t it. That’s the middle of Lidl for you.

Anyway, She says it’s far too early for bldy Christmas decorations and there will be no pine needles left on the tree if we put one up now. Far be it from me to mention all the neighbours out in their front gardens today, cheerily hanging lights from guttering and waving at each other. To be fair though, Pack Leader did get the screwdrivers out and I thought for a moment She had given in to the early Yuletisde spirit and that Michael Buble would be playing any minute, but no. The good thing is that She decided to fix the light cord pull in the bathroom at long last – Regular Readers will know this broke several months ago and has been tentatively repaired with some thin string – so it looked like the afternoon would be productive after all. Alas no, Friends, as it took so long to unscrew the light fitting due to the awkward angle and not being able to see whether a Phillips or flathead screwdriver was needed, that it was nearly dark by the time it had been successfully unscrewed and then She realised She had no clue what to do next. So, with some bad language the unit was screwed back to the ceiling again and we are no further forward.

Young Lad has been at home all week – how often I seem to write these words – as his school had to close due to the number of positive coronavirus cases. Young Lad has been doing online lessons for the last ten days. This appears to consist of signing into the lesson and saying hello to the tutor so they think he is paying attention, then the entire class messaging each other on their phones and playing games for the rest of the lesson. Young Lad will be sad when school re-opens next Wednesday but I’m sure there will be some more positive cases in Year 10 before long and they’ll all be sent home again.

It’s been a busy week in some ways – I have had lovely walks every day thanks to dear, dear Ebony and dear, dear Pippa and other than that I’ve needed an awful lot of sleep. She has been working of course, but somehow managed to fit in the various medical appointments that are part and parcel of my family’s life. Young Lad had to have some vaccinations on Thursday night – these were called ‘School Leaver vaccinations’ and Young Lad missed them earlier in the year as he was having a small operation and therefore more medical goings on at the time. Readers I do find it ironic that Young Lad has had School Leaver vaccinations. In order to leave school, you would think one would actually have to attend occasionally. Anyway, Young Lad had injections in both arms and didn’t turn a hair – afterwards he asked if he could have a treat and She snarled “you’re 14 not 6” so that was that. Poor Young Lad. He had been very brave – if the Evil Vet comes near me with a needle I have to be muzzled and held down by eight veterinary nurses. And I ALWAYS get a treat afterwards. (From the Evil Vet, not She).

Then there was a phone consultation with Young Lad’s specialist at the hospital – Regular Readers will know that Lad and Young Lad have about ten specialists between them – and that was quite tricky as it’s not always easy to understand what Dr Mohammed is saying when face to face with him, let alone over the phone with no chance of lip reading. Anyway, I think we got the gist of it.

Friday night saw the sighing and tutting of the regular trip to the pharmacy to collect everyone’s prescriptions – of course in these golden times this means queuing outside in the cold as only one person at a time is allowed in. The mood was not improved on arriving home and unpacking the huge bag of medication, as they have only given Young Lad one month’s supply of his to last until the New Year, whereas Lad got two months’ supply – so now there will have to be ANOTHER email for a repeat prescription and ANOTHER night of standing in the queue at the pharmacy in the dark after work. I know Readers. There are far worse things happening in the world.

I felt that last weekend held a more positive note here, though, as someone actually got round to tidying up the back patio a bit, and cutting the grass. This was a very difficult job indeed as it was like a bog, and turned into thick mud the minute the mower got near it. It took a very long time to do as someone had to keep emptying and scraping mud off the mower, but by the end of the afternoon the garden did look a little better. The good thing is that all the bldy leaves have now fallen off the bldy fruit trees so there are no more to come down and cover the grass – this makes picking up my comfort breaks much easier as they can be spotted against the green grass, whereas it was hard to find them amongst the leaves and a bit of a gamble to be honest.

I needed a comfort break at 2.23am the other morning and boy was I moaned at.

Young Lad has almost caught up with his Food Technology practicals – I think he is only a couple of weeks behind now. He has written up his samosa evaluation, you’ll be glad to know, and last week had to make arancini balls. This, I gather, is basically risotto rolled into balls and coated with flour, egg and breadcrumbs then fried. It sounded nice but She said we’re not frying anything else as we did the samosas last week and we Don’t Have Frying in this house, so the arancini balls were baked in the oven instead. You are right, Readers. Dry as. They weren’t exactly balls either, as this would imply a sphere, and rolling wet soggy risotto into round shapes isn’t as easy as it sounds, so they were lumps. Dry lumps. I had one, though, and they tasted nice.

This week Young Lad needs to make puff pastry. Enough said.

Lad is still busy at university and is looking forward to coming home when the authorities finally release hundreds of thousands of young people back into the general community which won’t affect the coronavirus rate at all. He was supposed to register with the university GP back in September and has been ‘reminded’ every week to bldy hurry up and do it, but Lad has been very busy and just hasn’t had time. Lad will try to fit it in this coming week but don’t hold your breath, Readers. There is a surprise in store for Lad on Monday as he will be receiving a parcel in the post from us – we have sent him a Lindt chocolate advent calendar and a Cadbury’s selection box to cheer him up. Lad is 19, Friends, but you are never too old for a Cadbury’s selection box or an advent calendar. At least She’s stopped buying them religious ones now.

You see? There IS some Christmas spirit here, after all. Not much, but let’s take what we can.

Golly, that was quite an epic blog tonight and as a wise man once said, I really am quite the wordsmith. I do hope I have managed to bring you all some cheer and taken your mind off things as it really is a strange old world at the moment, but chin up everyone – Costalotta is open again from Wednesday as we’re in Tier 2, but you just can’t meet any friends there.

I‘ll let you know if there is a change of heart tomorrow and the Michael Buble CD is dusted off. I wouldn’t put money on it.

Keep safe everyone,

Russell

Mothers In Need

Look at the beautiful Autumn colours I saw on my walk today, Readers – the stunning golds, reds and bronzes of the leaves on the dew-covered grass. And look at all the cack on my back where I rolled in something. Nobody shouted at me though, as I was out with dear, dear Ebony and her Pack Leader so they just laughed whimsically and told me I’m a little rascal. Obviously if I had been with my Pack Leader things would have been different and I would have been screamed at and dragged home with non-stop scolding all the way.

Today, Readers, it is something called “Children in Need” which is an annual national fundraising event that brings the country together in the spirit of goodwill and charity. Correction, most of the country. Regular Readers will know that in previous years She and her good friend Loadsakids always go out for a few drinks on Children In Need night as they feel that Mothers In Need is sadly overlooked and frankly just as important. Loadsakids and She discuss things like their bldy teenagers and bldy dogs over a glass or two of lemonade and then sit in a dark cinema for the rest of the evening, not having to be sociable or indeed charitable. I know, Friends. What an attitude.

However, due to coronavirus we are in another National Lockdown which means that She and Loadsakids cannot go out to celebrate Mothers In Need in their usual style. This has vexed them both greatly and they are having to come up with a plan B. I suspect this will involve drinking glasses of lemonade at home in their pyjamas and discussing their bldy teenagers and bldy dogs over Whatsapp. I ask you.

I’ve had scant attention at home this week, Friends, due to an Extended Working Schedule which has involved Extra Long Days and A Heavy Workload. Thankfully dear, dear Ebony and Pippa’s Pack Leaders have picked up the slack so I’ve had some company of a day, but really it’s not good enough. Then at night I sprawl across the bed hoping for a small crumb of comfort but no, I am shoved and moaned at and I have to fight back quite aggressively to stand my ground in the middle of the bed. I will NOT be moved on this, Readers, and refuse to surrender to the foot or side of the bed or even, God forbid, my own dog bed. One has to make a stance at times.

There has been the usual palaver of Year 10 schoolwork all week as Young Lad is still just a smidgeon behind with some tasks. The chicken madras that he made for Food Tech quite a while ago still hadn’t been given a written evaluation, plus he was now a week late in making vegetable samosas. And so it was that one evening there was an emergency trip to Tesco Express at the top of the road to buy garlic (if you remember, Young Lad was a little heavy-handed with this in the chicken madras) and vegetable oil – we never fry in this house, Readers, and so vegetable oil is never in our pantry – and Young Lad was told to get on with the bldy samosas. She acted as sous chef doing lots of chopping and prepping, to speed up the whole bldy process, while Young Lad did the more interesting aspects of the task such as making the pastry. This had to be rolled out very, very thinly and there followed a very amusing half hour Friends, as they tried to work out how to make triangles from a semi-circle. The recipe said “cut a 20cm circle of thinly-rolled pastry in half, and then roll it round your finger to make a cone, add the samosa filling, and close into a triangle shape.” Neither of them had the faintest idea what they were doing and I did think, Readers, that perhaps if She had been the sort of Mother to do lots of art and craft with Young Lad at home when he was little, they would know how to turn a cone into a triangle. Unfortunately the attitude used to be “that’s what I pay nursery fees for,” and so not much cutting and sticking ever happened here in the halcyon days of childhood.

By the end of Young Lad’s Food Tech practical, there was thinly rolled pastry hanging off the working surface and washing machine, and samosa filling everywhere. I have never seen so much mess from a simple task that a fourteen-year old was meant to be doing unaided.

The samosas were oblong.

They tasted nice, though, to be fair to Young Lad. Young Lad has watched Masterchef The Professionals AND the Great British Bake Off over the last couple of nights as he knows he needs to up his game.

I am missing Lad, Friends, as he is busy at university doing his laundry. The last we heard from Lad was that the university tumble dryers are still shxt and still don’t dry his brushed cotton duvet cover so he has damp bedding hanging everywhere. Obviously this causes me great concern about Lad’s health and I do hope he is eating properly. Steak and the such like. Lad is facing Lockdown at university just like the rest of us and is most upset that the gym is closed, so has to workout in his very small room. Poor Lad. These really are challenging times for everyone.

I saw on the news that universities will send students back home in the first week of December so I haven’t got long to wait now until Lad is back, and not taking me for walks as usual.

She was feeling quite chipper this morning, Friends, as it was the end of a long week and was laughing gaily with her colleagues at work, when the mood was changed quite dramatically by Young Lad phoning to say that Year 10 had another positive case and were being sent home immediately. Yes indeed, Young Lad now has another ten days off school but he must be due for a rest as has just managed seven whole days in school without much of a break.

And so, Friends, Gingercat and I face another week of Young Lad not doing his home schooling whilst home alone, choosing instead to look at more interesting websites, and the row that will ensue when She gets home from work. Every night. Sometimes Gingercat and I think about moving out.

It’s meant to be wet and windy this weekend – no doubt I will be dragged out for long walks through the sodden countryside but I hope the rest of you batten down the hatches and enjoy Lockdown once again.

Someone here is already enjoying Lockdown as I can hear that tell-tale clink of ice.

Stay safe,

See you soon,

Russell

Here We Go Again

Readers, I’m sure many of you have a similar expression on your face today following last night’s announcement that we are going into another National Lockdown. Now, nobody wears a depressed face quite like me but I would imagine some of you are not far off today. All I can say is that I will do my best to distract you from the current situation for a short while, as I narrate the banal minutiae of life in my home. With everything that’s going on in the world at the moment you would think that daily life here might step up a little, but no, Friends, it isn’t to be.

Take today for example. Young Lad has been at home for three weeks – yes, three! – due to Year 10 having to self-isolate followed by half term. In the space of that three weeks there has been ample time for him to carry out the next GCSE Food Practical, but no: it had to be left to the last minute today. To start with there was a fierce argument with Young Lad about what ‘Food Miles’ actually means; Young Lad wanted to cook a curry as this is from India, which is a long way away, but She insisted the point of Food Miles is to source ingredients from as close to home as possible. Young Lad didn’t agree and put his foot down. In Young Lad’s mind, the more miles the better and he would not be dissuaded from this line of thought. Eventually She gave in and there was a bad-tempered march round Sainsburys whilst Young Lad found all the ingredients. All the joy was sucked out of this experience by making Young Lad write down the origin of each product – the tin of tomatoes, for example, was from Italy and the basmati rice was from Pakistan. Surprisingly pretty much everything else Young Lad needed for his chicken madras was produced in the UK, but then even more joy was sucked out by forcing him to research how far away Pakistan and Italy are from the UK, and record this in boring detail.

For goodness sake! How to stifle creativity.

Finally Young Lad was actually allowed into the kitchen to prepare his meal. It smelled fantastic, Readers, due to the large quantities of garlic that went into it (I’m not sure Young Lad knows what a ‘clove’ is) and the carefully measured teaspoons of cumin, coriander, chilli and the like. The aroma improved even more once the expensive Free Range It Had A Nice Life Before The Processing Plant chicken was added – my mouth watered at this point. Young Lad served his chicken madras with basmati rice and naan bread, and even chucked some fresh coriander on top as decoration. Well done, Young Lad. There was plenty left, so Lovelydor down the road was offered an Indian takeway and not really given any choice in the matter – on my walk this afternoon we deposited foil containers of Young Lad’s curry with her.

The kitchen, after Young Lad’s efforts, was disgusting. I had to clean up loads of sauce that had spilled on the floor and it was all over the cooker too. I couldn’t reach that.

In amongst the somewhat fraught Year 10 Home Learning that has gone on, and on, and on, there have been some pleasant moments. She seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time going out for coffee with friends – it’s important to get as many of these opportunities in before National Lockdown as possible – and one day last week I was taken along too! We met some lovely friends and drove to a local area of natural beauty – however, several thousand other people had the same idea and we couldn’t get in the car park so had to give up and think of a plan B. Plan B turned out to be a lovely long walk through public footpaths and round a golf course – nobody seemed to have the slightest idea where we were going and more than once Serious Golfers had to wait for us to wander across the fairway, but She and her friends always had a smile and a cheery wave for the Serious Golfers who found the whole thing amusing rather than annoying. Eventually we made our way out of the golf course and to a pub, which was much happier all round. I sat very nicely with my bowl of water and only barked once when the food was brought out. She told me crossly to be quiet, but one of her friends, who is considerably nicer, gave me some crisps. I then had to put up with an hour and a half of idle gossip – bear in mind they hadn’t paused for breath round the golf course and public footpaths – really it was exhausting and hardly profound.

Even this afternoon, really quite late in terms of socialising opportunity, She met her good friends Loadsakids and Madame for an outside coffee. I wasn’t taken along this time, but I know for a fact there was a lot of staring bleakly into their cappucinos and shaking their heads. This was interspersed with bursts of raucous laughter as they told tales of their bldy kids or bldy dogs. Readers, I’m quite glad I stayed in my armchair for this one.

Down at the river this afternoon we saw Oscar the border terrier, who always jumps up at She’s legs and smothers her jeans in mud. I like Oscar. He’s funny. True to form he has plastered her jeans in thick black cack. Well done, Oscar. I haven’t seen any deer for a while in the woods, but there are plenty of squirrels and I feel sure that I am coming close to catching one of them.

There was a sweet small child by the river today, who stroked my ears and said, “I like your dog!” She replied that I am very naughty and can’t be trusted, which was rather unnecessary and spoiled the moment.

Anyway I haven’t been naughty for ages. I haven’t had the chance. However. tomorrow everyone is back to school and work so I am coming up with some ideas.

Readers, I can hear you asking for news of Lad. Well, Lad was allowed out of isolation at his university last weekend, and so She and Young Lad drove all the way down there to take Lad out for lunch and to buy him some food. This meant a visit to Express Pizza as they haven’t used their Tesco vouchers for a while and the points are mounting up – and then a trip to Asda for Lad to stock up on food for life at university. Lad put quite a lot of steak and mince in the trolley, which I applaud, but She made disparaging remarks about students should be eating tuna pasta not steak. This shows a total lack of regard for Lad’s iron levels and overall health, and I’m glad that Lad stood firm and wouldn’t put the steak back. Lad did comment, however, that Aldi is much cheaper and compared the prices of everything in the trolley at Asda to its equivalent at Aldi – She said Lad is becoming boring and what on earth has happened to him. Poor Lad.

Well, Friends, I am worn out from my walk this afternoon and ready for a sleep. There will be some frantic Whatsapping this evening to sort out doggy daycare for me this week, and I’m looking forward to seeing my good friends Pippa and Ebony again. I know for a fact that they have missed me a lot. Another of my dear friends, Delilah the Basset Hound, is experiencing problems with her anal glands at the moment and I do hope they clear soon for her. I know how they feel (and smell).

Chin up Readers – we will all manage to come out the other side if we keep each other’s spirits up. Talking of which, I can hear the clink of an ice cube and the shwoosh of the tonic being opened.

See you soon,

Russell

Browsing History

Here I am, Readers, looking thoroughly fed up in the bath again. This was at the weekend, after a lovely walk during which I found not one but two piles of fresh fox poo and had a good roll. The pleasure this brings me is short-lived however, as I am dragged up the stairs when we get home and made to stand in warm water in the bath. It’s incredibly annoying.

Friends, settle down with a nice drink as I will write you a bumper edition tonight. I know many of you are fed up with coronavirus and Tier 1 or Tier 2 – which makes it sound like a wedding cake or a rather jolly theatre – and many of you have been stuck indoors again for a while now. I will do my best to lift your spirits. Not that anybody ever tries to lift mine.

Well, you really couldn’t make it up. Young Lad should be at school but has to stay at home and isolate because some random person in Year 10 that MIGHT have walked through the same room as him, has tested positive for Covid. Young Lad is very happy about this state of affairs and has been at home for ten days now. Young Lad is supposed to do online lessons all day every day, but this seems to have bypassed him and it’s all been a bit of a struggle. She became rather concerned about the lack of schoolwork being done while She was out at work, and carefully/clearly/in words of one bldy syllable wrote out the instructions for Young Lad’s work yesterday. When She returned four hours later from work, Young Lad had not completed any of the tasks. Poor Young Lad does not know about the Browsing History on his laptop, and did not realise that any Fuhrer type person would be able to see which youtube videos and non-educational websites he had been on all morning. Personally I feel this is an invasion of Young Lad’s privacy, but anyway there was a lot of shouting and bad temper, with the odd incredulous “FOUR HOURS!!! How can you not have done ONE task?”” and so on. It was all a bit much to be honest, so Gingercat and I hunkered down in our armchairs and slept through it all.

Young Lad was banned yet again from the Xbox. Poor Young Lad.

Today She stayed at home and sat at the table ALL day next to Young Lad so there was no chance whatsoever for him to be looking at WWE wrestling when he should have been writing a character analysis for An Inspector Calls. I’ve been exhausted just listening to it all.

The only respite was when I was dragged out for a three mile walk across the sodden fields this afternoon. Readers it has poured all day; was I even consulted about whether I wanted a long walk in the rain? No I was not, and frankly I was more than happy in my armchair. But no, in the spirit of ‘exercise’ and ‘being healthy’ we had to power walk down to the river and over the bridge, then up into the fields beyond in non-stop rain. At some point in Pheasant Field it dawned on someone that there is a large hole in their wellington boots, and so the power walk became a little more irritable as feet were soaked and we still had over a mile to go. Plus these wellington boots were purchased from a garden centre last year at considerably more expense than the usual ones from Tesco, but have not lasted any longer. Lessons have been learned.

There weren’t quite so many people out with their dogs today, unsurprisingly, but I did bump into Teddy who is a large white labradoodle. Teddy bounded over to me and in a rare moment of recklessness, I played with him and we chased each other round the sodden field and jumped on each other’s backs, growling. Neither Teddy nor I were still white by the time our Pack Leaders caught up with us. It was terrific fun and I haven’t played like that for a while.

Then we came back and Young Lad was held down and interrogated to see how much work he had done while we were out for my walk. The answer was not much, Friends.

In an interesting parallel of life in this house at the moment, Lad is also having to isolate at university. This is because someone in his flat tested positive for Covid, and now several other students have, too. Lad hasn’t tested positive for Covid and feels he is invincible, but still has to stay in. There was an emotional phone call home on the first day of isolation, as Lad could not face the prospect of staying in his room for fourteen days, as the cable for his TV and Xbox was broken which would make life unbearable. If Lad was expecting sympathy he was greatly disappointed, as She’s curt reaction was “two words: Freshers’ Week.” Then there was some ridiculous analogy about if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime and I think Lad probably found someone else to ring for sympathy, such as Nana aged 89. Poor Lad.

I am greatly concerned, Readers, about how Lad is managing to eat. You know how important food is to me, and it worries me sick that Lad can’t get out to buy food. I don’t want Lad to starve! Anyway, it turns out that he had done a late night shop at Aldi the day before going into isolation, and that £30 of food from Aldi can last two weeks with no problem. Lad is this very evening making himself pasta pesto and having a lovely time.

Oh, and Lad managed to fix the cable for his Xbox and TV so life didn’t look so bleak once he’d done that and it appears he can stay in his room for two weeks after all. Well done, Lad.

Well, due to Young Lad being at home I haven’t had to go to daycare at dear Ebony or Pippa’s house for a week or so. I miss them dreadfully and would infinitely prefer to be there than in my own house, where I am ignored. Ebony and Pippa’s houses are in much better states of repair than my own home, which is quite honestly going downhill again. I did think things had improved in terms of shoddiness for a while, but we’re now back to living in a hovel. The cord pull for the bathroom light broke off ages ago, and kept getting shorter and shorter until one had to stand on tiptoe to be able to pull it, and even then with a bit of a jump. I can’t tell you how ludicrous it looked whenever anyone needed the bathroom in the dark and had to leap up and down trying to snatch one centimetre of cord. Has anyone bothered to fix this properly? Of course not. She eventually found a ball of string and stood on a chair, simply tying a long piece of thin string to the tiny piece of cord. It looks like nothing on earth.

Plus, back in the summer (yes, MONTHS ago) Young Lad was playing football in the garden with his friends when one of them kicked the ball into the shed and broke two of the three windows. Nobody has attempted any sort of repair whatsoever, so not only are the families of tarantulas that live in the shed free to leave whenever they want to, but the cushions for the nice garden sofa that was purchased during lockdown are going damp and a bit mouldy. It just takes a little care and forethought, Readers, that’s all.

To be honest, all these jobs plus cleaning the filthy oven and giving the carpets a steam clean could all be done this week, while She has some time off work. Plans for this time off originally involved a lot of lunches with friends, much laughter and clinking of glasses, but now that our area has moved to Tier 2 that’s well and truly off the agenda. What a perfect time, Friends, for catching up with those household jobs instead of dragging me out in the rain or making poor Young Lad’s life a misery. This morning She had a brilliant idea and texted Lovelydor down the road to see if Lovelydor fancied meeting up for coffee and a natter this afternoon. This was incredibly cruel and heartless, Readers. We are in TIER TWO! This means no meeting up with friends for coffee and nattering! How thoughtless to suggest something nice and sociable to Lovelydor, only to snatch it back seconds later with “oh sorry, no we can’t can we.” For goodness sake, I wish She would think things through. Poor Lovelydor took it very well, and made a very wise remark that at least we’re all still here to tell the tale of being in Tier Bldy Two.

Amongst the very long list of home learning tasks that Young Lad is meant to be doing, is a new GCSE Food Practical. This time it is all about ‘Food Miles’, but I have no clue as to what that means and couldn’t care less. I am quite keen for Young Lad to need sirloin steak again for his food miles recipe and will suggest this to him.

She, in an unusual moment of kindness, has decided to reward Young Lad for being chained to the table all day and actually putting a shift in for once, by making pineapple upside down pudding for dinner. This is one of Young Lad and my favourites. It makes a godforsaken mess of the oven and drips all over the place, which pleases me as I get to clean up whatever falls on the floor. I will sit in front of the oven as the pudding is taken out, ready to catch any drips even if they’re boiling hot, and then I will stamp my feet and whine while Young Lad is eating his pudding later on. I’ll be shouted at and told to get in my chair but it’s always worth a try.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, Readers. I hope the weather improves if there is any thought of long power walks again, and one can only hope that Young Lad is let up for air from his school books at some point. I will do my best to find some bins to empty and to drag the recycling round the garden, as it is always much more fun to clean this up when it’s wet and soggy. I hope that Lad’s pesto pasta maybe stretches to two days, and that someone takes him supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables soon otherwise he’ll get scurvy.

What strange times we live in, Friends.

Keep washing your hands and stay safe.

See you soon,

Russell

Cor!

Readers, I found it intensely annoying last night that Young Lad took so long to eat his apple. He was distracted by something on Netflix and it really was vexing that I had to wait so long for the apple core. Apple cores are not very good for dogs, in fact, but I have never let this kind of detail deter me. In the end I had no choice but to lean over and snatch the apple out of his hand. I was shouted at.

I’ve been shouted at tonight, too, for trying to steal a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios; to be honest I can’t quite believe that cheese on toast and a bowl of cereal could be considered dinner for She, but there was a general air of apathy around cooking and so out came the Cheerios. If you will leave them on the coffee table while you pop back to the kitchen, what do you expect? I’m now sulking in my chair and intend doing so for the rest of the evening. I’m never shouted at when I go to dear, dear Pippa or Ebony’s house.

On the whole it’s been a super day, though, as I went to Pippa’s house for daycare. We had a long walk and I have spent the rest of the day asleep in a nice armchair, surrounded by people who care about me. Yesterday was good, too, at Ebony’s house – apart from rushing to the kitchen when I heard the biscuit tin touched, I had a marvellous time sleeping on the soft furnishings there as well. This is the sort of life I deserve and which is so sadly lacking in my own home.

Last Sunday morning was gloriously sunny, with a clear blue sky and crisp autumnal air. She took me for a lovely walk up to the lake, and we both stood there for a while looking over the beautiful scene and thinking that life is good. Then I found some fox poo to roll in on the way home and life suddenly didn’t seem quite so good for one of us. There were two squirrels running along the path on the way back, but I was on the lead by then due to the fox poo, so I couldn’t chase them. Had I been able to, I’m sure I would have caught them both for I am a Hunting Dog. This has yet to be proved but I’m sure it’s true.

Friends, I know many of you are keen for news of Lad and how he is getting on at university. I’m happy to report that all is well and he has settled in very nicely; Lad is still coping with sharing bathroom facilities with one other person. Well done, Lad. He has even started doing some work and attending online lectures (when he wakes up in time)look, Lad has to go to bed very late because that’s what you do at university and its not his fault if he doesn’t set the alarm on his phone properly. The biggest problem facing Lad is the poor standard of laundry facilities – Lad has had to phone home for advice because the tumble dryers are “shxt” and don’t dry his designer tracksuits properly. She asked him what setting he had selected on the tumble dryers and Lad said they have to be on ‘delicates’ as otherwise his designer tracksuits might shrink. She sighed in an irritable way and said the choice was simple – dry but slim designer tracksuits or damp, loose fitting designer tracksuits. I feel that Lad was looking for a little more support than this, and just snapping ‘turn the temperature up’ was not what he needed.

Actually Lad had a splendid idea last week and asked if She would like to drive down on Sunday, to see Nana aged 89 and take Lad out for lunch. Then Lad expanded on his idea and said maybe She could go and pick up Lad and his washing first, take him to Nana aged 89’s so he could put it in her washing machine, take Lad out for a nice lunch somewhere, pop to Asda on the way back so that Lad could do his food shopping, and finally collect Lad’s washing and take him and his laundry back to his room in university. Lad wondered what She thought about this idea, and what a nice day it may be.

She said that Lad’s idea would involve at least five hours of driving and She would rather stick pins in her eyes.

Poor Lad. I feel this is yet another example of shoddy parenting, because if you can’t be bothered to give up your time for your offspring and dogs, why have them in the first place? What a snub for Lad, to tell him his idea was rubbish, and to just use the bldy laundrette at the bldy university and turn the bldy temperature up.

Undeterred, though, Lad has come up with another idea and wondered whether She would like to drive down to see Nana aged 89 at half-term; coincidentally he would like to come back to this part of the world to visit his friends (and me, obviously) and he could hop in the car rather than having the expense and inconvenience of rail travel. Lad is very clever and comes up with excellent ideas – I do feel his brilliance is not fully appreciated.

Young Lad has had another GCSE Food Technology Practical lesson which was carried out at home due to coronavirus. To my utter joy, Young Lad decided to make sirloin steak stir fry and so we actually had some decent quality meat in the fridge. She knows nothing about cuts of meat and had bought a very thick piece of sirloin (moaning incessantly about the price) so poor Young Lad had a heck of a job to cut it into strips with a large butcher’s knife. Then Young Lad, who has high standards in these things, decided there were some fatty bits that needed cutting off so these were dropped into my food bowl. Raw sirloin steak fat, Readers!! I was beside myself!

Young Lad said his sirloin steak stir fry was very tasty and gave himself a high mark in the assessment of it.

Last week was quite an eventful week here, Friends, with various things happening and it meant that She’s friend Gordon popped round quite a lot. I lost count of the times I heard the fizz of the tonic water and the plop of the ice, but really it can’t go on like this. I’m sure responsible parents and Pack Leaders turn to things like yoga during stressful weeks rather than hard spirits. I might suggest this to She – I know for a fact there is a yoga mat and blocks upstairs which haven’t been used for about ten years.

No, I can’t see it happening either.

Stay safe Readers, and pop round to see your friends while you still can.

See you soon,

Russell

Broken Record

Here we go again, Friends – yet another picture of the bin tipped over on the kitchen floor. Really, it’s the same old thing over and over again, and I do wish She would find a more interesting picture for my blog. Even a picture of the Bastard Swans would make a nice change.

There was an unfortunate incident with the bin last Friday evening but it wasn’t my fault at all. Firstly She had forgotten to put the bin outside the back door before going to work early in the morning so it was her fault. Secondly, Young Lad came home from school and went out again without noticing that the bin was still in the kitchen, or shutting the kitchen door, so it was his fault. It totally wasn’t mine and I had no choice but to tip the very full bin over and drag the contents through the house. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Empty. The. Bin. More. Often.

The last time the house was trashed with kitchen rubbish, if you remember, I found a tomato passata carton and ripped it up over the beige lounge carpet. This time it was an empty packet that once contained frozen blueberries, so now there were large purple splodges to accompany the orange ones. It gave a retro 1970s feel to the carpet and made it far more attractive if you ask me.

She was incredibly tetchy on returning from a long day at work after a long week at work, and finding She had to get the Dr Beckmann’s stain remover out yet again before pyjamas and Gordon time. I don’t feel it required quite the amount of shouting and moaning that I had to endure.

In other news – and I know many of you have been eager to hear this – Lad made it to university and has stayed there. It didn’t go entirely smoothly (nothing ever does here) as early on the Saturday morning when She took Lad his final cup of tea at home for a long time, Lad was already sitting up in bed looking aghast. It turned out, Readers, that he had received an early email from the university saying that he had been moved to a different room and no longer had an ensuite bathroom. This was appalling. Lad simply could NOT share bathroom facilities with anyone – Friends, he COULD NOT and WOULD NOT sit on a toilet seat that someone else had sat on. Poor, poor Lad. There were some tense moments during which She wondered if he was actually going to refuse to go to university due to the lack of an ensuite and so they would have to unpack the roofbox, and it didn’t really help saying “for the love of God we had to share bedrooms back in my day never mind the bathroom…” This was of no comfort to poor Lad who felt strongly that he needed a bathroom in which he could take his time and have sole use.

Finally Lad was persuaded to stop being so bldy precious and get in the bldy car, and off they went.

Lad has had such a nice time ever since that he has completely forgotten about his early objection to sharing a bathroom and it doesn’t seem important any more. Lad has also found a nice flatmate who can cook; indeed he made Lad sea bass and asparagus with crushed new potatoes for his birthday lunch. I think Lad will be fine. I do miss him though, and occasionally go into his bedroom for a look round.

Young Lad doesn’t appear to be missing Lad much and has remarked on how peaceful it is here of an evening. Young Lad has been – very gradually – settling back into school after six months off and is being told every five minutes that he needs to up his game. I’m little disappointed on the Food Technology GCSE front, as due to coronavirus the pupils are not able to cook at school. This means they are doing a lot more theory and any practical work has to be done at home. So far there has just been the one dish – a Jamie Oliver pasta thing with rocket and tomatoes – and I wasn’t offered any of it. Not a sniff.

I have, however, managed to steal Young Lad’s toast a couple of times in the mornings, and also an entire bowl of Shreddies as I grabbed the bowl when he wasn’t looking and ran off with it. Young Lad and I have an understanding about these things.

Readers, I’ve had a wonderful couple of weeks because now that Lad is no longer here, I cannot be left on my own during the day when everyone is at work or school. This means that every day I go to doggy daycare at dear, dear Ebony’s house or – and this was the first time for SEVEN months – dear, dear Pippa’s house. Oh it was wonderful to be back amongst people who give a damn about me and allow, nay encourage, me to have the best armchair for the day. It’s such a wrench to come back here at the end of the day. Tomorrow I’m going to dear Pippa’s again, and I know for a fact that she will be very pleased to see me.

I’m slightly worried that should the coronavirus rate keep rising there will be some sort of lockdown again, which means I might have to stop going to doggy daycare – but She says no bldy chance as bldy keyworkers have to go to work regardless – really. This is hardly the spirit in these difficult times and I do feel a little less feeling sorry for oneself is in order.

Readers I’m exhausted after another tough day, and the highly exciting meal of jacket potatoes and baked beans is ready for Young Lad, so I must bring my blog to a close. I feel Lad should stay where he is for a long time, in terms of quality of cuisine.

Hope you are well Friends and staying safe.

See you soon.

Russell