Cottage Comfort

So here I am Readers, as you can see by the photo, enjoying life in a beautiful country cottage a few weekends ago. I had travelled there in style in a large Range Rover, as this is the quality of life I was meant for. The weekend had been organised quite a while ago, in order to meet up with family and Have Fun.

We did have fun, Readers. Mostly I sat by the large outdoor dining table whenever the family was gathered round it eating, and I was given lots of titbits and snacks. As they spent most of the weekend eating and drinking round this table – and playing silly games with post-it notes on the forehead or a card game called Uno which involved a lot of shouting, I ask you – I was quite happy. The beautiful country cottage had a beautiful country garden, in which I had a comfort break the moment I arrived and quite a few more thereafter. I was moaned at, of course, because some members of the family wanted to lie on sunloungers with their friend Gordon – clink clink goes the ice – and it spoiled the ambience that I was needing so many comfort breaks.

On the second day a decision was made to walk to a ‘nearby’ pub. My New Buddy looked it up and felt the next village wasn’t too far away, and it promised to be a pleasant walk along a disused railway track.

It wasn’t that pleasant, Readers. Disused railway tracks are often infuriatingly inhabited by cyclists. Now I don’t mind cyclists per se, but when they creep up behind you and can’t be bothered to ring their warning bell, it is very disconcerting. This happened a lot and I had to keep moving to one side. Plus New Buddy’s estimate of how far away the pub was turned out to be slightly optimistic Friends – I really shouldn’t be made to walk over six miles on a Saturday lunchtime. I made a point of barking and whingeing so they couldn’t enjoy their pub lunch in peace.

But all in all it was lovely to get away from all the stress I’m under, and much fun was had by all.

Then of course, there has been the excitement of a big football match recently. Young Lad, She and I went to watch this at New Buddy’s house with New Buddy The Younger, and it was super fun. Well the football bored me rigid, but it was nice to be in a house with people who love me and give me attention for a change.

It’s very hot today, Readers. We are experiencing a mini-heatwave which means it will last three days and everyone will moan about it. I’ve even had to come in from the garden as the sun is too strong. Young Lad on the other hand has just been told to get off the bldy Xbox and go OUT in the strong sun, in the vague hope that he may turn slightly less pallid.

Young Lad has been out in the strong sun for three minutes. He has come back in and said the sun is too strong for him. Poor Young Lad.

Lad is heading off to the gym again – he does this every day. All this going to the gym has meant that Lad rarely has a top on and prefers to walk around bare chested. If questioned, Lad says he is hot. Nobody believes him.

She has been very busy at work doing Lots of Hours and doesn’t give me or Gingercat much attention. Or, in fact Lad or Young Lad. This is very poor parenting and we are left to fend for ourselves, with a plethora or post-it notes left lying around, or snippy text messages. Mostly these are instructions such as “tidy the kitchen!” or “page 34 Maths book,” and it is all very dreary. Lad, Young Lad and I keep our heads down and just relax.

Well the heat is quite exhausting me, Readers. I’ve chewed through the handle of Young Lad’s Nike school rucksack, just for the fun of it, and She was very cross as Nike Rucksacks aren’t cheap and I’ve got through quite a lot of them now. I don’t know why I chew the rucksack straps. There’s not really anything in it for me – it just gives me something to do. I’m not sorry I did it.

I was going for a nice walk into town to the cafe this morning, but it really is too hot so I have stayed in my armchair instead. I’ve got my eye on the bin, though, and as She is Very Tired, there is bound to be a mistake made soon and I’ll be able to go through it. I know there are some out of date yogurts in there. Yum.

I need to have a rest now, Friends, as I’ve worn myself out with activity today.

See you soon,

Russell

Evidence

It really annoys me, Readers, when people conspire against me and this happened quite recently. I came home from doggy daycare at dear, dear Pippa’s house and Pippa’s Pack Leader decided to give me dinner – however in the past this has been problematic as I pretend I haven’t had any dinner, and then my Pack Leader feeds me again when She gets home from work. So a cunning plan was hatched, and Pippa’s Pack Leader wrote a note saying “Russell has been fed.” When my Pack Leader came home I started barking and whining in my usual way, and prancing around in the kitchen making it very clear that it was past my dinner time, but Pack Leader showed me the note that said I had already been fed. She even pointed to each word individually to help me read it. I was incredibly annoyed by this subterfuge.

It is great fun when I pretend I haven’t already been fed and this happened again this very morning. New Buddy and I got up very early for a comfort break and an early coffee, and I had my breakfast. Pack Leader slept throughout this and so when She finally woke up and took me downstairs I pretended I hadn’t had my breakfast and thus received a second one. Pack Leader was cross with me when She found out New Buddy had already fed me and said I was dishonest and devious. I couldn’t give a stuff.

Friends, it has been a month since my last blog and this is very poor. When I first started my blog – back in the halcyon days – I used to post an entry every few days. This has deteriorated over the years to one a week, and now a paltry one every few weeks. Such is the level of neglect and lack of time that my own family have for me – I do apologise, as I know for many of you my blog is one of life’s pleasures, and for the relatives in Australia it keeps them up to date with things that are going on, which cuts down on the need for emails. Life has been very busy and stressful round here with all the medical goings on that come with Young Lad, and frankly I get a bit fed up with it. I’m very glad to get to dear Ebony and Pippa’s for daycare during the week, and New Buddy’s house for some of the weekend as I am looked after properly in these places.

To add to the chaos at home, Lad is returning from university tonight. Yes, I know that Lad has been popping back ever since he went to university but he really has finished for the year and will be back later on. This is very exciting for me. Even more exciting is that the small bedroom is piled high with all his stuff, and there are many things in boxes and carrier bags that I would like to eat as soon as someone doesn’t shut the door and I can get in there. We all know that this is inevitable. I’ve got my eyes on the large packets of protein milkshake powder mix stuff – I’ve tried this once before. It was very nice;strawberry flavoured steroids. Sadly poor Lad didn’t appear to have a suitcase for packing all his worldly possessions into and nobody thought to take him one, so poor Lad has had to cram hundreds of carrier bags full of clothes, bedding, chargers and leads and all sorts of other things. Importantly, all Lad’s heavy weights are up there ready for him to resume workouts when he gets back – this could be tricky as he forgot to put the barbell into the car, which is the big pole that you put the weights on. Something of a schoolboy error this, I feel.

I know what you are thinking, Friends. If all of Lad’s stuff from university is back home, how come Lad himself isn’t? Well, there was an important party on the last night of term but Lad had to be out of his accommodation in the afternoon, so he had a very good idea and suggested that She drove all the way down there, packed up the car with his stuff, stayed overnight, hung around half the day today waiting for him to wake/sober up and then bring him home. Readers, the repsonse to this was cool and rather blunt. And so it is that Lad’s stuff was collected yesterday and thrown into the small bedroom, whilst Lad himself is wending his way homewards by train. Poor Lad. Possibly he has had to carry a long, very heavy barbell all the way on the train as well. Lad has quite a difficult life and nobody gives him much sympathy. I can identify with this.

Young Lad at the moment is shouting on the Xbox which is known in this house as ‘ a good sign’. He has been eating very well lately – last week he had steak twice, a full roast chicken dinner and a massive Margherita pizza with a side of chips at a restaurant. Nobody feeds me like this.

I had to laugh today, Readers. There is an attempt to make our garden look nicer and to create a bigger, sunny area for my garden sofa by moving the shed – obviously nobody here has a clue how to move a shed, so Man With A Van is coming to help tomorrow. I’m looking forward to this, as when Man With A Van came round to look at the job last week, he ended up lying on the grass with me tickling my belly. He was only here ten minutes, but such was my effect on him. Anyway, I digress. Today the shed had to be emptied in readiness – Friends, I have never seen such a fuss. Now, Regular Readers will know that a family of tarantulas live in the shed but tarantulas or not, everything needed to come out today. Well! The fuss! Deckchairs and sunloungers were flung onto the lawn with shrieks, and as for the tent that has been stuck in a very spidery corner for years …. every item was chucked out unceremoniously so that the arachnids would fall off with the force of hitting the lawn. There was one particularly big brute. This monster started a speedy bid for freedom across the grass, but quick as a flash, Gingercat was on him!! Remember my recent blog, where Gingercat arrested Action Man? Gingercat is not to be underestimated! Well, Gingercat hit the spider with his paw and then proceeded to play with it, knocking it around the lawn and pouncing. Still the damned thing kept trying to run away. Eventually Gingercat bored of this and wandered off, but there was No Way On Earth that the large tarantula was going to be allowed to roam the garden as it would clearly make its way up the drainpipe and in through a bedroom window to Take Revenge. As I write, Friends, the large spider is sitting underneath a glass on the lawn.

This is not only cruel to the spider who hasn’t got much room to run around, but all the local birds now have headaches as they have spotted the spider from far above, dive-bombed down to catch it, only to bang their beaks against the glass. This has puzzled two sparrows and a large blackbird this afternoon, all of whom kept dancing around pecking hard at the glass and wondering why they still hadn’t caught the spider. New Buddy and She found this very entertaining as they sat on the garden sofa drinking coffee after the trauma of emptying the shed. (It was mostly traumatic for She – the language! New Buddy mostly laughed and videoed proceedings.)

I went for a walk into town this afternoon, talking of coffee, and we ended up at my favourite cafe. Here the owner is a very kind man, who once brought me out a tray of roast beef and ham – this was quite a few months ago, and to be honest a repeat performance has been overdue for a while. So we reminded him about it, and sure enough he appeared with a foil container of roast meat offcuts. I grabbed them like a demented wolf and stuffed them with the most atrocious lack of finesse. As if I care. They were lovely.

I do like going to cafes. I do it a lot these days.

One thing I did draw the line at, however, today . New Buddy has a new car and whilst I feel I was born to ride around in Range Rover luxury, I can’t get into the damned thing as it’s absolutely huge and miles off the ground. So New Buddy went to PetsRVetsRToysRUs or whatever it’s called and bought a fold up ramp. He unfolded this and place it by the boot of the enormous car, and together New Buddy and She tried to encourage me to walk up the ramp. However it was still a ridiuculously steep incline as the car was on our drive, and I refused. I will NOT be a circus animal performing for people’s entertainment Friends, and no amount of cajoling or run-ups was going to persuade me to climb a stupidly steep plastic slope. No. I have some dignity.

The idea had to be abandoned and they will try again, allegedly, when the car is on a flatter surface. Good luck with that.

I’ve eaten more silicon ear plugs, since my last blog, Readers. I found She’s toiletry bag in her bedroom, opened it and carefully selected the new packet of pink silicon earplug, bought to replace the last packet I ate. I ripped open the packaging, crunched through the plastic box, and ate every single silicon earplug. They went through me whole and appeared on the lawn the next day.

I have also opened kitchen cupboards, eaten the contents of the bathroom bin and thrown the recyling round the garden. But these are simply things to pass the time. I never feel the need to behave like this at anyone else’s house, which is strange and puzzling. The only thing I do at New Buddy’s house is spend hours in the garden gnawing on the bones he kindly buys me. Then I dg up his garden to bury them, and fart all night from the excessive air I’ve swallowed whilst gnawing. I feel I am an excellent house guest.

Oh dear. I just heard Young Lad say a bad word on the Xbox. Fifa 21 can be a very vexing game at times. Poor Young Lad.

Well, Readers, I need an early night as I have the double excitement of Lad coming home – I’m sure there was a Bible story about a hungover teenager returning from university and how lovely it was for everyone – and then Man With A Van coming round tomorrow! Hopefully he will rub my belly and share some cake with me during his coffee break.

Take care, Friends.

See you soon,

Russell

Shopping

Recently, Readers, I was taken shopping to PetsRVetsRUs or whatever it’s called. I do love a trip to the pet shop because there is always a load of spilled food/biscuits under the shelves so I like to wedge myself under each and every shelf, clearing up. This can be intensely annoying for whoever is holding my lead as I suddenly disappear under the cat food display with a violent lurch that can send them off balance, but never mind. I had a marvellous time in the pet shop and found a lot to eat. My New Buddy bought me a whole load of stuff that She said snippily I don’t need, but thankfully my New Buddy doesn’t listen to her so we came out with armfuls of bones and treats.

It’s been ages since my last blog and I do apologise, but as usual there has been Medical Drama every few days at my house and it really does become quite tedious. Young Lad will keep having his funny turns and there has been a lot of toing and froing which annoys me. Most of the time I’ve been at daycare at dear, dear Ebony or Pippa’s houses where I have been able to sleep in the nicest armchairs they have and so recover from all the stress that I’m under. Really, it’s too much. I added to the fun of a particularly fraught day last Friday when She and Young Lad had been in hospital all day – dear, dear Ebony’s Pack Leader dropped me home a mere THIRTY MINUTES before their return, but in that time I managed to pull a box of cat food off the working surface in the kitchen and rip open nine sachets under the dining room table. I ate the lot and spat the packaging around the floor. The house absolutely stank on their weary return, and I was shouted at. I couldn’t care less. I was packed into the car and taken to New Buddy’s house – do you know, Readers, She didn’t even clear up the cat food packaging as She was Too Bldy Tired? I know! Slovenly!! Poor Lovelydor down the road cleared it up when she came to feed Gingercat. Lovelydor should not have to do this and I was aghast that Pack Leader took such a poor attitude.

The thing with cat food, Friends, is that it’s quite rich and gravyish so having eaten nine sachets of it, as well as a large dinner at dear Ebony’s house, my digestive system wasn’t the best that evening. I passed horrific smells all evening and throughout the night – indeed the room was filled with a green sulphuric fog by the next day. I then went out into the garden and deposited lots of cow pats on the grass, which weren’t the easiest to clear up but there you go. I felt much better once that lot was out of my system and ignored everyone moaning at me about the smell. I had enjoyed the nine sachets of cat food and would happily do it again.

It was due to this that I was taken to PetsRVetsRUs or whatever it’s called, as it was decided I needed an urgent supply of charcoal biscuits to help with my wind, and a bone to help firm things up. Then we went into town and sat outside our usual cafe, where I am now a regular and receive lots of attention and the odd dog treat, and as usual I stamped my feet and whined while it took them ages to drink a coffee. New Buddy had a bacon sandwich, and I was quite keen to help him out with this, but it started raining so we had to take cover and I didn’t get as much of the bacon as I would have liked. I did bark and whinge quite a bit though, and got on She’s nerves.

I went to the cafe the next day too. It rained again.

Down at the river the other day, Friends, I noticed that the Bastard Swans are back and yet again they have bred and produced more Bastard Swans. She says they are called cygnets and are beautiful, but we all know they will just grow up to be Bastard Swans that hiss at me and rear up whenever I wander along. Hate them. We had a lovely walk all along the river, over the bridge, up through Pheasant Field and to the lake in the woods. It was jolly nice and even She thought all was well with the world. Briefly.

The other morning started well as Gingercat sicked up his breakfast on the landing whilst She was in the shower and Young Lad was still in bed – I cleared it up for them as I am very good like that. All that remained when She came out of the shower was a nasty wet patch and a bad smell. A quick rub with Dr Beckmann’s carpet remover soon sorted that. Poor Gingercat was very hungry as he forgot he had eaten breakfast then sicked it up so asked for more breakfast and was moaned at.

Gingercat is quite old but doesn’t realise this. The other day he mistook himself for a guard dog and apprehended an intruder in the garden.

Previously he had been seen kissing the top of Action Man’s Head so I think Gingercat has some issues around his identity.

It was dear, dear Ebony’s birthday recently and I love it when Ebony or my other friend Pippa have birthdays, as their Pack Leaders make them Liver Cake. They always bring me a piece. It’s delicious. My Pack Leader doesn’t make me Liver Cake, of course. Though I had a culinary delight at New Buddy’s house over the weekend – not only was there a small offering from the bacon roll, but New Buddy had something called Black Pudding for breakfast and gave me some. It was divine, Readers, really divine. Then New Buddy The Younger gave me some of his bacon from breakfast and I really did have a jolly time. Much nicer than I ever have in my own house.

She cut the grass the other day and the garden looked nice for a few minutes. I dragged some Easter egg boxes out of the recycling bag and ripped them up all over the place. It didn’t look nice for long. Then I found the green compost bag with the food scraps in and ripped that up too, eating the egg shells and carrot peelings. It was fun.

Readers, while Young Lad was having one of his many visits to hospital today, his very lovely Special Nurse Donna happened to notice that my blog was underway on the laptop. Special Nurse Donna comes from Australia and mentioned that she has a friend in Australia who rescues Beagles! Yes! What a coincidence! So I am sending Special Nurse Donna my blog details so that she can pass it on to her friend, and my Australian fan base might expand beyond the four it currently averages out at.

The other day She was trying to pack her overngiht bag and was hunting through the toiletries for her pack of silicon earplugs. She couldn’t find them. This is because I had already emptied her toiletry bag on the bedroom floor and run off with the pack of silicon ear plugs. I hid under the dining room table, chewed my way through the packaging and the plastic box, and ate all six silicon earplugs. As usual these came out whole in my comfort breaks a few days later. She was very annoyed as they cost £5 a packet and She had to buy a new box.

Lad is away at university though he did pop back again last week. Lad has a habit of doing this, as Regular Readers know, and I find it very confusing. This time when Lad popped back, he then returned to university but forgot to take his laptop with him. I gather laptops are quite essential at university because Lad realised his mistake a few days later, said “oh bother” and had to come all the way back again to fetch it. Poor Lad. He is under an awful strain what with exams and the poxy campus laundrette.

Well, Friends, it has been an exhausting few days and I have no choice but to lie upside down in my chair now.

Enjoy being able to sit inside pubs and restaurants again, Friends – it’s terribly exciting and I know some of you have rushed out tonight for a beverage or two. Cheers!

Take care,

Russell

Aggrieved

Readers, I was not happy the other day. There I was at dear, dear Ebony’s house trying to sleep in the sun but goodness me, the selfishness! Just look how much room Ebony is taking up on the garden seat. I actually had to stamp on her tail (look closely) to make her move over enough for me to lie down. Really, this is unacceptable. Thankfully dear, dear Ebony soon remembered her place and got off the garden seat so I could sprawl across it. Honestly.

It’s been a very busy few weeks, as you can tell from the lack of a blog. So much has happened, I don’t really know where to start. I have emptied lots of bins and strewn recycling across the garden, rolled in something dubious on the back lawn, dragged loads of rubbish under the dining room table (on several occasions) and moulted over everything. The latter can’t be my fault, surely.

On Tuesday this week I came back from dear, dear Ebony’s house to my own home- Friends, there was a window of an hour and a half before anyone else would be in! Now, the bedroom doors were all shut and the bin had been put out – in an unusually good effort of organisation – so I occupied myself by opening a kitchen cupboard and pulling out Tupperware boxes, a roll of kitchen foil and a box of pastry cutters. These made a pleasing clanging noise as they rolled all over the kitchen floor (which was filthy as usual). Then, on the bottom shelf, I found a box containing a large gin glass, miniature Gordon’s pink gin and small bottle of tonic. This was a present that somebody had given She. I dragged it into the lounge and ripped the cardboard off. I couldn’t find a way in to the bottle of gin, but I suspect that’s a good thing.

Anyway, the long and the short of it was that when She came in from work and saw the mess, I was shouted at. That didn’t bother me. What DID bother me, however, was that She decided not to clear up the mess I’d made as She wanted my New Buddy to see it when he popped round for the evening. For goodness’ sake, how petty! “New Buddy needs to see the real Russell blah blah blah, not the sickeningly well-behaved one he knows, blah blah blah, but the idiotic one I’ve had to put up with for years blah, blah,blah.” I think you get the picture. And so it was. New Buddy came round and saw the gin and tonic on the lounge floor and the pastry cutters over the kitchen floor, and had a mildly stern word with me about my behaviour. I refused to speak to him for the rest of the evening and sent him to Coventry.

Prior to all that, I had enjoyed a splendid weekend. On Saturday I went on a bus ride into town – it was the number 65 – and behaved impeccably, sitting nicely under the seat. Until I farted and stunk the bus out. I did this on the number 65 INTO town and on the number 65 coming BACK from town. Readers, everyone has to wear masks so it really isn’t a big deal and I’m sure it didn’t smell as bad as She and New Buddy made out. Then back at New Buddy’s house on the sofa, I lay with my nose towards his feet and my rear end towards his upper body/face. Unfortunately my flatulence continued apace, and wafted directly into the nasal cavities of New Buddy. I couldn’t help it and I do feel it was a little excessive of New Buddy to jump off the sofa and stand up.

Readers, the pubs are open!! Lockdown is nearly over and we can now sit in pub gardens, or at a table outside a cafe – the luxury of not having to perch on walls any more! Needless to say I have been dragged into town on numerous occasions to sit outside cafes or in pub gardens, even though it is barely above freezing and not a pleasant experience. I think some people are a) insane and b) trying to make a point. In addition to this, outdoor sport has re-started and last night saw us back at cricket training with Young Lad. Ah yes, Regular Readers will remember the halcyon years of my blogs from before Coronavirus, where Wednesdays were always on a tight bldy schedule, as She had to get back from work and get Young Lad out to cricket within minutes. The atmosphere here is always a little snappy on a Wednesday night.

We were all so excited to be back at cricket last night. I can’t tell you how much I have missed walking round the boundary for an hour and half every Wednesday night, eating bird poo and sometimes finding a dead bird. Or – and this used to be splendid – going into the clubhouse and hoovering up all the crisps from under the chairs. Alas, last night the clubhouse remained shut due to coronavirus, so I had to content myself with the boundary. I had quite a result, actually, as I found some tiger bread to go with the bird poo.

The excitement of being back at cricket wore off after a little while, due to the sub zero temperature. As there was no way of taking refuge in the clubhouse with merriment and jollity to warm us, we had no choice but to walk repeatedly, and in She’s case, dejectedly, round the boundary or sit on a cold plastic chair to watch the action in the nets. Readers, it was FREEZING. I wanted to go home to my armchair and made this clear.

I think my face shows the level of my misery.

To be fair, Young Lad thoroughly enjoyed his first cricket training session for 18 months, and barely paused for breath the entire time. Young Lad is very good at directing operations and telling everyone what they should be doing – well done, Young Lad. Keep your arm straight when you bowl, though.

Next week there is another Wednesday night cricket training session AND, potentially, a cricket match the night after! I do hope it warms up a bit. And that the bar opens.

Young Lad had a triumph in Food Tech last week, Friends. He had to make dough balls, and She found a BBC Good Food recipe for him and weighed out the ingredients whilst Young Lad watched Top Gear – look, great chefs have a commis chef to do the donkey work – and then Young Lad took the ingredients to school and made EXCELLENT dough balls. They were big, soft, doughy and gorgeous. They were much better than the loaf of bread Young Lad had previously baked in Food Tech, which was something of a brick , and Young Lad has definitely found his stride with smaller packages of dough. Well done, Young Lad.

Lad is away at university – he had taken to popping back rather often but it has been gently suggested to him that he stays put. This may or may not have something to do with him cooking meals at 2.30am when he’s home and getting on people’s nerves. Lad is very busy as he has a lot of Deadlines to meet, and some Important Exams, and don’t forget the poxy laundry facilities which cause so much distress of a week. Poor Lad. His life is very hard at times. His bedroom door is kept shut and I’m not allowed on his bed to scrunch up the duvet. This is ridiculous. There is a perfectly good double bed on which I could be spreading out, and it’s sitting there unused.

Readers, you couldn’t make up the level of incompetence in this house at times. On Monday, She left for work five minutes early and was very smug as She had put Lovelydor’s birthday card through the door and hung up a new hanging basket, all by 7.15am. She had booked a table (outside of course) at Prezzo for Lovelydor, She and Young Lad in the evening to celebrate Lovelydor’s birthday.

Lovelydor was rather bemused by all this as it wasn’t her birthday.

Lovelydor’s birthday was several days later. We have known Lovelydor for over twenty years and therefore known the date of her birthday for over twenty years. Give me strength.

And then there are the items that are mislaid. On a daily basis it will be phone chargers that have vanished, an item of clothing that can’t be tracked down, a piece of paper with a password scribbled on it and – this one is quite bizarre- the metal sink strainer thing. This has disappeared off the face of the earth. How can anyone lose a solid round metal thing with holes in it, from the kitchen sink? But lost it is. How we pray at the temple of Amazon.

On top of this, She felt it would be lovely, as soon as the pub gardens reopened, for New Buddy and New Buddy The Younger to come over for an evening dog walk, so we could walk into town and sit nicely in a pub garden surrounded by laughter and the tinkling of glasses. We started off with a game of ‘Russell fetch the ball’ over the Rec (New Buddy The Younger is much better at this than they are) and then wandered happily into town, where there were bound to be several pubs open – how would we choose which one?

Nowhere was open.

After a very long walk investigating each of the hostelries in the town centre (the only one open sounded very rough and I am a pedigree, after all) we had to walk all the way home to the pub at the top of the road, which doesn’t have a nice garden but did at least have drink and peanuts. It wasn’t quite the bonhomie-filled adventure that had been envisaged, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The Stupid Collared Doves are still endlessly making out on the back fence – really, they are very attached to one another and anyone less cynical might find this rather beautiful. They sit on the fence and one rests his head on the other one’s back – I can’t work out which gender is which – and it would appear they are talking about profound things like the meaning of life. Which of course they aren’t as they are incredibly stupid and do things like fly smack bang into the French windows. They have built a nest in the large conifer next to the French windows so let’s hope they choose the right direction when flying out of the nest.

Readers, I’m exhausted. What with a long, cold evening at cricket last night and daycare at dear Ebony’s every day this week (dear Pippa is away in her camper van) I really am ready for my bed. I’m hoping to be having a trip in a campervan myself soon – in fact a large 2 man sleeping bag was purchased recently for me, for this very reason. I think it was for me. I’m sure it must have been.

Enjoy those freezing cold pub gardens and cafe outside seating Friends, or if you have more sense, curl up in the warm and wait two more weeks for indoor hospitality to open.

See you soon,

Russell

Molton Brown

Readers, I know it isn’t long since my last blog entry but I have had such a busy Easter weekend that I feel obliged to tell you all about it, plus I’ve been pressurised by some quarters to crack on with an update. I really am quite exhausted by all the activity of the last few days but I am nothing if not obedient (these days) and so I will dig deep and fill you in.

It would be rude and ignorant of me to simply write about myself, though, so I will begin by wishing you all a belated Happy Easter, and I do hope you had a lovely time sitting outdoors with your friends and loved ones after all these months of Lockdown. There has been an air of optimism and general bonhomie that even I have sensed.

But now back to me.

On Good Friday we went to visit Nana aged 90 and this was very exciting a) because I could sleep for two hours in the car each way and b) Nana aged 90 isn’t a big fan of mine and it’s always fun to try to ingratiate myself with her. I was very good in the car, and didn’t even complain about Young Lad’s music which played most of the way – it really was shockingly awful gangsta rap type stuff and She kept moaning about all the swear words and tried to put Magic FM on instead. To be honest Magic FM was just as dreary as the gansta rap music and so I just slept throughout. We pulled off at the services right at the end of the journey, where there are nice clean toilets and an M&S food outlet – Young Lad and I stayed in the car whilst She joined the queue to get in, crossing her legs as the queue was quite long and the need for the clean toilet facilities was quite acute. With moments to spare, She made it through the door – I had hoped my Pack Leader might treat me to a nice snack from M&S as Young Lad had been bought a large bag of Maom Joystix sweets for the road trip, and She had a coffee from M&S but of course, nothing was bought for me. It gets worse, Friends, as when we arrived at Nana aged 90’s – knowing full well we would be out for the entire day – it transpired that my Pack Leader had failed to bring any of my dinner with us. What on earth was I going to eat at dinner time? I was aghast – just what level of shoddy care is this? Really, it was very disappointing.

To be fair it was lovely to see Nana aged 90 after all this time. It is nearly six months since we saw her, due to Coronavirus and Lockdown, and I’m sure she was ever so pleased to see me. I ran straight into the kitchen and tried to eat the cat food as usual, but apart from that I was impeccably behaved. Then The Cousins all turned up and we all sat in the garden in warm sunshine, until it was time to go down the road for Fish and Chips. This is a family tradition on Good Friday, and one that I enjoy very much. Everyone ate their fish and chips in the warm sunshine in the garden, and because my Pack Leader had failed to bring any dinner for me, I had no choice but to sit and beg chips from everyone. They all felt very sorry for me, understandably, and so I was in luck on the chip front. Then I went for a lovely walk with The Cousins and two spaniels called Jarvis (he’s a cocker) and Hunter. We all socially distanced very nicely.

I finally had my proper dinner that evening, after the long drive home. Readers, this is not acceptable and I made my feelings clear.

The next day was Saturday and much to my delight, I was put back in the car with the big overnight bag which usually means we’re going to stay at my New Buddy’s house. This was excellent news, as it’s only a short car journey and then I am with people who love and understand me. My New Buddy had been shopping with New Buddy The Younger and they had spent a splendid hour in Pets At Home, buying me all the things I could possibly need and several things I don’t really need but are treats and, let’s face it, I’m worth it. So now I have my own new bed, food and water bowls, poo bags and treats at New Buddy’s house and in all honesty, She would do well to observe the level of attention and care shown to me. New Buddy wouldn’t take me out for the day and forget to take any dinner for me. Oh no, Friends. In fact New Buddy took me to Greggs and bought me my very own sausage roll over the weekend. Can you see the difference in standards of dog management? Yes, so can I.

So as soon as we arrived – well, after I had cocked my leg in several places in the garden and hoovered up the kitchen floor – I was taken for a cracking walk across some fields near the town. There was some attempt at throwing my tennis ball with the pink ball flinger thingy, and after an initial poor show, I did remember that I only get a treat if I bring the tennis ball back. It took a while and She said something like “sheesh it’s like being at work” which I didn’t fully understand, but eventually the penny dropped and I knew what to do. All this chasing a tennis ball around was quite tiring so I was glad when it was deemed coffee time and we trotted to the cafe in town. New Buddy The Younger held my lead most of the time and I liked this, as he doesn’t moan at me to hurry up all the time, like She does.

Now, I want you to see the result of all these long walks and ball chasing. If I may say so myself, I think I am looking magnificent at the moment – people have commented on my waistline in a favourable way and really, I’m in wonderful shape.

She said rather curtly that it’s just a deceptive camera angle, but Friends, have you ever seen me look this lean? I’m in my prime, I feel.

The weekend just got better and better from then – in the afternoon I was put back in the car yet again and driven to visit some friends. They have a large house in the country with dogs and horses and a lot of grounds. The dogs are actually the size of small horses, but we got on very well and I didn’t try to fight them and they didn’t try to mount me, so all was well. The Pack Leaders all sat around outside for nigh on four hours chatting and drinking, and eating cake, so I busied myself wandering around the grounds and finding interesting things to eat in the bushes – more of this in a moment. Occasionally I did bray in my best Beagle bray at the horses in the field as I felt they were about to attack, and they needed to know who was in charge. There were pheasants flying around, owls… you name it. I was bored rigid by all the talking and drinking, but had a lovely time with so many different country smells. Everyone said I’d been very well-behaved.

Unfortunately, Friends, it turned out that one of the things I’d eaten in the bushes was decaying and possibly quite poisonous, as during the night I vomited over my own legs on my new bed. I was too tired to do anything about it, so when Pack Leader and New Buddy finally got up, they were perplexed as to what the greenish stuff over my legs and new bed was. Then I went out in the garden and had a lot of difficulty with my comfort breaks – I produced several very large cow pats of unpleasant loose texture all over the lawn, and had to scoot my bottom along quite a bit. These comfort breaks were a ‘complete nightmare’ to clean up, but it wasn’t really my fault.

As I was covered in my own vomit, I needed a bath. Pack Leader had failed to pack my dog shampoo and as it was Easter Sunday – I do have interesting timing when these things happen – no shops were open. New Buddy and Pack Leader had no choice but to bathe me in She’s last dribble of Molton Brown Davana Blossom shower gel, which is her all-time favourite, very hard to get hold of these days and FAR too expensive to waste on a vomitty dog blah blah blah…. and so it was that I had a Molton Brown £15 a bottle bath. I smell absolutely divine and my coat positively gleams.

The laugh was that after my bath we went to the coast for a lovely long Easter Sunday walk along the beach. Obviously this involved sand and a little mud. That said, the weather was glorious and we sat on a big log thing basking in the sun, all agreeing that life is pretty good. Then we went home and carried on basking in the sun with a few glasses of wine, and life seemed even better.

I was very sad to leave New Buddy’s house and have to come home to my own boring residence. Having had a quick walk in the m0rning – this included the trip to Greggs for a sausage roll for me – I had every intention of sleeping in my armchair for the rest of the day, but no – She’s good friend round the corner said did She fancy a walk in the afternoon sunshine, and so despite the freezing wind I was dragged down to the river for yet another long walk. She’s good friend round the corner was pondering over whether to get a dog, so She said “don’t get a Beagle whatever you do,” which is rude and hurtful.

So what of Lad and Young Lad over Easter weekend? Well, we know that Young Lad came on the road trip to Nana aged 90’s house where his cousins made lots of funny comments, and they all laughed like drains. Lad was unfortunately too busy to attend this function plus of course, the rule of six meant that if Lad had come, someone else wouldn’t have been able to. Lad was very busy in his own rule of six with friends in A Town Far Away. When we returned from the road trip, She and Young Lad spent the evening catching up on Masterchef and there was lots of oohing and ahhing about the very high standard of presentation. It bored me senseless. Who gives a stuff about presentation? Lad came home very late and needed a good lie-in the next day – he seems to need a good lie-in most days – but it is lovely to have him home from university. Even if he does leave glasses and bottles all over the house, the extension lead and Alexa in the bathroom, towels all over the floor and the microwave looking like something has been massacred in it. No,really, it’s lovely to have him home from uni. Really, it is.

Friends I could not believe my ears this morning. She had gone to meet friends for a jolly long walk in some woods, and not taken me for which I was quite thankful as they ended up walking and talking for over two and a half hours! I would not have enjoyed this. So I stayed at home with Lad and Young Lad. Can you believe it – She had booked Young Lad’s Maths tutor for a lesson this morning. It’s the school holidays! What the heck? She said that Year 10 have been on chuffing school holiday for the past chuffing year, and Young Lad was going to have a one hour lesson come hell or high water. Readers I feel this is nigh on neglectful of Young Lad’s needs and rights. Poor Young Lad. This meant a whole hour not spent on the Xbox, which is unacceptable. The shame of it.

Lad is having some trouble with his appetite at the moment. She went to SparksmeansMarks the other day and bought a whole load of what She thought Lad would like – the prodigal son home from uni and all that nonsense. A fortune was spent on chicken goujons, mac & cheese oven bites, spicy chorizo filled pasta parcels…… Lad has not enjoyed any of these things. The only thing Lad enjoyed was the Four Cheese Ravioli ready meal, which exploded all over the microwave (see earlier comment) and has yet to be cleaned up. I don’t know what’s wrong with Lad. I would have enjoyed the mac and cheese bites, the chicken goujons, ths spicy chorizo pasta parcels …. I would have LOVED them, Readers. She is cross with Lad and says She doesn’t know why She bothers.

I had to laugh the other day, Friends. On Thursday night She spent ages in the kitchen making mini bitesize cheesecakes to take to Nana aged 90’s on Friday. These were put in the freezer overnight to harden properly. It turns out that my dinner wasn’t the only thing She forgot to take to Nana aged 90’s…. there is still a tray of bitesize cheesecakes in the freezer. Bitesize, I ask you. What’s the point?

As you can see I have had a very busy few days, and what with another walk into town with New Buddy The Younger holding my lead and yet another wait outside Costalotta, I am exhausted again tonight. But really, I am having a splendid life at the moment and am the happiest I’ve been for a long time. You wouldn’t know it as I still look suicidal in my resting face moments, but I’m very happy. And slim. Ish.

I hope you had an equally lovely weekend, Readers, and don’t forget, the pubs open outdoors next Monday. Happy days.

See you soon,

Russell

Commands

Readers, it’s been ages since my last blog and I do apologise but I have been very busy. Today is a beautiful, warm day and one could even think it is mid summer instead of the end of March – how I would have loved to lie on the garden sofa all day. But no – it is the first day of the school holidays and it was deemed important to go for a Very Long Walk with She’s good friend Madame this morning. Regular Readers will know that walks with Madame involve a fast pace, huge mileage and impressive amount of talking which stops only while coffee is drunk and then resumes. Frankly I was not really up for this long walk but was given no say in the matter.

It didn’t help that Madame and She were trying to ‘find the way’ cross country to a nice pub/coffee shop in a village a few miles away. It goes without saying that a wrong turn was made on the outward trip, which added a good twenty minutes to the whole affair and necessitated crawling under barbed wire in a most undignified way to get back on track. Honestly. To be fair it was a lovely walk, and we saw so much wildlife – pheasants, kites, giant hares the size of dogs and – really this was too exciting – a muntjac deer. Had I been off the lead I would have had that muntjac deer for brunch as I am a Hunting Dog and whilst my track record might not be strong, one day I will surprise everyone. As it was I was on the lead and so the muntjac lived to see another day.

Being dragged through a field full of massive hare ‘forms’ (they don’t burrow, Readers, I have looked this up) and not being allowed to stick my head in the holes was akin to going to Greggs and not having a sausage roll. It was torture. But due to the slight detour off the public footpath, we were now late for meeting a friend at the coffee shop in the village several miles away and so there was no time for me to hunt hares any more than chasing muntjac. Indeed, She and Madame spotted some other walkers who were not consulting Google maps or waving vaguely in different directions to try and work out where we were, so a decision was made to follow the other walkers who were straight-backed, walked with purpose and had no need of mobile phones for directions. They had simply stuck to the public footpath.

This tactic worked and we eventually made it to the coffee shop where I was allowed some water, and then sat nicely in the nearby park while She, Madame and their friend drank copious amounts of coffee. And talked. Well, I sat nicely until a lady appeared nearby with a freshly baked large sausage roll from the coffee shop (I must say they have an excellent pastry chef there), and from then on I whined and barked. Eventually the lady gave in and handed me some sausage from her expensive hand-made artisan sausage roll. This isn’t the first time this has happened recently, Friends – more of that later.

Then we walked back from the coffee shop/pub in the village several miles away (having booked a table outdoors for the minute Lockdown lifts in a couple of weeks), and you won’t be surprised to know that by sticking to the public footpath we got home in under an hour. We also didn’t have to climb over a stile this time, as we happened to notice there was a big gap in the hedge right next to it. You couldn’t make it up.

All in all I was made to walk 10km this morning, Friends, which is a very long way for a dog of my age. I have spent the rest of the day upside down on the garden sofa, exhausted.

Let’s go back to the piece of sausage I was given. At the weekend I went for a sleepover again at my New Buddy’s house and in the morning we went for an essential visit to the town centre to buy – actually I can’t remember what the essential item was this time but never mind. We had a lovely walk round the town centre and She went into Costalotta for refreshments, so my New Buddy and I sat down in the square. What do you know; a man came along with a hot dog that he had just bought for his lunch, and when he saw me eyeing up his hot dog, this very nice member of society walked over and gave me some of the sausage.

It seems I am a very appealing dog and complete strangers love me, unlike my own Pack Leader who is endlessly cross with me.

While I was at my New Buddy’s house at the weekend I went to visit some people who had never met me before, and I was impeccably behaved. I rolled around on my back and waved my paws in the air, and there was no sign of the bad-tempered greedy git I am sometimes accused of being. Readers, I was utterly beguiling. Then New Buddy came to my house for the rest of the weekend and I spent a lot of time gazing adoringly at him. It was a lovely weekend. She still managed to moan at me, of course, though when it was discovered I had dragged a bin liner from the kitchen bin under the dining room table and emptied it all over the carpet. I just gazed at New Buddy and ignored the complaints while my Pack Leader lay under the table clearing it all up. I have been very good on my training regime with New Buddy and follow his commands to the letter, most of the time, so long as he has a treat ready. New Buddy still thinks he is winning on this, and I’m still letting him believe it.

The only other things I have done recently that could possibly be labelled as a tadge cheeky was when I was at dear, dear Ebony’s house for daycare last Friday. I stayed a little later in the afternoon than usual, so Ebony’s Pack Leader – who is very kind – decided to feed me as she was giving dear Ebony and her other dog Pippa their dinners. First of all she tried to put Ebony’s dinner on the floor so I grabbed a mouthful of that, and then she tried to put Pippa’s dinner on the floor so I grabbed a mouthful of that, too. What I didn’t know is that Pippa – I shall call her Older Pippa, so as not to confuse her with my other friend dear, dear Pippa – has medicine in her dinners to help with her arthritis etc, so I probably inadvertently swallowed some painkillers too. This didn’t bother me. Ebony’s Pack Leader was a little aghast at my snatching of dinners that didn’t belong to me and I feel my manners may have let me down a little on this occasion.

Anyway, Readers, enough of me. I hope you are sitting down as I am about to tell you that Young Lad has just completed ten successive days in the school building. Yes indeed, Year 10 have actually been on site for two whole school weeks. This is quite a feat and needed celebrating with a trip to the Co-op for sweets on the way home last week. Poor Young Lad is exhausted as you can imagine, so thank goodness they now have two weeks off for Easter.

Now you, and I, would be expecting Young Lad to have spent the first day of the Easter holidays on the Xbox all day. Imagine everyone’s surprise, then when he announced he was Going Out by mid-morning! Not only that, Friends, but Young Lad has only just returned home nearly seven hours later!!! Young Lad has been down at the river with his friends, and actually IN the river – larking around and doing the things that teenage boys will do. All these hours in the fresh air – I can’t imagine what has come over him. Young Lad has a sunburned neck and rather a lot more freckles than he started off with today but what tremendous fun he has had. And there was no need for She to snap “for heavens’ sake!” at him when it was discovered he had leant out pairs of swim shorts to his friends and they are all now in the kitchen ready for washing.

Readers in my last blog I mentioned the stupid pigeons that keep making love loudly on the garden fence. The other day there was a massive BANG on the French windows, and one of the stupid pigeons had flown straight into it at speed. There on the ground lay the stupid pigeon, with its head all bent round and it looked dead. Hurrah, I thought. At least it would have looked dead if its eyes hadn’t kept blinking. Blow me down with a stupid pigeon’s feather, after an eternity the ridiculous bird staggered to its feet, turned its neck back the right way and flew off. Unbelievable. Of course there is still a huge pigeon-shaped mark on the French windows as She hasn’t bothered to clean it. Standards are as low as ever at my house.

Although, to be fair, there has been some attempt at organisation since She was introduced to Command Strips. For Readers not familiar with these, they are double sided velcro strip things that you can use for fixing a myriad of things to walls – they also come in handy hook forms, all sorts. So now we have lots of Command Strips and hooks all over the shop to hold things up – sadly a schoolboy error was made by She, when these sticky-backed handy hooks were stuck on the kitchen tiles behind the hob. She had this marvellous idea of hanging all the kitchen utensils there, so the kitchen looks a little more Masterchef and a little less Slum. Alas, the steam from anything cooking on the hob does not bode well for sticky backed anything, and so the soup ladle or potato masher fall off with a loud thunk whenever anything is being cooked. Oh dear.

Before I finish tonight, Readers, I must give a shout out to Nana aged 89 who is now Nana aged 90. Last week saw her birthday, and whilst none of us could go to see her because of Lockdown, Lad did manage to get out of bed before late afternoon at university and go to visit. Well done, Lad. Nana aged 90 had a lovely day, considering we are in Lockdown, with lots of phone calls, several visitors on the front steps at different times, and about three hundred bouquets of flowers for which Nana aged 90 doesn’t have enough vases. I am going to visit Nana aged 90 later this week, on Good Friday, as we are allowed out for the first stage of Lockdown Lifting. Nana aged 90 will be very pleased about this as she likes me such a lot. I am hoping to see Lad, too, but Lad is very busy at university and it’s a struggle for him to fit everything in. Snippy comments about going to bed earlier, drinking less alcohol and getting up earlier show a distinct lack of understanding and also memory loss from one’s own time at university.

Friends it is going to be a beautiful warm day again tomorrow – do enjoy our new freedom to meet each other in groups of six outside. Really, make the most of it as wintry showers are forecast for the weekend.

Stay safe, see you soon.

Russell

Ahoy There

Here I am, Readers, doing my best Pirate or Sheik impression on the garden sofa in the sunshine. It was another beautiful day and She had put the cushions and blanket on the sofa so we could all sit down – however I soon kicked the blanket out the way and put muddy paws all over the clean cushions underneath. I preferred the blanket being over my head rather than under my filthy feet, as I made clear. Needless to say there were snorts of laughter when the blanket became stuck at this rather jaunty angle on me, but I just ignored them.

Friends, it has been a trying few weeks. I have occupied myself at times by distributing the recycling round the garden and by adding to the collection of cat bowls that are in the bushes. (There are many, many cat bowls in the flower beds – it’s quite amazing that we had that many in the first place. Gingercat is the only cat, after all.) Since the lawn has had its first cut of the year, the garden is looking slightly better and I find it quite pleasant to sit on the garden sofa and look around my domain. The fly in the ointment to this peaceful scenario, however, is the ridiculous fat pigeon that lands on the fence very heavily and clumsily with a dreadful crashing sound each time, making me jump. It is nigh on impossible to sleep with this stupid bird making a loud entrance every few minutes. I would dearly love to eat the bldy thing.

Talking of pigeons, I presume it is something to do with the time of year but I am rather put out by the amount of amorous activity in my back garden at the moment. The Clueless Collared Doves are forever strutting up and down the fence and leaping on each other – it looks most uncomfortable for the one underneath that is pinned against the wood – and really I feel this is too much. There must be more private places in which they could engage their love-making and I certainly don’t wish to see it every time I pop out for a comfort break. Honestly.

So, back to the trying few weeks. Ever since the incident a few weeks ago where I may have made an error of judgement and bit my Pack Leader when She tried to put my muzzle on me, I have been labelled as a Bad Dog whose Behaviour and Attitude need sorting out. Last week She took me to the Evil Vet for ‘a little chat’ which turned into twenty minutes of telling the Evil Vet that I Can’t Be Trusted and what should we do? The Evil Vet has known me a long time, Readers, and said that I am a complex dog, who tends to overthink things. I know! I was dead chuffed by this! It turns out that the Evil Vet is not so bad after all and knows a thing or two. Then the Evil Vet said she would take me inside and check me over to make sure there was no physiological cause for my bad temper, – Friends, I let her put a muzzle on me without a murmur, and then let her prod me all over without so much as a grumble. This included looking in my ears and Regular Readers know how much I hate that!

I was taken back out to Pack Leader with a smug look on my face, and Pack Leader was told that I had been totally compliant and no problem at all. The Evil Vet suggested there was probably a psychological reason behind my behaviour what with lockdown, life changing and the shifts in my daily universe, so recommended a Dog Behaviourist for advice. Pack Leader is thinking about this and checking whether the Pet Insurance covers it. If it doesn’t, Friends, you and I know quite well that I won’t be going to the Dog Behaviourist.

In the meantime, my New Buddy has been to visit me loads and he has been reading up on Beagles and their issues. Thus I am under some sort of training regime, about which I’m pretty happy as it means I get treats, so long as I let him think he’s winning occasionally. I can do all sorts of things now, Friends! I can sit and wait when food is put on the floor and only grab it when someone says ‘good boy’. Sometimes it takes a few attempts but a little persistence is all that’s needed. At the weekend, I even lay down when told to – we’re still working on this one, together with ‘roll over’ but it’s tremendous fun and does pass the time. AND – you simply won’t believe this one – I am now bringing the tennis ball BACK when someone throws it for me!! I know!! For years I have happily run in the opposite direction and dropped the ball in long grass so that it takes half an hour and a lot of moaning to find it again, but no more!! So long as my New Buddy or Pack Leader have a treat or two, I will willingly gallop towards them with the ball rather than a mile in the wrong direction. I am a New Dog, Friends. How long will it last, I hear you ask.…. I will keep you posted.

Last weekend we had a splendid if rather long walk, which took us first into town to support the local coffee shop industry in these difficult times, and then all the way out to PETSrVETSrTOYSruS or whatever it’s called. I haven’t been in there for a very long time, and although it was quite annoying having to queue outside for ages due to Covid restrictions, I stood nicely waiting my turn. Once inside I was very excited – we wandered through the cat food section first and I was rather taken by some of the packets – but then we ended up in Bones, where my New Buddy bought me a large roasted knuckle bone. She said, rather snippily, that She only ever buys me the mini ones and actually the last one I had was probably a year ago, but She was over-ruled and a Large Roasted Knuckle Bone was all mine.

Back at home I spent the rest of the afternoon chewing/gnawing/grating at the bone. Then I spent the next few evenings making atrocious smells as this is what happens when you take in a lot of air gnawing a bone for hours. It was fun.

I had also been bought some charcoal biscuits at PetsRVetsRToysRus or whatever it’s called, which are meant to help with bad wind. They don’t. My New Buddy also bought me breath freshening chews as he said my breath stinks. This is the sign of a true friend, Readers, and I feel very loved.

In other news, Young Lad has had a terrible shock to the system. Yes indeed, Young Lad has been in school for two whole days! School pupils all over the country returned to school yesterday, and while we remain doubtful that Year 10 will stay in for more than three days, so far so good. Young Lad needed new school trousers as he has grown in the many months since he last wore them, and probably needed a map to find his way round the school site again as it so long since he last had to navigate the Science block and so on.

In an ironic and repetitive twist of bad organisation, Young Lad’s school bag was dusted off on Sunday night, only to find that I had once again chewed through the straps. This has happened on more than one previous occasion, as Regular Readers will know, and it beggars belief that my family still fail to check the state of his bag earlier than the night before school returns. So it was that She had to get the poxy sewing kit out late on Sunday evening and try to sew the bldy straps back on – but Friends I had made such a good job of the chewing that there wasn’t enough material left to sew effectively and although She thought She had done a good job, Young Lad said the bag broke by the end of Tutor Time on the first morning.

Young Lad has now been bought a new school rucksack, which will be the seventy fifth black Nike rucksack he has had in the four years he has been at secondary school.

Friends I hear your concern about Lad – we hear so little of him, I hear you cry. Worry not. Lad has just phoned for a chat (he had been ordered to) and as well as discussing how cheap Aldi steaks are, Lad has given She some important dates for the summer. These include two festivals and a holiday to a Greek island, which I think will be akin to his holidays in Benidorm and Zante over the last couple of years. Lad is under the illusion that Life will be Back To Normal in the summer and such things as sunny holidays with fellow Lads will be possible.

I know, Friends. Words failed my Pack Leader too.

Goodness look at the time – Masterchef is on soon and I do love listening in to all that talk of Hasselback potatoes and chocolate fondant.

Stay safe, Friends, and watch out for those frisky pigeons.

See you soon,
Russell

Birthday Boy

Here I am, Readers, looking very handsome and distinguished this week. The eagle-eyed amongst you might recognise the blanket as it is the one that covers the garden sofa – yes indeed, the weather turned a little more clement recently and Pack Leader put the sofa cushions back on, ready to sit down with a cup of tea and a good book for ten minutes. As She dashed back to the kitchen to fetch her mug, I took over the garden sofa as I felt sure the cushions and blanket had been put on for my benefit. Apparently this wasn’t the case and I was shouted at for putting mud all over the clean blanket and spoiling the first garden sit down of the year.

You can see by my regal expression that I was actually waiting for some sort of table service but of course that never happened.

Friends, it has been a very busy couple of weeks and I am quite worn out by all the goings on. There have been a ridiculous number of walks as the last week has been ‘half term’ and it was felt that stamping through miles of muddy countryside would be a good antidote to the weeks of sitting in front of a laptop day in, day out. I beg to differ on this. Last weekend I was dragged out for walks into town, stopping for coffee of course, and then a ‘scenic’ route back home again to make the walk as long as possible. Now I don’t like to complain, but the scenic route back involved walking uphill a little, and this was hard-going.

Undaunted, the following day She arranged with her good friend Madame to meet for exercise (collecting coffee on the way, naturally) and we set off for another walk. Now Madame is known for her epic walks, and I knew this was likely to be gruelling, but even I wasn’t expecting nigh on 8km through fields, woods and deep mud. Readers, I could barely stagger back up the road. What I find very intriguing is that Madame and She manage to talk incessantly and giggle throughout these fast-paced marches, hardly pausing for breath. It beggars belief.

That was Monday, Friends, and the following morning She decided to look up my paperwork to see how old I was. Call me old-fashioned but wouldn’t a responsible dog owner know how old their pet is? Such is the level of care here. Anyway, you could have knocked me down with a feather as it turned out that Tuesday was in fact my birthday! Yes! What a stroke of luck! Readers, I was nine years old last Tuesday – which in human terms is 63 – and that puts into perspective the 8km hike through the fields the day before. Cruel, heartless and unnecessary. At least you would think it would put things into perspective.

As it happened, I was in for a treat on my birthday – a sleepover at my New Buddy’s house! She didn’t want to take me and grumbled that I would be a pain in the backside, run round looking in all the rooms, keep wanting to go out in the garden and insist on sleeping on the bed with She. It’s good to know your loved ones hold you in such high esteem. Anyway after some persuasion I was allowed to go to New Buddy’s house, taking my bed, clean sheets and towels and food supplies with me. And poo bags.

Friends, I was impeccably behaved. I only sniffed around the kitchen briefly looking for crumbs ( New Buddy had been cleaning so that was disappointing), but other than that I was the Model Guest. I climbed straight onto the sofa allocated to me, put my head awkwardly behind a sheet and went to sleep. I was SO well -behaved. I didn’t even need a comfort break for most of the day – though I did cock my leg against an interesting stick in the garden a few times – but no other motions were needed until the following morning. I did very well.

And as for being a pain at night and wanting to sleep on the bed – well, how wrong can a cynical Pack Leader be. I slept in my bed on the landing all night long without the slightest fuss. The nerve of some people.

I had a simply lovely time at my birthday sleepover, and was treated with far more kindness and respect than I get at home. And far more treats. I would love to go back again at some point as I really did form quite an attachment with the stick in the garden. So much so, that my New Buddy has thoughtfully placed a stick in the middle of my lawn at home here, so that I can cock my leg against it.

We went for a walk on a big field that contains evidence of a Roman settlement – it seems there was once a large amphitheatre and temple where we dared to tread – but frankly this all bored me rigid and I was just glad it was less than 8km all the way round the field. The next day, Friends, as if things couldn’t get any more exciting, I had my first ever ride in a camper van to go for a walk at a nearby coastal area. This was so much fun, and much more up my street as I could lay across the bench/bed thing in the camper van and snooze. Plus the walk took us past a coffee shop that made huge and outstanding sausage rolls, and the smell was divine. Obviously I wasn’t allowed to eat one but a dog can dream.

What a week! Add to that the fact that I have rolled in fox poo, got very muddy AND rolled in something decaying in the garden, so in the space of a week I have had two baths and a shower. I know my dear friend Pippa has rolled in fox poo this week too, and she is a long-haired golden retriever so I’ll let you do the visualising of that, and Loadsakids’ spaniel has also rolled in some fresh stuff, this very morning.

Pack Leader has been cross about all the baths and showering, as there has to be a deep disinfecting clean of the bathroom after each one of these. She says She has better things to do than be endlessly scrubbing with the Viakal, but if I’m honest I don’t know what these better things are.

So that was my week. Young Lad has been on half term so there has been some respite from Year 10 Home Learning (hooray scream millions of anguished parents). Instead, Young Lad has had a nice lie-in each day, wandering around in his pyjamas until lunchtime and doing very little other than going on the Xbox. She did insist he made a proper loaf of bread for GCSE Food Technology, as She felt the naan breads Young Lad had made the previous week were a bit of a cop out and didn’t involve much skill. So poor Young Lad had to come off the Xbox to mix and knead dough by hand – in this day and age, for goodness sake? – as it is Important To Know The Basic Skills. Young Lad found kneading the dough very tiring and there was an argument over whether he had done the full ten minutes of kneading or, in fact, three. Poor Young Lad, too much is expected of him. Anyway, the bread was like a brick and totally solid so really that settled the was it a full ten minutes of kneading? argument. Young Lad has now learned the hard way that no pain, no gain. I don’t think Young Lad cared very much as he was busy downloading a new game on the Xbox.

Young Lad is really looking forward to Year 10 Online Learning starting again on Monday morning – at least I think that’s what Young Lad said.

Lad – and I know some of you have been worrying about him – is back at university so that he can concentrate on his studies and finally get to grips with the crappy campus tumble dryers. It seems that University Laundry Facilities are still not up to Lad’s high standards and he finds this vexing. As the gyms and sporting amenities on site are closed due to coronavirus, Lad has had no choice but to set up all his weights and gym stuff in the shared kitchen area. I should imagine this has made Lad very popular, particularly at meal cooking times. There is no pain like catching your ankle on a large dumbell – other than treading barefoot on Lego.

She moaned at Lad a bit today and said he needs to make more effort to join in the weekly family Zoom quiz (more shouting and swearing last week), but Lad says he is too busy. She snorts derisively at this idea and says she does remember university life and it’s hardly a ten hour day at the office, but Lad is not to be moved on this and says he simply doesn’t have time between studying, sleeping, using the Crap Laundry Facilities, working out in the kitchen and cooking his dinners. Today for example, he was also having to fit in a trip to Aldi! Poor Lad. I miss Lad and feel he is very misunderstood, much like myself.

Well, Friends, Young Lad’s dinner is nearly ready – Young’s Cod in batter and oven chips, haute cuisine as ever in my house – so I will have to finish here. We are, of course, all eagerly waiting the announcement on Monday afternoon from Boris Johnson to see when schools might re-open and then, importantly, hairdressers. She says if Year 10 don’t go back to school on March 8th, things could get ugly round here. There is some doubt as to whether Young Lad’s uniform still fits as it is nearly four months since he last wore it.

Stay safe Readers – enjoy the sun when it comes out, notice the bulbs peeping through and just imagine that life might be a bit more exciting before too long. There’s only so much excitement I can take, frankly.

Golly I’m tired.

See you soon,

Russell

Once Bitten….

Cartoon Illustration of Cute Sad Dog or Puppy

It’s been quite a week, Readers. Various things have happened and they weren’t all my fault. Some of them might have been a brief error of judgement on my part but then don’t we all have those? I will come on to this later.

I was originally going to call this blog entry “Savoy There” due to the amount of fuss that was made when I chewed up a savoy cabbage over the lounge floor. Regular Readers will know that I’ve had trouble with my anal glands lately and I thought some roughage would be a very good idea – in fact I was expecting praise for this healthy and sensible decision. But no. I couldn’t quite consume the whole savoy cabbage – try eating one raw and you’ll see what I mean – so the extra tough bits I had to spit out over the carpet. When She came in from work I was shouted at and told to get in my bed, as I had made such a ‘mess’ – for heaven’s sake it was one small pile of leaves – and it’s not my fault that She had borrowed the Carpet Washer Thing from work the previous weekend and shampooed the carpets. The thing is, Friends, that nobody in my house eats savoy cabbage and it had been purchased on a pure whim, so really I did them a favour by not letting it go to waste. This was totally unappreciated as usual.

Last weekend, Readers, was unusual. I have been dragged for an awful lot of extra walks during Lockdown as you know, including several into town so that we can combine exercise with supporting local takeaway coffee shops. This is important for the economy. Then I am dragged up through the flooded fields as well and it really is too much. Last Sunday we started off on our usual walk into town, which was quite pleasant as it was a beautiful day, stopped for coffee and then a rash decision was made to walk home a ‘more scenic’ way. Two hours later, Friends, I crawled over the doorstep barely able to walk – there hadn’t been a flooded field in sight (I’m now appreciating the soft terrain these provide) and instead the entire two hours had been walked on pavement or paths. No amount of telling me that I’d had a good pedicure and how nice my claws now looked made up for the sheer exhaustion of pounding pavements for so long. Quite how this counted as an essential journey I have no idea, but what I do know is that I slept solidly in my chair all afternoon and hardly even looked up when roast chicken Sunday lunch was served.

And so we come to Tuesday last week. She came in from a long day at work in a foul mood as the car had failed its MOT, whatever that is , and was going to cost a ‘lot of bldy money’ to put right. The garage had given She a courtesy car so that She didn’t have to spend the night at work, but the way things turned out She might wish that She had. Anyway, the courtesy car was a ‘bldy nightmare’ to drive as first gear was nowhere to be found or some such drama, and the mood was tense. Add to this the fact that the washing machine has started leaking due to the seal coming off the metal circle (I suspect this has been caused by Lad’s huge designer trainers going round on spin cycle ) and you can see how things were. Regular Readers will know the never-ending trauma of White Goods malfunctioning in this house.

So the evening didn’t start well. Things did cheer up considerably thanks to dinner and my New Buddy coming to visit, but then events took a Serious Turn For The Worse. My ears have been sore and itchy again lately, as I have yet another ear infection – it’s either that or my backside every week, they take it in turns – and I sat on the sofa clawing at them violently. She found this irritating as it interfered with peaceful TV watching after a VERY vexing day, but thankfully my New Buddy is far more sympathetic and said ‘poor Russell.

Now, Readers, you know that I simply will not tolerate anyone putting drops in my ears, eyes or anywhere else. Having learned from experience, She gave my ears a half-hearted wipe with the ear drops on a cotton pad, but this is simply not sufficient to reach a deep-rooted infection. And so She made an ill-judged move to fetch my muzzle and force it over my head. Look, my ears were hurting. She gave me a chewy treat to try and placate me first, which simply over-excited me. Then a Hannibal Lecter type huge black rubber muzzle was dragged over my face and poked me in the eye. I did what any self-respecting dog would have done, Readers – I made my feelings clear. With my teeth.

It was a very short snap and I didn’t hang on or anything, but I managed to sink my teeth in very deeply to a fleshy part of She’s hand. I knew immediately that I had done a bad thing and ran to my armchair where I looked ashamed of myself for the next two days. But dear Lord, Readers, the drama that ensued.

You know how we do like a medical crisis in my house. Well, blood poured from the puncture wounds (all over the lounge carpet which as we all know has been recently shampooed) and She made a dash for the kitchen sink to bleed into. Once there shock took over and without being ably propped up by my New Buddy, She would have ended up on the kitchen floor which was as filthy as ever and not a good surface for Open Wounds. Readers, I stayed in my chair and listened to all the fussing and snivelling; thank God for my New Buddy who stays calm in a crisis and is also an excellent first aider – really my New Buddy is a dab hand with a steri strip or ten – and to be fair I think that being bitten by me has highlighted the fact that we don’t have a first aid kit in this house. What sort of parenting is that?

In all honesty, once the bleeding had stopped I think the crying could have ceased as well but no, that kept up all evening. She and my New Buddy gave me lots of very stern looks and nobody spoke to me for the rest of the evening – neither was I allowed to sleep on She’s bed for the next two nights. I was relegated to Young Lad’s room.

It’s not easy for me to admit any imperfections in my nature or behaviour, but I will hold my paws up to this one. It was a nasty bite and my Pack Leader didn’t really deserve it as She was trying to help me.

Obviously now there have been several days of milking this injury for all it’s worth and needing lots of ‘help’ with things. I am hoping that She and my New Buddy will have forgiven me before too long as I can’t really remember what I did wrong now. There is some talk of ‘training’ but I will ignore this.

Young Lad had Food Tech last week Readers, but of course he is doing Home Learning due to Lockdown so the Food Tech Practical had to be done at home again. Imagine She’s joy when it turned out to be home-made pasta. Thus it was that after a long day at work, eggs and special expensive flour were beaten together and rolled out as thinly as possible to make tagliatelle. In fact they weren’t rolled out anywhere near thinly enough and ended up slow-worm thickness rather than ribbons. It wasn’t the best in all honesty.

Lad continues to study hard and send irrelevant text messages to She at work. This is rather endearing I would think. There is now the excitement of a family quiz over Zoom once a week which involves quite a lot of shrieking and arguing over whether fig rolls count as biscuits. Don’t ask.

There is also now the bi-weekly entertainment of She taking a Covid test at home – Young Lad and I are a little fed up with all the gagging noises and retching and are wondering if swabbing can be done with less exhibitionism.

Friends, snow is forecast for tomorrow. A lot. This will give us all something to talk about other than coronavirus and Lockdown and should cheer everyone up immensely.

Take care, Friends,

Russell

Stranded

Now Readers, you may well be thinking that this is a beautiful, nay idyllic, scene in our wondrous countryside but shortly after this photo was taken, a Terrible Event occurred. You can easily see that the river has burst its banks yet again and the path and fields where I usually have my walk were submerged. The bridge over the river was completely under water too. It’s not the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last.

It also wasn’t the first time that my Pack Leader decided to ‘risk it’ and try to walk over the bridge thus making me walk over the submerged bridge too. You may remember that we tried this over Christmas when it flooded, and when we turned back someone shouted “chicken” at us which wasn’t really a gesture of goodwill. Undaunted, Pack Leader decided this week that it didn’t look “too deep” and was quite set on going up into Top Field, Top Top Field and maybe even the woods and so we had to cross the bridge.

I went first, Friends, as I am gallant and adventurous. I waded through the water on the first part of the bridge, with She just behind me. She was busy checking how far up her wellington boots the water came, and trying to gauge whether it was going to get much deeper in the middle of the bridge (it was). So wrapped up in her own safety was She that She failed to notice I was stuck. Readers I had reached a depth of water with which I was not comfortable – let’s say it was halfway up my side and I’m not a very tall dog. It was perfectly obvious to me that if I took one more step towards the deep part, I would drown. And so I did the only sensible thing, which was to climb onto the bank at the side of the bridge and stand there shivering.

Of course, my Pack Leader took no notice of me as She was still estimating how much further up her welly boots she could afford the water to go.

Although I was now safely on dry land, Friends, I was stranded. The only choice was to go back through the deep water the way I’d come, or to carry on into the even deeper part and certain death. I didn’t know what to do, so stood there trembling with cold and a bit of fear, weighing up my options. Neither of them appealed. You would think at this point that any loving Pack Leader would forget about their wellington boots and rush to my rescue, but all She did was screech “Russell, COME BACK HERE YOU STUPID DOG” which wasn’t the nurturing I needed. I refused to respond to this rudeness, so after much more shouting and huffing, She took a few more steps through the deep water – precariously close to the top of the wellington boots now – towards me. I still couldn’t move, so frozen with fear and indecision was I, so simply stood there whimpering and looking as sad as I possibly could.

She had to reach her arm as far as possible towards me, and just managed to grab my collar whilst hissing ‘for God’s sake, Russell.” Readers, I was then virtually lifted into the air by my collar and dragged back along the bridge, half in the deep water.

I can tell you that I was very glad to be back on terra firma, and was mighty glad to get home and into my armchair for the rest of the day. The trauma!

Of course, the trauma hasn’t stopped there this week. You will remember from my last blog that my anal glands have been playing up a little, and that some DIY anal gland expressing had been tried at home, using a rubber glove, towel, kitchen paper and my muzzle. Readers it was unlikely that this was going to be a long-term solution and so I was dragged off to the Evil Vet the other night – 7pm if you will! This is far too late at night for such things. Due to Covid restrictions nobody is allowed in the building at the Evil Vet’s and so there I was in the dark and cold, standing outside the Evil Vet’s in the drizzle, shivering. After what seemed an eternity, an extremely young lady in a white coat who I’m quite sure wasn’t old enough to be a proper Evil Vet, came and tried to lead me into the surgery – well! I wasn’t having that. I pulled in the opposite direction, trying desperately to get back to the safety of my beloved Pack Leader – who was busy looking at her phone – but with one mighty tug, the young Evil Vet had me inside the building. What happened next doesn’t bear thinking about and would make your eyes water, so I won’t go into details, but just know that it hurt. A lot. I cried.

I know it’s for my own good. I know my anal glands will feel (and smell) better the next day. But I don’t like it!

In other news, Young Lad is continuing his quest to never set foot in a school again in his entire life and has been doing his online learning each day. The thing is, Young Lad is here on his own all day with just myself and Gingercat, so we are the only ones who know what Young Lad does or doesn’t do all day. Readers there is a saying. What goes on tour stays on tour. Gingercat and I are saying nuffing.

That said, Young Lad DID eventually make his meringues and lemon curd, and they were jolly good. The meringues were just the right amount of crispy yet chewy and the lemon curd was delicious. We didn’t have a bain marie to use, so Young Lad had to make do with a small saucepan and a bowl balanced on top of it. I’m sure this is not how Jamie Oliver started and it might be nice if Young Lad was provided with the proper equipment. To Young Lad’s disgust, he then had to answer lots of questions about the uses of eggs in cooking which, I quite agree, is boring and pointless and rather takes the joy out of the exercise.

Because of Lockdown Young Lad has not seen any of his friends for several months now, so She allows him on the Xbox in the evenings so that he can play games online with his chums, shout, argue, fall out over Fifa 21 and the such like. It also means She gets Netflix all to herself. This benefits me too as there is more room on the sofa for me, and I do like to spread out.

And what of Lad, I hear you cry – well fear not, Lad is yet again working very hard for exams. Actually his exams were last week so this week he is working very hard trying to recover from exams. Life is very vexing at times for Lad, and She has received several text messages while at work this week such as “what’s our BT Sport login” and “how do you handwash a designer t shirt.” Poor Lad, he has an awful lot on his mind.

Readers it is nearly Friday -oh thank God!! someone not a million miles away from me is shouting – and the weekend will soon be upon us. I know for a fact that I will be dragged down to the river to see how much worse the flooding is – yes really – and there will be long, muddy walks. I had a very muddy one today with my dear friend Ebony and even had to be hosed down in the garden when we returned – I ‘m not really used to being treated like this, but Ebony’s Pack Leader is very kind and it would have been churlish of me to say anything. Tomorrow I’m seeing dear, dear Pippa so who knows what might happen. What I do know is that Gordon will be popping round tomorrow night with a clink ad a fizz, as Gordon is needed more than ever these days.

Stay safe in Lockdown Friends, and look after yourselves.

See you soon,

Russell