Leisure Activities

ripped coat  coat 2

Readers, in these difficult times of Lockdown I am doing my best to come up with ideas for you all, to keep you occupied.  There is only so much reading, cleaning out of cupboards and baking that you can all do and I’m sure you get bored from time to time.

Today I was bored.  I haven’t been left alone in the house for MONTHS due to Lockdown as Lad and Young Lad are always here.  So imagine my delight when they and She popped down the road to visit (from a distance) Lovelydor whose birthday it was.  Oh, they shut the kitchen door and put the bathroom bin in the bath, of course they did – but I’d already got something else in mind.  Now, Friends, due to the POURING rain today, they were only gone for five minutes as you can’t stand 2 metres away on the pavement saying Happy Birthday for very long, if it’s lashing down.  Five minutes was more than enough.  The minutes the seat belts were fastened in the car, I raced upstairs to She’s bedroom where I flung open the wardrobe door and pulled out the Dog-Walking Coat.  I was sure, Readers, sure that there were still some treats in the pocket from the last time it was worn on a dog walk, and so I ripped through the pockets trying to find them.  Alas, all I found was the white fluffy filling stuff which I spat on the bedroom floor – darn it, I was so disappointed. No treats found, but some ruddy great holes ripped in the coat – it looks a right state.

So I’m just making the point, that if all else fails and you can’t think of anything to do, ripping someone’s coat up is actually quite a good laugh.  At least it was at the time.

Yesterday I snatched Young Lad’s toast and ran  off with it, but this was his fault for not concentrating and watching Top Gear instead.

As I said, Friends, it’s been a wet, miserable day today but we really can’t complain as we’ve had nearly six weeks of lovely sunshine.  Today is the first day for ages that I haven’t been able to sleep on the new garden furniture but have had to make do with my armchair in the lounge.  I was quite happy here, but when She got home from work She said I had to go out for a long walk, rain or no rain.  This was vexing. I didn’t really want to go out in the rain but wasn’t given a choice.  Out came the welly boots and big coat, and we marched off down to the river.  For the first time in months, it was quiet down there and I didn’t have to try to keep 2 metres away from cyclists, joggers, large families on bikes and toddlers.  I did see one or two friends and She still managed to chat to people which was dull, but still – nobody in their right mind was out.

Yesterday’s walk was lovely.  We did our new usual route, right up into the Bluebell woods behind the quarry, round the fishing lake, through the pheasant field and back.  As it was fairly warm, I was allowed to cool off in the river and on the way back I saw my dear friend Pippa!  We bounded towards each other and crashed into each other – Pippa then jumped on me and knocked me off my feet.  I flipped over and landed on my back – golly it knocked the wind out of me – and it took me a little while to get back on my feet, but it was such FUN!!

This is Lockdown week 6 and so far, so good.  Lad is still remarkably pleasant which may or may not have anything to do with sleeping in very late in the mornings.  I don’t remember him being this pleasant at 6am each day when he had to get up for school. He has been busy in the afternoons doing gardening and odd jobs, and also finds time to watch a lot of History programmes about the war.  He tried to tell She all about this in the garden the other afternoon, when She had just come home from work and sat down with her book, and to be honest Readers, I felt her response was less than enthusiastic.  I feel this new interest of Lad’s should be celebrated and encouraged, not met with heavy sighs.  This does not count as Good Parenting.

Young Lad is, very slowly, getting used to the idea of Home Learning and is being asked to do four tasks a day. Well, this is the target.  It is rarely reached, Readers.  There is a lot of tension and strained conversation when Young Lad’s Home Learning is looked at.  Poor Young Lad.  Such a lot is expected and it really isn’t fair, Friends – this is War Time, after all, and we must cope in our own way.  If that involves watching many back episodes of Top Gear, so be it.  

Thankfully the evenings are more harmonious as Young Lad and She curl up for happy evenings of television.  I’ve no idea what they were watching last night but there were shouts of ,”NO!!!”  and  “SURELY NOT!!!”   followed swiftly by “YAY!!!” It all seemed rather over-dramatic and I’m not convinced that ridiculous level of emotional outburst was necessary or dignified.  It annoyed Gingercat and I as we were trying to sleep on their laps at the time, and were disturbed.

I heard some good news this morning, Friends.  Hurrah I hear you cry, some good news at last.  GREGGS ARE RE-OPENING!!!   The nation will once again be able to queue up with appropriate social distancing for their sausage rolls and pink buns.  I think this is an excellent strategy and will cheer Britons up in their thousands during this difficult time.  Well done, Greggs. 

I feel it must nearly be dinner time, and I need to make this clear to my family.  Tomorrow looks another rainy day and I really would be perfectly content to stay in but I expect I will be dragged out yet again.  She and her good friend Loadsakids are being  rather juvenile and over-competitive in their nature- watching on their daily walks – we are losing by two pheasants and a swan to Loadsakids’ four hares and a muntjac,  Give me strength.

Happy Birthday LovelyDor down the road – a lovely meal out will be in order to celebrate but you might have to wait a while for any restaurants to re-open.  But NO!!  Of course!  You could go to Greggs!

See you soon,

Russell

 

 

-“

False Accusations

escape room

I am SEETHING, Friends, SEETHING.  I am a much-maligned dog tonight, and no amount of apologising will make up for it.  

This morning I went out for my comfort break at 7am and instead of rushing back up to bed like I normally do after breakfast, I hung around downstairs. She was going into work a little later today, so She went back up and expected me to follow. But I didn’t.  After a while it dawned on someone that I was still downstairs and I could be heard rustling around with something.  I had been rustling around with something for ages, actually.  Eventually She came storming down the stairs to find me under the dining room table with a multi-pack of Walkers salt and vinegar crisps.  I was given NO chance to explain myself – oh no, Readers, the assumption was made that I had eaten all six packets.  There were, indeed, six ripped- up packets all over the floor but even so, one shoudn’t jump to conclusions! 

I was shouted at and dragged away.  All the crisp packets were cleared away and I was ACCUSED of eating all six packets.  There was a fleeting moment of concern as to whether I needed to see the Evil Vet because of all the salt I’d eaten, but this was dismissed quickly and I was taken for a very, very long walk to burn it off.  In addition I was virtually forced into the river to drink.  People at the river who stopped to chat were told that I had eaten six bags of salt and vinegar crisps and there were gasps of horror.  Back home I was made to stand by my water bowl and told to drink.

She was very cross that Lad had clearly put the multi-pack of crisps somewhere I could reach them, while he was up late on the Xbox last night.  A mental note was made to tell Lad off, and give him a piece of her mind regarding his irresponsible behaviour.

When Lad was spoken to, Readers, it transpired that HE ate all six bags of crisps and all I’d found was the empty packets.  Quite why Lad ate all the bags of crisps is anyone’s guess, but was he shouted at?  Dragged out for a 4 mile walk through the woods and forced to drink lots of water?  No he was not.  Did the thought of going to the Evil Doctor fleetingly cross She’s mind?  No.  Double standards, Friends, double standards.

So, to be clear, I did not eat six bags of crisps.  You know, and I know, that I would have done so quite happily, but the fact is the bags were empty.  I am still waiting for an apology.

That said, on my walk at the weekend I DID manage to find a small Mr Kipling blackcurrant and apple pie!  In its foil!  I have no idea what that was doing on the grass but I couldn’t believe my luck and downed it in one.  There was a sticky piece of foil hanging off my lip for a while but eventually I ate that too.

In today’s photo, Friends, you can see me about to curl up on the new garden sofa with a good book.  One of my eagle-eyed friends on my Instagram page noticed that the book is called “Escape Room.”  We all know how I love a good escape.

Lockdown week four has passed by and we’re now into week five.  It’s exhausting.  I’ve been taken out for ridiculously long walks at ridiculous hours of the day – determined to see a muntjac deer, or at least a rabbit, She decided we should go out at 7.15am the other morning.  Up we went above the river, into Top Field and then up through the Bluebell Woods and beyond.  We walked for an hour and a half, and didn’t see so much as an earwig.  Give me strength.  The Bluebell woods are very pretty, it has to be said, but even so I would much rather be in bed at that time of the morning.

Lad and Young Lad are coping remarkably well with four weeks of lockdown, and a new net was bought for the goal in the garden to encourage them to play outside. She was sitting in the garden sunshine when this decision was made (rather rashly) and couldn’t be bothered to go and find a tape measure to check what size the goal is.  Lad was told to stand by the goal and a rough guess was made, as to how many feet tall and wide it is.  

The guess was wrong.

A couple of days later, someone bothered to find a tape measure and the correct size was ordered while the wrong one was sent back.  Lad and Young Lad were very frustrated by this ineptitude.

Why do they need a new goal net? I hear you ask.  I chewed the old one into large holes.  That’s why.

Young Lad has been ploughing through his heavy workload of Home Learning.  Today he has researched  famous jewellery designers, read ten pages of Lord of The Flies, studied Aboriginal art and designed a bottle in the style of, and completed a Maths task on algebraic formulae.  He has failed, however, to re-write the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody based on his favourite hobby as She was losing the will to live and couldn’t see how this is going to help Young Lad progress in life.

Lad has had some nice lie-ins and then worked hard in dear Ebony’s garden.  He still hasn’t taken me with him.  I’m beginning to think Lad can turn  his hand to anything, Readers, as yesterday in the sunshine he was instructed to cut Young Lad’s hair with the new clippers.  Lad made a very good job of this, Friends, achieving a special effect called a ‘fade’ and only one small bald patch.  Well done, Lad.  Then Lad came near me with the clippers and I growled.

Many of you parents, during this difficult time, are encouraging your offpsring to learn new things such as how to cook.  Last week, Lad was taught how to make proper spaghetti bolognese (quite a fuss was made during chopping the onions as Lad’s eyes kept watering), and Young Lad was taught to make upside down pineapple pudding.  Readers, both were a TRIUMPH.  I really do feel – correct me if I’m wrong – that learning how to cut hair and make nutritious crowd-pleasing meals is actually far more use than A Level Chemistry or re-writing Bohemian Rhapsody.    Perhaps it’s time to reflect on our education system, Friends.

And on that thoughtful note – plus the assurance that many neighbours have been given home-baked goods yet again, don’t worry that obsession is still alive and well – it’s time for me to have a nap.  It’s hard to sleep with the smell of disinfectant and bleach in this house – is yours like it, too? – but I will do my best.

Bye for now, and keep well.

Russell

 

 

 

Thankful

reluctant

Here I am, Friends, sitting at the top of the stairs receiving the news that we’re going out for another walk.  As you can see, I was beyond excited and could hardly wait.  There will be dogs all over the world, in these strange times, who share my reluctance to go for yet another walk – never before have dogs been walked so much by so many.  It drives you nuts.

Happy Easter, by the way, as it is Easter Sunday as I write.  It doesn’t feel like Easter Sunday as all days are simply merging into each other and everyone keeps saying things like “is it Tuesday?” because nobody has any idea.  Easter Sunday is normally a day of celebratory lunches with families, egg hunts and church services – but not this year.  It has been very strange for everyone.

However, as I was out on my walk in the woods by the river this  morning, there were many things to be noticed that we usually don’t have bldytime to notice because we are always in such a bldyrush.  Imagine this, Readers; today we saw a flock of geese fly above us honking loudly, and we actually STOOD STILL to watch them.  This was followed by an unusual white butterfly with orange-tipped wings, a bird of prey of some sort in Top Field and a brace of ducks waddling along the river bank.  Normally we would charge straight past of all these wonders, but today there was nothing to rush back for – no football matches, cricket matches, homework, laundry – and so we stopped and watched everything.  Friends, I know there are bad things going on in the world right now, but you have to agree that sometimes it does us good to slow down.  I slowed right down this morning, and thought about the things for which I’m thankful – such as our beautiful river walk, and nature and sunny days.  Even She gazed around our little part of the world and saw how beautiful it is.

As usual, we hadn’t gone out early enough to beat the rush down at the river and there were many joggers/cyclists/families with pushchairs.  We kept our 2 metre distance at all times and headed straight up to Top Field which we knew would be quieter.  On the way home from our walk, we bumped into  She’s friend – we’ll call her Angel because she is one.  Angel is a nurse and is currently working in the ITU department of the hospital, which is a pretty tough place to be right now.  She chatted to Angel for ages, about their families and jobs, and mostly about what it’s like working in intensive care during the coronavirus pandemic.   It sounded difficult. Angel deserves a medal, as do all her fellow Angels.  I might dedicate my blog to her tonight – and I don’t do that lightly!

To be brutally honest though, I lost interest fairly quickly and wandered off to eat some long grass.

Back home, someone kindly put the cushions and rug on the garden sofa for me and quick as a flash, I was straight up there and nodding off.  It was another warm day with golden sunshine, and so another barbecue was attempted on the small bucket thing.  This was more successful than last time as Young Lad and She left the coals to go grey, which took about an hour, rather than losing patience and slapping on the burgers or salmon while they were still black and stone cold.  A very nice lunch was eaten in the garden – Lad had his dressing gown on which I felt was a touch common for Easter Sunday lunch, but everyone seems more relaxed about decorum at the moment.  I think we need to watch this, as standards are slipping.

This afternoon was frankly strange – as Young Lad and Lad SPENT TIME TOGETHER!  Without being forced to!!  Oh happy day, as they kicked hard footballs deliberately at each other, and wrestled violently on the new garden sofa – the fun!!  Then Young Lad gave Lad a quiz, with questions like, “what happened at the Battle of Dunkirk?” which was an easy one, followed by “what happened at the second battle of the Alamein” or “Barbarossa?”  which were a bit more tricky.  Lad changed the subject to “which teams did Eric Cantona play for” and the such like.  Hours of simple, enjoyable fun Readers, and if they had stopped slapping each other every so often, it would indeed have been quality time.

I’ve been fairly well-behaved for a couple of days, I have to say.  This might be because I was in a lot of trouble on Thursday.  (Was it Thursday?  Who knows?)  She left home at 7.20am to go to work, and Young Lad arrived in the kitchen at 7.40am to get his breakfast – but in that small window of time I had opened the cupboard that used to have Gingercat’s food in it.  To my utter joy someone had forgotten that they now have to put it Up High, and a new box of food sachets was in there!  It was behind a glass vase, so I pulled that out the way and it smashed into smithereens on the floor.  I stepped over the shards of glass and dragged out the box of cat food – Readers, I ate 7 sachets.  Very, very quickly indeed.

Oh the shouting and moaning – of course She was cross about the glass vase being broken so  I had to be spoken to about that, and as for the seven sachets of cat food…. I had dreadful wind all evening, with a terrible meaty odour, and was shouted at again.  Plus of course I’ve put on weight – yada yada yada.  Who cares?  I had a cracking time.

Lad has been in a fairly pleasant mood of late, as he no longer has to spend long hours studying hard.  I was very jealous of him this week, however, as he went to help out with some pressure-washing in dear, dear Ebony’s back garden – how come Lad gets to go down there but I don’t?  Heaven knows I’m missing Ebony and dear Pippa dreadfully.  I feel Lad should take me with him, but of course I’ll be told that we aren’t allowed to visit other people. 

SHE goes to visit other people!  Okay, only from the pavement but still.  Yes, Readers, there has been more enforced enjoyment of home-baking for the weary neighbours – I feel nobody has the heart to tell her to stop – so this weekend LovelyDor down the  road was taken some brownies, Ebony and Pippa’s Pack Leaders have been force-fed shortbread again, as has a friend round the corner – it just never stops.  I feel She became over-excited in Sainsbury’s yesterday because they had flour on the shelves (not for long) – and so we had to celebrate this rare event by more baking.  I’m going to let  you into a little secret, though.  Her good friend Loadsakids was spared being forced to accept a huge tin of Millie style cookies, as THEY WENT WRONG!!  Oh I tried not to laugh – the cookies ran all over the tray and didn’t cook and everything had to be scraped into the bin.  Obviously I licked up anything that was on the floor.  She was most perturbed by this epic failure and a lot of head-scratching went on to work out what went wrong.  Perhaps the baking could be given a rest for a while now.

Young Lad is shouting happily from the other room where he is on the Xbox online with his friends – this is the only way young people can socialise at the moment, so they must be cut a little slack.   It is very nearly time for Sunday tea, which I believe might be smoked salmon sandwiches in an attempt to remind ourselves that it’s Easter Sunday!

What does the week ahead hold, I wonder, Friends.  Much the same as the last three weeks, I would think, and still nobody will know when it’s Wednesday.  I quite like this slower pace of life, and I have lots of company at home all day.  Every cloud and all that.

Tonight’s blog is dedicated to all those Angels working in intensive care units across the country – really, there are no words. 

See you soon,

Russell

Week Two

spot the beagle

So here we are, Readers, at the end of Week Two of Stay At Home.  It’s been a tough week for all of us – I have found it particularly difficult  to stay at home and not do much – but we have to make the best of it.  In the photo you can see me making the best of it, if you look very hard indeed and play Spot The Beagle.

Yes, indeed, the new sofa for the garden that Lad assembled and swore at has been put to good use.  It is remarkably comfortable, and someone thoughtfully put a blanket on it this morning as well – they said it was to stop bird poo dropping on the cushions but I like to tell myself it was for my comfort.  I have spent much of the day on the garden sofa, and was quite irritated when Young Lad lay down to have a snooze this afternoon, leaving me very little room.  The selfishness!

Funnily enough, we heard from our good friend Sicknote this weekend, who says Delilah the Basset Hound has done exactly the same to their new garden sofa, and sent photographic proof.   I don’t understand why they find this so surprising.  If you position a comfortable good quality sofa in the sunshine, why would we sit on the grass?  It’s not difficult.

It’s been a beautiful day here, Readers, with warm sunshine and blue skies.  Lying in the hot sun with my family around me, it was easy to forget that we are living in Strange Times.  Then She said that the Queen is addressing the nation tonight, which was a swift reminder that things are not normal.  I’ll be asleep in my armchair by then and I imagine Young Lad and She will be watching something on Netflix, but it’s a nice thought.  I know, Friends, I feel it’s very disappointing ,too, that there is not more effort to watch the Queen addressing the nation, and actually She now has the grace to look ashamed and said they will flick over to BBC One for few minutes.  Young Lad will be cross about this and Lad will be busy doing his weights upstairs.

Talking of the Royal Family, I haven’t mentioned Meghan Markle for a long time!  Regular Readers will know that I was a big fan of Meghan’s when she came to the UK, as she has a Beagle called Guy and therefore very good taste in dogs.  It used to be my dream that I would go and live with her, as she definitely doesn’t shout or tell her beagle off for rolling in fox poo or emptying the bins.  However, Meghan is no longer here, Friends.  There is a saying: Veni Vidi Vici.  I think it means I Came, I Saw, I Changed My Mind.

I do hope you’re all managing to cope during this Lockdown, Friends. I’m sure none of you are raising your voices and sounding rather shrill over the joy that is Home Schooling,   Last week, feeling guilty about the lack of support She has shown Young Lad with his online schooling, an attempt was made to sit down and look through what Young Lad has produced so far.  Quality control, you might say.  Readers, it didn’t go well.  I won’t go into details but suffice to say there were Loud Voices, Threats, Tears and Tantrums.  Honestly it was awful.  Is every house in the country going through this, or do some of you have offspring who sit down and do their work to a High Standard without being moaned at, and who do not tick the “done” box online without actually doing any work?   Have you got kids like that?  I think they may be called girls.

Young Lad was in Big Trouble and has since had to try harder. Much harder.

Lad, on the other hand, has no studying to do and is bored.  He needs to get a job in a supermarket but they are not recruiting just at the moment, having dragged people in off the streets a fortnight ago.  So Lad has been put to use in the garden, edging the path and borders, power washing bikes and general manual labour.  Lad hopes Tesco need some more staff very soon. 

Young Lad was forced into physical activity this afternoon by walking down to our friend LovelyDor’s house with an apple crumble and custard.  Young Lad is always being made to walk around the streets delivering baked goods to friends and neighbours – to be honest I think everyone has enough to worry about at the moment without being force- fed shortbread.   We took some shortbread (whether they wanted it or not) to dear, dear Ebony’s Pack Leader earlier in the week.  Ebony’s Pack Leader left some ready for the next day’s mid-morning snack, but she didn’t put it quite out of Ebony’s reach so Ebony had it.  And who can blame her? Ebony’s Pack Leader was cross.

We went for our hour’s walk up in the fields above the river nice and early this morning, thinking that there wouldn’t be lots of joggers, cyclists and families around.  At this point I will remind you that we have all been told to Stay At Home.  Readers, it was like Piccadilly Circus.  We had to keep stopping and swerving 2 metres to avoid everyone; honestly it was ridiculous.  Even up in Top Field there were far more people than usual, some with scarves over their faces.  I was more interested, however, in a rabbit’s head that I found – there was no body attached but definitely a whole head.  The rabbit had a sort of rictus grin on its face, and boy did it have huge teeth.  I found it fascinating but was shouted at and dragged away.

As it was such a warm day, and as these are Strange Times, an barbecue was attempted for lunch.  It was pathetic, Readers.  My family don’t have a proper barbecue but a small bucket thing,  in which you can fit about six pieces of charcoal, and two small burgers on the grill.  It took a very long time to light, despite Young Lad’s best attempts with lots of firelighters, and all it did was produce a lot of smoke.  Never one to be defeated, She gamely “barbecued” two burgers and a piece of salmon but then finished them off in the oven, as we’ll be out of Lockdown by the time they would have cooked on the bucket.  But it was nice to all sit in the garden, eating quasi-barbecued food and pretending all is well.

And so we head into Week Three of Stay At Home.  She will still be going to work, and I’ve been told that if I eat things from the bathroom bin again like I did last week, there will be hell to pay. As if I care.  Lad and Young Lad will be here doing whatever they are doing, and I intend spending the week in my armchair or on the garden sofa.   I know, I know – how are we all going to carry on like this?

Chin up Friends – this too will pass.  As did the things from the bathroom bin.#

See you soon,

Russell