Staying Alert

slow dayHere I am, Readers, staying Very Alert and helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.  You will notice that I pulled one of the garden sofa cushions into position, so that it supported my head.  It has been an exhausting day and I really needed a long lie down this afternoon.

Last night I stayed up late to stand in the garden with She and Young Lad to see if we could spot the SpaceX rocket as it passed over us.  Many people were heard to say doubtfully “is THAT it?” soon after 10pm, as they squinted up into the dark sky and tried to differentiate between stars, planes and space rockets.   The first difficulty for my family was working out where South-West might be, as this was supposedly the best place to see the rocket – there was some discussion and pointing in a variety of directions until it was decided that the vague area of the river might be south-west. Young Lad was convinced that the light moving very high up in the sky over the river was DEFINITELY the space rocket, but She said it looked exactly the same as the other lights moving round the sky.  Young Lad was not to be put off, and felt he could see an orange tinge to it, which would be the flames.  Yes, I felt this was pushing things, too.

Eventually I tired of all this and went back indoors, and up to bed.

This morning I was dragged out far too early for my walk – the days have been very warm recently and so we have to go at 7.30am before it gets too  hot for me.  Nobody bothers to check whether I actually want to go and to be honest, I like going back to bed after breakfast and my comfort break in the garden – I resent being pulled off the bed and my lead being attached.  Still, it was a lovely walk  and we headed up into the bluebell woods (the bluebells are dead now, so they’re just the woods), through the field and down to the lake.  I had a nice paddle and drink, to cool down, but was called away rather sharply as She spotted a dead fish by the lake and I have been known to roll in dead fish, especially when they’re beginning to decompose.  There is no smell like it.  So yet another pleasure was denied me and I didn’t roll in anything today.  I did eat a lot of rabbit droppings though.

Once we got back down to the river it was like Piccadilly Circus, despite the early hour of a Sunday morning, and we had to wait ages by the bridge to be able to cross with any semblance of social distance.  Bikes, dogs, pushchairs…. but people are terribly polite and upbeat these days, Friends, and everyone smiles and says, “thank you” when I’ve stood there waiting for half an hour.

She said something similar yesterday – about how people are very happy in the long queues for everything in these strange times, and nobody moans.  Yesterday She popped out to another town to meet a dear friend, for a socially distanced coffee –  there were no coffee shops open, of course, but an enterprising street vendor had opened up a sort of pop-up artisan coffee bar which is completely legal.  When She saw the queue for the artisan coffee bar – there were at least ten people ahead of them – She said, “oh look, it’s only a little queue!” and stood there very happily indeed, 2 metres away from everyone, to wait her turn.  Readers, in life before Covid19, I cannot imagine a scenario in which being eleventh in a queue for anything was considered acceptable and really quite fun.

Alas, Friends, there are no public toilets open anywhere at the moment and so people of a certain age find this a trifle difficult, after one cup of artisan coffee.  After some futile walking around asking balefully if anyone knew where there was a toilet, defeat had to  be admitted and legs crossed on the drive home.

Lad and Young Lad have been doing forced manual labour again this week, and during one particularly industrious afternoon, Young Lad was painting the back gate whilst Lad was weeding the front garden.  This looked the picture of domestic bonhomie, but in actual fact they were supposed to be doing one task, together – but had argued so much about who would paint the top and the bottom of the gate, that separate tasks had to be allocated.  I made the mistake of barking at a noise I heard and was told to “BE QUIET DON’T YOU BLDY START/THE KIDS HAVE ONLY JUST SHUT UP…. and so on and so forth. 

As the weather has been so good, lunch has been eaten in the garden quite often which gives us a nice feeling of being on holiday,  if that’s possible with piles of washing hanging on the line and bags of recycling stacked up. Today was no different, and Lad started an interesting dinner table conversation with Young Lad about the Moon Landing conspiracy theory.  Lad does enjoy a conspiracy theory and was trying to explain all about Area 51 and such like.  Young Lad was not convinced and the discussion moved on to which of them could swim the English Channel.  I couldn’t see a connection either, Friends, but that is often the case here.  Clearly neither of them could swim the English Channel so it was a pointless conversation but they managed to drag it out for quite a while.  Every so often Lad said “are you going to eat those sausages?” to Young Lad, and it was very obvious that Lad was hungry and wanted them, but Young Lad said he did want them, he was just eating slowly and having interesting conversations.  After the tenth time of asking whether he was going to eat those sausages, She said “oh for heaven’s sake give him one of your sausages to shut him up,” which was impolite and not good parenting.

The thing is, I had been asking Young Lad for one of his sausages too, but nobody gave ME one.

Well, let’s see what the first week of June and Easing Of Lockdown brings, Readers.  It will be fun here, as She is working full time so Lad, Young Lad and I have the place to ourselves (plus Gingercat but he doesn’t really count).  There will be text messages all day about Cleaning The Kitchen, Do Your Home Learning and possibly even EAT SOME FRUIT – but we will ignore most of these and have a jolly nice time.

I do hope you are keeping well and Alert, Friends, in these difficult times – please be reassured that I am bearing up well, considering.

See you soon,

Russell

 

Seven Swans A Swimming

swansReaders, in these strange times of Lockdown we have all had the chance to appreciate nature so much more than we did.  We have time to hear the cuckoo in the woods, the pheasant’s shriek in the fields and the geese honking as they fly overhead.  This week it has been magical to see- every day on my walk – the Bastard Swans gliding down the river with seven, yes SEVEN, baby cygnets in tow.  Now I’m not a big fan of the Bastard Swans, as Regular Readers will know, and over the years I have been hissed at, threatened and chased more than seems fair.  I really, really don’t like them.  But even I can see a certain beauty in their little family outings up and down the river.  Nature at its finest.

Talking of which, I enjoyed some Nature at Its Finest up in the field the other day.  I found half a rabbit carcass in the bushes and dragged it out – oh, I was SO pleased with myself!  I ran around with its head hanging out one side of my mouth and the rest of it hanging out the other side, and I made lots of silly whimpering noises of sheer pleasure.  I dragged this thing for the remaining two miles of our walk, occasionally stopping to crunch through spine or skull, and I was incredibly proud of myself.  She said, “for goodness sake, it’s not as though you actually caught it Russell, it was already dead,” but this was just jealousy.  I had a marvellous time, Readers, and it took me a good long time to finish it off.  

I know you might be worried about bacteria, or maggots or disease from a rabbit carcass but rest assured, I was fine.  A touch of smelly wind in the evening, to be fair, but otherwise fine.

Week 8 of Lockdown and all is still well here.  Young Lad is beginning to get the idea about Home Learning – it hasn’t taken long – and ploughs through a few tasks a day. I fear he is rather behind with Art, Music and Design Technology but Young Lad says he isn’t doing these for GCSE so what’s the point?  It makes far more sense to concentrate on Maths, English, History and French so that there is time to watch Top Gear and Bargain Hunt, as these support the Geography and History curriculums.  Young Lad has also decided “A Place In The Sun” is another educational programme as it is so informative about the Costa Del Sol.  I think Young Lad has been very underestimated.

In addition to the Home Learning, Young Lad is given a list of helpful household tasks to carry out while She is at work.  On Friday this included ‘hang the washing out’, ’empty the dishwasher’ and ’empty the airing cupboard.’   How on earth is Young Lad supposed to focus on his studies when he’s under such pressure?  No wonder he needs to keep sitting down on the sofa for a rest.  I usually join him.

Lad is finding the lack of social life rather tedious now, and longs to join his friends in a town Far, Far Away.  Lad dipped a tentative toe in the water in this respect yesterday and met a friend in a park to ‘exercise’ at a very safe distance from each other.  I’m not sure what sort of exercise they did – Lad was vague about the details.  But I’m jolly glad that he got out in the fresh air, and the rules about removing his trainers in the front porch before entering the house, anti-backing his hands and getting straight in the shower BEFORE finding something to eat seemed a little draconian, but there you are.  

Today, Readers, Lad and She went to London as Lad was due for his yearly MRI scan at a hospital there.  Now, it was deemed risky to go by train and underground, so the decision was made that the two of them in a car (wiped down with anti-bacterial wipes) would be much safer.  Poor Lad had to get up much earlier than he wanted to, in order to drive to central London, largely as She has no clue about directions up there and allowed lots of time.  All went well until Google Maps was relied on to navigate them from the end of the M11 – alas Google Maps has a strange sense of humour, and as they were driving across Tower Bridge there were shrieks of “Lad, we’re going SOUTH of the river!  We need to be NORTH of the river!” and much wailing/banging of fists on the steering wheel.  But  not to worry, Friends, as Google Maps simply re-routed them through Lambeth and various other irrelevant places until they crossed another bridge and were, indeed, NORTH of the river once more.  The language in the car was quite inappropriate and indicative of poor parenting.

Lad was heartily dismayed to find that Lockdown extends to central London, and there was NOWHERE to get anything to eat.  KFC, Greggs, MacDonalds, Starbucks and Costa were ALL obeying the law and staying closed. Lad was STARVING, Readers.  Poor Lad.

I’m getting a little fed up with the relentless walks that I’m made to go on.  These seem to get earlier and earlier – and for the last two days I have had to be physically pulled out of my armchair in the mornings, as I just don’t want to go.  I can’t see what the obsession is with trying to spot a muntjac or hare, which we will only do if we go EARLY – who cares?  A lie in and a little relaxation is all I ask, Friends – it’s not unreasonable, is it?  Life is very tiring. It has been nice, however, to bump into my dear friend Ebony on occasion – Ebony was on the lead so she couldn’t knock me off my feet like dear Pippa did the other week.  I have very nearly forgotten this incident and will soon be back to bounding around with her once more.

Well, I imagine that due to the stress of Google Maps and being south of the river today, She’s friend Gordon will be popping round tonight.  I did notice a lemon in the fruit bowl, so this has obviously been well planned.  I will spend the evening asleep in my armchair while Young Lad and She watch lots of things on Netflix and Lad shouts on the Xbox in the other room.  Happy days, Friends, happy days.

I do hope you are all staying safe and well.

See you soon,

Russell

Week 7

pondering Well here we are in week 7 of Lockdown, Friends, and I’ve been sitting in the sun having a think this afternoon.  It’s pretty exhausting, this Staying At Home, and I’m sure for many of you the novelty has worn off.   Not for me, of course.  I like Staying At Home.  In fact, I wish She would stop taking me out for ludicrously long walks and let me Stay At Home a little more.

It’s been a funny old week in a funny old part of History, really – Lad and Young Lad keep being told they are Witnesses to a Historic Event and do they realise how important that is? but neither of them seem remotely impressed.  To be fair, they are remarkably good-tempered considering they haven’t seen their friends for seven weeks and there has only been the occasional bout of physical fighting.

Needless to say I’ve been told off and moaned at a lot.  Every since the coat pocket incident last week, I have been a little out of favour I feel – honestly, talk about holding a grudge.  True, I did make a heck of a mess with some pizza boxes in the garden, the day the lawn had been cut and it all looked ‘lovely’ – but there was some oily cheesy stuff on the cardboard pizza boxes that I had to RIP into tiny pieces to eat.  It’s hardly my fault.   Then I was moaned at yesterday for digging a hole in the lawn right by the new garden sofa thing – look, I know for a fact that I buried a bone under there a year or so ago, and I was just trying to retrieve it.  That’s what dogs do.  If people are stupid enough to place a garden sofa over my burial sites, what do they expect?

What else has been on my list of misdemeanours – oh yes, walking muddy footprints all over the white (ish) John Lewis duvet cover yet again, snatching Young Lad’s sandwich crusts and trying to eat his bowl of Shreddies when he wasn’t looking, and emptying the bathroom bin.  How else am I meant to fill the endless days?

I had a very upsetting experience down at the river this week.  You may remember that my dear friend Pippa the HUGE golden retriever threw herself at me last week, and knocked me senseless.  Well, Friends, on one of our walks I could see, in the distance, a large golden retriever – now normally my ears would prick up, and I would SPRINT across the field to see her.  Do you know what happened this time, Readers?  I put my head down and ate the long grass, pretending I hadn’t seen her.  In actual fact I was really hoping that Pippa hadn’t seen me, but I was out of luck as she came bounding across the field towards me.  Well, instead of reciprocating I just stood still and made sure I was well-balanced and stable, in case she crashed into me again.  She did, but this time I didn’t fall over and lose consciousness.  I thought that if I just smiled politely and carried on eating the grass, Pippa might get the message and leave me alone.  She didn’t, Readers, at least not for a while.  I was ashamed of myself for this unfriendly behaviour, but until the memory fades of lying on my back waving my paws around wondering if I had died, I will be very cautious around dear Pippa.  

I do still really love her though.

There have been some strange things happening here today.  Young Lad has been doing his ‘Home Schooling’ and this started with a conversation about whether watching Top Gear counts as Geography and Science.  Young Lad feels strongly that it does, and that Top Gear is extremely educational when it is set in places such as Namibia.  “The scenery is beautiful,” exclaimed Young Lad, but She was not convinced and made him turn it off.

There followed a couple of hours sighing and yawning in front of the laptop,with a few irritable “get ON with it” snarls from She.  In fairness to Young Lad, just how interesting is it calculating the latent heat of this that and the other for a Science task?  Then something very unusual happened.  Young Lad decided it was time for his PE workout, and popped out to the kitchen.  He came back in with a litre bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin.  Now, in yet another example of appalling parenting, She was hunched over her laptop taking no notice of Young Lad as he used the Bombay Gin for weight training.  Eventually there was a scream as in She’s peripheral vision She could see the Bombay Sapphire being used in lunge squats, and Young Lad was ordered to take it BACK to the kitchen AT ONCE.  Young Lad did so, and returned with a bottle of orange squash which was much more acceptable.

Lad has been marginally busy doing odd jobs, and is expected to do at least one significant task to help at home during the day.  On Saturday this was pull all the ivy off the fence in the back garden.  On Sunday it was a large pile of ironing that has been there since before Lockdown began.  (The standards in this house have dropped lower than ever.)  Yesterday, Readers, and I could not quite believe this one, Lad was asked to clean all the gunk out of the washing machine rubber seal.  The washing machine stinks, as usual – it’s not even very old – because all the detergent gets caught in the rubber seal and goes mouldy.  Lad had to don industrial gloves and arm himself with brushes and other implements, to scrape out all the thick gloopy gunk from the rubber seal.  It was disgusting.  Nobody should be expected to do these things – poor Lad. 

The washing machine still smells, despite several pots of baking powder, bottles of white vinegar and two 90 degree washes.

Now, I like to leave you on an uplifting, whimsical note Friends, in these difficult times and indeed today is no different.  We all have to look for the good in our strange new world, and I have noticed something very surprising.  Whereas in the past Lad and Young Lad have been quite difficult to please – dare I say high maintenance –  things have changed.  Normally Lad’s idea of a ‘good time’ would involve all sorts of things that people disapprove of,  and possibly have legislated against, but nowadays ‘a good time’ for Lad is a trip to M&S Simply Food.  She and Lad popped over there for a day out (well half an hour) and you would have thought Lad was in heaven.  My word, did he enjoy wandering up and down the ready meal aisle, perusing the Chinese section, the Indian, and the Italian dishes….he simply could not choose, so much variety was there.  She had decided to push the boat out and treat him for dinner, and Lad wanted three of everything.  In the end Lad settled on M&S sausages and mash, but felt this wouldn’t be enough so added a large ‘feeds two’ side order of luxury  mashed potato too.  It seemed an odd choice but Lad had been given carte blanche.   I have rarely seen Lad so happy and at peace with the world than when he returned from M&S clutching his booty.

And let’s not forget Young Lad!  Regular Readers will know that Young Lad rarely moves from the sofa and lacks physical stamina/energy/effort – but guess what?  He came out with me on one of my mammoth walks up through the bluebell woods to the pheasant field, round the lake and so on ………and Young Lad ENJOYED it!!!  He didn’t once moan that his legs hurt or he needed to sit down – no, Friends, he actually ran up and down the hills made for the BMX bikes in the woods, and said what fun it was!  I know!  And to top it all he saw a baby rabbit scuttling into the woods, so even found some nature to enjoy. I have never seen Young Lad enjoy a dog walk so much, Readers, and it was nigh on 3 miles start to finish.

There has been more normality on the culinary front, however.  She -and I fail to understand why – bought salmon and cod in the big food shop at the weekend, and thought She would make a fish pie.  Now, I can only  surmise that this was an impulse buy caused by the elation of going the right way up and down the one-way system in Tesco (what an odd place Covid19 world is) without being told off – in fact this is the first time that She has managed to do it correctly, without being reprimanded by security.  The rush to the head must have caused the purchase of cod and salmon.  Readers, nobody here liked fish pie.  I know that, you know that, and She knows that.  What was She thinking?

Actually there is someone here who likes fish pie.

Anyway, thank heavens for deja vu as while we were out on one of our walks, an image flashed into She’s head of Young Lad’s facial expression the last time fish pie was served up – complete with retching noises –  so when we got home, cod goujons were made instead.  These went down fractionally better.

As I say, Friends, it’s a strange old world at the moment.  All we can do is tuck down into our armchairs, wash our hands a lot and keep safe.

See you soon,

Russell