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

Home Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you soon,

Russell