Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I’ve just climbed out of the pit after another mind numbing night shift and started to play catch up on blogs that I follow. The first posting that I open up is from Doug over at his excellent Harris’ Hawk blog. Normal I don’t like to get up upon my soap box and I try to keep my comments light and friendly but Doug’s post has stirred me up a little. I was going to leave a comment, but it became a tad long winded so I’ve put my thoughts into this posting instead. Read Doug’s piece here first and then my somewhat disjointed mutterings may make some sense (or not as is usually the case).

As most people who put up with my somewhat chaotic ramblings know my closest outdoor companion is a cross breed, or mongrel if you wish, dog who goes by the name of Lucy (or several expletives depending upon what mess she’s found herself in!). Although I’ve lived with or around dogs, working and pets, all my life I certainly do not profess to be an expert in any shape or form. What I can say is that Lucy is perhaps the most loyal, intelligent, gentle dog that I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. And her lineage? Well her sire was a roguish Labrador and her dam an escape artist of a Boxer. Funny that really, if you care to glance at old English bear or bull baiting prints the dogs used bears an uncanny resemblance to the Boxer and not to the Bulldogs of today. There is no way on God’s earth that she could be classed as a dangerous dog but her posture and set sometimes cause’s hesitation on the trails by some people who have not met her before.

For Flemming Moller, from the governing Danish Liberal Party, to call for the widespread cull of all mongrels is something that I would never thought I’d hear from a supposedly educated and intelligent human being. Does this person (I’m really watching my language at this point!) have any conception of what it is he is campaigning for? Does he not realise that without cross breeding none, and I mean none, of today’s ‘true blood’ breeds would exist and that we’d be taking our pet wolf or dingo out for a stroll to the park? What on earth does he think that lurchers are? For Christ’s sake it not until recently that the labradoodle was recognized as a breed and it was only last centaury when the Jack Russell terrier (or should that be terror?) became known as a recognized breed. And for the Danish PM, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, to say that he was not prepared to live in a country where "you cannot go walking with your child or your poodle without risking an attack", shows, in my opinion, his lack of understanding. The Poodle was originally bred as a hunting dog and as such should this now be classed as a dangerous breed? I’m sure that the PM had the small, ribbon clad ‘parlor’ poodle, in mind when making his comments although I’ve found that these, as with some other smaller breeds, may be a little snappy at times, another one for the dangerous breed list?

I cannot deny that there tragic cases when dogs attack humans but to tar all mongrels with this brush is uneducated and narrow minded in the extreme. The fear of ‘muscle dogs’ is seemingly enflamed by media based sensationalized stories and not on common sense. If every pure breed dog that had bit a person was too classed as a dangerous breed then there would not be any other list required, all dogs can bite! To be honest I think that all dogs have the potential to bite, tear or rend flesh even Lucy; they are all after all just different sizes of Wolves.

It is not dogs that are the problem but humans, there are so many sad and disturbed individuals out there that consider ‘muscle’ dogs as a badge, status symbol, something that shows how ‘hard I am’. This is where, in my own opinion that the problem lies; with some humans that have not the understanding, wit or mental make up to own a dog. It’s just a thought but perhaps they’re looking at culling the wrong thing maybe they should be looking at culling people who see dogs as a weapon or social status (‘just look at the fangs on my dog Tyson, he’s gonna tear you up’) and politicians (‘just look at how greedy I am), well perhaps ban them from owning dogs and from speaking!

These words are of course only my opinion and I’m sure that everyone has their own thoughts on the subject. Excuse me if my rambling today is slightly off on a tangent, normal service shall be resumed henceforth. Oh and a big thank you to Doug and his excellent blog for bringing this to my attention.

Your friend,


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paranoia and Vegetables

Well this week didn’t start off to well at all, what with work, trying to finish off the new fish tank installation, cranking up the E-bay sales, helping Wayne shift slabs (bloody heavy slabs at that!) organise my limited growing space and a ton of other stuff I’ve been running around like the proverbial blue arsed fly. Then to cap it all off Lucy decides to throw a sicky, just when I needed to get ‘out there’ upon the trails for a little much needed solace the indestructible bog monster reminds me that she’s not the spring chuck that she used to be and that even she can have an off day or two.

To be honest we’ve been a tad worried about the old girl, one moment she’s her usual in your face self the next I’m getting a phone call on me night shift to say that we may well have to call the vet out. Oh yes she was that bad, her symptoms? Well if the truth be told her ailment didn’t seem to make much sense and the only reason that I can think of is that she was hit by two things at once. Firstly there was the complete loss of appetite, liquid faeces from the rear (well I could have said the shits but you know I’m just far too posh for that) and farts that should be used as a crowd dispersal tool! Then just when we thought that she couldn’t look any worse her hind end stiffened up completely making it difficult for her to sit, curl up in her basket, make her tail redundant or even climb the front step to the house with a gentle helping hand, worrying indeed. Fortunately she started to show small signs of improvement that evening so with Clare keeping a watchful eye on her the decision to leave her till the morning was made. Within 3 days Lucy was back to her endearing self, the cause of her distress remains a mystery. The only reason that we can come up with is that she’s either picked up something disagreeable upon the trails or that she’s picked up something deliberately left for her or another dog. Although the latter seems distasteful there have been past cases within the local area of little laced parcels left for dogs on common ground. Although she is rarely walked in the suburbs and is watched like a hawk when done so, it’s a possibility that I must consider. It is a sad thing when some idiots past actions always seem to cast a shadow of doubt when things go awry, even though there may well be nothing sinister to the matter at all. It’s not that I’m paranoid, it’s just that there is always somebody out there trying to get me!

Anyway enough of the woes of Lucy and the ifs and buts of the cause of her illness, having her laid up for a couple of days has at least enabled your budding food producer to tidy up his ‘compact and bijou’ growing area. Oh alright that tiny scrap of back yard needed organising a little better, it has to serve as an outdoor dining area (summer’s on the way you know), relaxation spot; especially after a crappy night shift there’s nothing better than listening to the dawn chorus with a steaming mug of tea in my hand, as well as hopefully producing some morsels of fresh vegetables for one of my favourite pastimes; - eating (ok so it’s my favourite pastime). So with some enthusiasm I’ve attacked the area in front of the south facing garage wall and finished off a raised area on which to neatly place my container held vegetable plot. So far I’ve got quite the selection started; runner beans, boliti beans, garden peas, potatoes, onion, butternut squash, tomatoes, lettuce leaves, courgettes, garlic (wild and conventional), chives, mint, strawberries, rhubarb, peppers and parsley. Considering last year I had, Mmmmm let me see now, ah that’s it nothing at all in the form of food growing, things are moving at a reasonable pace. Future plans for the autumn are to hopefully convert that typically suburban rectangle of grass called a front garden into a cottage garden with the bias on the edible side of planting, making and erecting a lean to green house to rest upon the aforementioned garage wall, source a grape vine that will produce in our climate and (finger crossed) welcome a few bantam hens to the fold (really hope Clare’s not reading this bit!). Time will tell (as will money) as to whether my plans reach fruition but hey at least I’m going to give it a try.

Tomorrow Lucy’s taking me out on the trails, we’re not going too far, I just want to see how she holds up and make sure that there’s no reaction to a short stroll. Also me thinks that this cheap cider that I’m quaffing as I type may well be a source of my own, green around the gills, feeling tomorrow. I’ll be sure to let you all know how she copes and hopefully normal service shall be resumed without further ado. Till then, stay safe and just get ‘out there’, you know you want to!!!

Your friend,


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meet Celt

Well this Celt and the ugly bugger with him is my brother in-law Wayne. To be honest me and Wayne have not always seen eye to eye in the past but he really is what you’d call ‘salt of the earth’. Wayne really should have been born centuries ago when living off the land was the norm, but unfortunately he’s been time warped to the present. The old lad has always taken his fair share of game (sometimes a little bit below the radar), he’s always had a freezer full of rabbit, pigeon, rook, pheasant etc and has always been there to rid a farmer of a particularly troublesome fox. He’s been waiting for a new dog for some time now and finally he’s got one; Celt.

Celt is a pure bred whippet from old Laguna coursing stock and this cute little tyke will definitely earn his crust in the years to come, working rabbits for Wayne. His life will not be the pampered one that most people assume it is when glancing at that miniature greyhound shivering by his owner (whippets shiver all the time, whether cold or just excited about the hunt). Celt has been bred as a working hound and you can see this early on, he’s more thickset and robust than the show dogs more commonly seen. Over his life Celt can expect to pick up far more injuries than a pet whippet, from knocked up toes and minor cuts too perhaps broken bones and major cuts, such is the lot of a working dog. But one thing that he can be sure of is that he’ll be loved and cared for as one of the family for all Wayne’s gruffness and moaning, deep down he’s as soft as hell. Yes Celt will work for his living but his rewards will far  greater than a lot of overfed pampered pouches being tortured with ‘kindness’ by people who don’t really understand their dog's needs that much. He’ll be loved, fed what he needs (not all the fancy treats that eventually kill ‘mans best friend'), and spend his time outdoors doing what he loves best – the hunt. So that’s Celt, hopefully I’ll be able to keep you updated on the little sod and his adventures as he learns about the world outside of Wayne’s garden.

Your friend,

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just an Idea

I've been toying around with an idea to put up pages so as to sort of file my different musings n doings. The trouble being that I'm of the thick ilk and more than a little clueless when trying to set up things like this (computer illiterate a think is the phrase!). But by good fortune I happen to know of an excellent helper and all round good egg in the form of Kari over at 'I don't wear pink camo to the woods'. Well after a quick, pleading e-mail she has kindly replied and put me on the straight and narrow and I'm now in construction of my first page for an idea I had whilst walking the smelly one around town. Basically it comes down to the fact that until I improve my passing undetected out in the wilds I'm seeing and getting closer to more wildlife around sunny Buckley. This is probably due to the wildlife becoming less sensitive and cautious to human presence. So I'm hoping to put up some photos and words on 'suburbia wildlife' about what wildlife I can find within a two mile radius of my home, hopefully there may be some surprises, so fingers crossed and once again many thanks to Kari for taking the time out to help this here imbecile.


Following last nights posting;

Man and dog are as one once more.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A dogs best friend?

Lucy is not impressed at all! In fact it is quite fair to say that Lucy is decidedly not a happy bunny and needless to say it is my entire fault, I mean who else’s could it possibly be? You see it is that time of year, you know the one, the annual visit to the vets for a check up and her booster injections. Thing is though I really don’t think that the old smelly one understands the need for the vet to prod and probe her, ask me searching questions about her diet (don’t mention the ditch water), her exercise (please don’t mention the ditch water), her general temperament and any habits (ok so I mention the ditch water and her resulting, less than perfumed, farts), nor the fact that she gets a bloody great needle stuck in her (her words, not mine). To be honest the whole episode was a lot more painful for me than for her, have you seen the cost of going to the vets these days?? The upshot was that Lucy is in rude health for her age apart from perhaps the earliest signs of arthritis showing in her hind legs which is more than can be said for the health of my wallet which has since been on oxygen. Worms? the vet inquired, no I’m giving them up I replied, no has she been wormed recently (with not even the slightest twitch of a smile) the young vet retorted. How come is it that people that I’m supposed to look to for guidance and respect (you know; coppers, vets, lawyers, bank robbers…..) all seem to be five years old, I mean how the hell can some snotty little so n so command respect and authority from one such myself when they look like they need their hands holding to cross the road? Bugger now I’m sounding like me dad. Any way back to the ever thickening plot, with some gusto. So with it being over 6 months since the smelly one had indeed been evacuated of worms I found myself driving home with a disgruntled ‘mans best friend’, a feather light wallet (sure she said her second name was Turpin!) and a worming tablet that I think was intended for Godzilla! Lucy watched me with the ever slightest bit of distrust as I wrapped said horse pill in half a pound of mature cheddar cheese, which was well founded as for the next few minutes an epic battle between man and beast ensued in finally man triumphed with one wormed dog giving me some baleful glances from the depths of her pit to say the least.

So as a bridge building exercise this morning I arose extra early, loaded the fun cruiser up with my gear and a now wagging and expectant Lucy, and headed for the trails in what could only be described as slightly inclement conditions (rain, wind and 5 degrees centigrade showing on the fun cruiser’s dash board!). But let not it be said that I’m one for going back in the face of adversary, in any case I was being pressurised from the back of the car by a distrustful hound. So we ploughed on forth till along our journey, fraught and wearisome and with many a danger, to arrive unscathed but the temperature now reading 2 degrees and the rain looking rather like snow! at our destination.

To be honest the snow petered out as we unloaded ourselves and headed upwards on the trail. Even though it was cold the effect of the rain/snow stopping brought forth a symphony of song from a multitude of birds in the surrounding trees which really does lift a person’s spirits, well if it doesn’t then I’m afraid you’re beyond help my friend! As we ambled along more secluded paths that rarely feel the footfall of man on their pine covered surface I actually began to notice more of the struggle of life and death that is constantly weaving its web here in the wilder areas. Firstly I noticed the fruit forming on the low lying bilberry bushes, it looks as if there will be a bumper crop this September which generally means that fox crap will be easier to spot on the paths (bright purple when the bilberries are been taken by them).

The morning sun had not risen high enough to melt the traces of snow that had been left clinging to tree branches and Lucy soon became sodden as she forced her way under and passed them causing the branches to whip back and soak my legs (Mmmm still thinking ‘bout the vets eh?).

 As we traipsed onwards more and more woodland plants were doing their utmost to attract passing insects to disperse their valuable stores of pollen to others of their kin, what with the flowers and the bird chorus you really could feel the joy of life bursting from the woods.

But there’s always the dark side (remember what happened to Luke’s dad, Mr. Vader?). We turned a corner around some thin rowan trees when I noticed what could only be described as a miniature tumble weed blowing towards us. Reaching it before the inquisitive Lucy it became apparent that it was a perfectly round ball of rabbit hair and a few yards further on the path, at the base of a tree, the remains of bugs could be seen. Now you all know that I’m a bit of an infant at this outdoors thingy but my guess is that I was standing underneath a raptors feeding perch, possibly one of the buzzards which frequent the area.

As the trail widened out another piece of nature’s dark side caught my eye, this time I think that there had been a case of mistaken identity. The body in question was that of a common shrew whilst signs of its attacker there was none of. Why mistaken identity? Well what small pool of knowledge that I have tells me that the shrew is inedible to most predators due to a stifling musky taste given off by the little critter, i.e. once tasted, never forgotten. So I think that this hapless little chap was mistaken for a mouse or taken by a young, inexperienced hunter.

Even more evidence of a busy time for the hunters soon came to light, this time a handful of racing pigeon feathers scattered across the path. How do I know that it was a racing pigeon and not a woody? Elementary my dear Watson, one of the feathers had what I first thought to be blood upon it, but looking closer it was soon gleaned that in fact it was a printed telephone number off an unfortunate raging pigeon’s flight feather. (I only knew what the number meant after an e-mail to my pigeon fancying friend, Vince, this afternoon.) I would guess that this bird was probably have been taken by a peregrine falcon as I've been lucky enough to spot one a couple of times recently here about, this and the fact that there were just a few 'impact' feathers lying around.

After these signs of death there was one more item that caught my eyes, half a pigeon egg shell. I’m hoping that it’s the waste cleared from a nest by a concerned parent bird and not the remains of a Jay’s dinner.

The remainder of the walk passed by uneventfully with the last remnants of the snow finally giving in to the sun’s warmth. Like everything else, there’s always light and dark, balance that’s what it be. 

And Lucy? well I think that she enjoyed herself.

So we arrived home with me feeling that perhaps I’d done enough to earn Lucy’s forgiveness, I dried the sodden mess off and even let her have the fat off me bacon butty. But then this evening I blew it. It was time for her run on the patch of common ground just down from the bungalow. This involves me throwing her favourite toy (a softish ball attached to a length of rope) for fifty yards a go until my arm drops off or Lucy collapses (yep its always the arm), but tonight I blew it, sending the toy sailing into somebody’s back garden. Now normally I’d hot foot it around and grovel until said toy was returned, but the sound of greenhouse glass breaking had the desired effect of me hot footing it in the opposite direction. Now I know that’s not right, and tomorrow I’ll go around and offer to repair the damn thing but for now I truly am the most hated dog owner Lucy’s ever had (I’m the only owner for that matter) and I really am the subject of a good many stares, ah well there’s always tomorrow, i mean what else could go amiss......

Till the next time take care,

Your friend,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

While cutting the grass

I’ve been a little remiss of late, neglecting my blog a tad and also the blogs of people in this ‘blogosphere’ that I’ve come to enjoy and look forward to reading, learning from and laughing with (also sometimes sharing a little sorrow with at times). The reasons are perhaps more complicated and entwined with each other than I originally thought, but for now it’s sufficient to say that my absence without leave is over and normal service (that’s if you think that my musings are normal?) shall be resumed.

The realisation of my negligence actual hit me whilst I was cutting the front lawn the other day. Sometimes, I find, it’s whilst doing the mundane chores that I have more clarity of thought. So there I am, grazing the almost green lawn, mulling over the last few days and my intentions for the days ahead when I glance at the side gate to be confronted by the most mournful, reproachful look that Lucy could have possibly have given. The sort of look that hit me right between the eyes and said “Oi, don’t you think that it’s high time that you got off your ever expanding, hairy ass, and got ‘out there’?”, “Oh and take me with you!”. Now it’s not that I’ve been neglecting my four legged nemesis, she’s been walked every day without fail, around suburbia that is. It’s just that with work, trying to install a new aquarium, endeavouring to learn about and tend my new found interest in growing food (in an incredibly small space), figuring out more ways to cut my outgoings, blah, blah, blah the list just seems to go on forever with there seemingly just not enough time for living.

Yep, Lucy was right, I had slowly stopped living during the past few weeks and was just maintaining an existence, bugger that! thought I and without further ado I grabbed me haversack and the keys of the fun cruiser, and promptly realised that the full load area wanted unloading of crap, which would have taken at least a full hour. 5 minutes later we’re heading out of Buckley towards the hills, the back still full of said crap, Lucy firmly ensconced on the passenger seat (don’t tell plod or Clare for that matter!), AC/DC making the speakers bounce (oh and I do mean bounce) and that Jonny Cash smile on my face, you know the one; the shit eatin' don't give a damn smile.

The walk was nothing really to write here about, enough to say that the sun was high and warm, the buzzards circled just within sight and the previous days rain ensured that the bog monster was well and truly back in her element, as was I. We trundled home knackered and fulfilled, the CD player silent for once as we enjoyed the setting sun in my rear view mirror, just the hum of the fun cruiser's diesel engine keeping the rhythm. Sometimes it takes a quite word from your dog to bring you back to what’s important, there’ll be plenty of time for the other stuff some other time, maybe when it’s raining?

Your friend,

Footnote: I must have left the house a little rushed, not unlike a certain Bilbo Baggins, for when we eventually pulled up on the drive the lawnmower was where I’d left it, about halfway along the lawn, so I finished that off the next day, oh and the gate was left ever so slightly ajar (well wide open) and finally I missed my dentist appointment – oops. But at least I’d got some balance back, and you do need balance in your life if you’re going to live it and not just exist it. So my apologies for my absence, and I hope that you’ll enjoy my future musings as I’m sure that I’ll once again enjoy yours. Oh and that passenger seat didn't half take some cleaning after the return journey, curse that sodden hound, curse her....