Sunday, 31 October 2010

Microfiction Monday #55

Lovely Susan from ‘Stony River’ organises and hosts this weekly meme. Thank you Susan! She provides a picture and the challenge is to create a story in 140 characters or less – including punctuation! Click here to read more marvels of microfiction – and perhaps join in. It’s fun!
Here is this week’s picture accompanied by my offering.
Baby with broomstick, lucky black cat. No witch, she! 
Yowls, screams, blood under nails speak otherwise. 
Trick or Treat’s tough these days!

(139 characters)

All is peaceful

The dogs entered into the Hallowe'en spirit by playing their own version of bobbing for apples - in this case, bobbing for the Kong, which has a habit of eluding their champing jaws. Foxy's telling Tia to hurry up and join in the fun.

It was raining when we set out for our walk this afternoon. It matters little whether the sun is blazing or the heavens are weeping as I always finish up rather damp around the edges. This is because I am the Kong flinger and Barry is the photographer and the Kong is flung into every pond we pass to be retrieved by exuberant Labradors who then return to me and shake vigorously to rid themselves of the prodigious volumes of water they have each acquired. In order for Barry to achieve the best possible two thousand or so photographs that he takes every day (I exaggerate – it’s only around two or three hundred) I am ordered instructed asked to hurl the Kong many, many times with the result that I am fairly well showered in a short space of time.
Come on, keep up!
And round we go again!
Quick! Run behind Janice . . .
The bits of me the dogs don’t manage to soak  byshaking are dealt with as Gus plays ‘I’ve got the Kong – catch me if you can’ and they all hurtle behind me, brushing against my legs as they go. I say ‘brushing’ – it’s  more like slapping, rather like running the gauntlet, only in this instance the victim (me) stands still and the gauntlet runs past. It is only a matter of time before I am knocked off my feet one of these days and into the chilly water. It’s all good clean fun! Actually, it’s rather muddy but ‘It’s all good dirty fun’ gives quite the wrong impression.

Frodo enters the water for a sedate swim and then sidles up and leans against me, thus ensuring that he has done his bit in the ‘Let’s get Janice wet’ game. All of this is recorded for posterity, at least until I edit the photographs.

The journey home with five tired dogs is much quieter than the outward leg and we persuade ourselves that the rest of the day will pass quietly, but no, the dogs soon start to campaign for supper. As we go through the front door they are waiting expectantly at the patio door at the rear of the house – this is our attempt to minimise the muddy paw prints. It doesn’t work, of course, and the Turtle mat inside the door just isn’t up to the job of absorbing moisture from twenty eager feet. I smile rather sadly when I see the advertisements for Turtle mats and the glowing recommendations from satisfied customers, all of whom seem to have large dogs and pristine floors. How do they manage that? I put down two mats, end to end, and still the evidence of dogs passing through is clear for all to see. Most of the time it’s only Barry and me to see it, but I’m sure you get the general idea.

Once back inside, any remaining doggy sogginess is meticulously deposited on the furniture. I don’t spend my entire life doing laundry but sometimes it feels like it as I load the washing machine with yet another doggily-decorated throw or mat.

I make tea and toast but thoughts of relaxation are banished as the dogs canvass for scraps, which they’re not allowed but get anyway from Barry. They know, however, that they have not had their just deserts and employ different strategies to attain them. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell them that they must wait because it’s not good for them to eat immediately after exercise – they take no notice and after all, perhaps they’re right. Wild dogs and wolves chase their prey, sometimes for extended periods. Having captured their meal they don’t then lie down for half an hour to rest before eating.

Winston is letting me know that he hasn’t liked being left alone and that he too is hungry. He sits on the arm of my chair, gently batting Frodo’s nose with a soft paw. Frodo is the lead singer in the ensemble and sets up a monotonous three-note tune of G#, D# and E (above middle C on the piano) which is repeated endlessly as he edges closer and closer to me. Winston occasionally says ‘Waahh’ in a glissando an octave higher. Jenna sits on the footstool and looks at me beseechingly. Foxy sits at my feet and stares unblinkingly at me with her beautiful, soft brown eyes and Tia and Gus are close by, watchful but silent. I am surrounded!

Any slight movement from me which might indicate that supper is imminent causes a canine (and feline) tsunami. Eventually, of course, I get out the bowls and provisions and feed the starving multitude. Winston, sniffing carefully before attempting to eat, dines daintily and decorously. A cat’s digestion is less forgiving than a dog’s and mistakes can be fatal. On the other hand, the dogs tear into their meals without a second glance and everything’s gone in a trice. Frodo likes to shake his food thoroughly, to make sure it’s dead, I suppose, thus embellishing walls and cupboards with an attractive patina of meat – well, blood, really. I mop it up and give thanks for my hardworking washing machine.

Finally, peace is restored and the animals sleep. Now, what shall we have for supper? 

I'm linking to That's My World Tuesday. Click here to see other people's worlds

Today's Flowers #117 Clematis tangutica

Clematis tangutica is grown as much for its beautiful seed heads as for its pretty lantern shaped flowers. Our plant has yellow flowers and I believe there is an orange version. I'd love to see yellow and orange growing together! One day, maybe, I'll find an orange one.
Just a few weeks ago our tangutica was a mass of yellow bells. In this photograph the flower is just beginning to open.
Now there are no flowers but a mass of feathery seed heads nodding in the sun.
I almost expect a little face to look up and smile shyly!
Thank you to the TF team who host this weekly meme. Click here to see more gorgeous blooms from around the world.
I'm also linking to Macro Monday  at Lisa's Chaos and Drowsey Monkey's Mellow Yellow Monday

Pet Pride - a cooling paddle

Frodo enjoys a cooling paddle in Swinley Forest

Bozo and his human host this meme - thank you both ;-) To see more lovely pets please click here.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday #128 Me and my shadow

Me and my shadow - or Double Trouble . . .

Thanks to Tracy from 'Hey Harriet' who hosts this weekly meme. Click here to see more shadows.

Camera Critters #134

Recently I noticed  Wood Pigeons feasting on the holly berries in an adjacent garden. This is the first year I have seen this. Although  I watch the garden birds every day I've never seen pigeons eating berries before. 
There is plenty of food around still and so our holly tree has not been targeted yet. However, a pair of Wood Pigeons has been feeding on the heavily-berried Pyracantha outside our sitting room. I'm accustomed to seeing blackbirds and thrushes gobbling the fruit here and in the holly tree, but it's something of a novelty to see pigeons feeding on them. Blackbirds and thrushes feed rapidly and greedily but the pigeons are slower, as though the berries are an acquired taste or the habit of eating them is only just being established.
The juvenile lacks the white neck flash of the adult.
I noticed that one pigeon was an adult and the other a juvenile. Maybe the youngster is an adventurous adolescent whose mother is saying, 'I don't think you'll like them, but try them if you must. Mind the thorns, dear.'
Thank you to Misty Dawn who hosts this weekly meme. Click here to see more critters around the world.

Unlocking the Lock and Lock . . .

I have a number of 'Lock and Lock' containers. They're useful for all manner of things in the house -  cereals, rice, dried fruit, plugs, remote controls . . . As the label informs, they are 'stackable and 100% absolutely airtight, liquid tight, dishwasher and microwave safe'.

Impressed by the first ones I bought,  I have purchased several more in different shapes, sizes and capacities in the last few years. My latest acquisition was a neat set of three nesting bowls - the Three Bears to my Goldilocks. I like things that look tidy.(Pity that hasn't extended to my home!)

The other day I was searching for a container for the frozen peas I was about to zap in the microwave. Having just yielded to an atypical urge to spring clean (I know it's autumn but autumn clean doesn't have the same ring) my kitchen cupboards were in spanking good order but of course I couldn't find anything and the sweet little nesting bowls seemed to call to me, 'We're here, we can help' so I gave in to their entreaties, selected one and plonked the peas in it (all my so-called cooking is characterised by 'plonking', 'shoving' , 'flinging' and the all-time favourite, 'caramelising' which means 'burning')

With the peas safely ensconced in the Baby Bear bowl I turned what little attention I could muster to the rest of the magnificent banquet I was preparing for the Lord and Master that evening - new potatoes with the last of the mint from the garden, frozen breaded haddock and mélange (I can talk the talk if needs be) of stir-fried red pepper, (bell pepper) courgette, (zucchini) and red onion.

All was going swimmingly - that is to say that I hadn't forgotten any of the ingredients and the oven was at the correct temperature for a change. I cannot rid myself of the notion that turning the thermostat up to its highest will heat the oven quicker.Barry keeps telling me I am mistaken but I still have to give in to the urge. The trouble is that I sometimes occasionally always forget to reduce the temperature. We have become accustomed to meat that is black on the outside, one third cooked, one third rare and raw in the middle. I jest - but only just!

The first hitch occurred when I drained the potatoes. There, bleached and blanched at the bottom of the pan, lay a caterpillar. I couldn't tell what it might have developed into though guessed it was probably a Cabbage  or Large White (Pieris brassicae) I was briefly tempted to scoop it out and try and forget about it but decided I couldn't. I asked Barry what he thought and we agreed that we would prefer our meal without potatoes that night. It's foolish in the extreme since around three quarters of the world's population regularly dines on insects of varying dimensions, many of them still wriggling around. 

Following that I removed the bowl of peas from the microwave.
Oh dear! The peas now appeared to be vacuum packed. I could have sworn I had left the lid open. 
Clearly I had not! Then, too late, I noticed the final instruction on the lid - 'Only re-heatable, not for cooking.' 
Unlocking the Baby Bear bowl used muscles I didn't know I had. I was conscious that steam might well escape and scald me but it is difficult  impossible to tussle with a firmly stuck lid at arm's length. Eventually, I managed to prise the lid off the newly remodelled bowl.
The peas were still edible, not exactly 'al dente' but not mushy either. I rather over-optimistically hoped that the bowl would return to its original shape but sadly this was not to be. 

What have I learnt from this experience?

1:  Wash all garden produce thoroughly - make sure there's plenty of light to detect small unwanted visitors.

2:  Read all instructions carefully even if I'm sure I know what to do.

3:  Encourage Barry to cook more often - he's a much better cook than me, though that wouldn't be difficult. I mean, he tastes his dishes as he cooks and he's imaginative. For me food is just fuel and I cannot bear the orgasmic groans and sighs of delight that some folks utter when eating and the identification of ingredients as they sample each apparently delicious forkful. I'm just a philistine, really! (*wink*)

The Ninth Blog of Augustus Lazarus Cooke (Gus) – This and That

Hello everyone!

I know I’m a clever chap but I wouldn’t want my readers to think that I really can count. Like all dogs I count very simply – ‘One, more than one, more than one again’ – so my Humans have to help me when it comes to numbering my blog posts. Dogs don’t have much need for numbers, you see. We know when someone’s missing, when it’s time for breakfast or supper, and whether one dog has had more food than another and that’s all we need.

Every time Nearly every time I write my blog my friends Tia and Foxy have come to stay – and they’re here again now! I enjoy seeing them but sometimes I wonder if they’ve got a home of their own to go to. No, I don’t mean that – their Humans have gone camping for the weekend with the Explorers. I don’t know what Explorers are but I don’t think they do the kind of exploring that dogs do – at least I’ve never seen them down on all fours like us dogs, sniffing the ground and the trees and rushing in and out of the undergrowth. There’s all sorts to be found when you’re a dog. The Humans don’t know what they’re missing, stamping about the world on just two legs. I mean, they’re so far off the ground they can’t possibly be enjoying their walks like we do.

Anyway, Tia and Foxy’s Humans have gone to a Halloing camp – it seems odd to me that they have to go and live in a tent for a couple of days just to say ‘Hallo’. What?  Oh, Jenna’s just told me it’s called ‘Hallowe’en’ and it’s something to do with being the last night of October but that’s not until Sunday and they’ll be home again then – I don’t understand that but  Jenna says it’s fun for the Humans. They dress up and frighten each other and tell ghost stories and eat food burnt cooked on a bonfire camp fire. I don’t think I’d like that – I don’t like being frightened. It was bad enough last night when the garden light kept coming on. Mrs H couldn’t see anything but she wasn’t very happy this morning ‘cos she couldn’t get to sleep though maybe that was because all us Labradors were on her bed. Well, Mr H sleeps in it too, but he doesn’t get disturbed like she does.

What has been happening here at home? Well, there was a very sad happening a little while ago, (Mrs H says it was a month ago. What’s a month?) when Buddy Liver Spots died. He was at home so we all saw what was happening. Jenna and me licked his nose to try and comfort him but he didn’t notice. Frodo tried to wake him up the next day but he couldn’t. Then Mr H took him away in the car and after that we all went for a very long walk. I miss Buddy – we all do – but now we can go out for ages and not have to worry about him getting too tired or staying at home on his own.
The Humans have bought us Labradors some new Kongs. The Air Kongs were fun and they floated but they didn’t last long ‘cos I chewed them. I know, I shouldn’t have, but I am still quite young.They were yellow, like funny looking tennis balls (which I also chew) The new Kongs are called Aqua Kongs and they’re orange and they're much harder and we had lots of fun with one of them this afternoon. 
Tia's got the Kong this time and we're all swimming hard for the bank.
I’m really fast at swimming now, though not quite as fast as Jenna, so I often managed to retrieve it. I swallow a lot of water too so I burp quite a lot!
I haven't even stopped to shake. I usually wait until I'm next to Mrs H before I have a really good shake. I think she quite likes it!
This was near the end of our water play and Tia was getting tired. She's just had another lump removed and you can see her shaved patch. If her vets keep taking bits off her there'll be nothing left soon!
I liked hurtling round with the others chasing me even though I should have been a good dog and dropped it the first time Mrs H told me to. Frodo doesn’t play in the water but he does like to fetch things indoors – shoes and hats and that sort of thing – and then me and him have a tugging game with them and Jenna joins in, too. (I really like Frodo – he’s awesome!)

I really am really, really nearly as big as Frodo now. (I think Frodo's great and I want to be just like him when I'm properly grown up) I’m very strong and sometimes I knock him over, but he doesn’t mind. He never grumbles at me. My Humans say my head is bigger than his and that I’m ‘growing into it’. What does that mean? Am I going to be all head with little body and legs and tail? I don’t think that would look very nice at all! Oh, Jenna’s just told me that it means my body is getting bigger. Phew! For a little while I thought I was going to end up like some of the weird things the Humans photograph. They found one the other day and they don’t know what it is. 

Mrs H has been looking through all her books and on the Interwet. What? Oh, the Internet. Do any of you know what it is? It moved ever so fast and it didn’t look very friendly to me.

Oh, I forgot! The Humans say I'm a proper dog now 'cos I cocked my leg the other day. Mrs H wanted a photograph of me doing it but a dog must have some privacy so I haven't done it again.

Time for some shut-eye now. A growing lad needs his sleep!

Hwyl fawr am nawr! (That’s Welsh for ‘Goodbye for now!’)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

ABC Wednesday O is for Offing

Frequently I hear myself saying of something, 'It's in the offing' and then wondering why I've said it. I know that I mean 'It's on its way' or 'It will happen soon' but the 'offing' is actually the most distant part of the sea that can be seen.
It is variously defined as 'The part of the sea visible from shore that is very distant or beyond anchoring ground', or 'it is said of a ship 'visible at sea from the land'.
'"The offing" is the part of the sea that can be seen from land, excluding those parts that are near the shore. Early texts also refer to it as "offen" or "offin".Someone who was watching out for a ship to arrive would first see it approaching when it was "in the offing" and expected to dock before the next tide'.
And now I feel a touch of John Masefield coming on. In his poem, 'Sea Fever' he wrote, 'I must down to the seas again' but in his own poetry reading he added 'go' and all the versions I've heard have rendered it thus.It makes more sense since 'down' is not a verb!
John Masefield (1878 - 1967) was Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967. He wrote this poem when he was 22.
I don't know the name of the reader but I think he has a lovely, mellifluous voice.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, 25 October 2010

Something to amuse!

Barry received this email from a friend today:

In a  Bangkok  temple:


Cocktail lounge, Norway  :

Doctors office, Rome  :

Dry cleaners, Bangkok :

In a  Nairobi  restaurant:

On the main road to Mombassa, leaving Nairobi :

On a poster at Kencom:

In a City restaurant:

In a cemetery:

Tokyo  hotel's rules and regulations:

On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:

In a Tokyo bar:

Hotel , Yugoslavia :

Hotel , Japan :

In the lobby of a Moscow  hotel across from a Russian Orthodox  

A sign posted in Germany 's Black Forest  :

Hotel, Zurich :

Advertisement for donkey rides, Thailand  :

Airline ticket office, Copenhagen  :

A laundry in Rome :

Warning to UK dog walkers

I received this information this morning and thought I should pass it on:

Sent through from the Labrador Lifeline Trust 


Please be advised that Badger Setts and their surrounds are now being baited with sausages, jacket potatoes and other tasty morsels to attract Badgers.  Sadly it will also attract your dog.  These items are being laced with Paracetamol which, if ingested by your dog in the first instance will cause D & V.  If you think your dog may have been nosing around a known Badger sett or trail and develops symptoms - don't hesitate get it to a vet and mention Paracetamol.  This is the latest way of destroying Badgers - other ways are the use of rat poison and strychnine.  We are aware of one Labrador death already.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday #127, Today's Flowers #116 Nasturtiums

This year the nasturtiums have been outstanding. The colours have ranged from cream through orange to scarlet and crimson. We are enjoying their final flourish before they finally succumb to the frost. We have had two or three heavy frosts in the last week and it is only the flowers in sheltered places that are surviving. 
The bees are still working hard.

This bee is using an alternative method of reaching the nectar. It's called 'robbing' because the bee approaches from the back to find the nectary, denying the flower the chance of pollination. The bee may probe between the petals or bite a hole through the flower.
Thank you to Tracy from 'Hey Harriet' who hosts this meme.

Pet Pride - sleeping peacefully!

After a long walk and a satisfying meal there's only one thing to do and that is to settle down for a good sleep.
Gus has chosen to sleep in Barry's chair.
Jenna chose the settee.
Frodo was in his usual bed which is frequently chewed by Gus.
Winston didn't go for a walk but slept off his meal on Barry's jacket.
Thank you to Bozo and his human who organise this weekly meme.

Camera Critters #133

Earlier this month Barry spotted a little beastie in one of the hanging baskets by our front door. Can you see it? Let me help you.
It's still not very clear but fortunately the creature seemed camera shy and soon emerged from the shade of the ivy and made her way (for we found later that it was a female) down the door
We had never seen an animal like this before and thought she must be venomous. Look at the length of the pointy bit!
In fact, she is an Ichneumon wasp, and the thing that looks like a sting is her ovipositor. The black slip wasp, (Pimpla hypochondriaca) is the commonest of the 4000 or so  European ichneumon wasps. She is widespread in Europe and North Africa. She is 10 - 24 mm long and her ovipositor is half the length of her abdomen. She lays her eggs in butterfly and moth pupae and caterpillars.
Here she is running for cover in a crevice in the brickwork, her only phobia appearing to be the camera lens! Once we discovered that she was harmless, at least to humans, we found her rather attractive with her orange-red legs contrasting so sharply with her shiny dark apparel.
The name is a strange one - hypochondria is derived from the Greek hypo, meaning below, and chondros, the cartilage of the breast bone. In ancient times it was thought that this part of the abdomen, housing the liver, spleen and gall bladder, was the centre of melancholy, worry, fear and phobia. The Swedish entomologist, Anders Jahan Retzius, named this insect in 1783 - did he think she was a hypochondriac, suffering imaginary ills? 
Misty Dawn hosts this weekly meme - thank you, Misty! 

Friday, 22 October 2010

More books!

I love books of all sorts. I like the smell and the texture, the look of the print on the page, the quirky chapter headings or numbers in some of them. I like the footnotes, the references, the suggestions for further reading. Some authors have web pages and they are always interesting to visit. 

I enjoy buying books, particularly those intended for my grandchildren. I like reading children's books, too, and one of the things I most enjoyed about teaching was reading aloud stories to my class. I can't say whether they appreciated it - I think some did and I hope it may have encouraged them to lose themselves in books as I have always done.  I can't resist 'special offers' on novels so my pile of books to be read is ever-growing. This may be halted, temporarily at least, because Barry recently bought me a Kindle. 
It sits on one of our book shelves, resplendent in its bright pink 'Built' case, full of free downloads and one book about Dewey, the library cat, that I bought and have yet to read. At present I'm reading Rudyard Kipling's 'Puck of Pook's Hill.'

However splendid a Kindle may be - and it has a lot to recommend it - the technology is not yet advanced enough to render colour, or maybe it is but is not commercially viable at present. Thus, reference books are still a requisite. I look up lots of things on a daily basis. The internet is invaluable but nothing quite measures up to the pleasure of leafing through a book, cross-referencing and discovering fascinating information about this endlessly absorbing planet and its inhabitants. 

We have many reference books on a wide range of subjects and some of them are forty years old. Books inherited from my parents are often older, approaching one hundred years. Books become like old friends to be cherished and treasured but, just like older people, occasionally the information is a little outdated. Gardeners will recognise this fact as names are changed to reflect new discoveries. Historians, too, sometimes find that the 'facts' have been adjusted when new information has come to light. There is no area of life in which things remain immutable. 

This has been demonstrated to me recently when I have been trying to identify wild mushrooms. Some of the names have changed, perhaps more than once or twice, in the forty-three years since one of my favourite books was published.
This book has glorious illustrations by Beatrix Potter.
This is the Frontispiece, showing Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric.
Seeking in vain to identify a fungus we saw on Sunday and drawing a blank everywhere I yesterday ordered from Amazon a comprehensive guide. It arrived today.
'Mushrooms' by Roger Phillips has over 1,250 colour photographs, showing fungi from every conceivable angle and I was quickly able to find what I was looking for.
This is The Miller (Clitopilus prunulus)
It is common, good to eat and found from summer to late autumn in grass in open woodland.The gills start white and turn pink. It has a strong mealy taste.
Although I have had this book only a matter of hours, it is already one that I know I will return to again and again. The illustrations are superb and the information first-class.

I bought another reference book, too, but have barely looked at it other than to ascertain that it too will surely become another well-used tome. More of that later!

Cat versus printer

Susannah just sent me the link to this video clip. If you are offended by strong language please mute the sound.

SkyWatch Friday - October 17th

It was a bright, calm day on Sunday. The sky looked as though the clouds had been appliqued onto the blue backcloth
From the top of Butter Hill we could see for miles 
Three hours later the sky looked like this
Thank you to the SkyWatch team for organising and hosting this meme. Click here to see more skies around the world.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Further Adventures of Frodo the Faller - OUCH!

About twenty years ago a bypass was built to circumvent the village. We used to ride our bikes along it with our youngest daughter before it was finished. We wouldn’t attempt that now with the volume and speed of traffic that thunders along it.

Though the bypass may have been advantageous for the local traders and pedestrians, it bisected the forest and to reach the larger area it became necessary to go through an echoing underpass which local graffiti artists have used as a canvas. It’s a long time since we travelled into the further forest, since the last three years have involved elderly dogs, first Dominie, and then Buddy, requiring shorter walks and more attention at home.

It was a beautiful day on Sunday so we went for a long walk into the remoter reaches of Crowthorne (properly Windsor) Forest and on into Swinley Forest. We decided not to take any retrievable toys for Jenna and Gus and they thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity for new sniffs, sights and sounds. 
We rambled through Silver Birch avenues and rides of Sweet Chestnut, past Larches and Scots Pines and across heather-carpeted heathland.
Eventually we reached a favourite spot, a tree-shaded lake of sandy-bottomed clean water. The dogs gratefully swam into it and the Labradors spent an agreeable time retrieving large branches. 
Frodo was happy to bathe and drink and practice his own form of retrieving, which involved the small bone-shaped biscuits I had taken out with me.
We were returning along the Devil’s Highway when Gus yelped and came to me in pain and fright, holding up his left hind leg. Barry and I looked but could see no obvious damage and after reassurance Gus trotted off and was soon absorbed by more interesting fascinations. We speculated briefly whether an adder had been involved but convinced ourselves that that was probably not the case. We were a long way from home and the consequences of him suffering a snake bite were not to be relished.
He soon became engaged with a large branch which he periodically stopped to chew, reducing its weight little by little.

We had reached the ‘home side’ of the forest, but were still some three miles from the car, when Frodo suddenly yelped and held up his left hind leg. Again, we looked but could see no injury and supposed that the increasingly solid Gus might have barged into him. We hoped that Frodo might walk off the pain and indeed this appeared to be the case.
However, in the ensuing hours after arriving home, there were several occasions when Frodo cried out, usually when he was twisting in some way, so we thought he might have pulled a muscle. On one occasion he became so distressed when trying to get out of his bed that he had a partial seizure.

When Monday dawned bright and beautiful, Frodo remained at home with me while Barry took Jenna and Gus out. We felt that rest, warmth and as little movement as possible would help him to heal. By Tuesday he seemed a little better, though still inclined to shriek when his back legs became entangled or twisted. Once again, he stayed with me while the others went out. The fact that he didn’t complain or attempt to go with them was an indication that all was not well. Finally, a great screech of pain while he was in the garden convinced us that veterinary intervention was required so off he went to see Phil-the-Vet, the orthopaedic specialist. I feared the worst, expecting hip or back problems, which had made the last months for Dominie and Buddy so difficult, even though Frodo is still quite young, but it transpired that he had strained a muscle and that an analgesic was all that was required.

Yesterday, Wednesday, he protested bitterly when Barry took the others out, grizzling the whole time until they returned and it was obvious that he was feeling much better.  So today we went out in the cold, brilliant weather for a short amble. Frodo was supposed to be on a lead but as he never leaves my side that was quite unnecessary. He had his habitual bathe and then watched as the Labradors raced around in the long grass and in and out of the water. He was a much happier boy but yelped when it was supper time. It was almost twenty-four hours since his last pain-killer so it was not entirely unexpected.

Now, fed and watered, medicated and warm, he is sound asleep in his bed. Each day brings improvement and soon he will be his customary athletic self again. Not for nothing do we and our vets refer to Frodo as our ‘problem child.’