A week ago we were preparing for New Year’s Eve. Normally we go to bed early with a good book but this year we were invited to join some friends at a country house hotel. We liked the idea but there was a problem – well, three, really, and all of them canine!
We don’t go out very often and never overnight, unless the dogs come with us or one of our children can come to dog-sit, but New Year’s Eve (or Old Year’s Night as my Norfolk brother-in-law calls it) is perhaps the worst time of the year to find sitters of any sort – baby, house, or pet. Nevertheless, I enquired, expecting that we would have to decline.
Gillian provided the solution. Why didn’t we take the dogs to stay with her? Her dogs spend a lot of time with us and all the dogs get on well together at our house. We decided we could try it. We were slightly concerned about Frodo the Faller, the Velcro dog, who is my guardian, my shadow, my knight in shining (well, spotted) armour. He had been to Gillian and Paul’s house before but we had never left him there. On balance, we considered that he would feel comfortable because his housemates would be with him and he knows Tia and Foxy very well, too, as well, of course, as the humans! The children were very excited and had already allotted dogs to beds – theirs, of course.
We agreed that it would be sensible to have a trial run and take the dogs there for a day and go out, leaving them in the house. That was a good idea, but bad weather and the return with a vengeance of my ‘giddy bug’ meant that it didn’t happen. Christmas came and overwhelmed us with family, which was thoroughly enjoyable and suddenly, or so it seemed, New Year’s Eve was upon us.
On December 30th we packed the dogs and their bedding and food and Frodo’s medication into the car and set off to Dorset. Despite having had a long walk beforehand, Frodo and Gus whinged for much of the journey and were very happy to bounce out at the other end and play with their friends. Once they had settled (and Frodo was soundly asleep) we left. Arriving home we were greeted by Winston protesting that he had been alone all day.
On Friday we fed Winston, made sure there was plenty of food for him and that the house was warm and secure and repaired to the hotel, a mansion house in wonderful grounds. The evening began with champagne and canapés and progressed very pleasantly to a splendid supper followed by music and dancing. We even danced, which I came to regret!
Just before midnight the piper appeared, ready to play in the New Year and, true to form, Barry was nowhere to be seen. He came back in time to join in Auld Lang Syne which we sang with a young couple and their two small sons. It was strange to sing about ‘auld acquaintance’ never being ‘forgot’ with people we‘d only just met!
On New Year’s Day we drove to Dorset again. We called in to see Barry’s mother and then visited his brother and sister-in-law. Finally, we reached Gillian and Paul and the dogs clambered all over us in their joy. Frodo had been very good – most of the time - but had woken everyone by howling at 2:30 on Friday morning. I suppose he woke in unfamiliar surroundings and wanted some reassurance.
The photographer photographed. My camera battery expired just after this!
We eventually arrived home in the late evening after an extremely peaceful journey. The dogs slept all the way and passed the night in an exhausted slumber. The following day was quiet and relaxed and then a niggling ache began in my back and proceeded to worsen. Dancing in high heels – when I normally wear trainers every day – and two longish car journeys had made an impact. Consequently, I have been hobbling round like the Hunchback of Notre Dame for the past few days. Anyone watching would think I have one leg three inches shorter than the other! It’s not a pretty sight but it is improving.
It was a pleasant weekend, all told, and rounded off a busy festive season in style.