Friday, 27 August 2010

Alice meets the Welsh Boyo

I picked up Gwilym yesterday. A day later than we thought, because that's the nature of these things...a Rescue organisation saves a dog's life, holds him somewhere until he can be transported to a place of safety...it takes time and flexibility. The shelter that has now taken him in is called Terrier Rescue/Rescue Remedies and they are a strictly no-kill organisation so his life is now safe. And thank goodness for that, because he's a real sweetheart! Alice & I drove through fog and rain down the motorway yesterday, about 40 miles to our meeting place which was a hypermarket carpark! Gwilym had travelled all the way from Wales that morning, in a cage/crate in the back of a van...but he met us sweetly and calmly, not a hint of the uncertainty that must have been going through his mind. The 'angel' who saved him, Simon, had taken him into his own home for the previous two nights, with his own 4 dogs, so had a good idea of his character. No flaws at all, as far as he could tell - he's even good with cats! I got Miss Alice out of the car to meet her new friend:


They had a good sniff but no barking or growling. A great start. So we thanked the 'angels' Simon and Lynne from Rescue Remedies (a truly amazing woman who does so much for the dogs) and loaded our guest into the car....then back down the motorway towards home. We stopped off on the way at our favourite walking place, to give them a good run and stretch their legs. They romped and played together (not like Alice at all!!) and we met several other dogs with no problems. He settled well in the night too - Paul and I didn't hear a peep from downstairs, which was wonderful and quite unexpected given all he'd been through. I would have understood totally if he's whined or cried....but he loves the companionship of another dog, that seems to be enough.

So we settle into the new routine and hope that he finds his forever special home soon. I have a feeling it won't take long - he's going to make a wonderful family dog, I know.

In case you're wondering why we don't take him ourselves permanently....it's really that we don't feel able to make that commitment to another dog at the moment. Our home and garden are too small, we are away a lot and have the perfect place for Alice to go if we need to leave her...it's all so much more difficult with two. Not to say that we won't ever have another one.But right now, we felt we could be more use by offering a temporary loving shelter to dogs in dire need, and helping to save lives that way.


As you can see, though, Gwilym has taken a little piece of my heart already!

Happy weekend! xox

PS:. In case any UK readers are thinking what a lovely dog he is, and that you might like to offer him a home...click on the link above which will take you to the rescue website and all the details you need to do that. Just a thought! xo

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A New Boy

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments about my Mum's little dog Widget. She read them all and was so touched by the kindness and love. There's a new little grave on the farm, well tended and surrounded by those of all our other beloved dogs and cats...such a peaceful setting,by the pond at the top of the long grassy tree-lined walk we call The Glade. The graves are set under and around the trees,near the bench where we all sit to take in the views and rest when we walk there....perfectly placed to be looked at and remembered with love. I'm, sure they run with us, these little ghosts, when we walk the living panting dogs...they all loved this place so much, as we all do. Their home forever.

So, a happier week I hope....today was the Farmer's Market, which was busier than I expected being peak holiday time here. The rain held off, except for a few little showers which didn't touch me (or the cakes,more importantly!) sheltered under the awnings.

Tomorrow, we start a new adventure. We've decided to foster a dog from Rescue Remedies who has been saved from a pound in Wales (and,probably, a sad fate...) His name is Gwilym and he's what's called a Sprollie - that is, a spaniel/collie cross

What a handsome boy he looks! We really wanted to do this as we can't commit to adopting another dog properly at the moment, but there are so many out there needing help and this will give him a respite out of kennels to enjoy family life,eat & exercise well and live with another dog until his forever home is found. It also means that another kennel place is freed for yet another deserving but unwanted dog - and there is a neverending stream of them. Alice is so lucky, and has so much...we thought it would be good for all of us to share a little of that with a less fortunate boy. She may have other ideas of course....but it won't hurt her, and the socialising will be great for her too. Now I'm at home writing a lot, it made sense in so many ways...and more walks can only be a good thing for all of us!

So, Alice and I go to meet him and bring him home tomorrow. An exciting time!

Have a great week....giveaway coming up next, as it's my one year blogging anniversary! More soon.....xx

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Simple Goals & Late Summer Days

The idea for this post came from Dawn and her beautiful blog May All Seasons Be Sweet to Thee
which introduced me to Elsie at A Beautiful Mess
One of my favourite things about the blogging world is the people you meet, and the creativity that is unfolded in front of your eyes by these new talents. So inspiring. Elsie's initial idea was that we post 4 Simple Goals and try and achieve them by 2011...personal, life enhancing things...and reward ourselves when they are accomplished. It's a wonderful plan - one that really made me think. I need some new, small things to work towards, while I'm trying to achieve the big things too like writing my books! Here goes:

1. I want to create a really welcoming space in my writing room. At the moment, it's crowded & cluttered, a little dusty - to be honest,I sometimes have to force myself to go upstairs and start work, leaving the comfortable brightness of the rest of the house behind. The view is so wonderful - the church clock, trees, birds - that I really should organise the rest of the room accordingly. I need a new comfortable chair - perhaps with a cushion to rest in the small of my back - somewhere for flowers...it all needs a good overhaul.

2. Despite the fact (or maybe because of it?) that I've been a professional cook in some capacity for so many years, I find myself falling into the predictable trap of serving the same 5 or 6 meals most evenings - or variations on them, anyway. I need to break out of the rut, stop just reading all those cookbooks and start cooking from them. It's better at weekends for some reason, maybe because we often cook together and the days are more relaxed anyway.

3. I want to write more letters. Years ago, I was always communicating this way but the advent of e-mail and now Twitter has made everything so instant that the joy of receiving something wonderful in the post is getting lost. I'm very lucky that I've made some new friends - the Tweetettes as I call them - who seem to share my view on this (and so much else!) The delight when a card or handwritten note or small gift arrives makes me determined to return the favour more often....and treat some of my older friends & my family. Communication and thoughtfulness is so important to friendships. Another reason too. Yesterday I was looking through some old photographs when I found one of my grandfather, the last of my grandparents, who died almost 17 years ago...it was wrapped in a little letter he'd written me in shaky spider copperplate in 1992. The final words were: 'Keep smiling darling until I see you again, I love you, Grandad xxxx' Finding it again was like receiving a hug from him, all down those long years. Something that would never happen with an e-mail.

4.I want to try and find something new to do each week, something to break the little routines and habits that are so easy & seductive to human beings. Nothing spectacular: find a new place to walk with Alice, wear a different shade of lipstick, go & watch a movie that I don't expect to like, explore a new area of London. Live a life less ordinary. I have a horror of 'settling'...but I'm in danger of doing so. A happy life can be dangerous sometimes,if  it inhibits discovery and challenge.

So that's my four goals. Are you tempted to join me in finding your own?
The week has begun on a decidedly Autumnal note...warm, still, but the fading sepia mops of the hydrangea flowers are telling a story that can't be ignored. The season is changing, slowly but surely. My mother's little dog, Widget, died on Sunday.

a bossy little terrier with chocolate button eyes, saved from a nightmare life churning out litter after litter of puppies. In her 13 years at the farm, she changed from a scared,snappy little thing into a sweet natured companion with a personality much bigger than her small frame. She needed to go - a brain tumour was just too much, after a previous victorious battle against pancreatitis - but she's so missed by the whole family, especially my dad's dear Ivy, her devoted companion through most of her life. Run free, little girl. Every rabbit hole is now yours to explore until we see you again!

Have a happy week xox

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The writing life....

Since my truly wonderful week in Devon on the Arvon Foundation course, I've really felt transformed creatively. It just unlocked something, I think. For years and years I've had these impulses (really strong at times) to write...but I've let lack of confidence, procrastination - laziness?...just wash them over me. When I signed up for the course they were getting ever more insistent and then the week proved to me that I can write, that there are people out there (16 of them at least!) who don't know me but enjoy what I have to say. I realised when I was there that the opportunities I was being given - time, space, amazing tutors, inspiration sparked by talking to other like-minded but very different people - would not come again, or not easily anyway. So I was determined to get the most from the experience & to finish all the tasks we were set, to prove to myself that I had the stamina to finish what had too often before been just promising beginnings. Maybe that was the key that unlocked me? Who knows, but it worked. I also discovered something I think I knew about myself, which is that I work much better under pressure, when I have a deadline. So I've given myself a date to finish writing all the recipes that I'd like to appear in the cookbook I hope will one day be in the world. It's a fairly tight deadline - too long and I find myself doing other things, the little saboteur in my brain telling me that there's plenty of time. So far it's working really well and I'm enjoying it all so much.
The hardest thing was convincing myself that writing....unlike a more physical activity...can actually be work. Once I'd done that, it seemed very natural to go up to the little writing room I have set up on the top floor of the house
this is the view I have to stop myself looking at and dreaming the time away....but when I get down to it, I find that I lift my head and two hours have passed. A miracle! Fitting it in around the bakery is challenging at times, but I'm prioritising it above most things bar work. It's amazing the time you can find when you cut out the time wasting elements - tv watching, magazine reading, sleeping (!)

Watch this space. I shall be an author, one day, somehow, I know. I feel that my future is really in my hands now. So I'm doing everything I can to help it along!

Wishing you a creative, productive and happy week xox