Friday 24 April 2020

Another Year Gone!

Here I am for my annual visit to my blog which continues to be neglected.

I hope all is well out there in Blogland – or as well as it can be in these difficult times.

We are still able to take Dusty for his daily walk. For him life goes on pretty much as normal, except he’s not seeing his beloved girls or his little people. I know that when he does see the girls again, they’ll go mad, wag their tails and chase each other round and it will be as if they had never been apart.

During one walk he turned pink. I have no idea how. It took a lot of shampoo to clean him up and he had a pink tinge for quite some time after. How pleased does he look? He loves a bath!

I know we’re all in the same boat, missing family and friends, but we carry on carrying on and we adapt to the changing circumstances don’t we?

Nothing lasts forever and one day this will be a distant memory, something our children will tell their grandchildren about.

Bye for now – perhaps for another year. Take care of yourselves and stay safe.

Friday 26 April 2019

Poor Neglected Blog and a few words about Tennis Balls!

I think Blogging has fallen out of fashion. But I don't want to leave this one to die, so I'm posting some pictures which are far more interesting than anything I have to say! I particularly like the artwork on the bottom of the boat.


You may remember little Scout. She's not little any more. She's much bigger than her little big sister, Poppy.

Dusty and Tinks.

The biscuit queue (this house is still rug central as I worry All The Time about Dusty slipping over on the hard floors).
 Harley, my little sun-loving panther.

And Dusty.... being Dusty. He got the kids' football out of the box he's standing on.

Oh while I'm here a note about Dusty and tennis balls. Tennis balls badly damaged Dusty's teeth so he was only allowed them under supervision. BUT he can break into a tennis ball in seconds (minutes if it's a good quality one) - and often does. It wasn't just costing a fortune in tennis balls, but it was making him sick, because he'd always end up swallowing bits of ball and green fuzz. Bear in mind he isn't given tennis balls to just play with and only has them on a field for games of fetch. He fetches and brings them back, but now and then he'll lie down for a rest and just rip and tear.

This is the dog who picked up my ball-flinger and snapped it in half with no effort at all. For a dog with several teeth missing and only two blunt fangs, that's pretty good (or bad) going.

I think I have found an indestructible ball - and one he's happy to play with. Last December I splashed out on a couple of Chuckit balls. Not the fuzzy tennis ball, but just rubber balls. The reviews were good and I thought if I can get a ball to last a week, I'll probably break even. Well, friends, he is still playing with the original Chuckit ball - this is every day since last December so he's had four months worth of ball out of one ball. I've more than broken even - I've saved a fortune and he isn't continually throwing up bits of tennis ball.

Here's a link to the balls in case anyone is interested.

I had to change comments on this blog because I had to come on here every few days to delete all the spam from the "awaiting moderation" section so I have stopped allowing anonymous comments at all.

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather while it lasts!

Friday 16 November 2018

More Than Halfway Through November!

It's no secret. I don’t like November. It’s a month of sad anniversaries and things-going-wrong.

But something nice! Earlier this year a pair of swans had eight cygnets. We didn’t think they’d manage to raise all eight safely, especially as some are what are known as Polish Mute Swans.

I didn’t know this until I was chatting to our local swan lady at 5 am during an early Dusty walk in summer (she had just come from feeding them). She said the Polish swans are often not as healthy. You can tell the difference as they don’t have the usual brown plumage and their legs and feet are greyish pink.

She also told me that male swans lose all their flight feathers and don’t get them back until it is time to teach the young to fly. She was fascinating to talk to, telling me how she got into swan rescue – I could have chatted with her all day!

We’ve watched the youngsters grow and now they are almost the same size as their parents. We’ve seen them take their first tentative flights and watched as they got bolder! One day all ten were flying and the parents landed on the dyke, but the kids carried on!

You could almost hear the parents muttering as they took off again and gave chase. One went to head the kids off while the other flew round behind them and they herded them back to the dyke. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get a photo of them in the air. I did get a wonderful one of them all on the sun spangled sea – except I didn’t. When I checked my photos when I got home, I’d just taken photos of the sea and completely missed the swans. I do miss having a viewfinder especially on a dazzling day!!

The other day Scout went down to the edge of the dyke where the swans normally sit and for the first time ever, she went deaf when I called her. The next thing we knew, she’d jumped in. The water went right over her head and she panicked and scrabbled her way out again. She’s paddled before, but that was her first swim.

She raced back up the bank to us then the reason for her panic came into view, ten beautiful swans.

The other day she was chased round the field by two small dogs. Two very small dogs. They were smaller than Westies and she was genuinely terrified. She has no concept of how big she is and is still only 10 months old.

She is lovely though and so tall that Dusty can walk underneath her.

I’m still working mainly on my laptop downstairs as I still can’t sit at my desk for too long and sometimes working on the laptop has its disadvantages... or advantages depending on how you look at it!

Saturday 15 September 2018

A Curate's Egg of a Summer!

That’s how summer felt, but looking back it was mostly good. Not the summer I had planned, but these things happen.

It began with a blur of doctor’s appointments, a visit to Minor Injuries (me), a dash to A&E (hubby), more doctor’s appointments, another dash to Colchester General (hubby again), physiotherapists, nurses, doctors – argh!

The school summer holidays began and for the first year ever, I had no days out planned, but fun was had in the garden with the paddling pool and we managed to fit in crabbing, swimming and beach. I took them to Clacton Pier and realised with a bit of a pang that even the smallest ones no longer need to be accompanied on the rides. My role was water, snack and jacket carrier as well as taxi driver which I am happy to do.

Scout came into season during the holidays so had to be kept away from Dusty. Then Dusty had his accident…

He ran onto the beach as he always does, went for a splash in the sea then we noticed blobs of blood on the grass when he came back. Some poor dog has injured itself I thought…

At which point my hubby noticed that Dusty had four bright red legs and a red stomach and chest! It was quite a walk back to the car and he left a trail of blood. When we got home, I hosed the blood off him – I’d already deduced it was coming from one of his paws, but I needed to find exactly where – while hubby phoned the vet.

The cut was above his paw – at his wrist – and there was blood all over the patio and a towel which I’d had wrapped round him in the car. I put a dressing on and we dashed to the vet. It is a 20 minute drive if the traffic is good, but can take twice as long as that. I honestly don’t know how he had any blood left in him.

I was convinced on that drive that he was going to pass out and die!

While we were gone, my son went outside and cleaned away all the blood and washed the towel. It looked as if there’d been a murder.

When the vet took off the dressing, I could see the cut and blood began to pump out. She quickly put it back on and said they would have to admit him and anaesthetise him. We had an anxious wait then as he’d had breakfast which made an anaesthetic more risky (note to self – NEVER give him breakfast before his walk again).

He was sick on the table and when we went to pick him up they gave us a carrier bag full of medicine. Antibiotics, pain relief, two different stomach medicines (because he’d been sick), syringes to administer the milky stomach medicine and a drip bag with a bandage threaded through it to put over his heavily bandaged paw if he went outside in the rain.

Shark Bandage

And he was back to wearing the dreaded battering-ram leg-bruiser lampshade!

Oh no not again!

Three vet visits later (for wound checks, dressing changes and stitch removal) and he is back to his normal self again, but we are avoiding that part of the beach. It was almost certain that it was glass that cut him. One of the vets told me that they had had a lot more dogs with injuries like that coming in this year.

Blue stitches

I’m just glad we weren’t at the far distant beach because I don’t think we would have made it home.

Scout’s grown a bit since they got her in March when she was about the size of a cat! She towers over Dusty now.

Scout - 8 months

At the end of the holidays my two granddaughters-from-away joined us for a week and all the cousins went to Jimmy’s Farm which is a great value day out with plenty to keep the kids occupied. They were particularly taken with a beautiful blue-eyed Rhea and the Capybara.

Beautiful blue eyes


There were more beautiful butterflies in the butterfly house than last year. But – curate’s egg again – a load of children were running wild in there, running through the greenery and screaming and shouting while their parents ignored them. Luckily a keeper was in there and told them to stick to the paths and behave. Why would you take kids in somewhere like that if you can’t control them? There are plenty of play areas for them to run off steam. Sorry – excuse me while I just tuck my soap box away again.

So now summer is over, everyone is back at school and work, and hubby and I have our consultant appointments later this month. Today is the day I hope to get back into a serious writing routine, but I’m not counting any chickens just in case the pesky Law of Sod comes and bites me on the bum again!

Hope you’ve had a lovely summer!

Thursday 26 July 2018

Goodbye to Little Scrappy Tweetie Bird!

It’s been a while since I blogged. A lot of things have been happening on the home front.

First I did something to my neck/shoulder which means I can’t use my computer and driving is painful. I’ve found a way to sit on the sofa with a laptop so I am able to write, but it’s very slow.

This isn’t meant to be a poor me post especially as it's my poor husband who is really in the wars and in need of looking after. Remember that old saying? It was one my parents used a lot.

That reminds me of something my mum used to say when things went wrong or she was really cross, “Bloody Wars”. You always knew you were in trouble when she said that. I looked it up and apparently it originated in Norfolk, unless anyone out there knows different.

Remember the little sparrow we rescued from behind the wall, the one I was so determined not to get fond of? (That ship sailed on day one). She grew into a lovely young bird and we got her a bigger cage hoping she’d be able to fly a little (out of the cage, she always ended up on the floor! And there was talk of building an aviary for her). We also got a bird table so there would always be food in the garden for her when we let her go.

At one point releasing her didn’t look likely as she wasn’t at all inclined to feed herself. I started counting how many mealworms I was feeding her and it was between 40 and 50 a day.

She wouldn’t eat seed and all she seemed to eat were the mealworms and only if I fed them to her.

We started to put her out in the garden in the cage (keeping the cats in) and she was often visited by a pair of collared doves, but no sparrows.

I put a spray of millet in the cage, more in hope than expectation and the next thing there were millet husks everywhere. Soon I saw her drinking water and pecking at the seed in her dish  and sparrows began to come to have a look.

It didn’t happen overnight, but it was quick once she got the hang of it. She started throwing her mealworms on the floor and flapping her wings. I don’t think she could have said any clearer, “Hey come on, I’m ready! I’ve got this.” But I wasn’t! Oh my goodness, I wasn’t. I won’t lie – there were tears. A lot of tears.

I was heartbroken at the thought of turning her out into the big wide world and all its dangers.

“I’ll leave it until tomorrow,” I said. But my son said, “Do it! The cats are indoors and settled and we’ve all weekend.” So I opened up the cage and she flew right out and went round the garden before landing on the grass.

This is it, I thought. She’ll come back now. The big outdoors is too much for her. But once she’d got her breath back, she flew out of the garden and I thought I’d never see her again, but she came back after a while and sat in the honeysuckle. She gaped her beak at me so I gave her a mealworm and she threw it on the ground then flew round my head about three times before flying away again. She seemed so joyful and the sentimental part of me thought she was telling me she was fine to look after herself now.

I don’t know if she’s been back, but we have had two female sparrows in the back garden and one of them comes right up to the patio doors. I always said if she flew away and we never saw her again, I’d assume she’d hooked up with a group of sparrows so that’s what I’m assuming.

We kept the cats in for a couple of days and I put dishes of food round the garden. I left the cage out there, door wide open, just in case she wanted to come back.

Yesterday my son folded the cage up and we’ve packed it away in the garage, just in case we ever need it again. I hope we don’t, but raising that beautiful little bird from the almost bald little thing she was, turned out to be something very special and an experience I am very glad to have had.

Oh and in case you wondered why it hasn’t rained, that might be my fault I’m afraid. I got fed up getting caught in the rain on the school run, so I put an umbrella in the car just in case. That was several weeks ago and it hasn’t rained since. The law of sod at work. I’m very sorry. I will remove the umbrella just as soon as the grandchildren aren’t looking – they’ve told me to leave it where it is!

Sunday 1 July 2018

The Winner of Plots and Plotting is....

Thank you to everyone who commented on the last post and as promised all the names went into a draw to win a copy of Plots and Plotting by Diana Kimpton.

A long time ago my beautiful dog Indy picked a winner from a cowboy hat for a blog competition and I had ideas of Dusty following in his footsteps.

But I couldn’t find the cowboy hat. So I put the pieces of paper outside thinking Dusty might choose one as he loves picking things up, but they started blowing round the garden. Once I'd retrieved them from various bushes, I weighed down each name with one of Scout's puppy treats – which meant I could unfold the paper so the names were visible (just wish I'd used a darker pen!).

Dusty was watching from inside, licking his lips while I took a photo of the names. Meanwhile Harley strolled up wanting to know what was going on.

What's all this?

I hoped to be able to get a photo of the first treat Dusty took, but before I could let him out, it seemed Harley made the decision on his behalf and I had to agree with her that as the longest serving four legged member of this household, she had that right.

Don't Mind If I Do

So there you have it – congratulations to LL Cool Joe Joey's Pad! I’ll be in touch so we can get the book sent out to you.

The Winner!

By the time Dusty and Tinks came out, all the treats had gone!

What did we miss?

Thank you again to Diana for her lovely guest post and for giving away a copy of her book.

Friday 22 June 2018

Guest Post by Diana Kimpton – Win a signed copy of Plots and Plotting

As soon as I heard that Diana Kimpton had written a book about plotting, I went straight to Amazon and bought myself a copy. As I read it I felt as if this book had been written for me. I have found it hugely inspiring and I highly recommend it. 

I am delighted that Diana has written a post for this blog and everyone who comments will go into a draw to win a signed copy of Plots and Plotting. The winner of the book will be announced on Sunday, 1st July. 

Now over to Diana!

When I first became a writer, I struggled to write anything longer than a picture book or short story. I was so bad that my first attempt at a novel was rejected for having a weak plot and a flat ending. I was devastated by that comment so I dived into books on story structure in an attempt to learn to plot.

After lots of study, I could recognize inciting incidents, pick out turning points and have a good stab at analysing the hero's journey. I could even spot what was wrong with some of the bad films and books I came across. But that didn't help me create my own plots, because story analysis is a completely different skill from story creation. However hard you study a finished book or film, you can't tell how the ideas came together in the writer's mind.

In response to the advice often given to writers, I tried creating characters and seeing where they would go. But mine packed up and left in chapter 3 because the story was so boring. Then I tried working out a chapter by chapter breakdown. But that acted like a straightjacket on my creativity and resulted in the bad novel I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Finally I discovered step outlining: a technique that freed my creativity and took me from rejection to selling a million copies of my books.  It lets me start with any scene in my story and work backwards or forwards from there to create my plot. I usually work out a complete step outline before I start writing as that minimises the number of drafts I have to do. But sometimes I start writing earlier and use the step outline to help with the rewriting or I use a stop and start technique of plot, write, plot, write. There is no right way to work and no set rules. Step outlining gives you the freedom to find a way of plotting that works for you and your story.   

My methods have worked so well for me that I decided to pass them on to other writers. But when I started writing Plots and Plotting, my test readers asked for examples to help them see how my ideas work in action. That created a problem. I couldn't use other people's books because I didn't know how their writers created them, and I couldn't use my own books either because I couldn't remember exactly how I worked out their plots. In the end, I decided to demonstrate step-outlining live by developing a brand new story as I wrote - revealing all my mistakes, changes of mind and occasional flashes of inspiration in the process. I don't know if I'll ever turn that plot into a novel,  but I've enjoyed providing an insight into how a writer's mind works and the feedback I've had from readers suggest they enjoy it too.

I've noticed that this blog has lots of photos of dogs. I don't have one so I thought you'd like to see a photo of my horse instead.  He gets a mention in the book because I bought a horse to help with my research for There Must Be Horses.  (Well that was my excuse anyway).

Diana Kimpton is the author of more than 40 books, including her successful Pony-Mad Princess series. She writes for adults as well as children and many of her books have been translated into other languages. You can find out more about her at

Plots and Plotting is available from and