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24 December 2007

Brac counts down the hours

Brac is present mad. He cottoned on very quickly and seems to think that all presents should be his. Since I put the presents under the tree a few days ago he has been keeping watch. He wants them but knows he has to wait until they are given to him. So he sits facing the tree looking longingly at the presents, waiting. Every now and then he gets a little impatient and gives a little woof just to remind us he is still waiting... and waiting, and waiting. I wonder what thoughts are going through his head? I wonder if he hopes for anything particular to be in them? He can certainly smell which ones have come from a pet shop and which contain food but even those meant for us with cosmetics or some other non dog attractive contents are still watched longingly, while he waits. It's a hard life for a dog.

20 December 2007

Merry Christmas


I've been a bit distracted lately with getting ready for Christmas so I've not been doing much blogging. In case I don't get the chance to blog again before hand I would just like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas.

11 December 2007

Turning bad energy into good

OK enough of the sulks! I attacked my study last night, it's still work in progress but as I was not in any mood to take prisoners the results are really quite evident. I am now staring at a blank wall where once my drawing board, A1 folio, cutting boards and Mount card were all stacked. My desk top will be next followed probably by files cabinet. The extra space is helping me feel better as is the sense of achievement. As I no longer do any garden design work I have finally decided that anything to do with that business can either be stored in the loft or chucked out completely. The only stuff allowed in my study now must relate to pet portraits, photography or computing. Even my genealogy stuff is under threat as most of it is on my PC so why do I need so much paper?
Turning depression into meanness brings a certain sadistic pleasure which is OK provided I focus it on inanimate objects. Oh and BTW, one of the big factors in yesterdays mood was that I am/was premenstrual but didn't realise it, the penny dropped this morning when I saw the calendar. Now all I need is some hapless telesales person to ring my by chance. Come on...I dare you!

10 December 2007

Sometimes I just hate Mondays!

You might think that people who work for themselves don't get Monday blues but you would be wrong. If any day of the week is going to be a bad one you can bet your life Monday will be it for me. Since my shoulder injury I have not been able to get a comfortable nights sleep. I cannot find a comfortable position laying down no matter which side I lay on. So I try sleeping propped up on loads of pillows in a semi reclined position. The result is I don't sleep that well and when I finally do get off, usually in the early hours, I end up slipping down the pillows and laying on my bad shoulder so that when I wake up it hurts like hell. This morning was no exception. I have Co-codamol to take which is probably not helping my mood and I've recently been given sleeping pills which I am too scared to take for fear they will increase my chances of becoming depressed. So anyway, not a happy bunny this morning with a very stiff shoulder. At 11 am I had a physio session which only increases my sense of feeling down. The physio asks me to make some really simply insignificant movements with my elbow that no matter how much I try I can't do. She didn't seem alarmed by this but I felt extremely disappointed as even when she made the task easier for me all I could manage was a twitch and not without some discomfort. I went back to my car that was parked in amongst some trees nose in which is something I never normally do except this is one of those car parks that is laid out so that you can only park one way. As I pull out my front nearside wing collides with a yew tree. The quarter light was ripped out of the bodywork and there is a huge dent in the wing.
When I got home my mum rang to say she had just returned safely from her two month trip to Australia and to thank me for looking after things for her. I wanted to sound happy and welcoming and be all interested in what she had done but I couldn't and that has made me feel even worse. I told her what was wrong when she asked but that still isn't the kind of reception she should have got and I'm not sure I have the mental energy at present to cope with the tales she'll want to tell.
Roll on Tuesday. The sun is supposed to be shining tomorrow and there is another opportunity to try and get some sleep before hand.

07 December 2007

Frustrated Woodpecker

Just five minutes ago I was alerted to the sound of a woodpecker creating a fuss. When I looked out of the window I saw it was a female great spotted. She was looking for a nest box probably to roost in and had mistaken my bat boxes for for nest boxes. On not finding the hole she was clearly getting quite agitated but didn't want to give up and even tried knocking her own hole through. She tried from every angle to no avail before flying off and trying out a tit box for size. The silly thing is there is a woodpecker box in the next tree if only she had looked there. Apologies for the poor quality of these shots but this is something that literally just happened outside my study window and all I had to hand was my little pocket camera with minimal zoom. Added to that the tree she was in was at such an acute angle and I could not open the window without scaring her away.

06 December 2007

Dog from Hell

I saw this on flickr and really couldn't believe it was for real but unfortunately for the dog it is. Poor thing, I just hope no-one shows him this photo or he'll be traumatised for life!

05 December 2007

The Eternal Optimist


I took this photo 2 days ago on the heath when Brac decided size did matter when it came to sticks. Having uploaded it to flickr one of my contacts noted what a confident dog he appears to be. She was totally right of course because thankfully Brac has tons of confidence.
Today when I got him out of the car for a walk he was instantly set upon by two abnormally objectionable poodles. He did his best to ignore them even though they kept trying to head him off. He didn't even give them a growl. He got clear of them, ran after me and on passing me a few yards rounded a corner and came face to face with two springer spaniels who also took objection to him and had a go. Poor dog, it just wasn't his day but I was so impressed that he didn't so much as curl a lip. It was third time lucky though because next he met a couple of Westies and they were as happy with him as he was with them.
One thing I don't believe in is being over protective as I think that just induces nervousness. It is true that confidence was one of the characteristics I looked for when I chose him as a puppy but that is something easily lost and I am sure that by not fussing and showing concern myself when he gets into situations I have helped him retain his outgoing nature. That's not to say I wouldn'd get involved if I had to. He has on three separate occasions now been attacked by German shepherds and each time I had to intervene to get the shepherd off but I don't them pamper Brac and fuss over him or give him any indication that I was worried about the situation. This aside it still has not put him off making friends with GSD's, he simply avoids the ones that have been nasty.

29 November 2007

Tribute to the Spindle Bush


Although the autumn colour here in the South East of England has been disappointing I couldn't let the autumn go without giving a tribute to the spindle berry bushes. They have been fantastic. I have never seen them so well berried up and what amazing berries they are. Only nature could get away with mixing pink and orange together. One possible reason as to why I have noticed the berries more this year is because Euonymus is one of the shrubs that is supposed to have good autumn leaf colour but this year the leaves fell off before turning thus exposing the berries. Another reason might be that we had a very sunny early spring and a lot of fruiting trees and shrubs produced an abundance of blossom. Often when this happen we get a late frost and it ruins the drop but that didn't happen this year and the subsequent wet summer did no harm at all. I'm sure the birds will eat well this winter.

27 November 2007

10,000 flickr visitors

I've only been using flickr for 6 months but incredibly I had my 10,000th viewer to my photo stream today. I find that quite awesome and amazing. If any of you enjoy digital photography and haven't already done so you really ought to check flickr out. My skill as a photographer has expanded enormously since I have been sharing images on it. There are so many creative ideas out there to try. But more than that, it has encouraged me to experiment more with my photographs rather than simply file and forget them. Sharing ideas with other photographers gives me a real buzz too. Be warned, flickr can become addictive.

25 November 2007

A Touch of Frost

One thing I really like about late autumn are really frosty mornings and clear, china blue skies. On such days I simply can't wait to get out on the heath with Brac. I've absolutely no idea if he appreciates the cold, he's always more frisky when it's biting cold but whether that is just to keep warm or an expression of happiness I can't say. I'm not sure I would be too keen to be running around with bare feet in freezing conditions but then nor do I enjoy sticking my nose up strange peoples bums! :-)
Frozen puddles certainly prove to be a challenge to him as he hasn't worked out yet that you simply can't stop or turn on ice like you can normally. Many a time he has completely lost his feet but that never seems to deter him or slow him up. Just all part of the fun.
The next few days are supposed to be milder which probably means damp and dreary but the weather does seem to be shaping up well for a decent winter so maybe soon we will get some snow.

22 November 2007

Shoulder progress

Well I've now been photographed in places I would never imagine. Inside my shoulder. If someone had said these pictured were of the surface of Mars I would have been none the wiser. Lots of red which apparently shows inflamed tendons and a cloudy one which is or was an a spur of bone. The latter was trimmed off and was apparently causing the inflammation and restriction in movement. It has a fancy name...of course 'sub-acromical decompression'. I think these names are supposed to make you feel like you've achieved something :-) Perhaps you can use them like letters after your name...Sally Jane Turner BA(Hons) SAD. Ummm, maybe not the best initials :-) This was all done yesterday and I'm home again now resting but in a mobile kind of way. I've got to keep it moving but without using any muscles! Back to physio tomorrow, hopefully it will work this time.

19 November 2007

Sucess on the Cards


With Christmas fast approaching I have been kept quite busy with producing pet portraits for Christmas presents which is great. My turnover this year has probably doubled on this time last year as word gets round and my web site becomes more popular. This year though, people have started noticing my cards as well as my portraits and orders for cards are now really taking off. I produce the cards to order which means they can be customised in any way customers require. People who have ordered portraits are now returning to order Christmas cards of their pet while other people who have not had or require a pet portrait are simply ordering cards because they like the designs and want a stock of animal cards to cover various occasions. All the cards shown in my gallery are for general sale and can be customised with any greeting or message either inside or out. The more pet portraits I do the more cards I can add to my gallery so if a particular breed is not shown today, just check back later to see what new ones have been added.

08 November 2007

Shouldering On

For the last 3 months I have been having regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy on my frozen shoulder to try and get the mobility back again. I've even had some acupuncture sessions but all to no avail. I still only have about 50% of the movement I should have in my left shoulder and it gets quite uncomfortable at times. Monday I saw the consultant again. He agreed that it wasn't going quite as planned so tomorrow I am booked in for an MRI scan on it. I'm hoping this will show what's wrong but in either case I will be having another op on it on 21st which will involve inserting a camera into my shoulder to see what happens when it is manipulated. What I think this will all add up to in the short term is a lot of pain, more physio and some big bills but hopefully this time it won't be in vain.

On a brighter not, next Saturday, Brac and I get to try out for the Southern Obedience Team for Crufts next year. We will naturally be trying for the Beginners place. There are 5 dogs in each team, a beginner, a novice, an A, a B and a C class dog. Only 2 of the dogs can be border collies the rest of the team can be any breed. Border collies are discriminated against as the kennel club is trying to encourage other breeds into the sport. Hence, even if Brac wins his trial on Saturday he is still unlikely to make the team but the experience will be good for us and I'm looking forward to it. Do wish us luck.

27 October 2007

It's a Red One!

Today was the last South East England open obedience show of the season. Nothing now for about 6 months. It was also one of the few shows I had managed to enter this year. We had a disastrous beginning and I was all for writing the year off but as the this show at Ardingly in Sussex is a kind of tradition for us to end the season on I decided to enter anyway. Just as well I did because the 'boy came good'. We have won our first Beginners class. We need two wins in this class to move up but the second will have to wait for next season. I am over the moon and now feel more motivated to continue next year. Mind you, I have to say I didn't think he worked that well but I deliberately didn't hang around to watch the others compete and by all accounts they weren't up to much. Now I just have to buy cakes for everyone at the dog club. It's about time I got to buy the cakes :-)

16 October 2007

Clouds do come with silver linings

Yesterday the weather men warned us that today would be really wet...all day! "Great", I thought, as I envisaged walking a muddy dog in the rain and hosing him down before allowing him back in the house, "nothing I like better!" Hey ho.
This morning loomed dark and gloomy as I peered out from under the covers. Dark and gloomy yes but rain, no. OK, I can do dark and gloomy. As I fetched Brac in from his kennel the first few drops begin to fall. Ummm. I devise to get some breakfast and see if it develops, if not, I'll take him for his walk early. It didn't get any worse, just a fine mist of dampness so off we go to the heath. When I got there the car park was full. Seems like all of Wilmington and half of Dartford had had the same idea. There were dog walkers everywhere. Normally I might only meet one or two other people but this morning there were dogs everywhere which was good because Brac loves to socialise.
I advertise on the side of my car for my pet portraits and as we returned to the car I saw a man there waiting for me. He was interested in getting a portrait done for his girlfriend as a Christmas present. The full car park was an obvious bonus, may be I should have some brochures available that people could help themselves to while me car is parked there. I don't like the idea of leaving stuff under peoples wipers as that is tacky and invasive but I'm sure I could exploit the advertising a little more effectively.
By 10am I was back home, ready for a cup of coffee and with a clear day ahead and another job on the books. All thanks to a miserable weather report.

14 October 2007

Christmas countdown

It's official. The Turner house has gone into Christmas countdown mode. Normally I avoid thinking about it until December! Yes, that's right, we generally leave everything to the last minute. This year things have come together to force me into early action. Mum is off to visit her family in Australia tomorrow and won't be back until 2 weeks before Christmas so that means my sisters and I needed to come to some sort of agreement as to who what and when for Christmas so that mum could have some warning. Kim, my youngest sister lives the furthest out and they have a 5 month old baby so expecting them to do Chrismas lunch this year was possibly not ideal. Ann, my older sister normally likes to have everyone over for boxing Day so that left me.
I like to make my own Christmas puds and as October is the traditional time to make them so they can mature, that is what I have been doing today. The house now smells all full of Christmas spices.
The next job will be to make the Christmas cake. I plan to get that done this week as like the puddings the cake needs time to mature.
We also went out today and ordered some new furniture for the lounge. We had been looking for some new stuff since I decorated it in August and I've just sold my old sideboard and the coffee table we have is falling apart. I also wanted to get rid of the CD racks and have them hidden away so they don't collect dust plus we needed a nest of occasional tables so that anyone sitting in the arm chairs that are out of reach of the coffee table wouldn't need to put their drinks on the floor. We had managed without them up to now but the thought of not just having an excitable dog in the lounge with us but a crawling baby as well highlighted how having drinks on the floor might not be a good idea. Luckily we managed to find everything we wanted to match in solid light oak. The shop promised to deliver it before Christmas...Ummm I'll believe that when it comes.
Ideally I would like to get the hall decorated before Christmas but as I am the main painter and decorator that might not happen unless my shoulder makes a miraculous recovery. It would be nice though. :-)

13 October 2007

Wilmington's Big Day

This weekend is the high point in the Wilmington village calendar. It's the annual Model Railway Enthusiasts Exhibition. Yipee! OK so I know people interested in this kind of stuff can get really enthusiastic but this event is held in a small village hall with no parking and people comes from a good 30 mile radius to go to it. The highlight is the arrival of a full size traction engine that makes trips around the village. OK, I don't mind that bit, it's actually quite nice hearing the steam horn sounding as it goes up the road. I might try and get a photo when it passes. Does that make me sound like a bit of an anorak?. Help.
Needless to say parking is a major headache in the village and will be until Sunday night especially tomorrow morning when the same parking spaces will be required for people attending the church next door.
In fairness, I have to say I have never been to the Railway Exhibition even though it is only a few hundred yards down the road, so maybe it is something to get excited about! Ummm. It certainly seems to put us on the map. No, I think I'll give it a miss at least for another year.

09 October 2007

Every Home Should Have One!


Chances are, if you don't like creepy crawlies or spider then you won't like this one but if this is the case then this is exactly what you do need. A House Centipede (scutigera coleoptrata). OK, I'll admit, I didn't know what it was when I saw it other than to have a pretty good idea it was a centipede. We don't get these in the UK as it's too cold but they are apparently common in the southern half of Europe. This is only the second one I've seen and it was in one of the ch√Ęteaus we visited whilst in France. They love shady dampish places and prefer indoors to out especially if the temperature is a bit cool. OK, I know what you are thinking..."Why on earth should we have one if this is exactly the kind of thing we can't stand?" I admit it does seem a bit bizarre at first thought but this creature is apparently an amazing hunter of all things creepy crawly. You are not ever likely to become infested with them as they are fairly solitary and they will kill and eat anything from spiders to flies. They can apparently run fast enough to catch a fly before it can take off!

Personally, I think they are amazing creations that look like something out of prehistoric times. For this reason I could not resist having a play with this image in Photoshop for uploading to flickr. Here is the result. Much more impressive.

01 October 2007

Just what the Dr. wouldn't have ordered!


It was our wedding anniversary last weekend so we decided to take a long weekend away. We didn't finalise where we would go until Thursday as the weather was so unsettled everywhere. Finally we decided to fly ourselves to Tours just to the south of Paris on the Loire. Friday morning was dismal and cold here and I really wasn't expecting much better in France but I could not have been more wrong. We flew through loads of cold wet clouds but they all cleared away just before we landed and the weather for the whole weekend was glorious.
Tours turned out to be fantastic for a city break. The old part of the city is medieval and packed with restaurants and bars. There are plenty of museums to visit but best of all the region is crammed with fantastic old Royal ch√Ęteaus. These are all out of town but you can hire a minibus for a day or half day to take you to them. We visited two, Chenonceau, pictured above, and Ambois.
Typically with any city break there is always plenty of walking to do. Since I got kicked I had been using a walking stick whenever I went for a walk of any distance. Without it my leg would ache so much and my limp would gradually get worse and worse. I forgot to pick it up as I left home so had to endure walking around Tours without it. By the evening of the first day, Friday, my leg was really hurting and I was beginning to wonder how I was going to cope for the whole weekend.
That evening we found a busy square with a bar selling Champagne cocktails. We indulged whilst watching the world go by. Later we wandered off down the road checking out the menus of the various restaurants until we found one we liked. We ordered a bottle of the local Touraine wine and notice there was a drink on the specials board being sold by the glass. We asked what it was and was told it was a local speciality of fortified wine and honey. We ordered some of that as well out of curiosity. By the end of our meal our drinks were all gone and needless to say I was feeling a little the worse for wear. Time to wander home. As we made our way back to the hotel I suddenly realised I couldn't feel any discomfort in my leg. We joked about it and I felt sure I would feel the full force in the morning.
Next morning, not only did I not have a hang-over (much to my surprise) but my leg still felt fine. In fact, it was not until that evening after another full day of walking that it started to ache again. Easily solved by another bottle of win at dinner:-)
OK so the weekend and the indulgence had to come to an end but even now, a good day and a half after the last bottle, my leg still feels fine. Not completely back to normal but a good 90%. I can't imagine any Dr. prescribing getting plastered on wine as a remedy but it certainly worked. Unfortunately it had no effect on my shoulder but you can't have everything.

26 September 2007

Keep up the good work!

I went back to see my consultant today about my shoulder. Last time I saw him he was less than impressed by my progress 2 weeks on from the op. Today I felt like I had made no improvement since then and he might come up with a different course of action. I have to say that going to physio three times a week and running through countless different exercises several times each day and not noticing any significant improvement has left me feeling a bit deflated. My hope was on a glimmer of light being offered by the consultant today but all he said was that I was my progress was about average and I should continue what I'm doing for another 6 weeks until I see him again. That gem of information will cost me £130 plus another £35 every time I visit the physio. It would be worth it if I could see some signs of improvement but even the physios are telling me it should be far better. It's my own fault really. I should have had something done about it far sooner. Oh well, another 6 weeks it is then, back to the exercises.

Still, on a more positive note. I had a great day yesterday. I had a commission deep in the heart of Kent for a surprise portrait of a horse for my client's husband. The horse was a 'cart horse' of no particular breeding but he has got to be one of the most beautiful horses I've seen. They used him for carriage eventing so he was trained in harness and he looked every bit the part. Pied balled with a very long straight white main and tail and full feathers. Beautiful conformation and as a stallion he was proud with it so held his head wonderfully. When I asked her what his history was she told me they bought him from some gypsies! Amazing, so few gypsy horses have such a good shape but then out of the thousands of poor broken down animals they breed a few have got to turn out right. The other thing that generally makes gypsy horses look so poor is their lack of work so they tend not to be very muscled up. This horse was certainly not lacking there as since they had had him he had been trained regularly and is constantly in competitions. When I can I'll upload the image to my web site but as this is a surprise Christmas present it will have to wait in case her husband should stumble across it.

21 September 2007

Portrait of a Wayward Pony

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog you will know who 'wayward pony' is. For the rest of you, you really don't want to know. Notice there is no head collar. It was 'painstakingly' removed...by digital editing in the end. Notice too how demure she looks. Ummm ;-)
Visit www.sally-jane.com/photographic_art/pet-portraits.html for more information on my pet portraiture.

17 September 2007

A Silver Lining


OK so I've done my moaning but its a very dark cloud indeed that has no silver lining. The injury to my thigh meant that I could no longer participate in the agility competitions I had entered for the weekend. OK, so that doesn't sound like much of a silver lining it's true but the weather on Saturday was just perfect for gliding. As there have been few really good gliding days this summer and as the season is virtually at an end this was too good an opportunity to miss. So the three of us packed into the aeroplane and headed off to the gliding club in the Midlands where we keep our glider. It was Paul's turn for the glider so I was ground crew but that was OK. I think all the members had the same idea worried that this would be their last chance this year. Everyone was rigging and before long the launchpoint was chock-a-block with gliders all waiting to go. A task of 220km (approx 132 miles)was set and by lunchtime they were gone.
A few hours later and the leaders start returning often swooping over the airfield in a victory beet-up. Everyone got round successfully including Paul who was now a very happy bunny.

It wasn't just Paul who was a happy bunny though. Last time I flew the glider I had had to do so leaving the undercarriage down as I did not have the strength in my left arm to operate it. Well it seems the physio is paying off as although I don't have much more mobility the strength has returned and now I can operate the undercarriage and so easily that I find it incredible that I could not do it before.
That night we enjoyed what was probably to be the last of the season's bar-be-ques. The nights are getting a little too chill now though so while Paul did the honours the rest of us stayed in the bar...hic!

This last image is probably a pretty good representation of how Brac appears to me when I've had to wait too long for the food to be ready ;-)

14 September 2007

The 13th was not my lucky day! (Occupational Hazard?)

Now, I won't say I'm totally free of blame here. There were plenty of warning signs and a lesson to be learned. Basically I was kicked by a clients pony. Luckily, an unshod one.
One of my first mistakes is to forget that there are two classes of horse owners. Those that 'do' at least to some degree and those that simply 'don't'. By that I mean those that look after their charges as well as ride them and those that have this all done for them, including taking up, and simply have to turn up when they want to ride. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with that but this group tend not to have as much understanding of their animals. My client, to be referred to a IC from here on and I'll let you think of a suitable word for the 'I', was of the latter category I eventually discovered.
IC was not at the stables when I arrived on time for the photo shoot. This should have been my first warning. So far, all of my clients have been in attendance well before I have been due to arrive so they could get their charges all spruced up and looking pretty. IC was about 15 minutes late and there was no one else at the yard apart from a very friendly guard dog.
Warning sign No.2, IC appears all 'dressed up to the nines' in a satin blouse, designer black 3/4 length jeans, winkle picker fashion boots, false nails and jewellery.
IC introduced herself and showed me to her daughter's pony whom I was to photograph. She told me she had her for 6 months and she was an absolute sweetie. She also said she had her own horse at the same yard that she rode.
Mistake No.1, as IC claimed to be an equestrian and horse owner I assumed she had a degree of horse competence.
The pony had not been groomed and had a very dusty face. I asked if IC could give her a bit of a groom to smarten her up. IC said she didn't know if there was any grooming kit available. I said if nothing else we could roll up some straw to use as a brush but we would need to clean her off a bit. IC rummaged around in the stable and found a body brush but no curry comb. What that was doing in the stable I have no ideas but mabe the pony liked to give herself a brush up occasionally! She gave the pony a quick brush off on her neck but left the worst of the dust on the pony's face. When IC put the brush down I took it and cleaned off the pony's face. IC clearly didn't relish the idea of possibly getting dirty.
Warning sign No.3, IC produced a head collar and held it up to the face of the pony. IC could not work out how to put it on. Eventually I had to put the head collar on. This really was a major warning sign for me to have overlooked as putting a head collar on for a horse owner is as basic as putting a collar and lead on a dog.
We lead the pony to the sand school where I noticed, as did the pony, that there was a lot of lush grass growing around the edges. The head collar was scruffy and obscured a lot of the pony's face. IC asked if I could take the head collar out of the portrait. It is far easier and better if the head collar is not wanted in the portrait to take the photographs without it on but in some cases this is not practical. In such cases the head collar needs to be removed by careful digital editing but if too much of the animals face is obscured this doesn't always work that well.
My response, therefore, was a question and not a request. "Will she stand still if you take it off?" Mistake No.2, to assume people are going to respond in the way you want them. IC replied "I don't know, let's see." and before I could issue a word of caution she remove the head collar and the pony wandered straight off for the grass. This was clearly not going to work. A horse determined to graze is never going to keep her head up for a photo. IC goes to put the head collar back on but the pony moves away. She tries again and the same thing happens. IC said "I don't know what to do, she's never done that before."
Mistake No.3, I took charge because I stupidly felt guilty for leading my client to this situation. I knew she had no hope of getting hold of her pony especially as she didn't know how to put a haed collar on. She couldn't leave it in the school loose as this was supposed to be a surprise present for her daughter and 'said' daughter would want to know why her pony was there. I got IC to hold my camera while I took the head collar to catch the wayward pony. Wayward pony did not want to be caught while there was so much fresh grass to be eaten. I asked IC if she had any food, a carrot or some hay to tempt her with. IC informed me it was all kept in the tack room and she didn't have a key. Great!
I started to carefully approach the pony by sidling up to her with shoulder relaxed, not making eye contact and holding out a very large hand full of grass. She would allow me so far and then move off. Eventually she settled in a corner and I approached again. Only looking at her out of the corner of my eye my judgement of my exact position in relation to her was limited and as she was facing into the corner I was approaching too much from behind rather than from the side. Too late, I notice a slight change in her and instantly knew she was about to swing into me and kick. My weight was on the wrong leg to move out the way and the next instant I heard, more then felt, a whack on my thigh. I can't say it hurt at that pont, it was more a feeling of weakness. I clasped my leg and began rubbing it vigorously. "Did she kick you?" chimed IC. "Yes" I said. "She's never done that before!" replied IC, "Are you all right?"
There was nothing to be done but to continue with this sherade. If I left then IC was be like a fish out of water. The horse community is a small world and word would no doubt get round to my detriment not to use my services. The customer is always right and the show must go on...blah, blah.
I try again and again but never really got her trust enough to allow me to put her head collar on. Still, as long as I kept moving my leg was not too bad.

After about 20 minutes of so, I suggest we let the pony out of the school in the hope she would take herself back to her stable as most horse would especially as the area was secure. She left the school but went straight passed her stable preferring instead to hob knob with the other horses in the next field. I asked IC again if she could find some hay, maybe from her stable. She went into her stable muttering how she hated entering their stable when they hadn't been cleaned out! She came out with a handful of hay which the pony ignored. I then noticed a whole stack of hay bales tucked around the corner so grabbed hold of an arm full which I placed on the ground by the pony. The pony tucked in and I slipped the head collar on her. Relieved, I hand the lead rope to IC to take her back into the sun for the photo shoot. IC then said, "Can we not do it here only I don't really want to lead her in case she kicks me?" As it was in the shade this would have been a useless location so I simply told her she would be fine provided she was holding the lead rope and stayed near the front.
A few minutes later and the photos were in the bag and I was free to limp back to my car. By the time I got home I could hardly get out of my car and my leg had swollen considerably. I know this should have been treated with a cold pack straight away but 1 1/2 hours later it was too late for any of that. I shall just have to put it down to a lesson hard learned and ensure I don't make those same mistakes again.

12 September 2007

Major workout

I had my second Hydrotherapy session yesterday. I different physio from the previous session as this one had been on holiday when I first went. She was much more keen to push me to my limit in a gentle but firm way. At one stage she had me swimming against a current. I now know how race horses feel when they have this treatment. Initially I thought this would be quite a gentle exercise but how wrong can you be. The current was deceptive, as currents are, and I can honestly say I have never swum so hard in my life even with two good arms. It got to the stage where I would feel rally good if I managed to creep up the pool by an inch or so but after a minute or two I would give up and get wash back exhausted. It was a really good workout and even if it doesn't improve movement it will do wonders for arm strength. Before I left she warned me I might feel a little sore later. Yes, once again you detect the physio's art of understatement. Within an hour I felt like I had been weightlifting. Last night in bed was very uncomfortable and this morning...well, I'll leave that to your imagination but needless to say, I'm still on the pain killers.
Brac, by the way, seems better. He is still on the antibiotics but has not been sick since. He actually likes these little pink pills and takes time to chew them up before swallowing. This is particularly unusual as he is not one for chewing anything. In a previous life he was probably a sea gull!

07 September 2007

Under the Weather


Poor Brac is feeling a little under the weather. Not that you would notice if you hadn't seen him being sick. He started vomiting yesterday but only little bits so I didn't think too much of it especially as he had not lost his appetite nor his 'joi-de-vive'. I even took him to agility last night and he was as excitable as ever. Today he brought up all his breakfast so it was off to the vets. He greeted the vet in his normal buoyant and enthusiastic manner as if there was nothing what so ever wrong. the vet found no obvious symptoms of anything wrong so she prescribed antibiotics and a diet of chicken and rice for the next few meals. Hopefully he'll keep that down or we'll have to go back again.
AS for me, I had my first hydrotherapy session this week which went well but I'm still not managing to get any more movement back in my arm yet. The nights have been quite uncomfortable as it aches so much when I lie down despite the pain killers. The physio didn't seem to concerned about that when I told her, seems that's normal. Lets hope 'normal' meant it will pass fairly soon. In the mean time she's upped my exercises with a couple I find impossible to do (and not sure I could if I was fit either!)

01 September 2007

Skateboarding Dog

Brac has been learning a new trick. Skateboarding. This video was taken during his 5th session so he is still new to this game. I'm sure finesse will come with practice. :-)


This board is really too small for him to stand on properly but they were not designed with dogs in mind so we'll just have to make do. Unless, that is, I can get Paul to make me a better board but somehow I don't think that is going to happen.
I did see a video of a staffordshire terrier skateboarding who was actually able to steer the board. I'm not sure how as the wheels seem to need quite a bit of weight on them for them to turn and Brac at 20k isn't heavy enough. Maybe it's because this was a cheap board. If any of you know anything about skateboards and could tell me if better wheels turn corners easier do let me know.

28 August 2007

Brac enjoys a holiday

While I have been convalescing Brac has been reaping the benefits. Paul still has some time off work before his new contract starts in September so we have been spending quite a lot of this time up at the gliding club at Bidford-upon-Avon in the West Midlands. Brac loves it up there. Not only does he get more freedom and walks but there are more people to make a fuss of him and to play with. Many of the club members have young children they bring with them and Brac often spends his time in their care racing around playing tag, football, frisbee or charging around with a post in his mouth as here. Kids and dog usually sleep really well I might add.
Coming home is never so popular. Brac appears to sulk for the first day after our return but simply plonking himself down on the hall carpet and barley moving except to go for a walk or to eat. Not to worry though, tomorrow he'll be back to normal.

Slow Progress

Well it's been a couple of weeks now and two physio sessions since my 'manipulation'. I saw the consultant today but he was not particularly impressed. I do have more movement and less discomfort than before but the progress is not as good as expected. In fact, there has been little progress since the first 24 hours after the op. It's not for lack of keeping up with the exercises. His recommendation is for me to have more frequent physio sessions and for them to include hydrotherapy.
That highlighted an interesting thought for me; although I was never a strong swimmer it was an activity I took for granted just like walking. As we have not had a particularly stunning summer over here this year the thought of swimming had not occurred to me since I injured my arm. Now I'm thinking about it I realise this activity is not one I'm going to find particularly easy until my arm is fixed. Unless, that is, I stick to the Aussy crawl. This thought is a little depressing, not because I particularly love to swim but I'm now beginning to feel that my arm is not simply an inconvenience but a disability.
The disability highlighted itself further this last weekend as we went gliding again. The weather was reasonable enough for us to rig our glider. We haven't flown it much this year because of the poor conditions and my only gliding this year had been done in a club 2 seater with fixed undercarriage. As we were checking over the glider to make sure all the controls were working as they should be I discovered that my left arm was not strong enough any more to raise the undercarriage or close the air brakes. Although this did not prevent me flying it did confine me to local soaring only as the glide ratio of our glider is significantly decreased if you have to leave the under carriage down. I am now including some extra strengthening exercises into my physio routine.
I'm sure if I just stick with the program it will eventually get fixed but I would like to see a few more positive results in the mean time.

16 August 2007

Over the Worst...I Hope!

I had my manipulation done yesterday. I certainly hope I don't have to go through that ever again. The consultant warned me it would be a 'bit' painful when I came round from the anaesthetic but I think he was being rather too 'British' about that description. It was agony. The recovery nurses kept telling me to relax as it would make the pain easier but they weren't the ones who's arm felt like it was being passed through a mangle! Half an hour and 2 more shots of morphine and I was eventually ready to be released from the recovery room. My arm was still painful but at least it was now within limits of what I could stand. In 10 minutes I was due for my first physio visit but thankfully the nurse managed to persuade the physio to put it back an hour. By the time he did call in to see me the pain had subsided enough for me to be able to bear some gentle movement. I keep saying arm when it was actually my shoulder as that was where I was feeling the pain.
The physio gave me some exercises for me to repeat every 10 minutes and much to my surprise the movements got much easier and less painful each time I tried. I was, however, having to lift my left arm with my right hand as there was no power in the left arm at all at that stage.
When I left I was told I could reduce the exercises to hourly and given an appointment to see the physio again the following day (lunchtime today) . I was packed off with a load of painkillers and advised to take some before my appointment. No worries there!
Later that evening I found I could lift my left arm on it's own which made me feel much happier. I still have a long way to go and I am told it is likely to get worse again before it better but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

14 August 2007

Op's Eve

Tomorrow is D Day for my shoulder and strangely enough I woke up this morning convinced it was getting better by itself. This always happens to me and on occasions I have even put off visits to the doctor because of it only for the symptoms to return a day or so later. It's totally psychological I know. As for my shoulder, I tried to test just how much movement I had in it and sure enough I convinced myself I could indeed move it more than I had been able before. Amazing, I can cancel the manipulation tomorrow and all will be hunky-dory. I then start to get dressed and realise that there is no difference what so ever as I try to stuff my left arm in my pullover. Even the actions that were marginal before are still marginal today and as if to prove it further I then jar my shoulder as I put food down for Brac making me wince so much that he came and gave me a concerned kiss. I'm sure there will be a lot more wincing after tomorrow but hopefully it will set me on the road to recovery.

09 August 2007

Aaaah. Whats happened to my routine?

Life seems to have been turned on it's head this last few weeks. Paul is off work until September as he is recuperating following an operation on his feet. Nothing serious but it's totally thrown me. Without him leaving for work during the week, and as I work from home I have no reference points. I forget which day of the week it is. I lost a day completely last week. If that's not bad enough, all the jobs I do by rote during the day have had to be re-arranged. This means that many of them get forgotten. Efficiency has taken a nose dive. I need to reorganise but Paul seems to have other ideas like going flying instead of shopping. (As he has bandages on his feet that means I pilot and he 'back seats'.)
I ought to do some housework as the moment but Paul has decided to re-organise the central heating plumbing. There are tools and bits of copper pipe scattered everywhere.
I need to take control before I disappear beneath a mountain of ironing or starve because the fridge is empty. The trouble is, I don't much like household chores so it doesn't take much to sway me from doing them. That's why I do everything by rote. I don't need much encouragement to abandon it though, and Paul is providing the perfect excuse.
Things are going to get worse too. Next Wednesday I am going into hospital to have my frozen shoulder manipulated under general anaesthetic to try and get it working again. It's going to be agony when I wake up and may need up to 3 months of physio before it is fully functional again. I'm not sure I will be sufficiently disciplined to keep up with the housework under those conditions. But hey, I've been doing it for the past 9 months with a steadily worsening shoulder so maybe it won't be so hard. At least it's my left arm and not my right.

22 July 2007

Catching up

Well, we have been back a week now and I've only just got around to blogging. Poor show really but I do have an excuse apart from the usual unpacking and holiday laundry etc. I've finally bitten the bullet and started re-decorating the lounge. More about that later.
As for the trip, we didn't exactly find an abundance of sun but when it did shine you certainly knew about it. Most days were a mixture of sunshine and showers but as we had a hire car it didn't stop us getting about.
Asturias is a region of Northern Spain that gets few foreign tourists. Hence, few people spoke English and those that did only had a basic grasp. We have become so used to being understood in most European countries that this came as a bit of a challenge. Still, it makes life interesting especially when ordering a meal in a restaurant. Food was good though and they seem to be big eaters.
As for the countryside, it is very mountainous with dense woodland. Bears still live here and it's easy to see how they could go undetected as much of it is virtually impenetrable. the coastline is fairly rugged with sandy beaches. There are many charming towns along the coast with harbours, and fishing boats, bars and restaurants. This is where the Spanish go for their holidays.
Now it's back to normality and the decorating. The lounge has been in need of a make-over for some time now but I kept finding excuses. Paul is away until next weekend so it really was the ideal time to do it so off came the wall paper. Once done, I then realised that there was now no turning back despite discovering that my appetite for re-decorating had suddenly waned. Hey ho, but the only way to get through it is to get on with it so that's what I've been doing. Brac, however, think I have gone stark raving mad. He is acting like the sky is going to fall on his head. His toy box keeps getting moved and he just can't cope with that. He doesn't really like it when I put up the Christmas decorations. change is not one of his strong points :-)

05 July 2007

Off to Find the Sun

We are off on holiday for a week from tomorrow. Initially flying ourselves to Tarbes in France for a private pilots convention and then on to Northern Spain for our holiday proper. Not too sure yet of our itinerary as we will make it up as we go along depending on the weather. Unfortunately the weather there doesn't look any better than it does here...wet and stormy. Still, hopefully we will find some sun. It's certainly been in very short supply this year in our corner of the world.
Brac will have to stay in kennels this time but hopefully next time he will be able to come with us as his passport will be in full effect by then.

04 July 2007

Incomprehension

The recent car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow didn't initially prick my attention. No one significant was hurt and life goes on as normal. Far worse things have happened. What did prick my attention though was the disclosure yesterday on our news network that all the people involved were health professionals. Five of them were doctors!
I admit, I have always wondered what actually goes through the mind of a suicide bomber. What makes him tick and what triggered his state of mind but have put it down to young impressionable minds looking for a cause and something to believe in that makes sense of their lives (to them anyway). Just like the people who get roped into religious cults. OK so maybe the latter don't get involved in killing people but mentally it's the same thing...a vulnerable mind getting brain washed.
What strikes me as being so different here is that right up to the day before the attacks these people were devoting their lives to saving life. How can such people reconcile saving the lives of people one day they are prepared to blow up the next? This no longer strikes of 'belief' but pure hypocrisy. I'm glad they didn't die in the event because now we might be able to discover more about how such brilliant minds became so corrupted and evil.

27 June 2007

An English Pub

My bread machine failed this morning, or rather the mixture I out in it did. The yeast must have been off because when it bleeped to tell me it had done it's job all I found inside was a shrivelled, dark brown blob. Dam, no bread for lunch and I had not planned on doing any shopping as I had other calls on my time.
by midday my most pressing jobs were done and I look out the window to see the sun was trying it's best but there were clearly rain clouds gathering in the distance. Best take brac for his walk now and maybe I won't get wet. I give mum a ring to see if she wants to join me. she is having to do more exercise on doctor's orders so joining me on dog walks is ideal. "give me 10 minutes and I'll meet you in the normal place". I hang up and wander into the kitchen to pick up my car keys. I remember I don't have nay bread for lunch. Back on the phone to mum, "shall we get a pub lunch?" "Great, that would be nice."
There is a 14th century pub, called 'The chequers' about a mile and a half away with a reasonable area for walking next to it by the river. The pub is quite rustic, nothing fancy, plain but good food, beams, open fire in winter, tables that don't have little brass numbers set into them, friendly atmosphere and happy to accept dogs. Basically the quintessential English pub. I collect mum and we head for it. the rain clouds are building so we decide to walk first and eat after.
The walk does wonders for my appetite and we are quite looking forward to getting back to the pub. We walk in and purchase some drinks, puruse the menu and order some food. We sat down at a table opposite the bar and Brac lies down at my side. I was vaguely aware that the girl serving was new but thought little of it.
The people at the next table start making a fuss of Brac who is all too happy for the attention. He often gets a fuss made of him here, even the chef would come out and give him a hug as he liked Border collies. but things have changed. we are about half way through our meal when an older lady comes over to us to ask which of us owned the dog. "I do" I said. "We don't allow dogs in here when people are eating" she replies as if it has always been so and I should know.
"Since when? I've been coming here for years and there has never been a problem?"
"It's the law".
"Only if you class yourself as a restaurant. It's no illegal in a pub." I respond.
"Well it our rules."
"Brac was always made a fuss of by your staff before"
"That was the previous owners, we've only been here 3 month. You can take him outside in the garden next time." but I had already decided there wasn't going to be a 'Next time'.
We finished our meal and left. No coffee or desert and no intention of returning. Dogs make pubs, they are part of the fixtures and fittings in my book. As traditional as an open fire.
Before we left the people at the next table made a big show of fussing Brac some more. I knew they felt the same as me.
Now back to that bread machine.

We Girls Rock

Hey, I've just been tagged by s'mores and margaritas as a 'Rocking Girl Blogger'
All I need to do now is nominate & tag 5 other of my blogging girl friends who can then copy this logo to their blog. They in-turn get to do the same for 5 of their girl friends respectively (but only if they want to, no obligation). I wonder how long it will be before all female bloggers are tagged? Not long I'm sure. Still, here goes.
Frenchless in France - a very talented photographer living and absorbing France to the full.
Downsizing in Minnesota - her sister living in the US with some very cute pets.
An Aussie, a Frenchman and a Burmese - well mainly an Aussie living with the rest in France with an eye for nature.
Manic Mom's Mental Myriads - a publisher mum with a great family.
LittleSpoon - A soon-to-be-wed secretary with a cute new pup in her life.

23 June 2007

Not Feeling Lucky

Brac and I had another obedience competition today. Each class is divided into two sections. There is the heelwork section that you do individually that involves heelwork, retrieves and recalls. The other section is the stays. these are done as a group so all the dogs in the class have to sit stay and down stay for a given length of time with you standing away from them. When you book in to your class you need to make a note of the time the stays for that class are being held. I booked in and noted my stay time 12.50 which I wrote on my competitor number tag so I wouldn't forget. I worked Brac in and when I was ready entered the class. Brac was really good and I knew as we were going round that we were in with a good chance of winning. When we finished the round the judge told me we had only lost 2 points which according to the score sheet put us in the lead with only two more dogs to work. I checked the stay times, 12.50. It was only 11am so I had plenty of time so went to get a drink. I sat there sipping thinking to myself 'did I check those times correctly? Could it have been 12.30 not 12.50?' I had to check again so I wandered back to the ring. I noticed now that all the dogs had competed and yes we were in the lead. Doing the stays for him was just a formality. I look at the time, yes it is definitely a 5 not a 3. I go back to my car and sit and read for a while setting an alarm on my phone for 12.30 to remind me. The time drags so I take Brac for a quick walk. I bump into a friend and we compare notes. I keep watching my watch mindful that I have missed my stay time once before because I was engrossed in conversation. 12.40, I need to be waiting by the stay ring. I go there but I don't recognise anyone. Another class is in the ring finishing their stays, when they come out I ask the steward to confirm that this was Beginner Dog Stays to which he replied, "No, it's Novice Dog part 2 Stays now." My heart sank so I asked him what time were the Beginner Dog Stays. "12.05" was the answer. I had read it back to front and each time I had re-checked I had just seen what I expected to see and not what was there. The result is we were disqualified and once again returned home empty handed. I can't believe I could have been so blind. Hey ho!

11 June 2007

Feeling Lucky


We flew up to the gliding club again this weekend. Paul took Friday off and so we were able to go a day early. The weather was sultry and hazy. Visibility in the air was poor to say the least so we decided not to do any gliding. Gliders are tricky to see in the air at the best of times and when it is hazy they become almost invisible so the risk of a mid air collision increases especially as once you find a good thermal other gliders get attracted to you to share in your good fortune. Powered aircraft like to keep away from each other but gliding frequently happens in a gaggle so you need to keep your wits about you and your eyes skinned. As my medical expired and is not now due to be renewed until the 27th, I was grounded anyway.
Luckily, our gliding site is in the Midlands on the edge of the Cotswolds. If gliding is not an option there are so many other things to do. For any of you that are not unfamiliar with this area is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It's also Shakespeare's country as Stratford-upon-Avon is only a few miles down the road. It's a great part of the country to simply chill out and 'smell the roses'. Which is precisely what we did. The photo above was taken just above a neighbouring Cotswolds town of Broadway. We walked down this hill into the town where we called in for a cream tea before walking back again. As I walked through this field it occurred to me just how lucky I was to be able to enjoy all this almost as often as we want. I felt like simply laying down in the grass and listening to the buzzards calling overhead, but the need for refreshment was a stronger desire so we wandered on admiring the view instead while Brac chased pheasants out of the long grass.
Can't wait for next weekend.

05 June 2007

Egg On My Face

A couple of days ago I used 2 egg whites in some cooking I was doing. Not wishing to waste the yolks I put them in a cup with enough water to cover and placed them in the fridge. they will keep this way for a couple of days and can be used in cooking to richen various foods. As we went away for the weekend they didn't get used and I forgot to use them yesterday. Instead of throwing them away I thought I would give them to Brac on his breakfast. He used to have eggs with his puppy food when we first had him. I then had second thoughts. what if they have gone off and give him diarrhoea? I decide to poach them first so they are well cooked. to do this I put them in the microwave in their cup of water and give them 2 minutes on full power. I check them, they are not fully cooked, still a little soft so thought to be safe I should give them another minute. the microwave pings and the water in the cup is frothing over the rim. I reach in and take hold of the cup handle. As I lift it out I'm thinking I'm going to have to wait for them to cool a little before I give them to Brac when suddenly there's a bang. In that instant I close my eyes, feel the cup go light and something spray across my face. My hand is still in the over holding the now very light cup handle and my eyes are still tightly shut. "Oh sh*t" I'm thinking, "that wasn't a microwaveable cup." My next thought was "If that cup has exploded that close I'm lucky to still have my eyes" Even thoght they were closed I could feel they were OK. I open them, yep, they're OK. I look towards the oven. It's a mess. Then I notice the cup still intact in my hand. It's just the contents that have exploded and plastered the oven. My eyes wander further only to realise it's not just the oven that's plastered; it's the whole kitchen including me. I the see Brac. He is sitting outside the kitchen peering in with egg yolk dripping from his eye lashes. That's it for me. We have just entered silly world and I know if Paul had been there to watch he would have been gripped in an uncontrollable bought of laughter. I look in the mirror; I have egg all over my t-shirt, splattered across my face and welded to my hair. How can 2 yolks go so far?
It's all cleared up now but I know I will still be finding bits of egg yolk in odd places in the kitchen for weeks to come.

04 June 2007

My Weekend

Now our aeroplane is fixed we are gradually getting back into our old routine. That is to say, 50% of our weekends during the summer we fly up to a gliding site in the Midlands and go gliding. We are both very rusty so have got a lot of ground to make up. Still we did get our glider out of it's box and Paul flew it both days. My medical has expired :-( so I can't fly solo until I get that sorted hopefully in another couple of weeks. Instead I flew as navigator in the back of a two seat glider for a cross country exercise. This is a photo I took of Paul (not doing as well as us) from the back of the two seater. The gliding airfield is visible in the top of the picture just right of centre. I although I enjoy navigating and there is a lot to learn flying with someone else it does tend to cause me to get travel sick. I get travel sick map reading in a car! Luckily it didn't get messy but I was aware of the possibility all the way around but wasn't going to let on. Luckily, I'm not affected by it when I'm do.uing the flying but then I don't get the chance to take photos.

28 May 2007

Sleep.

I saw this image on flickr and it's got to be a classic. How many mornings have you felt just like this? I can certainly identify with the lioness. Paul moans at me because I'm an 7-8 hours a night person when he survives on 5-6 hours. Mind you, there is a difference between living and surviving and I'm not the one that falls asleep when we go out anywhere in the evening. :-)
Paul is most definitely a lark to my owl, something that is becoming more obvious the older we get.

27 May 2007

A very Satifying Day

OK so the weather and my PC might have prevented us from going away this weekend but that doesn't mean it was a complete washout. Yesterday was a very satisfying day. It started with Paul bringing me breakfast in bed. This always leads to something else as for some reason breakfast in bed makes me feel very playful:-) Them Paul fixed my PC...it's no wonder I married this guy! After lunch we took Brac for a long walk in the woods. Then we went shopping and bought some beautiful sea bass for dinner that I cooked baked in salt (the salt forms a hard shell that evenly distributes the heat and doesn't penetrate the fish at all) and served with a Mediterranean style potato dish with tomatoes and onions. Really scrummy.
That was followed by strawberries & cream, espresso coffee and an episode of Dr Who (A cult SciFi series over here in the UK) with the three of us all cuddled up on the sofa. Heaven.

26 May 2007

I'm Back!

My lovely husband has fixed it for me. It was the power supply. Apparently it wasn't up to the job that was being asked of it so it's a wonder it didn't pack in before. We were originally planning on flying off somewhere for the long weekend but as the weather was well and truly against us (Dull today but heavy rain and wind for Sunday & Monday for all of England, Channel Islands and NW France) we decided to go to PC World instead to buy a new power supply. It's now installed and to my great relief works fine. Hopefully for several more years.
If that hadn't cured the problem it would have meant a new PC even though mine is less than 3 years old (old in 'techie' terms but still new by my reckoning). The thought of re-installing everything on a new system as well as having to accept Windows Vista was really daunting. So, I was so pleased that when I pressed that button on the front of my machine it sprang into life once more and everything was just as I left it.
Still the experience was not without a positive note. I thought I had just about everything covered in respect of backing up in the event of a PC failure but it's not until it does happen that you find out what you've missed. My photographic printer I use for my pet portraits is only accessible from this PC including all the printer profiles for ensuring the printer prints exact colours. Another even greater oversight is that I had stored all my login, password and registration details for various web sites, e-mail accounts and software on this PC and these had not been backed up. If I had had to buy a replacement PC I would have been stuffed trying to install a lot of the software I have without the registration details. All this will have to be amended so I am better prepared next time.

24 May 2007

Cut Off

Today my PC died. I think the power unit has burnt out. I am using Paul's PC to write this but it's not convenient and I don't have access to my e-mail on this PC. Hense it is going to be difficult for me to keep up-to-date with blogging until I get back up and running. Hopefully fairly soon fingers crossed.

20 May 2007

Another Show, Another Rosette (but only just!)

Brac and I went to our second show of the season. I took Paul with me today which is unusual but he was happy to go and as I have now got a tent that I can set up as a stool for my Pet Portraits I thought this would be ideal. He could man the stool while I worked Brac. Nice idea but Paul's salesman techniques were sadly lacking. He kept telling me of the 'ones that got away' and in each case he failed even to give them so much as a leaflet. I actually came home with the same mount of leaflets I went with and I don't do that even if I'm not there to give them out! He meant well and I would have struggled to get the tent up without him.
As for Brac. Still very excited about going to shows. He saw me packing the car last night so knew it was a show day this morning. Brac sleeps in his kennel outside and each morning when I go out to let him in he is always in his kennel. This morning I was up much earlier than normal and he was ready and waiting for me at the back door.
He was full of enthusiasm throughout the day and when he worked his beginners round he did some lovely heel work. His recall was spot on but his last test was a retrieve and just when I thought I was in with a chance he decided otherwise. He charged at the dumbbell, ran around the ring with it chomping on it as he went and when he did finally present it to me he refused to give it up without a fight. Not exactly what the judge was looking for.
Despite all that the rest of the round had been so good that he still managed, somehow, to get into 5th place out of about 38 dogs so not a complete disaster.

17 May 2007

One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer...but maybe a handful of Swifts do!

On a grey muggy day like today (and the past week) it's hard to think about summer. As I trudged around the playing field with Brac (I'm only walking him on grass until his foot toughens up a bit more) my thoughts were more about considering how many more circuits I should do before returning for lunch. That was until a familiar but distant sound penetrated my skull. It was the screaming of what sounded like a swift. I looked up and scanned the sky from where the sound came and sure enough two swifts were flying in lazy loops and calling out to each other. They were hard to amke out against the thunderous clouds but as I scanned further I saw more high up, tossing and turning as if celebrating the end of their arduous journey. There were about half a dozen in all, not many but a sure sign that Summer is only around the corner.

15 May 2007

Dog Tired













Dog Tired
Originally uploaded by Kangaroo Shoes.

I've just seen this image on Flickr and thought it too good not to blog. I reckon they are on a metre!

14 May 2007

Flickr

For any of you interested in digital photography Flickr is a really good site to check out. I discovered it thanks to An Aussie, a Frenchman and a Burmese blog and an from a video lecture posted on Digital Photography School blog. So I took a look, explored the site a bit, read the T's & C's and decided to give it a try. You can use the site for free but there are some constraints but nothing too serious if you are just a casual photographer. To get full, unlimited use of the site there is an annual fee but it's only about £12.50 currently so it's not going to sting that much.
I think it's the kind of site that will appeal to bloggers as you quickly get to know and chat with other photographers with similar interests particularly if you join some of the special interest groups.
I've signed up for a year's membership and have been steadily uploading images and getting feedback on my work. If you click on the thumbnails below you can see some of the stuff I've submitted so far. What I really need to do now is get out there with the camera but it's not stopped raining since I joined!

www.flickr.com





12 May 2007

Back in the Ring

Brac and I took part in our first obedience competition of the year. Yes, I know, it's May already and we've only just started, but those of you who read my blog regularly will know why. Anyway, Brac had clearly missed competing because he was beside himself when we got there. We were drawn first on for one of the classes (we entered two) so we waited at the side of the ring while the judge and steward walked the course. As soon as Brac saw this he started whining because he wanted to be in the ring with them. when it was his turn he almost dragged me in there. So much for obedience. Despite this I thought he worked a good round although he was a little forward of me and he anticipated on one of the exercises, the recall. He did it beautifully but he didn't wait to be asked. Naturally he was marked down for this and his forward working but the judge said she loved his enthusiasm and wished more dogs were that keen.
For the second class he was a little more settled although I didn't think he worked as well in the heelwork. Even so we came joint 2nd with two other handlers so had a run-off for 2nd 3rd & 4th place. In the end we came 3rd out of about 40 dogs in the class so not a bad result and at least we got to go home with a rosette.
He is now crashed out in the hall probably dreaming about all the friends he met.

11 May 2007

Prognosis

Things could have been worse. I went in with my friend at the doctors. She was told that her condition was as bad as it could get without being terminal. She has the chance of making a full recovery but only if she helps herself. Sometimes I think she is trying to self destruct and the hard part will be keeping her focused and positive. Going to the doctors and having the tests done was the first time she has ever taken any of the advice she has asked me for. I hope this is a turning point. She knew she was ill but was always too scared to find out just how ill. I hope now she will stop burying her head in the sand and concentrate on getting better but it will be a struggle.

Bad day

Today is not going to be a good day. Today I have to take a long term friend of mine to the doctors to get the results of a test. She is very scared and she knows the results are going to be bad. How bad we don't know but even the best case scenario is a long, rocky road. I spent much of the last 24 hours worrying about it but that makes me feel bad because what ever I feel will not compare to what she is going through.
I know you will all be keeping your fingers crossed for her today and maybe even thinking of her in your prayers.

09 May 2007

Sally Jane's Pet Portraits goes Global

This is my first pet portrait commission from Australia. She is an Australian cattle dog from New South Wales. Her owner confirmed today that the portrait arrived in the post in perfect condition so I'm quite relieved. I always worry about the post as it's the one part of the operation that I have no control over other than to keep piling on the bubble wrap!
Her owner is thrilled with her portrait I'm pleased to say and is thinking of getting one done of her husbands dog. I'm thrilled too because this was my first overseas commission. Hopefully one of many more to come.

07 May 2007

Happy Bunnies

On Saturday we flew up to our gliding club at Bidford-Upon-Avon for the bank holiday weekend. Yes, that's right, we flew! Paul has finally got his beloved aeroplane a TB21 back from intensive care with the maintenance engineers at Biggin Hill and it seems (tough wood) to be working properly. This last bit was whispered as I'm sure it's all just an illusion really and it's actually just a defective as ever. It's been about 18 months since it started having problems and the last 6 months it has been on the verge of having the plug pulled on it. Paul was getting more and more despondent as although the engineers could see problem they couldn't find the cause. When we were told it was fixed and we could fly it this weekend we only half believed it as we had been at that point so many time before only for the fault to reappear. This time it looks like they might have actually succeeded as the engine and turbo behaved beautifully on the short flight to and from the gliding club. I now have a happy husband.

I also have a happy dog as finally Brac's paw seems to have calloused over properly. It will be a while before the thick layer of the pad grows back over the new skin so it is still fragile but he is at least now able to go out without having a boot on. Gentle walking on grass only for a while I think until it toughens up a bit but it looks good for his show on Saturday. Assuming he doesn't find another flint to step on! This photo is him asleep on the back seat of the aircraft flying home. He is wearing ear defenders are to protect his hearing.

We didn't exactly do any gliding while we were at Bidford but we did get our glider it out of it's box before realising that those who were already launched were struggling with the failing conditions and having to land. So we gave it a clean and put it away again. Sunday was overcast all day so no thermals to make it worth launching and today was a wash out this morning. After lunch we packed up to fly back home only for the weather to break and give the most stonkinggliding conditions for ages. By now most people had also packed up and gone so there was no one to take advantage of it. As we were getting thrown around by the thermals in our powered aircraft on our return home we didn't see one glider anywhere and the visibility was fantastic. No doubt there were a lot of glider pilots sitting in their cars on their way home cursing that the good weather arrived too late. Still it was a British bank holiday so what else could we expect?
(This is Brac looking cool at the laucn point.)

04 May 2007

Love to Lead Question 17 (Just for fun)

Ok so no prises for this question it's just for the fun of it, but why not?

Question - Is Global Warming a Media Myth?

My answer - Prophecy or Scare Mongering?

It’s always difficult these days trying to pick the fact from the fiction from the news. Sad to say even the BBC news waters down it’s facts so much it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. I’m sure if you asked them or any of the news papers they would tell you it is what their customers (we) want; that facts alone are boring. That may be true, certainly a hyped up story sells better than a cold report of facts alone but when it comes to really important stuff how do we actually know what to believe?

I get really annoyed when the press take it upon themselves to make up facts. A example of this was reported on the BBC1 lunchtime news only a couple of weeks ago. They showed us images of Hawthorn in flower. It was the middle of April and they were claiming this was a sign of global warming because the ‘nick name’ for this plant is the May Tree. This plant would probably been given this nick name over a thousand years ago when the temperatures in this country were certainly cooler than today. As kids my sister and I used to comment on what a silly name this plant had seeing as it nearly always seemed to flower in April! I’m sorry to say this was so long ago that no one had heard of global warming. OK so we do live in the South East where the climate is warmer but this was a really poor example and one that made me wonder how many other examples put up by the media were also rubbish.

The facts that I think we can take for granted are that our annual temperatures do appear to be getting warmer. Winter snow when I was a kid was something we could look forward to, now it is just a brief possibility. The south East of England has always been the driest part of the UK and yes we do seem to be having more ‘droughts’ but I think this is more due to the increase in demand for water here than the lack of rainfall.

One a global count I cannot say so I have to rely on what ‘experts’ tell me. It has been shown that as the Earth wobbles on its axis changes in global temperatures do occur causing ice ages and droughts every few thousand years and may be that is all this is. I think there might be something in that but I don’t think that is the entire story. As a species we do cause an increasingly large amount of pollution and I can’t see how we could expect to get away with that and think the world will just cope.

Unfortunately global warming is such an important subject we can’t afford to take chances. Get it wrong and ignore the warning signs and the damage we create for the future could be catastrophic with no way of putting it right. Act now to combat it and we could help prevent that. If it turns out later that the climate changed for natural reasons well, hey, nothing lost but in the mean time we learned to be less polluting.

Media hype in my opinion is undermining the campaign for us to clean up our act. There is a good work of fiction on this subject by Michael Crichton called ‘State of Fear’. Even though it is in itself total fiction it successfully highlights the need for us to separate fact from fiction in the media.

Thanks guys

Well I didn't win the lap top, infact, despite your support, I came last. Hey ho, I guess I'm just not that good at putting together an argument. Thanks to all of you who voted anyway it was a bit of fun.
The Love to Lead team have decided to continue posting questions for debate even though there are no prises to be won so I shall probably continue to get stuck in. I bet I win it now! This weeks question is about Global Warming. I've not composed my answer yet, might not get around to doing it until next week now as we are off for the bank holiday weekend, but I will answer the question. In the mean time why don't some of you have a go as well. The only stipulation is that you must have a blog site that has been up and running for 6 months to enter. Why? Don't ask me, it's just the rules.
Just click on the title of this blog post to go to the Love to Lead site.

11 Tips for Better Candid Photography

I came across the Digital Photography School's blog today and read this great article about taking candid photographs. If you like photography this article is really worth a read.

30 April 2007

Happy Dog

Brac had another visit to the vets this morning. This time for his annual booster jabs. While he was there the vet took another look at his foot. She was so happy with the speed it appeared to be healing she gave me the all clear to take him out for GENTLE walks. Provided his foot was booted up of course. After my initial relief I suddenly started to feel paranoid. I live in North Kent where flints are everywhere and I am now worrying that he will go straight out and do it again. "Come on, this is silly." I say to myself but it's a nagging thought. I eventually settle for the most boring piece of playing field where the grass is well kept and very flat to take him for his first taste of freedom in nearly two weeks. Brac didn't seem to mind the lack of scenery and simply couldn't wait to take flight. His disappointment at the end of the walk when I told him to get back in the car though was palpable. I'm sure he thought he might have to wait another 2 weeks before the next one.