Snowy’s anniversary

Today is Snowy’s first anniversary – exactly a year since she came to live in my little family at the age of 8 months. Timid and shy when she first arrived home, and very wary of everyone and everything, she slowly came out of her shell, growing in confidence and learning that the humans she met while we were out and about were friends, not enemies.
For the first few months she had the amusing, if sometimes exasperating, habit of collecting things and in spite of having several toys she would ‘find’ various things to take into her bed. Cardboard toilet roll tubes, Michael’s socks, my trainers and slippers, the tv remote, anything she thought was interesting would end up in there, but fortunately for my sanity that habit has gradually lessened and she rarely collects things now.
September 2020 – In the transporter just after arriving home
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November 2020 – Two months after arriving
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April 2021 – with Poppie at the gates of a local historic house
Snuggled up next to me on the bed
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In late June/early July Snowy experienced her first camping holiday with me and Poppie. Although during the first couple of days she did bark a few times at the alpacas in the next field she soon settled down into camping life and was no trouble at all on the site or in the tent, with her favourite place being up on top of the picnic table where she could see everything going on around us. We have just recently returned from our second camp at the same site and again she was really good, with not even a single bark at the alpacas this time.
June 2021 – Snowy’s first camp – watching the alpacas in the next field
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Early September 2021 – Playing in the back garden
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September 2021 – Second camp in Cumbria
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September 2021 – Getting curious about a sculpture in Silloth
I won’t deny that, compared to all my previous Jack Russells, Snowy hasn’t always been the easiest one to deal with and even now still presents me with a couple of challenges, her intense dislike of other dogs being one of them, but she’s still very young so there’s time for her to learn. Other than that she’s funny, affectionate, adorable and very cute, with the constantly waggy tail of a very happy little dog, so I’m looking forward to her being part of my little family for many more anniversary years to come.

Yes, we have no bananas

Well not actually bananas but a situation experienced by myself and Michael just recently made me think of the novelty song from donkey’s years ago which I sometimes heard on the radio when I was a kid. Some of you may remember a post I wrote last November when a certain pub/restaurant we went to had no chicken tikka, no chicken pie and no steak pie, fortunately something we both saw the funny side of – well we recently had a similar situation at the very same place.
Just over a week ago, on the Wednesday, Michael suggested that if I picked him up from work at 6pm as I was on my way home from my own job we could go for a meal – it was Curry Wednesday and we could get a meal and a drink for almost £2 less than the price of just a meal on any other day. The curries come with rice, a poppadom and mango chutney, however when our meals were served the mango chutney was missing. On asking the waitress we were told there was no chutney but we could have mint yogurt as an alternative – it sounded a bit yuck but as a dip for the poppadoms it was okay and the meals themselves were very nice.
Two days ago we went back to the pub/restaurant for another curry but this time, not only did they still have no mango chutney, they also had no mint yogurt, and worst of all they had no rice! Now Michael can be funny but still keep a dead straight face so when he came back from ordering at the bar and said there was no rice and we were having chips instead I was convinced he was winding me up but obviously he wasn’t – our curries did come with chips, and though I don’t normally eat chips they actually made a change and the meals were still good.
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Last year we put the shortage of meals down to the fact that the restaurant was closing for a month’s lockdown, this time we can only assume that the lack of some foods has been caused by various current disruptions in the supply chain, none of which are the restaurant’s fault, but with no mango chutney, no mint yogurt and no rice it did get us thinking – if we go there again next week maybe they’ll have no chips and we’ll just get curry!

That Wednesday/Thursday feeling

The topic for this week’s Friday photo hunt is ‘the colour purple’ which isn’t an easy one for me. I don’t dislike the colour, it’s just not one which really features in my life, and the only purple things I have were used in previous photo hunts so I’m giving this one a miss for something completely different.
Now if there’s one thing guaranteed to cause confusion in the Mouse House it’s Michael’s work shifts. His normal shift pattern is four days on (two days, two nights) and four days off, with start and finish times at either 6 or 6.30 whether it’s days or nights. However, over the last year or so he’s either volunteered or been asked to cover shifts where other people have been off work for whatever reason, meaning he’s often working when I think he’ll be at home or vice versa, and sometimes we’re like ships that pass in the night.
Last week, after staying at his girlfriend’s for a few days, he arrived home early on Thursday morning after a 12-hour night shift just as I was getting ready to go to my own morning job, and the conversation went like this –
Me – “When are you going back to Laura’s again?”
Him – “Friday”
Me – “Tomorrow or do you mean next Friday?”
Him – “Friday this week, tomorrow’s Thursday”
Me – “No it’s not, tomorrow is Friday, it’s Thursday today”
Him – “Are you sure? I thought today is Wednesday”
Me – “No Michael, today is definitely Thursday”
Him (checking his phone for the day and date) – “You’re right, it is  Thursday. Well in that case I’m going back tomorrow”
So with that confusion cleared up I left him to his sleep while I went to my morning job. Fast forward a week and yesterday I arrived at my morning job to find the boss’s son first one in and making toast in the kitchen – and this was the conversation –
Aaron – “What day is it today?”
Me – “Thursday, why?”
Aaron – “Are you sure? Is it not Wednesday?”
Me – “No Aaron, it’s definitely Thursday”
Aaron (checking his phone) “Oh, it is – funny, I thought it was Wednesday”
Now call it Groundhog Day, that deja vue feeling or whatever but it seemed totally bizarre that I’d had almost exactly the same conversation with two different people but a week apart. What is it about Wednesdays and Thursdays? Have other people lost the plot or is it just me? No, I don’t want anyone to answer that one….
 

Friday photo hunt – lovely memory

Continuing the weekly photo hunt through February and I must admit that this week’s topic of ‘lovely memory’ really had me thinking hard. Like most people I have many good memories of various times and events in the past but only certain ones stand out. A couple of nice memories from previous years did spring to mind but I don’t have any suitable photos for them so I’ve chosen a few shots from just a couple of years ago, although the memory goes back more much further than that.
Back in the late 1970s and early 80s my parents would rent a holiday flat in Morecambe for a week in September each year and some years I would take Michael and join them for a few days. One year, when Michael was just three years old, we went picking blackberries on Heysham Head and he had his own little bag to put some in. He was with me while my mum was a few yards away and he’d picked quite a few when all at once he ran down to my mum, presented her with a handful of blackberries, and said “Aren’t I kind to you?”
Now that may not seem particularly special to most people but given his very young age his words were very sweet and actually quite amusing; my mum never forgot that moment and it’s been mentioned in conversation many times over the years. I went to Heysham Head just a couple of years ago while on a day out in Morecambe and I couldn’t help remembering Michael and the blackberries all those years ago.
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Children seem to grow up so quickly these days and even though that 3-year old little boy is now a grown man on the wrong side of 40 the memory of the blackberry picking day at Heysham Head will never be forgotten by either of us.

Friday festive photo hunt – my own choice

The last post in December’s weekly photo hunt  although it’s only Thursday, and as I’ve already written quite a long ‘looking back’ post this week I’m keeping this one fairly short and light-hearted.
Several times over the weeks prior to Christmas I’d asked Michael what he wanted and was met with the usual reply of “I don’t know, just get me anything” which really didn’t help. However, a couple of weeks ago and not long after I’d asked him the same question yet again I got an email newsletter from the animal sanctuary I support, with pictures of various long-term residents who can be sponsored rather than actually adopted. One of these is a donkey called Sean and as Michael’s first name is Sean I had the mad idea of sponsoring the donkey in his name.
Three days after I took out the sponsorship an envelope arrived with a photo of the donkey, a fact sheet with the donkey’s history, a certificate in Michael’s name (Sean) and a lapel badge. The photo was in a brown cardboard surround but I found a couple of nice frames in a local shop and framed both the photo and the certificate before wrapping them for Christmas.
Now you can’t have a donkey without giving it a carrot and it just so happened that as I was coming out of Tesco the following day my quirky sense of humour got the better of me when I spotted a round cardboard display stand in the entrance with ‘Free carrots for Rudolph’ written across the top – so I took one and wrapped it separately in Christmas paper when I got home.
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Michael’s face was a picture of total puzzlement on Christmas Day when he unwrapped the carrot, which I’d given to him first, though he was quite surprised and pleased when he unwrapped the photo and certificate. The donkey may not be an actual present as such but the sponsorship will help the animal sanctuary if only in a small way and once the place opens to the public again we’ll be able to visit Sean and see him properly. Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, yes I did get Michael a couple of proper presents which have been put away in his unit, though I’m not sure what he did with carrot.
So there you have it, my final post for this year, and thanks go to Kate for continuing to host the photo challenges – I often wonder how she manages to think of all the different topics. All that remains now is to welcome any recent new readers to my blog and thank everyone for visiting and commenting on my various posts – I hope 2021 is a much happier and healthier year for everyone.

Introducing Snowy

After months of constantly searching various sources, both locally and in other parts of the country, I finally found a new little dog to join my family. Losing Sophie in February hit me hard, especially as she had slowly been showing positive signs of recovering from her stroke, and though I’ve still had Poppie I’ve spent so many years with two dogs that things just weren’t the same with only one – I needed to get another little friend, and as much for Poppie as for myself.
Snowy was eight months old when she came to me a few weeks ago. Size-wise she is taller than Sophie was so is about the same size as Poppie, and though she isn’t actually a long-legged Jack Russell some of her photos do make her legs look quite long. Originally from a manic household of five kids, three dogs, and two adults who didn’t have enough time to devote to her, she was so timid and scared that she would jump at her own shadow and not having been socialised she would back away if anyone went near her. She was very quiet for the first couple of days after I got her but then slowly started coming out of her shell, even gaining the confidence to jump up onto my bed and settle down by my pillow.
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In the transport box the day I got her
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Two days later she found my bed
Snowy had been with me for a week when I introduced her to Poppie. A trial walk round the field at the end of the street went okay so I drove to the canal and took them both for a walk along there. On the whole Snowy was fine but she wasn’t keen on other dogs approaching her or people passing her, which was understandable when she hasn’t been socialised.
A check-up at the vet’s after three weeks showed that she was the right weight for her size and was 100% healthy, unfortunately as circumstances had interrupted her original injections they had to be started again but she was as good as gold in the surgery and never moved an inch when the actual injections were done. 
Over the few weeks Snowy has been with me her personality has changed a lot, and if I’d been hoping for a calm, quiet, gentle little dog like Sophie then I would have been very much disappointed. She’s turned into a typical young Jack Russell living life at a hundred miles an hour, and she’s as mad as a box of frogs. She’s also a collector of all things weird and wonderful and in spite of having several toys she will ‘find’ various things to take into her bed – her favourites are the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls and Michael’s socks and I have to check her bed twice a day to see what’s in there.
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I won’t deny that in some ways, and possibly because of her previous life, Snowy isn’t the easiest little dog to deal with, especially as her socialising issues need a lot of work. Although I didn’t initially want a dog with ‘problems’, in every other way she was just what I did want so there was no way I could have walked away once I’d first seen her. Sorting out her issues will take time but I’m in this for the long haul and I’ve no intention of giving up on her; she’s funny, affectionate, adorable and very cute, and I’m looking forward to her being part of my little family for many years to come.

A crazy dining experience

On Tuesday evening Michael and I went to a local pub/restaurant for a meal after I finished work, our last opportunity before it closed for a month. It’s a place we go to regularly as an alternative to our other favourite, the Black Dog in Belmont Village; the meals are always very good, the staff provide a friendly and very helpful service, and we have never had a problem, however on Tuesday we had the maddest dining experience ever.
A quick look at the menu and Michael decided to have the steak sizzler while I opted for the chicken tikka masala, however when it came to ordering things didn’t quite go according to plan – and this was the conversation :
Me : “I’ll have the chicken tikka masala please”
Waitress : “Sorry, there’s no chicken tikka left”
Me : “No problem, I’ll have the chicken and roasted mushroom pie with mash then please”
Waitress (having gone to the kitchen then come back to our table) : “Sorry, there’s no chicken pie left either”
Me : “Okay, then I’ll have the steak and ale pie instead”
Waitress (back again for the third time) : “Sorry, I don’t know how to tell you this but there’s no steak pie either”
Now where meals out are concerned I consider myself fairly easy to please, however I was now beginning to feel slightly niggled at having to quickly make a fourth choice so –
Me (after a quick glance at the menu) : “I presume you have fish available? In which case I’ll have the hand-battered cod please”
Waitress (having got halfway to the kitchen then done an about-turn) : “Do you want chips with that or do you still want the mash?”
Now I’ve never ever heard of having mash with fish (rather an odd combination I think) and the menu clearly stated that the fish came with chips, so I don’t know how I managed to keep a straight face when I replied “Chips please”
Five minutes later the waitress was back again and by this time I was beginning to think she was attached to our table by an invisible length of elastic, however –
Waitress : “Do you want garden peas or mushy peas?”
Me : “Mushy peas please”
I really thought she was coming to tell me there was no fish available either, in which case I would have just about lost the will to live, but eventually our meals arrived with no further problems and very nice they were too, even though mine wasn’t what I’d originally wanted. I actually felt a bit sorry for the young waitress having to go between our table and the kitchen so many times but both Michael and I saw the funny side of it and we couldn’t help laughing, especially when we heard the same waitress telling the couple in the alcove behind us that there was no syrup sponge left!
We could only assume that because the place is now closed for a month the kitchen staff weren’t making/cooking as much food as they would normally do so it was just unfortunate that three things I asked for were three things they hadn’t got. Michael did point out one thing though – they have special daily deals and Wednesday is Curry Wednesday so I’d love to know what the answer would have been if I’d gone in that day and asked for chicken tikka!

An afternoon in Southport

Back in mid September an unforseen and sudden change in circumstances meant that Michael’s planned five days over in Ireland didn’t happen so he swapped three of his days off work for days another time and on one of his two remaining days we went to Southport. Now to be honest I’ve been there so many times over the last few years that I felt there was nothing different for me to see or photograph but I wanted Michael to have a nice day out to make up for not going to Ireland and Southport was his choice so off we went.
Parking by the Marine Lake we went our separate ways, agreeing to meet up again at 4pm, and I headed into town to find the Go Outdoors store – I wanted to look for some blue plates and bowls for when I next go camping but the Blackburn and Preston stores didn’t have any, neither could I get them from their online store so I thought I’d try the Southport one. On my way to the town centre I passed The Bold Hotel, originally built by Thomas Mawdsley in 1832 but now a Grade ll luxury boutique place; I remember Michael staying there on a particular occasion several years ago and though I wouldn’t normally photograph the front of a hotel it was the strange looking horse above the main door which attracted me.
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When I finally found the Go Outdoors store it came up trumps and I got just what I wanted, four plates and four bowls in blue for just £1 each; of course having a large carrier bag with its contents in one hand and holding Poppie’s lead in the other hand meant it was impossible to use the camera for any further photos so I took my purchases back to the van then set out again. 
At the beginning of the pier I decided to do something I’ve thought about for ages, walk right to the far end of it, however I changed my mind on the spur of the moment and did something else I’ve never ever done – I got a return ticket to ride along on the land train just for the experience. There was nothing much at the end of the pier when I got there, just a pavilion with a cafe, an amusement arcade with vintage machines and a modern sculpture supposed to represent the movement of wind and water, but at least I could say I’d been there.
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Dotted at various points near the pier were several modern sculptures on tall steel poles and walking through the main promenade gardens I came to something I’ve never really noticed before, a drinking fountain surrounded by attractive iron railings. About 1 metre square and standing 3 metres high it was a gift from one John Fernley in 1861 for the use of Southport’s lifeboat crew and fishermen and was sculpted from sandstone, with polished pink granite, coloured mosaic and a white marble bowl.
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Farther along the promenade and across the road I found something that’s very hard to miss – on a gable end wall was a huge mural of the iconic 3-times Grand National winner Red Rum in training on Southport beach. Commissioned as part of Sefton’s Borough of Culture celebrations for 2020 it was painted by Liverpool-based street artist Paul Curtis in March this year, and covering an area of more than 270 square metres it took over a week to complete.
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Heading through King’s Gardens towards Marine Lake I came to a flower bed built up on a corner. It looked rather unkempt but the flowers were quite pretty so were worth one or two snaps. At the far end of the lake was the start (or end depending on direction of travel) of the Lakeside Miniature Railway although being mid week it wasn’t running, and just a few yards away was a carousel with its brightly coloured horses and designs providing several photo opportunities.
Southport Miniature Railway was built in 1911 and operated by Dr. Ladmore, a local dentist; it opened on May 11th that year with the first steam train, King George V, running at 3pm. After being taken over by Mr Griffith Vaughn Llewellyn it was renamed Llewellyn’s Miniature Railway, then in 1945 it was sold to Harry Barlow who owned a local engineering company famous for building miniature locomotives. It was renamed Lakeside Miniature Railway and the first petrol driven trains started running that year.
In 1968 the railway was sold on again to John Spencer, a stallholder at the nearby Pleasureland fairgound, and he did much to improve it and tidy it up. In 2001 the line was sold yet again to Don Clark and Graham Leeming then in 2016 it was purchased by Norman Wallis, current owner of Pleasureland. The railway is one of the earliest of its type still running on its original route and is said to be the oldest continuously running 15-inch gauge railway in the world.
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From the carousel I made my way along the seaward side of the lake to the wide bridge across the centre. It was getting on for 4pm and I just had time to take a handful of photos as I crossed the bridge then it was time to meet up with Michael at our prearranged spot near the beginning of the pier.
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Not far from the pier was the Waterfront pub/restaurant, we had been in there a couple of times before and we knew the food was pretty good, plus dogs were allowed in the bar area, so that was our choice for a meal before setting off for home. Michael had made a couple of purchases of his own while in the town centre so with my own success in getting the plates and bowls I wanted plus the photos I took we agreed that it had been a good day out for both of us.
 

Scenes of chaos and devastation

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting here at the computer, minding my own business – as you do – when I heard a fair amount of bumping and banging coming from Michael’s room. He’d been asleep all day following a 12-hour nightshift so wondering what on earth all the noise was I went to see what he was doing and found a scene of utter chaos – he’d decided, on the spur of the moment, to rearrange his room again and the whole place looked like a bomb had hit it.
While moving his bed he’d accidentally caught one of the curtains and pulled one end of the rail off the wall so he’d taken the thing off completely and rigged up the curtains on a temporary wire; the bed itself was buried under a mountain of furniture and other stuff and I could only just about squeeze in through the door as one of his units was on its end just a couple of feet in.
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There’s a bed under there somewhere!

Unfortunately the room isn’t the biggest and it’s also an odd shape with space at a premium so there’s nowhere really to put anything; it all looked such a mess that I just had to grab the camera and take these two shots but amazingly, just an hour later, he’d got everything where he wanted it, the room was tidy and the bed was clear. He does actually need a new chest of drawers though so it probably won’t be long before the room gets yet another makeover!

 

What goes around….

Comes around, as the saying goes.
Michael came home from work at the beginning of the week and said he didn’t want me to make him anything to eat just then as he’d had something at work, so he would go to the chippy down the road later on. It must have been about 9.30pm when he finally went out but he was back pretty quickly saying the chippy had closed early so he would phone for a takeaway instead.
Now the takeaway place he phoned is one he’s used before but not on a regular basis; apart from a kebab I don’t know what else he ordered but as our local corner shop was closed he’d asked for ‘a can of pop’ (it didn’t matter what sort) to be included with his order. Simple enough you would think, but when his order was delivered he found that instead of a can of pop they had sent…. a poppadom!

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What Michael asked for…

Poppadom isolated on a white background.
And what he actually got (both photos from the Internet)

The look on his face said it all but fortunately he wasn’t particularly bothered about it. I couldn’t help laughing though  – I reckon that was payback for the day a couple of weeks ago when he promised me pizza and brought me a sausage roll instead!