Word on a Whim

What is it and where is it coming from?

Not a rattle in a car but a smell in the kitchen. Not a particularly strong smell but noticeable when coming downstairs in the morning. Not a pleasant smell either – reminiscent of the time my partner decided it would be a good thing to ferment cabbage and sprouts in jars. Thankfully, he soon realised it wasn’t!

You know how a smell can literally get up your nose – as in get on your nerves? I am not tidy and do very little dusting but I like to think the house is hygienically clean. Whilst it might appear untidy it is orderly. If there are clothes in the corner of the bedroom it’s because they have been worn at least once and are therefore contaminated’ so they can’t go back in the cupboard but are not yet ready for washing.

My nose was in every crevice to detect the origin but it was a general smell rather than focused. I poked a long stick around the edges of the gas cooker in case anything had dropped down and was rotting then squirted lots of bleach down the kitchen sink and ran bleach through the rinse cycle of the washing machine.

I came downstairs the next morning confident that would have cured it – but no!

There was only one place I hadn’t checked … behind the fridge:

Being under-counter, nothing could’ve dropped down the sides but what if some poor creature had somehow got behind it and died? If you’ve read this far you might be getting the nature of this smell!

“Sordid details following” thanks Bowie 😉

I pulled out the fridge and this was the drip tray at the back:

I never knew they needed emptying! Maybe I’m gross and everyone else regularly checks and cleans theirs?

Oh well, problem solved 🙂

Where there’s a smell there’s a mission!

How to convert an image to 300 DPI for printing (using Microsoft Paint)

Being furloughed and locked-down owing to the pandemic has given me the time to get stuck into a project I have been toying with for a few months.  Yes, I do feel guilty that I am slightly enjoying this very difficult situation yet I am trying to make the best of it because this is where we are now.  I don’t want to jinx my project by saying too much about it here – but if it does come to fruition it will require me to convert images to 300 dpi to allow better quality printing.  Before getting on with this tutorial, I will also add that the printed images I would be required to convert to 300 dpi are relatively small, and when I experimented on my cheap little home printer by printing a 72 dpi image alongside the same image converted to 300 dpi I could not see any difference, so if I end up self-publishing my images I will leave them at 72 dpi to save ink.  It’s just that some publishing firms stipulate a 300 dpi image.

Here goes …

First you need a 300 dpi image of any shape or size.  Feel free to download this one:

I am going to convert a Poppy picture to 300 dpi by pasting it over the Riverside photo but first I need to change the dimensions of the Riverside photo to be the same as the Poppy.

To get the dimensions of the Poppy image right-click and select Properties/Details:

Make a note of the dimensions (360 pixels x 640 pixels).  This is the size I must make the 300 dpi Riverside image in order to use it as a template.

To resize the Riverside image, open it in Paint, select Resize, check the Pixels radio button and over-type the dimensions with those of the Poppy.  Be sure to uncheck the box ‘Maintain aspect ratio’, which is checked by default.

Save the picture with its new dimensions.  It should be distorted and the same size as the Poppy.

The last step is to copy the Poppy image and paste it over the Riverside image.

Open both pictures in Paint, in two separate windows:

Copy the Poppy – Image, Select, Select all

Click the Clipboard tab – select Copy

Move over to the Riverside photo.  Click the Clipboard tab – select Paste

After paste …

The Riverside image becomes the Poppy at 300 dpi.  Save it now and remember to rename it.

Of course if you have several images to convert to 300 dpi that are all the same size there is no need to repeat the re-sizing process.  Just keep a copy of the first converted image and use it as a template to paste over.

Hope this helps!

Trying not to waste anything and lamenting the decline of a small market town

I hate wasting food but have a compulsion to stock the house with whatever visiting family and friends might fancy.  I enjoy spontaneity but like to be prepared so Christmas was a time of checking dates on stuff in the fridge, agonising over whether to freeze meat products, which would make them unavailable, or risk getting too close to their use by date – and being vegetarian means I can’t just eat it myself to get rid of it.  At least the wildlife benefited from posh quiche and pork pie – I took it out running with me and flung it down a hillside where there are no buildings around.  Sadly, I no longer feed the birds in the garden for fear of attracting rats.

Being well-stocked and a fussy eater (vegetarian and not a dairy fan), I take my own lunch to work and have never liked the idea of buying a ready-made sandwich, nor would I buy a small plastic pot of washed, chopped up fruit (unless it was reduced from £1.74 to 14p).  Of course, very many people do buy ready-made sandwiches every day, so it must be a normal thing to do.  Whilst I do the main weekly shop at a supermarket, I do like to support small businesses when out and about at the weekend.

At least once a year I visit the lovely little market town that was the home of my ancestors.  It’s a nice day out and an opportunity to connect with souls and say a spiritual ‘hello’ to grandparents and great grandparents, tidy the graves and leave some flowers.  Last summer, since my partner was coming along, I suggested we had a pub lunch rather than taking a picnic.  He was more in favour of a snack and a mug of tea in a café, which suited me fine.

We weeded the graves whilst a very tame robin perched on one of the grave stones watching, and I wondered if this was an indication of a relative making contact or simply a bird waiting for us to dig up some worms.

It was sad to see the churchyard gate had come off its hinges and the bench in the peaceful little clearing had collapsed.  It was a warm sunny day but the little town felt run-down and subdued.  Most of the shops were closed, which I thought seemed odd on a week day but I suppose if they don’t get the customers and the owner is not the shop keeper it might cost more per hour to keep the shop open than any profit made on sales.

The cafes were open but the one I had in mind at the top of the high street was very noisy, not over-crowded but there was a group of women projecting their voices as if on stage, their conversation punctuated with high-pitched peels of laughter.  We moved on.  The next one had no free tables and looked too cramped to safely wield cutlery – but the next looked ideal.  The shop window revealed ovens and large display cabinets and just a few tables that were all vacant …

We went in but the staff didn’t look too impressed at having customers, although I’m sure we were smiling politely when we entered!

“We’re not a cafe but you can buy your food here and eat it on a table.”

“Thank you”, I said, unsure how that made it not a cafe.

“You have to get your tea or coffee from the machine over there … but she’s cleaning it at the moment.”

“Oh, that’s fine.”  We both obligingly chose a can of pop from the fridge and I tried not to notice the price and not to think about the cans we had at home that would soon be out of date.

Then came the difficult bit.  Julz glanced at the sandwiches and cold pasties and quickly settled for a flapjack.  I had in mind something savoury, like a jacket potato, but couldn’t see any and the the pasties were all meat and the only non-meat sandwich had egg in it, which I can’t stand (already told you I’m fussy).  I was taking too long to choose and it was getting awkward with them watching me.  I was getting anxious and starting not to fancy anything at all when I spotted a slice of cheese and tomato pizza.

She followed my gaze.  “That’s pizza but it’s not cooked and we switched off the ovens at one o’clock because we close at three.” (It was ten past one).

“Not to worry, I’ll go for a cake.”

She thrust a tray of cream cakes at me.  “Fresh cream, these are.”  Yes, of course they would want to get rid of them …

“Urm, sorry, I’m more of a fruit cake fan.”  Then I saw the answer – a large fruit cake wrapped in cellophane – but it was the sort you would cut a slice off rather than eat the whole thing in one go.  I put it on the counter with relief.  I was feeling a bit flushed and peculiar by now, but didn’t like the idea of just breaking a lump off the cake.  “I don’t suppose you’ve got a little plastic knife I could have to cut a piece off?”

Both ladies started to hunt for one.

“… or may you could just cut a slice off with one of your knives?”  but they were on a mission to find a plastic knife and bless them they found one.  Phew!  We perched on a wall down the road rather than using their tables.

Looking back, it’s a shame to think that if it weren’t for the family ties I might not be drawn back there again, and whilst I’m tempted to take my own stuff along next time, I will give one of the other pubs or cafes a try … but I’ll take that little plastic knife along, just in case 😉

 

“Perhaps it’s because he is on the lead”

Alfie has come to stay for a few days and I’ve been looking forward to going for some good runs with him.

Here he is, enjoying the view from the top of my favourite hill:

The photo would look better without the lead but there was a family with young children playing nearby and I didn’t think they would welcome him joining their game.

As soon as there was no-one in sight, I let him off the lead and he had a good run and a sniff around.  He’s the black dot in the distance:

Although I hadn’t seen any sheep on the way up, we went back down the hill with the lead on and I was glad I had taken the precaution when a single sheep was suddenly in view just over a blind summit.  Alf pranced around a bit and it strutted away.  I am always aware that even if the field appears empty of sheep and there is no fresh muck around, there is often one individualist sheep that did not follow the flock when it was moved.

At the foot of the hill, Alfie was mugged by a farm dog that had come pelting along behind one of the quad bikes they use around the land.  The dog didn’t bite him but charged aggressively a few times doing that bared teeth head butting action to let us know the damage he could do if he really meant it! I guess he thought he was protecting his territory and didn’t have a proper understanding of public rights of way.  Meanwhile the lad on the quad bike was bellowing his name, but he took no notice.  No physical harm done, but me and Alf were both upset by the incident and I hope he will forget about it and not be nervous of other dogs.  I won’t be taking him up there again.  Maybe that’s the result the landowners are aiming for?

That was yesterday.

This morning we did the River Walk, knowing it would be relatively quiet today compared with the next three days.

I saw someone coming through a gateway and stepped off the path and towards the riverbank to let them pass, and a big dog came running at us, looking at Alfie in a nasty way with his hackles up.  The dog was with a couple of women.  One kept out of the way whilst the other started to call his name, but in an airy-fairy way – not prepared to sound like a fish-wife, so it was never going to work!  I managed to grab his collar and held him at arm’s length whilst Alfie did pirouettes on the end of his lead, keeping as much distance as possible.  Alfie has never shown aggression towards other dogs, he is of the slightly anxious tail wagging between the legs sort of temperament.

When this dog’s mistress finally caught up, which was probably less than a minute but seems longer when you are hanging on to the collar of a dog you have only just met, I didn’t want to make her feel awful about this incident, so I said, “He does seem to get picked on for some reason.”  (I do wonder if the ‘reason’ could be that Alfie has balls whereas so many dogs seem to be routinely castrated these days?)

There was no apology.  She said, in a loud, posh, self-righteous and judgemental tone;

“Perhaps it’s because he is on the lead!”  

Oh, so it’s because Alfie is on the lead that we’ve just been scared shitless again, and it’s therefore my fault that we just experienced this kerfuffle?!

I could have given the lady a list of reasons why he was on the lead …  no, I couldn’t actually, because I never think of the right thing to say at the time – and I wanted to put distance between us.

So, I will bore you with the reasons now, sorry.  I do realise that anyone reading this probably doesn’t give a monkey’s about why Alfie was on the lead, but this is what I would like to have told her, and I’d like to get it off my chest, so thanks for listening 😉

Alfie was on the lead because:

  • The riverside path is narrow and I didn’t want him to touch the electric fence.  If you have ever touched it without rubber-soled shoes, to understand how it feels to an animal, you would know that it gives you quite a zap – and even the sections where there is no fence have sheep grazing at the moment … we walked through a flock of rare-breed-looking dark brown ones.
  • Alfie is a friendly dog who is likely to jump up and muddy your clothes if you speak to him nicely 🙂
  • Although Alfie is happy to Come, Sit and Stay in the back garden, he doesn’t take much notice of me if we are out in open space and something distracts him – just as your dog ignored you when you told him to leave mine alone!
  • There are one or two fishermen along the riverbank today. Off-lead Alfie might possibly lick their faces then cock his leg up on their lunch box :-/
  • If he hadn’t been on the lead when your dog rushed at him like that, he might have tried to escape by jumping in the river and swimming to the other side – and then I’d have had to do the same!

No physical harm done these two days, but it worries me that experiences like these might make him nervous of other dogs.  He is still a young boy so I hope he will forget.

It’s a jungle out there, Alfie 😦   xxx

But how do you get to it …?

I know I’m not the only one who gets frustrated with packaging design – not being able to get at the contents of a packet without using some sort of tool … when cooking a meal, for example, and everything is already simmering but it takes five minutes to add that final ingredient because it’s a new packet and you can’t get into it.

My least favourite packaging is the rigid, see-through plastic that is moulded around the item, requiring strong scissors to cut around it whilst creating nasty sharp edges.  I once queued behind a customer in a hardware shop, who wanted to return a yale lock because it didn’t fit his door.  When the assistant refused on the basis that goods could only be returned with packaging in tact, he pointed out that it was impossible to tell if it was the correct lock without taking it from the packaging, which was impossible to do without destroying it.

Packaging is designed with good intentions but do the drawbacks sometimes outweigh the benefits?

The Push and Turn top is sometimes used to make medication ‘child proof’, but if the medication is used regularly it can end up on a mantelpiece with the lid resting loosely on top, defeating the object.  It is also used on some bleaches and cleaning fluids but sometimes the bottle is so flimsy that it starts to cave in when the top is pushed down.

Some containers simply don’t want to part with their contents, giving you the option of either throwing half of it away or else cutting the container to get to what’s left inside when it will no longer dispense.  Being a bit fussy about smells, I tend to go for unscented moisturiser, and decided to give this a try:

No complaints about the product, but the bottle is so strong and rigid that after a couple of uses, squeezing with one hand to squirt some into the other hand is fruitless.  The container stays in the squeezed position and has to be manipulated from the sides to get it back into a shape that is ready for action again.  Storing it in an upside down position helps but owing to the rounded top it has to be barricaded into a corner, propped up by other items, and comes crashing down if anything is moved.  So what is the purpose of this design?  The only advantage I can think of is that it has no scratchy edges that could hurt if the baby got hold of it.

Where I work, we have had new toilet roll dispensers fitted. (There are plenty of other areas that need improving but for some reason this took priority). Without being too poetic, it looks like a pair of breasts with milk flowing from them.  Here it is on a good day, with both nipples producing:

The obvious benefit of this design is that the paper is kept clean and dry and untouched by anyone except the person about to use it.  The down side is that the paper comes out like a piece of string and has to be straightened out before use.  Worse still, it has to be pulled very gently as it tends to break off, usually with the perforations just within the nipple, so you end up with this:

The photo above illustrates a particularly dodgy situation in which it’s advisable to milk as much paper as you might possibly need before starting anything, otherwise that one sheet on display might be all you’re gonna get!  This of course leads to waste, as it’s difficult to gauge precisely how much paper will be required, and better to err on the safe side.

On a bad day, you can see the paper but there’s no way of getting to it – but at least you know where you stand (or sit) with this:

Moving on,  I think the key holder must have been on holiday on this occasion (you need a key to open the dispenser) because what happened next brightened up an otherwise mundane day:

Yes, I know, ‘little things please little minds’ … but I don’t think anyone had any issues with the previous loo roll holders (not that I went around asking).  If there was some on the roll, you knew it was there for real and not just to tantilise, even if sometimes it meant inserting your hand up inside it to coax and jiggle it down.  I’ve no idea why it had to be reinvented … maybe sometimes change is just for the sake of change.

 

Watch With Mother

The place where I work has fixed holidays, which is annoying because they are fixed during school holidays and around bank holidays, and I don’t like crowded places or other people’s kids.  Of course I am grateful that I have a job with paid holidays, but I’ve been there long enough now for such niggles to intrude.  Isn’t that just human nature?  This past week of fixed holiday was good though, as it meant I could spend some time with my Mum around her eightieth birthday.

Mum is very easy to be with.  Stick her in front of a telly with a glass of wine and she’s happy, which is particularly useful now that she can’t get around too well.  I rarely watch TV – the internet is my telly – but there’s something comforting about watching it at my parents’ home when I visit.  Some of the adverts though!  My son had come up for his Nan’s birthday and we’re all sat waiting for it to be late enough to go off to the Eightieth Do and the conversation fizzles out so Dad puts the telly on.  Of course it was adverts but the first that came on was, “Do you suffer from vaginal dryness and itching?”  Well, Dad averted his eyes, frowning slightly as if distracted by a sudden thought.  (It reminded me of when I lived there more than thirty years ago and he would pick up the newspaper and study it if any kind of sex scene came on).  My son played it comical, affecting a genteel expression whilst examining the ornaments on the mantelpiece, as if suddenly noticing how very interesting they were, which set Mum off laughing, infectiously!

Why do such products need to be advertised on television? And why are they mostly to do with women’s things?  “Suffering from nob-rot?  Try Penisil!”    Hmm.  Sorry 🙂

Anyway …  Mum came to stay with us for a few days, so I wiped the dust off the TV screen and looked dubiously at the remote control, but she knew instinctively how to change channels. (Didn’t they used to be called ‘stations’?)  It turned out this was an important time in Coronation Street.  Corrie has been going for as long as I can remember.  Mum used to wash me in front of it with a wet flannel poised between me and the washing up bowl, and if there was any action it had sometimes gone a bit cold by the time it made contact with skin.  I have always found the theme tune depressing – back then because it was time for bed – but now because it sounds like an unhappy cat.  Watching it again this week, I was surprised to recognise some of the characters who are still in it but was also amazed how dark and disturbing it has become.  Okay, I’d had some gin, but I recall one guy self-harming whilst another was being sucked down in quicksand.  In Corrie?  FFS!

Then Mum threw into the mix, “She was married to Sean Bean – she was inbred.”  Trying to make sense of this, I said, “You mean they were first cousins or something?”  Mum said, “No, she was in’Bread’!”  Well, that tickled me!

I live some distance away from my parents and have done for many years – but it’s a worry now they are old.  (Mum has said, in the past, “Don’t be worrying about that – we might just drop dead!”)  The big ’80’ is a wake up call though, and it’s hard to imagine a time when they won’t be just a phone call or text away.  I know they can’t go on forever … but I very much fear that Corrie probably will!

Wacky inventions … who buys these things?

I have always found humour in wacky inventions. For me they existed before the internet, when Dad occasionally bought ‘Exchange and Mart’ if he was thinking of replacing his old car.  It was within these flimsy pages that I noticed such things as The Big Slipper that was taken up by Billy Connolly (google it – there’s a video!)  I was also intrigued by a Blackhead Zapper –  with some vague diagram that suggested a syringe without a needle … it appeared to work by planting the open end over the zit and then pulling until the zit popped and the debris landed in the barrel of the syringe!  I also recall a Body Massaging Wand – recommended for sporting injuries but with small print advice that it was for external use only …

These days, well, nothing has really changed, except there are images available for me to download from the internet and take the mickey out of …

Here are some of the funniest I’ve seen lately:

“Create extra storage in busy bathrooms by utilising the wasted space over the toilet.”

toilet-storage

 

Who (apart from a double-jointed acrobat) thinks the space over the toilet is wasted? Surely the space over the toilet during standing use is so that men can see where they’re aiming without having to bend over backwards? And for sitting use, in my experience, the space over the toilet is where my head goes.  I did wonder if you were supposed to move the scaffolding out of the way on each visit – but looking carefully at the picture it appears that the lower horizontal bar has been fitted behind.  See what I mean?  No way of easily shifting it aside!

Here’s the next one:

“Maximise your storage with this fantastic set of four fridge drawers.”

fridge-trays

 

Marvellous!  How ‘fantastic’! How exactly are we maximising storage space by placing the containers we keep in the fridge into a larger container that has a big sticky-out handle?  These are advertised as ‘currently sold out‘, even though they are £19.99 for a set of four … so lots of people must be buying them.   Really?

This one takes the biscuit, maybe … unless it really does only do eggs or beans:

“Choose between fried, poached or boiled eggs using the interchangeable trays, or alternatively use it to heat beans”

toaster-and-egg-cooker

 

If only I had space on my worktop … but what if I wanted to heat up soup instead of doing beans or cooking eggs?  Would that be okay, or maybe this thing can only manage eggs and beans?  Not sure I could be bothered with the washing up that the interchangeable trays might generate.

 

Next we have the Ear Cleaner … well, two Ear Cleaners because if you buy one you get one free , so that “two family members can have their own Ear Cleaner!”

Each Ear Cleaner requires 2 AA batteries (not supplied)

ear-cleaner

 

The dog in the picture below has been zipped into a bag!  He does look rather hot and panicky, and I start to hyperventilate if I look at this for too long.  How the heck is he standing? Maybe someone propped him up and then stepped back and quickly took the photo?  “Good boy!”

Perhaps I should mention that the idea of this … invention is that if your dog goes outside and gets wet and muddy you simply zip him up inside this thing and leave him to dry – so that he doesn’t bring any muck into the house!

I read some funny reviews. One customer was dissatisfied because the bag had left pink fluff on their white dog 🙂

Another was very pleased not to have to clean out the motor-home after the dog had been in it.  Maybe you should get a stuffed dog next time!

dry-dog-bags

Hair

I never have been one to bother much about hair styles, always being a wash and leave girl … yet I do know when it needs cutting.  I have thin dark hair with a white head that tends to shine through, especially when sitting beneath an office light, an effect that is accentuated as the hair grows longer.  It was my son who first pointed it out to me, some years ago (with that invaluable and direct approach our children have) “I can see your head.”  I also have him to thank for alerting me to the fact that my facial hair was getting out of hand, by piping up (in the queue at Argos) “You’re growing a beard.  And a moustache.

Back home (back then) I said to Julz, “Bill says I’m growing a beard and moustache.”  Maybe I expected him to say of course I wasn’t – but he replied, “It’s not too bad, Love.”  So, I got out the hair removal cream – the stuff you’re supposed to test on a small area first – and daubed it generously above my top lip and around my chin, and then waited.  It was tingling nicely so it must be working …  and yes, you’ve guessed – it was working rather too well, burning off a layer of skin along with the hair … and then I had to go into work the next morning and face startled, concerned expressions from my colleagues and explain what had happened!  Anyway, I’m digressing.  This was supposed to be about head hair.  I only wish it grew as healthily up there as it’s growing everywhere else these days …

I do believe the answer to thinning hair is to get it cut regularly, with layers, to maintain a little uplift.  Until this year, I always worked on sites where I could get it cut during my lunch hour.  When asked how I wanted it done I would ask them do whatever they could to make me look less bald on top, confident that people who cut hair for a living know better than I do how it will suit me best.  It only ever took them about five minutes, and then they’d ask if I wanted any more taken off.  Never really liked to ask them to go all round again!  In my new job we only get half an hour and there are no local hair shops.  It’s an early start, so I end up scraping ice off car windows hoping my hair isn’t going to freeze to my head, even in April, in England!  It gets washed in the shower every morning because it sticks out at one side or curls around in whichever direction it’s been slept on.  After trying a couple of Saturdays to get it cut without an appointment I had a go at the front myself – just chopping off the annoying bits that were hanging around my face, and made that do for a while.

Owing to my son’s adorable puppy, I’ve been WhatsApping photos of me and the pup to my Mum.  On one I sent her that was particularly lovely of Alfie, I added the comment “Excuse my bald patch,” to which she replied, bless her, “That’s not a bald patch, it’s a parting.”  Of course she said that because she is my mother and not my daughter!  “Bloody wide parting,” I replied, and experimented with moving the parting to the other side, like a bit of a comb-over 🙂

So, this weekend I was on a mission! I didn’t want my precious Saturday to revolve around a five minute hair cut but surely one of the very many hair shops in the nearest town to this village could spare five minutes to cut my hair without prior arrangement?  But, “Hoe Nyo!  Not without an appointment!”  Defeated, I mooched around the shops, recalling the expression of that one particular lady, so heavily made up that it looked like a disguise, looking at me as if I’d crawled out of a drain whilst her younger assistant (who appeared to be doing nothing) stared at my head with pity as if thinking omigod she really needs a haircut.  I almost bought a pair of ornamental meerkats from a charity shop to cheer myself up – but then remembered there was nowhere to put them and this is precisely the kind of clutter I am trying to get rid of.

When I got home, Julz looked at me with his face prepared to approve my new haircut.  It was clear from his expression that he wasn’t too sure whether I’d had it done or not, but wanted to be approving either way!  He settled for “How did it go?” So I asked him to please cut my hair, and he did.  I’m very pleased with the result – the best it’s looked for ages.  After all these years, he knows my hair better than anyone!  🙂

Goodbye, Dear Starman xxx

The news that my life-long hero had died came not long after the passing of my lovely old friend, Peter.  Early in the morning, listening to the local radio to catch the traffic update, I was listening to opinions about the usual fascinating topics; car parking, fuel prices and dog mess when the presenter casually mentioned that news had just come in that British singer-songwriter …..(road noise and poor reception) had died. The name was said quickly and without much emphasis – so surely he didn’t say ‘David Bowie’!  I turned up the radio in preparation for the next news and was gutted to hear it confirmed.

It was a weird day, blundering through the induction programme at my new job whilst locked in a mind-loop with a snippet from Five Years, “News guy wept and told us Earth was really dying”.  I suppose I felt that this particular news should have been delivered with more importance – not just thrown in the gap between the petty complaints and the traffic jams.  I am so sorry for his family and hate to think he was ill for eighteen months and we (the public)  knew nothing of his suffering.

The radio tributes during the journey home … his voice on my favourite records being played that day were difficult yet compelling to listen to. I was taken back to the first time I saw him on TV.  ‘Top of the Pops’ was on and I must have been about five and not really interested until Space Oddity came on with that video!  Mesmerised, I fell in love with him during those few minutes and have been captivated by him and his work ever since.

During that early phase when he supposedly lived on green peppers and white powder I used to fear that he would die young, but in later years and happily married to Iman, he glowed with health and appeared always at ease … kind and humble with a slightly wacky and contagious sense of humour.  I decided he would live to a grand old age and so the news of his passing came as a shock, and a sense of losing someone who had been with me always.  Of course he still is here as I knew him.  I still have his music and videos, which is all I ever did have.  Thanks for the memories, dear David xxx

Bowie will be here forever on the earth plane owing to the wonderful legacy he has left us, and I expect he has already adapted to the afterlife and is fitting beautifully into His scheme of things.

 

Where are we now?

Life went on.  The weather got warmer and the rats moved out.  We heard of no others pets in the village being affected by rat poison and a breeder I contacted – a lady who I consider to be the font of all deerhound knowledge told me she uses it at their place all the time and has never had a problem, and that sadly eight seems to be a use by date these days for large male hounds.

We went without him to the dog friendly cottage that had been booked earlier in the year and found it wasn’t especially dog friendly after all, with an open staircase despite dogs not being allowed upstairs and too many ornaments at tail wagging height.

I bought my first ever carpet this year, having always been satisfied with whatever was already on the floor wherever I lived.  Gandalf was a pup in 2007 – that was the summer of the floods – when it never stopped raining and the garden became a quagmire.  I recall coming home from work one day and noticing the living room smelt of wet soil infused with dog muck.  Even though the garden was diligently cleared I guess with all that rain some of it must have got washed into the earth.  When everything finally dried out and he stopped going in and out so much I had a go at cleaning it.  I thought a drop of sterilising fluid in the water was a good idea, but it wasn’t!  The result was a blotchy carpet, dark in some areas and bleached almost white in others – so I did the obvious thing and bought a rug to go over the top of it.

It seemed acceptable to have a scruffy house when there was a big dog living in it.  We referred to the downstairs as ‘Gandalf’s flat’ and his beautiful presence was a distraction from the scruffiness – but without him the living room was minging, even by my standards.  I bought new curtains to go with the carpet and was slightly worried I’d become a ‘curtains and carpets’ type … but it was just a passing phase.

People keep asking if we’ll get another dog but no, not yet anyway.  Meanwhile the new carpet has been christened. My son has a puppy who comes to visit, so I now have the pleasure of being a grandma to the gorgeous little fellow pictured below.  Not brilliant photos but he rarely keeps still.

These two were the best of many blurred grey smudges:

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