Posted on April 24, 2011 in Hounds by Jay14 Comments »

This week for Sunday Selections I don’t have much time, it being Easter weekend and the family being here and all, so I thought I’d take the easy route and show you a picture of each of my dogs that have not been published before.

First, at the top here, is the beautiful, intelligent, and most beloved James, later to become known as Jim. He was a Wood Green Animal Shelters dog, and not tattooed, so he had never been a racing greyhound. He’d been picked up after being found in a woman’s garage stealing her cat’s dinner, poor guy. He was covered in mange, had numerous scars, a broken canine and a piece missing from his tongue, but he was a gorgeous dog.

Next, when Jim was fairly elderly and seemed to need a companion, came Susan.

Susan was a stunningly beautiful dog to look at, and she had bunny-soft fur.  She was scarred in her face and on her belly because an intended kennel mate had attacked her when they tried to put her in with him and tried to kill her.  They got her out within less than a minute but he did some damage.

Susan had an incredibly high prey-drive though and was a real handful out on walks. She wanted to kill … well, everything! Well, everything that wasn’t actually greyhound shaped, anyway. And she was 100% bomb-proof with people.  However, any animal which didn’t look like a greyhound seemed to be fair game. She improved a huge amount in the five and a half months we had her, while becoming increasingly and worryingly ill. Our vet had no clue what was wrong, though he was treating her for age-related kidney failure. As it turned out she had kidney cancer, but by the time I insisted on a vet school referral, it was too late and we had to let her go.

Naturally, Jim was very upset, and he grieved. So I went back to the racing kennel that Suze had come from and we chose Renie.

Renie, as many will remember, became our lovely Princess, the laziest dog on the planet, and PAT dog extraordinaire. She visited deaf-blind people and was just perfect for it, lying peacefully with quadriplegics, allowing herself to be examined, stroked, held by adults who behaved like toddlers, and enduring sounds and shouts which would make many dogs very nervous.  But she was very protective of her elderly companion, James, and would place herself between him and other dogs, and chase them off if they got too close. Her favourite tactic for persistent offenders was growl at them, and when they turned to run, she’d take the tiniest hold of a mouthful of fur from their tail end with her incisors.  She never hurt anyone, she just gave them a warning, because basically, she didn’t want a fight.

When we lost Jim to heart failure, Renie basically took no notice of any other dog on our walks.  She just wasn’t interested. They could come as close as they liked as far as she was concerned .. but when we added Jack, her protective instincts rose to the fore again and she began to protect him, in exactly the same way!

Jack was a ‘bounce’. He’d lived with an old lady, and when she had a stroke, he ended up in rescue, where his time was not entirely good, for various reasons, and he came to us very thin.  He also hadn’t had much off-lead time judging by his enthusiasm!

Jack was just about ten years old when we took him on, and he was the funniest, gentlest soul.  Scared of being touched unexpectedly, and yet the boldest and most curious dog in other ways.  Such a character!

And now we have the handsome Sid! Sid is our tripod, and he is also a PAT dog. He visits a hospital ward for severe mental health issues and an old folk’s home in a nearby village and is much loved in both places.  Sid is great dog, very gentle and utterly gorgeous, and everyone loves him.

We are now convinced that Sid misses canine companionship, and even though he goes back to his trainer for holidays where he can run about with up to eleven other greyhounds, we think he needs a friend to live with him.  But OH isn’t ready to commit to another dog, so we are looking into fostering which will probably be the perfect solution.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Meanwhile, for more Sunday Selections go and see Kim at Frog Ponds Rock! This is a fairly new meme, but you’ll find a variety of interesting posts. Perhaps you might consider joining in yourself!

Posted on April 23, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay8 Comments »

And how appropriate is this?

It’s cute, and it’s a bit like a yellow chick, or a duckling, or maybe (at a stretch) an Easter egg!  Not only that, but it had flowers on the back end – you can just see some of them in front of the rear wheel arch, if you look closely.  And have you spotted the little sunflower on the dash?  Any more decoration and it would have been overkill, but as it is, it’s simple, but effective … actually, quite tasteful!

OH snapped this very seasonal beetle for me when he went out alone with Sid the other day.  The eyelashes are soft, either rubber or plastic, and sure to raise a smile from anyone, especially since there’s no danger of any careless pedestrians being impaled.

What’s the cutest car you’ve ever seen?  And would you drive around in a car with eyelashes?

Or maybe not.

I love food, which is why I’m not a slim person, I guess. Not that I stuff myself all day and eat huge amounts but clearly I eat more than I should.  You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now because I much prefer me when I’m slim than when I’m … uh .. rather too well-covered.  But there you go.

Anyway.  This post isn’t really about dieting, and it’s not about my sluggish metabolism; it’s about the quality of the food we are presented with on a daily basis. I gave up cooking some years ago, and apart from the odd special meal, I really didn’t do much of it, but now I think … yep, I think I might have to start cooking again. I really do.

The last straw was when we went to a small local shopping centre recently, to look around a big store there.  It grew late while we were there and we decided to have a cup of tea and a cake.

Well.  I chose a fruit scone and a chocolate chip cookie. They looked delicious!

Were they delicious?

No they were not.

They were tasteless. Utterly tasteless.  Like cardboard, so they were.  That tempting scone managed to be fluffy and insubstantial and ‘claggy’ at the same time – it was one of those times when I wondered if I would ever find my teeth again – and the the nice chocolate chip cookie tasted of nothing but sugar!!  Trust me, if a woman is expecting to taste chocolate and she does not taste chocolate, disappointment is the least of it. Especially when she is tired and hungry.

Still, the tea was nice.


So what has gone wrong?  I know us Brits can do it.  I’ve had some great teas in the past.  And breakfasts and lunches and dinners too, come to that. But go into a humble cafe or big store restaurant and (with the notable exception of Harrods where I have had some stupendous food) you are apt to be let down badly.  We charge too much for too little and the quality is often extremely poor.

In Italy (you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) fast food is generally extremely good food.  And unlike the aforementioned manky cakes, it is often extremely reasonable in price.

That dessert up at the top was made for me on the spur of the moment in a little trattoria not a million miles away from Pistoia where they had nothing on the menu I could eat for dessert because of my egg allergy.  So the owner’s wife whipped this up for me, and it was one of the most delectable things I’ve ever eaten.  I know it looks a mess, but honestly – who cares?  That pink thing is a strawberry, by the way.  In case you were wondering.

But before you start shaking your heads and thinking I’ve become such a raging Italophile that Italy can do no wrong in my eyes, let me just show you this.

That, dear readers, is a calzone, made for me in Siena. And it is one of the reasons my opinion of Siena is so jaded that I have absolutely no desire ever to return.

That calzone was inedible.  The crust was hard, it was charred, and it was filled with a mixture of air and pig fat – there wasn’t even any cheese.   Yep. All that white wrinkly stuff you see on the plate, and the vaguely bacon-striped stuff inside the thing is almost pure, underdone fat.

However, most Italian fast food and cafe fare puts us completely to shame.   And don’t get me started on their hot chocolate!  Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to going back.

Anyway, it seems to me that one of the reasons people become overweight is because the food they are eating is basically unsatisfying.  It’s not good food.  It’s full of sugar, salt, chemicals and fat, processed to hell and back, and despite all that it’s tasteless!

So am I really going to start cooking again?  You bet. And to prove it, here’s a plate of cookies I knocked together this afternoon. For Sid.


This is a plate of dog cookies I made from wholemeal flour, olive oil, pecorino, a jar of chicken paste and a little bit of garlic.  He LOVES them.

You reckon Sid eats better than we do?  You could well be right … but I’m thinking of changing that.  We need to eat at least as well as our dog, don’t you think?

Well, I think it’s easy!

Surely these things are pretty much the same the world over, and surely everyone has seen one, and most people probably even have one somewhere.

This is a useful object.  It has a single purpose and it’s very good at it – but it’s not something you keep for its beauty, as you can see!  I like … um … these ‘things which have this single purpose’ …  in general (some people would even say I love them) but I have never seen an example of this type which is pretty.  Ever.  It definitely belongs in the utility class.

Ours is old, as you can see, and has spent some time in a damp place.  However, it still works extremely well, and what’s a bit of rust between friends?  I feel pretty rusty myself these days!

Does it help if I tell you that it’s in its box?

Now, I expect more than half of you to guess this one correctly, if not ALL of you, so get your thinking caps on – not that you’ll have to think very hard – and jot down your answer in the comments below. As usual, I’ll be back tomorrow evening (that’s Tuesday evening, UK time) to let you know that if you’re right.

Remember that the answer will be added to this post in the from of a picture link, so don’t go looking for it in the comments, though I will come in and comment on your answers and congratulate the appropriate people and commiserate with the others.

And don’t forget to pop on over to Lisa’s Chaos for more (and probably more interesting) Macro Monday offerings!  There are some great photographers out there.


HUGE apologies for not getting back with the answer at the designated time. I hope you will all forgive me. Here it is!

As you can see, some of you were indeed correct this week!  Well done you guys and gals!  Congratulations are in order for Carolina, Greyhounds CAN Sit, and Shooting Parrots!  I’m a little surprised that more of you didn’t guess it, but perhaps it was confusing having it sitting in its box.   It kind of threw you, I think.

I’ve got a fun one for you next week – already sorted and ready to go.   I hope you’ll be back!