Posted on May 31, 2012 in Hounds by Jay9 Comments »

I know, I know. I’ve been neglecting you all. But I do have a good reason – I’ve been busy with the greyhound adoption stuff! And for the past few weeks I’ve been anxiously preparing for Brambleberry’s first show trade stand.

I’ve never done this before. I mean, I’ve done craft fairs – and none too successfully, I have to say – but never a stand for a charity. Never a stand on behalf of someone else. It was nerve-wracking!

Needless to say, we had no Brambleberry merchandise to sell, because we are still working on that (spending other people’s money without going back to them every step of the way and checking I’m doing things right is difficult for me) but I did have my HoundMade Designs stuff to sell, and our board of adoptable dogs, and Brambleberry leaflets to give out etc.

I made dog cookies too, and they sold reasonably well, though there was some stiff competition in that department. One lady there was making some proper little pies for dogs, with pastry and all. I bought a slice of ‘Sunday Lunch’ pie for my two and they LOVED it! It quite put my cheese doughnuts and banana & honey ‘moons’ in the shade, I can tell you!

And shade was something very, very hard to come by on Sunday. OH tells me that the temperature rose only to 25C, but I don’t believe him. I thought I was going to die from heatstroke! People were draping wet towels over their dogs to cool them, and some had brought proper ‘cool down’ coats, or even dog tents. It was so hot, that when I went to pick up a piece of jewellery that someone wanted to look at, I nearly dropped it because it nearly burned me!

It was a good thing we had that gazebo, though at one point I said to my hardworking lieutenant that I thought it was keeping the heat trapped inside and I went out to see. I scurried back pretty quickly though, because, no, it wasn’t. It was scorching ‘peel your skin off and dry out your eyeballs’ outside, and merely ‘too hot to think’ inside. We did take all but one side down, though, to catch any miniscule breeze that might spring up.

Money-wise we did reasonably well for our first time out, but the important thing is that we gave out a lot of leaflets. This surprised me because it was a greyhound show and I thought that people would already have the dogs they wanted, or would just go back to the same place if they wanted another, but no. Many people stopped to look at our dog photos and many people took leaflets, saying that they were thinking of getting another. And despite the fact that this show was an hour and a half’s drive from here, we met several Brambleberry dogs with their new owners, and you can see them scattered throughout this post. And we also met dog-less people from our area, so that was a very, very good result indeed!

So bring on the next show – we’re ready!

Tomorrow will be the very first greyhound adoption Meet & Greet that I have ever organised personally and marks the beginning of my (possibly very short) career as Person In Charge Of Fundraising for Brambleberry Greyhounds.

Those who know me will probably be giggling behind their hands or shaking their heads in sorrow, because I’m just about THE most disorganised, most financially incompetent person you could ever meet – plus my health is apt to let me down suddenly at odd times, which is unfortunate when people are relying on you. But, for better or for worse, I’m the best they have so I’m giving it a shot.

This week, since we returned from Venice, has been taken up with two important things:

One: preparing for this event, and setting in motion all those things which a fundraising ‘manager’ needs to do, like designing logos for merchandising, getting quotes for said merchandising, printing leaflets, buying necessary items and begging others from the RGT head office, and putting together that display board up there to give people something to look at while we bend their ears and rattle our tins at them.

Two: coping with Jeffie, whose response to being left in ‘kennels’* for five days and coming back to unaccustomed bustle and a houseful of Strange Things has been … unfortunate. He started at the weekend with liquid diarrhoea, which he produced copiously and, well, everywhere. Clearly he had no time to ask to go out, because this dog – who has been perfectly clean in the house since day one – woke me several times each night, whining gently to tell me that he’d had an accident. Not that I really needed telling, because as soon as my nostrils were awake and functioning, I knew, without even getting out of bed. Good grief – our neighbours probably knew! I could just imagine the sleepy conversations in the wee small hours:

Neighbour: ‘Heavens, darling, what is that horrendous smell? Are we under attack?’

Neighbour’s spouse: ‘Nah, that’s probably next door’s dog being ill again. Go back to sleep’.

Because, as OH said, it was like living with a sentient biological warfare laboratory, and the smell was indescribable.

And then, a few days ago, he added a little extra and began vomiting. This morning is the first time in nearly a week I’ve woken to a blissful absence of smell, and clean floors – and you can’t know how lovely that is, unless you’ve owned a large dog with a hair-trigger gut.

Jeffie himself, apart from a few days of looking extremely sore in the stomach department, has been his usual lively self, and couldn’t understand the Withholding of Food, the Fingers Down the Throat (tablet administration), Slimy Stuff being squirted into his mouth (kaolin paste), or the Serious Lack of Walks. I’m sure he’s every bit as relieved as we are that things can start to go back to normal!

Somehow, I’ve managed to be almost ready for tomorrow, with just a few last-minute things to do, and it’s a miracle, really, that I have. But wish me luck anyway – we really need to get a few of these dogs out of the kennel and into homes, because there are dozens more, just from our local area, waiting to come in.

*Kennels? Well, actually, in Sharon’s house, with her own dogs.

Posted on May 15, 2012 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay13 Comments »

What is that watery yellow thing in the sky?   Why is the sky blue, and yet the temperature hovers in the Chilly Zone?  Who stole the sea Рand perhaps more importantly, where is the Maid Service this morning?

Yes, we are back in England.  Instead of the gentle (slightly malodorous) salty waves, and bobbing boats of Venice, we have grubby tarmac and noisy road traffic, and the view is decidedly less than inspiring.

No more gentle strolls through picturesque alleys.  No more vaporetto rides to fascinating places. Boo Hiss.

I really enjoyed practising my Italian, but it has to be said that in Venice there are times when you won’t hear any Italian spoken.¬† When you sit down for that caff√® latte by the Grand Canal, you’ll probably hear at least three different languages from the nearby tables, and often, the waiter will talk in English – this being the closest thing to an ‘International’ world language.¬† Many of the tourists we encountered were German, which probably explains the frankfurters.¬† But there were many Japanese, too, snaking along in great anxiety-ridden crocodiles, following a yellow card, or a half-open umbrella, or (in one case) a twinkling light on a stick*.¬† And of course there were Dutch, French, American, English, African, and Scandinavian people, and people from various Eastern European countries, too.¬† No doubt there were great swathes of humanity from countries I haven’t identified, but one does one’s poor best, and I have to say that my focus was not entirely on my fellow sightseers, except when they unexpectedly stopped at a shop window in a narrow calle, or trod on my foot.

But minor accidents notwithstanding (I forgive you, Nameless Italian Woman, for boarding a crowded vaporetto with a large tray of geraniums on wheels and wielding it like a weapon, since I didn’t actually fall over the side when you tripped me but only suffered trauma to my already-bruised ankle), we had a most wonderful time in Venice!

It was the most relaxing holiday I’ve had in decades.¬† The weather was gorgeous (yes, Paola – ‘wall to wall blue’, as you see!), the surroundings atmospheric and beautiful.¬† We walked, gazed in wonder, ate, drank, walked, watched the boats, walked, crossed the Grand Canal by gondola, and walked some more, and I took hundreds and hundreds of photos.¬† We heard beautiful music, visited lovely churches, ventured into narrow alleys in residential districts, and found fascinating shops – one of which will be the subject of a blog post all of its own – and puttered gently around the islands on the public transport system: the vaporetti, which are really nothing more than water buses, but are an inescapable part of the essential Venetian experience.¬† Boat trip round the island?¬† Take a vaporetto or three!¬† Just be aware (as we, in fact, were not) that when you buy your 24 hour ticket, it means just that: it’s good for twenty four hours of travel, not just for the twenty-four hour period!¬† Unlike most things in Venice, they’re pretty cheap, but there’s no need to pay over the odds.

The downside?¬† Well, there are illegal street traders everywhere, and they can be a darned nuisance, like the guy who tried to sell us a rose inside a restaurant and did not seem to understand the word ‘no’, or the ones who set up multiple trading posts on the very busy footbridges.¬† And though prosecutions of tourists seem to be rare, it is actually illegal in Italy to buy from these people.¬† They themselves do get prosecuted occasionally – just watch them run when the police stroll around a corner – but they are still pretty common.

Oh, yeah, and there are mosquitoes.¬† I got bitten a few times, but not to the point where it spoiled my holiday.¬† However, if you plan to visit later in the year they will be present in their millions and you’d be wise to bring plenty of deterrent, and also antihistamine cream.¬† I’m told that once they wake up for the season and start biting, they can be ferocious and very, very insistent.¬† You are advised not to leave windows open. Keep the shutters closed, even during the day, or you will not sleep for the incessant whine and the subsequent itching. Not a wink.¬† Perhaps I’m paranoid, because I do often react badly to insect bites, but seriously, Venice can be Very Bad when it comes to Bitey Things.

So there you are.¬† We thought four nights, with three-plus full days to explore would be enough, but no.¬† There were still yet more things to see and places to go. So .. perhaps we will return again, for the third time, to this magical ‘floating’ city.

Before it sinks too far into those milky, grey-green waves.



* Where do they get these things?  Is there a shop somewhere selling accessories for tourist guides?  The mind boggles.

KEY TO THE PHOTOS in order of appearance:

1 – The Bluebell, Glinton

2 – Frankfurter delivery going past our hotel

3 – Near the Rialto Bridge, a colourful umbrella marks the beginning of a tourist ‘crocodile’

4 – OH on the miniature terrace/landing stage of our hotel enjoying the ‘wall to wall blue’

5 – Street traders on a bridge near the Piazza S Marco

6 – The front of our hotel, and the next-door ‘servizio gondola’ entrance

7 – The Bridge of Sighs


Posted on May 9, 2012 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay10 Comments »

Does this make you feel like singing ‘Just one cornetto’?¬† Me too.¬† Perhaps¬† I can sue Wall’s ice cream for intruding on my idyll.

This is the view downwards from our miniscule hotel balcony.

We are having a great time here in Venice.  The view from the hotel does include a tad more than just gondolas, way below.  There is a two way view of the Grand Canal, and we are dead opposite the fruit and vegetable market, which (miraculously) is not noisy first thing in the morning.  The most we hear is the slap-slap of the moored gondolas on the water, the gondolieri calling to each other, and the muted sound of the vaporetti and other craft plying their trades up and down the canal.  The seagulls are remarkably few, and very quiet.  The only things that make much of a racket are the water ambulances* and the drunken tourists who occasionally make themselves heard, mostly of an evening.

This is one of the most relaxing holidays I’ve ever taken.¬† It’s central, so there’s plenty of¬† interesting stuff to do within walking distance if you don’t want to hop on a vaporetto, and a ton of shops to browse and people and boats to watch. Everything (except the passage of the water ambulances) is taken at a much slower pace than back home, the food is good and so far they’ve all managed to find me something to eat to cater for my poorly stomach AND my allergies – I’ve even had two gelati!!¬† And I’ve only been bitten twice**, which is nice.

OH has just hopped out to see if he can get us a couple of tickets to a Vivaldi concert being held in a church near here, so that’s what we’ll be doing this evening if he’s successful.

*The water ambulances apparently sometimes have trouble negotiating the narrow backwater canals, and when you see how choked with traffic they are, this is hardly surprising.¬† Add to that the fact that finding an address is a nightmare with all the twisty, turny little alleys, some accessible only on foot, and the fact that some houses aren’t numbered and there might be six families living in a building anyway, then you can understand it.¬† It does mean that there is occasionally needless loss of life, however, which is sad. Makes me glad to be staying on the wide, unobstructed Grand Canal in a clearly marked and well-known hotel!

Anyway, we still have one full day of our short break left, but we’ll be home by the weekend!

** By insects.  Good grief, what are you lot like?