Raffles en pointe

Our Raffles is generally a bold doggy. He isn’t shy at all and is really inquisitive. If anyone is doing any work on the house, he goes right up to them to stare at what they’re doing and supervise them. Raffles is a middle management dog.

Whereas Oscar is a little faint-hearted and runs away from the vacuum cleaner and the steam mop, Raffles generally stands his ground, challenging the machine to suck him up if it very dares. Just the other day he leapt off the village hall stage, a good four feet from the ground. I swear he thinks he’s a pusscat.

We’ve noticed, however, that he’s a little cautious on his woodland walks at the moment. Oscar trundles along quite oblivious to anything underfoot, but Raffles picks his way carefully through the leaves. Here is a video of our Gingerspice treading gingerly:


Pesky chestnuts with their sharp prickles! What’s a doggy with such sensitive paws to do?

Petts Wood view

Nope. No idea what to write about tonight. Full marks for honesty,  I’d say. Though, to be completely honest, there are a couple of things I’d like to write about but they can wait until tomorrow when I’m feeling more coherent and less sleepy.

So here is a picture taken in Petts Wood this afternoon, just before Raffles did yet another disappearing act. Gone he was, poouff, in a second. Luckily, someone found him on his own and called me and, just as luckily, knew exactly where I was waiting so not too much harm was done.


Lovely, isn’t it?

Before I had a dog, I always used to think of autumn as a time of death and hopelessness. These days I consider it at times unspeakably beautiful. This is an old National Trust woodland, and many of the trees are chestnuts. It’s funny to see how Raffles minces along so cautiously to avoid stepping on the prickly seed cases. He can run like the wind when it suits him, though.

Sunday evening

I had hoped to bring you a photo of me planting some bulbs for next spring but we Facetimed with the Boiywonder and it was chilly and getting dark by the time we finally filled the first trough with pebbles, then compost then bulb compost then bulb fibre then bulbs. Anyway I expect some hurriedly-taken snaps of bulbs and compost would be nowhere near as appealing as the flowers I hope they will bring forth next spring.

I have planted alliums, because I like them; tulips because they’re cheery and great to cut and bring inside, their green stems carrying on living and growing, headless-chicken-like for a good couple of weeks until they curl around the vase and become too unruly.

I have planted some Iris too, in tribute to the late Aunty Beryl, who loved them and collected a room full of pictures and embroideries and irish-adorned china.

I’m planting at least two troughs and I hope eventually to lift the bulbs and plant them in the nascent (I hope) garden that will be our next urgent project.

We are planning to have artificial turf laid. We have no time to garden properly other than tinkering and this would seem to be a good alternative to constant mopping and clearing of mud brought inside by eight paws from October to at least April. Mud season. This year, with the rain, it’s started early.

Is this a resurgence of my previous interest in gardens and gardening? Well, that’s probably too much pressure but let’s take it a step at a time. I’m certainly planning a herb garden.

We’re going to have the pond moved to the back of the garden where it can provide a habitat for our amphibians and dragonflies to potter around in peace. I’d like a woodpile for hedgehogs and stag beetles too. And lots of flowers to encourage the bees.

We are full of ideas and looking forward to seeing the finished green room.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of roast rib of beef, our first proper supper since Thursday night!


Wednesday news


Tonight’s news in brief:

  • I’m still sneezing my damn head off. I can still sing, though.
  • Went to run through my recital pieces today. My accompanist for this doesn’t have a very forthcoming personality and her manner is a little off-putting when, like me, you need reassurance as a singer. I don’t know why I put myself through these ordeals. I think I did OK but had to unbutton my jeans. Tight jeans and clear, sustained phrasing don’t mix.
  • Discovered that the Miele cookbook for the warming drawer is possibly a little optimistic about required cooking times.
  • Started the Brahms German Requiem at choir, which is beautiful. I must say that, as a choir, we are going from strength to strength. Every term our sound is better, and we’re better at sight singing the music and picking it up almost immediately. It must be very gratifying for our Music Director. It certainly is for me.
  • Painters didn’t turn up again today, despite assuring me they would. I don’t know why this last last week or so’s work seems to be taking more than a month but I have now reached the stage where I just want everyone out of my house. I was hoping it wouldn’t end this way, our project, but, oh look, it has.
  • Walked the doggies at the park today. It was one of those warm early autumn days where you feel obliged to make the most of what could be the last day of sunshine until April. But who knows what state the park will be in next April.
  • Lewisham Council are, you see, planning to bulldoze the local public golf course, that occupies much of the park and probably turn it into housing or a multiplex or something. They say it’s because it’s not used by golfers, but it is. There are joggers and people out for a constitutional and it’s our normal dog walk.
  • It’s a vital green lung in a very built-up area. I know this is NIMBYism but Lewisham council will have to uproot and destroy hundreds of ancient trees to build their much smaller tree theme park. There seem to be plenty of brownfield places around the borough, to destroy this local amenity seems like vandalism and spite.

And that was the news.


Neral flora and fauna

Written on Tuesday 15th September. Posted today:


My mum and Shain watching telly.

I saw my mum a few times today for half an hour or so each time, which as about as long as she can concentrate. It’s very apparent, though, that her powers of concentration fade as the day wears on. It was good just to “hang out” with her and watch TV for a while this afternoon, some Marathi film with a stupid plot and stereotypical characters, including absurdly beautiful main protagonists and a lot of not very realistic stage fighting.

It was clear that my mum has become quite close to her main carers, and they showed me photos of her on her birthday and clowning around. How gratifying it is to know that she is comfortable and relaxed here and that they obviously care for her. I’m wondering whether they’re on their best behaviour while I’m here and just waiting around for me to turn up. Perhaps I’m cramping their style.

The monsoon rains are fading now with intermittent thunderstorms and heavy showers replacing the continuous rain. Between the showers, the birds and butterflies come out to dance and it seems that the flowers bloom more strenuously. Walking to the dining hall this evening my olfactory system was mobbed by the scent of jasmine.

Here, then are a few photos of today:


And a little video. I think we can agree that Spielberg has nothing to fear from me:


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