Tag Archives: dog

Upping Sticks

My blog has returned! No longer is it pushed to the depths of my endless to-do list, but back for your (hopeful) enjoyment for the foreseeable future.

See, the reason for my complete lack of blogging of late is because we have moved house. Yes, we have upped sticks, packed up the house, the kids and the dog to move away from the hustle and bustle of living in London, for a quieter life in the countryside. It has been about five years in the planning, three of which were fraught with ‘shall we, shan’t we’ conversations and in the last year it has been the head mash that comes with selling and buying your home.

We lived in our last house for eleven years, our three children have been born there (not literally) and our family of five has acquired ten tonnes of clutter along the way. With our eldest boy about to embark on Year 6 and our twins heading into Year 3 of juniors, we felt that the time was right to make this move.  However, it is no mean feat trying to relocate five lives (plus a dog, although to be fair he really only needed his blanket packed).  Not only did we have to find someone to buy our house, we had to find a house we liked enough to buy, find three school places and work out hubby’s new commute.

Selling our house was an experience I wouldn’t wish to repeat anytime soon.  As a serial renter before me and hubby bought our now former family home, the whole selling house business was something I viewed on TV with the likes of Kirstie and Phil seemingly completing the process in a day. It didn’t look that hard, I just needed to adopt a loud assertive voice and a confident sales patter. Or so I thought. When the droves of buyers (seriously there were a lot) decided to invade our home I found myself acting more Gollam than Kirstie, gathering up my ‘precious things’ and muttering under my breath when prospective purchasers turned their noses up at our choice of décor.  The first few buyers through our door I practically hugged, offered homemade cookies and a spreadsheet of the pros and cons of living in our street. As the numbers went up and no offers were on the table, my sales approach become a little lacklustre.  I no longer felt impelled to gush about my happy home but instead allowed them to show themselves around and have free reign in looking through my cupboards.

I think my lack of enthusiasm came after the many frustrating questions such as ‘its quite small for a box room isn’t it?’ or ‘your stairs are a bit steep aren’t they?’ or ‘why isn’t there a downstairs toilet?’ (which was asked whilst rooting through my understairs cupboard, presumably looking for Harry Potter).  One delightful purchaser asked hubby ‘where the stink pipe was?’ whilst examining our decked patio, not really sure what her intentions were but each to their own! One couple who seemed very interested and who I actually mouthed “its in the bag” to hubby about, said they would have bought it but were put off by the view of houses across the street.  Erm..this is a London Borough and not the rolling hills of Wales!

No turning back now!

No turning back now!

However, our saving grace came one Sunday afternoon whilst I was sitting at the dining table with the children doing homework, a roast dinner emitting delectable smells around the house and I was channelling my inner Mary Poppins, with much less singing involved.  Our Estate Agent had done their usual Crystal Maze style challenge of a 10 minute warning of an impending viewing, meaning we had to ready the house in record time and hide the dog in the neighbour’s garden.  The prospective purchasers arrived whilst I bribed the kids not to talk under any circumstances as they have a tendency to point out flaws. Example, buyer will compliment wallpaper, child will explain Daddy had to cover something up. Buyer will point out fence panels, child will own up to the ‘quick job’ they overheard from their parents. Thankfully, the buyers this day were a very keen young couple embarking on their first home and hubby and I were both on a mission to get our house sold! While hubby bombarded them with information on loft insulation and ‘reliable boiler systems’, I was retelling all the happy memories that had occurred in this home and what a good vibe it has! And despite our dog actually breaking through the fence to say hello, the couple made an offer the following morning!

Many people informed me over the weeks following our sale that moving house was ‘the most stressful thing you can do in life’.  Now, as a mother to twins I reckon I can turn my hand to most pressured situations so I smiled my reply and promised to ‘prepare myself’ all the while feeling smug that I had it in the bag! Yeah right. For anyone who has moved, they will know that it is not a stress free experience. Firstly, even after we had majorly decluttered, had a boot sale and carried out numerous trips to the charity shops with unwanted goods, it dawns on you how much stuff you actually own. I became so intimidated about packing it all up that I literally hid the moving boxes and found a million reasons not to embark on the process. Finally, a good friend of mine couldn’t stand it any longer and came round to get me started.  After a full day of wrapping, boxing and ridiculing my possessions, we had only actually packed up half of my kitchen! It’s then that I realised the enormity of the task in hand.  And if it was going to take me that long to pack up our house, how long would it take to unpack at the new house!

Moving day came around far too quickly and after shipping the kids off to my parents, hubby and I spent our last night in what was now someone else’s home.  I expected to feel sad and a sense of attachment, but without the children at home and our belongings all packed up, plus sleeping on a mattress in a bare room looking much like a squat, it didn’t feel like home anymore. I was ready and excited for our next step. And apart from leaving our family, friends and the best neighbours ever behind, I couldn’t wait to embark on our next chapter.

We have been in our new home for almost three months now which is hard to believe.  The time has flown by. The children have settled into school and made friends. Hubby has become a long haul commuter and is actually reading real books again (so proud) and me and Chester are settling in with the thoroughbred country dogs over our local park as he tries to repress his hooligan side. Lets just say you can take the dog out of the City but you can’t take the City out of the dog!

 

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High Noon Over The Dog Fields

A daily chore task I carry out each morning is walking our beloved lunatic Labrador Chester. Post school run I gradually open the front door to see if he has destroyed anything in our hallway (his bedroom) while I have been out for the 30 minute round trip. I am eternally pleased that our Postman likes a lie in so that our post is not ripped to pieces before I return. We adopted Chester last summer from a rescue home. He is a Pedigree Labrador but as he was being rehomed due to his excitable nature (what do some dog owners expect?) we got him at a reduced price, a sort of spoiled goods price. He was a gangly 6 month old pup who slotted into our lives perfectly. He turned 1 in November and is still as highly spirited (mental) as when he arrived but stupidly docile with the kids, with the added advantage of looking quite tough (though he really isn’t) so hopefully quite a good burglar deterrent.

Handsome chappie

Handsome chappie

Despite the fact that I spend the majority of the day with him, feed him, walk him then shower the mud off him, clear up the chewed kids toys, re-wash the stolen socks and pointlessly hoover up the coarse golden dog hair, he is still very much a Daddy’s boy! Me and Chester hang out all day, the minute hubby puts the key in the lock I am literally pushed aside while Chester does a sort of dog samba dance in the hallway to greet his master.

As an adolescent dog he needs a lot of exercise and as I spend a majority of my day working on the computer, the only way I can avoid trying to type without a huge dog lying across my lap, is to give him a long walk as my first job of the day. We are fortunate enough to live across the road to a series of farmers fields, they are privately owned for growing crops but have public walkways that we can use, which I bet the farmer just loves! On the edge of the first public walkway a local fellow has acquired a little paddock where he houses a rescue pony and two white goats. The kids love overfeeding his farm animals with carrots and apples and Chester has still not learnt to avoid a headbutt from the goats by sticking his head through the fence each time we visit them. The main downside of this mini farm is that the owner also has a big scary Mastiff effeminately named Lucky.

Mud Mud Glorious Mud

Mud Mud Glorious Mud

The main reason for using the fields for Chester’s walks, apart from the convenient location of them, is that other than Lucky you really don’t see that many other dogs or people over there. My pleasure at walking without others doesn’t demonstrate that I am in any way a recluse, but anyone who knows my dog or has read my blog about my one stab at dog training (please scroll back to Just Call Me Barbara for a reminder) will know that Chester is sometimes a little hard to control. My fear isn’t that I think he may attack another dog or person but that he will most definitely jump up excitedly at the person thus ruining their clothes, whilst over-sniffing their dog’s bottom to the point of vulgar and we are talking dogs here remember! Chester is a very friendly dog, a very very friendly dog, he is also a big coward! If he begins to violate a dog in the cherished way he likes to do and that dog decides to bark/growl/make a sudden movement, then Chester yelps and runs with his tail between his legs to hide behind me. He actually had this reaction when a dog that looked like Toto from the Wizard of Oz growled at him, it’s embarrassing sometimes honestly. So my tactic is the (how Cesar would hate me for this) not to try to train him but to avoid dog/person contact at all times.

Yesterday morning Chester and I were on our usual dog avoidance walk over the very muddy fields (snow melts – mudbath begins) and found myself walking in the direction of Lucky and his owner. Thankfully, Lucky was on the lead but the way in which his owner was being dragged towards us and frantically pointing for me to go into the neighbouring field away from them, I gathered he didn’t have that much control. As I switched direction to avoid them, I saw a huge Alsatian in the field we had now entered. I have seen this Alsatian before, I always avoid him, he is in my eyes devil dog. I quickly retreated back to the previous field where Lucky and his owner were, then tried unsuccessfully to signal ‘Alsatian coming’ in a really bad mime. He thankfully slowed down to let me run (wade through mud) ahead of them. Next thing I know Chester has put himself in a crouched position on the floor with his head bowed down, then I hear the gentle padding of the Alsatian in stalking mode behind us. He steps up to Chester in stealth mode and sniffs him with a quiet growl, Chester is looking at me for help but to be honest the Alsatian is giving me the ‘I can take you both on’ look as he comes and sniffs my wellies. I pointlessly mouth ‘good boy’ to Chester who looks like he would cry if he were in human form. The owner, a very fragile looking woman is still making her way from the other field and my life is literally in her faraway hands as she neglects to catch up with her dog. And just as the Alsatian is menacingly circling Chester for the second time he suddenly stops then runs off with his tail between his legs. His owner finally catches up and explains, ‘he is scared of the Mastiff’ and then carries on after her devil dog. I then see that Lucky and his owner have caught up and scared him off, I have never been so pleased to see them. Stuck between two dangerous dogs, you have to pick a side I suppose. Lucky didn’t even bother to growl at Chester as he came closer to us as Chester was still in his crouched position, looking a bit pathetic now. Chester slept well that day which resulted in a very productive day for me. Not that I would want to repeat the experience  again.

Dreaming about Alsatians

Dreaming about Alsatians