Diary of a Beagle Princess – day 2

IMG_0144It’s Thursday morning and I’m busy doing what beagles do best – chewing. There are three dogs in the house today – we have been joined by Benson, a miniature schnauzer. Nana gave us all chews when we returned from our walks.  I was a clever girl and scoffed mine in double quick time.  Then I waited for one of the older dogs to tire and snatched his treat away while he was distracted. Very nice it is too.

I’m not sure what I think of the sleeping arrangements here. I was preparing to bed down with the humans last night, when Nana sent me to my basket. I left immediately but she put me back in and sat with me until I settled. I waited for an hour, then sneaked back over to the bed. Nana picked me up and put me back again so I stamped my paw and glared at her. She stroked my ears which made me feel sleepy so I let her think I was going to be a good beagle princess and went to sleep for a few hours.

I woke up after a lovely dream in the small hours. It was dark but I was wide awake so I bounded over to the bed and jumped right in the middle of Nana and Grandad. Grandad made growly noises so I squeezed into Nana. She sighed sleepily and gave me a little cuddle. Grandad barked again and stomped off to the toilet. He was very cross. Nana scooped me up and we spent the rest of the night snuggled up in the spare room. Silly Nana. She should have done that in the first place. I always get my own way. I am a princess.IMG_0156

I woke Nana up at six thirty this morning with a little lick to her nose. She was very obedient and let me straight out for an early morning wee. I chased a few birds around the garden then came in for a quick snack. Nana wanted to go back to bed so I let her sleep for a little while but insisted she got up at 8am. She gave me breakfast, then took me for another lovely walk.

My training regime is going very well indeed. Nana is generally responsive to my whims. She needs a little more work on her silly ideas about me sleeping in my basket at night, but all in all, I’m happy with her progress.

 

Diary of a Beagle Princess

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Wednesday morning and I’m all packed up for a three day stay with my Nana. She collects me from home and I listen in the back of the car while she chatters away about her plans for the next few days. The countryside walks sound great, but if she thinks I am going to sit quietly while she spends two days writing, she is in for a rude awakening. I am a princess and I expect all of her time to be spent with me.

She parks the car and invites me onto the front seat so it’s easier to put my harness on. I decline. I have been taught not to move around inside a vehicle so I remain in my basket, paws crossed in defiance. Nana calls again, muttering about her weak wrist and my lack of cooperation, but I am Bella the belligerent today and no means no. Nana sighs, leaves the car and opens the rear door. I smile benevolently. It shouldn’t take long to train her. She puts on my collar, then my harness. I jump from the car in a frenzy of excitement. It looks like an off-lead walk across the fields is on the cards and I am trembling with anticipation.

Nana pulls the lead and I come to a halt, baffled. What is going on? My lead is between my legs. How am I supposed to walk like this? I sit down. She pulls. I lay down. She pulls. I shake my head in disgust and only then does she realise she has put the harness on upside down. Nana scans the area furtively, hoping nobody else has witnessed her error. I hang my head in shame. There are a couple of Labradors coming towards us and I don’t want them to judge me on my badly trained human.

She corrects the harness before it gets too embarrassing & I tear off, lead fully extended. This is more like it. We reach a meadow near Oldacre playing field when there is a loud, whirring noise overhead. I don’t pay much attention at first; there are so many exciting smells. But the noise gets louder and the air churns. Before I can collect my thoughts, a bright green helicopter descends from the sky and settles on our playing field. Nana is agog with curiosity. She walks the entire length of the field watching men in orange boiler suits as they leave the helicopter and walk into the nearby estate. She hasn’t looked at me. Not once. I scamper across the field looking beautiful, with my beagle ears streaming behind me and my elegant tail tall and proud, but it is all a waste of time. Her head is turned in the other direction. We carry on our walk across fields and down tracks. From time to time Nana meets other humans and they gossip about the helicopter.

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Presently, we come to a road. I slow down and look anxiously at my Nana. She knows I don’t approve of traffic noise so why she has bought me here? But then she turns into a close and I find myself in doggy heaven. Oh yes, the pet supplies store. I love my Nana. She talks to the human behind the counter while I take advantage of the low level treat displays with a lick of the merchandise here and there. Then Nana spots me and removes a snack protruding from my mouth that I sneaked from the stand earlier. She buys half a dozen sturdy chews and I begin to look forward to my visit.

We arrive home and Nana’s aged Border terrier greets her with an enthusiastic bark. He019fd04c17948ae28accfc877c8cc7ab37c06d2077 sees me and his shoulders slump before he turns away in disgust. I am a princess and don’t allow grumpiness so I jump at him and try to engage him in play. He raises a warning lip and snarls. Nana sighs. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a tasty treat. Only 9.30 am and I’ve already had a lovely long walk and a delicious chew. It’s going to be a good few days.

 

 

My writing life – In search of tranquillity

Front of houseTwo years ago we became the proud owners of a brand new home where my writing desk now dwells. We hadn’t intended to buy a new home but fate stepped in and gave us a shove in that direction. We had been searching for the perfect home for several years. Living in or near the countryside with a good-sized garden for our four plump and well-loved chickens was a pre-requisite. Then the two elder chickens, sleek black rock Doris & fat little bluebell Lulu, died within months of each other. Much as we missed them, we were still the proud owners of two flighty Leg bars and though not nearly as friendly, they were still our girls and worthy of a good home. Then one night, the fox came. Fox 2: Chickens 0. We were left with an empty hen house, a few random feathers & no necessity for land.

Buying a new home just sort of happened. We obtained a part-exchange valuation purely for interest, viewed a few show homes and before we knew it we had paid a deposit and instructed a solicitor. A date was set, some conveyancing hurdles were overcome and we moved in during a rainstorm in June 2014. Then it got complicated.

Our house is lovely – really bright and light for a new home and a little haven of writing happiness. But like all new homes, there was a lengthy snagging list and the builders accidentally forget to install the fitted wardrobe in the master bedroom and tiled the bathroom brown when we had chosen grey. They pushed hard for us to sign off the snagging list despite the fact that much of the frontage had not been finished but we stood firm, refusing to sign for something on a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. Good thing too as it took months to resolve.

The builders were pretty well-behaved in the intervening months. They fitted a temporary wardrobe and several months later they completed the real one, albeit on a slant. They returned several times and finally straightened it, sorted out most of the snagging and we, in turn, agreed to ignore the fact that all our towels were steel grey, settling for the brown bathroom with good grace.

Then a year later it started. We purchased the house on the strength of the green in front which was never to be built upon and would ultimately be a public green area. The site office, the concrete towers and all the building resources beside the green had long outstayed their original two removal dates. They were supposed to disappear about six months after we moved in, but despite numerous promises, there they remained; and with the added aggravation of concrete towers being topped up on a regular basis. Having run out of space and with no intention of opening their other tract of land, the builders suddenly plonked a contractor’s car park in front of our house. Every morning at 7.20 sharp hordes of traffic pulled up, causing noise, disturbance and a nasty bottleneck at the top of the road. We had been promised a lovely green space and had been left with no possibility of living in quiet enjoyment of our property. Lulu

The world can be a cruel place and the car park issue is small potatoes compared to the problems some people face who don’t even have a place to call home. But sometimes it’s hard to see the wider picture and we became caught up in the injustice of the situation and the attitude of the builders who practically laughed in our faces when we complained. So we decided to stop moaning and start acting. We took the usual channels of writing, phoning and involving the local council who were supportive but slow to act. When this didn’t work, the residents of our road took half a dozen cars down to the sales suite with photographs of the newly created car park interspersed with photocopies of the promised green area taped to the inside of the windows. There was a delicious irony in parking in their own reserved spaces given that it was getting so difficult to park in our own. It took four days of bad publicity for the builders to change their minds. The car park was removed, the site office disguised and works on the green area began. Hurrah for people power.

Now two years on the cars have gone (except for a recent blip swiftly resolved), and the green area is now yellow, covered top to toe with rape seed. OK, it’s not the flat green area we were promised, it’s a meadow; and all the more beautiful for being wild and out of control. The top half of the site office where the contractor’s played golf across the fields has been removed, the silos have gone and some of the roads have even been paved. I write at my dressing table at the front of the house overlooking the yellow against the distant hill. It’s not perfect but it inspires me.