Six Today!

Ollie, my loyal canine companion, is six today. He was born on the 12th of February, 2012. Never have I owned such a trouble-free pet, and one that takes loyalty and good behaviour to the next level too. Not only did he fast become one of the family, he also gave me reason to walk outside every day, and to meet many of the people in this area that I would otherwise never have encountered.

His adventures became the mainstay of my blog, and he has attracted fans from all over the world. I rarely go anywhere without him, and he has accompanied me on all of the recent holidays I have taken too.

He is notoriously camera shy, so I have had to use old photos for this post. On his birthday walk today, he was able to spend it all with his friend Toby, the Jack Russell Terrier. He went for a dip in the river, and enjoyed all his favourite spots and smells.

Later on, he will get a new toy, and something special to eat. He is middle-aged now, having reached half of the years usually lived by his breed. But he hasn’t changed at all, and is still just as much fun as when he was a pup. Happy Birthday, Ollie. X

(Both photos are by my great friend, Antony Kyriacou. )

Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

Seasonal excuses

I woke up thinking about Christmas this morning. So much still to do, and running out of days to do it. I sort-of resent all that effort, for what amounts to three days of feeling under pressure, hours spent cooking and eating, and then it’s all over until this time next year. That made me think about how we approach our year, divided into ‘before and after’ so many occasions.

We find ourselves saying things like, ‘I will do that after Christmas’, or ‘OK, I will get that done before Christmas’. Speaking personally, I have often used Christmas as an excuse to put off things I know I should be doing. It has become a convenient barrier in my mind, and an excuse accepted by most people too. For me, ‘I will do that after Christmas’ has become an annual standby to accommodate a list of chores or tasks that I could probably do just as well tomorrow. Following straight on from the 27th of December, the New Year celebration offers a short break to add to my list too. ‘I will do that after the 2nd of January’ is perhaps my least effective excuse, but that doesn’t stop me from using it, I assure you.

As well as Christmas, we have other seasonal breaks to add to that arsenal of potential excuses. Easter is a good one, as it moves around, with no fixed point. ‘I will do that after Easter’ is very useful, especially when it comes to those Spring jobs needing attention in the garden. The summer holiday is another classic. The annual two-week break is planned so far in advance that there really is no excuse to use it to put things off. But I always try. ‘I will do that when we come back from holiday’ has been a solid excuse in my repertoire, for as long as I can remember.

Of course, my birthday is the best. Despite knowing when it is every year, and the fact that it is just one day out of 365, (or 366) I can deploy this as a genuine excuse at will, with no hint of conscience or guilt. ‘After my birthday’ has long been my favourite, and my most stubborn excuse for not doing anything I know I should be getting on with.

If I was American, I would no doubt be able to deploy Thanksgiving too. And it is just as well I am not a devout Catholic, as there are at least 14 official religious days I am sure I would have to observe.

A personal celebration

It is not the done thing to congratulate yourself on your own birthday, I know.

But I am going to do it anyway.

As regular readers will recall, the 16th of March is my birthday, and I generally make quite a song-and-dance about it. I start to celebrate a few days before, commencing a ‘birthday week’ of events. These involve shopping for my gifts, a trip to the seaside, and a meal in a restaurant. Nothing fancy, you understand, just keeping up a tradition I started many years ago.

This year is something of a milestone, as I am ‘officially old’. 65 is the age in the UK when you are considered to be a ‘pensioner’. For many, this no longer applies, as recent changes in the law will delay pensions for most people, for up to seven years. But I just crept in under the barrier, so I will be getting my State Pension at the time I was supposed to, starting next week. I will also qualify for things like ‘Pensioner Day Discounts’ at the barber shop. This has its own cruel irony, as I have little hair left to cut. I will get a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ though, as us oldies need to keep warm.

The downside is that I will also be cast into that great void of the ‘Over 65s’. Look at any survey, most forms, and many special offers, and you will see that the final tick box is usually shown as ’65 Or Over’. Once you hit that magic age, you are destined to be ignored, or at best seen as something of a burden on society. But I am being positive in 2017, so I will not worry about all that stuff.

We will go to the beach with Ollie after I open all my cards and gifts. Then later this evening, we will enjoy a nice meal somewhere, possibly tasty Chinese food. I will drink my red wine, and enjoy the day with Julie and our dog. Then next month, I might just go and get one of those cheap haircuts.

Just because I can.


Staying positive, in 2017.

Five today!

This photo is a couple of years old. But he hasn’t changed much since, and it is one of my favourites.

Ollie was born on the 12th of February, 2012. Not long after that, I moved here for good from London, and we took him in full time. I have spent every day with him since, and established an unbreakable bond with our dog. He has always been a joy to have; well-behaved, good company, and popular with guests and neighbours too. He has never chewed anything he wasn’t supposed to, never stolen any food he wasn’t allowed to eat, and the only time he has had any ‘accidents’ inside the house has been when he was ill.

He has endured four eye operations, two tail operations, and endless bouts of treatment for ear infections and skin problems. He has been in an animal hospital, and made numerous trips to the Vet. But he never once complained. He didn’t snap, whine, or refuse to get out of the car. He trusts us completely, and even if he is left with friends or neighbours for a few hours he is no trouble, as he is confident that we will soon return.

Of course, he has also been the star of this blog, and more popular than the blog writer, certainly. His antics are always received with delight, and much joy is expressed at any photos of him as they appear. He is the heart and soul of beetleypete, without doubt.

As he is now thirty-five in equivalent human years, I tried to tell him that he should be acting a little more grown up. Perhaps he should be doing less sniffing around, and not bothering to run around the house with a stuffed lion clamped in his jaws. But he is having none of that, and is determined to carry on being the same old Ollie, even at the grand age of five.

He will get some extra treats today, and no doubt more fuss too. There will be some birthday presents of even more stuffed toys, and something very tasty to supplement his dinner tonight. He even got a birthday card, with a photo of two Shar-Pei dogs on it!
In every way imaginable, he is a ‘Good Boy’, and the best dog I have ever had.

Happy Birthday, Ollie.

A Brancaster birthday

As anyone who read my earlier post will know, today is my birthday. It has been a long-standing tradition for me to enjoy a trip to a beach on this day. When I lived in London, this involved a long drive to the south coast, usually somewhere like Bexhill, Worthing, or Brighton. Fortunately, Beetley is close to Norfolk’s desirable north coast, so today was much easier all round. I took the camera along, and as usual, all these are large files, clickable for detail. I apologise in advance for any issues regarding my eyesight problems that may have affected focus and composition.

A thirty minute drive in bright sunshine (but cold temperatures) took us to the small village of Brancaster. This has a famous beach, popular with windsurfers and kite-fliers. It is accessed from the handy car park, and provides a breathtaking vista, as you walk onto it. Out of season, like today, it was almost deserted.

The beach is fringed by sand dunes, and also home to a popular private golf club. The building in the distance in the clubhouse. The coloured object in the air to the left is the canopy of a kite-surfer.

Ollie was pleased to be somewhere different, and later found some friends to play with, on the hard flat sand. Here you see him looking around hopefully, for other dogs.

On the way back to the car, we walked off of the windy beach towards the marshes, looking south. There was an old wartime bunker there, and Ollie decided to admire the view of the muddy marshes from the missing window.

We then drove down to Holkham, and had very civilised tea and cakes in the nice hotel there. Later tonight, we are going to a local country pub for a meal, before my birthday officially ends.
To everyone waiting for comments, replies, or emails, I apologise. Normal service will be resumed on the 17th. And to everyone who kindly sent me birthday messages, my sincere thanks, once again.

Now I’m 64

In 1967, I was fifteen years old. The Beatles released a song titled, ‘When I’m Sixty-Four.’ I wasn’t a huge fan of the group at the time, and thought that this song was rather corny, and not the sort of thing a young soul fan should be listening to. However, I did think about being sixty-four, which seemed to be so far in the future, I expected to be commuting to the Moon by then, or living in a futuristic city, wearing a silver one-piece suit. None of that happened of course, and today, I made it to that mythical age.

I felt prompted to examine the lyrics of that old song, and see how relevant they actually were, to a sixty-four year old Londoner, retired to Norfolk, and not feeling as perky as he once did.

“When I’m Sixty Four”

When I get older losing my hair
(Hair loss confirmed)
Many years from now
(It is many years, agreed)
Will you still be sending me a valentine
(I got a card and present)
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
(Yes, to both)
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
(No chance of me being out that late anymore)
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
(I feel needed, and I am fed)
When I’m sixty-four?

You’ll be older too
(But she’s not as old as me)
And if you say the word
I could stay with you
(I’m staying)

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
(I can probably mend a fuse, but not much else)
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
(Knitting doesn’t happen. Shop-bought)
Sunday mornings go for a ride
(By the time we get up and have breakfast, no time for rides)
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
(I mow the lawn, but not much digging or weeding goes on)
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
(As above)
When I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it’s not too dear
(We do rent cottages, just not on the Isle of Wight)
We shall scrimp and save
(We save, but never scrimp. Not yet, anyway)
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck & Dave
(Only one so far, and not called by any of those names)

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
(No need, she’s already here)
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
(Not wasting away just yet, but getting there)
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
(She filled in a marriage licence, so that counts)
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
(I think we can conclude in the affirmative)

So the Beatles got it about right, short of some geographical and knitting references.
Nothing much has changed in the last forty-nine years, after all.
All together now, “Happy Birthday To You” etc…

The first snow in Beetley

It is Julie’s birthday today, and she has a day off work to celebrate it.

After a night of heavy rain and sleet, we opened the curtains this morning to be greeted by falling snow. Large fluffy flakes, falling at a fast rate. It was enough to darken an already grey sky, and necessitate putting on the lights in the house.

After almost an hour, it had snowed hard enough to settle a little on top of the beech hedges at the front. In the back garden, the ground was too wet to allow this, so it just added to the already waterlogged lawn.

This first snow of the year is not exactly welcome. Snow is never welcome in our little world. If it doesn’t settle, it just adds to the damp feel, but if it does, we have to face the usual problems of dangerous driving conditions, and difficulties when walking. We are never ready for snow here, and I am always amazed at how well countries that regularly experience heavy snow are able to cope.

This evening, we have planned to go for a birthday meal at the local Thai restaurant, the only place close enough to walk to.

So, Happy Birthday to my lovely wife, and let’s hope it stops snowing.