Back, but not quite

I returned from the short holiday yesterday, and I am happy to report that it was a success. It didn’t rain, and it was bright and sunny every day until Friday, when it turned cool in a strong sea breeze. In fact, the small ‘cabin’ was so nice, I have booked it again for the same week next year. Let’s hope I am still around to enjoy it!

Unfortunately, I am not able to keep up with any blog posts that arrived while I was away, and have had to delete all the notifications in a very packed email folder. I wil do my best to start from scratch next Monday. Next week I will also compile all the parts of the last serial, ‘Vera’s Life’, into one complete story.

The dining area floor is being laid from tomorrow, so I have a couple of days of disruption to deal with first.


Ollie adjusted well to the change. He particularly enjoyed the good-sized porch, which enabled him to watch the world go by in the hotel garden. Almost everyone had a dog, and that gave him some canine friends to check out too. Once his bed was placed outside on that porch, he would happily lay on it all day, just watching the comings and goings. Anyone interested in seeing what they are like can use this photo gallery link.
However, his lack of energy and vitality is becoming increasingly apparent every day now. A three-mile walk on a warm day along the seafront to the next town of Mablethorpe almost wiped him out, and we had to bring him back on a bus. His first bus journey!

These photos taken on a phone show him looking his age, and upset me greatly.

From now on, his regular walks are going to have to be a lot shorter, and he will be in need of more attention and affection.

As for me, the break made me realise just how much time I spend blogging, to the detriment of everything else I should be doing. I am rethinking my future about blogging, and may be posting considerably less in the weeks to come.

Best wishes to all, Pete.

September Thoughts

Two days into the official autumn season, and I am feeling rather autumnal in mood. It has been a very strange year for everyone, almost as if it didn’t exist, and were living in some kind of limbo between last Christmas and the start of 2021.

Now it seems that this new way of living will have to continue well into the new year, and will probably be the way we all have to live for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, life has changed for all of us, and will almost certainly never be the same again. And we have yet to face the inevitable economic backlash of the lost jobs, closed-down businesses, and repaying the astronomical government debts incurred.

Not wishing to sound too gloomy, I feel the worst is yet to come.

I haven’t been anywhere further than thirty miles away since the second week of March. Living in a small village like Beetley may have been instrumental in saving me from contracting the virus, but I have gone a little stir-crazy stuck in the village, with an occasional trip to the nearby town. A change of scene is required, and with that in mind, I will not be around next week.

Ollie goes to the groomer tomorrow. He will have his moulting fur dealt with, a nice bath, and his nails clipped. That should make him feel better after all he endured during the hot spell of weather.

The mornings are cold now, and I have put the duvet back on the bed to cope with chillier nights.

People are already talking about Christmas, and how different the usual celebrations will have to be.

I doubt there is anyone who will be sorry to say goodbye to 2020.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Rain in Summer.

After a hotter than usual summer, it started to get colder during last week. That was unexpected for the end of August, when it is normally hot and humid.

Then almost thirty-six hours ago, it started to rain.

It went from an annoying drizzle to a full-blown downpour, and then it didn’t stop. The rest of that day, all that night, and all day yesterday it kept pouring down. The noise of the rain was increased by a strong wind lashing it against the house, and against me and Ollie when we were out on his dog-walk too.

Any idea that it was still the end of the summer was banished by the dark skies and constant hammering of the rain.

By late last night, I really had reached the end of my tether with it, and my mood was very low. Weather like that makes me feel trapped in the house, almost claustrophobic, and following the freedom of that earlier warm and dry weather, it was even more depressing.

By the time I went to bed, I lay there listening to the rain hitting the window for the second night, and even before I got off to sleep, I was dreading getting up to another day of it today.

I write a lot about rain on this blog, mainly because having to go out for a long time every day with Ollie has focused my attention on extremes of weather like never before in my life. Some people like rain. Others say things like ‘it’s good for the garden’. People who live in hot dry countries welcome rain with excitement, even festivals.

But I actually hate rain now. I never want to see it, hear it, or feel wet from it one more day in my life. If it never rained again here I wouldn’t mind. I would be very happy in fact. The past eight years of my life have been dominated by rain. Flooding in outbuildings, problems with guttering, and the constant daily soakings every time I went out with Ollie. Dealing with mud, trying to get a saturated dog dry enough to go back into the house, and stripping off clothes that got wet despite investment in expensive ‘waterproof’ outer clothing.

If you only ever experience rain by looking at it through the windows of your house and car, try to imagine being out walking around in it every day, seven days a week.

But it has finally stopped.

At least for now.

How Much Fur?

Ollie is a short-haired breed of dog, but when it is moulting season, you might be forgiven for thinking this makes no difference. The amount of fur he can shed on a daily basis is nothing short of phenomenal. It is a miracle he is not completely bald, believe me.

Substantial tufts of hair dance across the kitchen tiles like tumbleweed in a wild-west town, and the blanket on his bed looks like the floor of the local hairdresser’s shop. No amount of brushing makes even the slightest impact on the constant shedding, and our clothes bear witness to the fact that he only has to walk past you to completely cover you in a mulitcoloured selection of hairs.

Even as I type this, stray hairs have migrated from my sleeves onto the keyboard.

Of course, we try our hardest to tackle the seasonal fur invasion. Using the vacuum cleaner every day, often twice a day. The only thing in the container when it is emptied is a compressed cylinder of Ollie fur, which does at least show we are not untidy or messy otherwise. But no matter if I spent all day running the device back and forth across the carpets, I would never get to the point where it stopped scooping up yet more fur.

Ollie’s appearance suffers as a result. He is now at least seven different colours, with patches of dark brown in amongst lighter shades, and thin areas of fur on his legs that look like the back of a balding man’s head. This ragged patchwork appearance makes him look neglected and scruffy, which is a shame. Especially when I know the opposite is true.

Next week, he is going for a bath and grooming session on Thursday, the earliest appointment available. The last time, the lady removed a full bin-liner of fur before washing him.

This time, I suspect she might need a second bin liner.

International Dog Day

My friend Julian from The Usual Muttwits has reminded me that today is a special day.

Because you love muttwits, why not do the following:

– Go for a long walk in a new place. Most dogs love exploring
new and interesting places with their best friend. …
– Bake a dog friendly treat. …
– Donate to your local animal shelter. …
– Tell your muttwit you love them.

Every day is dog day with Ollie, but let’s make this one even more special!

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday


You know me. I try to always be polite, reply to every comment, read all the blog posts of those I follow, and do my best to be part of our great community. I share stuff on Twitter when I can, host guest bloggers, and feature as many other bloggers as possible. I write fiction serials, photo-prompt stories, film reviews, and tell everyone about Ollie my dog.

At times, (frequently) I let out my frustrations by having a good moan or rant about blogging etiquette, followers who don’t follow, and other such pet peeves.

But most of the time, I am just ‘Me’.

We have all had a bad year in 2020. For some, the stresses and strains of the pandemic have been added to by becoming ill, bereavement, or employment issues.

I don’t have that much to complain about, I really don’t. I have survived eight months of a killer virus that primarily targets people in my age group. I have managed to remain financially stable, overcome a few domestic issues around the house, and even get work done by contractors.

I continued to enjoy blogging and writing, and the company of my online friends in this community. Despite serious medical problems for Ollie, he survived those, and remains my constant companion. He provides me with a sense of responsibility that I might otherwise have lacked. Having him makes me get up and get ready, leave the house on long walks in the countryside, and interact with local people. I doubt I would do a tenth of that, without Ollie.

So why have I suddenly become so moody, irritable, and losing focus?

I have no idea.

Ollie Cools Down

Well, not just Ollie. Me too.

After many days of uncomfortable heat and sleepless nights, the weather broke down in many parts of Britain yesterday. For some people that ended in disaster, after torrential rain caused a landslide near Aberdeen that derailed a train. Three people sadly lost their lives, and others were injured.

In some areas of the UK, rainfall was so severe that streets flooded, and cars were floating around like boats. Houses were struck by lightning, power lost, and damage done to buildings. Where I live in the East, we were spared the spectacular storms, but they are due to arrive here over the next few days.

Although we didn’t get the storms, what we did get in Beetley was a 10 C drop in temperature compared to this time yesterday. With today’s maximum set to be an unremarkable 25 C, it was a relief to see Ollie enjoying his walk without panting, and limiting himself to one trip into the river for a drink.

I am hoping that the storms don’t keep me awake tonight if they arrive, as I could do with a very big sleep.

But if they do, it might be preferable to being kept awake by stifling and unusual heat.

A Covid-19 Sunday In Beetley

My usual Saturday report is a day late, and so replaces ‘Thinking Aloud…’ this week.

Since the last time I looked at the lockdown, not much has changed around here. Mask wearing was made compulsory in shops, you may recall. So far, it is being complied with in the main, though a fair percentage of people are still failing to have them covering their nose. I have stopped trying to tell them, or signal to them. They just don’t get it. Or they do get it, and couldn’t care less. On my Monday trip to the supermarket, it felt as if shopping was getting back to normal levels, with a fuller car park, and more shoppers. Other than the masks, it felt the same as before February.

My car had to go in for an annual service and MOT inspection on Tuesday. I went to a different place for a change, and had the bright idea to take Ollie with me, and walk back with him. Julie would take me to collect the car later, when she got in from work.

It is just over five miles from the car place in Dereham to Beetley. That’s not too far by our usual daily standards, but it does involve walking through the town, something Ollie is never happy about. Sure enough, he became agitated by the buses, motorcycles, and other unfamiliar traffic. So I diverted into a quieter road, and let him run around a small park for a while. He was obviously missing his regular haunts, and the chance to get into a river. He let me know his displeasure by lagging on his lead, walking slowly, and constantly stopping.

Nonetheless, we made it back to the river in Beetley in under ninety minutes, and he was happy to plunge straight in.

Despite the crowded beaches during this week’s heatwave, and the fact that so many people under the age of thirty still don’t seem to believe that the virus can kill them, I am very conscious that it hasn’t gone away. People are still becoming infected, and some of them are still dying. The figure is currently around 55 deaths a day. That’s 385 a week, every week.

When the politicians boast on the TV news that they have the virus under control, let’s not forget those 385 people. They had lives, families, jobs, loved ones, colleagues. They anticipated a future, whatever their age.

And next week there will be another 385.