Thursday, 29 October 2015

Seven Ages of Dog - 1. The Puppy

All together now - aaaaah!

At first the puppy,
mewling and puking by his mother's side.

And they called it puppy love.  That's my boy!

Bit short this one but Age Two - The Tyke
is coming next.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Seven Ages of Dog

Most people are familiar with Jacques speech from
Shakespeare's play As You Like It which so eloquently
catalogues the rise and fall of man from cradle to the grave
but have you ever stopped to wonder how it would
work with dogs?  

The dog run of life
What I am going to say next will probably
come as no surprise - I have and it does.

 All the world's a dog run,
And all the dogs and bitches merely players.

Exit stage right

They have their dog flaps and their doorways,
And one dog in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

Entrance stage left.
Next episode:  Age One - The Puppy

Friday, 23 October 2015

In my dotage ......

.... I have to fess up to having the odd senior moment every
now and then but who doesn't?

Can you hear it ringing?

I've lost my glasses only to find them sitting on top of my
head; I've had to ring my mobile from the landline to
find out where I'd buried it.

I've absent-mindedly tipped all the sugar into my mug instead
of the sugar jar and I've completely lost the thread of what
I was saying rather too often for comfort.

Aaah!  So that's who actually took the biscuit.

But today I really racked things up a notch when I tried to
open the fridge door wearing my oven gloves.
Now that really does take the biscuit! 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

St Clare 1193-1253 - Patron Saint of Needleworkers

If you aspire to become a saint in order to get a head
start you should have been born in Assisi, Italy as
the town boasts not one, but two to it's name.
And how spooky is this - they actually knew each other!

Assisi by night but no clubbing for Clare or Francis I'm afraid

Clare di Faverone (St Clare) became a follower of
Francis de Bernadone (St Francis) and at the tender age
of eighteen she turned her back on her privileged
upbringing and decided to take the veil.

End of story, or so you might expect, had she not fallen
ill and taken the needle too.  No Alice dear, she didn't
become a junkie supplied by old St F, she became an
embroidress of course like so many of us when faced
with sickness and adversity, me included.

Our patron saint.  Wonder what make of frame that is?

So for the final thirty years of her life, often propped up in
bed (been there, done that, got the duvet cover), she 
stitched away.  And on good days she even spun flax into
thread to make her own fine linen.  That's probably what
made her a saint.  Sod that, say I, but then I would as I've
been a devout sinner from birth.

Example of Assisi work

Novenas, thus called because they are "woven" out over 
nine successive days, should only be addressed to St Clare 
if you wish to call upon her assistance in misfortune,
anxiety and distress and should begin:
"O Glorious St Clare etc ....."

That explains the oil stains - she would wipe
the bottom of that lamp with her work.

However if you prefer to crack open a bottle to celebrate
the feast day of our patron you need to make a note in
your diary for 11th August and don't forget to have a word
with your wine merchant well in advance as a really good
bottle of that old sixties favourite, Blue Nun, isn't always
that easy to come by.  Cheers m'dears!

Saturday, 17 October 2015


Do you recognise this man?

Probably not, although he's widely recognised as an
outstanding photographer of dogs amongst other things.
It's Martin Usborne - so now you know.
And if you continue reading you will become ever more
enlightened on this fascinating subject.

But before we continue there is just one more question
that needs to be asked.  Hands up, who knows about Kickstarter?
Because Kickstarter and Martin Usborne go hand in hand.

It's an internet based funding platform for creative projects
which does just what it says on the tin.  Backers pledge money
to join creators in bringing projects to life.
It's Dragon's Den online.

The Silence of Dogs in Cars is a photography art book which
took Martin two years to put together.  It's a haunting portrait
series of dogs as they sit and wait inside locked cars seemingly
sheltered and protected and yet utterly vulnerable they wait
trapped and uncertain of what lies ahead.  The self same
unease experienced by Martin as a child and beautifully
expressed through his images.

Where Hunting Dogs Rest is the modern day story of the Spanish
galgo and spotlights the dark side of the Spanish hunting dog.
Once it was a serious crime to kill a galgo, the dogs were highly
prized, but in his book Usborne centres on their fall from grace
and the darker side of the modern story of these blue-blooded dogs.

Inspired by the earthy palette and dramatic lighting of Velazquez'
seventeenth century paintings he brings the plight of these 
magnificent creatures to life through his deeply moving images.

10% of the proceeds from the book will go to aid the galgos.
Nip over to Kickstarter and have a gander for yourself and
get a copy, these dogs need all the help they can get.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Beneath the Willow?

"Do you remember when we named each other
'love' beneath the willow?"

No, I'm sorry anonymous poet, I don't!
Perhaps I wasn't paying attention.
I was probably the worst for gin, in which case
I would definitely recall nothing.  But what I have
no difficulty calling to mind, at even the mere
whisper of wind in the willows, is the name
Emma Stothard.

Emma having a bad hare day.

Emma does things with withies to make your heart sing
and your spirits soar.  She was born in Yorkshire in
the early 1970's with a love of nature and a talent for
drawing.  By the 1990's she had gained a BA Hons in
Fine Art at Southampton and then shimmied off to the
Somerset Levels to learn all there is to know about
growing, coppicing, bundling and weaving osier.

Stand back, let the dogs .......

Once little Emma had taken all this knowledge on
board she returned home to her native county to begin
work as a sculptor of willow and weaver of dreams.

.... see the rabbits!

Her creations are much sought after and can be found in
pride of place in the grounds of stately homes, galleries
and private gardens across this fair land.

She must have done this when she was a nipper.

Some have even traveled across the world to Japan
and one large sculpture of the Prince of Wales beloved
Jack Russell dog "Tigga", made from willow grown on
his estate, is sitting in the gardens of Highgrove.
It was a thank you gift to the Prince for Emma's loan
from the Prince's Trust which enabled her to start
her career.  How frightfully nice is that?

They look almost real in that setting.

Although Emma works mainly in willow she does on
occasion produce pieces in bronze and galvanized wire
and even hallmarked sterling silver as well as the
odd animal portrait.

You will still need to mow the grass when you've got one of these.

To see more of Emma's work and exhibitions simply
follow the link: 

Up the little willow hill to Bedfordshire

Meanwhile all around my hat I shall wear the green willow
as I try to figure out what on earth I was doing under the
trees with that poet.  Perhaps I should have chewed the
leaves as the aspirin in them might have helped with
the resultant headache which followed the gin
induced amnesia.  I wonder what else has slipped my mind?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Body Painting for Beginners

Welcome one and all to the Long Dog
Body Painting Workshop.
It's a bit like customizing cars but without
the spray guns.

Can't tell who this is but it's very good.

I hope you've all brought your paints and that
you remembered to wash out your brushes from
last time.  I might have known yours would
still be all stiff Camilla.

We seem to be getting into the swing of it now.

So let's press on shall we.
The studio is all nice and warm and there's
plenty of room for everyone so who wants to go
first and break the ice?

I think that's Polly but I'm not quite sure.

I might have known this bunch would be
inhibited, it comes from years of always covering
your lap with some cross stitch.

That's a bit too realistic Janice, the budgie's none too happy.

Let's just turn out the lights and on the count
of three we'll all get our kits off.
One - two - three ...........

I just knew this would happen the moment Sandra and
her mates from the pub turned up.
Those naughty girls never take anything seriously.

Hey ho.  Here's my attempt.
Can you tell what I'm meant to be?

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Shadow Puppets

Hands up.  Who remembers doing shadow puppets
when they were a kid?

Let me guess - is it a rabbit?

Those were the days when we were poor but happy
and made our own amusement (not that kind of
amusement Angela dear).  

It;s quite easy once you start.

In that golden age long before
television, internet, space travel and Game of Thrones
I can actually recall the whole family sitting round
in the semi-darkness making weird and wonderful
animals appear on the wall by the light of the fire

You need a steady hand for those stripes.

It was so mind-numbingly boring that bed time
and the invention of the aforementioned diversions 
just couldn't come soon enough.

This one's for the more adventurous

However with the aid of all the latest body paints
now so readily available and just a little imagination
the tedious old shadow puppet has come of age
and made a come back in the guise of hand art.

You might need help with this one.

No need to wait for darkness to fall and the
fire to be lit just grab a fine paintbrush, a few
little pots of magic colours and away we go
limited only by what we can dream up in our
mind's eye.

Congratulations - it's twins.

But why stop there, why not the whole body.
Perhaps I'd better put a match to the fire just
to take the chill off as next week's instalment
"Body Painting for Beginners" requires
getting our kit off.  Such fun.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Could it be?

The fields near the Lock-Up
It looks like ......

Leaves near the Lock-Up
It smells like .....

Spooky dudes near the Lock-Up
It tastes like (if you know what you're doing) .....

Flower heads and berries near the Lock-Up

Thank goodness I didn't tread in it - AUTUMN!

Tarty old tree trunk near the Lock-Up!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Heavens above!

Extract from Leo horoscope, first decan for the month of September 2015: 

"Freedom is something
you seek but be wary of the costs when pursued without
caution.  Align your behaviour with the heavens and rise
above the mundane.  Don't be afraid to express the fun side
of your personality.  Blessings are in store for you."


Newspaper headline for 28th Septembrer 2015:

"Lunar eclipse will turn supermoon a deep dusty red;
religious groups predict the End of Days is nigh;
the next won't be until 2033 (so this could well be my last)."


So what does all this signify; what was my astrologer trying
to tell me; and, better still, what did I do?  Are you sitting
comfortably, then I'll "reveal all".

Glastonbury Tor, one of my favourite places.

At 3.30am GMT I crept out of bed, where I had been watching
catch-up TV on my tablet to keep myself awake, and took off 
all my kit.  Then, stark naked as I came into this world, I opened
my front door and stepped out under the porch in all my glory.
And there I stood looking up at the sky as the huge,
bright moon gradually darkened and turned blood red.
How pagan was that?  And a bit parky too!

The fairies down the road were out partying too!

I think that ticked all the boxes - freedom without caution,
aligned with the heavens and certainly having a laugh.
And the "costs when persued without caution" must surely be
the streaming cold I caught that night which is currently
making me feel like the End of Days really is imminent.

Kissing of the ring was not required on this occasion.

And as for the bit about "blessings are in store for you",
do you think that being taken by the hand and blessed by
the Bishop of Thetford last Sunday counts?
Whether or not it does, that's another story for
another day and not one I'm quite ready to share just yet ,,,,,,