Monday, 12 February 2018

A Guest Post all the way from Afghanistan

I will confess from the outset that I am a keen fan of my mother’s blog. It’s a way of keeping up to date (when she posts) of what she is up to, and more importantly, the progress that the wee dog that she has adopted is making.... he has revolutionalised her life in so many ways since the departure of what was for sure the most astonishing canine evolution that was Zac. Zac was an adored family member; totally human and entirely dog - a truly winning combination for all of us, who is sorely missed. Benji is worlds apart and yet, he has won our hearts so it was with joy that we spent a week with him and Mum in January in a cottage on the north coast of Cornwall.

“We” consists of me; middle son, aged 42 (thanks for the Spider-Man birthday card Mummy!), based mainly in Kabul, Afghanistan and my lovely wife Sheeja, three years older (though I am not allowed to mention that) who until very recently has been working with Rolls Royce and Siemens as a Project Manager. Our 17 year old son was absent - he doesn’t really do rural Cornwall (internet is not up to scratch) but in fairness, he is also away at boarding school.... 

We were joined for the first couple of days by my baby brother’s children Leo and Eleanor (11 and 7) which made for much hilarity as we enjoyed chocolate pizzas and ice cream pancakes and played football tennis ( if you haven’t tried it you should) in the rain.... I rarely get time in the UK so a couple of days with them, and a day with my brother and his partner was fantastic. I get to be the indulgent uncle agreeing to all sorts of bad habits, but taking none of the blame as the parents have to deal with the fall out.....

The weather was shocking - no real surprise for north Cornwall in the depths of winter but after Afghanistan, the rain and cloud and fog were so refreshing. We had a lovely cottage - a converted barn from which we saw absolutely nobody (bliss) at the top of a deserted lane. 
The drive from the cottage was flooded on one especially wet day, but that's when the countless games of Uno passed the time.

Benji kept us very entertained dashing around the place (and keeping a lookout for marauders from the window seat) and we enjoyed lots of cooking and card games, all accompanied by medicinal amounts of wine....

On a rare day of sunshine, or rather sky that was not raining, we set off intrepidly for the beach. ** He didn't mention the howling gale!** 

 The cliffs were amazing sculptures thrown up by prehistoric earthquakes

Being an eco warrior, and influenced by the recent Blue Planet David Attenborough series, Mum started collecting plastic from Sandymouth Cove where we ended up. The great thing was the fact that fairly soon, we were all at it and we collected an enormous amount. The downside? No one was looking at the sea anymore - collecting plastic is seriously addictive but perhaps that is no bad thing.... Sheeja amused us all by forgetting her walking shoes. It turns out that walking in boots with heels on a rocky foreshore is quite difficult - eventually the boots came off and she hopped from rock to rock in her socks - and stuffed her boots with plastic rubbish! 

Eventually, growling stomachs needed to be sated so we headed off for lunch. There is, if you ever visit Bude, an absolutely superb cafe at the top of Crooklets Beach serving excellent lunches and mind blowing coffee (the coffee did not contain illicit substances as far as I know, it was just very good and quite unexpected). This became our regular haunt over the course of the week and Benji took to staring at my face, without blinking or moving whenever food was served, leaving me to christen him “Devil Dog” - obviously Mum did not approve of this moniker. 
 ** A note from 'Mum' here to explain that Benji stared at David because he had a habit of 'accidentally' dropping pieces of food for him!**

Leo and Uncle David bracing themselves against the fierce wind on Crooklets Beach

Sheeja and I had planned to stay for 2 nights leaving Mum to enjoy the cottage for a few days before heading home, but it was so nice to relax together and just enjoy, that we ended up staying for the week (sorry Mum!) but I have no doubt that we all had a really good break. My mother is one of the smartest people I have ever met and even at the ripe old age of 73 still gives me good advice. Being based away from home certainly teaches you to appreciate what you have, and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time together for the entire time we were there. 

At some point I must have agreed to write a guest entry for this blog, so apologies that there are no flowers, no gardens and no musings on rare plants. I also love to garden but I thought that on this occasion it would be nice to simply express my thankfulness that I have a great family, and that I am very lucky. The week in Cornwall was something I will treasure and even here, in the middle of the night in Kabul as I write, I am still smiling when I think about our holiday. Isn’t that what holidays are all about?

**Relaxing holidays are also inspirational and one early morning, when I was up and about before anyone else, I shared Benji's window seat and drew the tree at the top of the drive: it's the only 'plant' you'll see in David's post!!!**

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Any New Year Resolutions I have made in the past have been the usual 'must lose weight' and 'must get rid of clutter' type ones, which generally fall by the wayside before January is out.
But this year, I have put more thought into what is important and in the hope of keeping to them, I shall write them in stone for the world to witness . . . well, write them on my blog for at least a few people to read.

So, in no particular order . . . . .

#1  Keep to a budget of £40 or less for weekly shopping;
#2  Cut out the use of plastic as much as possible;
#3  Collect litter from our beaches on every visit;
#4  Really concentrate on increasing exercise, losing weight, lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure;
#5  Go camping in my tent at least 3 times, hopefully more;
#6  Get Benji down to 9Kg (presently 12.20Kg);
#7  Decorate at least the living room and the hall in my home;
#8  Get my paints and brushes out again after a break of more than a year - I have LOTS of blank canvases to fill;
#9  Maintain the garden without relying on help except for the high hedges.
#10  De-clutter!

So there they are; I shall look back at the end of every month and make a note of how I'm doing with each one.  Targets set - here's to a successful year of BEING BETTER

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Right!  I have approximately 15 minutes to write a December post, a December 2017 post indeed.  
So - a few photos of recent walks with the Benji Dog, mostly on Caradon Hill, Bodmin Moor.  

Uh-oh!  I great big rain cloud has appeared overhead . . 

 Watch out for random collapsed mine shafts - there's one right behind this rock.

 Housman's Engine House

 The setting sun illuminating St. George's Island.

 Benji, freshly shampoo'ed and blow-dried after getting filthy on the Moor!

Made it!  Just!  That's it for 2017 - have a brilliant 2018.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
We WILL remember them.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Colour in the Garden

I've just been organising my photos and I realised that I didn't post the ones I took just before the stormy weather struck, so my apologies for the lateness but I thought we deserved a bit of colour in our lives.
These were taken just last month, on a sunny, warm day . . . remember them? 

 Two random photos to add - this is my little friend who comes and sits against my front door in the evenings

and this was the view from my kitchen window a few nights ago.

It's that time of year when we see some beautiful skies as the sun rises and sets.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Early Autumn in Cadsonbury Woods

We are not walking as much up on Bodmin Moor as previously, even though it's one of my favourite places to be, because Benji is using his newly-found energy in naughty ways - namely he has found a thrilling pastime of chasing sheep!  Bad Dog cannot be allowed off-lead any more so he can't enjoy a good old gallop.
Also, there are problems with some of the cattle up there who seem to have found a similar thrill in assaulting walkers and dogs. Never, in all the years I have walked on the Moor have I been scared of the cattle - but now I am.  When you see the regular dog-walkers, mostly men, carrying stout sticks and telling of incidents when they have been pushed around by the cattle, and of people who have found refuge in a thorn tree only to be surrounded by those cattle until rescued, it shows the seriousness of the danger.
So yesterday Benji and I went to Cadsonbury Woods; I was hoping for some autumnal colours, but I was too early.  Mostly the trees were still green, though strangely there were lots of orange/brown leaves on the ground!
This is 'New Bridge', though as you can see, it's anything but new; I guess it's always been known as New Bridge since it was built.  It's a busy road that crosses the River Lynher at this point but within a few yards, all is quiet and peaceful
 The path to the Hill Fort which climbs up through the woods - not to be tackled when we've had so much rain recently.

This aerial photo shows the Hill Fort on the summit of Cadsonbury Hill.

 It was much easier going along the narrow road that runs alongside the river.

Looking uphill to the Hill Fort

Lots of fallen leaves here.

 Benji wasn't impressed with the state of the path at this point and made a large detour to avoid getting his paws mucky.

 But the excess water did provide some pretty views.

 Oh-oh! A big, black rain cloud has appeared; time to make tracks for home.

 "C'mon!  Before the rain gets us!"
 This morning, the dew on this web caught my eye when I stepped out into the garden. Works of art, aren't they?