The deafening sound of silence

It’s me, Lenny. I have been allowed to write a guest blog for Dexter today. Maybe I should explain why.

We went out separately this morning for our walks. I went along the lanes to the west of the village, whilst Dex went up the shortest road then returned to wander along through the village. He was with mum and she said that he had the biggest grin on his face as they strolled along the road. I think he thought they were going under the big road and then around some of his favourite fields which have cows, sheep and, happily for Dex, squirrels aplenty in them. Anyway they didn’t quite make it to the fields as mum swerved suddenly and went up the steps to the vets. It appears the my older brother (who’s not my biological brother but I still love him) had an early morning appointment. After discussing the various things the vet was going to do, it was explained that Dex doesn’t like needles and anything in his scruff or neck would be a titanic struggle of epic proportions. In actually fact in our previous house, he went to see the vet and when she went to give him his annual injection he wriggled so much she stabbed herself. Oh well, at least we know she wont get rabies. Anyway, I digress. Mum left him with the vets as it appears that he needed his teeth cleaned and they were just the people to do it.

I returned home from my walk with dad and I was completely unaware of the parental chicanery which had unfolded. So, paws wiped, collar changed and off I go expecting to be accosted by Dex as I try to make my way to the water bowl. Nothing! No Dex, no greeting and no noisy fighting. I checked every room in the house and he definitely wasn’t here. I had my breakfast and went around the house again to check that he wasn’t hiding and waiting to pounce on me. No, sadly he was nowhere to be seen. I decided it was a good opportunity to go and sleep in one of his favourite places. However the silence was deafening. After a while I got a bit bored so patrolled the garden, chased a squirrel and got some biscuits for my efforts. However Dex was still missing and I was missing him. After lunch I had a snooze in Dex’s chair and then dad decided I could play with some toys. Usually we don’t play with toys as I have a guarding instinct and it ends up with a bit of a squabble between Dex and I. A noisy squabble!

A cheeky monkey beagle chewing a stuffed monkey.

Suddenly ring ring! Hello. Oh he’s ok and we can collect him. Phew. It appears he had a wobbly tooth near the back which has been taken out and the remaining teeth are now gleaming clean. He was a perfect patient and even had some soft food whilst he was at the vets. He’s going back for a check up on Monday afternoon.

When he arrived back in the house I had to be held back from greeting him too wildly. He’s home and snoozing. I have to “take it easy” whatever that means. We are being watched constantly so we don’t get up to mischief. As if we would do shenanigans in the house.

Where am I? Who am I?

It’s nice to have him back. I really didn’t like the sound of silence in the house without him. It was horrible. Tomorrow we will hopefully be able to run around arooing at each other and generally be silly. The defining sound of silence should be gone.

In the mists of morning

Lenny and dad have been going out separately to mum and I recently. I don’t really need to have as long a walk as Lenny. Also we seem to be bouncing off one another when we walk together with it being more like a lead pulling competition than a walk. So, it was decided over the last couple of days that Lenny would hit the lanes west of the village with dad whilst mum and I went north.

Lenny came back this morning with tales of awe and wonder. I didn’t really believe him until I saw the pictures. However it seems that his walk was indeed stuffed full with lovely views.

As autumn rolls in and the mornings become cooler and more moisture laden, the views across the fields and hills should become much more atmospheric. He was a lucky lad to get these vistas today.

Chanctonbury and the South Downs

I was busy chasing squirrels and had my nose to the ground according to mum.

Maybe I will get to stroll the lanes to the west. Maybe tomorrow.

It’s fun living this close to the beach

Sunday morning dawned grey and dull. We expected another day of wandering around the local lanes with associated scents and squirrel bothering. As we set off we turned away from our usual route and walked up and down the little local road. This normally meant that something was in the offing. I looked at Lenny who glanced back at me, with a wry grin.

We were duly turned around and headed back towards the house, stopping only for the car to be unlocked. We decided we would play dumb and not leap straight into our travel crates. It’s always fun to hear our parents grumble at one another about how heavy Lenny or I have become. They seem to blame each other for “extra biscuits”. I have no idea what this means. Once secured in our travel crates we set off along the main road turning right and left as we made our merry way to wherever we were going. Arriving at our destination we were allowed to scent the sea air and we realised we were back at the beach. Fun times would surely follow. Lenny tried to stick his head over the top of his travel crate only for mum to worry that his head was caught. He’s not that silly, I hope. Anyway we soon found ourselves on our toes and the crunch of the gravel, click of the stones and soft rush of the sand on the beach was under our paws. Mum and dad had sadly remembered that I had eaten something grim on our last trip so I was kept on a very short lead whilst we navigated through the seaweed and associated dead sea creatures strewn across the shoreline. This was most mean and totally unnecessary. It wasn’t like I had needed to go outside five times in one night after I had eaten the previous dead sea creature.

Go on Lenny, I dare you to eat it

We strolled (read pulled and jerked on our leads) along the beach merrily baying at anyone who was in earshot. This would actually have been most of the town as I was baying very loudly. We passed spaniels, terriers, Scotties, a couple of Westies and even a poodle. Then we saw a German Wire haired Pointer which seemed to be wrestling with something large, sandy and quite deceased. Even after witnessing the spectacle of the Pointer shaking the devil out of the dead thing, our parents remarked on how well behaved the other dogs were compared to me. Sorry I mean us!

A rare interval without dogs close by

On the way back, Lenny managed to slip off one of the breakwaters but didnt do himself any harm. He just got up, shook himself down and carried on with a silly grin on his face. We arrived back at the car and positively leapt into our travel crates for the return journey home.

Hee hee, I think he’s going to eat something.

Needless to say we were swiftly sleeping once we had eaten our breakfast and run around our garden like a couple of possessed furs. There had been squirrels so I am not sure what else we were supposed to do.

In any case, we had a good time and it was fun to meet and greet so many other dogs. The beach is open to dogs “outside summer season”. I think we will visit again. I hope so as there are many sea creatures that need to be explored.

I wonder what he’s thinking

Often I will look at Lenny and wonder what is going through his mind. I don’t ask him as I like to think he is content with his lot now he has been here for two and a half years.

I wonder if he is thinking back to Cyprus, to his earliest days when he was lost and then found, transported to his new life here in the UK. I know he came into this house like a furry hand grenade which took a while to get used to. However he has settled now and I think he enjoys his life of luxury.

Sometimes our thoughts are better kept to ourselves. They don’t always need to be shared with others when we are pondering the uncertainties of life in general and our own lives in particular.

I’m just pleased that he has settled and is happy. That much he has told me.

It’s creeping up on me, I think.

I went to leap up onto a bed this morning. In the process of making myself ready to launch my form onto the soft mattress with a duvet cover smothered in beagle glitter, I was seen to hesitate and then make a double movement to reach the giddy heights of the bed. I just made it. I have not hesitated before and it made my dad feel a little sad.

He watched as I settled carefully onto the middle of the bed, looked out of the window and sighed gently as I rested.

I can still do it. Just.

An original is gone

I have held back from writing this blog. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for another reflective one until now, so here goes.

Bonzi lived in Washington State with his mum, dad and sister. They loved Bonzi as did we all. When I arrived in my forever home and descended onto dog twitter, Bonzi was one of the first pals who followed me back. We have laughed, cried and giggled like a couple of adolescents ever since. He was forever on trails in the woods, trying to sneak food from anyone who was close enough and making people smile and laugh in the process. He was equally at home surrounded by his family and the many humans who came to visit his home on the pretence of seeing him, but don’t tell his parents about it.

Exploring is over there!

He travelled and explored, he laughed, loved and lived and he was forever making people smile. He said recently that he was in remission for his horrid cancer and everyone sighed thankfully. He had fought off respiratory problems and still came back fighting. Then his body said “Bonzi dude, I’m thirteen and I think I am a bit tired”.

“Where’s my pizza crust” face

Bonzi made his longest journey on 27th September. I woke up and I got an ear tickle from my dad. When he looked at me I could see something had happened and then he explained. Bonzi was gone from sight but he remains in our hearts and minds. He was one of the originals, one of the best and one that I will never forget. Farewell Bonzi dude, travel well and seek out those who have gone before. We will meet again one day although I hope you will forgive me if I want that day to be some way in the future.

Go sing the song of the breed.

A weekend of woe

I am so lucky that I am not human sometimes. Over the weekend here in the UK there has been the continuation of a lack of control, empathy or respect on the part of swathes of human kind.

I despair.

There has been panic over some apparent shortage of fuel at the petrol stations in the UK generally. I say “apparent” as it seems that it is a total fabrication which has been set loose by anyone between people who voted to stay in the EU, the government, the press in the UK and Bill Gates. I haven’t heard him being blamed for it yet, but I suspect that his name is there somewhere. I would like to say that whoever is to “blame” is somewhat of a side issue as far as this blog is concerned. I fear it isn’t.

People with nearly full tanks of petrol topping up their cars and then filling can after can because they saw a headline that there was a fuel shortage. On many occasions the people didn’t “need” the petrol but just wanted to make sure they had enough. Had enough to do what exactly is unsure. Of course there are people who rely on petrol to ensure they can do their job, take someone to hospital or the doctors, their children to school or drive an ambulance, police car or fire engine to save lives. People queueing from the very early hours of the morning so they can get to top up their fuel tank. I even heard of people following a delivery tanker around to see where it stopped to refuel the petrol station. Fights on forecourts, road rage, roads blocked. It just seems so utterly selfish and thoughtless toward other people. I suspect many of those queueing to get their fuel were the same people who were buying 200 toilet rolls when the first quarantine was announced in the UK. No pasta, no bleach and no toilet roll. The attitude currently seems to be I’m alright and I couldn’t care less if someone else doesn’t get what they need. I got what I wanted, so all is good in my little world. There are a number of aspects here which I want to expand upon. I will try to be as apolitical as I can be.

Firstly I do wonder if anyone actually listens properly to what our lords and masters tell us. Since the vote in 2016 it seems these nations have lurched from one crisis to the next. On all sides there were lies and counter lies. Whatever anyones persuasion regarding the Referendum, I don’t think there is much argument over the erosion of trust between the general public and those who seek to wield power. For an example we wear masks so we try to do our best not to spread the virus to other people IF we have it. We don’t wear them because our leaders have told us to, more so to try and ensure that we retain some manners and courtesy to other people we come into close contact with. Various references to sheep or police states flow freely from some outlets toward those who try to do their best to retain some respect for those we live alongside. The television channel is turned over when politicians of whatever persuasion are on.

Next we turn to the media itself. They are the mouthpiece, generally, of those who seek to wield power. If there is some bad news to bury, they will conjure up a story about some celebrity or other person who will fill the pages of the media circus, and thus detract from the real struggles which are forever bubbling under the surface. This is true in whichever country you live. The media in general will let the general public know what they want you to know. As long as their publications make money, all is good in their world.

Then we arrive upon the general public who have amongst their ranks, large numbers who have been adversely influenced by the media and rulers for what seems a very long time. There has always been selfishness. After all it is a basic human trait which some can control better than others. Greed and “me first” are now much more prevalent due to the influence of those who control lives. In fact, at this point if anyone wants an example of how humans are controlled by what they read and hear (without thinking) then this latest debacle would make a fine study. There has been an erosion of civility and respect for many years. Many people have become conditioned to being greedy and expecting something to be provided. If he or she has it, then why haven’t I got it. Bigger, better and brighter. More shiny. I will get it at all costs, I want it and must have it. Everyone is an expert on every subject.

There are reports, albeit unsubstantiated, that this latest fuel “crisis” will mean that the petrol stations will not be refuelled sufficiently for one to two weeks. The same people who have hoarded fuel will be back complaining that there is still a problem when the fuel comes back on stream eventually. People at all ends of the spectrum of control have contributed to this debacle and the amount of finger pointing, accusation and counter claim is truly awful. Having said that, this behaviour has been going on for decades, and has been getting worse so I am not sure why I am surprised.

I am so lucky I am not human sometimes.

What do Beagles think about?

There is a scurrilous rumour going around that beagles think only of their stomachs and then complain that they haven’t eaten in all of fifteen minutes. This is a shocking allegation.

It struck me again today that Lenny and I are extremely lucky to have so many buddies around the world that we can rely on to make us laugh, cry and feel wanted. Throughout the recent past we have retained our friendship with so many of our pals, despite a worryingly large number making their final journey. For this we are very grateful and truly humbled. We also see that there are quite a few pals who parents sometimes struggle to come to terms with life in general and more often the day to day things that they have to do. We have a close knit community amongst the friends and, as we have mentioned before, we always try to make sure that if someone is struggling mentally or emotionally (is there a difference?) we can be there with a word of encouragement or gentle virtual hug. Sometimes we think it may not make any difference however we hope that it will. I think that may be the operative word here, hope. We know that we cannot be by our friends sides 24 hours a day so we are, kind of, relying on a simple act or word of kindness or thoughtfulness, to make them feel better about themselves. Albeit it is a brief interlude in their darkening thoughts however our hope remains steadfast.

I wonder?

We also know that just by us being us we can lighten a load upon some people. From experience Lenny and I are aware that we sometimes make our parents proud as well as a little more fulfilled in their lives. They look at us curled up on the sofa, the chairs, the big bed, maybe sometimes even our own designated beds and they cannot help but give us a tickle, a belly rub or stroke our long soft ears to make them feel happier. As rescues we know they have done the most important thing for us so, I suppose, its only incumbent upon us to allow them to give us tickles and belly rubs. Food is also welcome of course. Oops I wasn’t going to mention that, was I?

The world can be a terrible place sometimes what with the war, arguments, politics, racism, famine, pandemics, arguments about the pandemic and general malcontent of large swathes of the population. If we can help to alleviate even a little of that dark cloud then maybe, just a little, we have worked our magic on you and made you feel more worthwhile and valued. After all what else is there for us to do?

What’s that Lenny, it’s time for some snacks. Great, lead the way.

Gladstone Star at Valletta

Another photo taken from the archives of my grandad. This ship is, however, a little easier to name.

Gladstone Star – Grand Harbour, Valletta

Gadstone Star was built in Bremen in 1957 for Blue Star Line. She underwent sea trials in late 1957 along the Weser and then was registered in London in 1958. She was a Refrigerated Cargo Liner in the days before containerisation took hold of much of the worlds trade. Her trade route is likely to have been North western Europe to China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand via Suez. Her holds would have been entirely refrigerated and capable of carrying either chilled or frozen cargoes to and from various continents and countries. Upon arrival in New Zealand she would have loaded thousands of tons of chilled and frozen lamb, along with cheese and other dairy products for discharge in the UK.

Blue Star Line was inaugurated by the Vestey Brothers on 28 July 1911. They were predominantly butchers in Liverpool who had traded in meat from South America from 1904, on other shipping companies vessels. The high price of shipping the cargoes with other lines made them think about having their own company and thereby reducing their costs. The import of beef from South America and Lamb from New Zealand allowed them to become very rich indeed. Most of the vessels were requisitioned by the Royal Navy between both 1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 1945. Some of the vessels carried passengers as well as cargoes and the voyages could take many weeks to complete due to the stevedoring (dockers) practices in many of the ports of call. After the introduction of containerisation in the late sixties, Blue Star gradually declined as it was easier and more efficient to carry frozen and chilled goods to more places in smaller quantities. Customers liked the cleaner and more efficient method of carrying their cargo in closed containers.

Gladstone Star was sold for the final time in 1982 and then demolished on Gardini Beach, Pakistan on 13 November 1982. It would have taken more than one day to demolish her! The photo must have been taken in her early days as she retains the original hull colours in which she was painted at the builders. Later photos show her with a grey or white hull.

The photo is a relic of a bygone era. Maybe a window as to how life was around 1958. These ships are long forgotten and are indeed anonymous to the masses around the world, most of whom only know their food comes from the supermarket. They care little as to how it arrived on the shelves. The crew who sailed on vessels such as Gladstone Star likely hold a significant affection for her.

An unexpected journey

Off we go for our walk this morning, little knowing what the day held. Down through the town and back through the little wooded area. I have been on shorter walks recently due to the allegation that I may have overdone my longer walk last Sunday and injured my wrist. What is an eleven year old beagle harrier supposed to do? Walk nicely? Anyway we returned home to have some breakfast and then wandered about whilst we allowed our parents to have some food too.

Suddenly we were re-harnessed, found ourselves strolled up and down a local road and then back to the car. This was different and I was extremely surprised to see Lenny jump straight into his travel crate. Hmm, what did he know that I didn’t? Off we went up the road, turn right, under the big road, left, right and a few more turns we arrived at a multi storey car park. Wow, if this was our final destination, it was a bit boring. Once our parents had worked out how to work the parking meter we found ourselves heading toward another ticket machine. Two tickets were delivered and we pulled our parents onto the train station. As the train pulled in, we tried to get on before the doors opened. We got reminded that this was criminally stupid and we should calm down. There were quite a few people on the train but we weren’t allowed to say hello. Ugh good grief, parents can be really boring sometimes. We whizzed along toward our destination and, all the while, the train filled with more people for us to try and befriend.

Quick sharp you two, we are here, was the call that Lenny and I got. As we exited the train we breathed in and then coughed as we tasted the stale air. London! We are in London. As neither Lenny or I can read we had to rely on the station announcer telling everyone this is London Bridge. Excellent, let the shenanigans commence. As we descended from the platform into the street the number of people increased dramatically. Our parents looked at one another with dread and fear etched on their faces. Anyway Lenny and I had other ideas so we quickly pulled them in the direction of London Bridge itself.

As we crossed we laughed and bumped into one another.

Monument to the Great Fire of London

Turn right at the top and then stroll down Eastcheap and into Great Tower Street.

Past the Tower of London and we strolled quickly across Tower Bridge before finally turning right again into Tooley Street and back to the station.

All too soon we found ourselves on the return train back home and our adventure was nearly over.

The Shard

For some reason we slept all the way home in the car and crashed out on our sofas after we had eaten our food. Sometimes we have good surprises from our parents.