Well, we weren’t expecting that

Phew, what a scorcher. Again! This is getting repetitive and is far too warm for us beagles. Thankfully our parents take us out early morning so we can avoid the worst of the summer heat which can be extremely dangerous for us dogs.

In any case we managed to wake the parents early this morning and watched as they wandered about the house getting ready for the day ahead. I got told off for shouting at a squirrel running along the fence in my garden. I had no idea that the neighbours might not be awake at 7 am. After all, if I’m out of bed, why isn’t everyone else? Lenny and I had our first part of breakfast and then we got walked a really short distance up a local road before returning to the house. We had suspicious ears as this usually meant something else was on the cards. Mum got some water and our travel bowl whilst dad opened up the car to make sure it wasn’t too hot. Lenny saw immediately what was happening and he cowered a little by our side gate. I decided to show him that this was adventure o’clock and leapt, salmon like, into my car travel crate. He was gently coaxed toward the car and then leapt into his travel crate, to the sound of much encouragement and congratulation. It should be noted that I didn’t get any such congratulation. Off we set, turn left, turn right, down the fast road, stay left, turn up a sharp corner and then park under a big shady tree. Come on you two, out you get was the cheerful instruction.

We were somewhere new. I looked at Lenny, who looked at me and then we both looked quizzically at the parents. What was this sorcery? Dad made sure mum had the water bottle and travel bowl. Off we go onwards and upwards. We strolled along the gravel track and then turned a corner and followed the track up a small hill to another corner with a predominantly chalky trail to follow. We wound our way along the rising path for about twenty five minutes when we were told that we have just conquered Chanctonbury Ring. The views were lovely and we seemed to be so high we could touch the sky. However we were more interested in the critters that live in the long grass and wild flowers along the edges of the footpath. We initially went past the wooded area on the crown of the hill but then returned to stroll through the wooded copse. The smells in the Beech trees were much more interesting than listening to our parents chattering and enjoying their walk. Lenny and I had to regularly remind them that we were still there.

King of the Hill, when Dex allows me.

The sun was getting higher in the sky and we were getting warmer so our parents decided that we should go back to the safety of some shade and shelter, so we didn’t overheat. Returning to the car we were pleased to see that it was still in a cool and shady spot and, this time, Lenny leapt straight into his travel crate without being prompted. We arrived home just in time to see our second breakfast being served. We even managed to sit nicely as dad prepared our food.

We decided that we would return again to Chanctonbury Ring. Apparently it is the site of an ancient Neolithic fort atop the hill. The original fort was thought to originate in the late Bronze or early Iron ages. The “fort” was a low earthen rampart surrounded by a ditch which gradually became unused. In 1760 the local landowner wanted to make the top of the hill more beautiful so he planted a large number of Beech trees. They survived until the Great Storm of 1987 when winds over 100 miles per hour destroyed many millions of trees across the south east of the UK. Subsequent replanting has allowed the hill top to recapture some of its beauty. The hill lies on the South Downs Way so if you’re in the area, try walking to the top and enjoying the views.

The path to the top.

We liked it, and we don’t think you will be disappointed.

Borde not bored.

Phew what a scorcher. It’s been hot and humid around these parts recently. We have been walking early in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day. I knew it was tropical down here when I moved, but this is a bit much at the moment. Apparently this warm weather has a distinct benefit in that Lenny and I seem to be lazier and more likely to sleep for longer.

When we woke up this morning we were quickly onto our paws for a try through the local wood and then along the farm track. Turning round at the bottom of the track wasn’t exactly in the plan despite it being rather warm and humid. We arrived home and breakfast was provided in reasonable order. Suddenly we were put back into our harnesses and the car was opened. This was most peculiar! Off we set for places unknown. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically. Left and right, along roads and through a town, under the railway bridge and then left again. “Come on you two, out you get” was the command and we of course obeyed. Welcome to Borde Hill Gardens said the sign. It was warm but we were looking forward to seeing what this place was all about. When we were checking in, we each got a biscuit from the nice lady at the entrance. Armed with a map and pulling our parents along we decided to explore the gardens of this lovely old house. We strolled (read pulled and yanked on our leads) along the paths and up to the wooded walk. It was cool and there were many scents of squirrel and deer in the woods. We yelled noisily for a while until we were instructed to sit and be calm. I looked at Lenny, who was looking at me knowingly. They had no chance of anything like calm or sense being forthcoming.

Avenues of Lavender? Where are the squirrels?

We went up hill and through woodland paths, downhill and along manicured lawns. We went to the Italian gardens and even managed to politely avoid getting some tasty morsels when strolling close to the cafe.

I bravi beagle davanti alla fontana

All too soon we were directed to the car for the return journey. When we fell asleep quickly after we got home, it was deemed to be a good end to the trip.

What a great place is Borde Hill Gardens. Very dog friendly and very pretty gardens. We enjoyed ourselves greatly and we would recommend to pals to visit if they are in the area.

Through the mists of time.

I have always had a fascination with the City of London. The history of The City is everywhere for people to see. The City has endured many changes, usually inspired by humans, and sometimes not for the better. Occasions including The Plague, the Great Fire of London and the Blitz have all left their mark upon The City. It has always been the centre of wealth and commerce for traders throughout the world, when once Britain ruled over vast swathes of the globe, prompting the observation that the sun never sets on Empire. Those days of Empire are very much gone, however The City continues to survive and flourish.

You may note that I always call it “The City”. This is because it has a unique history which goes back almost 2,000 years. The Romans arrived and set up on the North bank of the Thames. There were already settlements there, however it was the coming of the legions that sparked the location and construction of what is today The City. It is not a borough and has a separate administration. It is the place from which present day London grew. The Romans set up a port and trade thrived. The area was fortified and surrounded by a wall which enclosed an area of approximately 1.12 miles. It seems wider than it is taller. The boundaries of The City are marked with black bollards showing Griffins or dragons upon them. Over time the area surrounding The City grew and London thus became larger and spread out from the boundaries of The City. Hence London is a city but The City is a distinct, and somewhat separate, part of London. In any case the majority of the history is contained within The City.

Locations such as the Bank of England (set up by Royal Charter on 27th July 1694), Lloyd’s of London, The Monument to the Fire of London, the northern section of London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral and The Royal Exchange all have a place within the boundaries of The City. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London do not fall within The City boundaries.

It remains the premier location for investment, finance and insurance provision in the UK. Ancient history resides next to modern architecture, albeit sometimes with great unease. The City is continually regenerating and the old is becoming covered in glass and metal edifices which stand tall and dominate the skyline, giving the impression of a global power.

Lloyd’s of London

It is fairly easy to lose yourself, both literally and metaphorically, in The City. The past often returns from the alleys, paths, courtyards and churchyards our ancestors frequented over the previous hundreds of years. On chilly, foggy nights, the ghosts of the past seem to come back and loom large.

30 St Mary Axe

The old City isn’t finished yet, she still has the power to remind us of those who have been here before. Go and visit when you are able, walk down a side street, through the alleys and into the churchyards and feel the old City surround you with her atmospheric tentacles.

Through the eyes of others

I have been struggling to blog recently. I was lucky to have the assistance of Sunny’s mum in writing his story thus far. Apart from that, I have had a bit of a blank as well as feeling that there is little happening to me that is of any interest to anyone. A fellow blogger gave me some sound advice though and I will try to follow her words of wisdom.

Many of you will know that my grandad went to the Rainbow Bridge a while back and we have a large quantity of his old slides which we have been looking through and trying to clean up. They have all sorts of marks on them so we are looking to make them clearer and cleaner. Anyway I was looking at this photo that he took from The Monument to the Great Fire of London and it struck me how much of the landscape and buildings are no longer there.

If you know London there is little narrative I can add to the picture. I think it was taken in the mid 1960’s so will be around 55 years old. The Post Office Tower was topped out in 1965 and should be on the right side of the photograph above.

It is interesting to see how London has changed in the last 50 odd years. This is a vista I will not see as am I barred from climbing the Monument. Also there are a number of tall buildings now obscuring the view. I have walked around the base of the Monument on one of my visits to the Big Smoke but I am not allowed to ascend.

This photo taken in 2019 gives a better impression of the lack of vista. For the purpose of reference, the railway bridge in the first picture is partially obscured by the building to the left in the second photo.

I do wonder if all change is for the good.

Is that a dead crab?

What’s that noise? Oh good grief its pouring with rain and thrashing against the window. Time for a longer snooze I think. Suddenly Lenny is past me and has stood on dads kidneys so it seems we will be waking up now. Tea and no sympathy seem to be the order of the day thus far. After a while we are duly harnessed and stand ready for the shenanigans of the day to come. It’s ok though as the rain has eased and we might only get a little soggy. Upon leaving the house we watch as our travel beds are loaded into the car, but strangely we are shepherded away from the car. What is this sorcery? Up the road and back once we have done what we need to do and the car is unlocked. At this point I looked at Lenny who was cowering away from his travel bed and crate.

It seems that his fears of car travel have returned as we haven’t been out in the car for some time. This is going to take some gentle persuasion on the part of the parents although I am concerned to see that treats weren’t considered necessary to coax him into the car. I tried to show him the way to do it, but he sat there shivering and cowering away so mum gently picked him up and put him in his crate ready to go.

Out of the house and down the road. We wound our way to an adventure. I watched out for my brother to make sure he wasn’t feeling too bad. We stopped and the boot was opened. The fresh and windy sea air filled our nostrils so we knew we were just about to have some fun pulling our parents along the seashore for a while. Just as we leapt out, it poured with rain again so we strolled quickly into a shelter on the promenade to wait out the shower clouds. Then we were off in earnest toward the sea so we could try to find the best stinky stuff to lick, sniff and hopefully roll in. Immediately we came to some seashells which were tasted before moving on to find the remains of a cuttlefish. Lenny seemed to enjoy this and was quickly forgetting about the car journey. I saw the dead crab stuff first but, as usual, Lenny barged in front and was getting up close and personal with the crustacean. We pulled and jerked on our leads for a few miles as we strolled along the sandy foreshore, up and over the little breakwaters and then back up to the pebbly section near the promenade. We had to walk along the prom for the last bit as dogs aren’t allowed on that section of the beach. I am not sure why we aren’t allowed on that part though. We don’t drop litter, break glass, leave tin and plastics everywhere or barbecue stuff and make it all thoroughly untidy. Our parents pick up after us so I am wondering if humans should be banned from the beach instead of dogs. Anyway, we followed the rules like the good boys we are and strolled along.

There may have been treats on view.

As soon as we were getting into our stride we were turned around and headed back toward the car. We saw some other dogs running in and out of the sea chasing a ball and we aroooed them. We saw some dogs walking nicely along the beach and we aroooed them as well. We even saw some dogs playing on the little green spaces near the promenade so we might have aroooed them too.

Come on Dex, there’s more stinky stuff here

Back to the car just as the sky opened again and this time Lenny leapt freely into his travel crate so it seems he had forgotten his fears of the car.

Once we were home it was back to the routine of food, snoozing and running around the garden chasing pesky magpies. I did hear talk of doing another trip next weekend if the weather is agreeable. I wonder where we can take Lenny next time?

Hello, I’m pleased to meet you

So there I was, two years ago today, waking up to what I thought was a normal day with the normal walks, small food portions, usual lack of tickles and generally being told to lay down and behave myself. Oh no, how wrong could I possibly be.

I found I was being hurried along through my walk, I then had my attendants watching me eat breakfast and finally found myself quickly returned to my harness. Off up the hill to the station and onto the train. We whizzed past fields, houses, sports stadiums and then into the tunnel before arriving at our first destination station. I stepped off the train and tried to breathe in the stale London air. Being moved along the platform at great pace, I wondered what was happening. It only got more intriguing when we left the station and I was allowed to walk through Regents Park so I could chase squirrels. At least that is what I thought I was doing there, but my parents had other ideas. Leaving the park and crossing the very busy road we descended into the bowels of the London Underground whereupon I was told in no uncertain terms to “Behave”. It was only appropriate for me to arooo and make everyone on the tube carriage smile. This was behaving, right?

We ascended to street level somewhere called Aldgate and I was swiftly marched across another wide road. I was enjoying this but I had no idea what exactly was happening. We stopped at a small cafe near the Tower of London and this unfamiliar pair of hands suddenly descended upon my ears. As I looked up I saw a face full of love and a pair of hands that just couldn’t leave my ears alone. Hola tia Carolina, como estas? I gently woofed at this new person who had come all the way to London, via Europe and most of the rest of the UK, from Argentina. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was so happy that I immediately grabbed the nearest piece of fried chicken laying on the pavement nearby and started to chew the bone. It took much persuasion and plenty of fingers (dads) in my teeth to make me drop this tasty morsel.

Hello auntie. Ooh look pavement food.

Once I had been denied a tasty snack it was decided that I was to show auntie Carolina around London. We walked around the Tower of London, across Tower Bridge, underneath London Bridge, past Sir Francis Drake’s ship, to Shakespeares Globe, across the Millennium Bridge, around St Pauls and thence back onto the tube to Buckingham Palace via St James Park.

I wonder if there is a St Dexter’s?

The humans had lunch there and I even managed to do some expert squirrel bothering, much to my mums distress as I pulled and jerked on my lead. The squirrel was being fed by a nice lady and it ran away rather quickly when it saw me trying to get to it so I could dental cuddle it.

But I like sandwiches mum!

It was mid afternoon that I started to tire and a decision was taken on my behalf that I should be returned home where I could rest my weary bones. So I sadly said my “adios” to auntie Carolina and started the long process of guiding my parents back through the hullabaloo of London to the train station and eventually home.

I live over there. Or is it over there?

I had a great day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I hope she can come back soon.

I aroo like to be beside the seaside

There was nothing out of ordinary to alert us as to what was in store for Lenny and I yesterday. Waking up as normal, I stretched and climbed out of bed to go and see mum who is the gravy bones dispenser. My tongue was duly crossed with the brown bones of tastiness and I sloped back off to my bed for a snooze. I think dad was pleasantly surprised there was no kidney pounce. In any case breakfast for Lenny and I was taken in the Utility Room once the parents had decided to get out of bed.

As soon as we realised it wasn’t raining we were quickly on our toes and pulling our respective parents along the road. Suddenly we were turned around and marched back towards home. We had hardly started our walk. What was this sorcery? Dad opened the car and we were cajoled into our travel crates. Lenny and I looked at each other quizzically, what was going on? It wasn’t time for the v-e-t visit, surely? Then we were off the driveway and headed down the road, turn right and then turn right again after a mile or so. The road went left and then right, we were getting lost now until we pulled up at somewhere familiar. When the boot was opened, a scent filled our noses that told us we were in for a fun time.

It was the seaside! I could hear the wind, and the waves as they gently crashed upon the sandy foreshore. Come on Lenny, let’s go. As we tried to leap out of the boot, we were swiftly caught mid boing, harnessed and told to be good. How bothersome of our parents to cut short our attempted shenanigans. We crossed the road and pulled our parents across the stony section of the beach toward the softer sandy section. We had visited this place before but we hadn’t been on this part of the beach so we were in for a treat.

Of course you can trust me to behave.

As we wandered along the top of the pebbles we saw the seawater tempting us away to our left. Mum and dad had little choice but to go to the edge of the water so Lenny and I could find dead crabs, seaweed and cuttlefish pieces washed up along the sand. This was fun, we walked along with grins on our faces and the wind in our ears. The scent was high and Lenny was taking it all into his scent factory. Behind us another beagle strolled past so we took the chance to bay. Loudly. Very loudly. So loudly in fact that people on the promenade heard us and started smiling. Further along the sand Lenny found a dead crab and picked it up. He suddenly realised that seawater tastes disgusting so dropped it immediately and went to grab some seaweed instead. He spat that out too. We strolled along, saying hello to people who all kept their distance from us, so keeping everyone safe whilst the quarantine is still in place. The another beagle came strolling toward us and we met him in customary fashion, proceeding to tangle our leads and try to play bitey face with him. Duly embarrassed at our uncouth behaviour, mum and dad continued to walk away whilst apologising to the other beagle owner. He just laughed. We walked all the way along the beach to a river which we couldn’t cross so we returned to the car, all the while running in circles, tangling our leads and generally making mum and dad laugh. When we got back to the car something strange happened. Dad told Lenny to “Hup” into the boot and he did so immediately. Lenny doesnt like travelling in the car as he still gets some travel sickness but he had just leapt in freely. My brother was so happy from his walk that he had apparently forgotten about his travel sickness. I followed him into my crate and we both laid down for the return home which was nearby. What a morning we both had.

It was as much as we could do to raise our heads later in the day to eat our food. Ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but, we were tired and happy. We had been to the beach, we had been sensible when we encountered people and we had a good time. Hopefully everyone follows the rules and Lenny and I can go to the beach more often. Maybe even get an ice cream.

Well, that was all a bit exciting

After I had experienced the theft and then return of all my toys, beds and food, it was apparently time to settle in to my new home. I call it my new kennel but my parents insist it’s a home. In any case it is warm, comfy and very different to my previous kennel, sorry I mean home. For a start its on two levels and has these strange things called stairs. Lenny and I have wasted no time in chasing each other up and down these strange stair contraptions that take us to another place called “upstairs”.

Lenny and I also wasted no time in taking our parents out to explore the local area to try and sample the delights it has to offer. So it was that dad woke up with a beautifully executed beagle kidney pounce nice and early on the first full day and he was dispatched to make a cup of tea. We don’t want him slacking now, do we? Within a short time we were exploring the village and met a beagle who lived close by. He was very well behaved and wasn’t on a lead which was both surprising and disappointing. Surprising that he was well behaved and equally as disappointing that he wasn’t up to shenanigans. I suppose we will have to make up for his polite behaviour. Not yet however as we still had to scent where the local critters lived. We went down the road, across a road, up a road, across another road, under a bigger road, over the bridge, along another road and then found another road to walk along. All the while our noses were no more than 5 centimetres (that’s 1.9685 inches to old money aficionados) off the ground. We had to take in all the new smells that the village had to offer us. We had to be careful though as street lights were in different places to those we were used to and we found ourselves too regularly almost upon them. We returned home and rested whilst mum and dad did some unpacking of their belongings. Our stuff had already been unpacked and put away in cupboards, so it was good to see them get their priorities right. We went out a couple more times on the first full day and fell into our beds for a long lazy snooze. In fact I was so tired that I snoozed on Lenny’s bed which was a bit dangerous as he is a bit of a vampire. I think he was equally tired so didn’t bother trying to attack me.

Hope Lenny doesn’t notice!

The peace and tranquility was shattered on the first Sunday we were here however. We went out across the fields and were having a great time exploring and seeing new places to enjoy in the future. Suddenly Lenny was pulling and jerking on his lead whilst all the time baying at the top of his voice. Whatever could have possibly caused this commotion. As I looked up, there were seven Roe deer prancing through the field in front of us, maybe 100 yards away. It would have been rude of me if I hadn’t joined in the general commotion so I duly obliged mum and dad by doubling the volume of baying. I am not sure they were all that impressed as we were swiftly turned around and we walked a different path all the time listening to mum and dad muttering something about “why didnt we get Labradors or Poodles?” Then we went out on our final constitutional of the day and a fox must have wandered past the front of our home a short time before. We managed to bay, pull and jerk for the entire walk around the block whilst conveniently forgetting that we had “things” to do. We were quickly reminded of our duties however. Apparently it’s lucky we don’t have neighbours yet.

To be explored.

Then, during the week, we found the lane which leads to the path which leads to the pub which isn’t open yet. Mum and dad seemed happy to have found the path to the pub.

Lenny, that’s not the pub.

We have behaved ourselves really well so far, even if I do say so myself. There has been quite a bit of disruption to our daily routine. There has been so much unpacking and moving things about that we sometimes didnt know if we were coming or going. We haven’t yet been allowed out into our garden as the turf and soil need time to bed in apparently. It is tantalisingly out of reach for another week or so.

Garden racing will have to wait I suppose.

Excuse me, why are my beds and toys disappearing?

I noticed something strange happening a while back, maybe in late November. Whilst Lenny and I were snoozing or running around the garden like a couple of hounds possessed, things were going missing in the house. A little freaky but I thought I would keep an eye open in case it kept on happening. Which it did, and I thought I should investigate.

During the course of my attempted reconnaissance I was unceremoniously shooed away by both my parents when they were hiding things in boxes, including our toys, leads, harnesses and some treats which would store for a while so they wouldn’t need them. This only raised my suspicions even further but every time I went to investigate I was told to go and lay down and stop being a trip hazard. Apparently humans cannot see very far when they are carrying boxes and crates around the house. I had no idea. One of the rooms in the house looked like a storage warehouse which was concerning as its a house and not a storage warehouse facility and I am banned from snooping around the boxes.

The weekend has passed and the box numbers have increased. Plenty of stuff is now being put into boxes and then carefully stacked in the rooms that Lenny and I are not allowed to play in. My parents are numbering and labelling everything and more rooms are now being filled with boxes. I never realised they had this much stuff.

My parents seem to be getting more excited, or is it agitated, over the increasing number of boxes which are appearing in my house. These infernal things are starting to block the race tracks that Lenny and I have had around the house for some time now. This is grossly unfair. How am I supposed to chase after him?

The latest weekend has finished and it has snowed so my focus has been on watching Lenny enjoy himself in his first taste of snow. Sadly I have not persuaded him to try yellow snow but I am working on it. In any case a number of boxes have been added to the packed ones stored in the bedroom that Lenny and I are not allowed to enter, let alone play in. This is getting very strange indeed. I will get to the bottom of this mysterious parental activity.

Yawning as I awoke from my slumber on a rainy Thursday morning I am surprised to see the parents already out and about, with more boxes being added to the already groaning stack. Suddenly knock knock, arooooo bark aroooo and we are once again shooed out of the way, put onto our harnesses and kept quiet whilst three men come and steal all our belongings and put them all on a big lorry. We’ll be back tomorrow to get the rest of the stuff, they cheerfully tell us as they leave. I searched around the house and could only see bare rooms, bare walls, bare floors and everything echoed. What was this trickery? I had no time to think about it as my parents were quickly into their stride and cleaning and dusting and making the house look spick and span, whilst all the while being empty. Ok, I will sleep on this and try to work out what has gone on. I was rudely awakened once more on a rainy Friday when three men returned to remove the rest of my belongings. Dad was busy helping them steal our stuff whilst mum held on tight to Lenny and I. We just looked confused at each other. The house was empty, utterly bereft of anything except walls, floors and ceilings. And a roof, of course it still had a roof. A final whizz around with the vacuum cleaner and the lorry doors shut with a clank. And that was it. We were hurriedly bundled into the car and off down the road we went. Two hours later we sat outside another very smart looking house whilst my parents spoke to a man about the house. Then the guys who stole all my belongings were giving them all back to me. I had very confused ears and three hours later, Lenny and I sat in a new house surrounded on four sides by boxes. Mum and dad were there thankfully as they finally explained to us that we were now going to live here, in a new kennel that they had purchased. I had to explore as I wanted to make sure that my treats pennies had been wisely spent. Having wandered, sniffed and nosed about in every place I could find, I think they have spent my treats pennies wisely so I approve.

Lenny and I took the parents for a stroll to have a sniff and to investigate our new local surroundings. Mum and dad were of course extremely grateful that we made sure they walked us whilst it rained and we all got wet and had fun. There are so many walks that we will find here that I am looking forward to checking out the new area. It’s going to be fun as we had already found the muddiest track really close by so that’s a bonus for us. There are plenty of other dogs around here and we even saw a fellow beagle on our first full day. He was very friendly, as you would expect, and was very well behaved, which was a bit surprising.

Hopefully I will be able to explore more places and find more fun things to do. I am looking forward to this, the new chapter in mine and Lenny’s life. We have to wait for the garden to dry out before we can go racing around out there like a couple of possessed hounds. Apparently the turf is very new and the soil is very squashy so we need a dry few weeks. The garden is frustratingly out of reach.

Firstly however we need to find out where all those pesky squirrels live so we can do some serious bothering.

Sad yet hopeful – the final part

As promised I continue my thoughts on the strange year just ending. It’s a sad, frustrating year, yet it had some bright sparks now and again.

July.

Lenny and I had been set the task of trying to recreate all the photographs on a calendar we sent to Raffa’s mum last year. According to our very kind pals the pictures we were in were better than the originals. Then on Raffa’s birthday there was a little tribute where many friends painted a rock and took it to somewhere that Raffa would have loved to go. We went to our garden and tried not to squabble whilst the picture was taken. It didn’t last long. Sadly I heard that a long time friend called Seb the BT was due to go to the Rainbow Bridge. He had such a wonderful heartfelt send off that it made me proud to consider that I had known him and woofed with him over his time on Twitter.

August.

My nanny died. Dad was very sad as she had been ill for quite some time and he had been half expecting the phone call for a while. When it came though it was still a nasty shock. Lenny and I did our best to behave in an appropriate manner. Lenny then celebrated his birthday and I allowed him to beat me at bitey face. Later in the month we went to see our remaining grandad who said we should all go to the seaside. Lenny had never been to the sea in the UK and he was in awe at the wind and waves. In fact he was so much in awe that he fell asleep. He didn’t try to lick the seawater like I did in the Lake District a few years ago. Everyone had a nice time and mum even got saltwater spray all over her face as she forgot to take her sunglasses. We didn’t laugh, honestly.

September.

Knock knock, who’s there? Arooo, its auntie J. Raffa’s mum was going on holiday and diverted to come and see us in our natural habitat. She was rubbish at hide and seek although quite good at starting bitey face games. We were still under some restrictions but they seem to be easing once again. Not that it made any difference to Lenny and I, as we still got our walks, food and beds. We could feel the seasons changing toward the end of the month so we got ourselves ready to bed down and hibernate for the winter months. The squirrels were much more active. Lenny and I managed to catch one but were told in no uncertain terms to DROP IT.

October.

Time for trees to fall down in front of us. This stick was too large even for Lenny and I to take home with us. The rain returned with a vengeance, causing the ground to be saturated and the tree roots to give up completely. Luckily we weren’t underneath it when it came down. Lenny is looking up to me a bit now. I think he has accepted that this is his forever family and he’s relaxing enough to want to know what else we can get away with.

November.

Here we go, back into a partial quarantine. Will it work, will it fail and will we ever get our dinner. This year the service has got worse as the days and months pile up. Maybe we need new parents as the current incumbents clearly aren’t up to the mark. Lenny and I are bonding far more. We are taking time to do things that don’t always include bitey face games or chasing each other around the garden. In fact we managed to steal socks from dad and were referred to as “International sock thieves of some distinction”. We remain quite proud of our abilities.

December.

As I write this missive we are in Tear (yes I did mean to spell it like that) 4 of restrictions which means that the pubs and restaurants are closed, and only the essential shops are open. We cannot see friends from other households over Christmas and we still wont be able to go to the pub. This quarantine is like the hokey cokey. We’re in, we’re out, we’re in again and then we’re shaking it all about. Christmas is likely to be quiet with just ourselves to play together and amuse ourselves.

I am not sure how to sum it all up really. We lost some well loved and revered furs this year. Raffa, Gracie and Seb the BT amongst too many others. Sadly life and death were ever present as usual. The pandemic spread fear, death and misadventure throughout large swathes of the human population which was sad to see. Many people got on with their neighbours better than they had for a long time. Some people even found out that they had neighbours which was a bonus. This lockdown brought the best and, sometimes, the worst out of people.

I did learn something in the past year that will stick with me for some time. I realised that many of my friends live in beautiful places around the world. As we were all restricted in one way or another, I got to see friends local areas when they tweeted about their daily lives. Often because you are familiar with your local area, the beauty of it passes you by. I have also learned that Lenny is settled, he is happy and likes living here. This makes my heart sing as, despite what I may say about him sometimes, I do love him and want him to be happy.

And we move on to 2021. I cannot begin to wonder what it holds for us all. Hopefully vaccines are developed and provided so the virus recedes and some degree of normality returns to swathes of the worlds population. I hope so as this will allow us to get out and about more often. We want to see friends and family to try and resume some degree of new normality. Is there to be such a thing as normality? There is only one way to find out.