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.

The Posse is depleted

A wonderful and honourable friend made their longest journey earlier today. I wish to pay tribute to a true buddy.

I am a member of the #BTPosse – I was invited to join by a great friend called Hamish, some years ago. The Posse is very much like the BeagleBugClub in that it is full of friends who look after one another, who cry or laugh together and always look out for everybody, with a kindly word or metaphorical shoulder to cry upon. One of the first Border Terriers I was introduced to was Macbark who lived with his parents, and joined more recently by his little brother Fin, in Edinburgh. Mac was a jolly, cheerful, wise and very handsome fur who always had time for some laughter as well as friendly advice for his fellow BT pals. Many a time did we speak about important subject like Aberdeen FC, Whisky distilleries, Bellfield Brewery and hikes around Arthurs Seat amongst so many other things. He was a font of knowledge on many subjects. He loved travelling to different places in Scotland and even made it down to the Lake District in the north west of England. Apparently he enjoyed that too, in spite of it not being in Scotland. Cheeky wee fella he was. He was at tweet ups and always able to show the many pals around his locale with a smily face.

A fiercely proud BT.

His little brother, Fin, arrived in early August and proceeded to turn Mac’s world upside down. He was typically grumbly about his new little brother but I think deep down he was chuffed to bits that he would have a new pal to play with. Also he had the chance to show Fin all the wrong things to do.

What do you mean I cannot show Fin the muddy puddle?

Within the last week Mac was diagnosed with an advanced case of Gallbladder Mucocele which is apparently fairly common in Border Terriers, sadly. Today we heard the terrible news that Mac had made his final and longest journey over the Rainbow Bridge. He was only eight!

Run free wee fella, free from cares and woes amongst the everlasting meadow with the warm sun on your fur. It is a privilege to say you are my friend and that we will miss you terribly. Farewell Mac but never goodbye.

Through the eyes of others again

A ship in a harbour? A grainy image of an unidentified vessel at anchor? Maybe not the most inspiring or interesting of views.

This photograph was taken by my grandad sometime between 1958 and 1960. The ship is in Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta. We have tried to find out the name of the ship and her purpose for being there but we cannot fathom (see what I did there) either answer. We suspect she is a cruise ship, but may be a troop carrier.

It is a moment in time, something that will never be repeated so surely holds an interest. Time passes so quickly now that small things like this are quickly forgotten. However, for some of those people on the ship on that day, maybe it isn’t forgotten. Sixty years is a long time but maybe people still recall that day.

Hello, pleased to meet you

Five years ago today I was on holiday in the Lake District. I decided that I should take my parents off to a place called Pooley Bridge, at the northern end of Ullswater. It is a lovely spot with views south across the water to the hills in the distance. The midges were out in force that day and there was quite a bit of mumbling and groaning from the parents about being “smothered in flies”.

We strolled about and watched the Ullswater Steamer come into the jetty to discharge its passengers and then make its return journey to Glenridding via Howtown. Smaller yachts bobbed gently on the water whilst, all the time, dad grumbled about the midges and that he wouldn’t need any lunch as he’d eaten so many of them.

We made the journey back to the holiday cottage, strolled about the lanes and byways of Patterdale, made a visit to the local store and then I was allowed to go for a restorative nap whilst the parents fussed about, doing stuff and things that parents do.

I had to insist that they take me to the pub for some food as well as allowing me to continue my snoozing. I got my customary gravy bone from the lady at the bar. I strolled past another lady we had met the night before who had told me I had the softest ears and then I took my rightful place on my settle mat. Cue extensive snoozing, twitching and the occasional snore for a while.

Suddenly I was awoken with a wet beagle nose which had pushed its way through the stair baluster. As I looked up Raffa was stood there with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye. Hello, you must be Dexter? I am, I arooed, much to the amusement of the pub clientele. Whilst the parents chatted, Raffa and I resumed our sleeping poses. She had made the journey from home and I had been on my paws all day. We had agreed that we would go out walking the following day so we knew we had enough time to sleep and recuperate now.

Our friendship blossomed from that moment and we shared many more adventures in the years to follow. I am so pleased I got to meet Raffa, a true and lovely pal to many.

Happy times

I’ve been blogging about sad subjects recently. In order to redress the balance I thought I would see what I was doing five years ago today. It seems like I was enjoying life and being on holiday in the Lake District in the UK.

It was my first trip, my first holiday if you will. We had sat in the car in a seemingly never ending queue of traffic along the motorways. When we arrived it was dark and I didn’t realise the beauty of the area until the following day.

Brotherswater. Stunning.

For a beagle or, I suspect any dog, the Lakes are a wonderful and magical kingdom of scents and sights. I went to Patterdale, at the lower end of Ullswater, for a week. We explored so many places that I could hardly take it all in.

I could get used to this.

It was fantastic.

Farewell to another

Another of my friends is making ready to take her longest journey very soon. I have known this particular pal from very early in my social media career. I will be extremely sad to lose her to the Rainbow Bridge but will remember that, all the while, we will all end there once our time here is done.

I read the message that her mum had posted. There was a little video of her snoozing away, snoring gently. I read the words that were written and wondered how much pride, bravery and despair must have gone into the composition of the messages telling her friends that she would be making her journey soon. I cannot yet comprehend how words can be formed into coherent sentences whilst watching us slowly slip away. It must be terrible enough when we make our journey suddenly but to watch us, knowing that at a set time on a set date we will take our last breath and fall asleep forever, takes courage and fortitude beyond my understanding currently.

When does love overcome despair? When does pride overcome the emptiness of loss? When does grief become overtaken by remembrance of those times shared? I cannot answer any of these questions directly.

The original friends that I was lucky enough to find are diminishing faster than I would like. The days upon which I do not hear of another pal making the journey seem fewer. I have never met most of my friends, and likely I never shall. Some who I have met, have become wonderful pals and their loss is felt greatly. It is the family effect that we feel amongst our group that holds us together. People may disagree on so many things in life however when it comes to looking out for each others dogs, there is this unity of strength. A bond if you will. A bond of the strongest substance of love and friendship.

The world still turns, the sun still shines and we will all go about our daily business until we falter and fall by the wayside. More friends will come to the party but it will not diminish the memories of those who have passed, those who we have loved and continue to love even though they are no longer in our sights.

Farewell Newfy sweetie, I will miss you so much.

Time flies

It was Lenny’s birthday two days ago. He is now three. He had a good day with a nice walk in the morning and I noticed that there were some extra treats being slipped into his food. The parents think I don’t see these things. As a scent hound I may not see them but I do smell them. I don’t mind, it was his big day and as an older brother I am not going to spoil it for him.

Onto other things. It was a year ago today that my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge. Time has flown since dad got a phone call whilst we were out on our walk, that nanny had passed away overnight. Dad was very sad to hear the news from his sister but knew it was coming. In fact it comes to us all at some point. I remember we finished our walk and Lenny and I got extra tickles and a kiss on the bonce once we had snaffled our second breakfast. He told us that nanny had gone to the Rainbow Bridge and was now in the company of too many of our pals who had already made their longest journey. We understood that we wouldn’t be able to get tickles or naughty treats from her, and nor would we be able to give her leg leans any more. We were sad as we liked getting tickles from nanny. She was the one who said “if you can’t say anything nice, then say nothing”. This is something I apply every day. I’m happy that she got to meet Lenny on a few occasions although she did get him and me mixed up the first time he visited her.

I know dad misses her everyday but he is comforted a little that she is no longer suffering or in pain. He cannot be naughty or cheeky and get told he will get a clip round the ear. We are all sad that she never got to see our new house as I think she would have liked it quite a bit. She is with grandad now and at peace.

Love you nanny, fly high.

Life is shorter than we all think sometimes. When we are young we think we are invincible and old age is in the far distance so we often don’t think to say what we feel. I will give dad an extra leg lean today so he knows we are all a bit sad.