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Paddle board at Port Mor

Paddle board at Port Mor

You’ve read the blog, now view the photo. Auntie Jen and Helen Paddle-boarding at the beach near our house.

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A plague is upon us!

Forgive me WordPress for I have sinned.  It has been ten days since my last blog post.  Actually I can’t believe it’s only been ten days.  It seems like a lifetime.

I am pleased to report that we are now officially visitor free (until my mother in law arrives on Wednesday – I can’t wait to inflate the airbed to its full bouncyness again).  I have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in my own bed (often for periods of several hours at a time as Sally suddenly seems to have got the idea that night time is for sleeping) and having full access to my wardrobe.  Sadly most of my clothes don’t fit as I’ve eaten far too much over the last couple of months and will have to return to the temple of weight watchers once the winter months set it.

We’ve had a lovely week with my aunt and uncle and sister.  They were staying with my parents and thus did not infuriate me at all.  My mother, being a saint, seemed to breeze through the whole visit as though catering for at least five people every night (and often 9 as we were frequent dinner guests) didn’t faze her at all.  Admittedly my aunt had brought a lot of ready prepared food with her…….yes she’s amazing.  She also brough Helen what are quite possibly the cutest trousers ever.  Do I have a photo of them? No not yet she doesn’t really wear clothing on the lower part of her body at present so I haven’t had a chance to snap her in them.

After several weeks of cold weather poor Allan ended up shearing the sheep in what must have been 30 degree heat.  He and my Dad performed a lot of bizarre maneuvering with said sheep before finally getting them into the shed (I think this may have been due to lack of training of both my Dad’s dog Bess and Allan himself.  Although Allan did proudly report that my Dad only told him to F*** off once during the entire procedure which indicates strong approval on the part of my father.) I’d never seen a sheep pant before and it was not a pretty sight.  I’ve included a picture of Allan looking all manly shearing a sheep.  Try not to swoon ladies…………….

Do you come here often?

 

I know after such a long absence I should really be writing a vast post telling you all about the amazing things I have done.

  • Singing at the concert held to raise funds for the music festival.
  • Going paddle boarding with Jen – yes it really was fun – almost worth the numerous near death experiences we had just getting the board round the island.
  • Attending a meeting for the next book festival, we’ve got an author I really really love coming but I can’t say who it is………….for those who know me really well – it’s not Jilly Cooper.
  • Trying to potty train Helen who is proving extremely resistant although my mum reported that she did a poo at the side of the road yesterday (Helen not my mum!).  Here is a photo of our alfresco attempts though.
  • Walking to the most disgusting beach on Colonsay with Allan and Jen; three kinds of animal faeces and two types of jellyfish – eurgh. (not photographed although Jen does have a lovely snap of Sally brandishing a fistfull of goose poop)

Sadly I am too tired to write more as Allan was conveniently struck down with an evil lurgy yesterday.  This timely illness meant that I had to spend seven hours cleaning a six bedroomed, five bathroomed, two kitchened holiday home.  This morning I was actually aching as though I had been to the gym.  Now that all risk of him having to clean seems to have passed he has made a miraculous recovery although he is still too delicate to change nappies.

Winter is coming…………

………..not fast enough for my liking though. I’ve had enough of summer.

Now before I start this extremely controversial blog I would like to assure all of the friends who have visited us this summer that I have enjoyed seeing each and every one of you. I’m delighted that people have come to visit and I know it will be a long lonely winter but…….

I’m so tired! I’m tired of sleeping in the loft on a sagging airbed which deposits me on the floor whenever Allan gets off it. I’m tired of living out of a washing basket in the utility room like some sort of hobo because other people are sleeping in my bed. I’m tired of missing episodes of my favourite zombie drama because I’m politely socialising with friends. I’m tired of not being able to update my blog because it seems rude to be on the computer in the evenings. I’m tired of our kitchen table being permanently extended causing the kitchen to be tiny. I’m tired of having an audience for Helen’s potty training. Yes I have some issues with cleanliness. No I don’t like it when she has her bare bottom on the sofa or when she poops on the doorstop and Yes I would prefer not to have witnesses to my discomfort. I’m tired of conversation – I’ve been ‘reading’ my book for three weeks now and I’m less than halfway through it – this is a unprecidented situation. I’m tired of drinking too much and staying up too late because I feel like I’m on holiday too even though this is actually just my life and I have to get up and go to work. I’m tired of eating meat. I long for the days when we can go back to eating pasta with vegetable slop every night.

Furthermore I am not just tired of my own visitors, I tired of everyone else’s too. I’m longing for the days when I can take the girls out in the buggy and get all the way to the beach without having to stop fourteen times to let cars come past. I’m tired of cyclists who don’t get off the road to let me drive past them. I’m tired of people who can’t reverse their enormous four by fours into passing places. I’m tired of people asking me my life history when I’m in the service point trying to work. I’m tired of having to que in the shop when I want the place all to myself for a good gossip.

It’s pouring with rain and blowing a howling gale it might as well be winter.

I know I know I don’t deserve all of my lovely friends. Bah Humbug!

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Auntie Jen is coming!

Roll out the red carpet hang the bunting in the street, Auntie Jen is coming home.  For those of you not lucky enough to have met her Auntie Jen is my little sister.  Although not so little these days – she had the misfortune to turn 30 a week ago.  It’s interesting to note that whilst my own 30th birthday left me relatively unmoved I am deeply distressed that I am now the big sister to a 30 year old.  If my sister is old what does that make me?

Jen is like a minor celebrity on Colonsay.  Luckily I have a very thick skin otherwise I might be rather upset by all the people who demand to know when she’s coming home.  She is one of these people who seem to generate buzz and excitement. Whilst I am rather more staid.  It’s not uncommon for me to introduce myself and then for people to look slightly puzzled and then say ‘Oh you’re Jen’s sister’.  I then see them waiting patiently for me to do or say something funny – sadly I generally disappoint in this respect although Jen is a great catalyst, around her even I am funny.

I don’t want to make her sound like a saint but she is also beloved of children.  I actually had to have one of my own in order to make a child pay me any attention and to be honest I’m not sure I was that successful.  I think Jen’s repertoire of funny voices and ability to fart on demand may well have overshadowed my own rather paltry efforts comprising 9 months of safe passage in my womb, 72 hours of labour and two and a half years of loving parenting.  Sally succumbed even more quickly than Helen and from the age around one week preferred to be put to bed by my sister over all others.

As I write this I want to say that Jen is a ski instructor in South America or that she is a professional mud wrestler.  Every time I am asked what she is up to (and at this time of year when Colonsay is swollen with visitors this tends to be several times a day) I am mildly surprised to hear myself say ‘she’s a chemistry teacher’.  Not only is she a chemistry teacher she is by all accounts rather a good chemistry teacher although one with a penchant for setting herself on fire.

Jen has had a variety of colorful jobs before she took my Dad’s advice and accepted that the time had come to do teacher training.  She managed to graduate from university faster than anyone else I know despite not attending the correct lectures for one of her courses – she did attend the correct exam and was rather puzzled to find she couldn’t answer any of the questions.  Even more puzzling is the fact that she still passed.

My favourite of her positions was one which required her to dress as a giant bee and visit local schools to inform children about honey production.  In order to enable her to visit these schools she was given the use of an enormous van and I always imagined her driving around Glasgow in her bee costume buzzing with enthusiasm.  A less glamorous job was the  year she spent as a bank teller a post which could have been rather well paid had she not actually negotiated her salary downwards before she started.

Jen is one of these people to whom exciting things always seem to be happening and strangely teaching fits in very well with this.  During the school year she is a pillar of respectability leaving 12 weeks of holidays for adventure.  This summer alone she has spent a week in Greece – economic crisis be dammed, a week supervising her pupils on an activities holiday in France and a few days in Sheffield.  I think she was visiting her boyfriend but it could be that she simply had a raging desire to visit the steelworks.  She’s now heading home to spend a week sleeping in our spare room (AKA the tent in our garden).  Is she worried about the monsoon like weather and the fact that this is the wettest June in the history of the Gregorian colander? Of course not.  She will arrive and stay for long enough to be co-bridesmaid at Mairi’s wedding before jetting off for the next bit of excitement.  I think she might be playing the fiddle at a wedding in France but you can never be sure with Jen.  She may well be training horses in outer Mongolia.

I’m picking her up from the boat tomorrow night and as she was about to hang up the phone she mentioned casually ‘oh yes I’ll be bringing my paddle board’.  For those of you not in the know a paddle board is a bit like a surfboard if surfboards were the size of a small caravan.  I’m not quite sure what you do with it.  Perhaps stand on it and punt it along rather as if one were a Gondolier in Venice?  It is quite honestly the most enormous piece of equipment I have ever seen.  It weighs about as much as a small elephant and I don’t want to dash her hopes but if it floats it will be a miracle.  Furthermore Jen is tiny.  She is short of stature and slim of build and if it comes to a fight between her and the paddle board my money is not on little sis.  I will not be at all surprised to receive a phone-call tomorrow informing me that she is lying on the Pier on Oban trapped beneath it’s mighty weight.  How she thinks she is actually going to get to Oban is another cause for concern.  Her car (ancient and very rattly Ford Ka which still smells rather questionable from the days we used to drive Max around in it) is as small as she is and considerably less reliable.  I can only assume that she has some sort of system of cranes and winches by which she is going to maneuver the mighty board onto the roof.  She would probably be safer strapping the car onto the paddle board and punting herself round the West Coast of Scotland.  Of course ever the economist she’s not bringing her car over to Colonsay so she is actually going to have to carry the behemoth onto the boat.  It’s lucky she’s not bringing her car really as I would be afraid that the combined weight of this and the paddle board would be enough to sink the vessel.

I look forward to seeing it in action if she makes it here alive.

Child for Sale

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!!

Oh that was cathartic.  O.K. a warning if you are not the sort of person who can empathise with a mothers need to club her child over the head with a baby seal from time to time please read no further.

Today has just been one of those days and having just spent 10 minutes trailing around the house after a pyjama clad toddler who point blank refuses to go to bed without her plastic tea pot I am seriously considering putting both of my children on eBay.

Sally didn’t sleep well last night, consequently neither did I.  Sadly Helen slept a little too well and thus declined her afternoon nap, depriving me of mine.  Sally’s afternoon nap was brutally cut short by a bad case of poopus interuptus meaning that by five o’clock I was grumpy and frazzled and both of my children were orbiting the ceiling.

5 O’clock is usually a happy time when Allan arrives home and interacts with the children whilst I cook dinner.  Sadly on a Monday night Allan goes to fire brigade training.  (Really this means he stands around gossiping like an old woman whilst dressed in his fire fighting finery) While he is out enjoying himself I have to cook tea, then bathe and bed the two little monkeys.  A job which usually fully occupies both of us.  Tonight after cooking a gourmet meal of frozen pizza, baked beans and broccoli (well one must have some standards) I spent around an hour trying to tempt Helen to the table.  She has recently discovered the concept of picnics.  As a result a number of pop up cafes have sprung up around our home.  In these locations various toy animals are treated to a variety of delicacies such as plastic toast, plastic potato, wooden fruit, plastic chicken drumstick, building blocks and (my personal favourite) mouldering apple.  I found a cache under a chair in the kitchen which had obviously been there for some time today.  These feeding areas are as sacrosanct as any religious site and cannot be interfered with under any circumstances even though the high chair the rats sit in entirely obstructs access to Helen’s own booster seat.  Furthermore once mealtime is announced Helen then has to make her rounds of the catering establishments checking that the needs of the toys are all met before she can possibly imagine eating something herself.  Whilst I admire her Little House on the Prarie – esq principles I really wish she would just sit down at the table and eat her dinner.

Once she had deigned to join us at the table she demanded a wholegrain cracker (because Sally had one) then proceeded to pile beans on top of it and then refuse to eat it because it looked ‘minging’.  She did eat most of her pizza but sneaked her broccoli onto Sally’s tray when she thought I wasn’t looking – Sally was looking though and that broccoli was a goner in no time.

Helen is always good whilst I am putting Sally to bed because I bribe her with children’s television.  Even better Cbeebies end at 7pm which is exactly when I lay Sally down so usually we don’t even have to argue over my brutal turning off of the television mid programme.  Not tonight though – Helen almost burst into tears at my high-handed turning off of the blank screen.

Next she refused to open her mouth to have her teeth brushed – I can’t remember what dire threat I came up, perhaps I threatened to pull the plug out of the bath but anyway I won and finally I had her pyjamas on and we were onto the home straight of bedtime.  We were onto the second story and my mind had wandered longingly to a cool class of white wine when Helen suddenly announced that she needed a picnic in bed and leaped up to start gathering the necessary utensils.  I staunchly continued the story but eventually I could not ignore her increasingly passionate demands for her plastic teapot.  A quick tour of the house failed to uncover the necessary tableware.  I tried reasoning with her – you don’t really need a teapot in bed surely a cup of tea will be enough.  Negotiation – I can’t find the teapot but you can have Sally’s caterpillar.  I tried being firm – Helen I’m getting quite cross now; you’re just going to have to go to bed without your teapot.  The final threat resulted in the flappy hands and jutting lip of the overtired two year old on the verge of a major tantrum.  We searched the house again.

Eventually she was snuggled up in bed with the teapot (which we had found in the tumble drier) a plastic roasting dish, a ladle and the toy rats (oh and Sally’s caterpillar).  I was about to start my rendition of twinkle twinkle little star when Helen played her trump card and announced that there were pets in her bed.  I don’t know where these pets have come from but every time Helen goes to bed it is now overrun with pets – species unspecified.  There appear to be so many of them that Helen could not possibly get in beside them.  Oh no!  I must pick them up and carry them to a cardboard box in the utility room (kept there specifically for that purpose) in which they will sleep.  Oftentimes the pesky creatures will escape during the night and Allan or I will be summoned to remove them which we do with increasingly bad grace as the hour grows later.  I don’t know where the idea came from.  Her imagination astounds me.  We also have a family of pigs living with us who frequently wave at Helen and make extremely funny jokes when I’m not listening.  If I had my way all of these unwanted house guests would be banished down to the weaves but Helen won’t hear of it.

Anyway both children are now safely tucked up in bed.  I am ignoring the cavorting and giggling coming from Helen’s room.  No doubt the pigs are keeping her entertained.  Now I’ve vented I’m off to look for that glass of wine.

 

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Puppie’s picnic
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Sally’s picnic

 

Computer says no

The internet has gone off.  Obviously the smart among you will realise that the internet must now be back on –otherwise how would I be writing this.  But as of 4:34 am on Saturday morning the internet was most definitely off.  I still had 8 assignments to go last night when I was cut off in my prime.  I had already waded through 20 papers discussing wounds of medico legal importance when – bam!  Suddenly I was cut off from the outside world.  I didn’t know what to do.  Obviously my first thought was to Google the problem my helpful diagnostics program had identified……….. Oh no………..no internet.  Since I couldn’t finish work my mind briefly turned to searching eBay for a couple of things I need……..oh no…….no internet.  I made my way through the living room and whinged at Allan for a few minutes…………he seemed unmoved.

Once I had come to terms with the fact that I had an unexpected evening to myself I had to decide what to do with it.  A brief search of the SKY box confirmed that those in charge of television scheduling are not trying to encourage the likes of me to stay at home and watch television on a Friday night.  Watching Andy Murry win again at Wimbledon briefly lifted my sprits but all too soon BBC 2 turned to coverage of some sort of flower show.  Allan was transfixed.  Yes it’s true – he was glued to the screen watching in fascination as Monty Don wandered round supping real ale and extolling the virtue of one sort of agapanthus over another (I don’t even know if that is the real name of the flower…………I’ll Google it……….oh no……no internet).  I went off to have a bath feeling increasingly grumpy.  When I came back I thought I would do some research into the housing required for Quails.  I think Quail eggs are just the thing the shop needs and since I’m now officially scared of geese and a friend tells me ducks are dirty Quails seem to be the only direction my aviary can go in.  However my intentions were scuppered again………no internet.

I was forced to read my book which was no real hardship.  I’m reading Game of Thrones which is very enjoyable, my enjoyment is doubled by the fact that I know that the next two parts of the trilogy are waiting on the bookcase for me.  I don’t deal with well suspense.

Sally woke up at 4:15 for a feed and as soon as I was awake my first thoughts turned to my beloved BT hub.  Would I once again be connected with the outside world?  I sat down on the sofa officially to wait for Sally to go back to sleep before creeping back to bed but really so I could switch on the laptop and check in on the outside world………….no!  I remain in IT isolation.  Probably a good thing at this time in the morning.  When Sally was tiny I went through a terrible phase of eBay shopping on my iphone during night feeds.  I would then forget all about my nocturnal purchasing until the parcels would arrive a few days later.  Poor Allan (he’s so stingy he makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist) was most dismayed.

It’s funny though.  On Colonsay I seem to depend on the internet even more than I did on the mainland.  In Edinburgh I would have texted my boss to say I couldn’t get online and could she let my students know.  Sadly here I have no signal and my phobia of the landline is almost equal to my fear of geese.  Even when my internet was down at home I always had the option of nipping in to work where I could be fairly certain that the good old NHS remained online.  Here I am at the mercy of BT.  I can’t even update my blog properly.  I have lots of very exciting things to blog about – watch this space – but I’m so preoccupied with lack of connectivity that my fingers refuse to type anything else.

Sally seems to have capitulated – I haven’t heard any gleeful shrieking or kicking of the side of the cot for a few minutes so I’m going to save this as a humble word file and creep back to bed (it’s now exactly 05:01 in case you are interested.  This post has not taken 27 minutes to compose.  I have also visited the bathroom and checked on the fridge which is defrosting all over the kitchen floor).  Fear not gentle reader – the fact that you are reading this is a clear indication that I am once again in touch with the outside world and hopefully I will find myself able to blog about something more interesting very soon.

I suppose they are quite pretty. Photo credit – Lizmooregolding.com

Life after dog

To anyone who struggles to adjust after losing their beloved canine I have the perfect solution.  Get a pet sheep.  Sally lamb is doing her very best to fill the void.  She follows us everywhere bleating incessantly, she even made it into the kitchen yesterday.  She eats large quantities of very expensive food, craps outside the garden gate and knocks over my children.  Last week she followed our car all the way to the bottom of the field almost as if she wanted to come to the beach with us.  All she needs to do is learn to chase other sheep and a stick and she is the perfect Max replacement.

Sally lamb – photo credit goes to my lovely sister in law.

We’re all staying at home for our Summer Holiday

A few people who have made the move to Colonsay have commented that one downside is that you lose your favourite holiday destination.  So far I haven’t really felt this.  Probably because Colonsay has always felt like home to me rather than somewhere we went on holiday.  However I have felt jealous of all the holidaymakers heading off to the beach each day.  With Allan’s sister and our friends coming and my sudden freedom from the shop I decided to indulge myself with a weeks ‘staycation’.  Apparently this is becoming more and more common.  Cany Brits are shunning foreign climes in order to stay at home for a week and enjoy the British weather.  The phenomenon has become so massive that foreign holiday tour operators are in serious decline!

The first few days of holiday went swimmingly.  (Well I didn’t actually swim but one member of our party did!) The weather, although not fantastic, was at least dry for several long periods.  The highlight of Allan’s sister’s stay was our trip to Oronsay on their last day.  Oronsay is a tidal island at the south end of Colonsay.  When the tide is out there is a five-hour window where you can cross over and visit the 14th century priory on the island.  Since we had 3 very young children between our two parties and walking is a slow and painful process we decided to maximise our time on Oronsay by taking Allan’s car over.  I thoroughly enjoyed driving past all the visitors making their way across the sand.  Cheerily waving to them out of the window of Allan’s decrepit Mazda.  Allan didn’t enjoy things quite so much.  He expressed some concern as we drove through the deeper water and seemed a little distressed when the exhaust kept scraping off the rocks.  We all shared his concern when, on arriving at the Priory, the hiss of air escaping from one of the tyres was worryingly audible.  We felt slightly less smug as all of the visitors we had passed on the sand walked byt Allan while he changed the tyre!  After looking round the priory and establishing that the thermos of coffee I had brought really had melted the bar of chocolate beyond all reasonable hope of rescue we headed back to the shore and spent a pleasant half hour searching for mussels.  Allan’s sister demonstrated a rare talent for this and found more than the other three adults combined.  Indeed she became so obsessed she had to be dragged away from the rocks as the tide threatened to envelop us all.

Our second batch of visitors arrived on Monday night in time to enjoy dinner with the Swedes (mussels featured heavily on the menu along with haggis which I don’t think they will be ordering again any time soon) before they left very early on Tuesday morning.  As I previously mentioned these friends seem to be particularly out of favour with the weather gods and almost as soon as they set foot on the island the heavens opened.  We’ve done our best to keep our spirits up.  On the first day we went to Machrins beach in the pouring rain.  The children didn’t seem to mind.  Helen and their little boy looked charming in the their matching puddle suits and both paddled away and played in the sand seemingly impervious to the, at times, torrential rain.  Eventually I put Sally down on the sand too where she proceeded to try to eat the entire beach and threw herself face first into the moat that Allan had dug to hold back the encroaching tide.  We were pleased to see that we were not the only lunatics on the beach.  There was at least one other family with drenched parents  braving the elements whilst their children played happily in the driving rain.

The weather really has made things difficult though.  Yesterday we visited the fire station which was in inspired suggestion from Allan.  The two toddlers thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the fire engine although Helen expressed disappointment that she was not actually allowed to drive it.  Whilst I was preparing dinner and sweeping some of the sand out of our house the sun briefly appeared.  Our friends, ever the optimists, immediately rushed out to the beach where they were met by monsoon like rain with the addition of thunder and lightning.  I really am deeply concerned that they will never come back. To Colonsay I mean, they made it back from the beach unscathed although quite soggy.

Today dawned sunny though and after a few set backs including the unwelcome presence of a strimmer in our car we set out to walk over to Ardskenish – one of my favourite beaches.  I carried Helen on the way there and following this ordeal I plan to put her on an immediate starvation diet – that child is heavy.  Helen tried out her new wetsuit on the beach – this was made even more exciting when she announced that she needed a poo and the wetsuit had to be removed post-haste.  She did in fact leave a calling card in the sand (now buried) but sadly became hypothermic whilst the wetsuit was off and required to be resuscitated with bananas and rice cakes.  Our friend’s little boy took a perverse pleasure in knocking down sand castles faster than anyone could build them and his five-week old sister was thoroughly unimpressed by the whole outing – I’m not sure she actually opened her eyes the entire time she was there.  She made up for it with some charming smiling this afternoon though.

The problem with visitors is that spending time with them is so much more fun than carrying out the mundane day-to-day tasks which generally require to be done.  As a consequence our house is even messier than usual.  The utility room is so full of laundry you can’t really get into it.  Our new washing machine is currently assigned to be delivered to Falkirk and other than the few luxury goodies our kind friends left behind we have no food.  tomorrow is not going to be a fun day.

All in all though I have thoroughly enjoyed Colonsay as a holiday destination.  Plans are afoot for a reciprocal visit to Sweden next year but I will definitely consider Colonsay for future holidays.

 

Helen investigating the cloisters on Oronsay

 

Update!

Thank you so much for all of the lovely comments left on my blog and on facebook.  I’m sure Max would be delighted with all the attention.

I haven’t had the chance to blog much over the last couple of weeks and strangely writing about Max seems to have ended my writers block.  I suspect that the arrival of Shopbaby (very cute) and the subsequent return of Shopmeister and Mrs Shop may also have contributed to my urge to write.

I am currently sitting in my parents house waiting for Sally to wake up.  Allan’s sister is visiting from Sweden and after much debate we eventually admitted to ourselves that fitting four adults and three children into a three bedroom house wasn’t going to work.  The girls and I have decanted down here for the weekend.  Sadly Sally didn’t think much of being closeted in bathroom last night and spent much of the night in my bed poking me in the face.

Helen has already gone down the field (clad in puddle suit and wellies as of course Colonsay is putting on its best show of torrential rain for our visitors) to meet her new cousin.  She wasn’t that keen initially but soon warmed up at the promise of presents. 

I don’t have any particular topic to blog about today.  I could write another eulogy to Max.  Allan and I are still bursting into tears on a daily basis (my Dad and I had a wee cry this morning too) but I will try and remain positive and instead give a round up of current events on the rock.

  1. Sally lamb continues to thrive.  She did have a rather nasty abscess on her foot which Allan treated with the generic and all curing shot of antibiotic in the bottom.  He also squeezed the puss out which I’m told was very satisfying.  She seems to be under the impression that she is a sheepdog as she followed Allan around the hillside trying to gather the other sheep last week and today accompanied him down the filed in trusty canine style.
  2. I have a new job!!  Having given up the shop (thank God – it’s amazing how quickly a business can be brought to its knees by one persons ineptitude) I have have been appointed as Colonsay’s newest Local Development Officer.  I’m really looking forward to starting despite (or perhaps because!) I will be job sharing with my Dad.  This is probably the first job I’ve ever had where I think I may actually look forward to going to work in the morning.  We’ll see how long this enthusiasm continues.  Watch this space.
  3. As well as the visiting Swedes we are eagerly awaiting a visit from some of our best friends and their new baby.  Sadly the torrential rain is forecast to continue so I hope that they (complete with toddler and new baby) like playing Scrabble.  I am constantly amazed at peoples willingness to visit us and constantlydisappointed that the weather can be scorching hot until the boat comes in but as soon as any friend sets foot on the peir the heavens open.
  4. Sadly I will have to cut short this fascinating litany as Sally-Bee has just woken up and I need to take her down the field to be admired.  My last thought is that this little girl lives not far from us in mainland Argyll.  I know it is wrong to be jealous of a nine year old and I’m sorry that she has to eat that minging food but I’d eat almost anything for six million hits!

P.S apologies again for lack of photo – I will try and post some inspiring images soon.

The end of an era

We buried our dog yesterday.  To all you animal welfare fanatics about to comment in horror………..don’t worry he was dead.  I may sound as though I’m making light of it and maybe I am.  What else can I do? The abrupt loss of such a huge (quite literally) part of our lives has hit both of us hard.

Max became unwell on Sunday night.  He was wandering around the kitchen making the most horrific retching sounds.  My initial feeling was irritation.  We had been away over the weekend and all I wanted to do was sleep.  I assumed that the daft animal had eaten some grass or something else that didn’t agree with his (remarkably weak considering his size) constitution.  Sadly not.  I quickly recognised the signs of ‘Bloat’ a common condition in Great Danes where the stomach dilates, fills with gas and often flips on its axsis cutting off the blood supply.

We called the emergency vet in Oban who helpfully advised us to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.  Once we had established that this would be Tuesday morning she did suggest some first aid measures and Allan and I spent an unpleasant half an hour ramming a hose pipe down the poor dogs throat.  Over the course of the night it became apparent that this was not providing the necessary relief.  Max seemed to accept things too.  He gave up pacing and lay quietly in his bed.

Had the decision been down to us I think we would both have opted to have him put to sleep at this point.  Unfortunately the task of dog euthanasia on Colonsay falls to the hands of the local GPs.  Even more unfortunately it was their son’s wedding we had been at and they were still on the mainland.  We couldn’t quite face phoning up a locum we didn’t know to invite him to come and kill our dog at 2am.

We tried the emergency vet again.  She was nice and advised us to plunge a large needle into his stomach.  We decided against this.  Much like doctors I think it must be hard for vets to accept that the death of some patients is inevitable.  We were battling a condition with a low recovery rate even when treated surgically immediately.  With no veterinary help and no chance of getting him to a hospital with the next few hours we knew he wasn’t going to make it.  Deflating his stomach may have provided symptom relief but neither of us could face inflicting more agony on him, for a temporary benefit with uncertain results.

Eventually Allan sent me to bed and I slept for a few hours before it was time to get up and go to work.  I left shortly before 7:30am.  Max was lying in his bed, when I went over to him he looked up at me without lifting his head.  He twitched the tip of his tail at me.  He’s never been a morning person.  I stroked his head for a few minutes.  It would sound very dramatic to say I knew then that I would never seem him again but I didn’t.  I feared it but part of me hoped that he would hang on until the boat the next morning or he would make some sort of miraculous recovery.

When I phoned a few hours later to see how he was Allan told me he was gone.  He had remained calm until the end, simply getting up and walking outside to settle down on the path and go to sleep.

Of course Allan and I are now forced to live with the consequences of our actions.  Moving to an island with no veterinary cover.  Leaving him for the weekend while we were off enjoying ourselves.  Putting the tube down his throat.  Not putting the tube down his throat again.  Not putting the needle in his stomach.  Not getting him put down.

I feel that every time I complained about the mess he made (he made a lot of mess) or his irritating habit of needing a poo at 4am I was somehow inviting this upon us.  It’s so cheesy but I wish I had appreciated him more when he was alive.

The last few days I kept seeing his whole life flashing before my eyes.  The first time we saw him at two weeks old when Allan held him and demanded that we get ‘this one’.  Going to pick him up from the breeder six weeks later and watching him chew her living room rug…….little did we know about the sofa, shoes and wall that he would decimate in our own home.  I remember coming in from work one day and finding him sprawled across our bed on his back with a pair of my pants dangling from his jaws.

He was in the room when Allan proposed to me and it was only an intervention from my mother which prevented him from being present at the wedding too.  He trained hard with me for my first marathon and made me feel safe running through the dodgy parts of Edinburgh.  He wasn’t allowed in the living room in our house on Colonsay but sometimes he would come and stand in the doorway sighing loudly until I brought his bed over so he could lie looking reproachfully at us.  He tolerated Helen wandering through is bed a hundred times each day.  Even when she accidentally fell on top him he would just look mildly bemused.

I deeply regret every time I shouted at him (apart from when he chased sheep) and every time I forgot to feed him.  I wish I’d spent longer with him yesterday morning. I wish I’d climbed into his bed and given him a proper cuddle while I had the chance.

We buried him just outside the garden wall, wrapped in a blanket with the string of plastic sausages he used to play with as a puppy.  Helen wanted to give him one of her toys but I feared that the offer might be rescinded at a later date and I didn’t want to risk having to dig him up again.  Helen insisted on climbing into the hole with me to pay her last respects.  For a two and a half-year old her understanding of death seems fairly good.  She said bye-bye to him and didn’t complain when we covered him with earth. Today she just seemed relieved to be free of the constant risk of being flattened that playing in the garden normally brings.  This freedom didn’t last long as Sally lamb, sensing the demise of her nemesis, stormed the garden and unsurprisingly knocked Helen over.

For the last five years my life as been a constant battle against slobber, hair and general dog dirt.  Today I feel strangely unwilling to do any cleaning.  Suddenly the slobber on the wall around his bowl and the greasy mark on the kitchen wall have become shrines to him.  My Dad appropriated his bed and bowls for the other dogs but I can’t even begin to contemplate getting rid of his halti and lead.  Even the box of out of date dog biscuits is sacred.

I may never own another dog and will certainly never own another Great Dane but I’d give anything for another day with Max.

Two weeks old, who would have guessed he'd get so big.

Investigating an alien object on the croft.

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