Another Christmas Letter this time for December 2015
We have had a comparatively quiet 2015, no book published, no property sold and no exotic holidays. We are settling in at Catkins, but the work we want to do to extend the dining room into the conservatory has still not happened – there have been difficulties with finding a builder who can do the work at a price we think is reasonable. In the end, the builder who did the work on Old Venn for us has stepped into the breach and we hope the work will start in January when we are away.
We did get away but only for quite short breaks; four days in Madrid visiting museums and eating some great meals. A week in Brittany at the HPB site Hilguy Manor; walking and eating. In September we went to Morocco for a week courtesy of Saga – we were not the youngest. The holiday was a mixture of gardens, art and guess what, eating. This time we went to a cookery class as well.
Margaret began to wonder what had happened to her Australian penfriend, Carol. Facebook came to the rescue; Margaret posted the story of the friendship and photographs of two of the envelopes. The post was shared over 30,000 times and resulted in the discovery that Carol had been living in the UK for the last forty years! We were able to arrange a meeting at her daughter’s home in Somerset.
The trip to France wasn’t quite our last holiday with Rudi. We went to Cornwall for two days to see a production at the Minack Theatre. The play at the Minack was rubbish but the venue is amazing. Fortunately, the weather was good and we had another couple of days doing some of the SW Coastal Path.
We had a beach hut In Exmouth for six months; it was the subject of a demolition order. Although the weather was not wonderful we went about twice a week for coffee and stayed for a couple of hours reading and watching the kite surfers out in the estuary.
If you are not a dog lover just skip this paragraph. One of the reasons we have had a quiet year is that Rudi was becoming much frailer, although he could still do a five-mile walk provided there were no hills. Indeed at the end of May, the vet had described him as remarkable when he went for a checkup. However, at the end of July, he had a number of fits which left him unable to stand so we made the heartbreaking decision to have him put down. We were both very upset by the loss of our lovely dog; he had provided us with loving companionship for nearly thirteen years. We still miss him.
Filling the gap left by Rudi, we have tried to keep walking every day and we did a few things we had put off because of him. One was a trip to Lundy; we had a fabulous if a rather long day – a two-hour boat ride each way. We also went to stay at a hotel in Rock that doesn’t take dogs and walked more of the Coast Path.
Margaret’s new book ‘The Fatal Step’ is in the final throes of editing with her writing buddy and will hopefully be published next year. Alan continues his fight with nature in the vegetable patch. The fruit bushes, however, are doing well and we had a glut of raspberries at the end of the summer.
We have volunteered to foster Guide Dogs who are being rehomed and Alan has volunteered for the Samaritans. He is still training at the moment and that has interfered with his singing, although he is still a member of Chagford Singers and he has been taking much-needed singing lessons.
We promised ourselves that when Rudi died we would take the opportunity of a long trip abroad and so we are off on 13th January to Singapore for four days and then Australia. We are staying in Sydney, outside Hobart and in Melbourne having arranged property exchanges with our London flat. Then two nights at Uluru (Ayers Rock) before making our way to Perth to stay with friends. We return to the UK on 29th February.
Our next task then will be to find another dog.
The book has not yet been published but hopefully next year and it will be called Reluctant Consent I think.
I have just read Ashley Jillian’s post on Social Media Etiquette and whilst I agreed with most of it, I do like GoodReads so I’d say if you like books then it’s quite a good place to do a book review and pass on some good recommendations. But, when did cats ever do socializing. I love the creatures feline aristocrats, snobs to their last claw, but social they are not. Now dogs, and that’s my baby, are great socialites. Rudi is really smart too. He was adopted from a rescue centre when he was eighteen months old, the product of a broken home. He’s a working Springer Spaniel and that spells energy. He loved hunting and we don’t, so he would go off and hunt for himself usually for an hour or so, leaving us hanging around waiting for him to get back to us. We tried all sorts of training techniques, but unlike most examples of bad behaviour disobeying a call to return is very hard to deal with, if you chastise the dog when it gets back to you, he’s more likely to stay away, so you give him a reward, in our case a small treat. Now he’s 11 and an old dog, so he doesn’t want to hunt so much, but he is greedy so he plays a game of hide and seek with us. He goes off and hides behind trees and bushes and then comes back, sits down besides you and looks up at you and then at the pocket where he knows you have the dog biscuits, willing you to get the bag of treats out and give him one. Like I said smart.