Friday, 28 October 2011

Devil Dogs of Devonshire Road

It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralysed

You hear the door slam and realise there's nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
But all the while you hear a creature creeping up behind
You're out of time

Darkness falls across the land, the midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize y'alls neighbourhood
And whosoever shall be found without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the Hounds of Hell and rot inside a corpse's shell

The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the Thriller....Mwahahahahaha!

There's no better music track for Halloween than Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Play it loud and do the Zombie Dance!!!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

For the Living know that they will Die....

*Spoiler Alert* 
This chapter has nothing to do with dogs.
There are times, I'm sure you will agree, when a person near and dear to you says or does something that just blows you away. It stops you in your tracks, it moves you, you take a breath and you think "Wow!". My Hubby has been, for quite some time now, writing down the many weird and wonderful thoughts in his head, everything from 'How can I get my Husband to eat Aubergines?' to 'Will he notice if I move this Dahlia?'. 

His mind is constantly on the go, a whirling dervish he struggles to tame but knows he never will! The following is a piece he wrote about death. It started life as thoughts sparked by the fact that the local Council want to turn our recreation ground into graves and it morphed from there. I really wanted to share this with the wider world, and thankfully, my Husband gave his permission. 

So here it is, unedited:

"We all deal with death at some time in our lives. Generally it’s coping with the fallout from the death of a dear and loved one, be it a grandparent, parent, partner, child, whoever it is the grief and sense of loss is not something that you would wish on anybody. But for most of us we grieve, we weep and we carry on. For some that isn’t so and sadly follow, however this isn’t really about death but the dead. Losing both my parents in the matter of three short years is something that I am still astounded by. How could that happen to our family? Why was that lovely, mad, loving Mum taken from us when she had so much to give to life? No matter, they have both gone due to cancer. I never thought about it before, even when half the family had died from cancer, but when Mum died I began to think maybe cancer would be after me at some time? On the morning of my Mother’s funeral I lay awake in bed, dreading the day, dreading the thoughts of having to go through the rituals that carry the vessel of my Mum’s soul to its final place. To say goodbye in a public way, to console others grief when in fact it was our sadness that needed some voice. As much as you feel that death and the passing of a life, it can be the saddest of times, it was also on this occasion a time of celebration. Oft said and I always thought what a pile of old crap, how can you celebrate a life when you are so sad but of course with both Mum and Dad their journeys were over, their suffering finished and on to gentle peace, then that is to be celebrated. For them, rest; it's only us that weep at their demise.

Do you party for the dead? Yes. A gathering of people who you will never see again coming together, memories of friends and acquaintances and aged faces you recall from childhood, people who remember me before I had the beard, belly and baldness combo. All wanting a chat and a cup of tea or a beer, sandwich and sausage roll. All with stories, some you know, some you don’t. You find out that most of my Mother’s side of the family seemed to have succumbed to cancer in one form or another (not exactly comforting). But party we do – to help smile through the sadness, to remember lives that nurtured our own, to laugh at the funny bits and hug over the sad bit and more to celebrate the family we still are. How precious are siblings, our partners, children – as one life goes another is created. It must be even sadder to have no family at all. I am a lucky man.
But it’s what we do with our loved ones once death has taken its toll and the rituals performed. For some to be interred is the preferred option. Why? I have no idea. For some its religious, for some its a family tradition, for some it is just due process. I question why swathes of land are covered in stone with graves deserted by families, forgotten as those that remembered die or move away. The inscriptions slowly fade as does the memory of the decaying bones beneath the soil. The newly dead are highly visible with glossy black marble headstones, solar garden lights and vivid fake lilies. I wonder, if the recipient were alive, would they relish such garish accompaniments to their burial?

As you may guess, I’m not big on the grave visiting ritual however I recently visited a church in Cheshire where a dear Aunt of mine is buried. I remember little of her death, she was killed in a car accident. I was only young and remember the family all being awake and crying at 4am, it seemed very surreal being awake at that time of day in my childhood. I can’t recall her being buried, I don’t think I saw that. We went to the churchyard not knowing where the grave was, a field of headstones being scattered with the golden colours of autumn leaves blowing in the breeze. We eventually found the gravestone, lichen covered and forgotten and in the form of an open book, my Aunt’s memory inscribed on one side, the other side empty. My Uncle whom she had always thought she would be buried with had remarried, lost touch with us all, no doubt his burial allegiance lies elsewhere now. My Aunt’s direct family have all gone now, passed away themselves so there she lies, alone in an uncared grave, the unfilled promise of a shared burial site and a story there for all to interpret. We tidied around the stone and left some freshly picked flowers to cheer the lichens in the autumnal sunshine – I think that she would have liked them as well.
I know that Mum and Dad did not want to be interred, not to be enclosed by the earth but to be part of it. Spirit, what is spirit if not in a green bottle and served over ice with tonic water? Spirit is what both my parents thought they would have and indeed do though their spirits could be more described as cherished memories or beloved remembrance I guess. Dead, very much so, but even then they didn’t want us to think of them below ground slowly decaying. They were both very much people of green fields, fresh country air, sunshine and rain (you get lots of rain in Cheshire so just sunshine would have been unrealistic), a small whisky and home, they both embodied the word “home” for all of us. They wanted to be cremated and wanted to be free after death, away from the confines of regimented cemeteries, the marble and the fake flowers. They didn’t want to be remembered by a piece of stone, they wanted to be part of the countryside that they loved. And so they have become – both are now in places that they would have loved. My Father is underneath an oak tree by a gate where he spent many hours waiting for the Cheshire Hunt to go by. My Father never quite got the idea of where the horses and hounds would go and consequently spent far more time than he should have done by that gate. Maybe it was an excuse to get some quiet time with his pipe – whatever it was it was a place he loved and a place which for us as a family is appropriate to him. I think he would have greatly approved. As for Mother, she is also underneath an oak tree. It’s a very special place. It's where she grew up. From the tree you can see the house where she was born, the house where she died and in winter when the trees have shed their leaves you can see in the distance where Dad is, still waiting for the Hunt to arrive. As was with Mum, it’s a place where she can keep her spiritual eye on all of us.

I guess in truth that sums up what I was trying to say in dealing with the dead. Live your life to the full, you will be loved and remembered but most of all you will end up as plant food."

After I read this, I cried....actually I cried while reading it, not because it is sad, but because it is so honest and moving.....and so very, very HIM and that, more than anything, is why I am in love with him. Mr John Arthur Ellis is one amazing, incredible man (not that I needed to tell you that!).

P.S. The dogs are fine!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Ey Oop Love!

Greetings Peoples,

We've been away having a much needed (and deserved) break, did you miss us?

A week ago on Friday we drove oop North to "Nana's House" and began a week long holiday in Cheshire, home of cheese, The Hunt and ancestral roots of my In Laws and their many, many offspring!

Tilstone Lock Cottage where Nana lived during WWII

Max and Millie always have a wonderful time in Cheshire running over fields and down tow paths next to the Shropshire Union Canal. Millie is always looking for some poor unsuspecting creature to hunt while Max is looking for the biggest stick he can find for one of his Dads to throw (a simple boy with simple pleasures!). There's so much green space for them, it's truly wonderful to see them scampering around - it's even more wonderful when they get home knackered and collapse in their beds!!!

M&M at Tilstone Lock (obviously!!!)

Now, when I say it's wonderful to see them scampering around in all the green space that surrounds them, this is indeed true, until Millie gives you a heart attack!

Husband lets her off the lead.
Millie sees ducks on the canal.
Ducks take flight.
So does Millie.
Millie disappears over the horizon.
I panic. 
We sprint after her.
Millie returns......eventually!

Millie off the lead before she saw the ducks!

Talking of ducks, we called our friend Sue who breeds ducks and chickens in the Chester area and we popped over for a cuppa and a chat. It's always a delight to see her and her Mum and to see the fantastic birds that they have. Every time we go there I always come away longing for another breed of hen to join our Girls (Gold Laced Orpington Bantams are my current favourite!). Max has been before but even so he's always overwhelmed with the number of birds that surround him, whereas Millie just ignores them because she's on the always! 

You can see more of Sue's birds here -

Dear Santa, I've been a REALLY good boy......

Our visit also gave us the opportunity to see Stella....the Buff Orpington Bantam that we bought as an egg from Sue, brought to London and hatched under Harriet. She returned to Cheshire last year as she didn't really "fit in" here with our Girls and is now a Mother herself, having raised a brood of chicks this year. Let's hope she didn't pass her grumpy, aggressive nature on to her brood!


As we had the dogs with us, it prompted us to discover the local area more than we normally would have, looking for decent walks for them and us. Hubby decided that we would visit Delamere Forest and see what it had to offer. It did not disappoint. The Forest is situated in mid Cheshire about 15 miles from Chester in the most glorious countryside. We parked up and set off for a walk around Blakemere, one of the many Meres in the area, which was absolutely smothered in Canada Geese, Mallard, Teal and and Greylags. It was superb!


For those that don't know, Blakemere is an ancient peat bog in a wood that has been re-found and excavated....well that's the simplest explanation I can come up with. So, the water is as dark as treacle and of course it's full of thick, sludgy mud. At the shore, the water was smothered by an invasive pond weed which, to the dogs, appeared to be suitable for walking on. It was not.

Mucky Maximillian!

Max was chasing a stick and pelted forward and, yes you guessed it, went straight in. Well, actually, he went straight under! What came out of the 'water' can only be described as the creature from the black lagoon, vaguely dog-like in its shape. He was covered from head to toe in mud. And he loved it! Millie on the other hand, tried to walk on water, thinking that the weed was she went!

Millie goes in!

One of the things that we REALLY wanted to do while we were in Cheshire was to visit North Wales, and in particular, Snowdonia. We were there last year in Beddgelert when Mum became ill and we both felt the need to go back to the mountains, to reconnect, to regain the happy, positive feelings that Snowdonia gave us both and now does again.

Mountain Max

We parked in Beddgelert on a cool Thursday morning, rain clouds threatening us with their heavy loads, the wind whistling down the valley and it felt good to be there, it felt fantastic to be there! We decided to walk up and over the mountains that surround Beddgelert, taking in lake, river, moorland and woodland.

Me and my 'Kids' at Aberglaslyn

I cannot tell you how cathartic it was, to be out in the fresh Welsh air, to see, to hear and to feel the mountains, to be with my Man and my Kids, to be back in Snowdonia again, under happier circumstances but at the same time acknowledging and never forgetting that this time last year was a very different kettle of fish! Those that know me are aware that I am in no way a religious person, I have no faith to speak of, but I swear by everything I hold dear that Mum was "with us" both in Cheshire and in Snowdonia (definitely in Snowdonia!!!), every now and again I got a feeling or a smell would waft past and I would think 'Mum'....

One Man and His Dogs

Upon leaving the mountains we popped in on our friends John and Tim who live on the outskirts of Llandudno in a gorgeous 18th Century house. While we were in Beddgelert I thought it would be nice to buy them a small gift by way of appreciation for dinner and their company. I know that John and Tim were absolutely delighted with their present and will treasure it always, they didn't need to say a word, the looks on their faces said it all - it also comes in handy when you want to brush up on your Welsh (or do the dishes!).

I'll have a Moron please! (photo copyright Mr. Tim Shawcross)

A week in Cheshire at Nana's House and Snowdonia has come and gone quicker than an X Factor contestant and now we are home in our flat in Saaaaaf East London, snug as bugs in rugs. Back to work tomorrow, which feels like some sort of evil sentence that has been placed on my head. Oh well, only 10 ish weeks until Christmas holidays! 

This week's musical selection was another 'obvious' had to be Welsh and it had to be Tom Jones.....enjoy!

Mountain Max and Mountain Millie

Lastly, I am DELIGHTED to announce that the blog has passed the 5000 hits mark!!!!! We're currently cruising along on 5025.....A-MAZING! Thank to all of you for your visits, they are as always, much appreciated and only serve to make me want to continue to blog! Thanks to M&M too without whom this blog would not be possible....our little dogs ROCK!