Wednesday, January 26, 2011

100 not out

Well would you Adam n Eve it, my one hundredth post as a blogger! It’s seems an eon since that first post back in September 2009 when this rotund Welshman decided, perhaps on a whim, to while away some time and introduce himself to the world of bloggers. Little did I realise at the time what an important part of my life those moments in front of a flickering monitor screen were to become.

Through this platform of communication I’ve had the pleasure to 'meet' many warm hearted and thoroughly decent people, to name a few would be churlish as you all have added to the tapestry of my life in some way or another. I’ve found support when times brought the cloud over my life but also shared joy as the silver lining appears. A few of you have become more than fellow bloggers and I feel a certain connection with these folks (if you don’t know who you are then I guess there’s no connection :-)) and have come to think of you as friends within my life. 

It’s strange to look back upon my early postings and how my blog has evolved and for this I thank each and every one of you. I can only hope that you all will continue to enjoy my ‘Musings’ as much as I enjoy sharing them and also sharing your many and wonderful blogs. It's your blogs that inspire me and teach me so much, not just about the outdoors but about the person I strive to be, for this I humbly thank you all. Also I'm truly gob smacked that so many of you deem my efforts worth the time to read and then to comment, truly amazing to me every time I log on - thank you all again (god I'm gushing).

There is one final thing to say and that is without one spirit this whole thing would have fallen flat upon its face, and that spirit is the best friend that I could ever have had upon the trails – Lucy aka the bog monster. She’ll always be a part of me and for the last nine years has helped shaped the person that I am. So I crave your indulgence and raise a glass with me, not to the hundredth post, no it’s just a number after all, but to Lucy, the one who made this possible.

 Your friend, John

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another side of me

Ah draw closer to the fire my friend as I show you pictures of sadness and of woe, of forgotten dreams and wasted time, of missed opportunity and of lost causes. What pictures of sorrow await to haunt your dreams as you ken my words? Well they are pictures of sorry abandonment of a sacred and holy place, a refuge to men from the horrors of domestication, a place that on past occasion has brought solace and comfort to my troubled mind. Yes dear friend I’m here to show you the degradation of a place of meditation and peace that would rival the desolation of Smaug. For those of a weak constituent please avert your eyes now.

Truly the pictures that have seared your eyes are indeed of that holiest of holy places ‘The Garage’. There was a time, dear reader, when this hallowed place was the hub of so many dreams, a whirlwind of the plotting and the planning of projects and of tasks that would leave friends and neighbours in awe at my ingenuity and skill. Where the shaping of future labours of magnificence was to take place enabling yours truly to bask in the glory of accomplishment. But not only was it the birthplace of my creative and innovative projects, oh no it was far more than this. For here a man could find peace and be at one with himself and the world around him. A place where fellow garage gophers would gather and talk of manly things such as Wale’s chances of being a world power once more (on the rugby field that is), where fishing trips past and future would be discussed at length and the one that got away grew with each telling of the tale (and with each vassal of grog gleefully consumed), where indeed grown men would feel relaxed enough to hug each other at the arrival of a much sort after ½ inch router bit or a Japanese water stone for the sharpening and honing of cutting edges, oh heady days indeed.

But now all plans are laid in waste as last year’s morose feelings led to nothing more than this once sacred place being naught more than a dumping ground for everything and more that was not required or wanted in clan Wooldridge’s home, oh sad and shameful days indeed. There was a time, now in distant memory tis true, that this place offered solace and peace for this wandering Welshman, but now it would appear all is lost and perhaps it offers no more than winter quarters to a few mice and frogs that await the spring.

Ah but all is not lost, for indeed with the arrival of the warthog known as Willow a need descended upon me. Indeed it soon became obvious that the fun cruisers ‘dog guard’ proved nothing more than a cobweb to be brushed aside by the little weasel allowing her to deposit all manner of detritus upon the back seat in recent weeks, the little imp. I'm needful of something to confine her to her rightful place in the rear of the cruiser and being as tight as a ducks arse (and that’s water tight) I deemed to construct a barrier to her infernal clambering, ‘twas at this point that I was confronted by the pictures above, the word bugger did escape my lips at this points. So the Herculean task of reinstating my solemn sanctuary has begun.

Now I know full well that the majority of my beloved readership enjoy my tales of the outdoors and my wayward wanderings but truly that is not all there is to me and to glean the complete picture of who I am there will indeed be tales from the garage and its rebirth and future projects and adventures within a small space. So to begin from scratch, project number one will be the dog guard, or as it may be known ‘the garage reborn'.

Your friend, and shed head,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Settling in.....

            Well I suppose I’d better be updating you upon Willow’s progress being as I’ve been a tad remiss with my blogging duties lately. After the initial ‘being held in rapture’ by the little scamps arrival common sense took hold and we have soon come to realise that all is not what I was told about her. For example the seller (name with held to protect the bullsh…r) described her as well looked after and in top condition, comfortable in the house, and reluctantly letting her go as she was absolutely useless as a hunting dog. Mmmmm let me go through these points and reveal my findings.

            ‘Well looked after and in top condition’, now we all know that sight hounds such as greyhounds, whippets and their cross derivatives are on the slender side but Willow arrived as undernourished as I’ve seen this type of dog for a long time. Apparently she was been fed once a day and was in competition with a very large mastiff! The upshot of this was that under her coat her pelvis and ribs felt sharp to the touch with virtually nothing covering them. Also the food that he ‘generously’ provided to help her along was stuff that I would not even give to the mice that are at present infesting that holiest of sanctuaries, the garage!

            ‘Comfortable in the house’, bleedin’ hell she had no idea of finding her way around a house with every item such as television, the fire, stairs, doors etc leaving her bemused and clinging to one or other of our sides at the slightest of movement. The only saving grace for her was, like most of her type, she’s a clean little thing and since her first night has not fouled the house once.

            ‘Useless as a hunting dog’, now knowing me you know that I’m no hunter and her main time outdoors will be spent chasing nothing more than new trails down in the future. But, having said that, I’m not adverse to a little bit of game in the pot therefore a dog which just happened to er, stumble upon something now and then would not be disciplined to harshly. I’ve spent a huge part of my early life around sight hounds, mainly racing greyhounds but hunting whippets and lurchers as well and one thing is for certain about Willow is that she’s an out and out hunter, Mr. BS had as much idea about dogs as I do about oyster farming! At 7 months her hunting education should just be starting not being dismissed. Also from her silky soft pads, long unworn nails and lack of developed muscle it was clear that the little mite had not had the slightest amount of walking or exercise.

            It’s been a little over a week since the warthog arrived here and the difference is quite amazing. She’s been fed top quality food and wormed and she’s filling out rapidly. Already her walking has involved roadwork and yesterday I took her for a short burst up the hills with my heart in my mouth as I had her off the lead for the first time. I needn’t have worried as already her recall is spot on and she walked the trail like an old timer (apart from several mad blasts). She’s got a silky soft action when walking and her perception of the wildlife around her is truly excellent for one so young. Today she met Wayne’s Celt and they got on famously well, Willow surprising us both with her turn of speed being not far behind Celt with more development to come.

Not a hunting dog!!!!!

Willow n Celt 

            So there we have it, young Willow has shoe horned her way into our lives and seems as happy as a pig in shit. She’s already proved herself loving, loyal, gentle though also tenacious, clever and alert to her surroundings and I’m sure that the adventures to come with her are going to be fun in the doing and in the telling. Oh one thing that I’d neglected to mention that once the kitchen door was closed on her at night and we’d just settled our weary heads upon soft pillows the little warthog transformed into a wolf of the hugest size. Well you’d have thought so for her first four nights; the howling, oh the howling…..

         Till the next time thanks for reading,

Your friend, John

Oh and by the way the eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed the new page title up top 'the garage'. I'm afraid there be a tale of woe and neglect to be told upon this page in the future....

Monday, January 10, 2011

A page turns....

            Well I for one am really glad to see to back of last year, what with the draconian measures put in place at work, the lack of get up and go within myself, the seemingly grey and morose weather and the loss of my beloved walking companion ‘Lucy’, the year just went from bad to worse. From personal issues and monetary short comings to no holiday (vacation time) and a sense that every silver lining had a bloody big cloud behind it 2010 really did suck, big time. The events of Lucy’s demise at the end of the year left me and Clare heart broken and possibly at our lowest ebb ever. The house was silent and empty without her grumbling presence and memories passed before us to add to our despair with just the slightest nudge, you know the type; a ball of black fluff drifting from beneath a chair, her empty basket, and word slipped out which brought the pain fresh once more to stab at our hearts, I’d find myself calling her to put her out for her night time pee and then realising what I’d done wiping another tear away. The nights drifted into the days with barely any difference as sleep eluded me, food was only consumed mechanically and the days passed by robotically without taste or enjoyment.

We’d decided on the day of her passing to allow a few months to go by before searching out a new member for our family, but my despair was becoming so deep that Clare suggested that perhaps we ought to start looking sooner rather than later. It was her way to try and shake the melancholy that threatened to drag me down far enough to do some damage to my health and well-being. So we trawled the rescue centres, scanned the ads and asked around but nothing leapt out and called to us that ‘I’m the one’. Now don’t get me wrong ol’ smelly could never be replaced, not in a million years, and we were not looking to fill her paw prints, no, we were hoping for something to follow her lead and take the story on further, to weave the next lines of our lives and yes to help ease the pain as well.

Just when it looked as if this was not to be, at least not for a long time, we came across an ad. There was a grainy picture of a 6 & ½ month old lurcher bitch, she was 105 miles away. With little information other than her age and a phone number something just called out. A phone call later and the owner agreed to hold her till last Friday as long as we met the full asking price if we had her. Thursdays night shift dragged by and after a few hours’ kip I arose to be greeted by a blanket of snow, bugger. Checking the nationwide forecast it was reckoned to be cleared by rain in the afternoon so the decision to chance the trip was made. 2 & ½ hours of driving through some really crap conditions and I’m knocking on a stranger’s door trying to keep expectations low. Another 2 & ½ hours of driving home through even crappier road conditions and I find myself dragging my tired and knackered frame through my own front door.

Oh did I mention Willow? No? must have slipped my train of thought for a moment. Did you not read the first paragraph fully you know the bit where it says “The house was silent and empty” ah now perhaps the penny is dropping my dear but slow reader. It turns out that the lengthy drive to Mansfield was not a wasted journey. As I entered the strangers kitchen, prepared to be resolute, subjective and indeed professional when confronted with the lurcher bitch my composure lasted all of 2 seconds as this skinny, scruffy bundle of energy and hair launched her self into my arms with eyes that pleaded with me not to put her down. She had me straight away; hook, line, sinker, rod, reel and copy of the angling times – bugger so much for any idea of negotiation. So folks I guess I’d better show you all a picture of our latest family member, as my description of an Irish Wolf Hound that’s been shrunk (a lot) in a hot wash doesn’t really do the job.

So that’s Willow a ¾ whippet and ¼ Beddlington terrier cross, and no she’ll never replace Lucy but she’ll never have to live up to or be compared to Lucy. No, Willow is something different and she’ll weave her own story, I just hope that you’ll all stay along for the ride; I’m guessing that she’ll make it an interesting one.

Your friend, and slightly happier bunny,