Friday, 12 October 2018

The Dark Half

Here is an extract from our latest October Raven Newsletter, which goes out to folks on our Mailing List:

     The two Equinoxes mark the two points in the year when the length of day and night are equal.This only happens on two days each year, the rest of the year there is more light than dark, or more darkness than light.
     The Equinoxes also mark the transition points for the Goddess. The Spring Equinox celebrates the return of the Maiden, bursting with life and fertility.
     The Autumn Equinox marks the Goddess turning from fecund Mother to barren yet wise Crone.
     The Autumn Equinox is also the start of the Dark Half of the year.
     As soon as you say that, doesn't it make you feel spooky, sinister and magical? And yet all it means is that from now onwards there will be more hours of darkness than of light.
     The further North you go, the more dramatic this change is, until you cross into those latitudes where there is no light at all, the sun never making it above the horizon for days even weeks at a time.
     As the darkness grows, the night enfolds us and the stars and moon, and the Northern Lights too, are more easily visible.
     The sun loses its Summer ferocity and, although there can still be many sunny and even warm days, there is a distinct cooling, and a proper nip in the air.
     In the UK, we have a temporate climate, less harsh and extreme than places on the same latitude on the continents of Europe and North America. Yet we still see changes all around us.
     The leaves of the trees change colours, losing their Summer vitality and becoming the warm colours of Autumn, gold, russet and brown. In the fields the Winter crops are coming to ripeness, root crops, turnips, swede and parsnips, cabbages and brussels and apples too and the bright orange pumpkins. All food for warming stews, pies and pastries.
     At the beginning of October in Hull, every year for a week the Fair arrives. Loud, noisy and colourful, and only waking properly after darkness falls. With its Gypsy caravans and fortune tellers, stalls selling typical 'fair' goods, candy floss, nougat and brandy snaps, side shows, guess your weight and travelling rides which will be set up and taken down again, to vanish like magic after a week.
     And every year the weather seems to change with the arrival of the Fair, so that when you see your breath and the twinkle of frost on the pavement, people will say to each other, 'It's Hull Fair weather!'
     And as the darkness grows and encroaches on the firelight, so the magic grows.
     The power of the Winter Crone growing, encouraging us to light candles and cast spells. To seek out those who also feel the energies of the Old Ways.
     To become one with the magic.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Diary of a Small Dog

Tallulah aged 15 weeks:

Today has been an exciting day!
     Mind you all days are exciting. There is so much to do, to explore, to stick your nose into, to scrabble at, or to try out with your teeth.
     This morning so far I have played with Bridie, taken some socks outside and eaten many marrowbone biscuits.
     The humans had burgers with their breakfast, so I had to remind them that I was hungry by jumping up and down and yipping as loud and shrilly as I could.
     I don't know why they put me out of the room and shut the door.
     I chewed the carpet at the bottom of the stairs while I waited.
     Then I was let in and Bridie and me both had a piece of burger each. Bridie ate all of hers! I made sure she hadn't dropped any.
     After that we went in the kitchen and I practised 'Sit!' with Bridie and we were given pieces of dried meat strip. Bridie ate all of hers! I did check thoroughly that she hadn't dropped any.
     Daddy put his boots on.
     Well, after bringing in the one that was in the garden, and the clog. And several toys. And the dog brush. And the dog comb with the chewy wooden handle.
     Then me and Bridie had our leads put on and we went for a walk.
     There was nothing to eat in the underpass today (yesterday there was some bread I managed to eat before daddy caught up). When we got onto the track at the side of the field, Bridie and me ran and ran and ran.
     Sometimes I think Bridie is trying to get away from me. I jumped at her and yipped in her face to let her know that I was happy, then we ran some more.
     On the way home I met two of the neighbours, they are black pug dogs. When I lunged and yipped at them, they lunged and barked at me! They were very noisy and a bit scary.
     Then we came home and I went to sleep.

Sunday, 9 September 2018


Well, a lot can happen in a week.
     It has been a steep learning curve for all of us - including our other collie, Bridie.

Tallulah has learnt:
     After 2 days - to go upstairs
     After 3 days - to go downstairs (going downstairs is much more scary for a small dog whose legs are the same length as the height of a stair)
     After 4 days - she decided that she was sleeping upstairs in our bedroom
     She also learnt to follow Bridie out of the dog flap
    After 5 days - she learnt how to pop in and out through the dog flap on her own
    After 6 days - she had learnt that outside is where dogs do their toilet, and had house-trained herself

     Tallulah is as bright as a button. (she may even be more intelligent than our Lupin was, and that would be going some), she watches everything and is interested in everything, and wants to know everything that everyone is doing!
     This can sometimes be difficult as she wants to follow me, Graham and Bridie all going in different directions.
     She has decided that Bridie is her friend.
     Bridie has no say in this matter, Tallulah is determined to follow Bridie wherever she goes, copy Bridie and play with Bridie too. Bridie is not sure about the 'playing' thing and has tried to discourage Tallulah when she gets too boisterous by snapping at her.
     Tallulah barks at Bridie, then 'accidentally' falls on her, she is a determined little thing and not easily put off even by a dog four times her size.
      One thing that Bridie does like to do from time to time is dig large holes in the garden.
     On Wednesday night Bridie came in looking sheepish, followed by a very happy, enthusiastically wagging Tallulah covered in wet earth. Graham had to go and find the large hole and fill it in again.
    Tallulah likes to play, and to chew things. Alan, one of the dog walkers Graham chats with while out with Bridie, found it hilarious that we were getting a puppy, imagining all the trouble/disruption she would cause. And as soon as he heard Tallulah had arrived, he went straight home and presented Graham with two Disney toys for her to play with. 'You want to get Disney toys from boot sales,' he explained, 'They are good quality and the eyes are embroidered on, no loose bits to come off and be eaten.'
     Tallulah has also found a wooden child's brick, the vine from a bunch of tomatoes, the inside of a toilet roll, learnt how to take the laces out of Graham's heavy work boots, and was only stopped from burying one of Graham's slippers in the garden because she couldn't get it through the dog flap.

     One week on and we already have her lodged in our hearts.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

A Lot Can Happen in a Week

Sometimes you can go along, week after week, nothing much changing, then sometimes it seems like the fates have to shove everything into one week!
     As you know (if you read my blog) it was only on Monday that our sweet China died.
     I was so upset that I couldn't ring our friend Angela (Wicani Collies) to let her know, so Graham rang her up. Of course once Angela was on the phone, then I could talk to her, and straight away Angela said, 'This might be a bit soon, but I have a bitch who is just recovering from having a litter, and when she is ready, I will be looking for a home for her, so would you consider taking her on?'
    It always means a lot to us that Angela considers us a good retirement home for her dogs, and so it was not difficult to say 'Yes.' to that idea, knowing it might be a few months before we would have another dog.
     The next day we had a message from Angela 'Would you consider having a puppy instead?'
     Now Angela's puppies are like rocking horse droppings, they are precious and there is a waiting list for them, so we thought there must be a story about why she had one to offer us.
    We worried that it might be a health problem, as we know of Angela's heart condition and that she has had several major operations over the years, the latest being earlier this year. We also were not sure whether taking on a puppy would be something we could/should do at our ages.
     So we rang Angela and she told us that this puppy was supposed to have gone to a family member. But this lady had recently had a baby, and when Angela dropped the puppy off, decided it was too much to cope with as well as the baby. So Angela had to almost immediately go and pick up the puppy and take it home.
    Graham and I had a discussion and decided we would like the puppy, so rang Angela back again and asked when it would be ready. 'It's ready now,' she said 'You can pick it up any time.'
    So yesterday afternoon off we went to Langtoft to pick up Wicani Larks Rise - or as she will be known, Tallulah.

Angela and Tallulah at the top, and Graham and Tallulah.

When we agreed to have Tallulah, we could hear the spirits laughing.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Wicani China Doll

It doesn't get any easier.

     Today we have had to take our beautiful Wicani China Doll on her final visit to the vet. China was thirteen and a half, a very elderly lady in collie terms, and suddenly over the past few days she started to leave us.
     Yesterday she went on her usual morning walk with Graham and Bridie (our other collie), even if it was a slow walk, but she had eaten little on Saturday, and she ate nothing and drank little on Sunday. And after coming home from her walk, moved very little, and during the day became doubly incontinent.
     Her body had decided it was time to shut down, and so we had to take that final little journey together.
      The pain of losing a loved companion never diminishes, but that is the price we pay for having that love over the years.
     That and a felt covered house.
     Every dog we have had, is always different, always has their own personality. No two are ever the same no matter how much alike they look. All dogs are individuals in the same way that humans are.
    No dog will ever be as intelligent as Lupin, our first collie.
     No dog will ever be as loving as Raven, who wrapped herself around you.
     No dog will ever have such powerful body odour as Snag, our Yorkshire terrier.
     No dog will be as missed as Maeve who loved to be in contact with me at all times.
     No dog will ever be as fluffy as China! Or as beautiful, or make you feel so privileged to be having a cuddle with her.
    And no dog will ever have such big feet as Bridie!

Go safely through the field of reeds
With Anubis by your side
Enjoy chasing over the Elysian Fields
And meeting friends who have gone before.
Know that you are loved, and always will be.


Monday, 13 August 2018

Let There Be Rain!

I have just been sitting in our front hall, with the door wide open watching it rain.
     This does sound strange, even to me. But this is the first decent rain we have had for the best part of two months.
     We have had a couple of little sprinkles over the past couple of weeks, but not enough to wet the ground properly. We had a brief shower three weeks ago, which was just enough to revive the grass, and when it got the chance, it certainly made on (as they say in these parts).
     We have been watching the weather forecast, and watching the weather radar, to try and see if any of the rain other parts of the country have had, would make it to us.
     Torrential rain has passed above us and below us, or tipped itself all over the west of the Pennines and left none to roll over to the east. But today, we have proper rain (yay!).
     And not only rain, but thunder and lightning too!
    So I decided to enjoy this novelty, and positioned my desk chair by the open door, and just enjoyed watching it tipping it down.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Of Fly Paper and Shaving Foam

As it continues hot and dry, we have had an influx of flies.
     We have dealt with this in two ways:
     First we have invested in some old-fashioned fly-papers. Now I haven't seen these for years. In fact, I didn't know anyone still made them, but Graham came home with some from the shops and we have been amazed at how effective they are (and how many flies we have caught with them). Also as they contain no chemicals, just sticky stuff, they are environmentally friendly and we don't have to worry about any fumes/chemical affecting dogs or humans.
     Secondly I have been using some of the Citronella Room Spray that we sell, as Citronella is a natural fly repellent.
     Now, my eyesight isn't as sharp as it was when I was younger, and spotting the squirty hole proved dangerous. Yes, I did squirt myself in the chest. But I take comfort from the thought that I am also now fly repellent!

     It also reminded me of the Christmas when my dad was first given a can of squirty shaving foam.
     Now, back in the 1970's this was a new thing to us in the countryside, so my mum thought this was a very special gift to give to my dad (and relatively expensive, compared to the shaving soap he usually used).
     My dad couldn't wait to try this out, and hurried off to the bathroom to give it a go.
     We only had a small bathroom, well shower room really, but there were mirrors on opposite walls, to make it feel larger.
     Anyway after some time my dad stormed out of the bathroom and emphatically dumped the can of shaving foam in the rubbish bin.
     'That was a load of rubbish!' he fumed, 'I shook the thing and squirted and squirted and NOTHING came out!'
     We were all a bit dumbfounded, and my mum was rather surprised by the outcome.
     A couple of minutes later, while my dad was still harumphing and reading the newspaper with much angry shaking of the pages in front of him, mum popped her head round the living room door and silently beckoned me to go with her. She pointed to the open bathroom door so I went in to see what the matter was, and there, high up on the bathroom walls was a frothy mass of shaving foam. In fact not just in one place, but all around the bathroom, high up on the walls, and even on the ceiling.
      Dad had obviously been holding the can the wrong way round, and it had squirted with such force that it had shot out and plastered the bathroom above his line of sight.