I am now the proud owner of a new coat. Much to the confusion of Steve, who thinks that I have more than enough coats already? But that’s daft, I don’t have a heavy weather coat and this is what I need. For the past few winters I have borrowed his, to his constant annoyance so I thought that this year I would finally get my own. As he pointed out I already have a rain mac but it’s really just a light weight pretty shower coat. The sort for popping in and out of shops; not the sort for pushing through gorse bushes and withstanding sea spray, mud, gales and horizontal rain. I also have a lovely bright green wool coat but again, there’s no way I’m taking that out on a dog walk and my jacket is not a coat no matter how much Steve tries to tell me it’s the same thing.
It’s like those men who say women have too many shoes. (I won’t use Steve as an example again; poor thing will start to feel victimised, if his views coincide with these fictional male characters, well that’s not my fault.) You know the type; he’ll say why do you need more than one pair of shoes? Well really, what a thing to say? Who wears slippers on a dog walk, or wellies to work? Flip flops don’t work in winter, walking boots are no good on the squash court, Stilettos are no good on the rugby pitch and rugby boots are rarely acceptable at the dinner table. So honestly, who only has one pair of shoes?
Anyway, my coat. It is not a thing of beauty but it is pretty practical. Imagine a waxed sheet of tarpaulin with a zip up the middle; now stop imagining because that’s basically it. It is warm, wind proof and water proof, I wade through gorse bushes laughing and spit in the eye of the elements. It has all the functional attributes of a sheet of tarpaulin but it is also fair to say that it also has all the aesethic appeal of a sheet of tarpaulin, albeit one with a zip up the middle, oh and lots of pockets. I bought it on eBay with a strict budget in mind, somewhere between stingy and parsimonious. As I was flicking through the pages my eyes kept resting upon beautiful ladies’ Barbours lined with Liberty fabric and fitted belts. You can imagine that the minute Liberty and Barbour occur in the same description that the price tag will exceed parsimonious and as for the fur lined, down filled gilet that I fell in love with – oh dear! Instead I saw a long waxed men’s jacket which looked just the ticket and also looked brand new. It was within my means and so I am now the proud owner of something that can withstand hurricanes. Of course as it is new it also has the flexibility of a drainpipe but that will come. It took about a year to make my last wax comfortable but I didn’t have a dog helping out last time.
Now I just need a new handbag. Oh dear, I’ve got to go, I can hear Steve choking in the background.
Obviously I felt that I wasn’t busy enough because this week I brought home a new puppy! We had always planned for Harry to have a companion and we thought he was now a good age to introduce a puppy, so whilst I was at the trainer last week she mentioned a litter she knew of from a really reputable source so I went and had a look and of course you just can’t look at puppies, so Agatha jumped into my arms and away we went.
So far she is a very clever, clean little girl but she does require a plug. I forgot that after Harry I swore I wouldn’t get a dog under 6 months. Hey ho, piddle and poo. Harry is treating the whole situation with a little jealousy and a lot of resignation. Hence the main reason for the gun dog training. It’s unlikely we’ll ever go on a shoot but it gives him something new to learn and he gets to spend more time with me. I always think distraction is a great way of heading off problems before they develop.
As if taking on a puppy and new dog lessons wasn’t enough exercise for me I have also started a new class with Petra called Boxercise, I swear I have never had so much fun! I wasn’t sure what it was going to entail but I wandered along to the class and was a bit surprised to see pads and gloves. Hmm, not shadow boxing then. We spent a good half hour warming up, we then had to pay attention to a lot of safety rules and then we laced up our gloves and started to lay into our partners’ pads. I partnered up with Kate and was the first to don the gloves. Poor Kate, she kept grinning at me every time I apologised and telling me to hit her harder. Strange girl but I soon got into the swing of it. No pun intended. We then swapped over and she laid into me. I tell you there is something really funny about laughing with someone whilst they try to punch you. Thankfully we never once made contact with each other, other than on the sparring pads but we both ended the session agreeing the gum shields might be an idea. Petra kept shouting at us to guard our faces and of course we were never aiming for the face but it only takes one tired accident before you see stars. I’m sure this won’t happen but there was a lot of nervous giggling. Kate also came with her husband so they can carry on with their training behind the scenes. My money’s on Kate.
Aside from that it’s been a usual week of driving to work with the sea filing the horizon and listening to Radio 2 traffic reports of tailbacks and congestion across the nations motorways whilst I slow down for rabbits and pheasants. Not a bad life all in all. Hope you all have a great weekend, I’ll be playing taxi for a dinner party in Wadebridge, a rugby game in Bude, a sleepover in Lostwithiel and an outdoor activity day in Minions. Those bunnies and birds better not get in my way as I’m going to be very busy!
As some of you may know we have a springer spaniel going by the name of Harry. He’s three years old now and I have always meant to get him trained to work on shoots, it is after all what he is bred to do, and after my column on prevarication the other week I finally picked up the phone and spoke to a trainer. On the phone Mel seemed very nice and we agreed to meet up and see if Harry was up to the grade. We met up at Minions and in reality she seemed every bit as nice as she had on the phone but it soon became apparent that it would be a question of whether I was up to the grade just as much as Harry!
So Harry and I got out of the car and instantly my heart sank. All around us were wild ponies and sheep, I’m afraid Harry is pretty good but not perfect and I was concerned that things might career down the pan before we got started. However, Mel agreed that they would be too distracting for him and we moved them on so that we could begin our work. At first Mel wanted to know what I’d taught Harry, we’d obviously already failed the ignoring sheep test. I explained that we’d only really done the basics but that Harry was pretty good at those. It turned out that he wasn’t. I demonstrated how well Harry walked to heel, Mel pointed out that Harry was walking to heel when he felt like it because he liked my company not because he had been told to. The minute something more interesting came up, say a gorse bush or a butterfly, he was off. His recall was equally suspect. Yes, he did come back to me but not always, once again that passing gorse bush could be an attractive thing to a dog with clouds in his head. The stay command worked well although I had been doing it wrong. Apparently when you tell a dog to “stay” you must always return to him, you shouldn’t call him to you because stay means just that. If I want him to sit in one spot and then come to me it’s “Sit” and then “Come here”. Or rather three blows on the whistle. Which I didn’t have.
We then began to walk in circles and squares and figures of eight which I kept getting wrong, memories of my terrible attempts at dancing at Burn’s Night earlier in the year came flooding back and Mel seemed quite bemused by someone that couldn’t complete a figure of eight without getting lost. After that humiliation we progressed onto retrieval work, which Harry thought was great fun and acquitted himself fairly well. At the end of the session Mel thought that Harry had promise and I needed to do some homework so we went away happy with our progress. So far, he’s walking to heel on the lead perfectly and off the lead he’s pretty good except for the odd gorse bush. Sit and Stay are also working well but he seems to have nosed dived when it comes to retrieving. One thing at a time is going to have to be our motto. I’ll let you know how we get on.
This week is not going according to plan. It’s not my sons’ fault but I’m going to blame them anyway. Easter holidays have coincided with me working in the shop again as we move back into full time opening and so I’m trying to write my articles, file my VAT returns, do the housework and run the shop all whilst trying to juggle the demands of the children. It’s getting so much easier now that they are getting older but they still have no concept of the fact that just because they’re on holiday doesn’t mean that I’m on holiday.
I discovered the other day that there isn’t a lower age limit for leaving your children unattended. You may not leave them in harm but that’s it. I nearly booked a weekend away with Steve there and then. All those years when I could have left them but then that’s the point isn’t it. I don’t need a law to tell me how to look after my children. I already knew when they were too young and now how much they can be trusted. Even so I can’t bring myself to leave them for more than an hour but at least it means I can run errands without having to drag them along.
Harry gets dragged along, not that he minds because it means that there’s a chance we’ll stop somewhere for a walk. He is such a daft mutt, he greets everything with total enthusiasm and we’re debating at the moment getting a second dog. He has been such a treasure that a second dog wouldn’t be too much of a burden, the trouble is that dogs are so expensive. I’d like another puppy simply because we can all get used to each other, we have two cats, a dog, loud boys and busy lives and I’d hate an older dog to not be able to settle into our routine. We did go to the RSPCA shelters to investigate a rescue dog but it just didn’t work out. Despite having a dog our house would have to be checked which affronted Steve a bit but I suppose they need to cross the “t”s and dot the” I”s. Then we couldn’t have some dogs because of the cats, other dogs because of Harry and finally other dogs were ruled out because of the children. In the end only one dog was available, a four year old half mastiff! He was a sweetie but huge. It was all a bit disheartening really. What I want is another Springer or a Cocker, they’re a lovely breed and in theory will enjoy all the exercise that Harry already gets.
We shall have to keep our ears open and then maybe Harry will have someone to play with on our walks and when we go away he’ll have company in the kennels. It will also make a nice change for him to have an animal at home that doesn’t attack him whenever he goes up to say hello. The cats aren’t normally vicious creatures but at 16 years old they draw the line at having something loud and hairy sniffing their bottoms. Can’t say I blame them!
It’s been a wonderful week as I’m back in the shop. I love listening to people wandering past the puzzle board and arguing the toss. This week it’s a nice easy one just in case like me, people still have cobwebs in the attic. It’s this “Mr Blue lives in a red bungalow. His kitchen is red, his carpet is red, his windows are red even his dog is red. So what colour are his stairs?” So far most people have got it right and one 8 year old wandered in and told me it was too easy. Mind you just as I was about to go out and change it I heard two men trying to figure it out and not succeeding, so I’ve left it in place.
I’ve also had all the locals passing comments over my recent articles, so apologies for the ones that don’t feature Meva and no I don’t owe Steve an apology! Others have wondered where I’ve been hiding and wanted to know if I’ve been hibernating? It’s certainly feels like it coming back into the fun and bustle of Mevagisssey but I’ve actually been working really hard on The Cornish Bookshop for a re-launch of the website. It’s been long, boring and frustrating but I know have a fabulous new site that should work with greater ease.
Something new this year in the shop is treats for dogs. I know it’s a bit gimmicky but it’s a nice gimmick. From time to time we give out stickers and badges and even sweets to well behaved children and one day I was laughing with a dog owner that we let children in so why wouldn’t we let dogs in. After all they are vastly better behaved! It was a jokey comment but it got me thinking, we love having dogs in the shop so why not have a little treat for them as well? So now we have a dog bowl full of bonios that have a little scoop bag tied to them as well. After all you can never be too prepared. We’ve been trialling it this week and so far so good; dogs are thrilled to get a treat and owners are pleased to see their pooches getting a quick pamper.
Lots of the other shops have also been trying out new things although none of us have gone so far as Bon Appetite who stopped being a café and have become a bit of a treasure trove. Lots of interesting and useful bits and bobs now line their shelves. The antique furniture shop has now moved from her tiny space into David’s old place The Loft and now she’s got loads of room to spread out and really show of her fabulous wares. My favourite addition to the village though is a marvellous new florist, so there should be some wonderful arrangements in the shop over the coming months. There are a few empty shops which is bonkers given how good trade is in Mevagissey, so I hope we see some more independents coming in soon.
On another occasion I had stopped outside of the Grampound Smokehouse for some gorgeous prawn sarnies. I got back in my car reversed a bit to get a better angle out onto the road because it can be really tricky there sometimes to rejoin the traffic and then waited. Only a few moments had passed when someone flashed their lights at me. Immediately I accelerated and only the briefest of heartbeats later I selected the correct gear and this time accelerated forwards and on my way blushing wildly.