We bought Le Tardis in 2004 and have holidayed “En France” several times a year to date, infact two of my collies, Tod and Tippy, used to consider themselves Condor Ferrys’ foremast frequent flyers, and used to bark their heads off when they reached French soil, somewhat to the bemusement of the passengers,(foot and car), lined up waiting to go on the ferry…..we got a few funny looks that’s for sure.
But in this whole time our breaks were concentrated in the summer months (yes I did miss a show or two) Holiday No:1 each year) Out to France but back in time for Kernow K9…..Holiday No: 2) Out but back in time for Caerphilly’s dragons and 3)Out but back for Dashing Dogs…..you get the picture. Hope my husband doesn’t read this….I ‘m almost certain he was unaware at the time …..oops !!
Now in all these years we have never ventured during the winter, and as we now have “plans” and a woodburner, (to add to the electric central heating we already had) it seemed an excellent opportunity to immerse ourselves in the culture and spend the Winter. This was all perfectly well planned,…..or so I thought.
This area,the Poitou Charante, experiences short cold winters….my sister in law was in her shirt sleeves gardening in the first week of December,…we ourselves got a tan in October !. The winter is expected to arrive sometime during December, and peaters out in February,….leaving spring to blossom early, mild and bright. However what USUALLY happens in between, is cold, crisp weather, and SNOW…..lots of SNOW…..snow that last days….weeks….sometimes a month. Cold weather and winter japes….. and what do I get ?????
RAIN……lots of rain…..”cancelled agility”rain……and who gets my snow ???? You do. Nuff said.
On a happier note,just kidding, I loved watching all the happy shiny snowmen you built, lol, how is my winter break going ?????
Well it’s fabulous, truly fabulous. I am fast becoming an avid Twitcher having come from an area that boasts a zero variety of birds, save seagulls, more seagulls and the starlings whose corpses I find on my garage roof having been killed by, you guessed it, seagulls,and it is of constant amazement and wonder the super birds you get to see for the first time. Now I know a lot of you are fortunate to live in areas where you too see some beauties ,but I for one, as aforementioned, am not. So colour me amazed to see, Hawfinches ,Bramblings, Spotted Woodpeckers and Wrens that have suddenly started arriving within yards(in France but still not metric)of my French windows accompanying all the usual suspects, chaffinches, goldfinches, greenfinches, house and tree sparrows, tits(no giggling)blue, great and pied. Not to mention the multitude of different hawks and field birds I see out and about, when I am going too fast and don’t have an “I spy”book of Birds … (whose old enough to remember THOSE) to identify them with.
I used to be horrendously sad at all the road kill birds I saw on the verge ,until I discovered that 500 or more chaffinches can rise from a field, and dice with death, as you drive past ,and missing them ALL is tantamount to veering off-road, or performing an emergency stop on muddy single track lanes. It’s a good job the roads are so quiet, as I have done both,……several times, and after six weeks still thankfully have a zero headcount to my name.Phew.
And are the dogs happy ??? Well, I will let you judge for yourselves.
Phee is forever defying Veterinary expectation of her somewhat limited projected lifespan. Would she actually make TWO, due to her poor heart ??? Well she is now NINE, and lives life to the full. To say she is un-affected would be untrue, she has had a couple of blips since she got here, but then she has those in England. I contacted my Vet after a particularly worrying episode she had the other day, but his advice was, you know the score, just let her be a dog. We can’t give her an anaesthetic, (too risky) and the first bout of anything she catches won’t be easy for her to cope with, but she’s come this far with her positive swing on life, just let her carry on. As for Mr “just call me autistic” Kif, he still doesn’t move a muscle from the safety of his Castle of Comfort Bed until it’s time to go out, and then as you can see he is more than up for a good old run and herd. Jekyll /Hyde ?, undoubtedly, but again at seven he’s more than set in his ways, however weird they might be. What’s it like to live with a dog that never shows you that he loves you, in ANY form ?? Ask me !!! I had hoped out here he might have lightened up ! Gee, I love him to bits, but to have him even look in my direction willingly, without having to throw in a calming signal, would be a plus. No cuddles, no kisses, and absolutely no eye contact, he’s weird …..W-E-I-R-D. Yet if any of you walked through the door, he would bend himself in two to suck up to you, wiggle, wag his tail, smile. I don’t know if that hurts more, save the fact, that I know he’s throwing the behaviour as defence. Was he born that way, and that’s why he was in rescue, or did someone make him act this way, and he just can’t leave it behind? Whichever, at least the life I can offer him out in the fields seem to whisk his troubles away, ”anyone say WALK Mum ??”
As for “The Bug” well he’s being, dare I say, relatively reliable on walks,(touchwood… and I did) it was always a grey area as to how much I would trust him. He may be all collie when he works, but he is definitely all terrier out on his walks. Until recently, he has had a less than 100% recall, and anyone who read my piece on Agilitynet’s FB page, in response to a post regarding recalls, will know, it’s not like I haven’t TRIED. He is nearly four and I still can’t trust him completely. Little bugger. But I have built up to letting him off in open areas, and put him back on a 26’ flexi (giant breed one)only when in woodland, which is his usual downfall .Luckily I have a vast amount of choice walks available to me, so I am getting braver by the day. I did have him off lead when he flushed out five Partridges the other day, and I didn’t lose him to the chase, so I am pleased there is progress being made.
One of the biggest worries for me is the incredible number of gunmen out, both Kif and I wear Hi-Viz this time of year.
You couldn’t just plug in a ipod and ramble around, you really have to concentrate on signs all about you, but the main times to avoid are weekends(organised hunts) and early mornings and evenings. I am very glad Phee is keen on barking, she is always announcing our arrival, I am sure they curse me when I am about, as every bit of wildlife within a mile radius vamooses, what with Stitch’s input as well !.
Well that’s it, a little bit of an update. Next I will be “experiencing” a French haircut, the appointment made in French, a visit to a dentist, ditto, and will be submitting my Montignac Club de Canin application. I’ve been twice weekly for nearly a month and they haven’t taken any money off me yet. They always say French red tape is baffling, but I have to say they appear very laid back about money!!! So lots hopefully to look forward to, in the meantime ………………
………….can I have my SNOW back !!!!