So that whole “England trip” took a whole lot longer than intended. I was due to go back for a month full of agility, and to pick up my pup, but what started out as a brief vacation turned into a long haul. The reason for this, I am happy to say, is because our English house is now under offer. I do so hope it goes through, not only because affording the upkeep and running costs of two houses in two countries on one small pension is completely unfeasible, but because the couple who want to buy it, want to do so, as they want their young children (5 & 3) to go to Berrow Primary school.. How’s that for a whole hunk of Déjà vu ? Turn the clock back 23 years and you have little old me, when agility didn't exist ,and I didn't even have a furry one in my life, seems like I am referring to someone else completely.
Anyway, I loved my time in England, my “Agility August” is going to be a regular trip,(and an Agility April if I can fit it in,and have my way), some great shows, and at some time in the future,a chance to see if I can “remotely” train a puppy off my own back, to hold his own in grade 3, when I visit Blighty, gulp,no pressure !. Like I said before, French agility is nothing like what I have left behind, but if I am to aspire to British Standards, I am going to have to do it all at home, test it out at the French club, and cross my fingers that I have done enough to hold my own,not go out to win, but just look like I’m NOT a complete numpty.
But this Blog is about France and not England, so I will leave the many tales of my travels and traumas, my highs, lows and my fun with the “young uns” untold. Most of you do Facebook so you can fill in the blanks.
It was with severe trepidation that I loaded up Stitch and Boq and headed for Poole to catch the ferry. I needn't have worried, the dogs travelled like old pro’s. Stitch has done it before, but it was a completely new experience for the little fella. Two hours to Poole, an hour dockside (but loaded), a four and a quarter hour sea trip, and a six hour (plus stops) road trip down. It’s a good job I am used to travelling all over the country, I have driven back many a time from Ipswich(Dogs in Need) over the years ,knackered from a weeks’ competition, caravan on the back and two children fast asleep in the van by my side. To be honest the French trip is easier, but I don’t suppose others “looking in” would see it that way.
I was greeted with a lovely curry and a cuddle, if not with my other half, (who couldn't get anywhere near me, for the tails wagging and the tongues licking), but with Kif and Phee Wee who, from their re-action, really seemed to have given up hope of me ever returning, and had settled in, quite nicely thank you, with the hour long walks their dad was now giving them. He would be Soooooo grateful to hand that baton back, he may have lost nearly 5kg’s but his poor old retired “Gas fitters knees” were killing him.
The pup fell off the Car Park area, on the upper tier of the garden,in the first ten minutes, but apart from that, there was the usual exploration and frenzied sniffing. Given that he was only used to flat grass, imagine the sheer joy of not one, or two, but THREE levels he could race about on, not to mention the fact that there are trees, shrubs, and flowers everywhere !!! Add to that the two rockeries, and the twin level patio area, the boy was in raptures, but it was getting dark, and it was soon going to be bedtime.
Ah, the joys of young puppies, needless to say, due to the rather weird day he had, and all the new meeting and greetings squeezed into a very short time before “lights out”, he HOWLED the place down. Here’s me trying to reason with my husband about the virtues(for me) of having a youngster in my life, and within 3 hours of meeting him, he is doing a pretty good rendition of White Fang !!!! Whoooooooooo.
Well I stuck it out, he gave up and a night’s sleep invariably followed, and we were all re-freshed in the morning…..yeah in the Movies maybe, I looked bleary eyed and hungover and my other half was just Grumpy (his nickname).
So what did Day One have back in store for me? I had decided that I would cover a lot of Boq’s socialization separate to the other dogs. After all, I would be taking back “Dog walking” responsibilities from Richard, and to be honest the chances of a) Boq running himself ragged, and b) not actually “meeting” any other people, dogs or challenges (other than the odd rabbit) were highly likely, so solo trips were the way forward. It was to this effect that Richard,Boq, and myself, found ourselves in Mansle High Street. Mansle, spelt Man-sel and actually pronounced MAUL (go figure) is our local Ville (Town) and boasts a couple of Supermarkets, several Cake shops, a fishing shop, whose proprietor doubles as the local photographer (only in France), plus the usual smattering of Hairdressers, clothes shops, a Hippodrome(for the trotting races) Restaurants, the Vet, Jack (yum yum girls !!), the Tourist Information Office, which in typically French style is NEVER open, and several “Tabacs” (coffee and tobacconists).
It was at one of these Tabac’s that we sat ourselves, to watch the world go by, to take coffee, and reflect that at 11am on a Saturday morning in England on a High Street, say in Burnham-on-Sea, there would be more than the four people(all told) in sight, and one of those was serving us coffee !!! Boq settled under the table said “hi” to the Barkeep, rejoiced in seeing a couple of people come and go, and was thrilled when a gorgeous Red Setter appeared from up the road, nonchalantly sniffed his way around to us, then defiantly stuck his nose in the air when he heard his master calling from the town house up the road, from where he had obviously made his escape. I grabbed his collar and did the French equivalent of the “Walk of Shame” although I needn't have worried, I hadn't seen a car for 10 minutes. So ended Boq’s 1st French outing.
Day two I decided to turn up the heat a tad ,and take my youngster somewhere I could guarantee a crowd, one of the many local Bric a Brac, Vide Greniers, and Brocantes running at the weekends this time of year. I chose a Brocante at Les Pins, which we have been to before, and it’s huge. I don’t usually take my guys as it’s usually too hot, and too crowded, and because basically walking around them is a bit like pulling teeth to me, but my other half loves ferreting around, and like I say, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be in the thick of it, so, as it wasn't hot, off we went. Having this puppy is like having a toddler on your arm, he constantly wants to: get on the kiddie carts, pull plastic ducks out of the “duck pond” game, get “in” the old bathtub, get "on"the plastic kiddie buggy, I needn't have worried about shopping, it was a full time job, just to keep Boq in a straight line, at one point he grabbed the edge of a shawl displayed at ground level, it was a good job I caught him in the act, I’m not sure my French would yet cover the explanation of him dragging it around and possibly ripping it up. Anyway, I was very proud, of him, and of Richard, who, kept his spending down to four paperbacks for two Euros. Off to another one this week and with that in mind I’m off to find out which villages’ junk we will be rummaging through today.
I know I am a bit behind as we are now on day 14.....but lots to tell and getting more daily, so,have patience,and watch this space, this puppy gig is a tiring business but i will get round to it. A bientôt