Author Archives: Tricia Jones

No More Bad Hair Days

I’ve been searching for months now to get the perfect hairdryer. Every model I’ve tried is just not right for some reason. Too blowy, too noisy, too hot, too whatever. But before you start thinking this woman is too picky for her own good, I should mention that the hairdryer is not for me, it’s for a certain little lady who is indeed too picky for her own good.

Vivvy has a morbid fear of hairdryers. She runs a mile as soon as she sees me enter the room advancing on her with the object of doom. But with the weather here in the UK this January consisting of rain, rain and yet more rain, the search for the perfect hairdryer has become vital if my home isn’t to smell consistently of sopping wet Golden Retriever.

When a friend suggested a heated hair brush might be the answer I jumped on the idea. And what do you know? It worked. 20180127_112536While there was some initial resistance, and I have to use it on the lowest, slowest setting, I now have a happy girl who doesn’t run away when it’s fur-drying time. In fact, she positively loves it, and actually falls asleep after a few strokes of the brush. She’ll even let me brush gently close to her ears, which is a real breakthrough. 20180127_112339

So, we now have a happy dry girl and a less smelly home. Result. All we need now is for it to stop raining…

 

 

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Paddington and the Burglar

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas.

Looking back to my December blogs I seem to have set up a tradition by posting a video of my favourite seasonal advert. My winner this year is the Marks and Spencer one featuring Paddington Bear. It’s a bit schmaltzy, but then I’m a sucker for a bit of that, especially at Christmas-time.

Here it is:

Did you have a favourite?

Whoosh… there goes November…

I hope everyone Stateside had a lovely Thanksgiving. November has gone by in a flash (well, let’s face it, most of this year has done the same), but since I’ve been especially busy, it has seemed the shortest month of the year so far.

First, I’ve been occupied with NaNoWriMo, and managing to keep my head above the sea of words as I battle toward the 50,000 finish line. Although I’ve done NaNo before, this year has been a bit of a struggle. The words haven’t wanted to come and sometimes it’s felt like pulling teeth. But nearly there and just a few thousand words left to write as I type this post. Although the conventional thing to do is to write the first draft of a new novel during the month, I’ve been a little unorthodox and used the 50,000 words to finish a story that’s been around for a few years now, plus written a short novella, and started another one. It feels like I’ve been very productive, but I have to admit I’ll be glad to hit that 50,000 and ease off a bit.

Second, I’ve tried to balance all the brain work with some physical activity.  Walking Ms. Vivvy is always a pleasure and trudging through fields always helps with the creative process, especially with the new voice recorder app on my phone. I often wonder what would happen if someone overheard me dictating into the machine, especially the love scenes 🙂

Then, thanks to a special monthly deal at the local sports centre (ahem* even more special if you’re a senior *ahem) we’ve been trying out a variety of teacher-led classes and also a new venture for the centre, Les Mills virtual sessions. So far we’ve sampled total body tone, fitness yoga, legs/bums/tums, coreX, body balance and sh’bam (phew, that one was a killer). This week it’s zumba, which I’m not too sure about to be honest.

But my real love has to be the adult ballet classes. There was much excitement last week when our teacher introduced some very intense foot exercises, told us we weren’t beginners any longer, and bandied around the words en pointe. That led to much speculation that we would soon be dancing on our toes like real ballerinas. Our excitement was soon dimmed when she introduced a new arm position and said ‘your left hand should be lowered to just above the height of your ‘tutu’. We all went quiet after that, as visions of prancing back to the car park after class while wearing our new ‘tutus’ took on nightmarish proportions. There were cries of ‘not in a million years‘ and ‘I’d never find one to fit me’, amongst other things.  Of course, our teacher was only joking…we hope!

Have a great last week of November …

 

 

 

Beaches, Boutiques and Beatles

20171012_145549Earlier this month, hubs and I took ourselves off for a few days to Chester (north of England). AJ had some meetings arranged, so I tagged along and we made a short break of it. Chester is a gorgeous place, very close to the border of Wales. It’s a walled city, founded as a Roman fort in 79AD. You can still walk the city walls and view the amazing medieval buildings, most of which were restored in Victorian times. The main shopping centre has The Rows, said to be unique to Chester. These are continuous galleries reached by steps and forming a second row of shops above those at street level. Pretty little boutiques and charming coffee shops are in abundance here. Some parts of The Rows still boast original 13th century buildings, making Chester a truly fascinating place.

20171012_121617We took the train from Chester into Wales and the seaside town of Rhyl. The weather was lovely, our trip being placed between the two storms which hit the UK this month: Ophelia and Brian. Rhyl has a gorgeous sandy beach and a long promenade, just perfect for dog walking. We really missed Vivvy and kept saying how she would have loved it there with all the other dogs. We did take her back a stick of doggie rock though 🙂

20171013_152317Then it was time for a trip down memory lane and a day visit to Liverpool. I absolutely love this city, it’s vibrant, friendly and steeped in culture. Naturally, the Beatles influence is everywhere, from the musicians who pepper the streets serenading the shopping public, to the restaurants and museums. Of course, we had to do the touristy things, like visiting the Cavern Club and taking that Ferry Across the Mersey. Well, you have to, don’t you?20171013_145537

It was a really lovely trip and we packed a whole lot into a short time. I’m starting to enjoy mini breaks like this one almost as much, and sometimes more than full-blown holidays/vacations. Here’s to the next one…

September…Arachnophobics Beware!

Ah, September … leading us gently into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. But, of course, it’s also spider month, that time of year when the males begin to search for a mate and the little critters head indoors to find a place to spend the winter.

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Essential household equipment

I’m no fan of spiders and would never hurt them, but I don’t especially want to share the house with them either. Usually, the old upturned glass and cardboard removal does the trick, but so far this month these invaders have been pretty large and so I’ve been on the hunt for deterrents.

To date, I’ve tried herbs – lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint – and scattering horse chestnuts around the room, but they don’t seem to work too well, especially the chestnuts because I found a spider virtually sitting on top of one!  And they were also too attrac tiveto a certain Ms. Vivvy who thought they looked like a fun new thing to play with. But then she also finds the spiders themselves pretty interesting and pounces on them as if they are new playmates.

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Bad mummy.

She’s very disgruntled when we bring out the glass and cardboard and they’re removed from her vicinity.

Things I still plan to try out are citronella spray and lemon surface cleaners and polish, both of which have been recommended.

One of the things that really surprised me while researching the internet for natural deterrents was how many sites have photos of huge, and I mean huge, spiders on their web pages. Surely many people looking for deterrents are going to be mildly arachnophobic. The last thing they’d want is a massive spider looking out at them. Much the same as when I purchased a commercial spray to try. I bought a couple for my mum as well and had to cover the depiction of a spider on the bottle with a stick-on smiley face before I gave them to her.

Speaking of arachnophobia, be warned that the following video is probably not for you. Someone let loose a tarantula on a London tube train. They were lucky someone didn’t have a heart attack!

What’s that Smell?

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Yay! Fox Poo!

That’s a question we’ve been asking a lot lately. The sad truth is that it’s emanating from a certain Ms. Jones. And that would be Vivvy, not me! You see folks, lately we have a home that seems to smell permanently of fox poo. Too much information? Sorry, but there’s no beating around the bush on this one. Vivvy simply adores rolling in the Chanel No.5 of the doggie world, but for us humans…it’s gross.

We’ve tried everything to destroy the lingering scent of eau de fox poo, including: tomato ketchup (which leaves Vivvy looking like something out of a Hammer Horror film), soda water (which leaves us fancying a gin and tonic), and a specific spray from the pet store which turns the smell into something else entirely. Yuk.

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Enjoying a mud bath

To make matters worse Vivvy hates the hosepipe and runs to the bottom of the garden to hide under the hedge. Anyone would think I’m trying to kill her. Not that she dislikes water, far from it, and she’ll throw herself headlong into the tiniest puddle, the muddier the better, and seems to have built-in radar for the nearest stream. We’ve come to the conclusion that despite her penchant for top class canine perfume, she’s a tomboy at heart.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the good weather and had a spring clean. Flung open every window in the house, shampooed the carpet, washed everything that could be washed (including a very reluctant dog), and gave Vivvy’s toys a whirl in the washing machine. As you can see, she wasn’t too happy about that, turning her back on me to make sure I was aware of her displeasure at seeing her beloved ‘babies’ hanging unceremoniously on the washing line. But needs must.

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Look what they did to my babies!

So this morning the house (and dog) is spruced up and smelling fragrant. But since we’re just off for a walk in the local woods, I’m banking things won’t stay that way for long. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. Clean or dirty, we love our girl to bits. I just wish she’d change her perfume preferences!

The more things change…

When AJ and I travel, we almost always carve out time to visit the local art gallery and museum. During a few days in Derbyshire, we found a small art gallery in the city of Derby virtually dedicated to a famous local 18th Century artist, Joseph Wright. We didn’t know much about him or the art of the period, but we were lucky to visit at a quiet time which meant we had what amounted to a private tour of the room housing his paintings.

Our guide was incredibly knowledgable about Joseph Wright and pointed out many things in the paintings that I’m sure we would have missed if we hadn’t had the benefit of his expertise. Here’s a link to the gallery if you’d like to see some of the paintings.

Joseph Wright was considered the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution and was famous for his use of light and dark in his paintings, especially favoring subjects portrayed by candlelight. Some absolutely stunning work.

But what caught my attention was the artist himself. An amazing creative, with absolutely incredible talent, he was prone to fits of depression and doubts about that talent. During one period of his life, after he had produced paintings such as A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery (see link above), and having received bad reviews for some of his work, he became really disillusioned with himself and his art and stopped working completely.  He wrote:

“I have heard nothing but humiliating observations on my paintings. which have tended much to the inactivity of my pencil for sometime past. What a mere machine I am become. Depressed and renedered useless by a little censure and put into motion again by a little flattery. I really believe my enemies might persuade me I have no pretentions to paint. What a thing have these weak nerves made of me.”

Food for thought for all the creatives out there, because I’m sure we can all understand these feelings. How many times has a bad review or negative response to our own work made us put down pen, pencil, brush, needle, etc? It’s comforting to know that we’re in good company, and that even the greats suffered through periods of procrastination when they felt their work just wasn’t good enough.

Some things, it seems, never change.

Tricia’s website