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Just turned 18,
A tousled headed venetian blonde,
Or that’s how I like to think of him,
A head taller than his Mum,
A head a half more than his Dad.
Shoulders like a rugby prop,
Waggling to the tectonic wave,
A winning smile and a troubled brow,
The first, courtesy of a devoted dentist,
The second, a legacy from an uncertain future
For that lost generation now
Just turned 18.

You’d be proud of him, Dad, if you could see him.
Of his gentleness, an innate sensitivity,
His awful, terrible, brilliant sense of humour
That livens long car journeys, and family meals on Sundays.
Not of his dress sense, though:
Ramstein T-shirts and slashed black jeans
No belt in the world can hold up,
Giving the world an unflattering preview
Of his stepfather’s best set of underwear and his own ass
I suck my teeth and tell myself ‘this too will pass’.
He is after all, only
Just turned 18.

He prefers people to books, work to studying,
When he can heave himself out of bed, that is,
A rare phenomenon and a typical teenager,
Enjoying his salad days, eager for action.
A good friend, a faithful companion,
The ’social worker’ of his High School class
The one those in trouble depend on.
A man in the making, a boy in the leaving,
Shouting his need for more and more freedom,
And his Mum’s cooking, his own choosing
Of a future existence.
The strange and potent cocktail of one
Just turned 18.

Phoebe (or ‘FeeBee’!)

PhoebeSo we caved in, we admit it!  Phoebe arrived today: a white Golden Retriever of some eight weeks of age. She is already finding her way around the house and falls asleep on my shoulder …. just like being a new ‘Mum’ (again!).

She will never replace Minty, who died 2 weeks ago, because no dog ever replaces another, but she is a lovely addition to the household in her own right. We haven’t seen Katy wagging her tail so much for a while now – so from day one it looks like they’re going to be firm friends…. so we are well and truly back to being a ‘two dog family’!

More pictures to follow as soon as I can work out how to get them off my camera, on to the PC and off the PC onto the website! It is the year of the letter ‘E’ for the registration of dogs, but we take some delight in giving our dogs the name we want then reverse-engineering things back to the official forms, so  her ‘official’ name is actually ‘Euphemia’, which gives us Phoebe……..and to give you an idea of her size, she can fit into Tony’s shoe……ahhhhhhhhh!

Christmas cards…or……

xmas cardsChristmas cards?   New Year cards?

Just how much DO we actually spend telling people we already know that we are thinking of them as they already well know?

1 x Euro on a card and 60 Centimes on a stamp?  Times how many friends?  50?  Conservatively?

50 x 1.60 = 80 Euros.   Perhaps 80% of this goes straight into the pocket of the state or the card retailer and a little on paper, packgaing and envelopes.

But what if we were to change the dynamic here?

actionaid child

What if we were to say:

‘OK, I’ll send my friends ‘cards’ by email, but with the money saved I’ll send a cow to Africa which will become a family’s revenue for a year or I’ll sponsor a child’s education or a community’s water supply???’

Wouldn’t that be more vital, more worthwhile, more valuable?


Minty 2005-2009

A-mint-in-green-pastures As many of you will know, we lost our beloved ‘red’ dog this week on 20th October…at the not so ripe age of 4 and a half years old. She had suffered from a cardiac malformation since birth which left her with a heart which grew to the size of a football and two deficient mitral and tri-cuspid valves. Despite the physical difficulty, she was a happy and inquisitive animal who was the focus of love for Tony and myself and the kids. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to make any drastic decisions at the vet’s; she made them for us. She died in her sleep a about 6am on Tuesday morning of a massive stroke and her big heart stopped beating….she is sorely missed by all the family and friends who came in contact with her. She will always be our ‘first’ dog…so special in her intuitive understanding and freely given affection. Go well, my darling dog. Love you always.