Jack enjoys a fountain

We stayed in St Venant for about a week. It’s a free aire just on the edge of a small town in France, right by a canal. The walks along the canal were lovely and we went for miles one day. I hadn’t taken any lunch or water or anything so Jack was OK slurping out of the canal, but I was a bit thirsty and hungry when we got back after about 5 hours. 

Never mind we loved our walk and the weather was great most of the time.  The parking area was right next to what looked like a tiny park. There were 3 chestnut trees there and hundreds of some of the biggest conkers I’ve ever seen all over the ground. I picked a dozen up for the grandson so I could teach him how to play when I get back to the UK. 

Locals playing petanque under a huge conker tree in the sunshine.
Locals playing petanque under a huge conker tree in the sunshine.

Anyway, the first morning I awoke to several voices all happy and obviously bantering but I could make out little of what was said. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of the steel balls of petanque. I looked out and sure enough, there they were, all merrily playing their game amongst the conkers.  I love the whole idea of what they do because the community comes together to play a social game, they chatter and banter together, men and women – young and old. I’d seen this at the Boulodrome in Estaires and took a photo there too as it happens. 

As it turns out these people met every morning briefly and every afternoon to play their game. There were also many who like me, simply sat and watched them play because it was relaxing and fun to watch others enjoying themselves.

Anyway so in St Venant there’s a lovely Boulangerie and Patisserie that I frequented. I bought a loaf called Allouette and she cut it into slices for me and it was delicious, like real proper bread should taste, not the doughy, sticky crap we get at home. Sure Warburtons make some nice loaves as do Hovis, but they cost a stupid price. This large loaf was handmade, exceptionally tasty, bigger than a standard Warburtons loaf and only €1.20. And don’t get me started on the cakes….

So on the way to the bakers is a council office with some fountains outside and as it was a hot day I let Jack at the water to see what he would do.  Here’s some videos of him playing… 

 He only really learned how to do this in Salzburg. Prior to that he was always a bit shy of going into moving water, although seas and rivers didn’t bother him. But he got the taste for it in Salzburg and now he can’t get enough!

This is what life is about. Nice places, nice people, nice memories.

Border guards, squealing trains and ticks!

So, last night I left Innsbruck after not really seeing anything. Why? Cos I booked my ferry ticket for Sunday night. So I have to get all the way to Calais and also get Jack sorted by a vet for the worming thing. By the way I used my Tesco vouchers for the first time for the ferry. I’d found the link somewhere ages ago so I logged on and used almost all of the ones I had to make up to £60 of credit. You can’t book online when using vouchers so I rang the lad and he had it sorted in a couple of minutes flat. In fact it took him longer to go through the legal stuff than it did to book the tickets!

I booked into the Calais sailing which I’ve ever use before. I’ve always travelled from Dunkirk. Not from preference, I just tend to use whatever is cheaper. I doubt the journey is any different anyway, it’s matterless to me.

I filled up, set the sat nav, and within a few miles was climbing the biggest bloody mountain ever. It honestly went on more than a Tory minister, and of course since Berchtesgaden I have a morbid fear of hills cos when you go up them you can guarantee you’ll be coming down them again and that’s when the brakes fail. 

Now I’ll stop my story and explain something here that not may know. When your brakes fail it isn’t the actual brakes themselves. I learned about this when I first had brake failure going through the Brenner pass in Switzerland. What happens is everything gets hot and if there is any moisture at all in the brake fluid, it prevents it working properly, and the hotter the fluid gets the less it works. That’s basically brake fade. 

What can also happen as well is if the rubber bits of the brake pipes are in poor condition, they swell, taking the pressure from the brakes. 

Steep bit
Steep bit

Now, I’ve supposedly had mine done twice since I was in Italy, (once here and once here) but clearly they’ve not been done.

However, coming down the other side wasn’t as bad as I thought, certainly not steep enough to make me need to use the brakes loads. It was madly twisty which you can see on the map, although some of the bends are way worse than they appear on the map. 

Also on Google map it doesn’t show that the whole journey was in deep forest. It’s actually a beautiful route to enjoy, perhaps I’ll do it again one time when I can actually rely on the brakes. When I get back to the UK I’m going to strip them all down and rebuild them properly that way I know it’s all done.

The rest of the journey into and then out of Switzerland was gorgeous. I went through Zurich and Basel and although I only saw them from the motorway I definitely want to visit them at some point in the future. 

Vaguely in the back of my head as I drove, I remember a sign I’d seen and it was only just dawning on me now what it was. It was a reminder that to use the class 1 and 2 roads in Switzerland you must buy the vignette. It’s much like Austria’s except you can buy only 1 year which runs from December 1st til Jan 31st and it doesn’t matter when you buy it, it runs out then. Personally I can’t get my head round how this works. If it is valid between December 1st and Jan 31st of the following year, that’s 14 months. So what if you buy it in February? Does it then run out the following December? It’s a barmy system to be honest but the vignette is only €38 so it’s not worth missing it out. 

Except I had. Oops. Let’s trust to luck that no cops stop me then!

The border guard

But come on, given my luck, we al know it was going to end in tears and sure enough I got to the Swiss/French border to find police active there and stopping all vehicles as they went through. Bugger. 

It would not have mattered if I’d come off the motorway and taken a lesser route through, it’s only class 1 and 2 roads that the vignette is needed for. Unfortunately I was on a class 1 road, the motorway. And so they stopped me and instantly looked at my rear view mirror, which is the place the vignette is supposed to go.

I quickly started thinking of a story, so when he asked me where I’d come from I said Innsbruck and that I was heading for Calais. He instantly asked where my vignette was and I pointed to the Austrian one which was still valid. He said “No you are not in Austria now you are in Switzerland yes?” I nodded. “So you need a Swiss vignette yes?”
So I hung my head in shame and said “I am sorry, I saw the sign as I left Austria and it didn’t register and I then forgot about it.”
He nodded but smiled and said “You know the fine is 200 Francs?” (€185)
I said “Yes, I can pay you now if you have a card machine?”
Then the most curious thing happened. An angel came down from heaven and tapped the policeman on the shoulder, and whispered in his ear. The policeman smiled and looked at me and said “The angels are looking after you tonight, so I am not going to fine you, but please make sure you pay when you return.”

Now I know what you’re thinking…did angels really come down and whisper in his ear? Well my friend sometimes you just have to believe…

He waved me through and on I went and honestly, I don’t begrudge €38 so when I return I will indeed buy that vignette.

Squealing trains

I was more tired than I thought I would be so I looked for the next stop on my route which turned out to be an aire in Thann. I got there about 1am and it was deserted so I found a spot in the massive car park, 4 other vans were already there. It looked nice enough but I just needed to be able to work the next day so I checked I had an internet signal and went to bed. 
To be woken at 5am but screeching banshees from hell right outside my window. 

Ok, a train going through the points, but it sounded like screeching banshees. Or how I imagine a screeching banshee would sound, because I’ve never heard one, but anyway it was bloody noisy. Jack of course decided it was a threat to us so he set off barking ferociously at it and I did have to have a chuckle when he coughed, made a massive yawn and then carried on barking for all he was worth. Bless him.

That was it. I managed to get back to sleep but another train came 15 minutes later, and another 15 minutes after that. Until about 6:30am which is 7:30 their time when doesn’t of yelping and screeching school kids wandered past on their way to class. I knew I had no hope so I took Jack out and we wandered around for a half hour. It turns out the railway is about 20 metres from the van and crosses the road and through the town. A bell rings whenever a train is due and once it’s passed the cars engines rev as they pull away. Noisy Nora!!

Anyway work was uneventful, the weather was incredibly hot and muggy, but I found a vet in Moosch about 3 miles up the road and rang to see if I could get an appointment after work that afternoon, to do the dog’s tablet for his passport. I was pleased I conducted the entire conversation in French and I thought everything was fine until she was saying something I simply could not grasp at all nor guess what she might have been wanting to say. 

Eventually she got a colleague to come and talk to me and she simply wanted to know how long we’d been in France. 

After work I found it no bother at all, parking out front, and the receptionist I spoke to answered in English so that helped. 

What’s more difficult than not speaking much French is when people speak to you and you continually have to tell them that you don’t speak French. In my case the truth is my French is limited but passable but I can’t understand what they say. So the young woman who came in after me and sat beside me and tried to ask about Jack just smiled when I said “Je ne comprends pas, desole.” I hate having to continually say that but, learning to speak French is difficult enough, far more difficult than reading it, but listening to it is the worst. 
I swear the French have a secret language that they only use between themselves!

Ticks

The vet was very thorough though, Jack had a good going over and she asked relevant questions. She even confirmed that Frontline was no longer adequate protection for ticks in France and I should use Seresto instead. The collars are only about £20 and last for 8 months so it’s a much cheaper option than Frontline. France has a much bigger problem with fleas and ticks than the UK does so if Seresto is good enough for France then it’s good enough for my dog.

I was happy that the bill was only €42 as well, because that chat she had with me constituted a consultation and they always charge for that. Just for the tablet alone the vet near Calais charges €55.

So, all done, I set the satnav for Calais and headed off but we got about 200 miles short of Calais and I spotted a sign for an aire, the aire d’entrange so I decided that as I was working overtime today I’d pull in and get a decent nights sleep. 

After work I got another half hours sleep, and then sat wasting time on the internet, just because I could. 

Tick that box, and that ear!

Tick. Ewww. Awful things. Remember when Jack’s face got covered with them? I’d never seen so many ticks!

Well there he was hanging out the window looking so sad, and feeling sorry for himself cos I would not let him out. Despite the fact he’d been out on the tether for an hour and sat in the direct sun the whole time until he was almost too hot to touch!

So finally I feel sorry for him and take a  break from work and let him out. And he spends the whole 15 minutes digging holes in the ground. *sigh*

Anyway we come back in and he cleans himself up for a change, then comes and sits next to me while I was working. 

The biggest tick I've ever seen.
A normal sized tick and a huge one that I got out of Jack’s ears.

I idly rubbed his ears and something felt ‘off’. So I looked and this is what I found…

The small tick is the type I normally find, they’re sort of ‘standard’. But the big one, never seen anything like it. 

I put it next to the coin for scale. 

I got them all out (there was 5) with the large tick puller and I squished the big one out of curiosity. It burst and the amount of blood that came out was amazing. Very thick and dark red too, almost purplish.

Jack gets Frontlined every month but clearly that isn’t putting ticks off so I may now have to find something different to treat him with. These things don’t tick my box!

Van finally in for repair!

Finally, after waiting since March, I dropped the van off at Camper NE today. I’m due to get it back next Saturday morning and I have a brand new Astra to play with in the meanwhile.
They are rebuilding the bumper assembly by hand, using fibreglass as they are not manufactured anymore since my van is ‘obsolete’ having been made in 2004. The side panels are simply wood clad with aluminium but those also have had to be made by hand as the patterns don’t exist now.

I find it difficult to believe that since the accident in March it’s taken this long to sort it out. And I still haven’t got my excess money or the replacement computer from Silverbeck Rymers. According to them they are bound to contact me only once every 3 months with updates, and as I’ve called them several times the 3 months starts from when I last rang them. Absolutely appalling if you ask me.

I’m in the Rex hotel in Whitley Bay for the time being. It’s a bit run down, but the beds are clean and the dog is allowed so it serves me OK. Plus it has a bath as well as a shower so I’ve been lazing in that every night. The beach is about 150 yards form the front door too so me and Jack have partaken a little of that. I have a relative in Whitley as well so it was nice to catch up with her and she showed me some local shops.
Jack doesn’t like the hotel room. He’s very clingy with me and isn’t eating much, but he’s loving the beach. No phone signal, but the dongle works fine which is just as well as the hotel internet is good, but keeps dropping now and again for a few seconds. That wouldn’t bother me when not at work but work demands an always on connection so I use the dongle for that.

I find it very odd to be within four walls again. I pulled the plug out of the telly and watch Star Trek and movies on my computer. But the view is of a brick wall 5 feet away from my window so I’m glad I’m only here for 9 nights.

The drain monster

Jack and I have found a drain monster.

No really, we have.

We were walking in our favourite place in the park and Jack as you know is banned from being off lead here after getting badly bitten, and after getting stuck down a pipe. So he’s wandering about on the long lead and started investigating a drain cover he’d found in the grass. I tugged him to follow me but he wouldn’t so I went over to see what he’d found. As I approached I heard a thud, like a heavy body hitting the floor but with a wet sound, and then nothing. I looked down the drain but could see nothing.
Jack was scrabbling about like mad so obviously something was done there, and I decided it was probably the rat or whatever it was that bit him the other week.

I stood there a little while letting Jack hone his hunting instincts and suddenly I heard a mooing. Yeah, just like a cow. Right, imagine a cow, with it’s mouth closed, mooning dejectedly. That’s what it was like. No I haven’t been smoking or drinking anything!

Picture of a dog on a lead scrabbling at a storm drain cover
Jack hunting

Here’s the drain, all you can see inside is 3 pipes coming from north south and west. They’re about 10-12 inches in diameter so whatever is down there can’t be huge. Like, it’s not a cow even though it sounds like one :s
We left after a while, and we may never know what lives down there…

Kong!

Image of a dog chewing a rubber toy
Jack chewing his Kong

Things got hairy here, for what reason I have no idea but everyone was asked to leave the car park, and when I parked along the road I got 11 hooters in one day! That’s the worst anywhere. Public holiday maybe? I have no idea but I came out to Jesolo anyway and it’s very relaxing here, especially for Jack who loves his purple Kong when it’s packed with misfits lol He sat in the grass for a few hours happily chewing away totally oblivious to all the spiders and god knows what that were crawling all over him.

Photo of some bright yellow beach umbrellas and beach loungers
Umbrellas on the beach

Sadly we’re not allowed on the beach at all. We did go to see it, it’s the Adriatic I think, and it was virtually empty even though there was tons of furniture out there. I wonder if it’s just off season? We did miss the chance to have a little run around and a paddle in the water but hey, we’ll live! lol

Jesolo has a main street where all the shops are. At least half of them are tacky gift shops selling the same old rubbish as you get the world over and yet people seem to like it. There is the obvious bars and cafes and hotels and a jeweler who

Cars laden with people holding a football club flag driving down a main street
Football fans parade

had a private, armed security guard on the door. We walked this each day as it was about 3-4 miles long so was good exercise.

Whilst I was there a parade of cars and vans filled with football fans waving flags and banners and tooting their horns constantly drove up the main street. I think they were Juventus fans and everyone thought it was fun. Except me. Football hating grump that I am. The spectacle was fun though. There’s more photos of Jesolo here if you’d like to see them.

Jack nails a hat trick!

You can’t make this stuff up!
There we were walking through the park, with Jack on the lead for you know what and what! But we got to the top end of the park by the new marina and I took him off so he could run around a little.

As he ran around stretching his legs I started day dreaming like an anxious parent, what if he fell in? how would I get him out? I was idly thinking there was a ladder about 100 feet away, so no worries if he fell in I’d go in for him.
Just then re came running past me and I’ve never ever known him be so distracted, but he turned to look at me…and fell over the harbour wall!!

I’ve seen Jack on the side of cliffs, hanging on by his claws and he’s never fallen, I was absolutely amazed! It sums up this weird time over here.

IMAG0401Anyway as I’d been daydreaming, I simply had him swim to the ladder, and went down it far enough to grab him and fish him out. He didn’t seem perturbed in the least and frankly, I laughed my head off, partly because it was exactly what I’d been daydreaming about!!

Here he is none the worse for wear, but soaked and smelly lol Oh and where is his flashing night light? Torn off when he barged under a fence last week chasing frogs!

 

Thanks DVLA

Just got round to contacting DVLA today about my lost driving licence. Someone told me you could contact the British Embassy and they’d sort you out but when I rang them they were about as helpful as a sack of garden waste. I tried to get a replacement online, but the DVLA’s system won’t recognise my address and when I rang this lovely patient girl said “It will work, log in and I will talk you through it.” 15 minutes later she agreed it would not work and she could only think that the Post Office had not updated them with post code details LOL

Never mind I paid £20 over the phone and will have a new driving licence in the post within 2 weeks. So in 2 weeks I’ll order my mail, then book onto a campsite and wait for it to come.

By the way I did pop back to Lidl’s and the camping shop and ask again if my wallet had been handed in but no luck 🙁

IMAG0378My thermometer said 36 degrees today. I doubt it was really, but it was very hot and Jack, freshly shampooed again last night and having enjoyed an early morning walk today, has a long relaxing sleep on the sofa. It’s a dog’s life eh?

Jack and bloody culverts!

Despite his fright in a drainage culvert yesterday, Jack decides to nip down another one and investigate. I hadn’t seen where he’d gone, he disappeared into a stand of trees and bushes so when I faintly heard his yelping I wondered what was wrong. On finding the culvert pipe my heart sank cos this is one of my worst fears…him getting stuck somewhere that I can’t rescue him from.

I called him over and over again and all I heard was tapping in the water as if he was walking but getting nowhere. The ground around the culvert was rank and filthy, and it was too dark to see more than a foot or two inside as the pipe was so small. After calling him and shouting and cajoling it was clear I was panicking him and in fact he was frightened now. So I spent a little while calming him as best I could until I could hear nothing at all from him.  I was really worried now and began to fear having to call some authorities out to help me, but I decided to head back to the van and get a torch and see if I could see him.
As I walked away I called again lightly saying “This way” which is what I say when I want him to follow me, especially if we’re changing direction. I heard him yelping again so I stopped and was sure it was coming closer. So I ran back to the pipe and to my utter relief his backside came into view, struggling furiously to reverse out of the pipe which was not as high as him.

I grabbed his tail and gave a tug and brought him sliding out of the pipe filthy and soaked and stinking but otherwise safe. RELIEF!

IMAG0376Here’s a photo, you can clearly see how small the pipe is compared to him. No wonder he was stuck! Jack is now banned from being off the lead in that section of the park where there are many culverts, mostly hidden by weeds and marsh growth.

 

Jack and the dark culvert

Parco San Giuliano is enormous and we still haven’t explored all of it yet, but we do a little more each time. Today we explored a slightly wild section that edges onto Venice lagoon. The entire park is littered with drainage culverts most of which are situated at the end of drainage channels and most of which are seriously overgrown with weeds and marshy type grasses. It must be a haven for wildlife, and so of course it’s exciting to the extreme for a little dog. I’ve been keeping him away form them a little as there are loads of birds in the reeds and he would have one killed before I even knew it was there if I let him have his way.

Anyway as I walked I noticed he was not keeping up so I backtracked and through the reeds saw a large half filled culvert and I just knew he was in there. I called him and could hear noises and then he stared barking so I knew he’d found something. Then the barks turned to yelps so I put my angry voice on and called him out. He came straight out, blood streaming down his chin! Grr!

I got him to a fountain and got him cleaned up and it was two nasty half inch cuts on this chin. They were very neat so I assume they were cuts, and assumed again they were off one of the large rats that live in some of the culverts.
Jack of course didn’t care one bit. He wanted to go back in! lol

It’s here!

I got to Broadford for about 7:30am, so I walked the dog down by the loch then came and had breakfast. Booked Jack into the vet’s for a checkup on a little lump on his gum, then went off to the post office. It was only 10am by then so I was surprised to see my camera there. I’d talked to Fraser from HDEW cameras on the phone yesterday, and he said they’d be posting 4:30pm Friday. So great postal service there 🙂

Fraser had asked if I wanted a battery, but as I had sent only the bare camera back, I wanted only the same in return. I did though ask him to check that the eye cup was attached, as for some reason Canon don’t attach them when they send the camera out.
HAHHAA! you guessed it…NO eyecup!
Never mind, I rang them and they’re sending one up. I’m staying here for a week so no loss there.

Battery charging now, testing the camera later on. I’ll keep you updated of course!

Beach but no sea?

Loch Morlich beach
Loch Morlich beach

I think I’ve already mentioned the lovely beach at Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms, although it’s not a littoral one, the nearest sea is miles away. However this sandy beach is as good as most beaches you’ll find by the sea.

There’s some ancient Caledonian Pine trees along this stretch too so it’s very picturesque. That’s Cairngorm in the background, still covered in loads of snow.

Jack stalking ducks
Jack stalking ducks

Jack of course loves it because there’s ducks there, and one of his favourite  pastimes is chasing them, even though he doesn’t even come close to catching any.

You can see in the photo how unconcerned all the ducks are that he’s 2 feet from them hahah I think they all know him now and know he can’t fly!

 

Morlich beach
Morlich beach

It’s quite popular too even though for this time of year there isn’t that many people around.  Yet the weather has been fantastic. It’s rained some days, but there have been plenty like this one with blazing sunshine most of the day.

I think maybe it’s a bit of an undiscovered place. I was chatting to work colleagues about Glenmore Forest Park and no-one had heard of it.

Swamp monster

Jack playing at Swamp Monsters
Jack playing at Swamp Monsters

It was really warm today, so jack was chasing ducks more than usual. He decided to follow these two into the lake through the marsh at the shore. He was definitely game for it!

Odd that until he was two he wasn’t keen on water but he doesn’t care now. He often goes in to cool off, or as here, to chase ducks! Yet another gorgeous day in Glenmore Forest Park and we walked round Loch Morlich which takes about 3 hours if you stroll, play in the woods and chase ducks…

 

Mr Ratty goes to heaven (Some might find the images in this post disturbing)

We’re walking by the river Nith in Dumfries when Jack starts digging in some bush at the base of a tree. He was intent so I knew he smelled an animal, and thinking about the floods on Sunday, I thought perhaps a  rat or other river creature.

Dumfries in flood
Dumfries in flood

He must have dug for about 10 minutes or so, on a 5 m leash as I watched buses go by, watched a Heron on the river and basically let him have his fun. Suddenly a rat zoomed out from the base of the tree and scurried off along the wall and behind a litter bin. As Jack was on his leash I had to run to let him keep up.

But when we got to the bin there was no sign of it. We walked along the path a few feet and I tried to get Jack interested in another bush at the base of another tree, thinking it may have taken refuge there, but he wasn’t having it. He wanted to be back at the bin. So we went back and I pulled it out and leaned it over and showed him there was no rat behind it. Suddenly, up it pops on the inside of the bin, clinging to the side of the metal insert and glaring at me. The bin had gaps underneath so the sneaky creature managed to get in one and go inside the bin itself and of course, to utter safety.

So I’m trying to convince Jack he has no chance when the stupid rat, seeing him standing up and peering through the litter box, runs back down the bin and out the hole in the bottom and runs off up the path again! Madness, suicide, Jack was on it like a car bonnet! lol

Jack with his latest kill

For some unknown reason he didn’t do his normal ‘bite and shake’ kill maneouver, where he bites them hard round the neck and shakes them to snap their neck. No, he bit it to death. Simply stood there biting it hard til it stopped flopping. I’ve never seen him do that before.

There was quite a lot of blood and looking at the splatter I’m sure it’s Jack’s. I suspected it had managed to bite his dewlap or nose, so we went straight back to the van where I cleaned him off, and remembered there was  a vet about 5 minutes walk away. However when I got him cleaned up there wasn’t  a mark on him, so I will keep an eye just in case infection starts, but it seems he got off with it.

Here’s an interesting fact: In the US last year, cats killed approximately 1.6 Billion small mammals. It’s actually becoming a problem as so many little things are being killed that numbers are down. The massive number is said to be due to the increase in domestic cat ownership. I hope most of those are rats 🙂

Samara

Iron age hut

Samara was a wonderful find as we both enjoyed the 2 days we spent there. It’s a reconstruction of iron and bronze age settlements that did exist in the area at the time.

The buildings are constructed using the methods from that time and with only the tools available to them then.  (Sadly this rule is broken only by the blacksmith who for some reason has some electrical devices.) Nevertheless it was great fun watching someone make fire completely from scratch. He used things from the ground and trusted techniques and made fire every time.

The potter was quick and efficient and that was a lot of fun. From experience when I was a teenager at school it wasn’t that hard either. Of course it’s all in French so you miss a lot, but you can make it up as you go from what they’re doing. Sadly the potter had a large sign behind him saying no photographs. I felt that didn’t quite fit in with the nature of the place as a whole so I took one anyway.

The lady making the willow baskets was much more friendly and despite the fact she spoke no English and I speak only the odd word of French, we used effective body language to make ourselves understood. I now have some willow in the van ready to make my first basket 🙂

In one of the iron age huts, which really aren’t that basic you know, a young man saw me trying to get a nice picture of sun streaming through a window and being diffracted by the smoke from the fire. He began wafting the fire to make it smokier for me. His colleague then used broken English as best she could to tell us about the hut and the people.  Another guy was hitting something with a hammer and completely ignored us when we said hello so we left him to it with his chickens heh heh.

There’s acres of ground to explore once you’re in there, a restaurant and shop and all the things you’d expect. It was only €7 I think for entry and if you keep your receipt you can come and go as you please, but we had a fantastic day there and stayed happily in the grounds the night before and after.

The evening we visited, we were walking along the riverbank when we came across a small pony in grounds. There was a very touching moment when it and Jack touched noses through the fence. Ahh!

Beetle
Beetle

Also I found a bug which was fluorescent! It was amazing, clinging to this stick I spotted it in the dark easily from around 60 feet. I couldn’t believe it when I found what it was so had to bring it back to the van to photograph it. Sadly, after all the attention it turned it’s light off so I didn’t get a picture of it glowing. 🙁 Fascinating though … I wonder what it is?

Ticked off!!

Ticks on Jack's nose
Ticks on Jack’s nose

Jack has been chasing wild rabbits for days. He’s not even come close to catching one, but not for lack of effort.  He’s loved the exercise and I’ve loved seeing him happy and doing what he’s supposed to do. However the downside is that he has caught dozens of ticks 🙁

I’ve twice laid him on the sofa and spent around an hour and a half taking them out one by one. I stopped counting at 63 in the first session. Some of them are so small it’s unreal. I used a close-up lens to show this little lot grouped around his whiskers. You can see the small white dots. There’s also black ones and the odd red one. Presumably they’re at different stages of feeding?

Now if you’ve got good eyes you’ll spot around 2 dozen in this picture.  I didn’t imagine ticks could be so small and that’s the time consuming part of it, finding them all then being able to actually get a hold of them with the tick puller. Some were right in the base of his whiskers and they really took some digging out. The trick is in not tearing off the small tubes they insert into his skin to feed with, but in spinning the ticks body to ensure the tubes slide out complete. Leaving bits of insect in his skin can lead to infection I read. So I’m really careful as I don’t want more vets bills!

Whether the ticks are to blame for his missing whiskers I don’t know. I’d not noticed any missing before now. I doubt it as all ticks do is feed on blood and spread disease. A woman I know has Lyme’s disease as a result of a tick. I’ve checked myself over and luckily I don’t have any.

Yes Jack has been Front-lined. I’m guessing that when you have your face stuck in the entrance to a wild rabbit warren several times an evening there’s nothing that’s going to be effective against them, but I can’t wait for them to drop out, and have ticks all over the van. Yuk!

More ticks on Jack's nose
More ticks on Jack’s nose

This photo clearly shows a black one as well as a white one. I assume the black ones have fed and the white ones haven’t?

These ones are easier to see as the hairs on his snout are so short.  I found some on the base of his foot behind his pad, on his testicle, in the folds of his ears and one sneaky one that I missed at first as it was attached so close to his nipple.  I’m fairly certain that there will be some I’ve missed despite dedication to the task of cleaning my little man up, so I dug the Bob Martin tick spray out and soaked Jack where his fur is longest, at the back of his neck. Oddly, I’ve not got one from there yet and my guess is ticks might like short hair so they can get to the skin easily?

I think I’m gonna Frontline Jack again anyway and check him every other day for more, in case there’s hatchlings or the odd one I missed.

What I’d like to know is, what useful purpose do ticks actually serve? None? Thought not. So come on scientists … develop a poison and eradicate them from earth! One of the benefits of being top of the food chain should be getting to choose who stays and who goes!

The last photo below shows half a dozen of the little buggers hiding in his eyebrows. One was almost in his eye!

Ticks on Jack's eyebrow
Ticks on Jack’s eyebrow

 

Jack laid there, either laid out on his belly, flat on his back or on his side jammed in between me and the cushion so I could easily get at them, without so much as a whimper. He went to sleep mostly while I got on with the task, letting me check between his toes and completely unflinching even when I was taking them from his eyebrows.

He’s the best dog ever and he earned himself some chewy dog choc for being such a brave little soldier 🙂

Update**

Apparently Frontline lasts for 3 months. Yep … Jack was done over 3 months ago! Duh at me.

I got invited to tea!

A park in Windsor
A park in Windsor

Well there we were, playing in the park, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It was spring, there were some lovely colours in the plants and trees and the weather was very nice without being too hot.

Jack likes nothing better than big open spaces and his ball or a stick. He just wants to play all the time.  So he was quite keen when an old lady approached who had six of her own dogs. She started throwing the ball for Jack as we chatted. Liz she was called, and what a lovely old lady she was.

Windsor castle
Windsor castle

She said she lived close by and pointed over to this building, I wondered if it was some sort of sheltered accommodation? It looked very nice, but I didn’t think they allowed dogs in places like that.

Anyway, after some lovely chat she said anytime I wanted to drop in for tea, all I had to do was ring the main bell and tell one of the burly men who answered to come and fetch her and we could have a cuppa and a slice of Battenburg cake.

Jack
Jack

Jack thoroughly enjoyed playing with her six dogs, and when it came time to leave she poked me in the belly and made me bow! I forgave her though, I think she puts up with a lot as she says her husband is a little eccentric.

Anyway, Jack has developed a new habit from playing with the six dogs she owned…

 

Jack and Freddie

Picture of two dogs playing
Jack playing with Freddie

Freddie is my friend Al’s dog and is also a Patterdale. Patterdale’s come in these two varieties and the black ones are slightly bigger. Jack can’t actually get onto the sofa yet so it was a bit of a tease putting Freddie on the sofa and Jack on the floor! It was fun though and they played together for ages. It’s nice to get Jack socialised too. He’s turning out quite the little pooch, I made the best choice ever getting him.

Welcome Jack :)

Dog stands by lake watching swans
Jack swanning about

Jack seems to have taken to life in the van as if he was born to it, (which he almost was!) and he appears to be content. He’s playing  a lot, sleeping even more, and chewing me loads! I’ve been to get him chipped by  vet in Skelton, who didn’t even have a debit card machine and sent me off to the post office to get some cash. I told him the lifestyle I lead living in my van and traveling here and there, he stated he could see no harm that would come to the dog and then started the long process of inoculations, checks, worming etc etc that a new puppy has to go through.

Once that was all complete I decided to have the weekend in Ullswater as it’s one of my favourite places. I parked in Glenridding and took Jack to the lake for his first visit. As you can see, his instincts are all in place. I was not sure whether he wanted to play with the swans or eat them, although the swans seemed sure of the latter so they stayed a healthy distance away.

Must get rid of that awful collar. I’ve never understood how people can try and control animals with a thing round their neck. I’d like a decent harness for him.
As you can see below he’s not frightened either! He loves people and other dogs, he’s just so sociable. He’s settling in nicely too, I don’t think I’m going to regret getting him.

Jack meets a Jack Russell and makes friends
Jack making friends

Say hello to Jack

Picture of my new dog sitting on the chair.
Jack

Is this the cutest little puppy you’ve ever seen! My boss has one of these they’re known as Patterdale terriers. The breeder is in Cartmel in the Lake District and after seeing hers I decided this was the one I wanted. I’ve done enough research and he won’t grow very big. Fuck you! to all the rescue centres who turned me down, mostly cos I don’t have a fenced in garden! How restrictive your policies are! In fact one of them laughed at me down the phone when I explained I lived in a van. Well I’ve got my puppy and he’s going to have a fab life so your loss all of the ones I telephoned.

I’d spent about 2 hours with the breeder playing with the remaining 3 puppies and their Mum. They all decided it was bedtime so Mum laid down and the pups and snuggled in for a nap with her. Not Jack. No he was jumping all over me wanting to play still! He was a little bit cheeky too so I decided on that basis he was the dog for me. He’s the most adorable little thing.

Anyway that’s his little toy that the breeder gave me as he seems attached to it.

Picture of a dog lying asleep beside it's owner
Jack asleep beside me

I was sitting watching him playing on the floor and I had a JD in my hand, and I realised that he is almost the same colour as a neat Jack Daniels. So…my puppy is called Jack 🙂 Jack is 9 weeks old and too small to get on and off the sofa at the moment, so he stays on it most of the time with me. When I work he lies down beside me and sleeps peacefully. This is him crammed in between my leg and the sofa back as I work on the laptop.  Awww!