Friday, 21 October 2016

Ted's Diary

Hello Friends!

How are you all? I am Very Well and so is Poppy (although she is still naughty- of course).

We have had an Eventful Week. Mum and Dad abandoned us. I knew it was coming because I watched The Bags being brought downstairs and got that sinking feeling that every dog and cat knows when their people are about to abandon them. I have told mine lots of times that I don't like it when they go away. I really thought I had made the point sufficiently well last time for them to understand (I cried all night long and kept my Boy awake) and that they wouldn't do it again. Clearly, I was WRONG.

Poppy and I went to stay with Grannie and our Westie cousins (Dylan and Dougal) and my Boy came with us. Before Mum and Dad left, I made certain to lie right in the middle of doorways looking disconsolate staring at the wall. It didn't work. Dad just said oh dear Teddy and ruffled my head before stepping over me and Mum told me to man up! Can you believe it?!

I spent the first night crying in Grannie's kitchen (until she came downstairs and asked me to stop). On the second night I only cried a little bit, but on the third I trod on a dying wasp and it stung my paw and boy did it hurt! I sat on Grannie's lap (on the sofa- don't tell Dad) with a blown up paw and cried and cried and shook and shivered. I was so beside myself I couldn't even eat supper and said no thank you very politely to Grannie in a small, sad voice when she brought me my biscuits.

My boy texted Mum in Ireland to tell her about the sting and the Supper Refusal but it was still another day before they came home!

When they got back I decided the best way to show how cross I was about them going was to continue my hunger strike. Dad didn't notice at all so that would have been hopeless except luckily Mum was there, because, as we all know, Mums notice absolutely everything. This can sometimes be annoying, like when you've accidentally caught a pigeon and don't know what to do with it and there are tell-tale feathers in your beard, or when there is Something Interesting dead in the verge but you aren't allowed to stop and sniff it.because Mum knows you'll also try and roll in it. 
She asked Dad to sit with me and give me a reassuring cuddle while she carried on making their supper. Dad said will that work? in a sceptical sort-of voice but Mum just smiled and said yes in a knowing sort-of voice that made me determined that it wouldn't.

I was enjoying the attention and worse still my tummy was starting to rumble terribly and I really thought I was going to give in and start eating. I had just strengthened my resolve to hold out at least till morning when Poppy, who had gulped her food down in one go (because she never worries about anything), appeared and started nosing about my bowl making I'm going to eat this if you don't type noises. Well I wasn't prepared to carry the point into ridiculous territory was I? So I made a small growl, licked Dad's noise and quickly ate my supper. I was quite hungry by then.

I have now fully recovered from being abandoned and am back to shouting at the postman, and anyone else who comes within barking range and eating whatever's put in front of me straight away. I'm confident that this time, I have made my point clearly and there will be no further abandonings.

After all that was out the way, we went out running with Mum, who did her second 10k this week after a couple of runs without us in Ireland. Dad was competing in the Skibbereen Adventure Race in Western Cork- it took him nearly FIVE HOURS to run, cycle and canoe the course and Mum was convinced he'd splatted himself on the roads, which are very lumpy bumpy and full of hills. Mum was marshalling so she enjoyed watching and encouraging the athletes and as a result, wasn't too exhausted to enjoy her Murphys in the pub that night :o) Dad is half Irish and his family come from Western Cork which Mum says is the most beautiful place on Earth. She fell in love with Dad's cousin's puppy while she was there. She said it looked just like Pop and that she was tempted to bring it home. I am glad she didn't because I think we'll all agree that one Poppy is enough, frankly.

Pop has a special harness everyone calls her Bra for when we go running. This is to protect her neck because she is Eager and likes to rush about in front. Mum suddenly announced on her return from Ireland that she's brought me a harness too, because I get distracted on runs and like to stop for a wee or a poo or to sniff interesting smells and she's worried about my neck getting wrenched. I am in two minds about this. On the one paw, I always try to put my head through Poppy's bra (harness) before she can, and have wanted one of my own for ages. On the other, I am very much afraid that everyone will call my harness a Bra too. Can you imagine the mortification? Imagine if we're going running with friends and Mum calls out Ted! It's time to put your Bra on. I am in a slight sweat of dread about the whole thing. Can I ask you, my dearest Bloggy Pals, to encourage her not to tease me about it, please, and just to call it a harness and not Ted's Bra?

Anyway, that's about all the news from here. The badgers have dug up a bee or wasps nest by the side of the lane. It's miles underground so how on earth they knew it was there Lord only knows. Poppy has just got into trouble for trying to eat a bee and Mum says can I tell you all that she did her first proper Yoga class yesterday and as a result can not lift her arms up today :o) We hope you are all well.

Lots of Love,

Teddy x

Thursday, 13 October 2016

To Rest Or Not To Rest? And Running 10K


I've had a virus in my ear for the past fortnight. Usually, I'd let time do its thing, but we're flying to Ireland in a few days and having flown with ear infections before I didn't fancy it much, so I went to see a healer friend who did his thing and then turned to me with an evil grin and said you won't like what I'm going to say.
Rest? I hazarded.
Yup. And athletes are always THE WORST people to treat because they WON'T STOP. If you run with a virus it'll just take longer to get better.

Needless to say I ran the Parkrun two days later (putting in my best time yet, incidentally) but I have tried to heed his advice and be good this week and slow down a bit. By this morning though I was Utterly Fed Up With Being Good (and feeling tired as a result) so I threw caution to the wind, hooked the dogs up to their running leads, put on my running shoes and set off down the lane.

It is a beautiful day here: bright sunshine, sharp, cool, clear, although it was a bit murky first thing. I am training for a 10k  (6 miles) at the end of December and have given myself 13 weeks to move up from regular 5ks to that distance. However, last week I was feeling good and did an 8k which went well, so this morning I decided I'd run slowly and see if I could push the distance a bit more and do the 10k.

The long and short of it is I did, and I wasn't tired when I finished and I'm not aching now. I'm really chuffed. The sense of achievement and of proving to yourself you can do something is second to none. The natural high has been somewhat enhanced by the knowledge I've burnt off the glass of red, chocolate bar and piece of cake I ate last night too  :o)

All this got me thinking about my friend's exasperation over athletes' reluctance to rest for prolonged periods. M knows someone who does triathlons at World level for his age (in his 60s). He was at the World Championships a few years ago defending his title and afterwards when M caught up with him to ask how it had gone, the friend said Oh, I had a stomach bug that morning. M assumed he hadn't raced, and then the friend added So I only came in third.

I have noted with friends who are ultra-endurance runners that the thing that gets them round a 50 or 100 mile run isn't so much the fitness (although of course that counts) as their mental strength and the ability to focus with undistracted 100% attention on completing the race and accomplishing their goal. The reason I took another 10 seconds off my Parkrun PB last weekend was largely because M told me beforehand he thought I'd only be able to do it in 2-3 second increments from now on. Well I wasn't having that! I don't think any of us should let someone else define our limits for us. There's a lot to be said for telling yourself you can do something, not messing about and just getting on and doing it (or trying, because if you try and don't manage it that's still better than not trying at all).

Where I got to with it was this: athletes have a mindset of determination to carry on regardless, and it is this, essentially, which marks the difference between achieving your goals and not. Some might call it stubbornness, and my friend certainly thinks its foolhardy, but the reality is, if I had heeded his advice completely, I would not have shaved a few more seconds off my PB at last weekend's Parkrun, and I would not have achieved my goal of running 6 miles this morning, ten weeks ahead of schedule. Both these things gave me such a buzz and a very real sense of achievement that I suspect the mental benefits have had as much of a positive effect on my immunity and bug-fighting ability as rest would have done. Food for thought.

Ted would like me to tell you all that he and Poppy ran the 6 miles with me and they don't know what all the fuss is about. He'd also like to say that he narrowly escaped having to do a celebratory dance in the kitchen to Seal's Crazy, which is on my Ipod running playlist, unlike Poppy who made the mistake of not escaping into the garden when the opportunity offered as the first bar started, and was scooped up and bopped about with until she felt dizzy.
They are both snoozing now in a patch of sunlight on the carpet.

Hope all are well? I'm off to catch up on your excellent blogs :o)


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Ted's Diary: October So Far

A Mixed Bag is how I'd describe October so far. This is because it's so far mainly contained a weekend, and weekends can be hit-and-miss in terms of how much Poppy and I get out and about.
You'd think having all the family home would mean more walks not fewer, but alas it doesn't translate that way. Mum and Dad are up and out early running and the teens are fast asleep in bed until they get home, and then they spend the afternoon doing dull things like shopping for furniture in places Poppy and I aren't allowed to go, or pottering in the garden where we've already spent the entire morning anyway.

This past weekend is a case in point. Saturday, despite the terrible weather, they left the house soon after eight so that mum could run a Parkrun and dad could be a marshal. Mum says I have to tell you all that she did her best time yet, under 25 minutes, despite the pouring rain. She was listening to music so she didn't have to hear all the heavy rasping breathing from 700 other runners :o). The last runner came in at about 55 minutes and everybody cheered him on like mad.

Then on Sunday it was the Clarendon Marathon which goes between Salisbury and Winchester. This meant they left the house early again and weren't home till mid afternoon. Dad was running that one and he did very well, finishing it in a little over three hours. Mum ran the last bit with him and shouted at him a lot, apparently, but it worked because he said he thought someone else was about to overtake him so he ran faster to make sure they didn't. At the end he had his photo taken with the Lord Mayor. He thinks he probably made her pristine white gloves a bit sticky because an energy gel exploded over his hand half way round and he couldn't wipe it off. Poppy laughed at this, because she is naughty.

So basically, they took care of their own exercise needs all weekend long and ignored mine and Poppy's completely. All we got was a two mile run on Sunday afternoon with mum while dad was easing tired muscles in the bath. I think you'll agree that for a pair of peak-of-fitness type hounds such as myself and Poppy, two miles is nothing. We could run that with our paws tied behind our backs for heaven's sake (figuratively speaking).

We made sure they realised we were fed up by rampaging around the house all Sunday evening, throwing shoes around and biting each other and growling and dragging the beds about while they were trying to watch The Walking Dead. In the end, mum got out the dreaded clothes spray water bottle and squirted me with it. Oh, the indignity! Poppy sniggered because she avoided getting sprayed, but I happen to know she's got a hair cut and shampoo coming up with Mrs D next week and I haven't, so the snigger will be on the other paw then, heh?

Today, things have improved significantly. Poppy and I were berserk with excitement at the thought of a proper walk. Last week we went out for a run with a new friend called Alfie who is quite slow because he has arthritis. It made me feel quite sleek and fit, being able to bound casually ahead of someone. Because usually on our runs, Poppy is way out in front and even mum can out run me towards the end. But then I am 7 and a half and that is Quite Considerable. I wondered hopefully whether Alfie might be coming again today, but as it turned out we went out for a longer run than usual (over 5 miles) as part of mum's training for her 10k so it was just us three.

We started off going down the lane where the badgers have been digging holes in the verge and putting their poos in them, we ran past the place where the cat sits and spits at us (no manners, although we enjoy rushing at it and making it fear for its life), past the gate that has a Mystery Jack Russell living behind it (I know this because it always barks at us and it sounds just like Poppy. Two of them on the lane, heaven help us) and along Chaffinch Alley where they all fly around squeaking. Then we went up the long hill where two tractors and three lorries drove past, and two people on bicycles that Pop growled at. Then we ran down a steep hill Very Fast where I stopped for a quick poo, and on through the fields at the bottom where Poppy said she saw a squirrel jumping into the hedge. We looked but couldn't find it and then had to run like mad to catch mum up. We went past the pigs, who rushed off  looking ridiculous and shouting at the tops of their voices with their funny squiggly tails held over their chubby bottoms, round the corner along the muddy track, down the nettly path between the hedges (mum and I both got stung), along the track where two badger holes and one rabbit front door are, and back out onto the lane then round another loop up the hill and down the hill before we got home.

We're both a wee bit tired now but it's good to get the tickle out of your paws after a slightly lazy weekend, isn't it?

Hope you're all keeping well? There was a dead squirrel on the road today but I couldn't stop to sniff it because I wasn't allowed to.

All the best,

Ted :o)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Training With The Dogs & A Finished William Morris Quilt

I was thrilled at the response to my last post about running. I really hope those of you who felt inspired to get out there will do so. And if any of you are having doubts, an added incentive is the (optional) Brightly Coloured Kit available to deck yourself out in. M shrugs on any old t-shirt he's dug out from the bottom of a drawer stuffed full of ones he's won from various races over the years and pulls on a pair of decrepit shorts from Primark that have seriously seen better days and off he goes. But I'm slightly more of a Closet Exhibitionist when it comes to clothes. I run in hand-made shorts (my own) which variously sport bright pink flamingos and bright red strawberries (I'm on the look out continually now for Interesting potential-running-shorts-fabrics wherever I go), and running tops like the one above, which is my treat to myself this morning for having signed up for the 10k in December. I've worked out a training programme today, cobbled together from three M found on line for me. They all involve every other day as a rest day and a slow 13-week build up so baring disaster I'm reasonably confident I can do it. The Half will be another story, but that's next year's goal so I'm not thinking much about it yet. One Step At A Time, eh?

This morning, I ran a steady 4k loop round fields with Mrs Ibbot and our three dogs, after a fastish 5k yesterday. It was drizzling by the time we parked up and then the heavens properly opened and dumped copious quantities of rain on us. The wind whipped up from no-where. We'd barely set off round the ploughed field before we were both utterly soaked. Even my two Hardy Hounds kept turning round to look at me with are you serious? type expressions on their faces. We persevered and the rain stopped just as we got back to the cars (of course). I was pleased because it was the first time I'd run all the way up a long hill in the middle without needing to walk. I was half-dead at the top, of course, but not for long. Home to breakfast and a nice warm shower and all done by 9.45 am (which left the rest of the day for shopping and then potential falling asleep on the sofa watching The Good Wife this afternoon with not a trace of guilt in sight).

Running with a friend was lovely as we chatted most of the way round (obviously not running hard enough). And running with the dogs is also lovely, for their companionship, their enthusiasm and the fact they keep me going because they can both run faster and further than I can so I am forever playing catch up.

Pop is a darl to run with because she loves it and heads off in front fast and confident. She runs straight as a die so I never trip over her. Teddy, on the other hand, is a little less committed and finds himself getting easily distracted, stopping to stare at a squirrel, sniff a leaf, pee on a blade of grass or veering off to have a poo, which is a little less enjoyable when you're behind him on a narrow path :o)

Still, they both enjoy coming out for runs and the excitement when they see me putting my running shoes on knows no bounds. They both develop springs beneath their paws and Ted sings you the song of his people (all Westie people will be familiar with this) until the door is open and they can charge off down to the gate. Taking them out running with me has the additional benefit of making scenes like this one less likely because they're too tired to wreck havoc on beds filled with Interesting Fluffy Stuff when I'm out....

Hmm. That was a gift from them both last week.
Who? Us?

In Other News, I have finished a William Morris quilt I started last year. I was going to sell it at the village Christmas Fayre, but have been using it to snuggle under on the sofa with Poppy instead. She likes to make a small, slightly smelly cave of it and tucks herself away inside so no-one but me knows she's there. She's Christened it with muddy paws so it's staying put now. I really like it so I think she's done me a favour on the whole.

Finally, can I point those of you who haven't seen it today the way of CJ's blog? She's written a great piece on the Ivy Mining Bees who are currently staying at her allotment which you can find here. Ivy Mining Bees are a relatively new species in the UK and are bucking the trend of overall bee decline without affecting our native species so they are important, as well as being harmless and only around for six weeks or so from Sept-Oct. Do pop over and have a read (also see the pictures of these wonderful little insects).

Hope all are well? Do tell me about your running stories....(I shall keep asking until I've harassed you into starting :o) ).

CT :o)

Monday, 26 September 2016

Competition: Focus: Achievement: Feel Better.

I grew up competing at the weekends with horses. Not to any great level or a particularly high standard, just local stuff, but it was enough to get the adrenaline pumping and to foster in me a life-long love of taking part in competitions, and all that goes with it.

There is something intrinsically good for you in setting a goal to work towards, in having a focus, in seeing yourself improve, and in learning to dig deep and push yourself on when all you want to do is stop, particularly when sensible people are safely tucked up indoors warm, dry and well fed and you are cold, wet, tired and hungry. Under those circumstances, the regaining of the warmth and the dry and the eating of the food when it comes feels a thousand times better than if you'd never got cold and wet and hungry in the first place.

I stopped riding and competing a few years ago. I've spent the last ten supporting M at various marathons, most of them off road and hard-core, (what he calls lumpy or gnarly). Think the Grizzly in Devon, the Bob Graham Round in the Lakes (less a marathon, more a feat of endurance), a 60 mile race in the South East, the Clarendon here in our own back yard, the Jungfrau in Switzerland, the Exe to the Axe in Devon, The New Forest Marathon. He trains hard, he runs hard, and he achieves.

He tells our boys the story of how, at school, he was the last to be picked for all the sports every time, and so grew up convinced he was rubbish at them. It was only in his twenties that he discovered running, then as a means of getting fit for rowing at Cambridge. The rowing faded over time but the running remained.
His best time for the London marathon is 2:45 hours, and he generally completes the more lumpy gnarly off road marathons in a little over 3 hours. If he isn't in the top 3-20 of the racers I know something has gone wrong.
He is modest about his achievements, but I tell the boys that, were their Dad to race against those lads now who, forty years ago thought he was too rubbish to have in their teams, I suspect the shoe would be very much on the other foot. It's been a very useful tale at various points of our boys' school careers, because neither of them are sporty and if you are a school boy who isn't sporty life can be not a great barrel of laughs at PE time.

Back to now, and every single time we go to one of these events I experience the same pang of regret and envy that it isn't me competing any more. I thought it would fade, but it hasn't.

In the past fortnight three things have happened. 1) I met up with old friends I haven't seen for twenty years and learnt that one of them is currently representing GB in Triathlons (despite having five children and a yard full of goodness knows how many horses to look after). 2) My friend Mrs Ibbot ran in her first 10k (6 mile) race, in memory of her mum. Despite only having started running about six weeks ago she finished in a flying time of 1:01. 3) Yesterday we went to Winchester, where the half marathon was in full flood through the city.

We stopped to cheer the lead runners as they came in, and then those further back as we walked back to the car. I could sense M's attention was fully on the race and knew he was thinking about where he would have come had he been running it. Then as we walked under Kingsgate, one of the runners pulled up declaring he was done in and couldn't run any further.
He was half a mile from the end, he'd run 12.5 miles in a little over two hours. The race marshal commiserated about running out of energy and ushered him over to the pavement where a lady in the crowd gave him a jelly baby. I was about to walk past when I found myself turning back. I'm a runner too, I heard myself telling him. Don't give up now, you're half a mile from the finish,. You can do it! You'll regret it so much if you stop now. You can just walk the last bit if you need to.  Half a mile? he said, looking up, chewing the jelly baby as the lady smiled at us, is that all? And he grinned and trudged wearily off up the road while the crowd clapped and roared him on.

Something woke up in me then. I heard myself saying to M that I thought I'd like to enter the race next year. Really? said M. I'm thrilled! When we get home I'll find you a 10k to run as part of the training and if that goes well, we'll enter the Half together.

When we got home, he duly looked up 10k races as a step up from the 5k Park Runs I've been doing most Saturdays since the start of August, and entered us both for one at the tail end of December. He is way faster than me, but has said he will run the race by my side egging me on (it will be like the hare encouraging the tortoise). He does the same at the Park Runs and it has made a huge difference to my times, which have improved from over 28 mins to a new PB of 25.12. He's also going to work out a training programme for me.

It's funny how one simple decision like that changes everything. Normally, having run 5k  yesterday I wouldn't run again today, or if I did I'd just do a mile, but today I feel different: I have a competitive focus again, something to aim for. So I took the dogs out this morning on our 5k loop along the lanes and back through the fields. I had my GPS on and produced the best time for that route I've yet done. I felt sick at the end and a bit wobbly, but it soon went.

Six miles doesn't sound like much perhaps, but it's enough of a goal for me for this year. If it goes well I will be doubling it plus an extra mile to do the half marathon. I can already feel the thrill of excitement at the thought of having access to competitions again, and that framework of getting up and out in all weathers, which I (believe it or not) enjoy.

In the end the time of runs isn't as important as doing them, as being able to tell yourself you've done it. That alone is a good enough reason to get out there and start running. By the time you've added in the health benefits, the not needing to watch what you eat, the sweating out of toxins, the relaxation and stress-busting nature of it, the improved strength in your muscles, the camaraderie of being in a race (or Park Run) with others, the feeling of your lungs working properly and the wonderfully clear, clean sensation you get afterwards when you've showered and are warm and dry. Well, there's nothing like it, and even better it's free and only requires a decent pair of running shoes. All you need to do is start, like I did, running for a few minutes and walking for a few, then running again. Before you know it you've run half a mile without stopping, then a mile, then three, and then a Park Run is in your sights and you'll be off.

Have I convinced you yet? :o)

CT x

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ted's Diary: Evidence, should any be needed, that Squirrels Have No Manners

Dear Friends,

Yesterday Poppy and I had a Terrible Shock. There we were, enjoying the Peace and Tranquillity of our garden, when all of a sudden a Suspicious Noise from Over The Fence made us jump. Poppy's favourite plant pot has recently been cleared of old sweet peas, so I asked her to jump up and have a look.....

This is what she saw.....

A Squirrel! Sitting on the fence, as Bold As Brass, right NEXT to our garden! Can you believe it!
When it saw Pop it did this....

Which just goes to show that Squirrels have no manners whatsoever and are the rudest creatures on earth.
It didn't stay like that for long though, soon it turned round to see whether we were still watching.

Yes, squirrel, well may you look a little bit worried. It turns out it was planning a Mushroom Raid....

I didn't know they ate mushrooms. I suppose you've got to admit they are quite brave raiding mushrooms on the ground like that near to two ferocious dogs with Fierce Reputations (although I'm only saying that quietly, you understand, and between us- the brave bit, not the fierce bit, obviously).

Poppy, bless her, tried to cover my eyes so I couldn't see the naughty squirrel....

She also chewed my face, which was less helpful, but we all know what Poppy is like...

The Squirrel held its piece of mushroom in one hand, pointed at us with the other and laughed (which is yet more evidence of their Inherently Bad Manners and is making me reconsider the bit about them being brave)...

In some situations, the only wise thing to do is to make a dignified retreat, so we left the squirrel to its mushroom and took up Guard Duty in the front garden instead.

Hopefully, the weekend will be free from squirrels and full of cheese instead.

I hope you are all well.

Best Regards,


Friday, 16 September 2016

Twelve Things From My Week

1. Globe Artichoke Flower

 2. Common Carder Bees on Stonecrop

 3. Illegal Picnic-Table-Top Encroachment (Ted is appalled and can't bare to look).

4. Grey Wagtail

 5. Harvestmen (as above, so below).

 6. Frayed Painted Lady

 7. Pristine Red Admiral

8. Robin

 9. Brown Hawker

 10. Four-Banded Longhorn Beetle

 11. Wildflower

12. Zinnia

A huge thunder storm passed through here last night. It went on for hours. We lay awake from 2am listening to the rain beat down, seeing the lightening flash through closed eyelids and counting the seconds between light and thunder. In the morning, the rain gauge told the tale most eloquently: 30mm of rain (that's an inch and a half to those of us who prefer old money).

The pig fields told it too. All the pigs were pristine, scrubbed a fresh becoming pale pink by the water sloshing down on them. The soil was washed off the surface of the land too, onto the footpath and into the ditches. We squidged through an ankle-deep morass of silt and sand which had swamped the grass.
During the course of the winter, this sediment will be washed into the river, which will carry it to the sea, where it will be deposited along the coastline, increasing nitrate levels and adversely affecting marine and aquatic life. Rural Diffuse Pollution. It's Not good news.

In the garden, life continues much as it has done all summer long, with a few variations. Lots of solitary bees; a Southern Hawker patrolling; a fragile-looking Painted Lady who nevertheless put up a Staunch Defence of her flower when a passing Peacock took a fancy to it.

The Globe Artichoke is an example of what happens when you don't pick food at prime human consumption time. Isn't it pretty? The bees like it. And the Grey Wagtail is the newest member of the garden clan. You may remember the Sparrowhawk making a meal of the last one, so I am mightily relieved to see this chap who turned up at the pigeon's water table this week. In fact, he alighted first on the top of the open patio door where he sat for some minutes contemplating me working and apparently mulling over coming in. As the dogs were snoozing on their beds beside me at the time I was Quite Relieved when he opted for the pigeon's water instead.
The BTO recently moved the Grey Wagtail off its Amber list and onto Red, which is bad news because it means numbers are dropping.

The Brown Hawker has been popping in for a chat every now and then over the past fortnight. He sits on his bamboo cane and snaps at passing flies. He has fine ruby veins on his wings that glint copper in the light.

The Four-Banded Longhorn has been around all summer, on and off. I have a soft spot for Longhorns. There are 68 species listed for the UK, although several are now extinct. They are beetles of ancient woodlands, because the larvae need several years of feeding in dead wood to mature, and dead wood has become scarce due to over-zealous tidying up of parks and gardens. The message is a simple one- if you want Longhorns, leave piles of wood rotting in your garden.

Ted would like me to tell you all that he had to endure FOURTEEN people in his house last weekend, not the SEVEN that he was told about, and one of those was a five-year-old boy who was Rather Vigorous with his ears and failed to show Teddy due deference. Needless to say, after the ear-pulling episode he only came out from beneath the table once, and that was to stare pointedly at the back door until I opened it. He took refuge in the greenhouse, which is his go-to place when he wants to be left alone, and wants to make a point of wanting to be left alone. Fortunately, a small amount of cheese by way of an apology later on saved the day.
I suspect this breaking of promises about people numbers was to the forefront of his mind yesterday though, when he rolled in the wettest, stinkiest badger poo you've ever seen. It went everywhere and was GRIM, believe me. I keep catching whiffs off it, despite shampooing him and washing every bed/ towel/ lead/ collar/ blanket in the place.

Hope all are well?

CT :o)