Sunday, 30 January 2011


I once encountered a fellow school mum in the local chemist and, as her four-year-old boy Spidermanned the ladder of shelves supporting bottles of Calpol and Covonia and Canesten, she glanced over at him and said: "He's such a very busy boy."

Boys, it seemed to this uninitiated mother of two girls, were always busy. Always looking for something to do but not something like my girls do like colouring or writing or playing with toy ponies, something like putting the cat in the freezer, the baby in the tumble dryer, their nappy in the blender, just because they needed to be busy.

Not good busy, mischievous busy.

Something shouldn't be here.
Boy puppies are mischievously busy. Scamp is constantly mischievously busy.

This morning he stole socks from the washing on the way into the machine. He stole socks from the washing on the way into the dryer. He stole stocks from the washing on the way out of the dryer. He stole the towel from underneath the Big Dog. He stole a mouthful of food from the Big Dog's breakfast. He stole the Big Dog's chewy bone.

He stole a twig from the fireplace meant for kindling. He jumped on to the sofa. He jumped off the sofa. He jumped back on to the sofa to check that this new found jumping on to the sofa ability wasn't just a fluke. He jumped on to the windowsill (see above - rubbish picture but I happened to have my phone in my hand not the camera). He was removed from the windowsill. Repeat five times. He still seems to have a sock, lord knows where he got this one from. He is asleep. All of a sudden. Snore.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The king's swearing

H8: "Mum, was it The King's Speech you went to see last night?"

Me: "Yes it was. Why?"

H8: "Because it's on Newsround. It's got 12 nominations!" (Pause while she gives me her best impressed expression.) "What age is it?"

Me: "Fifteen, I think, because of all the swearing."

H8: "Oh." (Thinks.) "Like what?"

Me: "I'm not going to teach you how to swear! That's for you to learn in the playground at school. Anyway you've heard most of the words before. (Daddy says them.) I'm not going to tell you what they are." (And I'm hoping to drink this cup of coffee before it gets icebergs and polar bears in it.)

H8: "Snigger. Has it got the F-word in it? I don't know the F-word." (Clearly she does.)

Me: "Yes it has, lots and lots." (And very funny it is too. Snigger.)

H8: "I say bloody a lot. Bloody hell! Bloody BLOODY hell!" (Snigger.)

Me: "It's not very ladylike to swear. I don't do it." (I've slipped into my Margo Leadbetter voice again. And she knows darned well that I swear. I say bugger.)

H8: "Sometimes I say beep."

Me: "It's usually best to think of something other than a swear word."

H8: "Snigger."

Monday, 24 January 2011

Uh oh. More guilt.

I suppose it was inevitable wasn't it? Something else to make me feel guilty. Wasn't it not already enough to have parental guilt? Now it seems I am to have puppy guilt too.

This is where he lies during the day.

Snore. Zzzzzz.
 Of course I forgot he was there. Of course I ran him over.


There was a slight squeak. I'd just run into him rather than over him. Phew.


That was why he squeaked. I ran not over him, but over a bit of fur he happened to leave in the way. It came off, hence the squeak.


Lots of cuddles and kisses and I'm-so-sorry-but-I-warned-you etc.

He moved.


Don't run me over again.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Walking in the Preseli Hills

I don't always take my hilly view for granted, sometimes I actually go for a walk in it, like today when Jo and I set off on a path I've been itching to revisit for months.

It looks inviting doesn't it? A nice wide, flat path. Just around that corner, having lulled you into a false sense of security, it disappears and you have to hop over a very big boggy area. This is the path from the nice flat section of road I mentioned in Thoughts on a Nine Mile Run a blog or two ago.

Up to our ankles in bog but worth it for the view. 
Straight ahead is a path for another time, left is the way we have come. 
The view over the other side. 
Teeth-like rocks snarl at the sky.
Carn Goedog.
On Carn Goedog.
From here we waved at Chris of Home Thoughts Weekly, somewhere in that view.
Carn Breseb.

Nice spot for a coffee and some of Jo's chocolate.
We have been spotted.
"Have you got any sangwiches?"
"For me?"
"Or a apple, anyfink will do... just coffee? What?! You've eated ALL the chocklit? What kind of rubbish picnickers are you?"

Looking back the way we have paddled.
Today's horses were all ginger.
Our route took us along the left flank of Craig Talfynydd, past Carn Sian and Carn Bica and to Carn Goedog. We then turned right to Carn Breseb and headed south towards Carnmenyn. We then descended to Caermeini (via the gate where it was very wet underfoot) and followed the bridlepath along a green lane and farm driveway back to the road at the Crymych end of Mynachlogddu. Then it was a short walk back through the village, turning right along the road to Maenclochog and Rosebush, over the cattle grid, on past the Waldo memorial and back to the car. The walk, with a break for coffee and a few meanderings off to look at the views and pat the pony took two and three quarter hours.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Shades of water

Various shades of water from today's seven mile walk around Llysyfran dam with Jo.

So much water after last night's rain.
Deep and still waters.
Even the steps have turned into a river.
Another waterfall cascading down.
A wall of water.
Mesmerising water power.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Gallery: Body Parts - Hairy chest

I was trying to photograph his inch long eyelashes: didn't quite go according to plan. In fact it was an impossible task. Instead I give you his adorable hairy chest (and a bit of beard and a few teeth).

This is for Week 41 of The Gallery at Tara's Sticky Fingers blog. Click the link the find out more about The Gallery, take part or see the other entries.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Thoughts on a nine mile run

Mile one: Blimey it's icy. Perhaps I'll just do the 6.5 mile route today. Whoops! Didn't see that bit of ice. Maybe only four miles, possibly 2.5, just to be safe. Body check: I'm quite tired actually and my back hurts. Why does the first mile always feel like torture? Consider abandoning running and taking up tiddlywinks.

Mile two: Sun's out. What a lovely day. Cold but sunny. Road ahead sparkles with frost. Pretty but lethal. Body check: Core muscles? Feeling strong. Back pain? Insignificant. Feet? What feet? Fingers? Toasty warm in new Ronhill mittens.

Mile three: Not icy here. Too much sun. God I'm boiling. I need to unzip my top and roll up my sleeves. Body check: Some SPD pain. Hmmm. Core? Okay. Legs, feet, hands? Okay but a bit hot. Ears toasty warm in new ears warmer. Reckon steam is rising from the top of my head.

Mile four: What a lovely straight bit of road. Bit steep at the end by the T-junction but I'll let it off. Decision time. Turn left and do 6.5 miles and home for a coffee and a passion fruit curd marbled muffin or turn right for a nine mile run followed by coffee, muffin AND pudding? Yay! Pudding! Body check: Tummy is looking forward to muffin AND pudding.

Best bit of this run.
Mile five: Wheeeeeee! Endorphins. Going to sell the car and run EVERYWHERE. It's so easy. Hello grumpy woman and lovely Bernese Mountain dog. Hello cattle grid. Oops you look slippery today. I'll use the gate. Hello bearded man without dog. Body check: Choo choo choo, I'm a train.

Bedd Arthur
Mile six: The hills look lovely in the sun. Strangely deserted without the sheep. Too cold for them over the winter. Nice flat bit of road this. There's Mynachlogddu in the distance. Body check: SPD pain. Memo to self: Get Brian to stand on pelvis when I get home. Have a sweet? Don't mind if I do. Choo choo choo.

Mynachlogddu in the distance.
Mile seven: Hello Preseli bluestones. Hello Waldo memorial. Hello second slippery cattle grid. Hello smiling lady runner being pulled along by excitable collie. Memo to self: Get excitable collie to pull self along on run. Smile and wave. Long joyous downhill stretch. Goes on forever. Wheeee. Body check: Running out of the feel-good stuff. Legs starting to feel tired.

Pretty river at the bottom of the big hill.
Mile eight: What goes down must go back up again. Bugger this hill is steep. And relentless. And covered in black ice. Keep slipping. Must stop thinking how hard it is. Why are the ups always uppier and steeper and longer than the downs? Come up behind woman with bounding spaniel. Fortunately she turns round and sees me before I have the chance to scare her to death. Overtake them easily. Spaniel bounds along with me for a few strides. Body check: Legs aching. Glutes aching. Calves aching. SPD aching. Pain, pain, pain. Which bloody idiot thought a nine mile run was a good idea?

Steep hill getting steeper on and on...
Mile nine: Still going uphill. When I get back I'm going to fill the bath with coffee and eat ALL the muffins. Body check: Legs seem to be made of wood joined together with loose string. Core? Wibbly wobbly jelly. Find shoulders tensed up around ears. Lower shoulders, lift knees. Immediately make faster progress but conscious I'm running like Spotty Dog from The Woodentops. Conscious I'm old enough to remember The Woodentops. On the plus side I can see Home where the muffins are. Remember I must get back before husband and kids eat all the muffins and speed up a bit.

Spotty Dog
Home: Drink litres of water. Fall gratefully into bucket-sized mug of coffee. Eat two muffins (which are the most delicious things in the world). Legs feel like fizzy lemonade. Climb into lovely warm shower. Ahhhhhh. Feel smug for the rest of the day.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

These days...

... I have to watch where I'm putting my feet:

 Our two dogs briefly sat and looked well behaved.

Butter wouldn't melt...
Then the big one had to hold the little one down (with two paws) because it was biting his top lip.

Take that...!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

I'm a bit Margo Leadbetter (again*)

Margo Leadbetter: "I would just like to say, Tom and Barbara, that this is the last time you involve me with the Gutter Press. Good morning." (Mr Fix-it, 1975)

I have become involved with the Gutter Press. Much like Margo and very much against my will.

The Good Life: Barbara, Tom, the divine Margo and Jerry.
It's my husband's fault, sitting there in the Tom Good jumper he got for Christmas. He bought the puppy, so there's newspaper everywhere for potty training purposes.

And it's The Sun, The People and The Mirror.

The puppy did its business. Smiling provocatively up at his little furry bottom from Page 3 of The Sun was Nicola, 27, from Basingstoke, who was concerned about the government's policy of Afghanistan despite the fact that she was wearing just her underpants and was plainly cold.

I came over all Margo.

"Why can't we have something decent, like The Telegraph," I shrilled at Brian, while daintily wrapping perky Nicola around a pile of little turds.

"Because I get this free from work," Tom, I mean, Brian, said. (That jumper has gone to his head.)

Where have you put all the newspaper? I need to pee!
I had to laugh though. The puppy (and the Gutter Press) arrived on Christmas Eve and sometime over the festive period we watched the Christmas episode of The Good Life where Margo refuses to wear the paper hat Tom and Barbara made because it's The Mirror. We had a bit of a giggle at that because I'd already been moaning about the Red Tops on the kitchen floor.

I confess. I'm a newspaper snob. I prefer the what used to be Broadsheets (and are now Berlin size). I like my papers free of Nicola and her perky attributes. I also like my papers free of Jordan and her sexy romps with whichever husband it is at the moment. I also like my papers free of all the ins and outs of the soaps I don't watch and the soap stars who aren't celebs to me because I've never heard of them.

I don't trust them - particularly The Sun - and I have good reason for this. I once wrote a story about Mick Jagger who came on holiday with his son (who was then eight) and his Dad. The three of them stayed in local hotels, walked the Coast Path and went to Oakwood. It was then the paper's policy of not bothering celebs who holiday here (so as not to put them off coming) and despite varied phone calls from the public we ignored our rock star until he'd gone home.

Only then did I phone the hotels (complete co-operation from the first, a 'we don't give out guests' details from the second) and I wrote the story in retrospect about their exemplary behaviour, how polite, how lovely and how charming they had all been. I even interviewed the chef of the first hotel about what he had given them to eat. He remarked that the only incident during their stay had been when Jagger junior accidentally dropped his bowl of cereal at breakfast.

I wrote the story accordingly. Then The Sun pinched it. By the time they had finished it Mick Jagger's son had 'inherited his rock star father's wild ways'. He had, gloated The Sun, thrown a rock star style tantrum at breakfast and had chucked his cereal about. The entire story was twisted into 'Sun speak' and bore little relation to what actually happened. I know The Sun didn't speak to anyone at the hotel; the staff had all been threatened with the sack if they spoke to the press again. I was the only journalist they talked to.

I'm still furious. In fact I've decided that using the Red Tops as a venue for my new puppy's toilet habits is the best use of them. After all, they're full of crap anyway.

* I say 'again' in the title of this blog because at school they tried teasing me by calling me Margo (for some reason). I was far too flattered (I've always adored Margo) so, disappointingly they gave up. Perhaps if they had persisted I'd be known as Preseli Margo now rather than Preseli Mags. Is it too late to change?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Keep calm and carry on

Are New Year resolutions doomed to failure? Last year I resolved not to make any. So I didn't but then sort of broke that by sticking to the ones I hadn't made, if that makes sense.

You see I carried on running and continued losing weight and getting fitter. That sounds a whole lot like a resolution or two to me. So far (since I started recording my mileage) I've run just over 1,500 miles and I've lost three and a half stone over the past seven years. I have run two half marathons, a 10k and five 5k races. I now think nothing of running 10 miles on a Sunday morning.

So I'll continue on with those resolutions that I made years ago. There are others too. I resolved to write a novel and I have so far written the first draft of four. Perhaps this year I should resolve to finish one of them.

But should you make resolutions or set goals? Perhaps finishing a novel is a goal rather than a resolution, as is reaching my target weight (definitely achievable this year) and running a sub-two hour half marathon (possibly achievable one day).

Then there are the mundane things which really one should resolve to do like finishing the paths and the sitting area in the garden, clutter clearing and painting the house inside and out having first finished the work we're doing on the kitchen, bathroom and utility room.

Finally there are the dreamy ideas and the desirables like running off road in the hills, finding someone to run with (ahem), making my own clothes and handbags (with the piles of lovely material I've acquired over the years), doing more cycling (it's so much easier just to run rather than drag the bike out of the shed but I discovered this year how much I love cycling), continuing my walk on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with Jo, perhaps trying a sprint triathlon, joining a running club... but I wouldn't kill off any of those ideas by making them obligatory by way of a resolution or goal.

In a nutshell I resolve to keep calm and carry on in 2011. That'll do.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

It took a few goes but finally we got it:

Happy New Year!