Friday, 29 May 2015

Friday May 29th


Breakfast....after our early morning walk around the streets of Barnie.











A satisfied Prince...at least for the moment.




Our midday walk around the Mains was interrupted by rain. I stopped to offer Prince the chance to go back home - my dog Storm would have taken the offer, but Prince is made of sterner stuff (being younger and dafter), and wanted to continue - we got drenched by the storm.

I now realise that he walks very well on the lead, having obviously been trained to do so; no doubt his racing owners would have walked him every day. The only time he pulls is when he wants to examine something off to the right or left; I always go with him, because I have little choice - he's very strong! I am still not sure whether he likes other dogs - he had a barking match with two nice looking dogs yesterday. So he stays on the lead until I can be sure.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Monday May 25th

Just when I thought I was making progress.......

Item # One:  I think that I mentioned once before that Prince is a sort of Hungry Horace Dustbin On Four Long Legs. Yesterday he finished off a saucerful of pink grapefruit, which I had left easily available; I left them because I do not care for pink grapefruit, but I have never known any of my dogs to be interested in soft fruit either. I know he wasn't really hungry, because he is getting used to eating his meals at times which suit me in the way that I have always fed my dogs.  And he had just wolfed his lunch.
Item # Two:  I had thought (too much thinking) that he was getting used to the idea that if I went out he had begun to realise that I would return. Yesterday I was out for two hours in the early evening, to say Evening Mass in Middleton-in-Teesdale, and when I returned his excitement that I had actually come back was ecstatic, not to say positively dangerous, with him leaping, bouncing, twirling about, crashing into things (and me).  Still some way to go there then!

One morning we walked through Waterloo Yard into the Market, and after a long look around I managed to take this photo of the Market Cross, also called the ButterMarket.

The Butter Market was built in the eighteenth century for the burghers of Barnard Castle to discuss sales and strategy, but now serves as a roundabout to test the driving capabilities of the HGV drivers who have to go round it. Most of them succeed, without damage to their lorries or to the Butter Market.

Otherwise, Prince and I are still good friends.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Monday May18th

Another early morning walk around Bowes Museum, to give Prince a good idea of where he lives. He is certainly very happy in my house and around the grounds, in particular he is trying to find the wild rabbit which has taken up residence in my garden (However I noticed a dead rabbit slain by car or lorry on the pavement below the garden - I think it may be 'my' rabbit, so it may be too late to search for it).

At lunchtime I took him for a walk around the Desmesnes (locally the Mains) again on a familiarisation walk.  The Desmesnes is a huge stretch of land, donated by the Lord of the Manor centuries ago to the people of Barnard Castle in perpetuity - you can still see evidence of the strip-farming which took place here, though now it is a wide open space loved by dog-walkers and pedestrians alike where developement is not permitted.  We were approached by a lady, my church organist, with her two dogs on leads (as was mine) and a barking match took place. Her dog barked first but Prince retaliated and barked last.  My ears are still ringing with the noise!  When however we were immediaely approached by a litle black puppy which submissively lay on its back, Prince who was still excited by the barking match made a lunge for the puppy - whether as a play or perhaps something more sinister I was not quite sure.  I dragged him off, and no harm done, but either way the action made me think, and Prince will have to stay on his lead until I am sure.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday May 17th

We continue with our orientation walks, very early in the morning today, along Newgate, with the iconic Butter Market (centre in the distance), through the car park and back along Birch Road. I hope to show Prince where he lives so that if he 'escapes' he will know how to get back home again.

I have come to the conclusion that he is a clumsy dog. He bumps into things, whether walking forward or backwards (he does that a lot) and when he has a good shake his legs go in all directions and he can thump anything in range.  I had to come downstairs just after 2.30 am when I heard a great crash, and found that he had dragged a number of electronic devices off a shelf, getting tangled up with the cables and presumably by shaking, and the crash was very noisy. No damage done, and all sorted out in a minute. But whereas my dog Storm lived with those cables for years without pulling on them Prince caused chaos in a couple of days.

He enjoyed the end of my 10.30 Mass this morning.  He found his way into church when some youngsters opened the inter-connecting house door to deliver the collections into the house, and once into the church he approached everybody still there after Mass and received plenty of cuddles and kind words; he was very popular and he knew it and loved it!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Saturday May 16th

 Prince is settling down nicely. He recognised his bedding place as soon as he came into the sitting room - right next to His Master's favourite chair. And he does understand the command "Go and lie down"
 But he also likes to stretch out on the indestructable rug in front of the fireplace.
 (The 80th birthday card does not refer to Prince, but to His Master)
 As far as food is concerned Prince gives the impression that he is permanently on the verge of starvation.  I know that this is not true, but he will eat anything. After carrying my breakfast tray into the sitting room today, he made a quick dart for the cornflakes, got a good telling off, and two seconds later he grabbed a slice of bread (along with a napkin) - he got another telling off. He was quite unrepentant.

As far as social relationships are concerned, Prince is keen to meet people, travel by car and enter houses which are totally new to him. He was very and quietly patient with the two youngsters he met in their house yesterday afternoon. After years during which my dog Storm kept as far away as possible from other humans, this behaviour is much more regular dog-behaviour and I hope that this progress is maintained.  We have only had four walks so far around the district  but I hope that soon he will  know his way around Barnard Castle (and be able to find his way home if he escapes!)


Friday, 15 May 2015

New for Old

Two weeks ago I turned eighty years old. The Ordinariate and people of Gainford held a nibbles and wine party, and the people of Barnard Castle held an afternoon Tea Party on the Bank Holiiday Monday: both occasions very delightful and enjoyed with great gratitude.
So much for the old! Now for the new.
Last Sunday, May 10th, after a perfectly normal day, my dog Storm lay down and after a short illness simply died. Maybe a heart attack, maybe a stroke, who knows but the same result. I have many fond memories of the struggles I have had to rid him of his fears and anxieties and of the evident success I had with him.
I immediately decided to go to the local Dogs Trust centre to find another dog. After talks, viewings and decisions I came away yesterday with a black greyhound, who is in most ways to exact opposite of Storm.  Whereas Storm was cowed and only wanted to hide when I first got him, this new dog, Prince by name, just wanted to search his new premises, every room, from beginning to end.  Actually, I soon realised that what he was searching for was food, any kind of food, he snatched a mouthful of bird seed before I could move the bag, this morning when as usual I had cut up the final half inch of loaf for the birds he ate the lot as soon as I had thrown the pieces onto the grass. He is a canine food dustbin. I had to fight him for my teatime sandwiches yesterday - I won but only just. He has a huge attraction to food, of any kind. On the other hand, he cannot cope with staircases, so he has not come upstairs with me; I think he will soon get the hang of stairs, but this of course gave me a pretty sleepless night last night. First night, away from what he was used to, he was lonely and needed reassurance from my presence - my chair became uncomfortable after a while but the settee was much better!. However our early morning walk through the Bowes Museum grounds was very pleasant, with him looking at all the new places and hearing sounds of traffic which he is clearly not used to.
Photographs will follow when I have more time, but I feel sure that we can work together and both enjoy a new life.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Verona-on-Sea a.k.a Romeo and Juliet


For me, in my work-place of Barnard Castle, one of the secular highlights of the year is the annual presentation by the Castle Players of a Shakespearean play. Usually the Players perform one of William's comedies, but this year they have chosen to perform Romeo and Juliet, which, although it has comedy in certain parts of the story, is in the end a tragedy.

 
The action takes place on a large open grassed space behind the Bowes Museum, and as you can see there are 'groundlings' (Bring your own rug), just as in Shakespear's day. The rest of the audience is seated in two large mobile grandstands, named, of course, as the John Bowes Stand and the Josephine Bowes Stand.
There is always a warm-up performance by some of the actors while the public is finding their seats. The actor in the centre of the above photo struggled manfully with his dog - actually a toy dog on the end of a stick, which he controlled very well!

The play itself was performed in two unbroken parts, lasting an hour and a half each, with a break of half an hour for refreshments.  The action of the play was performed seamlessly; changes of Acts and Scenes was brought about by a dimming of lights and a bit of various pop songs from the 'Sixties, with departing actors removing their own props and incoming actors bringing theirs. This performance of Romeo and Juliet was dated as 1964, when as older readers will remember the Mods and Rockers were causing trouble in Brighton and other Channel resorts. Sometimes the 'stage' was full of Mods/Capulets and Rockers/Montagues, and sometimes a single actor filled the stage with his or her soliloquy. All the actors/actresses gave wonderful performances.
Juliet was well chosen, as was Romeo; Juliet is pictured here with her mother (Lady Capulet) and her nurse (Nurse).
Here we have the Rockerss chasing the Mods, while Benvolio and Mercutio have a chat on the right. Mercutio gave a splendid and athletic performance, doing falls and flips, before coming to a sticky end. After being stabbed, he 'fell' into the tethered boat and staggering to his feet with his hand and chest covered in blood (tomato sauce). The audience groaned with shock.

Friar John, who failed to pass on a letter containing details of the stratagem by which Romeo and Juliet could run away, was a dab hand at riding a 'sit-up-and-beg' bike around the stage and gave a Chaplinesque performance of trying to mount his bike. The 'death-sccene' was watched by a tense and silent audience - if only Romeo had received that letter and realised that Juliet was not really dead, then he would not have taken the poison, nor would Juliet have drunk the poison too!

But the Chief of Police was able to get Lords Capulet and Montague to shake hands and bring their enmity to an end.

ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL, so to speak.

The Curtain call ---