Douggie Dog

I REALLY thought I’d published this post a couple of weeks ago. Oh well, it just means there are more photos to put up.

Yes, losing Poppy knocked us backward quite badly. Despite her age, she was still so fit and active that when the complication came along, neither of us was prepared. I know everyone’s pet is super special but, really, she was.


Knowing we had a house move coming up was a very convenient excuse to not to have to think about what we were going to do with neither kids or dogs in the house. It was very calm and strange. Going for a walk was a bit of a hollow experience. After a few months, it was time to talk about ‘the void’ and what we should do about it. We decided, being quite experienced dog owners, there was no reason why we shouldn’t take a rescue dog this time. I’m so glad we did. His name is Doug and he is 10 months old. When we first bought him home, he was very manic; lots of lunging and BIG barks. So, for the first couple of weeks we walked him, everyday, along the river where he could run back and forward but not left or right because of waterways on each side. Like a typical puppy, he could go from 100% to nothing in seconds. There was a lot of sleeping.DSC_5243


Yes, as you can see, as well as a very unusual coat, seen mostly on Collies, he’s a stumpy dog – vertically challenged – a big dog with short legs. But, I say again, a BIG bark. We’ve been told he’s collie, corgi and basset hound – who cares. He’s lovely.

Anyway, once we’d done some work with recall, it was over the road to the beach. Timid at first, it didn’t take him long to love getting in that water. And, discovering smelly seaweed is great for a roll.


A few days on and we were feeling confident enough to take him on the hill where lots of dogs get walked. We learned he plays very nicely with other dogs. This was also combined with learning that, although the walk through the streets a little stressful with lots of attempted lunging and successful barking, once we got to a café, life was very good. He loves to lay under the table and watch the world go up and down the street. Not sure what we’ll do in winter when we have to go inside.


Hopefully, by then, the training will be really paying off and any remnants of previous undesirable behaviour will be non-existent. Maybe?


In the meantime, whilst the sun shines, we shall take full advantage, have as many adventures as possible, and get as many photos as I can. It looks like we’re going to be lucky dog slaves again 🙂



Porte Lympne finale

My annual ticket ran out yesterday so I scurried over to Porte Lympne wildlife park in Kent for what might be the last time for a while. As usual, I took a couple hundred photos of which all bar 50 were dealt with by the delete button. Here are my final 10:

Paying homage to the alpha male
The Aspinall foundation have release many rhinos back into the wild
When you choose your food to match your hairdo.
A natural looking new enclosure for the meerkats
What a magnificient beast.
Through the wires of captivity
The moral dilemma of wild animals in captivity
Gibbons seem such good parents.
The grounds of Port Lympne wildlife park.
A new, huge enclosure for the tigers.

Where the dogs lay

It’s been a while. I shall make no more apologies, suffice to say I’m struggling to get here regularly at the moment. However, because Lightroom Mobile has made it virtually instantaneous, I am dropping something into Instagram on a regular basis:  which, for the most part, will eventually make its way to this site.

Some of today’s photos won’t make it to Instagram – they’re too personal. Whoa, how did I make that decision: is my blog a more intimate space than my Insta account? And even, why would I want to put something quite personal into the public domain on any platform? Strange and interesting but I don’t have the answer.

Anyway, spring has arrived, even if temporarily, and we’ve been brave today and faced something that needed doing. Today, Poppy got delivered to her final resting place with strict instructions not to antagonise other family dogs (Loulou and Smiler (Emma)) who already rest there. It’s a good spot, especially in the spring when the wood anemones become bluebells and the fox cubs play amongst the pine and oak tree trunks in the evenings. They were always countryside dogs and it’s nice to think of them there.

Down the wood
Under the oak


Looking up through the pines
Amongst the anemones and with the promise of bluebells
She’ll sleep with those who went before
And by the way – it used to be a hop farm
Where folk would come from the towns and cities
And spend their summers living in Hopper’s huts.

Winter wildlife

I made the most of a sunny, crisp winter’s morning to get over to the  Aspinall Foundation’s Port Lympne wildlife park and see how the animals, many more used to a warmer climate, were coping with this cold spell.

Maybe feeling a bit bolshy at having her breakfast disturbed?
An early morning snort.
This one is indigenous
Impatient for a feed I think
The silverback
Learning the morning song
Family unit




It wasn’t quite the same walking the orchard this week without the little white thing but the weather was fine and the cider brewery didn’t clear all the apples so the colours were resplendent in the autumn sun. It was such a fine day, we extended our walk up to the castle and engaged with the ducks who are always extremely outrageous but highly comical.

Autumn windfalls.
Cider apples that are normally collected by the brewery.
A hardy few cling on for dear life.
Sunshine and cobwebs.
Bodium castle in the sun.
A formidable construction.
The moat ducks are audacious
They always cheer me up.
Lots of new vineyards in the area producing new local wines.
Rushes by the river.
The Bodian steam railway soon to me linked in to the national network.

Last walk around the Orchard

It hasn’t been a particularly good week. After a second trip to the vets with a growth in her mouth and a heart murmur that strongly indicated she wouldn’t cope with the anaesthetic, it was recommended that we make the end easy for her.

Isn’t it ridiculous. Despite being 17 years old, she was still very fit and this was not the outcome I’d prepared myself for. The other half, being country raised and far more pragmatic, had prepared himself for this eventuality. It will be hard for him; they went everywhere together.

Little did we know this was Poppy’s last walk around the orchard – at least she got to stuff that sneaky cider apple before we could get to her. But, who will now nag me for the carrot tops? Poor Molly, not much of a doggy sleep over for you.

Sleep tight puppy dog.



Port Lympne revisited

I don’t like zoos, I don’t go to the circus, I shan’t be attending festivals involving elephants if we’re lucky enough to get to India later in the year but… I do admire the work of institutions like the Aspinall Foundation. Although the endangered animals are not in their natural environments, far from their homelands, they are at least in spacious enclosures where they are encouraged to live as ‘normal’ a life as possible. At Port Lympne the convenience and comfort of the animal comes before the importance of ‘getting a good look’ for the spectator and therefore, it is often difficult to get a clear photographic shot. I like the challenge… And, as a tiny contribution to supporting the work they do to protect these species, I have bought an annual pass and expect to revisit the park several times this year. I think it is important we all get exposure to endangered species, learn of the difficulties they are currently experiencing and are aware of their lives in the wild.

Acres for African herbivores to roam.
Black rhino can often be spotted.
Dust baths for bison.
Mud holes for water buffalo.
What do ostriches do?
The giraffes have some roaming rights.
The breeding program seems to be working.
Baby drill baboon
The apes have big inside and outside enclosures to choose from.
Foraging for seeds.
Keeping safe from the big boys.
A family unit of gibbons
A pair of old tigers who have enjoyed a far longer life than they could have hoped for in the wild.
Shy fishing cat was camouflaged amongst these rocks.



Aspinall’s Howletts

Keeping wild animals captive will always be a contentious issue but… we’re not keeping them very well in the wild so luckily, some institutions are making great efforts to ensure endangered species continue to reproduce in relatively comfortable and engaging environments. Aspinall’s Foundation have two sites in the south of England where it would seem every effort is made for the animals to be held in large enclosures with nature all around them. I have always gone to Port Lympne which closer to where we live but this time, I thought I’d take a drive out to Canterbury to visit Howlett’s. Both are great parks but both are good for different reasons. Although the gorillas were very dozy on the day I went, albeit shaded from the sunny weather, I thought there was much better viewing of elephants at Howlett’s.

And, both parks do special photography packages that I may have to seriously consider one of these days.

Elephant must have been posing.
Beautiful animal
Moloch gibbon
These lion-tailed macaques were fascinated by something.
Gorilla feeding
Some very useful toes.
Asian wild dogs (dholes) scrapping over meat.
Through glass, I love the reflections on this mother and baby of the countryside behind me.
Java Langur looking very punky.
That just looks like mischief.
Clouded leopard rousing himself after his siesta.
Red river hogs straight out of a Disney film
A pair of lions.
A family of Gelada Baboons – making daisy chains?
A mother’s love – the one photo you really wish had been in focus.
Black and white Colobus.