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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

Welcome to ‘Melting-Pot Monday’. To kick off this new series, The Bean has hijacked my keyboard to give us her reflections on being an intrepid tiny four pawed traveler:

It’s not easy being Bean. My job is to be faithful, loyal and unerringly stoic which skills I have in amazing quantities. But despite my dazzling talent, I don’t get any say in where I will be at any time. They discuss and debate and I doggedly jog alongside them. This goes for walks, runs and hikes and for bigger journeys that require cars or trains or planes.

When They are packing for one of these journeys I get quite anxious and I sit sentinel in my basket beadily scanning for signs that the car door may open whence I stealthily nip in and refuse to move. I worry, you see, that in their grandeose plans, they may entirely and completely forget me.

I am ten human years old. When I was half this age, She took me repeatedly to that house where the person sticks spikes in my neck and pokes me and peers in my ears and my eyes and then writes things with a pen-stick and after three times She was happy because the spiking person gave her a book with my name in it called a ‘Pet Passing Port’. This book gets taken with us every time we travel. When we travel to see my friends in the old country I have to have a filthy tasting pill forced down my throat through my resolutely clamped jaw.  This is the foul tablet which the French man who has also been known to spike my scruff from time to time claims is ‘un petit bon-bon Français’. That is a despicable lie. It is not a sweetie, it is no sort of candy.   It is vile and it is designed to make my tummy feel very delicate and undulous.  They say it empties me of worms but since I don’t have any wrigglers anywhere on or in my person it is a worthless cruelty. More recently, after we moved our place to Grenoble I got a better spiking doctor who gives me a meat flavored treat which they say does the same thing. I like the doctor who gives me meats.  I do not like the one who tells lies and pushes the wretched pill down my throat with gigantic  tweezers the size of Edward Scissorhands’ knife-fingers. He needs to be avoided which I did try to show Her whenever we went to his house. I would go on sit down strike but She would act as though She didn’t understand and would pick me up and carry me in. This is the worst think about being of petite and portable proportions.  I will give you his address if you contact me discretely.  You really do need this information so that you can be sure to avoid him. She thought he was nice, by the way, but He even had the temerity to jest that it is amusing and ironic that She, an English woman, has to pay him, a Frenchman, many euros to allow me, an English dog, back into my own country. He clearly doesn’t understand that I speak very good French and don’t really even remember living in that England, though I very much like to visit, and that I find it offensive that he dares make light of this dastardly situation. It is not at all ironic it is just undignified and rather rude. Come the glorious day when my true worth is recognized he will regret his facetiousness. This is my pledge.

Since I got my passing port I have travelled to France, Switzerland, Germany and the USA. Plus visits back to the England place.  I have driven many thousands of miles by car (about 90,000 at the last count which is around 145,000 km) and I have taken very fast trains. But the bit that humans are most interested in is that I do flying. Because I am sensibly svelte and compact in size, I am allowed to fly in the cabin with Them. I have to go in a bag which is rather a slight and I have to be weighed in the bag to make sure that our combined weight is acceptable.  Then I am welcomed by the nice food trolley people and I am stowed under the seat in front of Her. The first time I flyed was from Clermont Ferrand to Paris and then from Paris to Boston. When we got to Boston they let me out of the bag and I pooed on His foot. Since then they have cruelly deprived me of food until we land safely and are through all the controls where the humans look at my passing port and ask if I have brought food with us.  I don’t – I eat local food wherever I am.  Truthfully, I mainly just like to eat, and I am happiest with anything that falls from the table when They are eating but I will make do with what they call ‘dog food’ if forced – how silly is that … all food is dog food.  Obviously.  I like restaurants for this reason. I find that if shimmy into my most appealing and cute pose, people ask if they can pet me and then, when they are at their most vulnerable, I take my  limpid eyes up to Mach 3-charming and they ask if they can give me a tidbit. This is a skill I advise all dogs to learn well. It is truly life-enhancing.

He says that I kept Her afloat during the 5 years after they were married that we were not all together most of the time. I took my role as Her fierce protector seriously and it was quite tiring and I was always happy when He was with us. Now we can all be together and I can relax. Life is good in this new place. It is called Boston and in Boston they are very keen on beans.   She says people can learn a lot from my attitude which is really the attitude of all dogs that are fortunate to have humans of their own. She says that being simple and uncomplicated and enjoying the moment and loving where you are even if it isn’t the place you thought you wanted to be in, is a good way to live a life. She says that being fortunate is not counted in gold coins or sunshine but in the warmth you feel in your heart. I think she sometimes speaks some sense. Particularly when she says its supper time …..

PS: I am writing this from one of my favourite places in the wide, wide world. My humans are away from home for a week so they put me in my kennels which I really love. It is also the house of the local spiking man but he is one of the good spiking men. I love him and all the others in this house SO much that when we came to see him just after we arrived to make sure I was tickety-boo, I launched myself off her knee and did a full barrel-roll in the air which would have been of perfectly Cirque du Soleil standard had I not mildly misjudged my elevation and grounded with my back. I’m pretty sure I got away with the duff landing because Doctor Spiker was clearly very impressed and said it is not normally a problem he encounters that a dog is excited to be at this place. But I do love them. Because they are kind to me, I do love them. The law of the dog is quite simple, you see … all we need is love and we will absorb it and process it and give it back at a ratio that fantastically exceeds the original.

À bientôt

The Bean 

And your bonus is Mr Johnny Cash. He is singing a song that Her Daddy loved and I have used it as my title for this piece of unabashed brilliance because I know it will make her smile.  I hope you will too.  I wonder if any of you can sing every single word without tripping up …..

A note from the Editor in Chief (that’s me, Osyth) …. I have decided to join the Fandango One Word Challenge from time to time because I think initiatives that aim to fill the void left by the WordPress decision to halt their challenges should be supported.  The absolute essence of this post is that a simple outlook is generally helpful, I am submitting it to the cauldron of other entries here    #FOWC

Two Lymes and a Lemon

In the words of Cyril Raymond to Celia Johnson at the end of ‘Brief Encounter’  ‘you’ve been a long, long way away’ – I won’t flatter myself with his next line ‘thank you for coming back to me’ but I have been a long way away and I’m very much afraid that I HAVE come back to you ….

It’s been a bit of a saga so here is a précis before I dive back into stories of house hunts and refurbishments and hikes (though one does figure here) and generally half-baked meanderings.

Here goes:

  1. June 17th The Two Brained one is diagnosed with Lyme Disease after breaking out in purple patches all over his normally unblemished body.
  2. June 19th He whisks me by circuitous route, lest I guess the ultimate destination, to France.  Grenoble to be precise.  You may remember I have a particular affection for Grenoble
  3. June 21st To the courthouse …. I’m not in the dock and neither is he but I do have another installment for my book ‘The Lying Cheating Lives of Others’ and there will be more of that in later blog posts – a road yet to be trodden but one that I think y’all might enjoy
  4. June 22nd – home to our little nest in Northern Cantal for our Wedding Anniversary.  There is nothing nicer than to be in the village we were married in three years ago drinking a toast ‘à la notre’ in jolly nice French champagne
  5. June 23rd – up early and on the road to Marcolès to find out what progress on the house.   There is progress but it would be wrong of me to spoil the surprise so I will leave you in suspenders til the next installment
  6. June 25th – back to Lyon to drop off car and take a flight.  HB² is confident that a) I love surprises so will not look at my ticket b) I can’t actually see it without my glasses and c) I’m so excited that I will miss the only announcement for our flight.  Therefore I board a plane not knowing where I am bound
  7. June 26th – I wake up in Edinburgh, a city I know quite well, where my grandmother was married in 1918 and where I hounded my elder brother when he was doing his PhD because I could and mainly because he had a ready supply of male friends for the 18 year old me to make cow-eyes at.
  8. June 27th – I pick up a call from my vet who is boarding The Bean.  The words ‘there is nothing to worry about, but ….’ instantly make me worried.  A lot worried.  Because it turns out that The Small But Feisty one has also got Lyme.  Be still my pounding heart.  At least she is in the right place and they say she is responding well to treatment.
  9. June 29th – We decide to walk up Arthur’s Seat.  This is an extinct volcano within the city.  My aforementioned and extremely long-suffering brother lived in a very pretty district at it’s foot and we walked up often.  Actually he used to run it.  At his wedding his best man’s speech began ‘I first suspected that my flatmate might be mad when he asked the way to Arthur’s Seat for a run on a bitterly cold, wet and windy day…. I showed him and some time later I realised it wasn’t a case of might be mad,  he clearly was mad as he set off down the lane in a storm with a rucksack full of boulders on his back’.  He is still that same animal.  In those days there were a few walkers some with dogs and that was about it.  Today it teems with tourists making their way up, taking selfies and mostly wearing entirely unsuitable footwear (flip flops, fashion sandals, even the odd pair of heels) for what is a moderate hike up hill-paths rather than pavements.  We took the road less travelled and benefited from stunning views unencumbered by the masses.  The German girls hogging the peak did move over when I utilised my famed loud and I don’t care who knows it, voice and we duly stood for a moment or two before setting off down again.  All was well and I was lost in thought (mostly quite bitchy thoughts about the unsuitable nature of other people’s footwear) until almost at the bottom, not on a remotely steep bit, I slipped on shail and heard an audible crack.  The crack was nothing to my blood-curdling bellows and the air took on a blue hue as I cursed my way thorugh the early moments of what is actually a severe high ankle sprain coupled with 90% tear to the anterior calf muscle.  I must thank the lovely man from Canada who stopped to help The Brains wrestle me to my feet, the equally lovely café who served delectable lime and coconut cake (I was in shock – I needed sugar) and the wonderful nurse in Minor Injuries at the Western General Hospital.  Later as I limped into a taxi my husband asked how I felt about the last bit of his surprise – did I think I could manage it.  Could I?  I would walk through the fires of a spewing live volcano to do what he had in mind.
  10. June 30th – Two trains to Liverpool for lunch with youngest daughter and two more to Oxford to stay two nights with my mother who had one last surprise – my younger brother flown in from Bahrain to spend an evening with his big sister.   In  life, the real luxuries are the little things.  The thoughtfulness of my husband, the opportunity to see some of my family.  Secrets and lies can be quite beautiful – four of the most precious people in my world kept them and there is no sin in that.
  11. July 2nd – we collect the delighted but subdued tiny dog from her Boarding Vet.  She has anti-biotics and is making some progress.  Lyme Disease is a nasty nasty thing – sometimes, it isn’t easy being Bean.

So there you have it Two Lymes and a Lemon.  Here are some nice pictures from the Scottish leg of my odyssey and afterwards I will treat you to a PS:

The promised and entirely necessary PS:  Yesterday, I visited my lovely Cambridge doctor for a formal verdict on my leg.  He sympathised with Two Brains having to live with with a caged and beligerent tigress with cabin fever and asked how he is doing (he is a specialist in infectious diseases so had been asked for his opinion when The Brains presented with what appeared to be Lyme).  He commented that it was remarkable that HB² had been running the morning of his diagnosis  with Lyme.  I explained that our daughters and others are convinced he is, in fact, one of The  Men in Black.  The doctor seemed spookily content to agree ….

And for those unfamiliar with the achingly heartrending last scene of ‘Brief Encounter’ – here it is: