You ain’t no friend of mine

Arty off the lead on a previous walk…

The dogs are making enough noise to wake the neighbours.

One starts howling and the other is barking incessantly. It’s walkies time and, girl, do they know it.

Unlike my previous blogging platform, the Google-owned Blogger, it appears that I can’t simply upload a video to this website without paying WordPress extra, which seems a bit harsh. Instead, I’ll refer you to my Instagram page and you can hear the little buggers darlings there.

We’re off early out in the fields and up the hill, an easy enough jaunt now that the farmers have obligingly cut and cleared the grass for silage.

As usual, I keep young Ruby on a lead but Artemis, the older one, is pretty good. She’s skipped on ahead but I know she’ll come back when I call her. She’s got arthritis in one of her back legs which restricts her speed somewhat.

And then she turns around and shoots by me like a racehorse on speed. I have never seen her move so fast. She flies through the field and into the one we’ve just come through and roots around the hedge like a snuffling badger. I call and whistle to her but it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.

So, with Ruby in tow, I turn around to find out what all the fuss is about. Arty has her head down and is eating something. I’m carrying a bag of dog poo so I throw it at her as a distraction.

It misses and she shoots past me with a freshly-caught rabbit in her mouth. She zooms up into the big, wide open space of the biggest silage field, well out of my reach. I pick up the poo bag, turn around and try to catch her. It’s no good, she’s not interested and heads off every time I get close until she has devoured the rabbit in its entirety.

And then she comes when I call her, licking her lips. I can’t be too cross because she won’t know what I’m cross about – although I’m sure she does know. I put her on the lead and think about abandoning my head-in-the-clouds walk around the hilltop. But I know that if I do, I’ll be angry all day.

So with a dog on each arm, as if I’m a canine cross-country skier, I head for the hill and try to breathe in the beauty and serenity to calm myself down. It does the trick, even though I refuse to let Arty off on the entire journey back.

When I get back, I give Ruby her dental chew but I don’t give one to Arty because she’s been so naughty. I love my dogs but there are times when I absolutely hate them. Arty gazes at me through her fringe with the intense stare of a gorilla. I think the feeling is mutual.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Lazy Sunday afternoon

It’s been a surprisingly lazy Sunday in the Grigg household.

Most days during lockdown both of us have been pretty busy – Mr Grigg on community shop business or hard landscaping in the garden and me writing, studying and painting furniture.

But today, apart from playing the one o’clock music from my window into the village square, I’ve not done very much at all.

I walked the dogs this morning and read a bit of the latest novel I’ve borrowed from the telephone kiosk book exchange, Love Is Blind by William Boyd, which I’m enjoying although I stupidly mixed him up with John Boyne (I loved The Heart’s Invisible Furies).

I’ve also researched and sourced some audio recording equipment to complement the Zoom I’ve rediscovered in the back of a cupboard which I used when I was a reporter for Dorset Farm Radio. I’m doing a short course with FutureLearn about podcasting to see if I can come up with a new way of storytelling.

Mr Grigg has just finished watching an old war film and he’s now just about to take out Ruby. Arty is confined to the house, having eaten something which has violently disagreed with her. She is such a scavenger so it’s no more than she deserves, but I could have done without this morning’s major clean-up operation. Ruby, on the other hand, is a very picky eater. I have to watch over her to make sure she doesn’t get distracted by birdsong when having her breakfast otherwise she won’t eat it at all.

I’m putting today’s lazy, reflective mood down to one of the reasons behind this afternoon’s Sound of Music Through The Square Window. It was particularly poignant for me, with not one song after the Julie Andrews’ number but three.

The first, an obscure but dazzlingly beautiful jazz track, was for an NHS doctor in the village who is celebrating her birthday today. The second two songs were slipped in for a dear, dear friend who has just died in hospital. I mourn her passing but I so celebrate her life. She was an unstoppable force until yesterday afternoon.

So I give you the videos in the order I played the songs. I play the first one every day. If the village ever does its own version of The Sound of Music, I bagsy the part of Maria.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Lasting respect for the NHS

Last night, the whole Square turned out to clap their hands and rattle those pots and pans to support our NHS and other keyworkers for carrying on working in this world crisis.

It began with a ripple further up the village and then everyone was at it, even a doctor at the bottom of the lane with a gong.

This celebration of our NHS is now going to happen every week during the lockdown. But, as my GP niece said on social media, thanks for the applause – but I just wish people would listen, be a little less selfish, and treat us (and each other) with respect and consideration. We’ve always deserved that- but it matters now more than ever.

It breaks my heart that some people are abusive to health workers, biting the hand that heals them. It upsets me when successive governments use the NHS as a political football and sell off bits of it when we’re not looking, with people I know actually heaping praise on the very politicians whose ideology threatens to destroy the thing we’re clapping for every Thursday.

This groundswell of support for the people we rely on to properly live our lives has to be captured and nurtured after all this nonsense is over.

This is the second weekend of lockdown and, despite the brilliant memes and cheery social media posts, I think we’re all beginning to get sick of it. When will it all end? When will things get back to normal?

Depression is knocking on our door and we don’t want to let it in.

So many things – from operations and exploratory tests to family gatherings and holidays – have been put on hold.

On a lighter note, it’s my dog’s birthday today. Six years old and she still can’t read.

Happy birthday, Artemis.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x