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Elle’s Grandfather

Tom Finigan – my Granfy (aged 14)

Elle: “Granfy – why are your face and hands so black and dirty?”
Tom: “Because I’ve been kissing the cat’s bottom.”

That silly little exchange happened a number of times as I was a young child, and never ceased to make me giggle. It is one of the happy memories I have of growing up. My Granfy (Tom Finigan) ran his own engineering business at the time… and used to come home covered in graphite. He looked like he’d been down a mine.

I spent a lot of time at my Nanny (Irene Finigan neé Emerson) & Granfy’s house as I was growing up – my Mum and I also lived with them for a time when we first moved down South… and I was rarely happier than when I was sat by his side… “helping” him with his crosswords… sorting his cigar cards (yes… I always needed to file things, even then)… watching Countdown with my Nanny… or racing about with their white Boxer dog, Rocky.

I was the eldest Granddaughter of the family… and spoiled rotton of course! I was their little princess, and they always had time to give me a cuddle, or tell me silly stories. Continue reading

A day with Billy…

Good morning owners!

After destroying a large vase on Friday. Probably caused by him and the Lab bouncing around because I had the audacity to go out for a while – there’s little doubt in mind he’d have been the instigator of the incident, if not the actual body that brought it down – we woke yesterday to the not particularly welcome sight of the welcome mat partially de-constructed.

They travelled great on the ferry when we moved recently, despite the appalling journey courtesy of ferry company Acciona Mediterrania (wankers), they were fantastic in the car, they’ve settled into the new house well, their behaviour has – almost – been  pretty good – until the last few days since Billy’s mischievous streak has returned. House training has gone out of the window a couple of times as he gets used to a new toilet regime, and has caused various levels of destruction of household items.

The culprit!

Following on from the mat incident – we were furious – he was frankly a bloody nuisance for the rest of the day, under our feet, annoying the other hounds, pestering visitors – including being very insistent he park himself in-front of the chap trying to negotiate our house on crutches.

Just at the point when I wondering “Why the hell did we rescue him?”, things changed. Quickly. Behind where we live is a track up the mountain, and since we’ve moved I’ve been taking them up there one by one for their last ‘activity’ of the day. Last night when I got back with the Labrador (Pepper) I brought him in and immediately noticed the little ginger freak wasn’t at the door staring at me with a wagging tail. I looked through – the back door was open. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d jumped the outside walls. A quick search and the dismayed running backwards and forward of his ‘brothers’ confirmed this was the case. Continue reading

Acciona Trasmediterránia – Arrecife to Cadiz

I’ve been quiet on my blog again for a while – we’ve been moving, and as a result  of the move have some advice to share with fellow animal lovers – If you’re thinking of travelling with dogs or cats between Lanzarote and Cadiz on the Acciona Trasmediterránia ferry  – DON’T!

We thought long and hard when we decided to bring our dogs to mainland Spain from Lanzarote. We looked at every detail. Our dogs are part of the family, they are neither accessories, nor are they dumb animals. It’s like having three toddlers, and I personally work on the principle of ‘Would I put my kids through that’?

So rather than the expense of doping them up and transporting them by plane, we were thrilled to find out that the Arrecife to Cadiz ferry allowed pets, and at only €36 per dog was an incredible saving on the cost of flying them. Result! We thought so at the time anyway. On the strength of this we called the call centre and booked after being told…

“Yes, you can see the dogs any time you want”.

“Yes, if you want to stay with them you can”.

There was no ambiguity with the responses from the call centre – we could stay with our dogs. I didn’t mind how uncomfortable it would be for us, I just wanted to make sure it was as stress free for them as possible. They didn’t ask for the move – it’s something we wanted, why should they suffer?

The outside ‘kennels’ – these are a couple of the better ones – many had doors missing.

So, the move time came and consisted of three trips. Two were to Cadiz and back for me with the car and our stuff. The third would be when I’d be returning to Cadiz with Elle and the dogs.

I hate boats, and I loathe boredom, so one 30 plus hour journey was more than enough for me, never mind having to do that three times. However doing the trip alone there and back would give me time to check out the facilities for animals. On the first trip I was horrified to find out that the kennels were below decks. They were filthy, and access was limited to very specific hours. These were… Continue reading

Why?

It's a stone you moron!

You’re with me when I sleep, you’re with me when I wake;
You’re with me in the daytime, and with me in the dark;
With me in the fields and with me in the park.

Not a care for what I say, and not a care for what I do;
You’d be still beside me, if I was a total twat.

Why the fcuk – would anyone want a bloody cat!

Back to work!

So it’s the Monday after the weekend before and I’m feeling so much better than I expected I would after walking the 70 plus kilometres from Orzola to the lighthouse at Playa Blanca. The blisters  healing quickly and hardly a twinge from my legs and back.

Just before setting off

As I’ve written before, the walk is something I’ve had in mind for some time. And I have to say, despite the blistered feet and inevitable aching legs I really, really enjoyed the experience. I wanted to take some time out, clear my head.

It was hard work to do – but incredibly rewarding. It’s given some perspective to life here, and highlighted to me some of the good (and bad) things. I’m not turning into a hippy or anything – so don’t worry I’ve not come out of it a changed man – it just adds some clarity.

Starting early and getting ready about 4am, I was carrying my stuff downstairs and nearly took a tumble missing a step on the corner where our staircase turns. I didn’t know if I should read it as a sign – was it a sign? Was it telling me I shouldn’t do this? Or was it that the very fact I had failed to tumble down the stairs a sign that I was meant to do it? Actually, as I’m not one for signs, I ignored it as such – the only thought that went through my head was “Sh*t, that was lucky, how would it look to everyone if I’d cried off with a twisted ankle or broken leg before I even start”! Continue reading

The dogs!

The boys!

In training for my walk in February I’ve been paying regular visits to the Princess Yaiza gym, and doing a LOT more walking than I usually do.

The dogs are very happy about getting to spend more time outdoors! 🙂

Update on the Cesar Millan training…

I wrote recently after acquiring our new dog – Pepper – about how we were employing the Cesar Millan training methods for the two books we had bought – How to Raise the Perfect Dog and Cesar’s Way.

Here’s a bit of an update…On the whole, with the odd glitch as you can see – it’s working out pretty well. Both of the boys are way better on the lead, and generally behave pretty well together. They do occasionally have issues with each other and get a bit boisterous – but we expected that with them both being dogs.

I’ve read one of the books – must get around to the other – and pretty much watched most of everything he’s done for TV. It works – it really does. Though I do wonder sometimes that he seems to have something very special about him, almost a ‘Doctor Doolittle quality’, that we mere mortals can never hope to emulate. The man has a gift!

My grandfathers story…

Thomas GandyAs a child, my granddad (Thomas Gandy) was my idol. I remember him as a little old man, apparently frail and ‘bow legged’, but if you looked further the man had the strength of an ox. If he rolled his sleeves up he had muscles like Popeye on a spinach high! I idolised him he used to sit me on his knee and tell me great stories about his travels in Canada – so spectacular to a child that you wondered whether he was making them up at times…. Cows and cowsheds being lifted by winds, travelling under the rails of trains – stories you might expect to read in something written by Jack Kerouak rather than to hear from your own grandfather.

To put you in the picture of the type of man he was, he was very gentle with us. I remember him most of the time sitting quietly in his chair as my grandmother would talk constantly. Boy could she talk – well, when she got the chance between bringing us constant supplies of cakes and ginger beer made and bought in specially for our regular visits. He was quiet – but you always knew who wore the trousers in that house!

I recall one time – as a child does – asking “Why do you have such big ears”? At which point (socially acceptable in those days) my mothers hand came from nowhere around the back of my head. He said calmly, but authoritatively, and with a suppressed anger I’m sure – “What was that for? The boy asked a perfectly reasonable question. I DO have big ears”. He took his gaze away from my mother, looked into my tearful eyes and answered the question as though nothing had happened. That was the kind of man he was.

I’ve told this story many times as I was told it by my dad – to the best of my recollection – over the years… But after writing recently about my uncle Fred passing away thought it was time to write it down.

Continue reading

RIP – Fred McDonald

FredToday is the day of Uncle Fred’s funeral. Well my great uncle… A man I only have fond memories of, a genuinely nice guy and a big influence on my life – not directly – but through his influence on my dad. As well as the immediate family (you know who you are if you are reading this) I feel for my dad today. I grew up with stories of my dad’s childhood – many centred around Fred. Fred seemed to figure somewhere in just about all of them. Amongst other things Fred taught him to drive, they spent a number of years in the TA together, and have always been close…

My dad hasn’t just lost his uncle, he’s lost his last real link with his own parents, and he’s lost a man who was as much a big brother figure and a friend to him as anything else… Fred taught him, Fred looked out for him, Fred helped shape him…

I hate funerals, and if I’m honest avoid them unless I feel affected closely. This is one I would have liked to have been at – I would have been at – if it were possible. I wish I could have been in Liverpool today to pay my respects and say my own farewells…

Goodbye Uncle Fred – you were a great guy – we were all honoured to know you!

I´m not quite dead yet…

Joe´s beboThis makes it sound like I’ve died… 🙂 But, it’s hard not to be touched – both pleased, and saddened – by this little gem I found on my son’s Bebo page. Life has it’s ups and downs, not all is constant – but my kids over the years have been the one thing that is – they´ve kept me going through the bad times and the good. Every moment I have with them, every line I exchange with them on Messenger I treasure – even if the conversation on Messenger is usually limited to words like ‘ye’, ‘cool’. ‘borin’ and ‘nothin’… 🙂

Joe, if you´re reading this – don’t you ever forget that I love and miss you (and your brothers) every minute of every day. Thanks for making my day!