Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I know, I never write, I never call. Some blogger I am.

This recent absence can be explained by two major events: honeymoon cruise followed immediately by the arrival of the Browett-Traynor household’s first pet, the very cute but very wilful Alfie.

Alfie, a quite gorgeous cocker spaniel, is six months old and was one of Lead On’s very first clients. But his owner found the combination of a full-time job and an extremely boisterous puppy a little too much to handle. As Debbie and I had always intended that we would re-home a rescue dog, we figured that it was only right to open our doors and our hearts to little orphan Alfie.

Alfie deigns to have a cuddle with me on the couch

Timing is, of course, everything.

A couple of days before we left on the cruise (of which, more later), I’d agreed to board a dog for two weeks. Abbie is a very lively 18-month lab-cross whose owner is relocating from Dublin to the south coast and needs a short-term home for Abbie until their permanent accommodation is in place. So, having stepped off the cruise ship at 7am two weeks ago, we headed for home to prepare for the arrival later that day of not one, but two mutts.

It’s fair to say things have been a little bit of a whirlwind since. Alfie and Abbie get on brilliantly – if getting on brilliantly means chasing each frantically and endlessly from room to room, tearing around the garden like a pair of whirling dervishes, biting each other’s ears like Dracula on crack and bickering like teenagers over chew toys.

The most spoken words round ours right now are  “No!” and “Down!” and “Stop that!”

But it’s all been great fun (the loss of most of the lawn and several pairs of flip-flops aside) and daily long walks on the South Downs with the other Lead On dogs are brilliant both for socialising Alfie and Abbie and for exhausting the pair of them so much that they happily lie zonked on the couch for hours every night. Yes, you read that right – on the couch. Or on the bed.

Oh we know, we’re making every mistake in the book but hey – anything for a little bit of bloody peace!

Alfie and Abbie pause for one second from their perpetual motion to wonder why I'm not shouting at them

Today I also got a terrific boost when I read this positively glowing review from Abbie’s owner, Nicola, on a couple of the listings sites Lead On uses – good word-of-mouth is an excellent way to build any business and this was certainly good. Nicola was also kind enough to offer me some invaluable advice on marketing and improving communication with current and potential customers so it’s fair to say ours has been a very productive relationship!

Right now my thoughts are on an autumn push for more business – after all, I gained a puppy but lost a client when I took in Alfie. And I could stand to be a lot more busy than I am. I’m also going to sign up for a course in dog behaviour because, having blundered in raising the blessed Lubo and letting that sweet but wilful wee dug rule the roost, I’m not about to compound those errors with Alfie.

Fortunately, the general mayhem of the last 10 days or so followed what was a quite wonderful 12 days cruising the Baltic Sea. We had been very lucky that our fabulous friends and family contributed so generously to our honeymoon fund and that paid for our Royal Caribbean cruise. Thank feck they did – the price of booze on the boat ($30 for a bottle of very ordinary Californian red) was enough to have this canny Scot considering walking the plank on day one!

Joking aside (I’m not really joking, the cost of booze was sore! Luckily for us, we made friends with a lovely barman …), the trip was a wonderful way to see a lot of places you wouldn’t normally travel to in a very short space of time – and minus the hassle of airports, juggling luggage and constantly checking into new hotels. Plus our nightly dining companions were a lovely bunch – Chris and Elaine from Bedfordshire, celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with best friends Marion and Allan from Devon; and Dubliners Michael and Marian, with whom we shared a night of ‘dad dancing’ shame in the boat’s ‘disco’.

While the boat was the size of a small skyscraper and had everything you could ever want on board, from a casino to two pools, a library and a spa, a gym (seriously, folk were in there working out at midnight – you’re on holiday, FFS!) and a climbing wall, it was our destinations that excited us most. I won’t bore you with a long travelogue but here’s where we went and here’s what we thought of it.

Copenhagen – not called wonderful for nothing. Quite beautiful, remarkably friendly and great food

Stockholm – gorgeous city in a magical setting of islands with fantastic food

Helsinki – another gorgeous city, more great food (Debbie ate Rudolph) and friendly but not over-friendly people

St Petersburg – quite simply gorgeous (the Stalinist housing scheme beside the docks notwithstanding). Two days here was not long enough to soak up or appreciate the sheer scale and beauty of the old city. Vodka and caviar with everything – what’s not to love?

Tallinn – like you’d just stepped on to a Disney set which was interesting for about 10 minutes and then not. Worth seeing but too full of Finnish weekenders getting bladdered on cheap booze to impress me much

Gothenburg – confirmed our new status as total Scandophiles. Like Copenhagen and Stockholm, its waterways are the city’s lifeblood and they’re a terrific way to see the city quickly. We loved it, especially the very low bridge known as the ‘haircutter’ – as our barge approached, the captain ordered us to sit on the floor to avoid decapitation!

Yes, the 'haircutter' bridge really was THAT low

And finally, as they say, for those ganting* for their fill of Scots word of the day, I’ll do a bumper blog of all the missing ones tomorrow.

*Ganting v: in desperate need of satisfaction, usually of the sexual kind

Who are ye?

If I had an ego (ahem), I’d be a little hurt that the most traffic this baby blog has ever had followed my lament for my old paper, the Daily Record, last week.

But hey, any view is a good view in my view and if a few more of you pop by to read my irregular musings on life, WELCOME!

The blog and I even got a name check from the grand dame of online media comment, Roy Greenslade, when I – along with  many others – took him to task for his particularly callous and vicious view on Trinity Mirror’s butchering of its Scottish titles. Hence the extra traffic methinks.

Still, the good thing is you all know who I am. No, it really is me. And I am a genuine – whisper it – lesbian. Cos that’s kinda assumed a whole lot of importance in the last few days, what with straight American men suddenly embracing their inner dyke and claiming to be gay girls in blogs.

I’m not sure I can even begin to get my head round it. Not the pretending to be someone else. t’interweb has encouraged that kind of malarkey since Y2K was a dot on the horizon.

What surprises me (and I really should know better by now) is that these guys seemed to believe no-one would ever find out about the charade. Hello!  You can’t post stuff online and imagine that you can always remain anonymous. The daftest poster on the dumbest messageboard has surely learned that lesson, especially now that the tabloids have taken to wholesale lifting of said daft posts on dumb messageboards to fill pages.

Plus there are folks out there who are seriously good at finding out online stuff. Not me, obviously – I can’t even build a basic website. But the clever clogs of the cyberworld mean business when they think someone is taking the piss.

Me, I’m too cautious and boring to say anything outrageous online. And that’s because the advice of an old boss always rings in my ears whenever I do post here or on those daft messageboards I mentioned earlier.

He was talking about writing a column for a newspaper but his counsel is quite pertinent to allegedly anonymous online postings.

‘Never say in print what you wouldn’t be willing to say to someone’s face or to defend while having a pint in a pub.’

Mind you, it’s probably just as well I’m the only eejit heeding his advice. Imagine how dull t’interweb would be then …

And finally, in other news, my brilliant other half, Debbie Browett, was given an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on Saturday.

Eat yer heart out, Sir Brucie!

Debbie was rewarded for her tireless work on improving LGBT equality and diversity in the Home Office through its staff network, SPECTRUM.

I won’t pretend she wasn’t more than a little discomfited by the news of the award. For a start, she’s no fan of the monarchy and her politics take her a little further to the left than the current incumbents of Downing Street might ever wander.

However, after pondering her decision on whether to accept the gong for a week or so, she decided to accept because:

  1. HM’s Honours are the only current system of civic awards we have in the UK;
  2. Turning it down would go against the principle Debbie has of always (as far as possible) being a positive, out role model, particularly for those who are still afraid to be out at work;
  3. We get a day out at the Palace and the chance to wear our suits again!

So, congratulations again, Deborah Browett MBE.

Words don’t come easy

Lang may yer lum reek Meaning may you live long and prosper, long may you thrive. Eg: Congratulations on your MBE, Debbie – lang may yer lum reek!

Wheest n: quiet, silence; a command for quiet or silence. Eg: Haud yer wheesht, I cannae hear masel think

Keech n: excrement. Eg: The whole van was reeking after Dudley rolled in dog’s keech at the park

Corrie-fisted n: left-handed. Eg: Debbie holds her knife in her left hand like she’s corrie-fisted

Wallies n: false teeth Eg: The bus ride was that shoogly that yer granda’s wallies fell out on Sauchiehall Street

Bogey n: a home-made cart, usually from old pram wheels, a plank of wood and a piece of rope. adj: finished, over (usually pertaining to games, part. football or hares n hunts). Eg: The wean ended up wi’ a stookie after he ran his bogey right into the back of the No9 bus

Crabbit adj: bad-tempered, irritable. Eg: Och he’s nothing but a crabbit auld so-and-so, ignore him

The hard sell

The easy bit about starting a business is over. That’s the bit where you come up with the idea, think of a name, then tell the taxman what you’re doing.

The hard bit is now. Finding customers. Selling yourself. Marketing your business. Promoting your services.

I realise this is not news to people. Hell, it’s not even news to me. I’ve seen The Apprentice. Relentless self-promotion on laughably limited ability. Thankfully I am lovably self-deprecating with limitless ability …

The hard sell

But my experience to date of marketing is not actually the kind that will win me any custom, limited as it is to the giveaways beloved of red-top newspapers.

A FREE pie – for every reader!

A week in a caravan park for £2.78 – for EVERY reader!

Every single episode of Love Thy Neighbour ABSOLUTELY FREE – for every reader!

You’re getting the picture, right? Not exactly the best grounding for pushing Lead On, Lancing and district’s newest and bestest dog walking service (with apologies to the fab marketing teams I’ve worked with over the years, especially the Daily Record girls who made veritable silk purses out of many a sow’s ear).

Sensibly, I’ve decided not to try and reinvent the wheel. So my first foray into marketing was the time-honoured technique of wearing out the shoe leather putting flyers on car windscreens.

I’ll be honest – to date, there has not been so much as a sniff of interest from anyone whose wheels were adorned by a shiny postcard. And I was a little surprised at the fairly hostile reaction Debbie and I got when handing the cards out at a recent fun day – you’d have thought we were accusing the dog owners we approached of abuse going by the furious refusals even to look at the cards.

Local papers are not the force they once were, either, but once I’ve penned my own press release, plus pics, for Lead On’s launch, I’m sure the Lancing Gazette will be holding the front page. Bet if I take a 4 x 1 in classifieds, I can demand some free editorial too …

The old techniques might have some merit but thank the lords of cyberspace then for t’internet. Cos now just about everyone who wants anything starts their search online (this is probably a ridiculously sweeping generalisation, assuming that everyone has a computer and the inclination/ability to use it to find stuff). I’ve registered on a few free websites – Gumtree, Tendea, FreeIndex – and also paid to have a listing on another from which I’ve actually had the most responses and enquiries.

But I can’t stop thinking about how folks can refuse a card from an actual person but then happily look that same person up online and sent a message enquiring about services. I reckon it’s about anonymity – lots of us are much more comfortable now communicating without ever actually speaking to another person. And I can’t complain cos I’m just as guilty of doing exactly that myself.

Still, at least some brave souls have managed to pick up the phone and call me, meaning Lead On is ratcheting up new customers at the whirlwind rate of … er … 1 a week. It’s a start and a welcome one.

We spent a long weekend in Glasgow for the second leg of our civil partnership celebrations. And what a night Saturday was at the People’s Palace. More than 120 friends and family packed into the Winter Gardens for an almighty hoolie – the ceilidh was a shambolic hoot (kudos to our DJ Robert for at least trying to herd us into some kind of order) and while my planned showstopper of the Barry White dance from Ally McBeal had all the synchronicity of a herd of baby elephants, it was a brilliant laugh to do.

The Dashing White Sergeant proved a challenge for everyone - particularly the snapper

Now the celebrations are over and it’s back to ‘auld claes an’ porridge’ for Debbie and me. Well, at least until our cruise next month …

Blethering idiots

Mockit adj: dirty, filthy. Eg: I’ve only just cleaned up this hoose but it’s mockit again already

Beelin’ v: to be angry, to be in a rage. Eg: I’m pyoor beelin’ that I’ve been let down by so-called customers

Oxter n: armpit. Eg: Debbie and I are up to our oxters in gifts thanks to our wonderfully generous friends and family

Shindig n: a party, celebration, dance. Eg: I can’t wait til tonight’s shindig and a catch-up with all my fave people

Peely-wally adj: pale, fair-skinned, wan. Eg: As soon as the sun comes out, Glasgow folk cannae wait to show aff their peely-wally bodies

Thrawn adj: stubborn, obstinate. Eg: Caveman is a right thrawn wee so-and-so when he wants to be

Simmit n: vest, undergarment. Eg: Away and put yer shirt on, you cannae answer the door in yer simmit

A piece at any door  someone who endears him or herself to everyone they meet. Eg: He’s a right charmer him, he’d get a piece at any door

Skelly n: squinty, askew. Eg: The wean’s eyes were so skelly one was away to the shops and the other was coming back with the change

Breenge v: to dive in or rush in recklessly. Eg: The big yin got an earful from those lassies when he breenged into the middle of their hen party

Birlin’ v: to spin, turn quickly. Eg: My heid’s birlin’ with all the stuff I have to do today

Stoatir n: a person or thing that’s fantastic or fabulous; adj: fabulous, attractive, brilliant. Eg: Yon Michelle Obama is a big stoatir but I wouldnae take a broken pay packet home to her

Laldy n: gusto. v: to do something with great gusto or enthusiasm. Eg: She’s not much of a chanter but she always gives it laldy at the karaoke

Stramash n: a disturbance, a racket, a state of noise and confusion. Frequently applied to incidents in (Scottish) football where every player is trying to kick the ball at the same time. Eg: He lashed wan into the onion bag after an almighty stramash in the penalty box

Two nations – divided by a common language

A stookie

Wiki can’t agree on who actually said the UK and the USA were two nations divided by a common language (take yer pick from George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde or Winston Churchill), but the phrase is entirely apt when applied to Scotland and England.

I didn’t realise until I pitched up on the shores of the south coast just how Scottish I actually am.

And by that, of course, I mean just how Scottish I sound (the hankerings for square slice have abated but thank the lord they sell Bru down here).

Like Rab C Nesbitt after 14 pints is how one newly-found Sassenach* friend described it. But she said it so charmingly that all I could say in return was “braw!” (Note to self: stop wearing a bandage round napper and suit jacket with simmit when dining out in Brighton)

That, of course, is just the accent. And no-one has ever better described the effect of that accent on southern ears than the Proclaimers in the genius that is Throw The ‘R’ Away.

Tho Stanley Baxter’s sublime Parliamo Glasgow is timelessly funny.

And Chewin’ The Fat’s Taysiders In Space makes me cry with laughter.

Of course, according to surveys, the Scots accent is one of the most pleasing on the ears but which Scots accent? Cos there are hunnerza them from the gallus Glesga wan to the fit-like Aberdonian to the soft tones of the Islands to the mid-Atlantic twangs of exiles such as Sir Sean and Lulu. Och, dinnae get me startit.

But even more bamboozling to southern ears are the endless supply of Scots words I fling into everyday conversations in an unconscious manner.

And it is unconscious – most of the time.

I do try to tease Debbie by dropping in random Caledonian expressions but her years sharing a flat with another Scot have armed her against such machinations. Not only that, she gets her own back by speaking in broad Peterborough at me. And we think our accent is bad …

Irn-Bru – the greatest cure for a drouth … and a hangover

If Debbie can learn, I thought, why not teach the rest of them so they can understand when I converse with some of the Scots most beautifully onomatopoeiac words and phrases. And so began my Scots word of the day on Facebook (it was only 3 weeks ago – I’m making it sound this is a life’s mission).

And now I’m going to share them with everyone else on the blogosphere and beyond … aye right.

What I hoped for when I posted them on Facebook was that non-Scots would comment, perhaps even adopt the language themselves or share their own dialects and local quirks.

The reality is that only my Scottish friends post and argue with each other (and me) over spelling, definitions and usage. It’s great fun.

I’m no font of all (or any) knowledge on the spelling, definitions and usage of the words and phrases I’m posting – they are just those I know best, the ones I use and where I use them. So sicken you!

Here are the words I’ve chosen so far. I’ll add them to each new blog as I post it. It will be a Jockumentary, if you will …

Scots way-hay

Gallus adj: self-confident, daring, cheeky., stylish, impressive. Eg: I feel dead gallus driving about in my new van

NB: to non-Scots, the use of dead here is also as an adjective, to mean ‘very’ or ‘extremely’. We use it a lot. A lot. In fact, we’re dead keen on using it all the time.

Glaikit adj: stupid, foolish, daft. Eg: She’s awfy proud of her son but there’s no denying he’s a right glaikit-looking bugger

Sleekit adj: sly, sneaky, crafty, cunning. Eg: David Cameron comes across as right sleekit, so he does

Clype n: a telltale, informant, grass. v: to tell on, to inform. Eg: The class clype dobbed us all in when we hid the teacher’s belt

Today word is not a word at all but instead a phrase, frequently uttered by my Nana Traynor: 12 o’clock and no’ a bed made

Translation: Where on earth has the time gone?

Variations include: 12 o’clock and no’ a wean washed

Dwam n: a daydream. Eg: I was in such a dwam I missed my bus stop

Guddle n: a mess, untidiness, a state of confusion. Eg: This house is a total guddle this morning

Pruch n: a perk (usually associated with a job), booty, plunder. Eg: The pay in this job is pants but the pruch is great

NB: I think this is an Ayrshire-only expression but one my mother picked up and evangelised among Glasgow folk

Scunnered n: a strong dislike, an aversion, disgust, boredom. Eg: I am completely scunnered by the shocking treatment of Neil Lennon by not just morons with scarfs but by the allegedly educated ones with laptops and microphones

Bumfult n: a ruck or fold in clothing, making it appear bunched up. Eg: I couldn’t get out of bed this morning cos the quilt was aw bumfult

NB: this word has caused the most debate on Facebook, mainly cos it’s all in the pronunciation. The jury is still out on the spelling and I’m still trawling t’interweb to find someone saying it on Youtube.

Baffies n: slippers, house shoes. Eg: Not for the first time, I left the house this morning still in ma baffies

Braw Adj: good, splendid, delightful. Eg: It’s braw to be back in Glasgow, even if it is for just one day

Blether n: someone who chats or gossips a lot; a long chat or gossip. v: to chat or gossip. Eg: It was great to catch up with Linda and Chander on Friday and have a right good blether

Drouth n: a thirst, usually a raging one. Eg: Whit a drouth I’ve got on me this morning. Where’s my can of Bru?

Skelpt v: (past tense) to strike a blow, to smack. Eg: Scottish Labour fair got their arses skelpt last night

Dreich adj: miserable, cold and wet (pertaining to weather). Eg: I can’t believe how dreich the south coast is this morning after weeks of sunshine and dry days

Sclaffed v: to strike the ground when making a shot, usually in golf, but regularly in SPL football. Eg: Och he’s sclaffed that when he should have scored

Oose n: fluff or dust. Eg: I need to Hoover under the bed, it’s covered in oose

Pech v: to puff or pant, be out of breath. Eg: Nils was fair peching after that run along the beach

Shoogly adj: wobbly, shaky, unstable. Eg: This table is awfy shoogly, fold up a beer mat and stick it under one leg

Stravaigin v: to wander, stroll. Eg: We’ve got lots of time, let’s have a stravaigin along Sauchiehall Street

Stookie n: plaster cast for a broken limb. Eg: The wean’s been up the infirmary and got a stookie on his broken arm

*Sassenach n: an Englishman or woman

The great unknown

A history lesson: 20-odd years ago, I worked in a newspaper where everyone used a typewriter. We had these great big machines that dominated our desks, desks already piled high with newspapers, bits of paper, notebooks that were the lifeblood of our day, cups (usually filthy) and pens and pens and pens.

Seriously, how cool is this look?

Oh and a phone too, with a rest on the receiver that let us keep our hands free to scribble down shorthand notes. It was just the coolest thing to use. Which is a wee bit sad to recall but those were simpler times.

When the company that owned us first talked about bringing in “new technology”, I was beyond excited about having a COMPUTER! Even one that carried the unlamented Miles 33 system. This would be so much better than playing Chuckie Egg on my brother Martin’s BBCMicro. I had no fears about mastering the technology, just wanted to have a go on it.

Every leap forward in technology I have embraced and, while never claiming to be any kind of expert, I usually only need to be shown once (or twice probably) how to do something and I can muddle my way through from there.

Thanks to my probably ridiculous decision to chuck in my journalism career just as we hacks were being introduced to uploading our own priceless prose on to websites, I missed that great leap forward into the world of CSS, SEO and hyperlinking.

So I was more than a little apprehensive when it came to creating my own website for Lead On. Don’t worry, I was told – there are sites out there that do everything for you, all you do is add your own words and pictures.

Two words: aye right.

The square root of hee-haw

This was a challenge I met head-on only to end up like roadkill on a busy motorway.

Faced with a bewildering array of instructions, acronyms and plain gobbledegook when all I wanted to do was add some text and choose – the cheek of it – my own font and size, I spent four long and painful hours creating the square root of heehaw before throwing in the towel.

Thankfully I was able to fall back on the rule that always serves me well when faced with what I consider insurmountable obstacles.

Get a man in.

I’m not even ashamed to say that the man (it could have been a woman, fellow feminists, all I ever need is someone better at that task than I am) who rode to my rescue – the inestimable Kevin Rush – isn’t even a website designer. Hell, he aint even a computer person at all. He’s just good at stuff. Stuff that I am not good at.

In the style of Carrie Bradshaw, that got me thinking: is there a cut-off point after which we can’t learn new stuff, hard stuff, stuff that needs more than just point and click?

I hope not. I need to master at least a little of the basics around the website Kevin so kindly created for me cos the limits of his patience are surely being tested by the 45 emails an hour I’m currently pinging his way!

On a less Luddite note, yesterday me and the van were on the road, helping our  friends Steph and Hayley of Snaffles Gourmet Dog Bisquits set up their stall at the Sutton Dog Show at the South of England Showground at Ardingly.

The wind would have cut you in two but the ladies did well selling their range while I got to wander round with Nils the gorgeous French bulldog and stick Lead On postcards on hunnerza parked motors in a bid to drum up business.

Phoebe - beyond cute

I also had time to meet and fall madly in love with Phoebe, the Parson Russell terrier*. Possibly the cutest wee dog I have ever met.

Having insisted to Debbie that our first four-legged addition to the family will be a rescue dog and having agreed to her request of following that with a Labradoodle puppy, she was not best pleased when I came home and instantly started Googling Parson Russell terriers.

Would it be too much to go from zero to three dogs in as many months?

*Parson Russell Terriers

Va-van voom

It’s official. I have a van. It’s white. So henceforth I am white van woman – discourteous driver, opinionated twat and objectionably racist, sexist and bigoted. Probably. Or not, really (the opinionated twat bit might stick in a court of law).

Lead On Dog Walkers are on the road at last after I bust my car auction cherry this morning and confidently outbid lots of other white van men to buy a Citroen Berlingo, one formerly owned by the RSPCA and so ideal for my new gig.

A van like what I bought

Truth be told, I was actually kacking my pants as the bidding began but all those mornings watching Homes Under The Hammer (I’ll try not to let this become a recurring theme) paid off – well, that and having a crash course in car auctions in the company of my old friend Lorraine during a brief visit to Glasgow yesterday.

We were both a little aghast at how fast the whole process is and how we were the only folks there who clearly didn’t have a clue what was going on.

But thankfully at least one of us had her wits about her as Lo continually had to remind me to stop lifting my arm to point at stuff while the bidding was going on – or I’d be ferrying Lead On’s mutts around in a 1996 Skoda …

So it’s all systems go. I’ve got my first regular customer. I’ve agreed to dog-sit a wee dug for 8 – that’s EIGHT – weeks from June. I’m going to hoof it round the neighbourhood this weekend with flyers and bombard folks at a dog show on Sunday with cards etc. I’d say I’m definitely on my way to my first million … So, yay for me.

Oh and in the midst of all this, I’m busy planning and organising the Glasgow leg of Debbie & Fran – the nuptials. Hence yesterday’s flying visit to Glasgow to sort out booze, boogie and butties.

And now that’s all done too, so the only thing we have to do now is turn up on June 4 and have a fabulous party with all our friends and family. So, yay for us.

It’s all been a little bit frantic but a great deal of fun, too. And the good news is that, having been away in London, then Glasgow over the last five days, I now have the mother and father of all ironings to do.

Well, a girl has to have some me time …

A tentative toe in the water

So, this is the blogosphere – welcome to me!

I can’t believe it’s now 4 months since I made the move from Glasgow to the Brighton area but it’s taken me until now to get my butt in gear and 1. set myself up in the dog-walking business I’ve been planning for months; and 2. write the blog my mates have been urging on me since the move.

In my defence, I have been a wedding planner extraordinaire in that time

(me and Debbie had the best day ever on April 23 for our civil partnership) and I have unleashed my inner domestic goddess – I can now bake bread and the missus’ clothes have never been so regularly laundered and ironed.

A loaf, yesterday

But sheesh, aint housework tedious, hard grind? And there are only so many episodes of Homes Under The Hammer one woman can watch before she’s planning to take a hammer to Lucy and Martin.

So all good things must come to an end and now, once my van is kitted oot, I’ll be Fran Fran the doggy fan. Oh yeah and I need some customers. All in good time, all in good time.

So, over the course of the next few weeks and months, I’ll be using this space to – hopefully – entertain you with my tales (and tails) of doggy and non-doggy life here on the south coast.

Along the way, I’ll pass comment on any damn thing I like but probably limited to telly (Homes Under The Hammer notwithstanding), home-baked bread and how Tefal genuinely is the Ferrari of irons. Exciting eh?

Next time: resisting the daily urge to walk into Shoreham Dogs’ Trust and take ALL of the mutts home