Good dogging in East Mids

There has been a lot of dogging going on in these parts lately. And in different dogging formats too.

There’s been the freestyle dogging where we’ve been doing our own thing, like the bunch of dogging rebels that we are.

And then there’s been the more organised group dogging sessions where dogging instructors have been taking us through rewards-based dogging.

Having a puppy has meant lots of changes for us as a household and as individuals.

I can no longer pee standing up. Whenever I do, I get a pointy puppy beak poking between my legs as she tries to climb into the toilet bowl while I’m still peeing.

But when I have a safety wee the puppy comes in the bathroom and keeps guard, in her own way.

I have become adept at brushing my teeth while said puppy dangles from the belt of my bathrobe.

Having a shower has also become a hazardous activity. The first time I thought ‘that feels suspiciously like someone licking my shins’ as I struggled to get the burning Head and Shoulders out of my eyes, came as something of a shock.

That the puppy could climb up the side of the bath and, equally deftly, climb out again afterwards, came as a big surprise.

She has a great affinity with water, as we’re rapidly learning.

I’m becoming used to receiving a puppy wash at 5am, and equally used to having a puppy sit on my shoulder while watching TV in the evenings.

I can no longer go horizontal on the settee – doing so earns me a puppy sitting on my chest and I have to wear it like some kind of badge or honour.

Singing fascinates her. Specifically, me singing fascinates her, but me playing the guitar doesn’t affect her one way or another. That’s just bizarre.

Like proud parents we’ve gone past the ‘having to get up at 1.30am to take her outside for a wee’ stage. Yes, she now goes through the night.

*proud parent face*

Anyway.

The group dogging sessions… well… it’s early days. All we’re hoping for is some manners on the lead and a strongly-learned set of recall and ‘stop that’ rules.

We’re fortunate, there’s a canine training academy in the village, and it’s fair to say we have high hopes of a set of positive outcomes.

She’s got some rough puppy-edges, but every now and then we get a good long look at how we think she’s going to turn out, with some training and careful upbringing.

I think it’s going to be fun. I think she’s going to be fun.

New arrival

Well, she’s here. And she’s been here for six days.

She’s only 9 weeks old, she’s very small (smaller than any of our cats), and she’s very, very cute.

As you can see:

It's a puppy!
It’s a puppy!
It’s a puppy with a ball!

Blogathon 28/19: The patter of little feet

Today there will be an addition to the family.

We’re all very excited about the arrival. Except for the cats, who haven’t quite grasped the concept of extending the family – despite having it explained to them all on several occasions.

Robyn (for that is her name) is a 9-week, 2-day old Sprocker Spaniel. She will be arriving about 4.30pm.

There will be some disruption to the household routines, a lot of ‘stuff’ will have to be moved from chewing range, and other ‘stuff’ will have to be moved around.

And there probably won’t be much sleep for the first few nights. This will be a heartbreaking time during which Robyn will be crying for her mummy and siblings. It’ll be equally heartbreaking for us humans too.

But we aim to give Robyn the very best home, full of doggy fun and walks and laughter and other things.

It’ll be interesting to see how the cats take to the new arrival…

Blogathon 27/19: Death and Taxes

(and the lies of politicians, obv)

Like it or not we all have to pay taxes. Unless we are millionaires who live in Belize, or the Isle of Man, or somewhere else that isn’t the United Kingdom.

Yesterday I reeived a Notification of Tax Rate from HMRC.

Hang on a minute, let me say that again.

Yesterday, exactly one month after the previous one landed on the mat, I received a new Notification of Tax Rate from HMRC.

What’s changed in my personal circumstances in the last month (I hear you cry)?

Well. Nothing.

Nothing has changed in my personal circumstances.

And yet the A5-sized envelope arrived automagically, one month after the last one.

Two months after the Notification of Tax Rate before last.

Three months after the one before the one before last.

What changed in my personal circumstances over the last two, three, and even four months?

Absolutely. Nothing. At. All.

And yet each one is different.

Oh, not big differences, just a couple of hundred quid different in my personal allowance section.

I realise the generation and posting of the A5-sized envelopes, and the inclusion of the three double-sided pieces of A4 inside it, are system events but this is ridiculous.

Note I didn’t say ‘this is starting to get ridiculous’ and the reason I didn’t say ‘starting’ is because in 2018 I received 15 Notification of Tax Rate letters from HMRC.

Now that’s ridiculous!

Blogathon 26/19: Death By Pot Noodle

Last night I needed to put something on top of the Welsh Dresser (Boyo) and something got in the way.

I had a rummage around and found, on its side, an unopened pot of Pot Noodle. King Sized.

When I was single I used to eat a lot of regularly eat Pot Noodleses.

The expiry date for this King Amongst Snacks is April 2018.

I’m tempted to eat it now, but a part of my brain says I should wait two ore months, so I can eat it exactly two years past its expiry date.

It’ll be an interesting biological experiment. I mean it’s only freeze-dried food so it isn’t going to have any latent germs. I’m only going to add boiling water to it and, when it has cooled, inhale it.

Nothing could go wrong, right?

Blogathon 25/19: Upstairs

I have been upstairs all evening, almost like one of the many punishments my mother used to dole out in my younger days.

Except this time there was no punishment involved.

*pauses for thought*

It occurs that when I was younger a punishment was being sent to bed early. These days I’d consider that a reward.

Anyway…

I read a book whilst watching a film on Netflix.

Because multitasking comes easily.

During a brief break, I did a small amount of googling that informed me the reason the ZX10R has been so frisky.

You remember I had a new battery fitted recently?

Well it seems that all computers switch back to their default, and the engine management system default is full thrust.

What does this have to do with being upstairs?

No, me neither.

Blogathon 24/19: Nothing On

I do surveys for money. I love it when the £50 bank credits drop in to my account. Three so far this year.

The surveys are random; they can be about anything. Topical news stories, music tastes, radio or television viewing, shopping. Anything.

I got one yesterday afternoon that went in to great detail about adverts (as seen on every kind of platform imaginable).

The survey asked if I’d seen adverts for XYZ product in the last 30 days. And so on.

XYZ product manufacturing company has obviously spent a significant amount of money on developing, testing, manufacturing, shipping and, of course, advertising the XYZ product.

And advertising the XYZ product across a range of digital, print, and broadcast media (judging by the questions I was asked).

But unfortunately I have a blind spot for adverts (across the entire range of digital, print, and broadcast media).

Because of this blindspot I was unable to name a single time, place, or method of advertising when I saw the XYZ product.

All my life, it seems, I have been carefully developing an immunity to commercials.

Unfortunately, of late, this carefully constructed skill has been wasted.

Wasted because I have ‘consumed’ (as the media folk have it) almost no mainstream media at all.

Because there is actually nothing on.

With all the many Freeview channels available you would think I’d be able to find *something* to watch?

Something that all the family can watch?

Well, that’s just not the case.

Apart from The Chase, which we will all watch, but (wo)man cannot live on The Chase alone.

It’s ridiculous, though; so many channels of nothing to watch.

If it wasn’t for Netflix and Amazon, the television would hardly ever be on. I’m just trying to work out if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Blogathon 23/19: The ULEZ Tax

Driving in London (though why anyone would want to do such a thing is beyond me) is about to get much more expensive.

On top of the Congestion Charge (a tax for driving in London), the ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) Charge (it’s just another tax) will be dropped on London’s motorists on 8th April 2019.

The ULEZ Tax will be in operation 24/7*365 and will cost £12.50/day. And that’s on top of the Congestion Charge Tax.

One thing about the ULEZ Tax is it will apply – across the board – to ‘older vehicles’. But it won’t take any note of whether those vehicles have been scrupulously maintained or not.

This is plainly bonkers and so far beyond any kind of logical comprehension it actually sounds like a Marx Brothers plot.

Another thing about the ULEZ Tax is it’s a flat-rate tax. The £12.50/day taxation rate applies equally to small cars, large cars, 4x4s and (wait for it) motorbikes.

I can’t roll my eyes hard enough to match the idiocy in that ridiculous scenario.

Seriously. If you want proof of people in power being hard of understanding, you have it right there.

The lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

Blogathon 22/19: Is it safe?

We will spend both days this weekend:

  1. Shopping, and
  2. Making the house and garden safe(r)

The weather forecast is so good I might even take the mower out for a spin.

This is a ridiculous statement, especially when you think that just a couple of weeks ago the average daytime temperature was -5c and every hour threatened a fresh snowfall.

But in the last two days of this week that we have been back from Wiltshire, the ZX10R has been out and about and I have enjoyed every mile she’s given me.

On that point (ZX10R in general, but motorcycling in particular, and circling back to my ‘safe’ theme), I read an interesting comparison published by a traffic consultant, earlier this week.

Whenever there are cyclist accidents in a cluster in London, or a London-based cycling fatality, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) pumps significant amounts of £s into making that route (or those routes) ‘safer’ for cyclists.

But when motorcyclists have accidents in London, the physical, strategic, tactical, or financial action of the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) is always the square root of naff all.

Which is odd, really, given that motorcycling can move people across the whole of Greater London and nearby counties.

But still, the Mayor of London (backed by TfL) has decreed that motorcyclists must pay the ULEZ charge. So that’s alright then, isn’t it?

Blogathon 21/19: Eventing by the numbers

The sport of Eventing (whether One-Day Eventing, Two-Day Eventing, or the long-form of Three-Day Eventing) has been through a lot of changes over the years.

When the sport’s governing body was the British Horse Society (BHS), Eventing was known as Horse Trials. And the rules of the sport and the design and restrictions that governed the shape of the sport were very different to how they are now. BHS Horse Trials was all about jumping expertise. Yes, BHS Horse Trials had the Dressage phase, the Showjumping phase, the Cross-Country phase (and, in the long-form Three-Day Event, also had a Steeplechase phase). But the competition was weighted towards being largely about the jumping.

After a bunch of (many) years, the sport got a new governing body, the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA). BHTA introduced new rules which altered the shape of the sport, updated the safety measures built into the sport, enhanced the protections for horses and riders, and changed the design-restrictions of the on-track obstacles. The Dressage phase was enhanced and made to have a higher bearing on the overall result. The Showjumping phase was left unchanged, but the Cross-Country phase started to feature less ‘normal’ obstacles; fewer big-spread hedges and walls. Technical and water-obstacles were introduced; arrowheads to be jumped were brought in.

Again, years passed. Dressage and jumping tests became more difficult and the Dressage phase became even more influential on the overall result. New and much more imaginative technical jumping obstacles were introduced. If you could transport a typical BHS competitor straight from the 1950s into the BHTA tracks of the early 1980s, they would scarcely recognise the sport.

Decades later, and after many more changes in the rules of the sport, Eventing got a new governing body: British Eventing. And the sport was no longer called Horse Trials.

Where am I going with all of these memories?

I’m going to the venues.

In the 2019 Eventing Calendar there are a grand total of 172 competition opportunities.

I appreciate this sounds like a lot, but a great many of those competition opportunities are not for the amateur ‘own horse and full-time job’ rider.

I’ve been looking at the 2019 Evening Calendar for a different reason though; I’ve been looking for the competition venues that are no longer there.

It’s terrific that some landowners are prepared to run two, three, and in some cases, even four Events in the season, but where’s the strategic sense behind that strategy?

Where’s the geographical spread from running Events in different places? Where’s the difference in terrain from running across different types of countryside?

And where’s the longevity in pursuing the strategy of asking landowners to host more than one Event in a season?

I look at the range and breadth of the 2019 British Eventing Calendar and I feel good for the competitors. They have a solidly-run sport which protects the mental and physical needs of horses and riders.

But I look back at former Calendars and I feel sad that so many great venues are no longer open to the sport.

To me this is a management issue. If one’s local competition venue is XYZ and XYZ runs four Events in a season, that’s terrific. But it’s also dull.

What started as a bit of pre-Christmas idle thinking has expanded into a solid list.

There are fifty-seven BHS, BHTA, and BE Event venues missing from the 2019 Calendar – and some of these missing venues ran more than one Event.

To my eyes, this doesn’t look like a healthy trend for the future of a sport in which I (still) feel heavily invested.

The list of missing events is long and I wonder if British Eventing should look to safeguarding the Events on the current Calendar, and devising and deploying a strategy to recognise and build on the diversity of the Events.

It’s a long list of losses. Fifty-seven ex-Events:

Aldon
Amberley
Arley Hall
Ascot
Bath & West
Batsford
Belmont Park
Berrington Hall
Bickenhall
Borough Court
Brigstock
Brockenhurst
Carlton
Coombelands
Doddington
Glanusk
Graveley
Great Missenden
Great Tew
Hambleden
Harewood Hall
Highclere
Holdenby
Iping
Knaptoft
Little Mattingley
Littleton Manor
Llanover
Locko
Longleat
Lulworth Castle
Lymington
Malpas
Markyate
Mattingley
Milton Keynes
Montacute
Mount Ballan
Northampton
Nutwell Court
Pembrey
Penzance
Pulborough
Purston Manor
Rushall
Salperton
Savenake
Shipton Moyne
Somerley Park
Springhill
Ston Easton
Stowell Park
Syde
Tidworth
Urchinwood Manor
Windsor
Winkburn