Walking before I can run…

On Sunday, I completed a 17 and a half mile walk (18 and a half if you include the walk from the car park to the start!) and I survived! In fact my feet had no blisters at the end and my legs didn’t ache (as much as I thought)….so as well as bowing down to my walking boots, I also began to think that I had dreamt the whole thing! But no. I, along with six other poor sods, battled through the windy, wet and cold country side and left our mark in aid of Border Collie Trust. And I have pictures as evidence 😉

peak 4
We did the High Peak Trail….

Yeh, we did the High Peak Trail and boy did it start ‘high’ – or at least we had to get ‘high’ (I’m talking in terms of height, not drugs here lol) The first 2 and 1/2 miles were uphill and VERY steep! They were they worst 2 and 1/2 miles and I’m so glad they were at the beginning! Phew…. we had cupcake treats at the top as a reward. Burn some calories and then use them up is my motto 😀

The best reward for an uphill slog!
The best reward for an uphill slog!


After that, we had the comforting thought of ‘only’ 15 miles to go!!! Haha. I joked that at least it wasn’t 30- always looking on the bright side me …. and I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel…..


It was so wet for most of the walk and our motto ‘it will brighten up soon!’ soon gave way to our new motto of constantly calling out ‘cyclist!’ every few minutes as crazy cyclists rallied past in the muddy, saturated conditions. As for splashing us, we didn’t mind about that because we honestly couldn’t get any wetter, dirtier or  colder – but we did feel that getting run over by the two-wheeled beasts would somehow make the walk a negative experience 😉 so we moved aside!


Luckily, the weather bearing all elements, our drenched clothes also managed to dry themselves in the raging winds. We also enjoyed a whole minute of sunshine too at one point 😉 It was great, though, to know you were doing something for a good cause and out in the fresh air getting exercise. We got to  see some fantastic scenery (masked by mist a little I’ll admit)….


The perfect peaks

So all in all, it was a fun experience and I guess I would do it again (don’t ask me for a good while though!) The last mile was the hardest (after those first 2 and a half) and it felt like there was an eternity of walking to the end of the world! I saw our helpers and got all excited and then realised they were walking the last mile with us!! But we finally made it….. wine, a nice warm car and toilets all awaiting us 🙂



If you would still like to donate to the Border Collie Trust (now you know I have actually completed it!) then go the Just Giving Page: http://www.justgiving.com/highpeakwalk – every penny helps to rehome dogs every year, so it would be very much appreciated! 🙂

To see a previous post about my volunteering for the Border Collie Trust, go to: https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/barking-mad/

If you have the chance to do a sponsored walk, go for it! As I say, I’d do it again, but not a run. No, I’ll stick with walking 🙂


Stan the super student!

Stan realised that humans think far too much about things!
Stan realised that humans think far too much about things!

In addition to being a teaching assistant, I’ve started some tutoring on the side. Today, Stan the dog joined my boyfriend’s brother Steven and I for a bit of ‘Verb, Noun and Adjective bingo’. He sat at the table and looked at the cards I held up. He even licked the one that said ‘lick’ for the verb example and jumped away when I held up a ‘fish tank’ example! So I think, he knew exactly what we were on about 😉 But he probably also thought;

‘Why do these humans make everything so complicated? Walks, games and treats… are all anyone needs.’ 😉

But if you have any dogs that need tutoring in the language of human, then let me know 😉

And take a look at what else Stan has been up to on his own blog (he really is an intelligent creature 😉 ) http://tinaholmes.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/sorting-stuff-out/


Barking Mad!

I have had an interesting day yesterday. I volunteered at a Rescue Dog Weekend event at a store called Just for Pets. My boyfriend’s Mum is the volunteer coordinator for the Border Collie Trust so she naturally ropes me and other family members in at times 😉 It is very interesting and I don’t mind getting stuck in from time to time – even though I must confess that I am not a dog lover as such.

You would be amazed at how many dogs get abandoned/abused/thrown out (literally, in the dog’s case that I am about to mention). So, I urge you dog lovers out there to consider rehoming a rescue dog. They need homes, you want a dog. Everyone wins.

The star of the weekend was a dog called Frankie. Only just over a month ago, little Frankie was thrown from a moving van. The worst abuse possible? Sort of, but up until that moment he had been neglected and pretty much starved. So even though him being thrown from a van was an awful, disgusting, inhumane action – it actually did Frankie a lot of good in the long run. He was with my boyfriend’s Mum for a good few weeks as a temporary foster home. He was taught to eat properly, got his strength, had operations and had numerous chances to socialise with their two dogs  – amongst others. He now has a ‘forever’ home, as people in the dog rescue world call it. So a happy end to a sad tail 😉

Frankie is now a strong and happy puppy in a good home
Frankie is now a strong and happy puppy in a good home

He was at this event this weekend you see, with his new family. He showed the local people how well he had come along and was a perfect example of the brilliant effect decent people can have on rescue dogs. I’ll take this opportunity to share my boyfriend’s Mum’s blog with you: http://tinaholmes.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/franks-happy-little-tail/ You can read more about Frankie and other dog related stories there – and they will be more from the dog lover’s perspective and with lots of canine knowledge 😉

Along, with the dogs this weekend came the humans. I’d forgotten in all honesty how hard it was to stand for a full day and serve the general public (I used to do this on a daily basis when I worked in retail!) I was really tired by the end of the day. The public can be great – they can also be not. For events like this though, we are lucky because most people want to be there and have chosen to come. Therefore, they are friendly and approachable. I remembered though from when I worked in shops, that you get those people who are demanding, unhygienic and a little annoying. Let me just say that I was ever so slightly reminded of that yesterdayday 😉 I’ll say no more….

Even with the unpredictable public,  I recommend volunteering to you all. It can seem a bit of a drag when you have to give up your day, I’ll admit. But I always feel happy when I have done it. I’ve contributed to something, helped to raise money, talked to the lonely woman with her dog, made another volunteer a cup of tea or just been there to make other’s jobs easier. You don’t have to spare a lot of time, the odd day here and there, or even the odd hour. Because we don’t always have to give donations of money to these causes, sometimes we can give something much more precious – our time.

On a final note of this one-off, short, doggy blog…… the other celebrity of the weekend who combines dogs and humans: Lauren/Olly Paws aka Olly Collie:

A dancing Collie to attract dogs and humans!
A dancing Collie to attract dogs and humans!

Yes, Olly the Collie helped to raise the £423 for the Border Collie Trust! Whether Barking mad or not – the furry dressed, dancing human worked! 😉

Woof woof for now. 😉


Two legs in charge; Four legs not!

Hello people…

I seem to be involved with animals a lot over my holiday and I’m trying to make a stand against them! Firstly, I’ve told you about the walks I’ve been on with my boyfriend’s Mum and her dogs. Well that first walk, the little, ever so cute puppy took me for a run remember?! And it got me thinking that animals can take over if they so choose. My boyfriend’s Mum keeps telling me, ‘you are in charge, not them!’ This was repeated again when that oh so darling little border collie took me through the deepest part of the mud puddle! I have never had cats or dogs as pets so didn’t really think about the fact that we need to teach them who is boss… I only ever had a rabbit, mice and a budgie when I was younger and them being locked firmly behind bars spoke volumes of who was in charge! Obviously, with my title, you literature fans will notice my play on Orwell’s Animal Farm’s famous quote of ‘Four legs good, two legs bad,’ where a group of pigs take over the humans in order to run a farm. That novel has the whole allgoric idea of the Stalin era leading up the second World War. But I’m not getting into all that… I want to think of this literally and what if animals did take over? Could they if we didn’t train them or put them in their place? Crazy thought I know… well it is Friday!

The cute little puppy who tried to take ME for a run!

I thought about this the other day when I was at my boyfriend’s brother’s house having lunch with him and his girlfriend (this was after the Club Land Dvd that I discuss on the Exercise is Dangerous part 2 post!) Their cat tried to jump onto his lap whilst he was eating his salad and they discussed how the cat is getting more like that lately and thinking she is the boss of the house! She (the cat) had to be told numerous amounts of time to not lick the plates after we had finished in order to know she couldn’t just do what she wanted! I then had this image of what may happen if they never disciplined her like this?… would she start getting food from the cupboards and learn to walk upright like they do in Animal Farm? Haha….best keep an eye out on your cat this weekend 😉

The cat… with partner in crime… ready to take over the household!

For saying I do not have any of my own animals.. so I don’t get the cuddles and stroking and all the good bits (but not the vet’s bills either come to think) I still get plenty of visits from cats. Remember how we got rid of our shed? (See Shed Light on the Garden post if you didn’t). Well, I think the cats in the surrounding houses think it is their new playground! It has plenty of rubble and long grass to play in.. much fun! I don’t shoo them yet.. which has got me thinking that I should. Because when the garden is done and we actually have living things in it, I won’t want them  around and maybe by letting them now, I am giving them chance to mark their territory, make a home, invade… or whatever it is that cats do!

I went into the garden yesterday to hang out some washing and noticed a black cat curled around the top of our water butt. They often do this as it seems the perfect shape and size. (except for the big, fat ginger ball one that normally sits there. I swear one day it will buckle inder his weight and the garden will be flooded!) I’d never seen this black one before and as I walked towards him/her/it (you can tell I don’t have a cat!) it hissed at me!! I should have hissed back to ne honest or scared it off in some way but instead I told it off like I would a kid at school! It seemed I’d missed using my ‘teacher voice!’ I shouted at it, ‘How dare you hiss at me in my own garden! Now sit there quietly or you can leave!’ Haha! I really hope the neighbours didn’t hear or there will be crazy rumours going around…. on the bright side they may keep their cats away!

My neighbour actually mentioned how his cat sits on my water butt… I don’t know if he means the ginger giant or the horrible hisser (see an animal lover would ask!) but he said it was nice that they have somewhere to sit. ‘yeh, I thought, ‘great… I’m really glad your cat can visit my holiday retreat to relax!’ He then said he had a problem getting him to come home thought yesterday to go to the vets. I offered to put something on it to stop them sitting on it… I was thinking of tar.. or glue… or poison.. (No don’t call the RSPCA.. I’m joking! I’ve said I don’t mind them being there as long as they don’t hiss at me!) He said that wasn’t necessary but could I move the water butt a foot closer next time so he could reach it??! I hope he was joking.. as I might as well just set the sunbed up next time just inbetween the two gardens so he has the best sunny position and can still get home for his appointment!

Before you write me off as a complete animal hater… I am a little bit in love with the tiny, grey kitten next door (the other side). He could definitly take over the world and get to the top purely on looks and charm! He is adorable… and I’ve actually been scared that the neighbours think I’m trying to take him. He keeps comin to our gardern everyday… probably plotting for a destruction! But Kitty, the garden already looks like a bomb has hit it! When we were cutting down trees the other night (sorry did I say WE? oops) and the cat kept scampering about and getting in our way… another way that these four legged lovelies take over. We had to keep stopping work (doh said ‘we’ again!) in order to make sure the cat wasn’t where the tree was about to fall or in the big pile of leaves that we were going to set fire to! Really held us up… he owes us at least an hour of labour!

So watch out for your four legged friends… they may seem to be ‘cute’ but they are actually just distracting you.. they may seem to be sunbathing.. but they may be trying to drive you out or your own garden. Or they be trying to squash your water butt! Or take you on a run at a ridiculous time of day!

Take charge… two legs good, four legs bad!

Woof and Meow for now,

See you tomorrow.. unless the cats hijack my laptop!


Never play with animals or children!

Well what a busy day! Started the day with an early morning walk to wake up the system! Was a lovely morning and me and my boyfriend’s Mum and his brother’s girlfriend walked in the countryside with two lovely dogs…..one being Stan the Dog who you may see on another blog! The dogs were more awake than us bounding about and I swear we were meant to be taking them for a walk but the border collie puppy Tom was pulling me along so much that I had to break into a run. At that time of day! But don’t worry, I’m OK……. I may be scarred for life at the bodily fluids and solids that came out the rear of the two little darlings though….. noone needs to see that at breakfast time yuk!

My next stage of the day……………. the reason I call it a stage is because have you ever seen About a Boy? Or should I say as an English enthusiast…have you ever read it? Will the main character in it divides his days into units as if to give the day different stages. Each unit is an hour and so each activity will take up so many units. I like to think of my life like that when I’m not working and it helps to cram a lot into a day. So today, the dog walk took up about 2 and a half units and I then spent 1 unit at home, doing some chores, having something to eat yawn yawn boring stuff. Then I was asked to go to a special needs activity day to help out with the boy I used to be a teaching assistant for. I have now left the school but I’ve stayed in touch with the family. The boy is 15 and has exceptional special needs… he can’t even talk let alone read or write. (He  has Autism spectrum disorder and also Down’s Syndrome) As a big talker myself we seem to complement each other very well! He is the most lovely lad so I jumped at the chance to go and help out. As an added bonus it also gave his Mum a break for 2 units so she could lunch with her friends.

So I sat with him for 3/4 of a unit while he ate his  lunch. He is the funniest person to watch when eating chocolate. It is also torture for me as a chocaholic as he likes to savour every morsel. He also tries to put the bar in his mouth long ways as if he is setting himself a personal chocolate challenge! I watch him with fascination and he grins at me every so often with a brown sticky lip as if to say ‘You’re not getting any!’ The rest of the bar becomes a brown sticky river by the end and I have to rush him to eat it before it all melts. And not one tiny crumb (or drop!) for me! 😦

From one liquid to another we moved onto painting for just over 1 unit! Thank god for the invention of wet wipes! He had much fun stamping various paint sodden stamps onto a black blank canvas. The lady in charge… who is trained to work with Special Needs kids and adults ….kept telling him he had to pick up the stamp after each print and then dip it the paint again. I thought to myself ‘You don’t even exist because he is so engrossed in that red paint!’ There was no way he was going to stop excitedly banging the stamp and dragging the paint across the canvas… I had no problem with this because it’s art right? He was truly expressing himself! We were definitely the rebels of the group!

Shortly after, he decided to ‘help’ with the washing up of the paint trays, which really meant watching some other poor sod do it. he loves water and got very excited by seeing the swirls of purple, red and yellow mix into the water. Shortly after, Mum returned and my activities with dogs and kids were done for the day.

Never work with animals or kids, people say. But in work environments there are structures and rules… it’s the playing part that gets messy! All good fun though!

I’m now  off to enjoy the rest of my units… which I will confess may include some alcohol units also 😉

See you tomorrow,