Review of the year – 2019

Friends, Collies and my greatly esteemed friends and followers,

And, for anyone new to my dog blog, find out what it is all about here Ben’s big adventure

So, 2020 has arrived and I’m now living in a new decade, which sounds awfully exciting; I’ve not done that one before. Apparently the chips are down on the chances of my seeing another one, but I don’t want to think about that just now. Instead, let me take you on the grand tour of Ben’s life in 2019.

Right at the end of last year’s review David had just got back into a little bit of walking. That was after the horrid, awful, terrible (do I make myself clear?) three months, following the big fall and broken pelvis which, in itself, came fast on the heels of saying goodbye to the old girl. The worst part of being on a mountain, with an incapacitated David, was the whirligig thing that hurt my ears and stole my person from the mountain.

However, I’m so happy to report that right from the beginning of 2019 it has been back to business as usual, by which I mean the rightful reinstatement of my morning routine, consisting of: a lovely early morning drive to Mabie Forest; meeting up with the gang to discuss the weighty issues of the day and then – oh, what unconfined joy – playing ball and lots of it, my absolute – incontrovertible – favourite thing, apart from a spot of dinner, of course. In celebration of this return to normality, I’ve developed an ebullient little song and dance piece, that I perform on the back seat of the car, as soon as we hit the drive that takes us deep into the forest.

During the winter afternoons that follow this morning ritual, I’d while away the time with vivid dog dreams about “… gold lama baskets and choice cuts of meat …” 1 until woken from my slumbers by the sound of Wainwright biscuits hitting porcelain bowl. Reality tore me from luxurious fantasies but, the familiarity of home wasn’t half bad. About this time of day, B’s smell – round and about the house – has faded to the level at which I knew she was about to arrive home (oh dear, I’m so sorry my fellow canines. I’ve just given away the mystery of how we know when our people are coming back. Incase anyone didn’t know, dogs do it with noses ). So, after tucking into a nutritionally balanced – fat free – meal, I’m up at the window waiting for B to drive in. In my excitement I throw myself into her arms, the same v. v. v big welcome home every night. I’m not altogether sure that my exuberance is fully appreciated. Bags seem to go everywhere and sometimes we find ourselves in a confused heap on the floor. She particularly doesn’t like it when one of my paws slides down her face, leaving a big red scar for days on end. I like to think of it as a term of endearment.

Leaving the worst of the winter behind us heralds the start of the caravan season, when we return to our mobile home (that doesn’t move), in The Lake District. I’ve done it every year of my life, the same pattern, with gleeful anticipation of the spring, summer and autumn that lie ahead. This year I was robbed of such happiness. As soon as I crossed the threshold I could smell her. It hit me like an incense bomb and was everywhere – the unforgettable scent of our old girl, Maisie. I curled up in my cushion and got all depressed. Eventually, a little bit of dinner brought me out of myself and, a game of ball on Moor Divock the next day wonders but… every time I got back to the caravan the black dog, instead of our old girl, was my companion.

               

 

It took a lot of hard work but I had to pull myself together, because me and B had work to do and helping others is always such a tonic. We needed to get David confident on the hills again, after the big fall, and – even though I say so myself – we done good. Thus, on 30th March 2019 – exactly six months after the accident – me, B and David, did a return to Place Fell and, on this occassion, actually got to the top. 

March also held another red letter day and gosh, all fiddlesticks – my tummy still gets excited remembering. It was a case of out with the old, in with the new. Though in this case it was just a bit newer. On 11th March 2019 we crossed a line. No more sleeping cramped on the floor of an unreliable VW Caddy van. Now me and B were going up in the world. The future heralded not only a more dependable car but also, one we were going to convert with a micro camper kit. 

 

 

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Nevertheless, despite the excess of comfort, it was with a tear in my eye that I said goodbye to my faithful – if unpredictable – friend of three years. The ally that had got me and B going on the Munros and witnessed my first 47 climbs, and 52 of B’s.

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Perhaps you can imagine how eager I was to go Munro bagging again and try out the soft furnishings in our new Munro mobile. Sadly, I had to exercise something called patience, which is soOOO hard for me to do.

April of 2019 brought in yet another big, BIG event, in our small lives, and it had to be marked. David had one of those birthdays with an 0 at the end of it. I’m not meant to tell you which one, so I’ll put it in v. v. v small numerals and you can pretend you never saw it. (70, hee, hee). For Dog’s sake, HOW MANY DECADES IS THAT? It seems we were heading east to celebrate and I had to test out a whole new suite of soft furnishings. Home comforts aside, I’m not a great fan of sudden change and definitely at my best when running on well oiled lines, with a bouncing spherical object to cement my happiness. Therefore, when we set out on roads I had never, ever been on before, the lava from last year’s butterflies started to hatch in my tummy, giving me a very strange sensation indeed and, not at all to my liking. Of course, all’s well that ends well, and the very first thing to happen, when we arrived, was that I had a lovely big dinner. After that, secure in the knowledge that my food had travelled with us, I set about testing out the buoyancy of the soft furnishings, in this home from home.

For the next week we ranged far and wide across somewhere called The North York Moors. The landscape was gynormous, with vistas stretching into space across bracken and heather hillsides, broken only by deep sided valleys that had – in the geological mists of time – been scooped out of the very earth we might have stood on. These vales took some considerable effort to tumble down and then climb back up so that, by the end of our walk, we needed to stop for refreshment. I would have my dinner beside the car and then B and David would warm their paws, and the cockles of their hearts, in a pub called The Lion Inn, at Blakey Rigg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join them because of my propensity to take objection to the frightening smell, accompanying the odd human, which brings on a defensive nipping of ankles and makes me canine non grata. Instead, I was left to ponder on the whereabouts of this lion, how fail-safe the locks on our car were, and just why the windows had been left so open. On their return, D & B’s happy disposition met my relief and made for lovely companionable evenings.

Once home, from the birthday celebration, my enthusiasm to get Munroing became a bone of contention, so to bark. First of all the weather was against us but, even when it wasn’t, I was excluded. Apparently, B just happened to be working in Glasgow and it made sense for her (and not me ), to take off north from there. Unbelievably, inexcusably, it was July before I put paw to Munro. However, over that weekend, and another in August, we put another 10 summits in v. v. v heavy bag, which stamped it with the impressive number of 84; me and B had done 57 of these together. The fiery sun played hide and seek behind Cumulonimbus clouds, and then danced on the shimmering waters of high mountain lochans which – in sequestered corries – were protected by cliffs that rose in awe-inspiring towers that beguiled and terrified, These were blissful times together and, on the highest Caledonian hills, we soaked up panoramas that brought the heart, and soul, of a young dog alive. Gasps for breath, from the bi-ped beside me, suggested the heart wasn’t quite up to the job; as for the soul – well, that’s anyone’s guess.

Lots of photos on my special slide show. It’s a bit on the slow side but you can use the arrows to move forward

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Of course, as mentioned in so many of my blogs before, being away with B is never a totally easy experience and nothing had changed in the last year, unfortunately. On the first day of our July weekend – luckily after we had bagged Bynack More – I was brought down to earth, literally, by the exploding tyre beneath me.

The case of the exploding tyre

And then, the very next day, I was met with a compromising situation in the safety department as our navigational aids – that provide my security – were made redundant, in a catalogue of neglect. The straw that broke the collies back was when our map – the very foundation of our whereabouts – blow off in the wind. Somehow, I survived to tell the tale.

The case of the disappearing map

B went bagging again briefly, in both September and October but, by this time, I was having something they call divided loyalties, which is a very nasty condition. With the old girl gone back to ashes, I couldn’t bare to think of David – home alone, when I was away with B. On the other paw, when I kept David company, the thought of B on the mountains, without the protection of her Munro buddy, sent me into a tumult of guilt and anxiety. This unconditional love business isn’t always easy. I felt like I was becoming a tug of love dog.

After October, it was better – lovelier – we were all together, all the time. We had such companionable walks in the Lake District, me with my ball, B & David with that incessant chatter thing that humans do. Then alas, it was the interregnum (from the caravan site) and we were banned from the Lake District till March. The season of mellow fruitfulness had given way to winter and I took to the indoor life, disporting myself around the soft furnishings, while catching up on a spot of reading.

It has to be said that, my absolute best read of 2019 is a little tomb called, ‘The Enlightened Spaniel’. I need to qualify that sentence in a couple of ways. The book is in no way little. In fact, IT IS MEGA. It has changed my whole outlook on life. And then, of course, there is the issue with the breed (not my favourite, since an unfortunate little altercation, regarding the property rights of a certain spherical object, a couple of years ago). Clearly, the book should have been pawed by a noble Border Collie but, it seems, the floppy ears got in first. That said, I think this way of being may have something to offer.

For instance, you are – apparently – meant to live in the moment. Well, let’s face it, that’s easy peasy for me. That moment could be blissful, with one of my bestest humans throwing my ball over an arch of sky, or it might be some scary instance requiring the nipping of ankles; either way, when it’s done it’s done – nothing of the past remains and, as for the future, it’s a foreign county; anything could happen. Another facet of this world view is about unconditional love and – say no more – that’s what we go in for, big style. I might even have to let the Spaniels in on that one – reluctantly.

According to Buddhist philosophy, which is big on this enlightenment stuff, we get born and born again – ever improving – on a path to somewhere called Navana, which is the bees knees. Did you know that bees have knees? Nivana is the best place imaginable and you have to be v. v. v well behaved, caring lots about other creatures, to get there. Honestly, I really was doing my best but then along comes Christmas and well, let’s face it, we all indulge ourselves a bit – or a big bit. All those presents, eating too much, loafing about and, of course, the excess of dog beer – it may have set Nivana back a bit.

Nevertheless, just a few more incarnations and I fully expect to be there. The first Border Collie ball dog at Wimbledon… perhaps next year.

In the meantime, more dog dreams.

And so to bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Ben

 

1 Carroll, D H (2013); Dog Dreams. This England, Vol 46, No 2, Thompson Publishing, London.

Ben’s Review of the Year – 2018, Part One

Friends, collies, dogs with resolutions,

Oh my galligaskins, where does the time go? This is my fourth annual review and I still feel like a young pup finding my way in the world.

Ben’s other annual reviews here

I concluded last year’s review by looking forward to doing more of the self-actualising stuff – through walking on mountains and writing about it all – having established that all my other needs were being met, according to this big cheese called Maslow. So let’s see how it all worked out.

Image result for images maslow's hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

To make sense of my life in 2018, I have decided to take a tour through the unfolding seasons.

Winter 

To be quiet honest with you, not IMG_3857much was doing in the New Year and I found myself joining in with that down-in-the-mouth trend that is so catching in January. What, with lots of slouching about, lying in front of the fire and supporting a rather extensive tum, after an over indulgence of Christmas treats, I could hardly muster enough energy – let alone enthusiasm – for even a short walk. I had metamorphosed from self-actualising Munro Buddy into lethargic mass of excess flab, mirroring my people.

Just as I was in danger of succumbing to something called sloth, I was saved from myself by the arrival of two very different events. Firstly, my personal friend, Julia Bradbury (of UK TV fame), sent me a present for allowing her to host my blog on her new website. Spotting the postie with a parcel I made contact – not altogether welcome – with his hand, getting through the packaging in a 1, 1, 2 and, before you could say http://www.theoutdoorguide.co.uk, I was sporting a rather spiffing buff and looking rather dandy, even if I say so myself. Ben’s personality and hiding lights under bushels are two mutually exclusive concepts, if you get my drift.

Go outdoors buff 1

It’s possible that the bohemian look of this rather rakish neckerchief predisposed me to take advantage of the second happening, in that otherwise uneventful start to the year. While surfing the net on my blog site, as dogs do, I chanced up a weekly poetry challenge. Well I thought, as Border Collies do, why not. With the extra time on my paws and the new debonair look, what was there to lose, aside from a  v. v. v temperamental ego. So, in the twinkling of a keyboard’s return button, Munro buddy became budding poet and, oh my dog, with what results. Ping, ping, ping … went the notification alerts on my PC, as readers liked what they saw, necessitating a quick visit to the garden, my tummy getting all excited.

Since that day, most Tuesdays have been a creative frenzy as I put paw to paper turning a two-word prompt into structured poems. Would you believe it, I am the only dog poet among this company of new literary friends. Colleen Cheesebro provides all the rules, the two words and, each week, Colleen selects one author as poet of the week. You could have blown me down with a writer’s quill when I achieved this accolade myself, at only my second attempt, with a little Senryu I wrote.

 

Impishly climbing
Folding into warm contours
Dissolving in dreams

This is what Colleen wrote about my poem,

“Other than the fact that I ADORE dogs who write poetry, the simplicity of Ben’s words tells the whole story of this Senryu and the fabulous picture posted with the poem. It just felt like something a dog would write about. Sometimes the simplest things bring the most pleasure.”

Me and Colleen have become great friends over the last year and she has given me such encouragement. You can read all about the challenge here. Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge

By the by, if you need something to help you dissolve into dreams at night you can read all my poems just here All Ben’s poems

Eventually we seemed to be turning from winter into spring, as snow and ice gave way to buds and blossom. By this time and with slightly longer walks, I was beginning to fight the flab, looking towards the Munro year ahead.

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Alas, my aspirations became a causality of the Beast from the East, when a late blast of bitterly cold weather swept across the UK from the North Sea, lasting well into April and thwarting my fitness regime.

 

Then, just like the return of an old friend, the ‘cruellest month’ flipped into May and, with that transition summer asserted itself early, casting spring to the dogs, in a rather questionable manner of speaking.

 

As the annual cycle of growth accelerated so the old girl began to back peddle faster still. By the time she was 15, Canine Cognitive Dementia had set in and her back legs were, well…  let’s just say it – useless. I found out lots about the CCD condition and have written a whole page of advice, in my own inimitable style, to help others Ben’s top tips for doggy dementia

 

The old girl’s 15th Birthday (not her wine!!)

Suddenly, we all became allied healthcare professionals, our raîson d’etre being two fold:

To keep the old girl going, as long as she was happy.
Not to keep her going a moment after she wasn’t happy anymore.

My main role in this nurturing environment was to help maintain an aura of calm by suppressing my ADHD tendencies (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Doggy), something I have written about before. I did my best but it was v. v. v hard work.

Alas, I had to play second fiddle, which is also quiet hard for a self-confessed egoist who thinks he is conductor material. I kept hearing phrases like ‘his time will come’ and ‘we’ll make it up to him’, but they didn’t mean at lot to me at the time. I did get a lot of long walks during the week away at our caravan and just had to alternate my people, so that one of them could take on carer responsibilities for our old girl. All the walking was getting me match fit for the Munros which were, apparently, just around the corner; something that rather puzzled me as we always seemed to spend hours getting to Munros in my van. I concluded that it was a very long corner.

Summer

Just then, nearly half way though my year, our orbit tipped out of kilter, everything went topsy turvy and it is only now, at the beginning of 2019 that we are getting back to normal, if I can ever believe in such a thing again. Firstly, just at the end of that May holiday my female person went away and then she kept coming and going for weeks on end. Being a dog I hadn’t a clue what was going on but boy did I do a good imitation of “I’m your best friend, just try and beat this welcome”, every time she came home. David tried his best too but, to be honest, he just hasn’t got the style or, for that matter, the waggy tail to go with it. Anyway, I just made damn sure I got in first to get all the cuddles.

We did make a Munro trip shortly after and spent three glorious days together, scouring the hills, reaching high peaks with fabulous views and we got to the top of 5 Munros. We even reached the first big landmark, notching up the 50th Munro for our bag. In the evenings we’d soak up the unparalleled beauty of the highlands while listening to our own special song, “You say it best, when you say nothing at all.” As nighttime approached I’d jump in the back of my van and snuggle up for sleep in the little space I had available, falling quickly into zzzs after our energetic day on the mountains.

 

When we are away my person does a lot of talking into those strange things bi-peds are always putting to their ears. I do worry about her… a lot, though it seems to bring her some sort of comfort. Then she puts the horrid thing to my ear and it really freaks me out. I look all over for the voice but I can never find him and it makes me sad. When we went through this ritual on our third night we both ended up sad because the voice machine told us the old girl was going further down the tubes. We vowed we would go home after our next walk, a day early; arriving as a surprise cavalry, bringing reinforcements.

The rest of the summer was sung to the old girls tune, her every wish our command. Ben was never the centre of attention in those tranquil dog days. Not actually neglected you understand but just left to my own devices. I kept tapping away at my device of choice and on 19th August I was award the title ‘Poet of the Week’, for the second time. The dog poet honoured a second time

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This brought me such a lot of joy at a sad time for us all. My poetry kept me going because, without the Munros to write about, the soul had gone out of my prose.

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There wouldn’t be anymore mountains in our collecting bag until the old girl didn’t need  to be looked after anymore. None of us wanted to bring that day forward, not one little bit. Even a self-centred dog poet like me knows intuitively when a bit of the old altruism is required. Thus on those summer evenings, when we came in from the garden, I’d snuggle up to the old girl – forsaking my rightful place on the soft furnishings beside B – and offer a bit of fellow comfort. I think she liked it. Walks were reduced to lots of running after ball – maximum energy from Ben, least effort from my people – but you won’t catch me complaining about that and it was always meant to be just a temporary arrangement.

Feeling a little overwhelmed, must sleep. Part two shortly.

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And so to bed

Love Ben 0

Ben’s back

Thank you so much for coming to visit a dog poet, and enter my world.  This is my response to Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge. This weeks challenge asks us to use the words pleasant and read as synonyms, in our poems.

 

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Penetrating books
Mellow iterating gold
Soothing paths to sleep

By ben, the dog poet © 2018

 

All my poems can be found here

You can also read about the big charity challenge, that sparked my literary career, here

Love Ben xx
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Dog poet flies

Well hello,

and a v. v. v big thank you for dropping by to read my blog. This is my entry for Colleen’s weekly poetry competition   The two words, to be integrated synonymously this week are Vigor and energy.                                                    These words speak straight to my soul. My poem is about my very best favourite thing. No photo this week. I thought I’d let your imagination join me in mid air 😁

A bolt of lightening

Zealous focus on ball

Four legs moving … fast!

By Ben, the dog poet © 2018

NB – You can find out about last weeks poet of the week and read all the other poets contributions here

Love Ben xx

 

Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Afternoon Tea – Colleen Chesebro, Sue Hampton, Jane Gogerty, Norah Colvin, Jane Risdon, Wendy Janes, Gigi Sedlmayer, Jena C. Henry and Darlene Foster

via Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Afternoon Tea – Colleen Chesebro, Sue Hampton, Jane Gogerty, Norah Colvin, Jane Risdon, Wendy Janes, Gigi Sedlmayer, Jena C. Henry and Darlene Foster

OMG. Look what elevated company a dog poet has been invited to join. There is lot to eat and drink here, at the end of summer party, and all these fascinating writer people for a dog to meet. Just one question… who is going to stop me eating too much and keep me away from the red wine?

I’m so excited to be invited to the party I’m inclined to do a 4 step jig 🙂

Love Ben xx

 

Dog poet wins poetry award for second time :)

Dear Muses,

I am such a proud dog. Thank you so much to Colleen for awarding me the great honour of Poet Of The Week, for the poem in my last blog , and for hosting such a brilliant weekly challenge. I am humbled to be chosen among all the choice from such great poets. I have learnt such a lot about the art from all of them.

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Each Monday Colleen posts a recap of that week’s challenge which contains the work of the winner, and links to all the other poet’s contributions at the end. Starting this week, every time I enter the poetry challenge I am going to add the link to the recap post for the preceding week. Then all my other readers, who love poetry as much as I do, can scroll to the end, click onto the other contributors blogs and read their work too.

Resting on my laurels

SF 8

Love Ben xx 0

 

 

OMG, look what I’ve done now.

Hello

Thank you so much for coming to read my poem.

I had to do a v. v. v long journey recently which, joyously, gave me lots of time for poetry 🙂 As a result I have pawed a garland cinquain in response to Colleen’s weekly poetry challenge. The prompt words this week – to be used synonymously – are: congregate and passion.

This is what a cinquain is all about.

cinquain

A garland cinequi is a sequence of five stand alone cinquains with a sixth one that takes a line, in sequence, from each of the preceding five.

I have done my jolly best to stick to all the rules. Admittedly, line 3 of cinequi 4 doesn’t have obvious verbs but, if you had ever seen us dogs go, you would know we are the very personification of doing words 😎

I got a little carried away, with the whole thing of picking lines from preceding cinquains to make a new one thing, so… using my big Border Collie brains, I played around a bit – see no. 5. What larks 🙂

 

trevor
Our best people friend Trevor, with treats for Maisie, Amber and me

 

Morning
Forest beckons
Our people gathering
Excitement heralding the day
Walking

Chestnuts
Green canopy
Filtering sunlit paths
Canine playground, ecstatic dogs
Chasing

Mary
Derek, Stewart,
Meeting – David, Trevor
Talking about the president
Raging

Benzie,
Maisie, Toby,
Amber, Sam and Chuckles
Convene the doggy parliament
Zealous

Morning
Walking Chestnuts
Chasing Mary raging
Benzie zealous in protection
Barking

Morning
Green Canopy
Meeting – David, Trevor
Convene the doggy parliament
Barking

By Ben, the dog poet © 2018

That was hard work, must sleep.

Ben Asleep
And so to bed

Love Ben xx 0

Dog-poet’s world 19/03/2018

Hello,

how lovely of you to visit me, thank you. This is a snap shot of my world in response to the questions posed in Cee’s weekly ‘Share Your World Challenge’ You can read all about my v. v. v adventure by visiting my home page and also, my Munro blogs.

What is your earliest memory?

Image result for collies puppies in a barn images

My earliest memory was playing a bit of ruff and tumble with my siblings in the barn where I was born. Then we did a lot of jostling for position trying to be the closest to our mum, when we collapsed in a heap at the end of our game.

Which way does the toilet paper roll go? Over or under?

I don’t know what toilet paper is.

What makes you feel grounded?

It’s when I have my dinner. Then all is well with the world. I jump up on the soft furnishings, turn around a few times and then settle down with a big sigh for a significant number of zzzzzzzzzzzs – Bliss 🙂

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?

It was when my person came back after being away for a few days, doing that horrible work thing which I hate, but when she comes back…. oh, what unbridled joy. Then we settle down on the soft furnishings.

SF 6

Can’t wait to see what you have all been up to and finding out about the up and under of toilet paper, what ever that is.

Love Ben xx0

Boot Camp revisited

Friends, collies, dogs in training,

Spring is upon us and here I am, back in our caravan. Already I’m in training for this year’s assault on The Munros. We did a nice little fell called Gowbarrow, to get us back into the swing of it and then we were really in the hills the next day, up at Griesdale Tarn. There was lots of white stuff on the peaks which made it v. v. v cold, so I wasn’t allowed to go swimming, which put me in a strop.

The old girl is now nearly 14 and she was struggling a bit jumping up the big rocks but, she’s a gallant old thing and wasn’t for throwing in the towel just yet. I hope I don’t get creaky like her though. It reminds me of how B is when she tries to get up after one of our long walks.

B & M IMG_0774a

In addition to the walking, there seems to be a new dimension to my training this year. Having conquered the poor recall with the whistle and cheese technique, and the chasing of woolly things with sit and cheese technique, we are now going to try and bottom out the fascination with, and nipping of, moving feet. Paws up, I have got a lot worse. Now, just anyone who passes within about 3 metres of me is putting the integrity of the skin around their ankles in jeopardy.

The regime goes like this:

1. Before I have even spotted the enemy ahead I gets a treat. Very nice it is too.

2. Then, we pulls of to the side, I sit nicely and I get another treat. Not bad so far.

3. As they are passing, I am distracted by a fast and constant supply of treats. Can’t complain about that.

4. The icing on the cake. If I have behave well thus far I get a very satisfying quantity of my favourite farmhouse mature cheddar. Good job B and David.

Seems like the diet is off then 🙂

And so to bed, sleeping very happily.

BS1 476

Love Ben  xx