If You Carry Your Childhood With You, You Never Become Older

I met my bestie, Barbs when she was an Executive Housekeeping Manager (or HFH = Housekeeper From Hell as I used to call her) and we both worked in the same chain-owned hotel. We smiled at each other at a morning meeting and somehow we just clicked probably more to do with the fact that she has no filter and will always be the one to tell you how it really is. I never got to meet her lovely mum with her sparkling Lancashire wit, but Barbs frequently used to quote her and some of my favourite gems are “if you can’t fight, wear a big hat”, “go on smile; give your face a joyride” or “have you had a wash or are you just drying a dirty colour”. Barbs decision to pursue a career within the Hotel industry was also enthusiastically endorsed by her mum when she said “you’ve not got much up top but by heavens, you’re a good scrubber”. With that glowing testimonial, Barbs was always going to be destined for a life amongst grubby bed linens and dirty bathrooms.

For her big birthday Barbs decided she was going to mark the occasion by resuming roller skating which was something she had enjoyed as a teenager. So whilst she was visiting us the other week, and taking a rest from being my editor-in-chief, she asked if I would order some online for her. I was strangely drawn to the leopard print ones with the neon purple wheels, Barbs not so much so we opted for the plain white ones. After the order was completed, she rang her father to inform him that they were being delivered to his address just in case he opened the package thinking there were for him and fancied a trial run along Blackpool promenade; which is incidentally where my Dad used to roller skate as a young boy.

Several days later when Barbs returned home, she rang me all excited to say that they had been delivered and revealed she’d been wearing them around the house since she’d opened the box. It was only much later that I had discovered she was so smitten; she’d slept in them which couldn’t have been good for either her black satin sheets or water-bed.

Have a safe & happy weekend my friends and I’ll leave you with a picture of the lovely Barbs in her new skating outfit; frankly I think it could do with a few more sequins.

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Does My Bum Look Big In This?

Posted in children, friends, humour, roller skating, skating | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

Like many of you I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  Whilst, I think that it has certain advantages for keeping in touch with family & friends located in faraway places and as a writer it does have obvious benefits but for many it’s a bit of a dual-edged sword. Too often I have come across inappropriate posts and videos which in my opinion have no place on a social networking site. It is alleged that this week Facebook have failed to remove a video of a helpless & vulnerable kitten being deliberately doused in fuel and set alight; what purpose does that video serve? I also fail to see why you would want to give the sociopaths that committed this heinous and cowardly act their fifteen minutes of fame. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself why certain Facebookers would feel the need to “like” this type of post. Whilst Facebook insist that they had reviewed the clip, which they insisted had met its guidelines, by simply doing nothing are they green lighting other evil-minded individuals?

Surely there has to be a more stringent policy where pictures of extreme cruelty are removed in a timely fashion and by timely, I mean immediately. Derogatory pictures and borderline slanderous statements that will obviously cause emotional distress to others also have no place. I have personally fallen foul of an anonymous user, who superimposed my head from my profile picture, along with several other girls onto the bodies of girls in stills from adult films accompanied by crass taglines and my complaint wasn’t upheld, subsequently, Facebook refused to remove them. Imagine the distress that this caused me and my family and likewise for all the other girls. It is inconceivable that some malicious individual could randomly target your profile picture in this way because they are not regulated. It begs the question that if any of us had been celebrities would Facebook fearing legal reprisals have taken a different stance or were we simply not important enough to merit their protection from internet trolls.

You don’t have to be a public relations expert to determine what is right and wrong most of us learn that as children but one wonders sometimes whether integrity is an out-dated principle for many multi-million organisations.  So if you’re listening Facebook you need to man up and grow a set along with some morals; your users will love you for it!

The world is a dangerous place to live. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

Posted in animal cruelty, animal welfare, animals, bullying, cats, Facebook, internet trolls, social networking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

We’re All Gifted, We Just Unwrap Our Packages At Different Times

Hello friends, it’s been a while. This past month well real life has taken over, I even had my bestie for a visit and her new-found hobby of roller skating was the focus for a week; but that really is a story for another day.

Sadly these days I’m up at 5am to start work and return to be carer, gardener, scrubber, shopper extraordinaire. I don’t get to spend as much time blogging as I would like but I think of you all often but ironically when we’re up against it, the thing we enjoy the most tends to be the thing which is sidelined. I’d love to keep up with you all so you can find me on either Twitter or Facebook. My other announcement is that I have started serialising “The Honeymoon Stories” on Wattpad. It’s still early days and I certainly couldn’t have done it without two years of support and encouragement from the best bloggers in the world (you might want to check out the dedication on Chapter One)

As I’m late to the Wattpad party, I would be happy to hear from any of you that are frequent users and have any tips or suggestions for me.

So signing off for now but I hope you all find time to do what makes you happy this weekend.

With fondest thoughts and a grateful heart, your blogging friend Dallas

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Posted in blog, bloggers, blogging, books, Facebook, publishing, stories, story, true story, Twitter, wattpad, wordpress, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Most of you will know that the garden and the old fella’s allotment are wildlife havens although my Dad has had to install deterrents for the Herons arriving to lunch on his Koi carp. Anyone on either two or four legs is guaranteed a meal at Dyson Abbey, even the birds eat A La Carte on the rare occasions when any of my mother’s homemade baking is left to go stale.

So one unbearably humid evening last week as I was trying unsuccessfully to grab some sleep before my alarm clock woke me at 5am, I heard this rather loud snuffling sound coming from the garden directly below me. I thought it might be one of the cats being ill, as we live in the countryside and it’s not uncommon for cats to fall foul of rat poison that farmers have distributed to eliminate the growing vermin population.

I grabbed my trusty old Star Wars torch (another classic birthday gift from the old fella) I reluctantly left the comfort of my bed to pad downstairs and opening the patio doors I crept into the garden. I quickly scanned the garden with my light sabre to determine where the noise was coming from and whether I would be making a mercy dash to the local veterinary hospital.

I refrained from switching on the industrial security lighting which my Dad had installed mainly because it had enough power to light Wembley Stadium and I didn’t want any low-flying aircraft mistaking our lawn for a runway.

To my amazement there was a mother and baby hedgehog eating the remains of Hobo’s supper. To our intense frustration Hobo insists on dining al fresco during the summer months and I’m guessing with the lack of rain that we’d had the soil was probably rock hard preventing the little folk from foraging. My Dad is always pleased to see a Hedgehog who after all is a gardener’s friend and it may well have been that this adorable duo had been visiting our garden for some time completely undetected.

I was totally enchanted by these fascinating creatures and even more thrilled when I opened another small tin of cat food and the baby, obviously very hungry, boldly ran across the lawn to dine on salmon and vegetables. Mum who was three times the size, was a little more reticent and hung back until I made my way inside the house.

Since then I’ve noticed that they arrive regularly every night to dine at the four star Dyson Bistro and arrive in crocodile formation walking the same route up and down old railway sleepers and eventually onto the patio to partake in the evening’s menu. As our rescue bunch who as strays were accustomed to scavenging bins have developed champagne and caviar taste since coming to live with us, we always have a substantial amount of surplus cat food and can usually accommodate the most discerning palates.

The past few evenings the little folk have out foxed me by arriving at different times but the other night I noticed that there were four of them so clearly our reputation as a four star wildlife catering venue has reached the rest of the local hedgehog community. We’re not complaining though as there’s something very special about hedgehogs and its a privilege to be able to share our time on this earth amid such enchanting creatures.

The earth has music for those who listen – William Shakespeare

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Posted in animals, countryside, Devon, garden, gardener, gardening, hedgehog, nature, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Lest We Forget

My great-grandfather William Frederick Cawley or Freddy as he was known to his friends was born and raised in Ballina workhouse along with his nine siblings in County Mayo, Ireland. Doubtless the family had a tough life and at the grand age of seventeen wanting to escape the grim poverty to which he had become accustomed he stole a horse and rode it to Dublin and when captured was given the choice of joining the Queen’s army or passage to Australia as a settler. As the mortality rate on the ships was fairly high he chose what he thought was the lesser of the two evils by opting for the military life and enlisting in the Connaught Rangers.

William's Birth Certificate

William’s Birth Certificate in Gaelic & English

After basic training my great-grandfather along with the rest of his regiment who were also little more than boys, travelled from Ireland to Devonport where they sailed to Gallipoli, in Turkey to take part in the Battle of Çanakkale which would be a military campaign lasting eight long and fierce months, fighting boys not much older than themselves with huge casualties on both sides. The Turkish suffered an estimated 87,000 casualties, the British army 21,000 and the Anzacs 11421. Most of his comrades had never ventured further than their own villages and embraced this bold adventure singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary” throughout the voyage little knowing the hell that awaited them once they landed on Turkish soil.

Freddy was one of the “lucky” ones and when the young farm boy returned home he was a very different and irrevocably damaged man with a bad case of malaria which dogged him throughout his life and which he eventually succumbed to leaving a wife and eight children behind. In the years after the war he seldom spoke of his war years apart to recount the size of the Turkish bayonets. No doubt he along with many others was probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but it would be several decades before it would be widely diagnosed and treatments made readily available.

So last night when I extinguished the lights, lit a candle and joined the rest of the nation in remembering the fallen on the occasion of the centenary of World War 1 in the #lightsout event, my thoughts wandered to Freddy and the thousands like him who had also made their own sacrifice returning to their homes in some cases altered beyond recognition and leaving them struggling to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. We will never forget their sacrifices.

William Frederick Cawley -my Great Grandfather

William Frederick Cawley -my Great Grandfather

Posted in Army, Connaught Rangers, Ireland, Irish, Turkey, World War 1 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

It’s All About Me!

I was interviewed the other week by the good folks over at PAYAway. It’s a cracking website packed full of information for anybody thinking of moving or working abroad, in fact I wished I’d discovered it before I took the plunge. Anyhoo, here it is although most you will already know the story behind my move to the beautiful country of Turkey but for those that don’t, here it is in The Working Traveller.

Most of you will also know that my beloved old Dad had a stroke last year so I’m back home in Devon because for now that’s where I need to be but rest assured as soon as the old fella’s back on his feet, I will be dusting off those flip-flops and heading back to the golden sands of Altinkum. And for those of you that haven’t yet dipped your toes in the sparkling aquamarine waters of the Aegean off the glorious Turkish coast, you should go.

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Posted in Altinkum, Devon, Didim, Expat, Travel, Turkey | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

It’s Shop O’Clock Somewhere

I have a confession; I’m addicted to internet shopping. Every day is Xmas Day for me when I know that a parcel will be awaiting me on my return from work regardless of the contents. In recent weeks I’ve ordered tent pegs (to keep the Herons away from my Dad’s Koi carp), a stress ball (for the old fella thanks to a recommendation from a fellow blogger) and spot on flea treatment for the Hellfire Gang along with brave pills for me. Funds permitting (i.e. when I sell a lung or kidney), I do occasionally order Dermalogica and Molton Brown products which help to soothe away the stresses of working within a Game of Thrones environment (with only slightly less bloodshed and fewer northern accents).

Whilst most of the above are not truly very exciting the buzz I get when I know that there will be an unwrapped package sitting at home awaiting my attention. The anticipation of ripping off the wrapping to discover the contents of some recent purchase will have me singing and dancing all the way to the bus stop for the homeward journey. Just knowing that a parcel has been delivered by the local postie who without fail says “somebody loves you” before handing it over to the old folks, will automatically make it a sunshine day. An even bigger thrill is being able to surprise a loved one with some unique gift which I know will make them smile or help celebrate a special milestone.

Anyway can’t sit around here all day as a rechargeable facial brush and battery operated foot exfoliator won’t order themselves. So come on then, what small indulgence makes your day?

A Year's Salary!

A Year’s Salary!

Posted in Dermalogica, Game Of Thrones, humour, internet shopping, Molton Brown, parents, shopping | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Happiness Is Having A Scratch For Every Itch

One of the chores I detest most at this time of year is applying flea treatment to the cats. As we live in the heart of Devon’s glorious countryside, a monthly application is required and our cats detest it. Contrary to popular feline belief spot on flea treatments are not barbaric torture rituals although the SAS would envy the avoidance techniques applied by both Chloe & Hobo. Once the tin foil packets are unwrapped our beloved pets are MIA, so it was with a sinking heart and scars barely healed from the last application that I reluctantly agreed to help my Dad with the dreaded task in hand.

Mother at first was a little reticent about the assignment until she’d checked that the premiums had been paid on my Dad’s life assurance policy and that I’d had my tetanus booster jab. Once she’d established that we were both covered we were cleared for take-off and despatched with a cheery wave.

Armed with the tools of our trade, oversize bath towel, First Aid kit, gardening gauntlets, safety goggles (for us not the cats) and a large can of Red Bull (minus the vodka which would come later) to replenish my depleted energy reserves as this would be an epic capture and release mission, one which would require stealth, cunning and the quick fire reflexes of a cheetah. To encourage our elusive four-legged family into the garden where the covert operation was being carried out, we had decided to feed them their breakfast al fresco on the glass table top of my mother’s new and treasured patio set. An irresistible breakfast of lightly cooked fish had been lovingly prepared by Mum and the pungent aroma wafting around the garden would be sure to entice our little cuddle bunnies into the awaiting trap.

I should just mention at this point that in addition to our own two; “One speed Hobo” and “Chloe Hellcat” the menopausal nightmare, the foster “Miss Thumbs”;we also have a new addition of a rather large timid male tabby who’d obviously been living rough for a while and had taken shelter in our garden.

The New Lodger

The New Lodger

At first Dad had insisted that we didn’t feed him, as he’d probably go home when he became hungry, which lasted all of half a day before he inevitably caved in. After asking around we discovered that he had belonged to family renting a house further down the street who had moved out leaving no forwarding address and their family pet. So then there were four!

First up was Hobo who has never been able to resist an al fresco running buffet for cats; at least that’s what he thinks a barbecue is! As he jumped onto the table I had the towel ready and quickly secured him or so I thought. Hobo managed through sheer brute strength (he’s a big boy) and determination to out-manoeuvre me but I was up and running after him. At the privet hedge I headed him off at the pass and took him down WWE Smackdown style sitting astride him whilst waiting for my partner in crime to hand me the required medication. The low howls and growls emitted attracted the attention of many of our neighbours, who I’m sure were contemplating phoning the RSPCA to report us for animal cruelty. Dad who had been distracted by the World Cup commentary on the radio was a little slow off the mark and had forgotten to remove the cap from the little pipette which I had to do with my teeth. Regrettably whilst I was using one hand to restrain the struggling big fella I accidentally swallowed a mouthful of the solution and hoped that there were no adverse effects for humans as I didn’t want to be spending the following week marking my territory. I also made a mental note to gargle with vodka a little later just to be on the safe side.

Hobo shot off like the hounds of hell were in hot pursuit and sulked for a few hours after that before hunger pangs got the better of him and he returned for tea but made sure that we were all aware of his displeasure.

Miss Thumbs was a perfect little lady when it came to apply her flea treatment (although her table manners could use some work) and whilst a little miffed, the latest addition grudgingly allowed us to apply his medication before he slunk off to take refuge in the shrubbery where he spent the afternoon licking his wounds.

As expected Chloe Hellcat was something else altogether! Streaking into the garden like a high-speed train she leaped onto the table to be caught mid jump in my gauntlets; clearly I had a future with the England soccer team as a goalie.

Chloe Hellcat

Chloe Hellcat

As the littlest and lightest of all four cats one would expect her to be able to offer the least resistance but as a former feral cat she clearly wasn’t going down without a fight. With the disposition of a deadly Asian Hornet, she scratched and bit her way through my gauntlets and I wondered not for the first time why we didn’t have Gerbils instead of cats.

As her rear claws sank into my wrist and my blood seeped through the gauntlet I had no choice but to hold on for grim death and as she and I tussled and crashed to the ground I tripped over the leg of the table. As if in slow motion the glass table top shattered into what looked like a million pieces and I knew that the old dear wasn’t going to like that very much. My Dad had a more practical approach and headed off to the shed for a tube of superglue but I secretly thought there was not enough superglue in Devon for this particular job! Looked like he was going to be needing that life cover after all.

When the remnants of the patio table had been swept up and deposited in the dustbin and my war wounds bathed with antiseptic, he turned to me and said in all earnest “So when do you think we should worm them then”?

Final score Cats 1 Humans 3 and to borrow a phrase from the television commentators of the beautiful game “They think it’s all over, well it is now”!

The Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club

Posted in animals, cats, countryside, Devon, family, foster, fostering, humour, pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

The Quiet Place

Each of us has a quiet place, somewhere where we go to write, reflect, create or just be alone. Of late I seem to have lost the key or forgotten the combination to the door of my secret place. Overlooked or misplaced either way I am struggling to find my way in where previously the door had somehow always been left ajar.

I envy my father in that way, that the second he plucks at a weed or picks up a shovel he becomes blissfully immersed and emotionally invested in his joyful occupation whilst the worries of the world just slip away. I seem to have lost my way to my own happy place and writing no longer beckons me or offers me solace in the way it has before. I envy those that find comfort in much-loved pastimes but I have always struggled to write if my soul is in disquiet.

Maybe all I really need is a little faith, trust and pixie dust but there again it might be that old familiar thief called time has stolen away my happy place when I wasn’t looking. What will help me find my way back? I’m not sure but when I find that magical road map, I’ll let you know.

So wherever you are today, I hope you find your quiet place and spend it doing just what makes you happy.

And then there were four!

And then there were four!

Posted in bloggers, blogging, garden, gardener, gardening, Peter Pan, writer's block, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

A Father Is A Man Who Has Photos In His Wallet Where His Money Used To Be

As most of you know my Dad’s stroke has presented us all with a few challenges over the past few months but despite losing the use of his right arm and subsequently his independence, he has borne this with a shedload of humour and good grace. We’re luckier than most but who knows what’s around the corner and we hope that he will eventually make a full recovery. So today on Father’s Day I want to say a silent prayer of thanks for my Dad and all the millions of great fathers out there who whose love and guidance have provided us all with a solid foundation that has enabled us to take on the world.

Dads, are mostly ordinary men turned into heroes, adventurers, storytellers & singer of songs – Pam Brown

Happy Fathers Day Old Fella

Happy Fathers Day Old Fella

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments