If I could talk to the animals…​

Our dog has us very well-trained.

I’m sure she tells the one or two dogs that she’s actually friends with, ‘My hoomans are so clever, you know. I swear they understand every word I say.”

And to some extent, it’s true. In the (nearly) two years that we’ve had her, the pair of us have built up quite the communication system. That’s a vampire thing. An affinity and ability to communicate with animals. No turning into canines, just a knack for chatting with them.

She’s great, though. She has basic manners, better road sense than many humans, and we can carry on some great conversations, she and I. The intellectual content was never going to be devastating, but she can ask for things, tell me when she does or doesn’t like things. Oh, and she finds farts hilarious.

We’ve often been asked what breed she is. We simply say ‘Staffy Cross’. “Cross with what?” is the inevitable second question. We have absolutely no clue. This reply has so far left everyone unsatisfied for, instead of walking away and letting us get on with our day, they then spend the next ten or so minutes suggesting breeds.

Isn’t ‘Staffy Cross’ a good enough term anymore???

The Furball herself has never been able to tell me any details of her parentage. Dogs really don’t care about such trifling matters. To her, dogs are dogs. She doesn’t care about breed, colour or pedigree. All she cares about is whether they’re going to be nice to her or not.

So, we’ve decided, as this obsession with crossbred dogs seems to show no signs of abating, to refer to her as a Staffy-Noi, as in Staffy crossed with No idea.

Can someone please explain the current need to create strange names to describe simple cross-breed dogs?

Here are a few of the current ones out there. 
(Trigger warning- A quick note to anyone who likes seeking out offence – these are not actual descriptions of the breeds, okay?)

Jackabee– A cross between a Jack Russell terrier and a beagle. A dramatic little dog with a fondness for Old English tragic theatre. Needs training to wear a collar, as it prefers wearing ruffs. Not to be mistaken for the Old English Poo (which is what a lot of people think of Jacobean tragedies). Also known as a busy little dog.

Bichpoo – A small, fluffy dog (Bichon Frisé/Poodle) with a penchant for doing its business wherever it dang well pleases, and then getting in your face should you dare challenge it about it.

Zuchon – A Bichon Frisé/Shih-Tzu mix that just loves courgettes and mining for gold.

Cavapoo – A silky Spaniel/Poodle mix that should never be taken potholing/spelunking due to its nervous bowels.

Borador –  A beautiful, loveable mix of Border Collie & Labrador that will send you sleep with its stories.

CacaWhattaPoowoo – part Cavalier, part What-The-Heck, part Poodle, part Wouldn’t-Know-The-Breed-If-It-Bit-Me. It’s an amazing all-purpose gundog-hound-lapdog, specially bred for its bemused expression and skill at helping fill in tax forms.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t a real one. But it should be.

And another thing.

Obscure pedigree dog breeds. Why? You have these people who one-up everyone by having a dog that nobody’s ever heard of – only to be insulted because nobody’s ever heard of it.

ME: Beautiful dog.

THEM: Thank you.

ME: Is it a Shih-Tzu?

THEM: (horrified) NO! It’s an Ecuadorian Abacadrabrian Water Terrier.

ME: Oh. It looks like a Shih-Tzu.

THEM: (disgusted) Ugh. You clearly know nothing about dogs.

ME: I know what a Shih-Tzu looks like.

It’s like with designer clothes – you (generally) only get the kudos from people who know that designer. So unless you’re prepared to have the designer’s name splashed all over the item, I’m afraid your genius and superb taste are doomed to go unnoticed.

And by the way, pal, that pup’s definitely a Shih-Tzu.

 

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When I used Google Maps, got lost, and met some nice people along the way

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story – right there.

You’ve probably heard the saying  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Well, in this case it was true.

Okay, so it wasn’t a step, it was a crack.

And it wasn’t actually a thousand miles – it just felt like it at the time.

Let me explain.

It all started with having chips for tea. I broke a tooth. Right there and then, I made an emergency appointment for the next day. I’d wanted an excuse to go into town – that wasn’t the one I expected. I get there. It’s over in 10 minutes. It’s a very common thing, apparently.

Being a vampire, I’m a bit paranoid about my teeth. There. I’ve finally admitted it. But another part of the vampire package is the empathy & being able to read people (hence the myth about us being mindreaders). That all leads to stress. And that leads to bruxism (that’s the fancy word for teeth grinding). It happens at night, so I can’t control it. This puts pressure on fillings, which in turn can pop the side of the tooth off. It hurts when it happens, but the pride is the thing most damaged.

I decide to make the most of my enforced trip out. Earlier that morning, I had some time to kill before I left for my emergency appointment. Where else can you successfully waste a few minutes, but on the internet? I had noticed on social media that a new vegan supermarket had opened in the same town (I’m sure I’ve told you how my vampire gastrointestinal tract throws a diva-like hissy fit over animal products). I decide to walk there after my appointment (as long as I’m not off my face again after the anaesthetic). Apparently, it’s only 10 minutes away from where the dentist is. I tried Google maps. He tells me it’s 40 minutes away.

(no anaesthetic was needed in the end)

Oh well, the walk will do me good and I’m sure the shop will be amazing when I get there.

I basically end up halfway back home. I follow the map rigorously. After over three-quarters of an hour walking, I reach an apparent hill. It seems Figs Road leads to Kumquat Hill, at the end of which is my destination. Now there’s a thing – Figs Road is a hill, but Kumquat Hill is actually a Road (how does that work?) Anyway, having gone up the road and along the hill, I find myself somewhere completely deserted.

Luckily, I hear two men at work. I ask them where such and such address is. At first, they weren’t sure but I told them the sort of thing that I was looking for. The younger one said the only one he knew of was this new vegan supermarket that was opening that day, to which I probably got a bit overexcited and exclaimed, “That’s it!” and then we got into a discussion about how much such a place was needed in the area.

I dropped into conversation the fact that a well-known celebrity vegan chef would be there later and a separate conversation ensued between the man and his older colleague as to who this celebrity actually was, and what he’d ‘been in’.

They then gave me the most amazing, clear instructions of how to get to this place which I duly did in about 10 minutes. And guess what? The place was amazing. It had everything imaginable in there. I told them my plight and they were very friendly – even offered to drive me back into town. I declined, determined to discover the correct route between there and the town centre. As long as you’re sure, hope to see you again. After my impulse purchases (I may have gone a little crazy), I decided to head back into town.

And guess what? (again)

The chap talking in the social media post had been correct. It was actually only about 10 minutes from the centre of town. I had indeed walked so far out of the way that I was in danger of being close enough to just walk back home instead of taking the train home. So glad I didn’t.

I went into the shop the following day with the hubster. The nice men I’d talked to the previous day had actually popped in! They’d mentioned bumping into me, and the chap in the shop had remembered me from the day before… Now that’s customer service!

And the moral of the story?

Be careful what you wish for.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bad days and good days have one thing in common – they’re both only 24 hours long. And sometimes, you have to wait a bit for good to come out of the bad and sometimes, you don’t have to wait long at all.


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Hello, Autumn. Again.

Well, hello there!

Oh yes. Summer is over.

Did you have a good one?

Did you wish it would never end?

I’m having my summer now. Actually, it’s still quite nice here during September. So I can have some nice weather (not too sunny, thank goodness), with all the peace and quiet that takes over when all the tourists pack up and shuffle back off to the hum-drums.

I know I’m not the only person glad to see some people leave…

I was just walking up the road from town when I saw a lady very enthusiastically waving goodbye to visitors leaving in an overly smart car.  Her enthusiasm led me to believe one of two things – the second being that she was pleased to see them go. As in, really pleased. Within a few seconds, I had my suspicions confirmed.

She went into her house and I heard a very strange noise. Sort of like a scream. I paused, wondering what was wrong. And then I heard her voice yell at full volume: “I’m FREEEEEEEEEE!”.

Ah yes, the summer holiday season is truly over.

As ever,  I spent the summer hiding away from it all. I know I started spectacularly early this year. Sorry about that. Normally I disappear about July but this year, the hot weather kicked in particularly early.

Did I go anywhere? As in a proper holiday, rather than just lurking in any available shadows?

Sort of.

We went camping. We didn’t go away very far. We had the furball to think of. As we’ve never taken her camping before, we didn’t want to take the chance of her freaking out. Because then, of course, there’d be the inevitable ensuing chaos. After all, we had to find somewhere where we could take her which meant one thing: other people would be there with their little furry bundles of joy.

Dealing with grocklewuffs on home turf is one thing, but dealing with grocklewuffs when you are one, is another matter altogether.

The upshot? Of the three of us, our furry little princess slept better than either of us. All those snuggly corners to nest in. Sleeping bags to invade at 3am. Doggy bliss. And sleeping on a surface that wasn’t super soft? No problem. She loved it.

Us?

Not so much.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love camping. I just love my bed more. When you find yourself groaning with the physical effort of turning over on your ‘deluxe’ bedroll because every. single. vertebra has locked in place and you now have an iron rod for a spine and padlocks where your joints used to be, you know you’re not going to get much sleep.

This was not so much glamping as glumping.

But I’m back now and looking forward to seeing what the new season has in store. Glad to have you along for the ride!

Happy autumn!

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Return of the Grocklewuff

Grab your leashes, folks – they’re back.
The born-to-be-wild, barky-larky turd machines are in town once more. Dung beetles everywhere are celebrating in anticipation of an abundance of new riches.
It’s tourist season again.
Happy holidays, muddychuckers!
But I promise I won’t bang on about them, tempting though it is…
So what is a grocklewuff? So glad you asked. They’re those fuzzy bundles of fun that are just so excited to be on holiday. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a usually house-and-garden bound dog see the sea for the first time.
On the whole, the owners are great. It’s just the odd one here or there that… Gahhh…
But I said I wouldn’t rant. Must… not… get… distracted…
So, a grocklewuff isn’t a mythical beast, or some hybrid legend. It’s a dog on holiday.
But while we’re on the subject, I’m reminded of what I was actually intending to talk about. It’s like when you go into a shop for a carton of (almond) milk and come out with biscuits, toilet paper, a selection pack of crisps, three (dairy/free) chocolate bars and a toothbrush – but no milk.
And why do people get upset when it’s called milk? Who cares? Let’s face it, it’s only because nobody can ask for a ‘carton of nut juice’ with a straight face.
Easter.
Back on track.
Why a bunny?
What’s the connection with eggs?
Well, it seems there was a pagan goddess who was in a bit of bother and in a moment that must have inspired generations of House-Of-Mouse animators, she was rescued by a host of woodland animals. Well, one. A bird.
To show her gratitude, she promoted the bird to the next level of lifedom. To whit – a bunny. But she allowed it to retain its egg-laying abilities (insert your own chocolate egg jokes right about here).
And the goddess’s name? Eostre.
Do the math, as they say.
Happy Easter!

Telepathetic

You know what? I’ve just remembered what I was going to talk about a couple of weeks ago.

Typical, isn’t it?

Now I don’t know if it’s the vampire brain, or whether it’s just me, but I do find sometimes that there’s something stuck in my head and I can’t get to it for ages.

It’s like that pen that falls down behind a cupboard and you do your darnedest to reach it, but no matter how much you stretch your arm out, you can’t even get your fingertips on it…

Well, that was my problem last time.

And now I’ve remembered what it was.

I’d be great on a debate programme, would I?

Oh yes, I’d have my devastatingly astute comeback at the ready. Give me three weeks, and you can have it.

It was all to do with another myth I heard about the other day.

Apparently, vampires can read minds.

What?

Heck, no!

I’d be even crazier than I already am!

I’m already an empath, so I can feel other people’s emotions, but having their thoughts dumped on me too?

Gahhhh!

No, that’s not the case, (un)fortunately. While yes, it might be useful on occasion, I doubt it’s something you could turn on and off like a tap.

This is actually what’s going on, should you ever meet a vampire…

It’s the turbo brain thing. The vampire brain moves so fast, it collects information at a rate that computers are probably envious of. If computers could feel envy, or indeed… anything.

We watch you.

We read your body language, your facial expression, the way you blink your eyes, the way you twist your mouth as you talk. Every single thing. And every single one of those things is an insight into what you’re thinking. Your face and your body are simply the hand-puppets of your brain.

We know if you’re lying. We know if you’re in pain. We know every single thing that you want to hide. And it’s got nothing to do with telepathy. Nothing at all. At the risk of sounding like a zombie recovery counsellor, your brain is safe.

There.

That’s either made you feel relieved or really creeped out…

I’d love to know which…

 

Brainiac alert

I don’t really know what to say today. This is one of the problems with the vampire brain, as I’ve mentioned before. And yes, for once I do actually remember talking about it. Or referring to it at least.

Ain’t no such thing as a clever vampire.

What?

That’s confused you, hasn’t it!

Well, there’s no such thing as a stupid vampire either. Despite what popular culture tells you. Let’s face it, all that business with tv/film vampires disappearing in a poofff of smoke when they get staked?

Plot device.

Saves a lot of explaining.

Go back to the legends. I had to. That’s all I’ve really got to go on, apart from my own experience.

So.

To save you scratching your head any further…

No such thing as a clever vampire. It’s the turbo brain. It’s not just clever. And this is going to sound so conceited… but a vampire brain is a work of genius.

Did I ever tell you that when I studied psychology at university back in the 20th century, MENSA tracked me down and asked me to join..?

I think I may have been slightly put off – and off-putting in my response.. Or perhaps I was just really, really polite. That bit, I can’t remember. It was so long ago.

Have you ever had that happen to you?

There are always two versions of events.

There’s the one where you go out , all guns blazing (metaphorically, of course), with biting and incisive wit and say the exact things that need to be said…

And there’s the other version…

Where you mumble something and run away in the other direction.

Ah.

Thinking further about it now, I think I can probably guess which one I did.

You too, huh?

So, we’re not so different after all, are we?

How do you humans get around this? I’d love to know.

I’m just going to go and hide in a corner now. You know where to send the answers. Good day.

I never drink… wine

Sorry, I just had to use that classic quote.

Just a short one today. Ever wondered why the majority of movie vampires have such a restricted diet? But why some do eat? I’m thinking wonderful things like deep-fried onion ‘flowers’… (Name That Fictional Vampire!)

I probably should have mentioned this just after Christmas, when everybody’s motto is  “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet.”

So…

Food.

I know I have briefly talked about this before. But looking back, I realised that I never explained it properly. Well, guess what – today is your (un)lucky day.
I have talked about allergies and sensitivity to certain foods. I have not gone into detail about their effects on my vampire metabolism. Nor will I. Some things you just don’t talk about. Nor would you want me to talk about them.

It’s really quite straightforward.

But first, I’ll go off on one of my infamous tangents. Well, I say infamous…  the truth is nobody cares. Like when some brand/store/restaurant claims that something of theirs is world famous, you can be pretty sure that it’s probably not.

So, here’s my tangent. Mostly to try to key into your human sensibilities by sharing an incident that actually happened to a human. A rather cool human, to be honest. One of the few friends I had growing up. But that’s a tangent on a tangent.

Anyway!

This friend… let’s called her Persephone. Mostly because I wanted the excuse to use that name somewhere. Persephone was not a ‘look-before-you-leap’ kind of human. She was always an ‘Ask-questions-after’ kind of person.

One day, Persephone was thirsty and wandered into her kitchen and saw a nice glass of lemonade sat there. Thinking it had been left sitting there by one of her flatmates, she glugged it back, making a note to replace it later. She also ended up needing to replace her lunch, and the kitchen mat.

It wasn’t lemonade.

It was cooking oil.

Her flatmate was baking and couldn’t find the measuring cup for the oil so had used a glass instead.
And if that wasn’t enough to make her check first, a mere few days later, she pulled out a chunk of cheese from the fridge and dived into it. She carved herself a big chunk and scarfed it down. Only it wasn’t cheese. It was butter.

As you can imagine, it put her off oil and butter. She dry-fried her food for the rest of her life. Her relationship with lemonade and cheddar was also touch-and-go for a long time. Now imagine if you actually were allergic. Imagine how put off you would then be if you tried a food and it made you feel ridiculously ill. Even seeing it would set you off.

Makes you wonder what must’ve happened with the garlic, doesn’t it? It’s a classic thing that vampires are utterly revolted and repelled by the stuff. Think about it. That’s got to be the most traumatic garlic bread ever.

And so that’s why you see so many vampires that just stick to good old blood. It’s just easier. Beats all the hassle of –

But I said I wouldn’t talk about that.

And the ones you see eating? We’re the ones that got past the knee jerk reactions and worked out what we could eat.

Simple, really.