Why I’ll Never Be a Dog Person…

Risky title I know. Huge potential to lose all of my blog followers (About seven of you. Most are family members.) And people are angry enough since the announcement of tier 4 and lack of ‘Proper Crimbo‘.

But if nothing else, I am an honest person, who is now a complete lockdown cliché of a dog owner and it’s my blog, so I’d like to give the backstory here…and hopefully some light relief. I’ve never sent one of my blogs out on a Sunday before, but Kate Hiscox always does and hers bring me a lot of joy.

So. Back to the dog…

I didn’t want a dog. Husband definitely didn’t want a dog.

Kids wanted a family ‘pet’ (read as: dog) and pestered us for the past few years. Aside from not wanting the responsibility of a dog and the fact that I have allergies, I was just a more of a cat person, having grown up with one. (I miss ‘Tiddles’.)

Lockdown hit and slowly but surely, ‘everyone’ was getting a pup. Whilst I still didn’t see myself as a dog person, I could see how much it would mean to the kids, not to mention a very good reason to just get out of the house, my husband and I took the plunge and put our names down with a couple recommended breeders.

NGL (my fave abbreviation), I was a little concerned about my allergies. When we were having work done on our previous house, we moved in with my sister-in-law for a bit. A couple of weeks into our stay, they got a puppy. Not just any puppy, but a golden retriever. The furriest, most heavily shedding pup of all.

I was completely fucked. Wheezy, red eyed. And heavily pregnant. Fortunately, I had a wonderful allergist and armed with a handful of the puppy’s fur and by that evening I was sitting on the couch stroking ‘Google’ the dog with no allergic symptoms whatsoever. Brexit is easier to explain.

This gave me hope that I could live happily with a dog around, although I still had my reservations about the mud, the poo, and that ‘dog’ smell in my house.

Finally, I got a text with a picture of the newborn pups and off we went, with a particular puppy in mind. Everyone said, ‘your puppy chooses you’, but we scoffed at such nonsense. ‘Definitely the girl. The really small, nice and chilled one’.

Hurrah for pups via Hurrah for Gin

Half an hour later we left the breeder having put down a deposit on the fattest and most boisterous of the litter. And it was a boy.

A constant stream of videos and picture updates from the breeder were shared over the family Whatsapp group with much excitement from all of us. Except husband, who was explicit in his feelings towards the puppy…

Zero interest

The kids assured me that they would help but I was under no illusion that I was going to be solely responsible for this dog as soon as the novelty wore off. At this point though, it was all very exciting and mealtimes were spent arguing thinking about dog names.

There was a lot of ‘essential buying’ and after years meandering the aisles of ‘Pets at Home‘ on many a rainy afternoon, at last, we could give back financially!

A lot of the people I follow on Instagram were at puppy stage too, blogging and spamming their feeds with dog info. I spent far too long searching for ‘vibrating pet brushes’ having seeing one influencer in her stories brushing with this amazing tool. After a fruitless search and a DM to the lovely Chloe Loves to Shop, I was informed that it’s just a normal pet brush and that the noise was coming from the builders in the background. *approaches Dragons Den with incredible vibrating pet brush concept*

This blog almost serves as a diary to remember the blur of those first few weeks – from collecting him, to the constant visitors (“Ohhh.. he’s a fatty isn’t he?!”), the first few sleepless nights, to accidents – there really was so much to learn about our new boy, ‘Bear’.

Bear ‘Fatty’ Collins

By day four, husband was converted and I think Bear likes him the most. I think the feeling is mutual but husband still feels it necessary to announce to all that will listen, “If the dog went tomorrow, I wouldn’t care.”

It’s a sound I manage to block out.

And talking of sounds, and the reason for this blog, the reason for why I will never be a dog person.

I walk him. I pick up his poo. I feed him. I wash him. I play with him. I groom him. (We are talking about the dog here – not my husband, just to clarify.)

I’ve not had any real allergy issues except for a couple of foolish errors of playing with him and then accidentally touching my eyes. Best eye drop are Hycosan if you’re interested.

So the reason I will never be a dog person?

I can’t the do “the whistle”.

Not the double hander. Not the one hander. Not even the mouth only version.

My only method of recall is shaking his treat box like a loon and shouting ‘look what I’ve got for you!!!’ It’s basic, but it works and I know I’m not alone from the cries of ‘chicken!’ and ‘cheese!’ that I hear in the park.

Maybe I’ll use this Christmas gift of yet more lockdown time to learn said whistle skill, but then again, in March I said I would learn to do proper pull ups and I’m yet to manage more than two unassisted.

So to all the whistlers out there, I envy you. Especially the Queen of it all, Holly Golightly.

Iconic.

A dog is for life, not just for Christmas. Or Covid.

Me and my Bear

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We Were. We Weren’t. We’re Not.

Jan 2020 – We’re going to Spain in the summer. Yay!

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March 2020 – Not 100% sure that we’re going to Spain now.

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August 2020 – We’re definitely not going to Spain.

I have mixed emotions about this. My in-laws have an apartment in Marbella and I’ve been fortunate to enjoy lovely, long summers there over the years with my family. From dating, to holidaying with friends, to married, to babies: we’ve made some amazing memories on the Costa.

So whilst some friends have still chosen to go abroad, we weighed it all up and decided a firm ‘no’.

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I’ve become quite soppy and sentimental about ‘my’ Marbella, even though I’m reminded by my family about the moan up I often have when I get there. Just to present my case to the jury though, the minute we enter the flat, swimwear, suncream and goggles are demanded of me. I’m then left to unpack and then head off to the local supermarket, working out the biting point of the clutch on the hire car.

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Packing cube girl for life, me

So yes – it takes me a day or so to unwind and fully relax.

But I will kind of miss it.

I will miss lots of things.

I have made a list of them:

1. We are usually booked on the 6am easyJet flight from Luton – a pretty vile hour to travel but I kind of like that groggy feeling of getting up before the sun rises and the excitement of watching the sky get lighter as you journey towards the airport. (Know what I mean?)

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2. The ‘whooompf’ of warm air when the plane doors open and you’re ‘abroad’. It’s a totally different kind of heat. And I love it.

3. Opening the flat door and seeing the kids run off to their rooms to discover a toy that they haven’t seen for over a year. Somehow the hula dancing cow from the lookie-lookie man on the beach is still going strong. But those plastic light-up pingie things that you flick into the air on the beach at night? Batteries are completely dead by the time you’ve got back to your hire car.

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These things

4. Supersol. And also Mercadona. (Which I can’t help saying in a heavy Scouse accent.) Not forgetting the big daddy, El Corte.

Spanish supermarkets might not have quick tills, but I love their fresh produce, discovering new things and most of all, enjoying ‘holiday meat’ in the flat. Sorry to all my observant friends. In London, we keep a kosher home. On the Costa? Second shelf of the fridge is for the ham – Iberico or Parma. We’re not fussed.

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Left or right?

5. Flor. And Nenuco. I love scents and aromas – candles, perfume, herbs, spices. So, as much as I love my Lenor and Comfort over here, there is something about the Spanish brands over there.

 

6. Fanta Limon. Was discussing with someone about this – I actually refuse to drink it in the UK. It is sacred to Spain. Same with Peanut butter M&Ms. Only in America.

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Sin hielo por favor

7. Chiringuitos. The coastline is full of these beachfront restaurants of which everyone has their favourites. And ‘Kala Kalua‘ is mine. Literally a beach shack. Nothing fancy about it. But you can’t beat the view, watching the sea, seeing the sun set and twinkly lights along the coast… it’s beautiful.

And of course the food. Traditional paella, grilled rosada, padron peppers. Everything tastes better outside with a view.

Me? I come for the aubergine fries.

Before I explain these delights to you, I just want to end on a round number, so:

8. Hearing the sea when I go to bed.

9. The clever lighting system in car parks to indicate available spaces. (I’ve talked about this before.)

and finally,

10. Beach walks. I will miss my post-lunch stroll with a bottle of water and a leftover nappy bag from the baby years in the flat. Still so handy for shell collecting.

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But back to the aubergine fries. These were an accidental discovery. We used to go to the neighbouring chiringuito, but one night we couldn’t get a table. Ended up at Kala Kalua and on being shown to our table, saw lots of diners ordering what looked like chips …but weren’t chips. So, we ordered them too. And double portions were ordered every time we returned.

It’s not quite the same eating them in England, but if you close your eyes and listen to the garden sprinkler, you could almost be right there on the beach.

Ridiculously Delicious Aubergine Fries Recipe (which probably isn’t exactly the same but nearly.)

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Actual Kala Kalua picture of fries

  • 2 medium size aubergines
  • Plain flour to coat
  • Olive oil for deep-frying (or any other vegetable oil)
  • Salt
  • Date molasses
  1. Cut aubergines into sticks; basically like chips.
  2. Toss with salt, place in a colander and let them stand for at least half an hour to get rid of all the excess liquid. Rinse, drain and pat dry.
  3. Place sticks in a bowl with the flour and coat them, shaking off any excess.
  4. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the sticks in small batches until golden.
  5. Place on a plate with kitchen roll towel to absorb the excess oil. (I never said they were healthy.)
  6. Sprinkle salt. Drizzle the molasses. (Again, not so healthy but…)

One thing about Spain that I won’t miss, is that I usually fly out earlier with just my kids, husband joining us later on into the holiday, due to work commitments. This means he is in the UK on his birthday whilst we are all away. He hates his birthday.

This year, he’s working from home.

Happy birthday, Doll. Unknown-21

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