Category Archives: Photo diary

George’s Olympic Holiday

The Olympic Games ended on Sunday night, at least for a couple of weeks until the Paralympics start. We watched the Closing Ceremony with mixed feelings of joy, pride and sorrow that it’s all come to an end. It’s been hard work following all the events, but a thrilling experience nonetheless. A feeling of ‘hangover’ is predicted to sweep the nation over the next couple of days, until life returns to normal. We’ll see about that.

On a personal level, we’re planning to spend the two weeks (until the Paralympians take central stage) enjoying the rest of our holiday and reflecting on the Games gone. The 30th Olympic Games were all about inspiring a generation, and I think they’ve done it successfully. Our own daughter has been swimming for hours every day and is planning her own Olympic career for the years to come. If all the kids in this country and all over the world are doing the same, the future of sports is looking bright.

All this is very nice but, since this is a dog blog, you’re probably wondering about the whippet… Has he been inspired by all this sporting holiday frenzy? The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. George being George, he’s stuck in his routine and not very flexible when it comes to any major changes to his day. So he’s been running along the same paths, playing the same games, eating the same food and going to bed at the same time every day.

But there has been some improvement. We’ve taken him for more walks around the countryside, which has opened up a whole world of new smells for him. Whilst out and about, he’s made more doggy friends than ever. Thanks to the nice weather, he’s also been able to lie in the sun undisturbed – in his favourite camping chair – allowing his human sister to immortalise him in a work of art for the family collection

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However, the most adventurous thing George did in the past few weeks was to try out Brianna’s latest food discovery: Marmite crisps! The initial hesitant sniff was followed by a little lick with the top of his tongue, just to see what this brown, yeasty stuff was all about. The next second, the Marmite-smudged crisp was gone and the whippet was licking his lips.

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Although I had the camera ready in my hand, this is the best photo I managed to take. It took five attempts (i.e. five crisps) and I still missed the eating bit. He seems to really like Marmite… Who would have thought?

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Evening Cuddles

It’s about time I published something short and sweet, and Wednesday seems to be the best day for it… After all, it’s Wordless Wednesday, remember?

So here are a couple of pictures of my two kids chilling on the sofa one cool, rainy and uneventful evening.

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There wasn’t anything special about that evening, but watching Brianna play on her DS with George cuddled up in her arms filled my heart with joy. Once again, it was a good reminder that it’s the little things that can make us the happiest.

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Olympic Torch Relay, 02 July 2012

With 25 days, 05 hours and 41 minutes to go until the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the excitement levels here in the UK are rising by the minute. In spite of the doom-and-gloom economic and financial news we’re bombarded with every day, doubled up – so far – by the most miserable summer weather on record, the host nation is getting into the Olympic spirit and seems determined to enjoy the Games.

One of the brilliant initiatives of the London 2012 Organising Committee was to have the torch travel within 1 mile distance from 95% of the population of the UK. That’s like having the Olympic torch visit your back garden. To achieve this ambitious plan, the torch is being carried by 8,000 torchbearers up and down the country over a period of 70 days, up until the 27th of July.

Today, it was our turn to cheer and welcome the flame. A once-in-a-lifetime, not-to-be-missed event, especially since all 8,000 torches were made by a local company here, in our city. This little detail made the event even more special, as there was a feeling of entitlement and pride running through the crowd.

Luckily for us, the procession was scheduled to reach our corner of the world between 7.30 and 8.00 in the morning, which gave us plenty of time to go see it and still make it to school on time. We went out early – too early, thanks to Brianna who couldn’t contain her excitement – and occupied a strategic position on a traffic island, in the middle of the road. The 15-20 minutes wait gave us time to soak up the atmosphere.

And then they started coming.

First, there were a lot of police officers on motorcycles… Some of them were solemn and serious, whilst others worked the crowds, beeping their horns, waving and shaking hands with the people lining the road.

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Then the sponsors’ procession arrived…

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…followed by the torch and its bearer, flanked by two runners on either side…

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Cheers, applause, more cheers, and then it was over. The torch had moved on to the next roundabout to be cheered by other people and we returned home to get ready for school. But the feeling remained. We felt joyous, proud and energised. But, above all, we felt inspired.

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*** If you want to read more about the Olympic torch, its history or its route, click here. If you want to watch the Torch Relay live, click here.

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The English Landscape at It’s Finest

As you already know, not long ago we spent some time in the Lake District. We’ve been going there for three years now – ever since Brianna could do some ‘proper’ climbing/rambling – and I don’t see this tradition coming to an end any time soon.

But what is this irresistible force that drags us back up there every summer? Why is it that we love it so much? Is it the hills, valleys and lakes, the long walks or the green grass? Is it the challenge of conquering a peak in pouring rain and blasting wind? Is it the fresh air? I reckon it’s all of the above, and more.

It is this “more” that I’ve been trying to put my finger on ever since we returned from our holiday. And, whilst pondering about it, I remembered two quotes from one of my favourite books, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I looked them up in the book – for accuracy – and typed them into this post. These words and the some of the pictures we took in the Lakes are – at least for now – the best explanation of what makes this beautiful region so appealing, not only to us, but to thousands of tourists from all over the world.

Enjoy.

The English landscape at its finest – such as I saw this morning – possesses a quality that the landscapes of other nations, however more superficially dramatic, inevitably fail to possess. It is, I believe, a quality that will mark out the English landscape to any objective observer as the most deeply satisfying in the world, and this quality is probably best summed up by the term ‘greatness’.”

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I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.”

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*** Note: I was going to edit some of the photos and brighten them up a bit…But then I changed my mind … Yes, it rained a lot and it was cloudy for most of the time. It was also rather blowy. There’s nothing wrong with that… In fact, it’s great! Rain, cloud and wind are, after all, ‘an English thing’. 🙂

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Two of My Favourite Things

When I wrote my last post, we were building snowmen and fighting the cold…This time, we’re getting ready for spring…The weather is warmer, the birds are singing, the whippet has cheered up a bit and I’ve got a big bunch of tulips brightening up the living-room…

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… what more could I want?

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A Better Week and a Snowy Weekend

In case you were wondering how George is doing, I’m happy to report that he’s doing well and is pretty much back to normal! Thanks to all our friends for the good wishes and healing thoughts 🙂

After the first week of compulsory rest and self-pity, things started to brighten up by last Wednesday. In spite of having to take ‘treatment brakes’ and wear baby socks (see pictures below), my little boy has gradually been able to use his foot more and more and, eventually, resume his lunch walks and play roughies with his dad. Consequently, his spirits lifted to new highs, too.

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And then came Sunday and the first (and probably last) snow of the winter… We couldn’t have ordered a better present for George to celebrate his recovery. We all woke up really early and went out on the field, to make sure that we’re the first ones to leave footsteps on the pure snow. As Brianna says, “I want to be the first to trash the snow”. George ran around like crazy and got involved in our snow fights by trying to catch the flying snowballs and eat them.

After a little warming up break in the house, the humans went outside to trash more snow (in the front garden, this time) and make a snowman.

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Then we released the whippet in the back garden and had one more snow fight until he surrendered and asked to go inside.

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What can I say… It feels good to be back to normal and, although most of the snow has already melted, the snowman has lost his head and none of us like the dirty slush in the street, we’re happy. Very happy.

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George Had Guests

After long weeks of atypically warm and pleasant weather – so warm and pleasant that it even tricked the neighbour’s fruit trees into blossom – we’ve finally had our first few days of proper winter. The weekend came with negative temperatures, extensive frost, slippery pavements and strong winds. Perfect conditions for staying in, according to George, who didn’t seem too enthusiastic about going out for his walks, especially in the morning. His dislike of the cold is so strong, that he even tried to send his dad out on the field without him!

Such extreme circumstances called for a family meeting. We had to decide – rather quickly – what we could do to entertain the whippet. Indoors. So we asked my parents-in-law around for a cup of tea. As you may expect, George loves his grandparents. Normally, them coming to visit is entertaining enough for George. But we wanted to make it extra special for him, so we issued a request: Bring the dogs!

George loves the dogs. They are his best mates and partners in crime. Usually, their crime consists of running around our feet and the furniture at break-neck speed, stealing each other’s toys, jumping on the sofa, playing roughies and making a lot of noise. Nothing that we can’t cope with for a couple of hours. For their sake. Because we love them and we want them to have fun.

So who are the dogs? They are Blaze the handsome long-coat chihuahua and Ishoo the scruffy-yet-cute Yorkshire Terrier whom you’ve met before. Both tiny creatures with big personalities. Both cheeky and playful. Both perfect companions for George, who doesn’t seem to mind the size difference. But then, dogs are never bothered by such insignificant things.

I think that’s enough talking. I’ll let a few of the photos I took talk for themselves and tell you about the lovely afternoon George and his guests had playing.

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Ishoo posing nicely for the camera...I bet you wouldn't have recognised him now that he's a big boy!

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George and Blaze taking a little break ... Smile, boys!

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"Ok, so what shall we do next?"..."I've got an idea, guys, gather around..." ..."How about..."

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Ok, so Blaze stole the bone...Ishoo wasn't too bothered, but check out the look on George's face!

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George takes checking Blaze out too far... Of course, Blaze is too absorbed by his bone-munching to notice... Being of a more delicate nature, Ishoo restricts himself to sniffing George's ear... Cool dogs!

Then it was time for Ishoo and Blaze to go home, and for George to crash out on his dad’s chair, exhausted and happy. What a great play afternoon!

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P.S. I’ve just noticed that this is my 100th post!!! Hip hip hooray!

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