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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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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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The Next Generation of Toys Has Arrived

OK, I’ve finally returned home from my little holiday, and I didn’t come empty-handed. Because I was told George had been a good boy for his dad, I brought him a little present. A very squeaky, rubbery present which filled the whippet with excitement and made him extremely happy: a big, bendy chicken, perfect for tugging…

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… munching …

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…and doing silly tricks with:

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So far, we haven’t had the chance to play with the chicken too much, because George is fascinated with the squeak located inside the toy and doesn’t want to let go of it. He just carries it around the house, from one place to another, munching on its bottom. Silly boy…

Luckily for George, his dad also had the inspiration to buy him a new tug toy (the yellow one you can see in picture no. 2), so rough playing is still on the cards.

So, it looks like we’re covered. No more dying toys for a while. The next generation has arrived. I only hope they make it until Christmas.

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Sad Prisoner…

How sad can a whippet look?

I’ll let you judge for yourselves:

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Note: If you’ve noticed that we haven’t been very active for the past week, don’t worry. Everything is fine. We’re just taking a break from the computer and the Internet, and will be back in action by the end of the week. Until then, happy blogging and don’t be shy with the comments. We’ll reply to all of them when we get back 😉

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George’s Range of Dummies for Dogs

I’m sure that those of you who have been our friends for a while already know that George is a complete baby. If you’re a new friend, then trust me, George is a baby. Whilst other dogs take cuddle toys and soft blankets to bed with them, my ‘original’ whippet has chosen to create his own range of dummies – are they called ‘pacifiers’ in the US? – to soothe his sleep. OK, when I say ‘create’, I don’t mean it literally, because George has no hands. What he did was source them (i.e. choose them from the pet lady’s basket at the market) and slightly alter their intended use.

But that’s enough build-up, here’s some photographic evidence.

The Summer Range – created especially for those snoozy afternoons in the garden, when you’re hot, are feeling lazy and can’t even be bothered to take off your harness after a lunch-time walk.

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The Winter Range – a lighter design that you can take indoors with you, for a lie in on your humans’ soft, warm duvet.

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George knows his range of dummies is quite limited at the moment. But, being a dedicated entrepreneur, he is working relentlessly, day and night, to develop new items:

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