Friday 10 May 2019


Don't feel obliged to read this... I've written it for me and my dog.


Sometime in 2006 my partner Ronnie suggested getting a rescue dog and I only had one answer 'well I'm not going to walk it'. Even though I'd never owned a dog (growing up we had guinea pigs and then cats), I knew what a commitment they were and I also knew Ronnie and how many other commitments he had, including his daughter Abby, who was only about seven at the time and who stayed with us half of every week.
Anyway, I must have relented, I love animals and we thought it would be fun for Abby.

We had to be vetted to see if we, and our home were suitable for a dog and when we got the all clear we decided to go to the RSPCA in Brighton on the way to visit some friends. I woke up that morning with one thought in my head, that if we got a dog we should call him Rufus. I have no idea why, but I just woke with that thought so clearly in my mind.

Our only discussions about breed were that it should probably be a smallish dog as we didn't have a very big garden.
Unusually there were 3 Westies at the animal sanctuary, a female and two males. The little female was so bouncy and happy and just looked so cute so we asked about her, but she had already gone and so had the male Westie next to her. They pointed out another Westie on the opposite side and the poor little thing looked so forlorn, he had been washed and left to sit on the cold concrete, shivering.
We were delighted when they said that he was available.

We weren't allowed to take him with us, we had to keep visiting and taking him for walks around the large field next to the sanctuary. He didn't seem very keen on walking, so Ronnie often picked him up. He also didn't react to his name which was Brandy, and luckily Ronnie and Abby were happy to rename him Rufus which quickly became Rufie.
Three weeks after our initial visit I rang up and almost begged to be allowed to bring him home, I couldn't understand how they could keep him in a cold cage when there was a warm home for him at our house.
Fortunately they said yes, so I went and collected Rufie from the sanctuary that morning, it was February 2007 and he was 9 months old.

Poor little Rufie was scared stiff at first, he hardly moved from the sofa, he didn't know how to play or how to go for a walk.
The first couple of nights we left him downstairs, then one evening Ronnie suggested we bring him upstairs and let him stay with us for an hour or so (I was thrilled), and from then on he never slept anywhere else but on our bed.

I didn't have any work when we first got him, so of course I took him for walks, fed him and generally looked after him and inevitably he bonded with me the most. At that time we lived 10 minutes walk from the beach and it was such a pleasure to go down there, especially when the tide was out. If we were both working he had a dog walker Julie, whom he adored. She took him up into the hills with other dogs and they played a doggy version of football. She also told us that he was like a little marshal; if other dogs weren't getting on, he would gently intervene and try and make it all better.

Unfortunately my relationship with Ronnie wasn't working out and when he said 'you love that dog more than you love me', I thought 'yep, you're right', although I didn't actually voice it. We parted company in 2013 and I moved back to the house I owned and had rented out for seven years. Abby was 13 by this time and didn't question the fact that I would be taking Rufie with me, it was an unspoken absolute, that Ronnie had a daughter and I had a dog.

Although we didn't part on good terms Ronnie and I eventually became friends and in fact he and Abby spent the following four Christmas's at my house and I still keep in touch with both of them.

Rufie didn't like moving house, he sat by the front door for the whole of the first day, and it took two more days for him to settle down and enjoy his new home. I think it helped that Julie still came to get him and take him for walks.

Rufie didn't like being touched and so trips to the vet were difficult, he often had to be muzzled. Eventually we realised that if I left the room he behaved much better, so that became the norm at the vets. We also didn't have any luck with dog groomers, he was just so petrified and they couldn't get near him so after two attempts we gave up and he remained my scruffy little Westie. I trimmed his hair myself when I could but I just loved his fluffy teddy bear looks and other dog walkers often remarked the same.

Rightly or wrongly Rufie became my whole life, he was the surrogate child I never had and being single and upset about another failed relationship I poured every ounce of love into him and thought of him as my little saviour. When you're down, a little creature that needs you becomes the whole point of your existence. No, he wasn't a human being but he was still everything to me.
Leaving him, even for a couple of hours was difficult but coming home, especially after a day's work was exciting every single time, knowing that my little boy would be so pleased to see me.

Julie retired but then he had two other lovely dog walkers, Crystal and Amy who posted pictures and videos of him on social media. It was such a thrill to be at work and check facebook at lunchtime and see videos of him out on the South Downs, enjoying himself. If either of them came to the house while I was at home (sometimes I worked from home) he wouldn't even give me a backwards glance, he absolutely loved those walks.

It is thanks to the lovely Amy, that I have all these wonderful pictures.

Rufie had a problem with a grass seed one year (they can be very serious and work their way through a dogs body), and then a couple of years ago he damaged an eye digging in the sand on the beach. I had to work from home and give him two drops every two hours during the day until it healed, I stayed at home for 15 days.
I tried to avoid thinking about Rufie getting old, though I could see he was getting slower and couldn't walk as far. Then one day in February Amy mentioned his cloudy eyes, and I thought I'd better take him to the vets. The vet said he had cataracts which was normal for a dog his age, by now he was almost 13. She also said she would like to give him a scan because his breathing was laboured.

On Tuesday 12th March I took poor little Rufie to the clinic (he tried to leave at every opportunity, he hated it there), and had a call a few hours later to hear the absolutely devastating news that my little baby had cancer. There was a large mass attached to his spleen and it was also in his liver. They said they could take out the large mass but that it wouldn't necessarily prolong his life, but there was no way I was going to put him through that, the scan was bad enough.

A week and a half later I walked out of my job: trying to negotiate working from home became too difficult, and although I liked the work, there were a lot of things about the job that I didn't like. They never gave me a contract so it wasn't very difficult to leave and although I didn't have pots of money, I knew I could survive for a few months if I didn't live too extravagantly.

The vets had told me that Rufie would probably live for a few weeks or months so I was aiming to stay at home with him and not to look for another job.
I'm so so glad I made the decision to leave work because I had five weeks with him. I wasn't expecting him to go so soon but his poor little liver was giving up and he was having seizures. On Friday 26th April a lovely vet told me that it was totally my decision but that in her medical opinion I should let him go. After visiting the clinic that morning, we came home and he went straight to his bowl and ate all his breakfast so there was no way I was letting him go. By Saturday morning he had had two more seizures and I knew I shouldn't let him experience any more pain.
I had to get my brother to ring the clinic and then we spent the day waiting, mostly with Rufie on my lap, for the vets to come to my house and let my baby go peacefully. They were extremely kind but as you can imagine it was unbelievably hard.

I had already said that I didn't want them to take my little boy with them, that I would bring him up to the clinic myself. I sent my brother away too, so that I could have a couple of hours alone with Rufie. I wanted to tidy all his fur, cut off all the messy bits and make him look as good as he could. Then I sat on the sofa, with him next to me, his little body still warm. It may not be what everyone would do, but it helped me, I just couldn't bear someone else taking him away from me, the process needed to be gradual.
After a couple of hours I took him to the clinic and eventually left him.

I'm finding it very hard to cope, I feel completely lost without him. I have had a couple of lodgers, and met a couple of men but nothing serious, Rufie has really been my whole life for the last seven years. My friends and family have been amazing, they all knew how this would affect me and I appreciate their amazing support.

Sometimes I have moments of pure clarity, dogs don't last forever, my dog got to be almost 13, he had a wonderful, completely spoilt life and that's what I have to cling on to. I was lucky, I got to spend years and years of my life with a wonderful little creature who gave me so much comfort. I have his ashes in a lovely little box, and pictures of him everywhere.

One day I will get another dog, there are so many other dogs out there that need rescuing, that need the comfort of a nice home.
For now I'm just taking one day at a time, doing the best I can.

I love you Rufie xxx

Tuesday 9 April 2019

For Emily Rose

I haven't been here for a while (ok, a few years), and I may not be back here for a while but I felt the need to update this blog and also to say thank you to Emily Rose. I don't know who Emily Rose is, or where she is, or even if she has a blog herself, but she left the most amazing message on my last post (one of two) and I have long felt the need to update her.

So, Emily Rose, I have continued to do diy, on and off, sometimes large projects, sometimes small.

I started with the blue dresser top in my kitchen... I painted it white!!!

I can't quite remember what I did next, but one way or another I painted all the kitchen units in Dulux Egyptian Cotton and completely changed the ceiling. I had asked my ex, years before, to put tongue and groove on the ceiling but he was never keen, so I decided to do it myself.
I pulled down the coving, had a bit of a problem with a hole over the boiler, fixed it, then used gripfill and panel pins to secure wood across the whole ceiling, did it all myself and loved every minute of it. I didn't baton out the ceiling first as I knew that the next stage would keep everything secure. This time I had help, from the same ex funnily enough! We worked out where the joists were by checking under the bathroom floor above and he drilled through the small beams I'd had cut, into the joists. All I had to do then was lots of filling, add a little trim around the edges of the tongue and groove between the new beams and paint everything white.
Can I just say I love it, every single day when I walk in my kitchen I love it, it's my most favourite diy project ever.




As you can see, the ceiling was quite warped and one of the beams needed loads of filling, then there was the problem of the ugly boiler. Although there is a small window to the side of it (that's still there) I really wanted to box it in. I managed to make (with a little help from my brother drilling the frame together) a box that slides in and out, in case the boiler ever needs some serious work. There's also a space at the bottom for cookery books.

Next step was a light fixture that I had made from a piece of driftwood I found on the beach, mason jars and lovely old looking cord and fixtures. Tom Freer made it for me, an artist that has a studio on Worthing beach on the Sussex coast. He's a perfectionist so I knew he would do an amazing job, the way he routed out the back for all the wires is just incredible, a work of art in itself.

The kitchen as it is now, with a new oven and hob. I still need to get that little window filled in and in a perfect world I would have white marble worktops.

The next project I tackled was painting a couple of walls at one end of the dining room, everything was rather white and I thought the gold mirror (great find in a charity shop) would have more of an impact on a hand-painted wall. I gathered loads of inspiration on Pinterest and eventually took the plunge.



I'm always too impatient and re-hang pictures before the work is actually finished.


After this I didn't really do much at all in my house, though I did work on my garden quite a bit. I also stopped working at the café and went to work in London. The café had been enlarged considerably and my job had become even more stressful, then an old friend offered me a job designing needlepoint, something I did over 30 years previously. The work was really enjoyable but two years on it has also come to an end. I'm not going to go into the details here but I'm at home, working on my house and a few other projects. I think I stopped doing diy in the last two years because I had a creative job, but I've missed it. I now show my house on instagram, it's called, because I have started a new chapter in my life and I really need to be on the right page, right now.
I've noticed that lots of my old blogger friends who mostly live across the pond have also stopped blogging which is a real shame, but who am I to talk, anyway, this one is for you Emily Rose, I hope you get to see it one day.


Tuesday 23 June 2015

new (old) stuff and 'Bob's moving out fund'

When I finished my hall, I really was on a mission to find the perfect rug........the hall needed it, the white floor desperately needed it.

I spent hours (literally) trawling Ebay until I found a couple of companies that I believed would supply the type of used Persian rug I was looking for (as you've probably realised old works better for me). I did a bit of bidding, then chickened out because of one reason or another.

Then I saw the perfect rug, the perfect size and colour and I was determined to have it. I calculated exactly how much I could afford (there were 10 days to my next pay day and I thought I could live quite frugally) and sat at home one Sunday evening with my heart pumping (sorry if this is melodramatic but I've never bid for something before) determined to win it, and I did............right at the top of my budget.

Isn't it fab.

I love it. I love that it looks authentic, that the size is perfect, that the colours are great and tie in with the stained glass on the door, that the pile is in pretty good nick even though it is used and I think £105 for over 8 feet of gorgeousness is a pretty good deal.

My little photo bomber seems to be enjoying it too, though I imagine he's thinking he'd rather be in the kitchen where there might be a chance of some food..............
and if he looks all sad and forlorn and bows his head, he might get a treat soon.

The other thing I wanted was a new light fixture, my existing light was just too small and I wanted something grander. I had no budget for the light whatsoever, but there's no harm in looking is there.
About the same time as I was searching the internet for runners and chandeliers, I decided it was about time my brother moved out. He's been here over two years now and still hasn't found a job which means he's never paid me a penny, in fact he's just cost me money because I've helped him out on a few occasions.
Anyway, I decided to sell some stuff to raise some money for 'Bob's moving out fund'. I started with some old gold jewellery that did have a bit of sentimental value, but as I wear silver it had been in boxes for the last 30 years so it was a bit pointless keeping it for another 30.
You might have worked out what happened next..........I had an envelope with £155 in it and 'Bob's moving out fund' written on the front...........what did I go and do............spend it almost straight away on an empire style chandelier for my hall. What really swung it for me was that the seller was in the next town to mine and he could shorten it slightly for me, and after all, it was my money.
It was a bit more than £155, so I used some of my tip money, but it feels great that I still have something to show for the gold I sold. I now have a family heirloom hanging from the ceiling instead of around my neck.
Apparently it's French but I don't know how old it is, however it doesn't matter either way, to me it's just totally gorgeous, come day or night.

I'm going to have to see what else I can sell so that I can put something towards 'Bob's moving out fund', but at least I have two beautifully 'old' new things.
Did I mention I want a runner for the landing.

Thursday 4 June 2015

a tale of illumination

For the last month or so, my house has felt a bit like a lighting shop, though I tried to hide this fact by keeping two light fixtures behind the dining room table, two in my bedroom and one in the spare room.

I didn't have any major plans to change the lights in my house, and seriously I'm not sure how it all came about but somehow five lights needed to be put up, so I got a professional in.

I had been asking my ex (for the past two years) to take down a light fitting in his house that belongs to me. He finally did it a few weeks ago so I went to collect it and whilst I was there, I looked out a few boxes in his loft. I came across some old lights that I'd bought back from Spain in the late 90's. I'd used them all in my flat in Brighton but then never put them up again which means they'd been in boxes for about 15 years - such a waste really.
Originally there were five in total, three ceiling lights, one medium pendant and one large pendant. One of the small ones is already up in my WC though I couldn't find the largest pendant.

I thought about putting the medium pendant in the hall but it didn't seem quite right so I asked my electrician if he could put it in my tiny porch (where there was a power connector but no light fixture). My outside light was on the outside of the house and a) looked too contemporary and b) didn't give any extra light when trying to unlock my front door in the dark.

Out with the new, in with the old !

I'm so happy with the look and at night it throws a lovely subtle light into my hall. Also, I've tested it, I came home late from the cinema and loved the ease with which I found the keyhole.

Next, I asked him to take down the light in my dining room and switch it for one that had been sitting behind the dining room table for over a year. It didn't cost a penny because my bf gave it to me. Did I mention I have the best bf in the world and she just gave it to me because she didn't want it, she's never even used it.

It suits the dining room perfectly, in fact it looks like it's always been here. If you were over 6ft you wouldn't be able to stand under it but that's not really something that worries me, and I believe in aesthetics before practicality all the way ha ha !

Before and after.

So the next light to go up was the original chandelier from the dining room. It has hung there ever since I bought this house, even during the period I rented it out, and before that it hung in the bedroom of my flat in Brighton, having been a house-warming present from my bf's Mother.

 I'm so glad I finally have a nice light fixture in here as it's always just had a basic cable with a light bulb on the end. This suits the bedroom much better and one day, hopefully, the bedroom will be as smart as the light (there's a long way to go, just look at the horrible plasterwork on the ceiling).

Light number four - well, it should have been the fixture that my ex took down. It was going to go on the landing, but then, miraculously I found the large Spanish light (in the wardrobe in my own guest room.........silly old me) and knew it would work much better. It's a little bashed and worn but that's nothing new in this house.


So far I have four lights up and I love them all and the cost...............just that of a very reasonable electrician.
Light number five, well I feel it deserves a post of it's own so I'll write about it next time, but you can catch a sneaky peak in this next photo.

I love a bit of sparkly illumination.....................