A Dog Blogs: My Human Family and Border Terriers

Hello bookish friends – it’s me – Briar!

This weekend we will be having  the eighth anniversary of the day that I adopted Jane and Mother. I wrote about that day on my anniversary a couple of years ago. And I wrote about Pip, who was dog of the house here before me on her anniversary. But there is one more story to tell, of what happened before that and lead to my human family and border terriers being linked. And I thought that it was about time I told you that story.

It began a long time ago, in 1940, in a house on the promenade. Not my house, but another house just a few doors away. A lady called Daisy lived there with her husband James, who was the headmaster of the art school just up the road. They had two grown up sons, who had gone to fight in the war, and they had a little girl who was still at home with them.

One day Daisy sent her little girl to fetch her father from the studio to have his dinner. But she found her father on the floor, and she couldn’t wake him up. James had died, quite unexpectedly, of a heart attack.

Daisy was heart-broken, but she knew she had to carry on. She had to look after her little girl, and she had to be there when her sons came home. She prayed that they would come home.

It was lucky that Daisy had some savings, because she had never had to earn her own living. She was a sensible practical woman, and she had the bright idea of becoming a landlady, renting out some of the rooms in her big house.

A lady called Babs rented one of the rooms. Babs lived in the Home Counties, but she moved to Cornwall to be a co-ordinator of land girls. She and Daisy became very good friends, and Babs lsoon came to love Cornwall. When the war ended and Daisy’s sons came home – they both survived, but they were both changed – Babs decided to buy a house of her own in Penzance; she found a nice little house, with a garden, very close to the park. And she decided that she would have a dog. The kind of dog that one of her good friends bred up in the home counties, the kind of dog she had herself before the war.


Jimmy came to live with Babs, and he soon made friends with Daisy and her little girl. Daisy’s little girl loved dogs, and she had some lovely times, taking Jimmy out and playing with him. She kept in touch with Babs after her mother died, when she was grown up and had a little girl and a little boy of her own. They met for coffee every week in the town.

You might have guessed by now that Daisy’s little girl grew up to be Mother, and her little girl grew up to be Jane.

Jane remembers the dogs, she remembers that she and her brother had a toasted teacake to share when Mother and Babs met for coffee, and she still has some nice editions of classic children’s books that were presents from Babs.

We have pictures of some of Babs’ border terriers:


The first picture is Babs at home with her last dog, Cara.

The next picture is Muffin, who had a proper studio photograph taken.

And at the bottom is Robin, in Babs’ garden.


I wrote that Cara was Babs’ last dog, but actually that isn’t quite true.

Babs was a very sensible lady, and when she was having trouble managing in her own home she made arrangements to move to a nice care home where she could be looked after. She couldn’t take a dog, but luckily she had a very good idea. She knew that Mother was about to retire, she knew that mother loved dogs, and so she asked if she could ask her old friend, the breeder, to send mother a border terrier as a retirement gift!

Mother said yes – she was thrilled!

That was how Pip came to live with my human family. Mother took Pip to see Babs every week, until she died, and they got on very, very well.

And now, of course, I go to see Mother every week in her nursing home.

But that’s the end of this particular story. And the end of the longest blog I’ve written.

I’ll be back with another one on Christmas eve, because that’s when Jane and I are planning to  open our Virago Secret Santa gifts.

And I expect that Jane will be back before that, to tell you about books.

A Dog Blogs: You Did It!

2012-02-15_20-31-03_210Hello world! It’s me again – Briar!

I am very pleased to report that the loud bangy stuff seems to be over, and that you have got all of the answers right in the last round of my game. Hooray!

Here are the answers and the names of the clever people who were first to get the answers.

number 1The first pile of books was for Karyn who writes at A Penguin a Week. We hope you don’t think we were being tricksy, because Karyn’s books are all numbered Penguins and we have a mixture of editions, but we were sure that anyone who know exactly who it was when they saw ‘The Last Tressilians. Karen was the first person to guess right.

number 2And Karen – who you will know from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings is the right answer for the second pile of books. Russians and Virago Modern Classics! Annabel spotted who it was straight away.

number 3

We were a little bit tricksy with number three. A few people thought it was Simon, because of Miss Hargreaves and a couple of the other books, but it wasn’t. It was Christine who writes at The Book Trunk and who picked Miss Hargreaves when she took part in My Life in Books not so very long ago. Vicki was the very clever person who got the right answer.

And that’s it for another round. Now we’ve played a few time it’s getting trickier to come up with new people that we have the right books to match and for you to be able to guess, but I think we have enough for one more play. So I’ll be back soon, with that or maybe with something else. And Jane will be back before that to talk about books.

But now it’s getting late, so I’m going to curl up and go to sleep.


A Dog Blogs: Shall We Play?

2012-02-15_20-31-03_210Hello world! It’s me – Briar!

I’m out on my bed in the Aga room tonight being cosy, because it’s Guy Fawkes night and there are lots of noisy bangy things going on outside. I don’t like it, so Jane and I are having a quiet night in at the back of the house. And we thought that it was ages since we had a round of my game, and that it was time to have another go …

You might remember how it works from when we played before – once , twice, thrice, four times – but I’ll explain it again, just in case anyone has forgotten or anyone out there is new to this and would like to have a go.

We think of a person with a lovely blog, we pick five books from our shelves to represent that blogger, we take a picture and make a list, and then you get to guess who it is. We might have different editions or different translations, but we think we have picked the right books for each person.

It could be you! Have a guess in the comments! Or if you can’t guess have a look in the sidebar and follow a link to someone you haven’t met before. You might find an answer and you will definitely find a lovely blog.

Here’s the first one:

number 1

The Last Tresillans by J I M Stewart
Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
William by E H Young
Corduroy by Adrian Bell

Next comes number two:

number 2

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgarov
Merry Hall by Beverley Nichols
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
She Knew She Was Right by Ivy Litvinov

And now here’s number three:

number 3

The Enchanted Places by Christopher Milne
The Persephone Book of Short Stories
Mr Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

Now it’s time for you to do some guessing.

Remember, if you are stuck all three can be found our sidebar. So maybe if there’s a blog you don’t know you should click on it, because you might find an answer, and you might find somebody new to keep an eye on.

I will be back with the answers at the weekend, and Jane will be back to talk about books in a day or so.

But now it’s time for me to snuggle up and have a sleepy …

A Dog Blogs: It’s my party and I’ll play if I want to!

Dear Friends and Readers,

It’s me – Briar!

It’s my birthday today and I have had a lovely time. I had a special breakfast, I had a new toy, I had three walks, and now I am doing a bit of resting before I get up to play some more.

I like birthdays!


And I like the beach – that’s me digging for my tennis ball in the picture – but I haven’t been allowed down there this week. We have had what the news reports called a ‘pollution incident.’ There was some funny gelatinous white stuff washing up on local beaches, and dogs were licking it to find out what it was and getting sick. It’s all being cleaned up now, and things should be back to normal soon.

But now there is a big storm on the way and so it will probably be too windy to go on the beach. Because we live in an old house on the sea front on the very tip of Cornwall we  get an awful lot of wind and weather. And when it’s high tide the waves hit the sea wall and come right over the promenade, the road, and even into our garden. Sometimes, when it’s a really big storm they reach the upstairs windows, and when Jane can remember a really, really big storm when the biggest waves went right over the house.

It was scary when I was a little puppy, but now I am used to the storms and I watch through the window. I have a front row seat! And Jane says that our house has beem here since Queen Victoria was on the throne, so it’s stood through a lot of storms and it should see us through a lot more.

(our house is behind the wave)

We have a back door, so we go out the way when the weather is rough. And if it’s too blowy to go far we just go a little way, so that I can do what a dog has to do, and then I do extra playing in the house.

The storm isn’t coming until Sunday, so I will be able to see Mother as usual, and I will take my birthday pig to meet her.

And then we will batten the hatches.

And next week Jane in on holiday – hooray!!!

More time for books and blogging and more time to spend with her dog!

That is all the news I can think of for now, but I will be back soon, and I expect Jane will be back sooner.



x x x x x

A Dog Blogs: My Weekend

Hello – it’s me – Briar!

Jane has been a bit busy – with work and life – and I haven’t done a blog for a while, and so I am going to tell you about my weekend.

I like weekends, because Jane doesn’t have to go to work and we can do more things together.

On Saturday mornings we always go out in the car, to visit mother in her nursing home. We park in the centre of the village and walk to the home. I know the way, and once or twice I have had to pull on the lead when Jane tried to take the wrong path.

Mother has settled into her new home quite well now and I have made friends with the other ladies who sit with mother in the lounge and with the staff. I go around to say hello to everyone and then I settle down while Jane talks to mother. I  keep a look out for Tilly the cat, but I’m not allowed to chase her, because she lives there.

And while we have the car out I usually get a good country walk. This time we went up to the top of a big hill where we could look down on St Just, Sennen , Land’s End, and lots of the places that Susan Howatch mentions in Penmarric. In the distance, because it was a clear day, we could even see the Isles of Scilly.

We would have taken a picture but it was a grey day so it wouldn’t have come out very well.

In the afternoon I guarded the house so the Jane could go to the library and do her shopping.

When she came home I had my supper and then we sat on the sofa and saw a film. It was ‘The Woman in Black,’ and Jane said to tell you that the book is much better.

I had another big walk today, on the paths and fields around Gulval. We hadn’t been up there for ages and I had a lovely time. I walked between the rows in a cornfield and I inspected some fields that had already been harvested.

You can see across the fields to the sea and St Michael’s Mount, but it is a shame that somebody put a supermarket where our heliport used to be.

We got back to the car just before it started to rain.

I’m not quite sure what happened after we got home, because I went to sleep in my chair. But I woke up for supper and my evening walk.

And now I am writing you a blog.

I hope you had good weekends too.

I will be back soon, with a new round of my game, and Jane will be back in a day or so, to talk about books.

Love Briar xxx

A Dog Blogs: One New Home, Two Anniversaries, and a Lot of Books …


Hello. It’s me – Briar!

Can you see me in the long grass? I like sitting in long grass, especially when it’s hot.

Today I am here to address the world, on behalf of my family.

First I must say thank you, to so many people who have sent kind and thoughful comments and messages after our last post. It helped us a lot, and Mother would have been very touched too if she understood about computer boxes and all the lovely people we meet through them.

We have done a lot of rushing around, going to meetings and assessments and visiting homes. I didn’t go to all of them, but Jane took me when she could because I have made lots of friends in mother’s nursing home and I wanted to be there for them.

The move is not going to be a good thing for anybody, but things seem to be working out as well as they could have:

  • The lady on the mobility scooter did get the very last place, and she will still be able to go on her scooter to see her husband. We were there when she heard and there were lots of happy tears.
  • The very frail lady will be moving to a specialist home not too far away. She has a nice big family, and we know that they will do their very best for her.
  • The lady with lots of memories is moving to a home on the coast that we know is very nice. She is coming to terms with things, and she was very pleased to hear that a nice friend of mother’s lives there too.

I will miss them, and all of the others, and the staff.

But mother is in her new home now. She moved yesterday. The staff from her old home took her, and the staff at her new home are going to a lot of trouble to help her settle in. Jane saw that it was a cosy, friendly home when she went to see it, and it should suit Mother very well, but moving is a very big thing.

Jane realised that she had to step back, to give mother the best chance of settling into her new home and building relationships with the other residents and with the staff looking after her. But she made sure that everyone know that they could ring her, and that she could come out to see Mother if they thought that would be helpful.

We rang last night and they said she had settled in nicely during the day, but she was a bit confused when it was evening and she was going to bed there. It is worrying, but we have to trust in the home. They are expert in looking after people, wheras we are just expert in knowing Mother.

It was Mother’s 53rd wedding anniversary yesterday. We still celebrate it, because her wedding was a happy day, and because she married the right person and they were very happy. It’s just sad that he has been gone a long time. So we usually do things quietly, with a candle and a glass of wine and looking at old photograph. Mother has many sad days, because her parents, her brothers, her husband and her son are all gone. So we try to make as many happy days as we can for her.

But this year we missed it for the first time. She has lost track of times and dates, so Jane thought it best to let it go.

It was our half anniversary too. Me and Jane and my Uncle Buggy. We met on 6th February 2006, and it was all thanks to me.

I was a very small puppy, and all my innoculations hadn’t kicked in so I wasn’t allowed to go out and walk on the ground. But Jane carried me to lots of places so that I could see what the world was like, and get used to people and traffic and noise and things.

We found Uncle Buggy in the Morrab Gardens. He stopped to admire me, because I was a very cute puppy and he didn’t know what sort I was. He didn’t know what a border terrier was back then, but I have taught him all about us since.

Jane had to go to work in the day, but we had an anniversary jaunt to the woods in the evening.

And now we are trying to get back into a normal routine after all the upset with nursing homes and carpenters and plumbers. It had been quite a few weeks.

Mother will have her weekend visit and I will have to look for some new dog walks near her new home.

And Jane will be back to tell you about books soon. She has done a lot of readin in between times, and when it is too hot to walk far in the evenings we go to the garden and sit in the shade. I watch the world go by, and she reads.

She has to tell you about two green Virago books, a book by the sister of a Virago author, a book by an out of print author who kept coming up as a recommendation, and a couple of new novels.

And she’s still reading more books! It’s ‘All Virago All August’ over on LibraryThing. We can’t quite do that, but we are going to do ‘Very Virago All August’. Lots of Viragos and a few other things too.

And I will be back soon too.

I have plans for another round of my game …

A Dog Blogs: We had to disappear for a while, but we are back now, and I have answers

Hello – it’s me, Briar!

We have had a little, enforced break from blogging, because BT cut off our phone and our broadband for two days. Jane got them to sort it out in the end, and now we are back.

I thought that before Jane starts to tell you about all the books she has been reading I should say hello and give out the answers to the last round of my game:


The first pile of books was for Laura of Musings.

Laura spotted herself, which is good because it shows we picked the right books.

Jane still hasn’t found ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’, but she knows all four volumes are here somewhere…


And this pile of books was for Lyn of I Prefer Reading.

Cat – who is always very good at this game – got this one.

Jane was very pleased to be able to include an Ann Bridge books for the first time, and she has another one of her books on the bedside table.


And the third pile of books was for Annabel of Annabel’s House of Books.

Margaret was the first person to get the answer.

Jane knew that she had to ‘do’ Annabel as soon as she spotted that they had the same ten volume edition of ‘The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters,’

And those are all the answers.

Well done everyone!

I will be back soon with another round, and I’m working on new series of posts for the summer.

And Jane really will be back soon, to talk about books …