Plans are afoot. I daren’t say too much in case it doesn’t happen and because it’s subject to change: but Pip has a big birthday later this year, and he’s plotting something justifiably grand!

It’s now over a year since we last holidayed. Australia was the trip of a lifetime and I loved seeing two major cities and their countryside environs, as well as being there for dear friends’ wedding. It was even worth the return flight home during which I was desperately ill and certain (in my melodramatic way) that I was dying! In our eight and a half years together we’ve also been to the Norfolk Broads, the Lake District, Tuscany and Vienna. I’ve adored all of them, and even though I’m still paying off Australia I can’t help but think travelling is money well-spent. The memories they lay down can become life-forming and precious.

Homeward Bound

The South East of Greater London, where I’ve spent much of the last seven years, is ‘home’.

Yet I’ll be heading up north in a few short weeks for the first time since Christmas, and Lancashire – or at least a very small patch of it – is also ‘home’. It’s possible to think of a few places as ‘home’, but Ormskirk in Lancashire is where I was born and brought up and where my parents still live (in the house they moved to when I was three years old) so it’s a place where myriad memories become subservient to a general feeling of ‘home’. It’s a fixed, unchanging constant, or at least as close an approximation to one that anyone could strive for.

Dogs aren’t pets: they’re family.

I’m writing through the pain of grief. My beloved Saffy, loyal canine companion and all-round best friend, died just over a week ago. One steadfast beacon of light in my life for the past twelve years and four months has been extinguished. The intensity of grief losing a dog is comparable to that of a family member or close friend. You have to have owned a dog to understand why, and though my argument is encapsulated in the title of this piece, I will attempt to explain further.