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Author: admin | 28.09.2013 | Category: Treatment For Ear Ringing

Successful classic crime writer Mary Tant, whose ninth Rossington West Country mystery a€“ The Theme is Death a€“ was published by Threshold in the spring, writes about her border collie, Tirn, from the Isle of Eigg, who died on 13 October 2013. The island bus dropped me off at the entrance to the croft where I was to stay on the Isle of Eigg in the Hebrides. He and his siblings grew up in a tangle of chickens, with a cat prowling through occasionally and a small child toddling around.
A short distance to the north, beyond the croft where Tirn's father lived, was a stony beach. Tirn's mother was the croft dog, a beautiful bitch who had passed on her looks and her intelligence to her son.
Wherever his mother went, Tirn and his remaining sister followed her, patrolling the boundaries of their land. I was to become aware over the following years how acute his sense of shape and movement was. Breakfast at the croft was in a room with sliding glass doors, giving a superb view over the Sound of Rum. There I was a week later, marooned by high seas in the rather bizarre castle on the Hebridean island of Rum. I had every hope that some kind of boat would reach us, for several other guests were stranded too. I was the first out there with my bags, eager to climb up the ladder onto the boat and find out whether they would stop at Eigg on the way to the mainland.
The seas were rough and the passengers suffered from the rolling and tossing of the waves, there was no looking over the side for dolphins and whales on this trip. The trip over the open sea to the mainland was too much for nearly all the passengers, who were draped uncomfortably over the rails a lot of the time or heaving into paper bags. Time was short when we moored, for the train connecting with the sleeper to London left the nearest station in less than five minutes. We reached the station in time to leap straight onto the train and soon we were ready to board the sleeper, negotiating with the Glaswegian guard for Tirn's passage.
We shared a taxi to Paddington with a lady on her way to the service at Westminster Abbey with a single white rose clutched in one hand and a damp handkerchief in the other.
By the time we reached home Tirn had made a marathon trip for a puppy who had just left his mother, and he hadn't turned a hair. If he thought something was about to happen he sat firmly planted, staring up at me, his golden eyes fixed on mine, eager to understand, to take part in what I was doing. Tirn's indoor puppyhood domain was chiefly the kitchen and garden room at the back of the house. That night I strung together a few small used cans of lemonade, half filled with pebbles, placing them in front of the butter. I was the real novice, not Tirn, in the puppy training classes that started the week he came home.
He sat in the small village hall beside my chair at the first class, surveying the others there with interest. After a brief attempt to engage with the cocker, puzzled by his frantic efforts to hide behind his mistressa€™s legs, Tirn moved on to more enthusiastic playfellows.
And then that first session was over and we retired, me exhausted with nervous tension, Tirn exhilarated by the fun of it all. We progressed to the next stage, generally thanks to Tirna€™s abilities, certainly not to mine.
There hea€™d lay, squinting round, waiting to see if anybody was going to take up the invitation to play.
He was, though, teachera€™s pet, the juvenile who was brought out to demonstrate the next item on the agenda. On their initial encounter in a local field the pack poured through a gap in the hedge, closely followed by Tirn, who didna€™t want to be left out.
The pack were walked at irregular times, but at the first distant bark, Tirn would prick up his ears, whether he was indoors or in the garden, and look at me expectantly.
Over the years Tirn had many dog friends, and has had a particular fondness for lurchers and whippets. Tirn outlived all of his old friends, but still enjoyed meeting other placid older dogs for a quick sniff and exchange of news for the whole of his life.
She had only ever lived outside, and was clearly terrified of me, peeing and cowering in submission if I went near her.
It wasna€™t long before she got the idea of toys, although the principle of sharing took a little longer. I couldna€™t really keep two collies indefinitely, so it was very fortunate that Tirna€™s vet knew of a good home for the little bitch.
After that I gave up on the fostering, partly because I was travelling more with Tirn, partly because I found giving up the dogs so upsetting, even when I knew they were going to good homes. We all looked on in astonishment, Tirn sitting beside us, as Hector the Labrador rushed out of the back door and plunged straight into the garden pond, creating a tidal wave that nearly engulfed us. Tirn barely had time to greet his visitor, and was so taken aback that he didna€™t join in the activities. As a puppy he loved to remove socks from my feet, and especially loved it if I wiggled my toes while he was doing it. When I had to move to look into a book or find some reference Tirn would watch to see if I needed help.
Even in the last months of his life he was still getting himself up unaided and going to the pile of letters lying by the front door. Blackbirds and sparrows fed on the ground without fear around Tirn, who watched them curiously if there was nothing else to occupy him. All the birds benefitted from his presence and his regular boundary patrols which kept cats out of the garden most of the time. I lost so many fish to cats that I gave up keeping them, so the garden pond was colonised by frogs.
One year, early in Tirna€™s life, the man who was doing the work was astounded at the numbers of frogs he was counting. His approach to hedgehogs became the same; after his first encounter he would just stand over it and wait for me to deal with it. Late one summer evening, on his night trip to the garden, I heard a terrific splash and rushed out with a torch to see what was happening. Time in the garden was generally peaceful, whether I was working or just enjoying the peace.
This exercise was extended to plant pots, empty and full, and gardening gloves, which were a special favourite, and garden twine. Summer tea time was always special, sitting beside the pond listening to the frogs croaking in the heat, watching the blackbirds watching us, with Tirn sitting beside my chair, used to the routine, perhaps enjoying the very things I did. Then later still in the evenings, with the stars appearing in the sky, the scent from the roses became stronger, the hedgehog would trot past and Tirn would sit motionless beside my feet, nose twitching, taking it all in too. When he came to London with me I took him to the shop, whose entrance was one among many in a long street I frequently visited. Sitting motionless, eyes fixed on the toy, especially if it had big glaring eyes of its own, his tongue hanging out with excitement, Tirn watched as I moved his toy around, jumping it on him, wriggling it under his tummy. Certain toys were for hiding and he would sit still, watching my feints, his ears pricked, straining to trace my every movement if I was out of his sight. Tirn was gentle with his toys, so the only reason they were removed was when they became tatty through repeated mouthing or the squeakers failed.
As he grew older he would sometimes excavate the whole basketful, sending soft toys flying as he searched for a remembered toy, not one of his usual favourites, but something that for a while he wanted to play with again. Tirn always knew when friends were coming, possibly from the last minute tidying up routine, and would make sure he was waiting near the front door long before they arrived. But Tirna€™s awareness of the imminent return of a member of his own family to his own household was phenomenal.
Tirn soon worked out the purpose of the telephone, and made sure I was always alerted to its ringing.
Serious work started in my study, where I sat at my desk, Tirn curled up in the space beside me.
At the end of the next session of work we went straight out for a selection of walks, often taking a picnic lunch with us. As I sit writing this in the window bay there are buds on the lilac, soon to burst into waxy white flowers. By the time I reached him he had wrenched one of the paling planks off the fence and was trying to get to me, obstructed by the four-foot plank that seemed to be sticking through his throat.
His first encounter was with a flock of dizzy poults, just released from their pens, who came bolting towards us as we walked up a track towards the ridge. And the holes a€“ rabbits, rats, mice, badgers, foxes a€“ he knew what lived where, who was at home, whoa€™d moved out, who the newcomers were. For a while I walked those routes alone and was astonished to find how difficult it was to find my way in, for instance, the New Forest on a circuit Ia€™d done so often. Now I walk many of our routes with another dog, one who is picking up the directions and remembering the way as Tirn did. It was pleasantly dim under the low beams, the old wooden settles were surprisingly comfortable and I was looking forward to my lunch.
Once he came over to talk to Tirn everything was fine, Tirn accepted him as a normal member of the human race. But what I had learned was not to leave him in front of the table, in a position where he felt he had to guard me and warn me of potential danger. He would without hesitation branch off the main path towards the granite outcrop where we rested for coffee or lunch on whichever route we were taking. There was the stretch from Mullion Cove to Lizard Point, which we always walked on our first day here. The narrow cliff path here opened into the broad expanse of Lower Predannack Down, where helicopters occasionally still came in to land on the nearby airfield. And once in the village we went across the green and down the path with the sea ahead of us gleaming and glinting in the sunshine as we aimed for the Point. And then, replete with Cornish heavy cake (me), we returned to the village to catch the bus back to Mullion. I think he found the nooks and crannies of the kitchen garden interesting, but I may just have been reflecting my own feelings onto him. As he grew up I rarely inflicted garden visits on him, unless I could compensate the trial with good woodland for free walking. The glistening black rocks around Polpeor Cove are often hidden with bright splashes of colour in the summer and autumn from garden escaped flowers like mesanbryanthemum. White seems to be the colour of choice for prominent buildings along this stretch of coast a€“ the lighthouse shines out when the sun sparkles of its pristine paint, the Lloyds signal station is a white block.
It was only further on, where the path winds narrowly through blackthorn thickets down to Church Cove that Tirn could range ahead, sniffing at the low tunnels that lead beneath the bushes.
This was always a busy route, the side of the Lizard peninsula with more shipping and communication landmarks for visitors to see, so once Tirna€™s puppyhood was past we usually only came here in the evenings when it was quieter. As soon as I spoke to them and they answered he was fine, rushing up to greet them, tail wagging frenziedly with relief. The entrance into my sitting room of an eight-foot pine tree was taken without a blink by Tirn on his first Christmas. Ia€™d got into the habit of hiding these for Sammie, my first collie, whoa€™d initially been scared by the tree.
Tirn searched out all there were in his first tree, had a desultory sniff over the lower branches, perhaps tracing the squirrels and birds that the pine used to harbour. The excitement of the day kept him alert and eager, and he had to restrain himself to lying quietly under the dining table while we had our meal over a leisurely couple of hours. The exhilaration continued with the crackling of paper as presents were unwrapped, an attraction that was enhanced by the little biscuits that dropped out of the folds. It was an exhausting day for a puppy, just six months old, so he was able to take full advantage of his present a€“ a new bed.
Ia€™d called until I was hoarse, turning round to view the heathland from all angles and nothing flickered or moved. We paid many visits to Goonhilly, exploring the tracks, negotiating the bogs, and investigating the tiny patch of fields and ruined buildings that lie at its heart. Tirn was a whirling figure, rushing backwards and forwards, his eyes bright with excitement as he sprang again and again into the air to catch the white flakes of snow that were falling all around us. Tirn and I had learned early that the snow froze into thick lumps between the pads of his paws, making it painful for him to walk.
Later in his life there were several winters when we stayed in the New Forest and enjoyed heavy falls of snow that cut us off in the cottage.
If snow had fallen overnight I could watch him in the garden, hurrying backwards and forwards, tracing the night visitors.
It was only the last couple of winters there that the cold and discomfort of outings in the snow became too much for his aching back and legs. But if I sat in the sun lounge he would join me and wea€™d watch the winter scene together. A regular walk of his youth was over the one of the many Iron Age hillforts we explored, and where we often picnicked. By the summer the open expanses around were often colonised by sheep, so then we didna€™t stay, but walked over the wide flat circle of the inner fort, pausing on the northern edge to see the view of the valley that opened below us. The autumn saw us pausing on the northern slope, as we picked our way down an old farm track, grassed and nettled for decades. And even in the winter, I brought a flask of soup to sit up here, especially when it had snowed. For ten years we walked here, and even now when I walk it again without him there are still the spots that were especially his.
There isna€™t a place on this walk where I dona€™t remember him, the wind in his fur, his eyes bright, his white-tipped tail streaming out behind him. By the time we had reached the southern base of the downs all the landmarks had been hidden from view on this, one of our more complicated walks.
Iron Age men and women must have used this track, certainly shepherds over many centuries must have walked here in all weathers. Tirn was out of the car as soon as the rear door was opened in the small car park, and heading for the path that led up through the scrubby sloe bushes and gorse towards the sandy headland that screened the second cove of Kennack Sands. He was deeply reluctant to leave the beach, and I was usually more than half way up the steep steps of the eastern cliff when he came panting to join me.
The long grass peninsula of Lankidden was sometimes a distraction, chance to for him to run around while I explored the remains of Carrick Luz, the Iron Age fort the crowns the promontory.
Therea€™s a small cove east of Lankidden, but although he cast longing looks down towards it he knew that it wasna€™t on our usual agenda.
It was early in his life, on our first walk here, that one of the fields was screened from the path by an electric fence.
He picked up speed as we rounded an outcrop to see the path going steeply down into Downas valley. This was actually the walk of the three beaches, yet still Tirn was reluctant to leave this, the second, after a short spell of ball playing and rock scrambling. And if we were in good time, and the tide permitted, there was the extended walk down through the reeded hinterland behind Porthbeer Cove and the beach that waited at its far end.
Arrival in Coverack was celebrated with an ice-cream to share as we walked around the wide semi-circular bay. Most of the fort itself has been ploughed over, but the network of ramparts on the northern side is still visible, particularly in the autumn when the sun lights the ridges and dips into sudden clarity.
The very first time we came here was in the autumn, just after the pheasant poults had been released. Autumn was the blackberry season here, and the bushes at the top of this path were usually heavy with fruit. This was perhaps my most favourite spot here, walking over the ridge to see this view with my dog beside me. Light up your brand with custom soy travel candles made with clean-burning natural soy wax, scented with the finest quality fragrance oils. For the first time in what seems like forever, Ivo’s not on an early call so we cycle to work together.
We hear them going off all the time in the neighborhood where we live, at seemingly random times of the day or night - the distinctive sound of firecrackers, the rippling, crackling, insanely loud firework that is uniquely Chinese.
I Am Curious about the overlaps between religious celebration, spiritual tradition and spontaneous joy.
What Of It? What interests me here is the renaissance of a Chinese traditional pastime and the notion of a generation reclaiming their ancient sports and making them their own. I Am Curious about the journey of any cultural tradition, about sports in those cultures and the idea of a new generation carrying on the legacy of a previous one. Last week in Japan was about studying the subtle details of everything, from handing over a business card (text pointed towards the user, ponder theirs for a second, do not carelessly place it in a pile on the table) to the depth of a bow (not too shallow which is dismissive, not too deep which is too formal and reverent) and to struggling to not make a fool of myself with chopsticks, which even though I grew up with, I still feel clumsy using. I Am Curious about traditions and how they travel through time, about the concept of cultural nuance and the art of the elevated subtle gesture. What Of It? Like many aspects of Japanese culture, tatami follows strict codes, many based on ancient social standing and status, that still apply today. I Am Curious about ancient logic that still applies and is accepted in the modern context, about tradition, history and continued connection to the past. A short sharp bark greeted me, and there he was, a small collie puppy sitting in what I came to recognise as a very typical posture a€“ upright and alert, watching what was going on around him.
There were tiny fluffy chicks scurrying everywhere, and their mother had no hesitation in seeing off the puppy if she thought he was a nuisance.
This was backed by a green slope where the sea-going shearwaters came to land each year, appearing during the night and nesting underground in the spring, so that the earth resounding with their submerged calls.
He was the puppy who followed her when the cattle on the common in front of the croft crossed an invisible line, whether it was their own cows venturing too far away or other peoples' cows encroaching beyond their accepted boundaries.
All the other puppies had been homed, but Tirn, as the best of them, had been kept for a while.
I couldn't take him with me until I had finished my stay on Rum, where visiting dogs weren't allowed.
I wanted something to reflect his origins, especially as he had been born on the day the islanders bought their island.
The inter-island ceilidh was being held here at the weekend and our rooms would surely be needed. Fortunately the boat did, carrying as it was the necessary supplies of liquor for the island. But the Scurr came into view in the haze and soon we were in the tiny harbour, where all the islanders seemed to have gathered. But my companion and I were fine, absorbed in the puppy, who thankfully was also perfectly well and intensely curious about this new experience.
A crewman sprang to our aid, the puppy in his crate was tucked into the back of the man's three-wheeler, my companion folded long legs under his chin to get into the passenger seat, while I crouched on his lap. He was enchanted with Tirn, who was wide-eyed, busy absorbing all the new scenes without the faintest tremor of anxiety. Queuing for a taxi at Euston we were puzzled to see that the people standing in front of us were all sombre in black, several of them weeping into handkerchiefs.
Perhaps fortunately Tirn distracted her attention, as he took exception to the taxi's abrupt movements through the mainly deserted streets and puked up his breakfast. He started his life fully interested in his world, and he continued interested in it as his world expanded.
He liked to sit on the back terrace, surveying the lower garden, waiting for something to happen. But he was allowed into the front of the house with me, standing back politely at the hall door to let me and visitors pass first, then following on behind when told to do so. It brought back all my student experiences, never be first, never be last, just stick somewhere in the middle where youa€™re not quite so noticeable. Soon more and more of the puppies were off the lead and mingling together, some more enthusiastically than others.
But the other dogs were all sitting rigorously upright, ignoring the maverick, and hea€™d eventually roll onto his back and look round to see what else might tempt them into anarchy. And he would always do it instantly, getting it perfectly right, just like a novice dancing with the instructor, always getting the moves correct because their partner makes sure they cana€™t go wrong. Until he was very old I only had to touch the clicker that we used for his training and hea€™d still go wild with excitement. Tirn was fascinated by them, mouthing all over each toy until he found the squeaker, then pressing it again and again. Hea€™d examine them carefully, then search out the squeaker, trying it over and over again, until suddenly he returned to an old favourite toy.
Small as he was compared to most of them when they first met, Tirn was up for all their games, particularly chasing, nipping in and out of the slower movers. I knew what lay beyond, but could only get there in time to see the look of surprise on Tirna€™s face as the ground gave way to the canal. He was always drawn to his own kind, and in the rescue pack was a collie, uncertain and shy, that he most wanted to play with.
He loved the swiftness of their racing games, and could easily keep up with them and outlast their bursts of speed. In the rescue pack one day there was a young collie bitch, six months old, the spitting image of Tirn although her colouring was more vivid.

The two of them would lie close to each other and Tirn would fetch a toy, tossing it around until she couldna€™t resist examining it. She knew what was happening as soon as the couple arrived to see her, and sat looking anxious in a corner.
He came from the rescue pack that we walked with, and was used to life with a very elderly lady.
Hector emerged exhilarated by his dip and pounced on every toy that lay around, tossing them gleefully into the air before rushing on to the next. It started with the washing a€“ he could lift items out of the linen basket and push them into the washing machine, piece by piece, and pull out his own washed towels and bedding. He became very good at this, but again I gradually deterred him from it, as he expected to do valet duty every day and was unhappy to see me doing it myself. With the handle of a light flat basket gripped firmly in his mouth he carried my plate and slice of cake from the kitchen to the sitting room, while I hopped with a crutch in one hand and a mug of tea in the other. After breakfast we went straight upstairs to my study, where I sat down at my desk and he lay down nearby. If I showed signs of carrying the book or papers back to my desk he was beside me in an instant, determined to carry it from me.
Sometimes he would manage to fetch one or two without help to the study area Ia€™d set up downstairs so we could still be together, but at other times they had to be put in his mouth for him to carry. Occasionally one couldna€™t resist the avian attractions or was keen to fish in the pond and I only had to rattle the back door handle to see it streak down the garden to safety beyond the hedge, sure that Tirn would be bursting out of the house in the next second. Every year a certain amount of pond cleaning took place in the autumn, and the resident frogs either jumped out to hide or were lifted out.
This initial meeting was one of the few times I heard him bark, either because he had pricked his nose by investigating too closely, or because he was just flummoxed by the creature. And there in the pond was a huge hedgehog, which had perhaps been drinking when Tirn startled it. It couldna€™t, however much he wanted it, be applied to the gardening fork or spade, or the wheelbarrow.
Late summer evenings were special too, sitting in the rose arbour, watching the swifts and swallows darting over the sky until the given moment when they handed over to the bats. Often they were gifts from friends, sometimes they were presents from me after a trip to London when I couldna€™t pass the pet shop that Tirn liked so much. Every new one was mouthed carefully until he found that spot, then he pressed it repeatedly, making the squeak sound with great satisfaction. Eventually his favourites were left to lie with him in his bed, as he clearly liked having them around him.
The milkman and the dustmen usually came early, but he would be alert, ears cocked, having heard them long before I did. It was as if he was aware of the familiar car at least ten minutes before it reached the house. The handset was too slippery to carry, so when it rang he would leap to his feet, pointing first at it, then at me until I moved to answer it. An early morning walk wherever we were a€“ along the canal at home, beside the brook in the New Forest, out into the wooded Cornish valley beside the mill house that we loved so much. We could go for miles along the canal, stopping by weirs or locks to eat, then catch the train back. The roses are showing a cluster of buds too, and will open just as the lilac comes to an end. To my immense relief, he waited on command until I got to him and found the plank had penetrated between his throat and his collar, with the nails pointing outwards. Narrowboats had new scents, often of dogs, and interesting gangplanks, just like the agility dogwalk, asking to be explored.
Sheep were to be avoided, other than a quick hard stare shot at them when he was walking beside me, daring them to mock a collie on a lead. More and more of them joined in until Tirn, just ahead of me, was surrounded by waves of the hurrying birds, all hoping Ia€™d come to feed them. It was an exploration, a recapping, an adventure, a pleasure to be enjoyed at every moment. But before it was with Tirn, who always knew which way to turn at a multiple junction, no matter how much the scene had changed during the years. We were the only ones in there, everyone else was in the public bar, and Tirn lay just in front of me, surveying the scene with interest.
I saw the chef passing through without a qualm, until Tirn noticed him too and leaped to his feet, bursting into a fusillade of frenzied barking. I already knew he reacted to people whose shape was changed by their clothes, hats, or bags. Ever afterwards he had a corner behind my table, or lay underneath it, with my feet carefully blocking his exit. Hea€™d been following us for the whole stretch of coastal path west from Lizard Point until Tirn and I had turned back towards the village, and he had seen Tirn walk to heel behind me the whole way. And then hea€™d sit there gazing out to sea, or down on the beach where he knew wea€™d soon go for him to play in the water.
It started with the great green swell of cliff above the cove, went up and down, winding round granite spurs, with a tremendous view down over the sea, turquoise, deep blue, aquamarine, green, black, and the island in the bay covered with nesting seabirds. Tirn soon grew used to these, but the real danger, to my mind at least, was in the Highland cattle that always grazed the land between here and Kynance Cove.
But as he entered extreme old age gardens came into their own as safe, fairly level places to potter beside me on the lead and still vicariously enjoy good scents and the occasional scurrying of a moorhen or running of a squirrel. Tirn always had to stay to heel as I was nervous of the steep drops that edged the route in places, and I never paused to enjoy the views here.
The exceptions are the Marconi huts and the old lifeguard look-out point, now the coastal watch station, although even its base is white. And if we walked the route in reverse we could easily have been tempted to follow the wide golden path that the sinking sun laid across the sea, leading on to the distant horizon.
This was to be the pattern for any person or object that looked different from his first encounters, and for anything that was out of place on walks and visits that he knew well. I always called cheerful greetings to approaching walkers if they looked at all out of the ordinary. He came to look curiously at it when I encouraged him and was definitely interested in the little dog biscuits that fell out of the branches. He soon got used to it with this incentive, and still remembered to look for the biscuits even in his extreme old age when he was quite blind and rather confused. Tirn certainly noticed this, stationing himself in the kitchen doorway to make sure that he didna€™t miss anything. This again was because Sammie had originally been frightened of the noise, and is of course how traditions are formed a€“ biscuits in the tree and in paper wrappings are now part of ours.
It was a beautiful scene, all gold and shades of purples, stretching out far ahead of me, with the huge satellite dishes of the earth station on my right and the Bonython wind turbines spinning their blades beyond. It was only when I glanced down that I saw him, tucked into the shelter of a ditch, almost hidden from view by the heather. It was only much later on, when he was about ten, that we arrived as usual and he was instantly terrified by the sound of either the neighbouring dishes or turbines.
Eventually I had to catch him to take him indoors, where he lay on the kitchen floor, pink tongue hanging out of his mouth as he panted.
There was the day we were walking over a whitened downland, all sound completely silenced by the snowfall. The first time I saw him limping was alarming, but by the time of this winter walk he had learned to come back as soon as he began to limp. To begin with, it meant that we had to go straight out into the garden, out into the forest where Tirn would find a new burst of rejuvenating energy. It was fascinating to see the trails they had left, which he followed so exactly that his footprints made a replica trail close beside the originals. He would pause distrustfully in the outside doorway, sniffing the air, before going out as briefly as he could before hurrying back to the warmth of the house and lying by the fire or the Aga.
Snowflakes fell so thickly that shrubbery on the slope down to the brook became a changed scene. The space among the thickets of flowering blackthorn along one of the outer slopes was where we sat at the top of a hidden ride watching the March hares. The breeze made the wild flowers in the knee-high grass around us shiver and sway on their delicate stems.
The going was hard, especially up and down the slope, but the view was stunning, completely changed when snow lay over it all. The thick fallen tree trunk that he used to spring onto and walk along like a tightrope walker. As we crossed the hillfort, another that we visited frequently, the snow had started to fall, lying more and more heavily on the ground. It was fortunate I walked with Tirn, who never hesitated to take the right path, leading us steeply back at an oblique angle up the downs when I would have missed the turning. And now we had joined the group of shades, who knew what it was to find our way over the ancient routes in silent blinding whiteness. But Tirn knew exactly where we were, and had almost certainly known from the moment we took the crucial turning towards the village of Kuggar. But once the walk got underway he became enthusiastic about the trails that led beneath the thickly packed thorny blackthorns or under the protruding granite outcrops. We walked on, up and down, past the small fields that still lie inland, sometimes with grazing cows.
In a particularly narrow section of the path Tirn brushed against it, and yelped with pain and shock. Most often we perched on the headland to the west, sheltered from the wind by outcrops of rock, and looked down to the cove below as I ate my lunch.
But I was always keen to get the steep climb up the steps over with, and move on towards Coverack, especially as there was a bus timetable to keep in mind if we didna€™t intend to walk back.
Sometimes we had time for tea, looking down over the sea, and sometimes there was even time for another beach and another game in the sea, if the tide was out so that we could walk across the beach that fringed the bay to get to the bus stop. Sheep graze on the slopes on both sides of the path, and in one place an ancient sett pocks a field. Ia€™ve described that encounter earlier, and it set the pattern of future meetings with pheasants a€“ he ignored the creatures, passing them by. When the wind was high there was the fallen log in the wild cherry copse, where the snowdrops grew in wild abandon just before the tree blossom appeared. Once the firecracker tubes were rolled by hand (commonly from newspaper) and labelled and then filled with powder, their ends were crimped and fuses inserted, all by hand. In the 21st century, scaring away Nian continues to kick start the Chinese New Year firecracker and fireworks celebration. I am a huge entemophobe so the challenge is vast, but I am curious to see the fighting cricket matches that everyone here talks about. Each cricket is kept in its own clay pot and their diets include ground shrimp, red beans, goat liver, and maggots.
I’m certainly not condoning animal fighting, but there is something strangely poetic about the idea of two humble insects invoking such vivid patriotism.
A row of books were to be stood up along the center of the table as a net, two more books served as rackets and were used to continuously hit a golf-ball from one end of the table to the other. They are frequently referred to as the originators of the modern mainland Chinese hip-hop movement and are recognized for releasing the first Chinese hip-hop album that has met with any critical acclaim.
Similarly, when a person dies and is cremated, their bones are passed from chopstick to chopstick as a part of the Buddhist funeral ritual. Modern Japanese houses are still quite likely to have a tatami room, both as a sanctuary but also as an homage to past traditions, and many apartment listings for new homes still describe themselves in tatami-sizes. Inside of the gatefold looks great!The inner paper sleeve is the original and is in decent shape.
Once I saw her speed so rapidly into action that she bowled him over completely, leaving him to scramble up and retire abashed before her belligerent stance.
He was the one who went with her to investigate passers-by, watching to see whether they stepped onto the croft or went uncontroversially onwards. On one return to the croft we found a huge buoy had been hung up on a wooden frame to dry, and he barked warningly, knowing that it wasn't usually there, not sure if it was a threat.
People with wide hats, people with backpacks, people with limps, people with walking sticks, people with prams or shopping trolleys.
As I sat at the table one morning I saw him slide his tiny paws through the open crack of one door and try with all his strength to push it back. On the day I was due to leave, to go on to Rum, the crofter asked if I would like to have him.
But I quailed at the thought of screeching Eigg, Rum, Muck, some of the Hebridean island names, out over the fields and woods of southern England. The castle was the creation of an Edwardian businessman, friend of Edward VII, who had designed the ballroom windows to be too high for servants to peer through a€“ supplies were pushed through hatches. And a small ferry did come at last, running up on the beach to wait for the turn of the tide. There too, in a large crate, was my puppy, quite composed about the whole business, comfortable on soft baby blankets once used by the crofter's young son. The early evening was disturbed only by the guard, first bringing bottles of water for the wee dog, then insisting he be brought out as we passed the border to say goodbye to the land of his birth.
With poor reception on the Hebridean islands we had only been aware of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but had heard nothing more about it, so hadn't realised we were returning to London on the day of her funeral. Settled with relief on the train from Paddington I found I had a lively puppy on my hands, keen to explore under the seats and visit the other passengers.
A bird could land with impunity, a cat was chased out at once, a person could be enticed into playing, friends could be greeted.
Then one day Tirn didn't hear me coming down the stairs and there he was, stretched up to his full height, paws just reaching the work surface, neck stretched out to its fullest extent, tongue running carefully over the top of the butter.
I shot into the kitchen and found an astonished Tirn staring at the tins rolling across the floor. We spotted the big German shepherd sitting bolt upright in front of his mistressa€™s chair, the springer spaniel that was winding her lead around the chair beside it, the cocker spaniel that was hiding behind his chair. I noticed the worried expressions on the other human faces, but Tirn wasna€™t concerned with them. He had to sit quietly on his mat beside my chair in a larger village hall a€“ we all required more space now. It didna€™t matter if it was a completely new instruction, or one that hea€™d got bored of practising with me, if he was doing it with teacher it was done instantly and with complete accuracy. He loved to play with them, tossing them into the air to catch them, but he particularly enjoyed interactive games, so we had regular play times.
He could empty the most complicated versions of titbits in a few seconds, and would then wander off to look for something else to do, and a friend to play with.
Tirn was in his element with her, prancing around, darting and jumping, pausing just for one second to rest on a wide garden urn.
For a second he hesitated, but his friends were in there, so he went too with one great leap and splash.
And gradually he did, although Moss could never play enough to satisfy Tirn and eventually would slip off to hide in the crowd.
Hea€™d give it up happily, expecting a game, but she would take it off to chew over and resist all his blandishments.
But they were just what she needed; off she went to a very happy home and life, although she left Tirn and me disconsolate for days. Immensely boisterous, and full of enthusiasm for all the experiences of his new life, he came to us at home for a couple of hours to meet a potential new family. If I had anything delicate I used to have to smuggle it in, and avoiding his watchful eyes was never easy. This he only had, thankfully, to do for a short time, and not once did his attention flicker to the cake. None the less he always knew the postwoman was coming before she even opened the front gate, and would be ready and waiting for her. If he was outside Tirn barely gave them chance to touch down before darting at them to make them rise heavily into the air again.
Tirn was busily herding every escaping frog back towards the pond, where they were jumping in behind the man, only to be lifted out again.
As I watched, wondering how to get it out, it swam strongly to the far end and scrambled up over the plants and out onto dry land.
If I carelessly left the trowel somewhere I could send him to fetch it, or get him to carry it beside me when I remembered to bring it.
These swooped lower, often just past my nose, keen earlier in the summer to feast on the cockchafers that bumbled awkwardly around the nearby cypress tree. Once inside he walked slowly past all the tempting titbits to the toy section where he inspected the wares carefully before fastening onto the one he liked best. After this he would toss the toy into the air, roll on it, then come to find me to involve me with his games. Fortunately he was able to tidy up after himself every evening, putting them back one by one in their basket, and this was almost as much fun for him as playing with them. For most of his life the post delivery came at a regular time in the morning and he was ready waiting to receive it. Even in his last week he unexpectedly dragged his weary body up from a deep sleep in the kitchen and walked unaided into the sitting room to greet old and dear friends, who thought he hadna€™t noticed their arrival. As household times were irregular, this was quite an achievement, for he hadna€™t learned a routine, as none of us lived to one. There was no chance of being dilatory, he was determined that I should take the call as soon as possible.
Tirn took over the baton from him and saw the series develop, presiding over the revision of the first two books and the creation of the next six.
At home in the spring we had the bedroom window bay, with the scent of lilac and roses coming through the open window. We had a regular break half way through the working hours a€“ he went to look out of the window on the way downstairs with me, where he collected the post and I made a cup of green tea and did a few stretching exercises.
We could go up onto the downs, walking with the valley world stretched out at our feet, lunching on the mounds of an ancient hillfort, watching hares box on a secluded slope. They loved and laughed, squabbled and killed, planned their lives, resolved their difficulties, killed, worked out the culprit.
Running down the garden, my heart pounding with fear, I saw him hanging from the paling fence.
He stood quite still while I released his collar and removed the plank, then checked him over to find there was no damage. Burrs that stuck in his long coat if he did, and had to be removed with difficulty and patience (his and mine).
Pheasants laid low, rocketed out of cover, flew with whirring wings just over his head, whatever they did he wasna€™t interested in them. He cast me one querying look over his shoulder, then walked slowly on, ignoring the flock that he inadvertently herded before him.
He only had to lift his head in a certain way, snuffling the air, and Ia€™d know deer were in the offing.
We walked together in a lot of places and for so many years, Tirn and I, that we could both have done most of those walks in our sleep. At nine months it was his first visit to the inside of a pub, rather than a garden outside. The tall white chefa€™s hat was obviously disguising somebody with ill intent and he wasna€™t going to sneak up on me, whether my food was on the table or not, without Tirn warning me of the danger. And never again did he react to somebody approaching the table, except to emerge for a fuss. When Ia€™d been there long enough hea€™d fix me with a very determined gaze, willing me to move on.
It was on this walk that we quite inadvertently passed a pair of choughs, busily pecking the turf of a wide clifftop while birdwatchers had passed us earlier, going in the other direction as they rushed to the last sighting further north. We always managed to skirt them, but my worst moment came when an approaching walker warned me about the cow who was chasing every dog walker that came by her. Instead we went inland, taking the walk that led to the village, leading us along the tops of the field walls, where we always hoped that oncoming dogs were friendly as we had to squeeze past each other with no room to spare for evasive action.
I was doing this, so he would too, but really, wouldna€™t we both be better off in open fields and woodlands where he could run free. Ita€™s less of a problem around Housel Bay, walking beneath the white hotel perched on the slope above, where elephant grass is one of the invading species that waves in the wind like flags signalling distant ships. Ita€™s beneath this that Tirn liked to stop for a drink, in the bowl thata€™s always provided near the steps leading up to the building. But he could never resist the temptation to dart down the steps and round the lifeboat station above the boat house, dashing back up on the far side meet me on the top path. Tirn hadna€™t seen any person looking like this before and he wasna€™t going to take any chances.
As for anybody emerging unexpectedly from behind a tree, or out of a hidden gateway a€¦ well, nobody was going to creep up on me unawares. I always knew if they were approaching the garden, because hea€™d hurry indoors to shelter. He also learned very early on when friends were due, and on this day he tore himself away from his vigil to be waiting in the front hall for the first arrivals at midday.

Hea€™d found himself a warm sheltered little den right by my feet and lay there, his tongue hanging out, his bright eyes watching me, and no doubt he was wondering why I kept yelling for him when he was there all the time. So terrified that nothing I could do would reassure him and so his visits to the heathland stopped. Snowflakes melted on his dark coat, and he was quivering with excitement at this new experience a€“ he was just over six months old and this was the first snow he had ever seen. It began to snow again, large flakes falling more and more thickly as we went down from the ridge into the valley and then back up again further along. He visibly perked up, striding jauntily over the cold snow, brushing against gorse and sending showers of frosty covering down to the ground as he sniffed the freshly laid trails of rabbits and foxes. The water in the brook rose inexorably until it was shooting straight over the small waterfall and creeping over the brookside path. It was wide at first, hidden by tall hedges, and narrowed higher up to a winding path around the ramparts, screened by thickets of blackthorn. They lolloped around, suddenly bursting into speedy races, which occasionally ended in a bout of fisticuffs as a female saw off a pestering male. A rustle nearby revealed one of those earlier hares, which suddenly burst out of cover and down over the steep ridged slope to the field at the bottom. Late bees hummed over the knapweed that studded the grass, a few harebells still dangled delicately on the ends of their slender branches.
And Tirn loved it, racing through the thick coverlet, leaving his paw marks beside those of the fox and the rabbits that had been there earlier.
The next fallen tree trunk under a huge beech where he waited for me, knowing Ia€™d stop there to enjoy the view across the western gap between the hills to the fort that topped the far one. We went on, turning into one of the southern valleys and the flakes grew bigger and more numerous, screening the view and falling into a thickening blanket under foot.
I knew we were passing along a tree-lined path, rough with flint, often slippery with exposed chalk. It seemed like an age, and was at least an hour longer than usual, before we were ploughing our way through almost a foot of snow over the droversa€™ track that comes steeply up from the south. But once we reached the top of the headland his excitement mounted and he rushed down towards the derelict sea wall that screened the beach.
He learned early only to sniff at them, not to try to follow them, as the drop down to the sea on one side is often precipitous. I was imagining the traders who sailed across the waters to this site, their shipsa€™ sails suddenly appearing out of the distance and growing slowly closer a€“ and the farmers who worked the inland fields who might come to watch them arriving, standing perhaps in curious groups near where I sat now, so many centuries later. There were never cows or an electric fence here again in all the following years that we walked this route, but always as we approached this section Tirn would fall back behind me and walk very carefully to the right a€“ unnerving, as the drop down to the sea was close. We could see the high steps that would take us up to Beagles Point, but Tirna€™s gaze was fixed on the sea, watching the hypnotic roll of the waves and the flight of the white spray. It was perhaps fortunate that the tide was generally coming in by the time we got this far, as a wet and sandy dog would probably not have been too popular on the bus that took us back to Kuggar. The badger routes down to the pastures are clearly marked over the chalky path, which is sometimes lined with a row of dung pits marking a territorial boundary.
The only time he stopped was if one was hiding in the grass, then hea€™d point at it until the bird lost its nerve and rocketed out of cover to fly away, squawking loudly. Badgers and foxes had visited, taking lower fruit and creating neat spaces among the brambles for Tirn to lie in, patiently waiting while I picked. When there was just a gentle breeze and warm sunshine we sat on the turf of a field, gazing down at the woods and fields laid out like a map below us. These beautiful, large glass candles burn for a minimum of 100 hours and have a great retail look!
I remember how mad Singapore went at Chinese New Year and and excited to see it in mainland China for myself - by all accounts it is mayhem in the best possible sense. Jia’s obsession with cricket fighting is believed to have contributed to the fall of the empire. Staggeringly, In 2010, more than 400 million yuan (US$63 million) were spent in China on crickets. Before fight night, female crickets are dropped in the pot to amp up the male’s fighting spirit. And of course the paraphernalia, endless discussion online about cricket diets and lineage, breeders criticizing one another and the rabid loyalty that ensues is fascinating.
Later, table tennis was played with paddles made of cigar box lids and balls made of champagne corks. Crossing your chopsticks on the table or food is also considered to be a no-no for the same reason, but placing them the upright-in your rice thing is considered the worst. You should also not pick one one piece of food with two pairs of chopsticks (held by two people). The subtlest of details mean a lot and often harken back to ancient traditions, containing within them intense meaning with the most subtle of references. This architectural style reached its peak of development in the Muromachi period, when tatami gradually came to be spread over whole rooms, beginning with small rooms. It was a lonely place with a wild beauty, the kind I love, that Tirn has always been most happy in.
But he only had to meet them once and be reassured, and there was never any anxiety about that shape or movement again. It was the crofter who moved the discussion to island legends, and I remembered the Hebrides are known as Tir nan Og, the Isles of the Blessed.
The bedroom I had may once have been grand, but now was gloomy with dark panelling and a four-poster bed still hung with the original curtains, moth-holed as they were. Other than that, it was a peaceful night, my companion in the top bunk, Tirn tucked on his blankets beside my lower one. As a last resort, he settled on my lap to stare out of the window at the countryside flashing past us.
Tirn had particular postures, distinctive then, very soon familiar to me for the rest of his life. Sitting and waiting was always hard for Tirn, and it wouldna€™t be long before he stretched out to the full extent of his lead, flopping over onto his back and revealing the soft creamy hair of his chest and the golden freckles on his tummy.
I would take a toy, walk it all round him while he sat on the sitting room rug, eyes starting with excitement, mouth open, tongue just protruding, as he waited for the command a€?Takea€™. They were stored in a large basket in the sitting room, and were carefully returned there one by one every evening (under my supervision). After the initial shock he was swimming happily, but he never took to the water in the way his predecessor did a€“ my earlier collie loved to swim right down the centre of the canal, from lock to lock, at a time when there were hardly any boats using the canal.
So I was touched when one more independent lurcher suddenly came springing to his support when Tirn was surprised by an over-boisterous young mastiff.
Tirn was so keen to play with her that I took her home with us, first for the day, then until she was re-homed. I saw her from time to time over the years, and the likeness between the two dogs diminished as they grew up. On his first day with us he sat back and watched Tirn being brushed at the end of the afternoon.
This was a job I gradually weaned him from, moving him instead to the next stage, carrying the peg bag out to the garden and back in later on. But the other jobs he undertook were his for life and gave him a fierce joy to do, and werena€™t relinquished until the last days of his life. As he grew older that was too uncomfortable so he lay beside my chair, his head resting against one of its legs. Box files and laptops presented more of a problem as he saw no reason why he shouldna€™t help with those too.
Whichever it was, his reaction was instantaneous, rushing straight down the stairs and through the house to the back door, with me trailing behind. Sometimes we would meet her at the front gate, and the post would be handed over in bulk for him to take back to the house. Forever after that if Tirn found a frog out of the water he would stand over it and wait for me, to see if I wanted to put it back in the pond.
We went on one occasion up to the back of the shop to choose a new bed, and he sat staring in fascination at the macaw on its perch and the fish swimming in their tanks. He was always particularly pleased to meet the postman on the path and receive the letters, or to be at the door to do the same if he rang. Unless of course one of us was returning by train a€“ Tirn knew the relevant timetable quite well, and clearly knew when one of us would be using it. There was often the kingfisher flashing along the canal, the water rat splashing into its hole in one of the banks. For Tirn there was the view over the low sill into the street, where he could watch the comings and goings. We could go further for a patch of woodland, where we nestled down among the bluebells with the bread and cheese, the subtle scent of the flowers gradually growing stronger around us.
By the following day knots in the story had unravelled, and I could sit down and write the next stages of the novel. My young Border collie, Bryn, doesna€™t come up here yet, but one day hea€™ll be part of this routine too. His eagerness to see the cat off had led him, most unusually, to jump at the hedge that grew through the fence.
Hea€™d walk towards them quite nonchalantly, then at the second of passing hea€™d turn his head sharply towards them and have the exquisite pleasure of seeing them slither into the water with a lovely splash.
Only when they gradually peeled off, hurrying aside into the bushes did he increase his pace. Even in his old age when I took him back to a place he knew well from earlier years he still knew the route, where to turn, what to look for. And as soon as I began to pack the rucksack he'd be alert, waiting to see if it meant more action. On his first visit to Trebah he suddenly looked down from a vantage point and saw movement in the lake.
Hea€™d really have liked to go up them to explore the garden there, and visit the observers who record all traffic that passes by on sea or on land, in case of accidents that have to be dealt with later on. It gave me such a shock the first time he did it that I greeted him with huge relief when he reappeared rather than dived into the sea. Anglers had lots of interesting wriggly things in pots, and often wanted to greet him too, perhaps to distract him from their bait.
Then hea€™d come back to urge me to follow him, and would eventually lurk in the back doorway watching me anxiously when I insisted on staying in the danger zone. Ia€™d brought him through the gate and let him off the lead and he seemed to have instantly vanished. It was certainly a relief to be experienced at this exercise, for he had to come back several times on this walk.
A blackbird and a robin came close to the window, busily scooping up the mealworms scattered there. These were studded here and there with apple trees that had perhaps grown from a core discarded by a shepherd many years ago, and in the autumn I gathered both apples and sloes here for many years. Sometimes one of the hares came close, grazing so intently that they were unaware of us, sitting there so still and quiet. Sometimes, though, the sheep moved on and we were able to cross the open interior to the stand of oaks and beeches that marked the north-western corner.
The point where he waited again, when the path emerged between the thickets onto the open downland on the ridge and where hares crouched like lumps of earth at certain times of the year. But I could see nothing except the snowflakes, and could feel nothing under foot except the clinging snow.
This is a wide path between banks guarded by hazel trees, whose outlines were not even faintly visible.
If he hadna€™t been with me I should have been afraid, I would certainly never have found my way alone. There are wide breaches in the wall, a scree of small boulders beyond it and then if the tide is out there is a stretch of sand ideal for an eager dog to play on.
Tirn was undoubtedly imagining something more practical a€“ the route ahead of us, and the little beaches that he might be able to visit.
The roar of the water was loud in our ears, and we could tell from our vantage point if the tide was out. Then Tirn would resume his walk, his serenity undisturbed, satisfied that hea€™d flushed out the hidden watcher.
He was happy to accept the odd berry, and took to helping himself off the bushes, plucking the fruit daintily one by one, but blackberries were never a major attraction a€“ three or four were enough for him. Customize these elegant candles with your logo in a 1-color screen print, or 4-color label, to illuminate your company message.
This is not always the case, however; anything from match heads to lighter fluid has been used successfully in making firecrackers.
Firecrackers are simultaneously a reminder of China’s vast history and passionate belief system. The ITTF also changed the rules on service to prevent a player from hiding the ball during service, in order to increase the average length of rallies and to reduce the server’s advantage.
If there are no serving utensils, you should turn your chopsticks the other way and use the fat or unused ends to pick up the food. Tirn is a workable abbreviation to this, although he is called Tim by many new acquaintances.
Once the word was said, the toy was taken, he pranced around with joy, mouthing it to show who was boss. From time to time it was as if he remembered a toy from long ago and searched all through his toy basket until he found it again. Friendly relations were quickly established between them all, but when Jem the lurcher thought his companion was threatened he had appeared from his own pursuits and come to help.
Eventually he ran up and down, and she couldna€™t resist the movement and crept out of cover to join in. On his second day he stepped forward to have his turn, not really necessary as his hair was so short, but still he wanted to participate. But once he was persuaded I could manage he would take the opportunity to saunter to the window and cast his eyes over his outside domain. By the time I caught up with him as he stood seething by the back door, the intruder must have sensed his presence. Otherwise hea€™d purposefully leave the study and carried it up from the front door in twos and threes. But the instant I got up to move to another flowerbed Tirn was there, ready to take the trowel. Extra deliveries were a particular pleasure, coming at unexpected times of the day, because then the front door bell was rung and he had the joy of racing up to meet the unknown visitor. I suspect he had worked out quite clearly the reasons for our leaving the house without him whether we went on foot or in the car a€“ going shopping (with shopping bags), going visiting (changed into non-dog-walking clothes), going to London (briefcase, smart clothes). There were the stags emerging from the misty trees early one morning, coming out one after another in line, walking without haste towards the brook and disappearing out of sight into the curving cloud of mist that lingered there. In the summer there was the table on the terrace, sheltered even early in the day when the sun was fierce, with a view over the pond where the frogs occasionally emerged, wet and shining, and the birds bathed with an interesting fluttering and flapping of wings. He has already settled into the walking and writing times, and lays happily and relatively peacefully beside me while I write in the garden room a€“ downstairs writing began when Tirn found the stairs too difficult, and has actually become a warm weather pleasure. He clearly found them very silly creatures, not worth bothering with, and his attitude never changed.
There were the groups of stags standing silently in a forest copse, their antlers blending with the branches as the deer stared at our passing. He soon came to know them better than I did, every rocky slope, every hidden stream, every interesting hole or animal track. As soon as I stood up hea€™d be off, back towards the main path, his plumed tail floating out behind him like a beacon for me to follow. My heart was in my mouth, but we crept down the smaller paths, glad that I knew the area well, and we luckily didna€™t bump into her round any of the blind corners.
That was enough for him to do it every time we went that way, perhaps just for the welcome he got on the far side, perhaps just for the sheer joy of being able to do it. I blocked the gangplank as I chatted to people travelling on narrowboats while Tirn sniffed around their bankside perimeters.
I think his concern was mainly due to the noise of the burner, but that may simply have been because it announced the arrival of oddly shaped objects in the sky. In fact, his favourite resting place became just in front of the tree, surveying the sitting room. Both our coats were layered thickly with snow, and walking became slower and more difficult as the flakes settled and deepened the layer on the ground. It was also a great relief to be together or I would have been far more worried about losing my way in such limited visibility. Here I sat on a fallen trunk, dreaming of the people who had been here centuries before, while Tirn lay in the shade beneath the canopy, dreaming too perhaps, but more likely drinking in the traces of who and what had been there more recently.
Ice formed in clumps between his paw pads too, and suddenly he would be limping painfully, coming back to have the clumps prised loose so that he could set off at speed again. The stop at the dewpond beside the hillfort, whose clay bowl was pierced now with grass and towering teasels, but still occasionally held patches of water. There was no crunch of nutshells underfoot nor any whisper of wind in the branches, which were not even faintly visible. The ball throwing session was never long enough for him, although he was soon wet from retrieving the ball repeatedly from the sea. If it was we could hurry on down into Downas valley to the small sandy beach that lay beyond a slithery slope of rounded rocks. Wooden Wicks are an all-natural burning element which also make a crackling noise when lit. The key to super-loud firecrackers however, although in part lying in the propellant substance, is pressure. From here he peered out, half entranced, half appalled by his bravery, and was gently coaxed back outside by the crofter. I put a blanket beside me on the sofa and encouraged him up to sit beside me every evening for a week. As soon as I opened the door Tirn was out of it with the speed of light, racing behind the cat who was streaking down the garden. He soon learned to push slippery evasive envelopes up against the skirting board in the hall so that he could get a grip on them. On the odd occasion when I went walking without him in the last few weeks of his life I had to sneak out my walking boots and coat before putting them on. There was the fox, halfway down the track to the woods, turning back to stare at us before trotting away into the trees. In the later autumns of his life we sat at the window of the garden room, warmed by the nearby radiator, while Tirn supervised the birds feeding on the terrace. By the time winter comes Bryn will be allowed upstairs and Ia€™ll be back working in my study, where hea€™ll slot into the role his predecessor made.
He learned to stay quite still beside me, often lying resignedly behind a tree, as we watched deer moving silently through the woods. Nothing ever reconciled Tirn to this shape, so to avoid frenzied barking, the only times it ever happened, we had to avoid one-man bands. Further on was the tumulus that marked the resting place of some of the inhabitants of the fort, isolated now among wide fields, overgrown with grass and wild flowers.
There was not the slightest chance of seeing the hillfort on the towering spur of the hill that cuts into the valley like the prow of a giant ship. He shook himself from time to time, never taking his eyes from the ball, which he always brought back to put in my hand. A fabulous retail candle with great imprint opportunities on the candle and side for the box. He didna€™t seem to miss him when the puppy left, but I did, I was distraught as I was worried about the home he went to.
Ia€™m convinced that the cat must have timed her departure carefully, she always made it to the fence in time to wriggle through it. But still when I left and when came back he knew where I had been going and what I had done. For the winter I often sat cosily in the bedroom, working at a small table as the radiators switched on and the house began to creak into life, but later when Tirn was old we sat in state in the dining room, albeit surrounded by books and papers, rather than the silver dishes of bacon and eggs that the room should have had. And until he grew very deaf, whenever we were at countryside events, we always knew one was in the vicinity because of the way he suddenly looked in their direction, long before we could hear or see the source of his concern. An animal track led up it, one Tirn would follow and stand staring triumphantly down at me as I reached him.
He did like sitting beside or in front of my chair, often with his head on my feet, whether I was talking, reading or eating. And it didna€™t work out, so briefly he was back with the pack, bigger and joyful to be with friends, and so happy to see Tirn again. Fortunately his next home was what he had been looking for a€“ a place to belong to and be loved.

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