The Meeting

It’s week two of the virtual creative writing challenge I mentioned in my last post. I thought i would continue the story i wrote last week. I am actually enjoying this. You can read part one of the story


The day came where she would meet the long lost friend from the letter. Her stomach began to turn itself in to knots at the thought of what lay ahead. She had been pondering the letter for the past couple of days. Just who could this friend be and why did he or she for that matter want to meet her after all this time? She decided she would have to face the music and hoped the “friend” wouldn’t have forgotten.

The air was cool as she stepped out of her house. As she turned to lock the door of the old house, she couldn’t help but wander what she was about to get herself in to. She took a deep breath, and began to make her way to the lake.

She was normally too busy to go to the lake with her late husband, but he often told her many stories of the fish he’d catch. Sometimes, he’d even bring a fish or two back and she’d cook it for the family and anyone else, for that matter. She was usually too busy anyway, what with market day or her many other activities at the house to go fishing with him. As she walked along now though, she suddenly felt a pang of guilt that she didn’t spend more time with Jim and learn how to fish.

Her thoughts were suddenly interupted when a voice called out to her.

“Alice, i knew you’d come. It’s good to see you after all this time”.

She turned sharply to see Bob sitting on a stone at the lake. She greeted him with a warm smile.

Bob was one of the local farmers. He’d often be seen at the market and would occasionally bring the odd basket of eggs up to the house. She remembered that he used to keep chickens and grow the odd vegetable or two. He was always such a bubbly man.

Bob gestured for her to sit beside him. There was just enough room on the stone. Beside him, was a flask of tea and some fishing gear.

“Oh no,” she thought. “I hope i won’t have to learn to fish.”

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d actually spoken to Bob, but he had clearly remembered her. He still had that warm, friendly smile but she could tell that something was different about him. She guessed that it was due to not seeing him for a while as life had deffinetly gotten in the way over these past few years.

As they sat and chatted, she soon found out that he, too, was now widowed. His wife had died not long after Jim. That would explain why they both hadn’t seen each other until now as they had other things on their minds.

Before they knew it, the day was nearly over. They’d spent the whole day chatting and enjoying each others’ company. It made her think how she’d missed spending time with people and she had spent the last 5 years alone.

As they both began to wander away from the lake, they agreed that they would have to meet again, and that maybe, it was time to move on with their lives to hopefully fall in love once again. They both agreed to stay in touch, and she had no doubt that they would meet again soon.

As she walked back up to the house, she couldn’t help but smile. She had enjoyed Bobs’ company and they had a lot more in common than she ever thought.

The Mysterious Letter

Since everything is still canceled, a lady set up a virtual creative writing group. Every week, we will all be given a prompt to get us startted, and then we have all week to think of something to write about. It doesn’t have to be long, but it has to be up to 500 words. I am not much of a writer, but i thought i’d give it a go.

I hope everybody is keeping safe and distracted from the current situation we find ourselves in.

The Mysterious Letter

She opened the letter and it said something that would change her life. She didn’t know how, but she knew the letter was pretty important.

As she sat there, not daring to move, she let her mind wander. How did she get to this point in time?

She looked around what used to be the hub of her house. Now, all she saw were blank walls. A desk sat in the corner with a dusty old record player and a picture of a man, and a golden retriever dog. An old, potted plant sat on the window sill, but it looked like it hadn’t been pruned or looked after in many years. The clock on the mantel read 20 past two. Time just seemed to go so slowly now.

She walked over to the desk and picked up the picture. She settled back in her chair, and began to reminnis. On the back of the frame was the name Jim and the date 1989. She’d met Jim at a dance, many years ago. She wasn’t much of a dancer, but Jim could do a fine jive. She’d spent many an evening down at the dance hall, because Jim worked there and she couldn’t help but be attracted to him. He, too fell in love with her, and eventually, they got married. Nothing too fancy, just an old, country church. She always wanted to keep things simple.

Over the years, their little country house became the hub of their community. She was always cooking, or doing something from crafting to gardening. She’d often sell her goods at the local market. Her door was always open for people to come round. She hated the thought of anyone being on their own, so she made it her mission that everyone would know that this country house was the place to be, no matter what. Word soon got around, and the house was always buzzing with people going in and out.

There was nothing but peace and stillness surrounding the house. If you listened carefully, you’d hear the odd cow in the distance, but apart from that, it was lovely and quiet.

Jim would have often spent his days fishing, or helping out with odd jobs that needed doing. Everybody looked forward to visiting the house and they were both highly thought of.

The picture was taken not long after they had met. It had been a beautiful spring day. Their golden retriever Humphrey was beside them in that photo. They both were her world. Jim would have taken Humphry with him when he went fishing for the company. He was a gentle boy with a big heart. He always knew when he was needed and would often drop a soggy ball innocently on to peoples’ laps. He had nothing but love to give.

They would have been married 45 years this year if Jim was still alive. She didn’t know what to do since Jim passed away. The community she had so lovingly built up had now disappeared. It was just her and her thoughts.

With tears in her eyes, she suddenly remembered the letter sitting beside her. With trembling hands, she began to open it.

“Dear Mrs Miller,

I am writing to you today to ask if we could meet up the day after next. I am a long lost friend and feel that you could use some company at this time. Please do not ignore this invitation. Meet me by the lake, where your husband used to fish.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Your long lost friend”.

She sat there, aghast. Who on earth was this person wanting to meet her? She suddenly remembered something her husband once said which was to grab life by the horns and go for it. She knew she couldn’t sit in this house forever, so the only thing to do was to go and meet this person and see what would come of it. After all, moping about with just her thoughts wasn’t getting her anywhere.

“Spring Didn’t Know”A Poem To Keep Us Going

I’m really struggling with everything being canceled, with good reason because of the Corona Virus. I found this lovely poem which i think will keep us all going throughout this time of isolation and fear. I hope you like it as much as i do. Stay safe and hopefully life will return to normal soon.

It was March 2020…
The streets were empty, stores closed, people couldn’t go out anymore.
But spring didn’t know, and the flowers began to bloom, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, swallows were coming soon, the sky was blue, morning was coming early.
It was March 2020…
Young people had to study online, and find jobs at home, people couldn’t shop anymore, or go to the hairdresser. Soon there would be no room in hospitals, and people continued to get sick.
But spring didn’t know, time to go to the garden was coming, the grass was growing.
It was March 2020…
People have been put on lockdown. to protect grandparents, families and children. No more reunion or meal, family party. Fear has become real and the days looked alike.
But spring didn’t know, apple trees, cherry trees and others grew, the leaves grew.
People started reading, playing with family, learning a language, singing on the balcony by inviting neighbors to do the same, they learned a new language, be supportive and focused on other values.
People realized the importance of health, the suffering, of this world that had stopped, of the economy that fell down.
But spring didn’t know. the flowers left their place for fruits, the birds made their nest, swallows had arrived.

Then release day came, people found out on TV, the virus had lost, people went down the street, sang, crying, kissing their neighbors, without masks or gloves.

And that’s when summer came, because spring didn’t know. He continued to be there despite everything, despite the virus, fear and death. Because spring didn’t know, it taught people the power of life.

Everything will be alright, stay home, protect yourself, and you will enjoy life.

Read this, copy it by copy / sticky this text, but above all stay confident and keep smiling!

A Year Qualified With Vivvy

It’s hard to believe, but a couple of weeks ago, Vivvy and I were qualified a year.

The last time i wrote, i only had Vivvy for two months. That really does feel like a long time ago now. Vivvy just seems to have slotted in nicely to my lifestyle. She just loves working, and will go anywhere i ask her to, whether it’s just sticking around my home area, to travelling further afield, she just takes it all in her stride. I am incredibly pleased about this as i wasn’t sure she would manage it all, because she can be a bit sensitive at times. Her sensitivities and suspicions of things can vary, and there are times where she doesn’t react at all, and others, where she’ll slow or stop, or push hard in to me but i acknowledge it, then carry on. I don’t want to make a big deal of her suspicions as i don’t want her to *think* she needs to fear whatever it is that she isn’t sure of. This approach seems to work well, as she just carries on after it as if whatever it is hasn’t happened. I really hope this continues.

Vivvy has attended many meetings with me, and after the initial excitement, she will settle beautifully. If somebody beside me looks at her though, she will get quite excitable and waggy. She can at times look for pets, which is the one thing i still find hard to get used to as Ushi never cared too much for other people, but Vivvy is such a nosy girl who always has to know what is going on around her and is afraid of missing something. I have now accepted reluctantly, that Vivvy will always be nosy, and i just have to learn to manage it and make sure she pays attention. It would be nice if she wasn’t quite so nosy though.

Vivvy has really settled in to tennis and barely reacts to the balls now, unless a ball lands within reach of her paws. She will then pick it up and show it off proudly for whoever wants to see it. You can always tell when Vivvy has had a ball, as it is usually soaking wet with slobber. Unfortunately if she is on a free run though, she can still be quite ball obsessed. We had to leave the beach a few months ago as there was another dog owner throwing a ball and Vivvy kept only focusing on the ball, even though we moved further up the beach. She had had a good run before this though, but it was still a little disappointing. If i do bring a ball for her, she runs so hard that she is physically sick, so she doesn’t get anything to run with as she runs pretty hard anyway.

Vivvy now knows that when we go to yoga, she must lie down until i allow her to have a run around the room after the class. She loves this and picks up peoples’ blankets and shows them off to people. I of course do this with peoples’ permission and everybody loves having her and love seeing her run around the room. I still have to have her attached to a table or something though, as she will usually lie right where i am doing my poses and takes up all of the mat. So keeping her attached seems to help and she doesn’t end up torturing me, or anyone else, for that matter.

Vivvys’ route memory is amazing. I always direct her of course, but if we’re lost, for example, she will make a huge effort to get back on track. I can always tell when she has found her way again as her pace quickens, and she has a confident strut going on.

We had to work on greeting people nicely for a while, and remembering to keep all of our paws on the ground. She now greats people very gently, but occasionally puts her front paws up when she sees my dad or sister, but mostly, she just wags now which is far better.

I really do love Vivvys’ spending routine. She will usually do a poo before we leave 99 percent of the time, and will only pee when we are out, and will then go for another poo when we get home from where ever we are. This really is brilliant as i know she won’t go somewhere she isn’t meant to and even if she hasn’t gone, she doesn’t like going out on the street at all and will look for somewhere quiet to go if she has got caught short.

Vivvy has been on many forms of transport, including flying, when we went to play tennis in Glasgow. I was really worried about this as Ushi did not like flying at all, but Vivvy just stretched out and made herself comfortable.

I really do think we will make a good team. For a while, i was waiting for the other shoe to drop as our partnership just seemed to good to be true, but thankfully, we haven’t really had any problems apart from her slight suspicions and sensitivities, but these are totally manageable for now. She has had a few minor health problems, and we have had to visit the vet more than i would like, but i think Vivvy will just be that type of dog. Sometimes, i have been able to manage her health at home, like when she tore the top layer off her paw pads, or when she got

Rudder tail

From playing too hard in water, i knew she just needed to wag it out over a few days, but she has had to go to the vets to get her anal glands emptied occasionally, as well as a mild ear infection. Other than that though, she is a very healthy dog, who has remained roughly at the same weight since i got her which is brilliant. Weight doesn’t get a chance to even say hello to her though as she does everything at full speed, especially playing. She works hard, but plays even harder 🙂

I can’t wait to see what the next year of our partnership will bring, and i’m sure we will continue to go from strength to strength. Thank you again to guide dogs for getting another match just right, although i didn’t think so at the start. Also thanks to Vivvy for wanting to work with me and becoming such a confident little dog compared with when i first got her. A guide dog owner once said to me that guide dogs match the dog to whatever stage you are at in life, and i really do believe this to be true. I couldn’t have managed such a lively bundle for my first dog, but at the same time, i did have to put a lot of work in to making Ushi the dog i knew she could be, despite her extreme stubbornness. I knew there was a desire to work in there somewhere though.

All that is left is to say happy christmas, and a happy new year to you all.

yello lab retriever cross Vivvy and I sit in front of the Guide dogs Northern Ireland christmas tree.

RIP My Beautiful Ushi

Ushi on our matching walk in 2010

this is a post i really wasn’t thinking i’d have to write for a few more years yet but unfortunately that wasn’t to be.

Back in July, i got a message from Ushi’s puppy walker to say that she had been a bit sick and that she was going to the vets for blood tests and scans just to make sure she was alright. I wasn’t too worried as i figured that the vet was just making sure she was okay. The vet had said that Ushi was a little anaemic, but they thought it was due to her being a bit under the weather. When they went to do the scan, however, they could not find a cause for her Anaemia and sickness and her blood work had returned to normal.

Everything seemed to get back to normal with her after this, and we put it down to just a scare or a random bug. I visited her at the end of July and she was her little gentle self. She just mooched about, but that was generally Ushi. When i petted her, she felt thinner than i remembered, but i told myself that she was out running and loving life every day so was keeping the weight off. Her coat felt a little courser too, but again, i put it down to her just loving life and her age. We had a really lovely time and it was great that Vivvy got to meet Ushi and they got to have some fun together.

Ushi was grand for all of August, until i got a message on the 13th September telling me that she had been rushed in to the vets in the early hours of he morning. She was being sick and shaking and panting which was not like her at all. The vet gave her ant acids and anti-sickness medication and referred her for more tests. Her blood work was showing up again as Anaemic, but that was put down to her being sick. She was sent home and enjoyed some pasta which she kept down. She started shaking and panting again in the afternoon, so was taken back in again. The vets gave her yet more injections, and sent her home again.

On the Saturday morning, she hadn’t eaten or drank anything so we were getting worried. She needed to be carried out to the car, so i was thinking the worst. She was hooked up to fluids straight away and tested positive for Pancriatitis. The next 24 to 48 hours were critical.

Thankfully, by the Sunday, she was showing signs of improvement and was starting to eat again. She was sent home on the Monday with different tablets to take and would see the vet the following Friday. The vet wasn’t sure what was causing her Pancriatitis and said that it could just be something that older dogs got from time to time.

Ushi was up and down over the next few days, and was still being sick but the vet said that her body could just be taking a while to recover from how seriously ill she was. On her better days, she was doing well, or so we thought and even managed a trip to the beach.

Unfortunately this weekend she stopped eating again and ended up with another bout of Pancriatitis, but it wasn’t as bad this time. She was still admitted to the vets again for fluids. The vets wanted to rule out doggy Addisons disease as a last resort, so they kept her in to test her for it. The tests came back as negative, so it was time for a serious discussion as to what to do next. This time, when the vet scanned her, the area around her pancreas was calcifying, which suggested a tumour. The vet had offered to do exploratory surgery to see if they could find anything, but they wouldn’t wake her up from that. It was decided that the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep as there was nothing more that could be done.

So yesterday evening, my beautiful Ushi went to sleep in her puppy walkers’ arms for the very last time as this was by far the best option and she was clearly suffering. R.i.p my beautiful, cheeky, stubborn, wonderful first guide dog and friend. We had many, many adventures throughout the seven and a half years that she worked for. She helped me grow in confidence, from the shy 20 year old, to the girl who was never in the house. We attended many meetings, coffee shop visits, walks for the love of walking, met up with friends, tried new things, traveled on trains and busses, won the young persons achievement award in 2013, amongst many brilliant things. She was so adaptable, and nothing phased her apart from flies. She really didn’t like flies, or flying, for that matter. She coped with everything else though and even though i struggled with her stubbornness, we made our partnership work. I really do think that it is because of Ushi, that i can adapt and change my behaviour to help Vivvy with her reassurances and suspicions . If it wasn’t for Ushi, i probably wouldn’t be the guide dog owner i hope i am today.

I would like to thank her puppy walker and family for agreeing to take her back in retirement. She really landed on her paws and had a fantastic life. I am glad she wasn’t ill until the end and glad they knew when it was time for her to go. I am glad they kept me informed and made me feel like part of the family even though i couldn’t be there for her at the end. But she was surounded by nothing but pure love when she needed it most. Thank you also to the vets for caring for her so well.

I really am heart broken and was hoping it wouldn’t have been for a long time yet. I am so glad she had such a brilliant life though and nobody really knows when that awful time will come. R.i.p my sweet, sweet girl. Until we meet again 😦 xxx

Behind The Half Marathon Finishing Line

two volunteers wearing bright yellow race jackets

On Sunday, a friend and i decided to volunteer at the Belfast half marathon.

A few months ago, I saw a tweet looking for volunteers for the Belfast half marathon. I thought it would be brilliant to do so approached my friend to see if she fancied doing it. Originally, I had thought we could volunteer at a water station, but that was already being taken care of by the 5 charities who had been selected for the marathon. The other volunteer job that needed doing was marshalling, but we weren’t too sure about that either. Eventually, we settled on being situated somewhere near the finish line, handing out medals and goody bags or whatever they wanted us to do.

After we sorted out what role we would be doing, we attended a short, informal session on what our roles would Intale and what time we needed to be there at. We also received our bright yellow jackets and t shirts that we would wear on the day. The only thing we needed to do now was to wait and see what the day had in store.

On Saturday, i attended my local parkrun first, before jumping on the train as i was co-delivering some training for Guide dogs so needed to be up in Belfast early.

We had decided to stay overnight at a Premier inn as we were expected to be at Ormeau park where the half marathon would start and finish for 7 o’clock the next morning. There are no trains on a Sunday that early so i was glad we were staying over.

After the training had finished at Guide dogs, we headed off to the hotel to get checked in, before heading out for something to eat and to get some water and stuff for the morning.

We were up with the lark on Sunday morning. The breakfast service in the hotel didn’t start until 7, so i brought some porridge pots with me and they did just the job until we got down to Ormeau park.

When we arrived, we made ourselves known to the volunteer co-ordinator whilst they decided what role we actually would have for the day. We were eventually assigned the orange station. We were going to be split up, but we explained that it would probably be better if we stayed together and they were grand with that. We weren’t needed until about 10 o’clock, so it was off to chat and mingle with people, before settling down with a nice cup of tea.

unfortunately, just as the runners all took off, the heavens opened with torrential rain for about an hour. Thankfully, we were able to take shelter under the bag drop markee until it calmed down to just a light drizzle. One of the organisers went and got us ponchoes too in case the rain continued which was lovely.

Finally, the first runner was on his way, so we went out to our station. We literally had big storage boxes full of pre-sliced oranges. The time really did fly by once we got in to the swing of things, but the oranges weren’t shifting easily. I found it hard to know when people were coming up to me or if they had taken an orange, so i just asked people constantly if they wanted an orange. I am sure they were sick hearing it. It was suggested to me by others who had done this sort of thing who were visually impaired that i might want to have something identifying me as a visually impaired volunteer, but i decided against this. I am not sure if i would want to wear something, but i suppose it would have its’ advantages as people would know that they would have to speak to me for example, before taking an orange.

Before we knew it, it was 12 o’clock and most of the runners had finished. There were still a few coming in, but not too many. We still had boxes of oranges left over but apparently they were going to be given to a homeless organisation or something. I was glad about that as i would have hated them all to go to waste. It was back to the hotel for us so that we could pick up our bags, before a sandwich and a bun for our lunch, before getting the train back home.

I had a great time and it was good to be on the other side of the finish line as it were, and to be able to really congratulate the runners as they came through. I would like to thank the marathon organisers for allowing me to volunteer and to my friend for being my guide and for agreeing to do it in the first place.

a huge well done to all the runners whether you were able to complete it or not. at least you tried and that’s all that matters. I am sure it wasn’t easy running 13.1 miles but you all did it and you should be very proud of that. I may possibly see you all again next year 🙂

Seeing Ushi Again

Today i met Ushi again after her being retired a year.

I was in Glasgow for a tennis tournament, so tentatively asked her puppywalker if she fancied meeting up so that i could see Ushi. Thankfully, they agreed, and i met Ushi after the tournament had finished.

When they arrived at the hotel, i went outside to see Ushi first whilst the puppywalker held Vivvy. Ushi was her lovely gentle self. I had to remind myself of just how gentle she is compared to Vivvy and that she will just amble about. Her coat felt really thick. Thicker than i remembered it being but then again, it has been a year since i had seen her. She automatically put herself on my left side bless her and gently wagged to herself.

We headed off to a dog park afterwards to give the dogs a free run. It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was enough to get them all running and enjoying themselves. It was then off to dinner before going back to my hotel. When we were going to leave, Ushi started plodding in to the hotel. She obviously hadn’t forgotten her work. She didn’t mind Vivvy and wasn’t put out at all which was good. In fact they just stood beside each other and wagged at each other.

It was really nice seeing Ushi again and it is clear that she is firmly attached to her puppywalker. She is loving life andis having the best retirement a girl could ask for. I would like to thank her puppywalker for letting me see her and keeping her in such good condition. I hope she has a good few years left ahead of her yet. She is such a happy, contented dog.