The Last Furlong

Comments on the race of life.


What's to think about?

Bass, infuriatingly did a poo in a field alongside the path we were walking on. He was free, off the lead. I’d already picked up the first poo (the main poo) so I knew this one would be tiny, like a comma at the end of a sentence.

A man, walking a stuck-up white toy pom thing, observed Bass’s crime.

He called out “You are going to pick that up I hope?”

I said “I’m thinking about it.”

He said “What’s to think about?”

And then he walked on.

So I want to tell him what I was pondering.

  • I was wondering how I would navigate a two metre wide muddy swamp that would have to be crossed first as it flanked the whole length of the path.
  • I was assessing the muddiness of the field in the fifty metres I’d have to walk to get to the offending poo after the swamp.
  • I was imagining the size of the poo.
  • And I could feel the rain arriving as I stood there.

I decided it was not worth my effort for a poo the size of a comma!

What’s to think about besides that?

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Wiley dog

The Furlongs had a cat once that realised if it crashed out of the cat flap, it chased the birds away. So it learned to carefully open it, quietly, and then gently support it with it’s tail so that the flap closed almost silently.

Animals aren’t stupid.

Now and again, Mr Furlong and I have to sleep together, like now, half term, when the grandchildren stay.

Bass, the clever dog, never ever, ever gets on our beds at night. He never tries to. He has his own bed.

Except when we are sleeping in the same bed.

The interesting fact is that Bass is a sort of clumpy dog. He’s heavy. He lands after a jump like a ton of bricks.

Except when we are sleeping in the same bed.

During the night, this not dainty dog, becomes light as a feather. He tip toes onto the bed. He somehow ends up between us like a heavy rock. Furthermore, he won’t be budged and sticks to the bed like a limpet.

He knows dogs in this house don’t sleep on our beds at night. Yet he claims a place without us even knowing.

Silently, lightly, in the night.

It’s always a surprise.


Yup. It’s true. No fires.

On this blog recently there were lively comments on wood collecting rights on common land for use in fires at home.

Well, fires in homes are to be banned here in the UK.

One whiff of a smoking home will have serious consequences to air pollution it seems. Smoking of any kind is banned!

“Owners of wood burnersstoves and open fires will no longer be able to buy coal or wet wood to burn in them, under a ban to be rolled out from next year. Sales of the two most polluting fuels will be phased out in England to help cut air pollution, the government says.” (EDIT. Wood burners and fireplaces are not to be banned, only the type of fuels burned in them.)

So, up here in the wild North West, where the fells run on for miles of lonely land dotted with the occasional farmhouse, inn or tiny village, there will be NO SMOKING.

There are huge areas of common land and protected forests. And poachers. And agars. And homes heated by them.

There is nothing more uplifting up here in this place than arriving somewhere on a cold winter day, and finding the fire crackling in the grate. It’s a basic human delight.

But our grandchildren will grow up never knowing the pleasure that a fire in a dwelling brings. (EDIT. This is not true. They might see dry wood fires, or kindling fires)

Yup, it’s true. No fires. (EDIT. This is not true. It is the use of coal and wet wood that will be banned……)

But we will probably still have the disgustingly extravagant firework display in London at New Year. (EDIT. True.)

Take the mote out of your own eye, London, before you poke your finger into ours, here in the fresh air of the North.


Canine communication

Dogs are amazing creatures. They communicate with us in so many different ways.

After a good year of getting to know our new rescue dog Bass, we find he is an excellent communicator. He has his own language. We are learning it, and he is learning ours. It’s subtle.

Its not what visitors see when they think that the damn dog is just jumping up and barking at them.

It’s what Mr furlong and I see from long hours spent together. Bass’s facial expressions change to carry meaning. We recognise several different kinds of stares, of looks, of facial commands to us. He makes sounds we recognise the meaning of, little pleasure grunts, of lip smacking to remind us it’s grub time, of tiny squeaks, of types of barks. Many different kinds of barks.

Dogs can talk if you have time to notice.

Dogs can work too.

The fact that dogs can tell their owner/trainers about illicit drugs, cancer, noxious weeds, death, corpses, track missing people/criminals, lead blind people, anticipate epileptic seizures, collect newspapers, or bring you a beer from the fridge, is admirable.

Cats and horses don’t do that.

Dogs are far more intelligent than we ever give them credit for. They have never allowed themselves to learn how to vacumn the house!

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Your lessons for today

Today Mr Furlong and I have been watching Jive videos on YouTube. There is something very joie de vivre about Jive. Fun and joy rather than sex. Jive is two people doing an enthusiastic dance together, with or without insinuation.

Here is your jive lesson for today. On the other hand…..

On the other hand, you might prefer a more solitary dance that you can do anywhere – Twerking. Here is your first lesson…..

A reader complains the lesson above has been blocked, so here is another….


Gales in the Wild Wood

Bass and I haven’t been through the wood for a while. It’s muddy there.

Some time ago, we had had a few dry days here, so we went.

That day there were high wind warnings on the TV and it was pretty wild outside. Some gusts almost knocked me down. I’m only little after all, and getting frailer by the year.

So I thought walking through the wood would be more tranquil than battling the wind on a pavement.

I was wrong.

The wood walk was muddy. Uneven and muddy as hell. I should have turned back right at the beginning, but I didn’t. I had the curious thought that the path would improve further on.

But it didn’t.

Everything got worse. Very worse.

There was wind howling through the trees, snapping branches off all around us. Some fell with huge cracking sounds preceded by ripping tearing noises in random directions as branches crashed to the ground.

It became more and more terrifying avoiding branches and mud, rocks and holes.

And fearing that the next branch would fall on me. I’m only little after all, and getting frailer by the year!

Bass was nervous at every loud crash and stuck close to me, He’s only little too. We hurried along.

I realised how wonderful the wind was in grooming the wood. No one else does. It’s quite untended. But a high wind does the trick.

We got off the path as soon as possible, Bass and I. And raced home to our lovely safe dwelling.

The wind has howled down our chimney for the last two nights and the hail and rain has been plattering against our window panes.

There’s one place we are not going to, until the Spring. By then, the wood will be all clean and safe for walking through. And the council might do something about the uneven path after I complained!



I didn’t know – dogs

For all my life, and the owning of dogs for most of it, I never knew that dogs claws drop off. And cats too evidently.

Mr Furlong didn’t know that either.

Last night, he found a claw.

Dropped off.

In his hand.

When petting Bass.

We wondered about rushing to the vet. But the dog seemed quite happy. So I went online and looked it up.

Dogs claws can drop off.

Some dogs lose their claws more than others.

Is that something everyone knows, but we didn’t?

We must be ignorant.

Underneath the dropped off claw (called a ‘scuffing’), is a brand new one.

How lucky is that!

It seems we must really be VERY ignorant.

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Special day

Today was an extra special day. It is 2020 Palendrome day.

Here is the Math…but….

It was also Mr Furlong and our daughters birthdays. We had a good meal out. No math needed for that, except to pay the bill!

Or daughter was born in the early morning in a nursing home with all the latest equipment, during a hot Southern hemisphere summer.

Mr Furlong was born on the floor next to the bed whilst his mother was alone, waiting for help to come. Dad missing in the house high snowdrifts, trying to get the midwife, on a black dark midnight of the worst winter Britain has ever known.