If I was having a coffee right now …..

If I was having a coffee right now, I would be thinking, like many of us, what a strange world we are currently living in. We’ve completed the 7th week of lockdown and now we are beginning our phased exit. I was thinking of writing about what tricks we have used to survive this period but honestly, none of it was particularly interesting or original! (Apart from Steve’s self haircut and no photos allowed!) So, I thought I would talk about the first thing I would like to do on release from lockdown?

But my mind started wandering (not too difficult in these times) to the ‘firsts’ that Steve and I have experienced during our 5 year Spanish adventure, so here are a few of the more memorable ones …..

Realising quickly, that as a proud owner of gardening design City and Guilds certificate, it meant nothing in our garden where 3 meter plus cacti sat waiting to attack me rather than me pruning them! Eventually, I found them mostly stunning when in flower.

Owning a swimming pool and watching my husband learn how to balance the chemicals to keep it safe and clean so I could paddle safely!

Getting up close and personal with snakes and being bitten by a spider. Steve has seen the biggest centipede which the 6′ 3 gardener, working at the house, jumped 6′ 3 in the air and then decapitated the centipede with a spade but it kept on walking ! (no photos …..google this creature if you want!)

Steve and our neighbour removing processionary (or marching) caterpillars from a pine tree. They first sprayed the nest with hairspray, lobbed off the branch the nest was on, catching it in a bin liner and then digging a large hole in the ground placing the bag and setting fire to it. It is so important to do this, as the caterpillar hairs are so toxic and can become airborne in the wind and give nasty rash to humans and with dogs in severe cases can be fatal. (again google if you wish!)

The night a wild boar visited and re landscaped the front flower beds.

(Still thinking of moving to Spain ….. lol!) 

Back to the nice things …..

Harvesting our olive tress, going to the olive press and exchanging our olives for pure extra virgin olive oil that was unbelievably delicious. However, our neighbours had to ‘lend’ us one of their olive trees in order for us to just to fill a crate! (read more – blog post December 2017).

Joined an art class and painted for the first time since I was 16. And I sold my first painting last December ….. who would have thought?


Obviously, speaking another language although still not fluent with our Spanish, we can get by of sorts. I recall the first time I went to a Spanish hairdresser and requested a cut and colour, it was as scary as the first visit to our Spanish dentist!

Started Spanish dog training classes with our German Shepherd, Charlie when he was a puppy….. that also helped with learning the language. Any shop assistant or waiter I can confidently tell to ‘sit’ stay’ ‘down’ ‘turn’ etc! But the highlight was entering Charlie into an obedience competition held in Vera bullring. Sadly, he didn’t achieve a rosette but I was just relieved he didn’t escape!


assessment day, best hide!

Administration here in Spain is a test of wills, not logical and extremely time consuming with different rules depending on who you are dealing with and what day of the week it is! So I will skip over setting up house taxes, car tax, car ITV (MOT in UK) and the 4 visits to Almeria to secure our residencia! But each mission accomplished was celebrated with a large vodka and tonic!

Oh! yes, so what is the first thing I will do on my full ‘release’ …… a walk along the promenade with Steve and Charlie, our dog, and stopping for a coffee. Sounds a dream? Well we are now moving forward with a slow easing of lockdown mode and heading for the ‘new normal’ that everyone talks about!

How exciting to think I can become a ‘new normal’ ….. ha! ha! ha!

Oh! PS, Steve has finished his book and one day to be published.




Charlie … chilled at last!

I am so chuffed that I finally get my own blog post, although I did think and hope it was a new type of treat or toy? So, here I am, Charlie, a German shepherd of two years and five months. Some of you will have met me or at least know about me. I’m quite a complicated chap and there were times when my owners worried if I was going to make it and stay living with them? But here I am!

We all met when I was 3 months old and I lived with my two sisters (I was one of eleven pups). Carole and Steve certainly gave me loads of cuddles when we met and then imagine, they came back the next day to see me again! This time, though, I left with them. I can still remember the garden gate slowly opening and them leading me outside. Whoa! I was so scared. But he scooped me up and I lay on the seat in the car and was stroked until I fell asleep.

I entered their house and they let me wander around so I could sniff (and wee!) and take in my new surroundings. There was also a huge dog bed with a duvet waiting for me but sleep was the last thing on my mind. They seemed to have bought so many things for me! I wasn’t that co-ordinated and I can remember when I decided to try my new bed, I climbed up and promptly fell out! A few months later, I also fell in the swimming pool, put me off water for life!

My safe place became a shelf or step, see I am a strange chap!

The first few weeks were intriguing discovering a new home meeting a new vet, my first walk outside and getting to know my new owners. One day, she sat on the floor with me, teaching me to look at her when she said ‘Charlie’ and rewarding me with a tasty treat. No problem for me. Ah! that was now going to be my name! Charlie ….. Yeah! I liked that name.

He would also sit on the floor a lot with me, trying to get me to play with a ball or rope toy. Nope, couldn’t get the hang of that. Although, I did get to love chasing sticks he’d throw outside for me and today this is still my favourite game.


The bigger I got … the bigger the stick!

Every evening we all went walking along the promenade at Garrucha. Lots of people, bikes, skateboards, pushchairs etc. I was getting along OK being introduced to so much stuff. So many people stopped and wanted to stroke me and quite a few laughed at my huge ears! 

I really loved the garden at the house, firstly it had no fences so I could take off and chase the farmer on his tractor! Secondly, the plants tasted delicious, especially the figs, although I don’t recommend such a detox diet for a young growing pup! I was meant to be putting weight on.

But then overnight I became frightened of everything? All the training and socializing they had been doing with me went pear shaped. I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to be stroked and my toilet habits left a lot to be desired! I drove my owners crazy and quite frankly they drove me crazy trying to stop me doing my own thing and became an uncontrollable rebel. How were we going to live together, as deep down inside I didn’t really want to leave but it wasn’t looking promising?

I had made friends with the neighbours dog, Woody, a podenco (Spanish hunting dog) and occasionally we would make a break for freedom and be gone for an hour or so. However, one day when we were out, it felt like a really long time, in fact it was hours. I realised Woody and I had lost our scent to get home and this wasn’t a good game any more. It was very hot and both tired. Somehow, I got us walking in the right direction and then, out of nowhere I heard a car – my car- and Steve had found us! We leapt into the back feeling shattered and stressed. Goodness, I drank several bowls of water when I got home and I could tell I was in the really bad books. The rebel in me wasn’t helping secure a future with my owners?

And that ‘op guarantees no future Charlies!

Then, one day, we all went to meet Paqui, who runs the training school (Adiestramiento Canino Zadhir). She specialises in German Shepherds and trains police dogs. I just sat behind the fridge while they all chatted. Now, what was going to happen to me? I decided to make Paqui wait 6 weeks before I would let her stroke me, let alone give me a treat. Twice a week, we all went to training classes and it was so stressful and so tiring having to obey commands ‘sit’ ‘stay’ ‘wait’ ‘down, ‘here’ etc. On and on and on it went but I did smile inside, as my owners were also being trained! At the end of each class, I would be let off my lead along with the other dogs. We were all young playful puppies except my nerves kicked in and none of them played with me. They were chasing each other but I wasn’t ‘invited’. What was that about, my world was going backwards.

Well, I better not keep talking about my bad habits, let us fast forward over a year and after many, many more ups and downs and never-ending training classes plus a house move, another trauma (and story!), I have finally become quite a nice pet, even if I do say so myself! I now love playing games, being brushed and lap up affection and being stroked! I’m still anxious with people and children terrify me so I bark a lot. Paqui says as one fear is conquered, I’ll invent another one! But hey, she entered me into her local dog competition the training school organised and I did quite well!

And there’s more, I’m happy to tell you, I have a girlfriend, a beautiful, lovely German Shepherd, Aura. We met at training classes just over a year ago.


Charlie (left and Aura (right)

It turned out she was a complicated gal! She barked a lot at other dogs and barked and went crazy at the birds. But she adores people. Aura’s owners, Rhona and Ian really like me and goodness, they always give me so many treats. I’m even allowed on their sofa! And get this, Aura lives only a ten-minute walk away. Aura and I have fun and help each other when we are together! We also go to the beach together and Aura loves the sea but I still have a fear of water. But I take my frisbee and run and run.

So, you could say “once upon a time there was a dog called Charlie ………. and they all lived ‘chilled’ ever after” Paws crossed!