scratch and sniff

one very pink and itchy little dog in his favourite sleeping position

The ‘furry one‘ is very allergic! We think he is allergic to lots of stuff but we know he is horribly allergic to dust mites, house mites and storage mites all of which live along side us humans (mostly without being noticed).

He is a pink skinned dog with white hair that means he is more prone to this than perhaps other colours and he lives inside with us which is really the worst bit and the main reason.  If he was living out in the cold without heating and bedding and carpets and duvets, he would probably be fine.

Unfortunately he’s not fine and it means he will be on some kind of medication for it for life.

He gets pink sore patches and he itches and scratches a lot. It is awful to see when it is particularly bad.

We are trying immunotherapy at the moment but are starting the think that this is not quite for us and will change to something much more holistic.

My last post about Max listed all the reasons that we had him castrated, but one that we didn’t mention was how irresponsible it would be to breed from him because of this.

Regardless of him being adorably funny and friendly, this horrible physical allergy would very likely to be passed on just as much as his lovely personality traits would. It wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be responsible.

It doesn’t matter that I think he is brilliant and should be the dad of all small dogs!

dr brandt

anti ageing mattifying lotion

I have never recommended or endorsed any product in the past but I am so impressed with Dr Brandt Pores No More that I really want to share my discovery.

I have spent years, and a considerable amount of money, on various products having had them recommended by a magazine article, friend or beauty therapists.

Recently, I spent about £40 on 50ml of Dr Brandt’s Pores No More Anti Aging Mattifying Lotion on the recommendation from a publication (something like the free Stylist magazine that I pick up in my travels around London every week). The reason I was particularly drawn to it was the claims that it controls oil and shine, reduces the signs of ageing and refines pores.

That’s a pretty comprehensive list of claims and impressive if there were to be any foundation to those claims!

I have oily / combination skin that is also sensitive. I have the classic ‘T’ zone oily area with my cheeks and others areas being relatively dry and quite sensitive. I also tend to show redness from stimulants like heat, cold, alcohol, caffeine & windy weather.

So, with a demanding list of issues to be resolved, I wasn’t any more hopeful for the success of this product. Since I am now seeing signs of pores enlarging, the redness is much worse than it used to be and lines are starting to creep in I figured anything was worth as shot to see what I could do to combat their potential rapid progress.

The first thing I noticed about the lotion is the lovely herby smell that it has, it is definitely non greasy and just feels silky and lovely. It doesn’t reduce the redness but it is smooth, applies well and has non of the clogging feeling some creams leave on the skin. It has also proven to be a great base for makeup.

pores no more cleanser

Encouraged by the immediate and obvious benefits of no shine and it not being greasy, I have also invested in the cleanser, pore refiner & now also the vacuum blackhead cleaner. I believe in products designed to be used together being used together.

To my great delight what is even better than the anti ageing mattifying lotion is the pore refiner; it is applied after moisturing and/or makeup and shows immediate changes…the skin is matted and smoothed and feels soft, smooth and lovely immediately.

pore refiner

I was away for the easter weekend and had to use other stuff for four days and having become accustomed to Dr Brandts Pores No More over the previous weeks, it was a wholly unsatisfactory experience leaving my skin feeling clogged and greasy.

I am a complete convert.

vacuum cleaner extractor

To add to the joys of this discovery, the website from where I bought it, sends a free gift out to new customers and postage is free!  My experience with was superb. After a sticky start when the package arrived with customs charges, I contacted them and I was immediately reimbursed for the charges and my dealings with the team in sales were fab.

It isn’t a cheap skincare solution and I will have to wait until next pay day to get any more of their amazing products but I will be buying more.

nuts, whole hazelnuts!

on the way home for the first time

There are 2 bits on Max’s anatomy that get him into trouble, not a lot of trouble but enough.

They make him stop and sniff every few inches (much to the annoyance of JC in particular), they make him squeeze the tiniest bit of wee out of his lovely little self even when he must be as dry as a husk.

Two of his doggy friends Mischa & Sky get more of his attention than the ball they are all happy to chase when they come into season than they normally do but he never really makes a sex pest of himself.

He even walks with an in tact black Labrador called Bosley and although Max takes advantage of Bosley’s extremely gentle nature, they never really conflict and are always pleased to see each other.

worse than all that; these bits get him attacked A LOT.

how can you resist those eyes

He has been picked up, nipped and terrified by one particular rottweiler in our local park more times than you can shake a stick at and now whimpers behind your legs if he sees the perpetrator of these numerous crimes or in fact any larger black dog, he has been tumbled by a charging boxer and bitten by a number of staffies even when he was as young as 12 weeks old!

We recently found out that most dog-on-dog attacks are because the dog being attacked is in tact and any sweet natured dog that has all his bits and bobs is fair game to the dominant aggressive dogs.

THAT factoid right there was what sold the idea of castration to me in the end. I hadn’t been at all keen otherwise.

doing a good job of guarding the vino


Apart from the possibly of a bit of weight gain, some reduction in muscle tone and the obvious concerns surrounding the anaesthetic, the benefits of castration seem to outbalance the disadvantages:-

he can walk unmolested by other in tact dogs (fingers crossed)

he will not get prostate cancer

he will not get testicular cancer

he may still try to squeeze every drop out of his body but not at every step

he is less likely to develop the semi incontinence that lots of in tact dogs do after the age of about 6 years

his interest in Mischa and Sky will be limited to the ball they all chase after and no longer involve ‘kisses’


he would still be our wonderful little mate

finding interesting smells just about anywhere

Armed with all this interesting information, we gave him his last supper on Monday night and he went in for his operation on Tuesday morning.

I don’t mind admitting my anxiety, the obvious one being the risk from the anaesthetic so I was mighty relieved (having been put on hold while the vet was called – standard procedure I gather but my heart was already breaking) to be told he was fine and we could pick him up.

The small incision in the base of his (shaved) penis is very tidy and although his testes are still in place, they will slowly reduce in size until they are just about gone (I think that is officially referred to as shrivelling up!).  It all seemed so simple and we were so happy to see him again.

Our relief at having him safely home was short lived as he wouldn’t eat (normal), was very sleepy (normal) but didn’t stop vomitting. He vomitted over and over and over again until he was in serious danger of becoming very dehydrated. If he moved from his bed he vomitted, if you moved from the sofa he vomitted, if he wandered into the garden for a wee he vomitted, if he had a drink he vomitted… and so it went on.

sleepy head

Obviously we marched (well carried!) him straight back to the vet the following morning and he was promptly injected (again), this time with an anti nausea drug and was prescribed rehydration crystals.

I am happy to report, however, that after a few days our lovely wee boy is now back to his normal fun self and I couldn’t be more relieved!

all in a spinney

a tidy pile of sticks

We have a very informal deal with the farm that we get to explore and walk around at weekends.


a) generally keep an eye on things when we are walking the furry one

b) look out for poachers and tresspassers

c) lay hedges when the need arises


d) clear the spinneys

the farm allows us to roam around enjoying the sites and appreciating the peace, quiet and the wildlife.

I know who gets the best part of the deal and it isn’t the farm!

the shredder

This weekend, we were asked to clear the small spinney in the yard which is where the farmer’s wife goes pigeon shooting and was finding it very difficult with all the dead wood, low bows and fallen trees.

the chainsaw

Against the forecast for it the weather on Saturday was pretty good and perfect for hard physical work; it wasn’t too warm and it wasn’t too sunny but it wasn’t raining either.

When you try to walk through the spinney at the moment, it is like venturing into a booby trapped undergrowth where you could be rendered legless at any time by a well concealed fallen branch set at the perfect height to trip you up. Imagine how much worse it is when there is only moonlight and you are trying to retrieve your quarry after a successful shot?

all set up

We invested in a chain saw, chipper and a number of axe type implements a few years ago when we got the house and first volunteered to start doing jobs on the farm.  It makes a tough job a lot easier and since we have an open fire at the house, it also makes the cost of fuel less eye watering as we are also allowed to keep the products of our labours.

We only managed to clear a bit of fallen and dead wood, but there are now 4 bags of wood chips to go onto the farmhouse garden, a number of twig piles for the local hedgehog and insect population and a few extra bits on our log pile. It took us about 6 hours to clear about 22 paces of the entire 320 pace length of the spinney.  It isn’t going to be an overnight job. it is also very physical work that neither jc or I do in our normal working day and we were in complete bits at the end of it.

work in progress

I’d like to say that is was a satisfying feeling, being exhausted ………. but it isn’t, it  just hurt!!!

The sad thing about that is that IF we were able to leave our every day lives, we would be doing this kind of work every day and would be as fit as fiddles AND it is exactly this kind of thing that used to keep us both fit.

a nice tidy spot

So we have spent a greater part of easter so far hobbling around like 90 year olds but it is a good job done; not finished yet, but started well!