Monthly Archives: July 2015


The morning after I lost Phoebe I got an email from her breeder’s in Cheshire.

I had been in contact with Olivia in case there was anything more I could have done to help Phoebe over her last days, though she, like me knew that Phoebe had reached a good age for a Great Dane.

But the email was not about Phoebe.  It was to let me know that a litter of pups had been just been born to one of Phoebe’s grand nieces.

Now all sense and reason dictates that to have a Great Dane puppy to bring up in an RV whilst travelling full time and not in the best of health is not the most sensible of ideas.  But there was no hesitation in my mind.  In a heartbeat I knew that if there was a black girl puppy available I would have it.   There was.   I could.   And I knew immediately that I would be calling her Phoebe

This is a photo of the new puppy’s Mum, who I have since met and has all of my dear Phoebe’s loving and kind nature, and she looks very much like my lovely girl. ( this photo was taken when Mu – Ebony – was just 16 weeks old, so it gives you some idea of how quickly they grow.  Being born at between one and two pounds and reaching around one hundred pounds in just over six months!


The pup’s Grandfather has similar looks and personality, and below is her brother from last year.  At one year old he probably still has some filling out and strengthening up to do, and is very much a young dog in his ways, although he is certainly a big strong boy even now!



I know Little Miss Phoebe will be a little person in her own right, but I would love to think that there will be some of my own dear Phoebe in her, and that my lovely girl heard what I whispered to her that last night, and at least a bit of her has got transferred to this little new one.

My writings on the ‘blog’ are slightly out of order, as while I was losing my lovely girl, and after my sad loss I didn’t feel like writing things down straight away, and it has taken me a time to come to terms with my sadness.  But when the puppy was four weeks old I went to see her, and Olivia and Phil kindly allowed me to visit and play with my new girl and get to know her a little.  I still feel the loss of Phoebe more than I can say, but having the thought that this little one will be part of my life has helped ease the pain.



If she had not been born that exact night I have no doubt that by now I would have convinced myself that I did not need a dog as a travelling companion, and that sense and reason should prevail.  But in fact my heart and serendipity have intervened, and I shall be returning to collect Little Miss Phoebe  the second week of August.

Such a Good Girl

While all these varied activities had me enveloped in the whirlwind which is Sally Jones et al there was an underlying current of sadness to my life.

When Phoebe and I originally started out from home she was already an old girl in Great Dane terms.  They are one of the Giant Breeds which sadly do not live for as long as some of their smaller cousins, possibly because their great big loving hearts have more work to do.

In the year of my Big Move she had suffered from a severe virus in the spring which had to have three courses of strong antibiotics to bring it under control, and even then it left her with a recurring cough.  Then I lost Mum, which would have been as much of a shock and heartache for Phoebe as it was for me.  All of which would have taken its toll on her heart.

Then, when all the furniture began to be shifted about in preparation for the auction the stress of the changes was really beginning to get to her – she was always such a home-loving girl.  Her cough came back and there was a secondary kidney infection.  Once again several courses of anti-biotics and midnight call outs by the vet with intravenous drips.  I was worried I was losing her, but she pulled through and seemed good by the time we were ready to travel.

She did adjust to her new lifestyle, and to a certain extent enjoyed it, though I always had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that she would sooner have been at home.   I think her love for me meant that even travelling was acceptable as long as she was with me.

She had a few funny ‘turns’ but bounced back, though every time with a little less sparkle and zest for life as her heart became more frail.  I have had too many Great Danes over the years not to recognise those sad signs which mean that a parting will be sooner than one wished, though it was a thought I kept firmly pushed into the corners of my mind.

At Sally’s there was another post midnight call out from the vet, and though they did not say as much I knew her time was limited.  This sounds so cold and matter a fact, though I am typing it some six weeks after the event, and still my eyes are so full of tears I find it hard to see the page.  And I could not have written before as the memories were just too painful.

The vet suggested tests, and though I knew it was pointless I took her down (hindsight always knows the better way – and if I hadn’t I would now be thinking they might have saved her)  She was prescribed heart drugs with an expected optimum life extension of three months, and was duly started on those, but within a week I could see her deteriorating.

As I sat with her on that final night I whispered to her that it was okay for her to go, and she should go and find Mum, and she would be fine and happy there, but her love for me kept her with me.

She was so weak, and as her breathing became laboured I knew in my heart I had to take her on that final trip. In my last whisperings to her as I told her how much I loved her, and how much she had meant to me, and what a good girl she had always been I asked her, if she could, to come back to me as a puppy so we could enjoy some more happy times together.

I prayed that she would just slip away, but she was too determined to stay with me.  Although once again it was gone midnight I could not bear to see her in discomfort with no ultimate hope of recovery, and I knew in my heart that keeping her here was only my selfish love for her, so Sally and Niner helped me to take her to the vets, as being such a big dog the vet was more confident with having all the equipment on hand.

Such a good girl to the end she struggled to get up and walk up the ramp into Niner’s van for the last trip.  I sat in the back with her cradling her wonderful head in my lap and looking into those wise, trusting eyes.  And when we arrived – tired and weak as she was she got up and followed me for the last time.

Always  –  Such a Good Girl

Whirlwind Summer Days

My time at Sally and Niner’s turned into a whirlwind of different things to do

First we took one of Sally’s young relations to the circus, which was great fun as she had never visited a circus before so it was wonderful to see it through a child’s eyes.  The acrobatic acts were terrific, the clowns actually funny, and there was a chance for her to have a pony ride round the circus ring in the interval

She enjoys riding so much and wants to become more accomplished so Sally kindly paid for her very first riding lesson and I went along to witness the proceedings, and I have to say she seems to be a real natural.

Some time ago I had booked tickets for Sally and her Mum, Pat,  and me to see Brian Ferry at the Symphony Hall, as Pat has always been a fan of his.

We were lucky to get the last three tickets, but my goodness were they a long way from the stage.

Then Pat treated us to a Psychic Evening with clairvoyant and palmist.  I have to say he was getting quite a few things right, and it was an entertaining change from my normal pursuits



The Marina is only just across the road from the transport yard, so that got several visits, especially on sunny evenings after work.


I took a photo of a beautiful swan sitting by her eggs in a magnificent nest just on the edge of the walkways, though sadly a couple of days later a mink had killed her and eaten all the eggs.  I sometimes wonder if some of the activists ever think things through to their logical conclusion.



Next Sally’s lovely step-sister invited us all to supper and it was a wonderful evening.  Super food (she is an excellent cook) good company, and lots of lovely wine followed by an impromptu karaoke rendition by some of the party!


We had some wonderful meals out with Niner and Sally, and after one joined in with some ‘boy racers’  who were – I think the current term is ‘cruising’ – up and down the dual carriageways until their police escort arrived.

On my birthday Sally treated me to lunch at a Michelin Star restaurant, where we had a wonderful champagne meal at The Venture Inn


And I returned the compliment on Tanya’s birthday (nicknamed Moon for reasons not to be related here)  by taking her and Sally to Brockencote Hall for lunch, where they both looked so pretty in the gardens.



After lunch Sally had to stop off to sort out one of the trailers


I think Sally has always felt a secret affinity to Princess Diane who would have been so much in the news during Sally’s formative years, and so we arranged to view Diane’s childhood home on one of the few days it is open during the year, and had a lovely time there.


On the way back from Althorn Sally thought it would be fun to visit one of their ‘Big Jobs’

Part of the business in the transport company is to move large and abnormal loads, and they had been asked to move a huge boat house which had been specially built to become a floating restaurant in Northampton.  This was an excellent idea as a concluding meal to our excursion, except that Sally somehow thought she would remember where it was.  And as when they had delivered the houseboat it was, as yet, unnamed we were somewhat at a loss as to how we might find it, with neither name nor address.

A bit of driving round the suburbs of Northampton and finally we hit on something Sally thought she recognised, and sure enough round the next corner was the park in which it was moored.  And very fine it was too, and in a lovely setting.

Unfortunately they didn’t serve food on Sunday evenings, so with not much to eat during the day and another couple of drinks at the floating boat house all of the party bar the ‘nominated driver’ were getting a bit the worse for wear.

Sally in particular felt it on the journey home – and the next day.


After the Bank Holiday Weekend when Sally worked hard for the entire three days, as well as putting in extra hours in the run-up, then it was straight back to work for her at the family transport business where Sally is Transport Manager, but when they are a driver down she cheerfully turns her hand – and HGV Class 1 licence to helping out on the road.  And she asked if I would like to go out with her as a passenger in the cab.

We were up bright and early to start out – arriving at the yard by 5.30 a.m. and after a bit of paperwork in the office I was helped up the steps into the forty-four ton, sixty odd foot long articulated lorry and trailer ready to deliver our first load of steel to a local firm.  This would have been brought in long distance overnight by another of their drivers, the loaded trailer having been dropped off at the yard ready for local ‘tipping’ the next day.

Sally managed her huge lorry through the narrow roads and bridges making me feel even more of a novice driver.  I wonder how many years before I look as relaxed, confident and in control at the wheel?

The drop off for the steel coils was a huge steel stockholders, and it was interesting to see the overhead cranes move into place to hoist the coils off and stack them into position.  Back to the yard to collect a different trailer with another overnight load, then another drop or two where Sally worked hard moving the heavy straps and sheets ready for the firm’s stacker truck to unload.

I can’t help thinking that though she was the only female around she did more than her fair share of work.

Then with the trailer empty it was off to Wem a delightful looking market town, but far too small for us to park up, even if we had the time spare to look round, perhaps I will need to go back with Thebus for a look round sometime.

We were headed for a timber yard situated on a farm out in the country down the lanes, most of which had signs restricting access to those under 7.5 tons in weight but we eventually found a lane which would allow us to travel down to the farm, then it was under the overhanging trees to reach their timber sheds where we were loaded for our return journey.

Lorry drivers need to stop at defined hours, so we were due a break and pulled into a huge transport cafe.  A real traditional old place surrounded by an enormous carpark of rough gravel interspersed with large water filled potholes.  Inside was seating for what looked like several hundred people, though at this time in the afternoon it was barely occupied.

A large sign indicated that lorry drivers were given preference in any queues, but we were the only ones waiting anyway.  The chalkboard had a good selection of home cooked meals so I chose steak pie with mash and vegetables and before long a large plate completely filled with food appeared.  I can safely say it was the largest piece of pie I have ever been served and full of delicious, tender meat, good creamy mash and all fresh vegetables.  I can see how and why Les Routiers started.  Hot drinks were included free and as ‘truckers’ you could refill as often as you wanted.  At £5.50 it seemed like the bargain of the year.

I had to laugh when Sally broke the spoon stirring the tea, and the guy standing next to her said ‘I wouldn’t like to upset you!’  ‘Yes – I am freakishly strong!’ was the smiling reply.