Saturday, 29 September 2007

Niggy and on -

As I told you, I was at boarding school when I got Niggy. After Vl form, I had a year at home (now known as a gap year). Most of it I actually spent at home. I did a correspondence course in Physics, which I hadn't done at school' and typing and shorthand. The latter was very difficult by post because they simply did not understand the long a that I used!! Anyway, that has nothing to do with Niggy. I disappeared for a fortnight to France to practice French but otherwise spent my time with Niggy and Jenny, my pony if I was not in my room doing one of the courses, writing to friends, going to the pictures with a friend, learning to drive and passing my test at the second try or trying my hand at the garden because that was what I had decided to do. Oh, and no doubt falling out with the parents - that's what one does at that age isn't it?

The next 3 years, for Niggy, were the same as when I was at school. Mine in the holidays, the parents in the term when I was at College learning Horticulture. After I left College, she remained at home because I got a job in South Harrow, working in a Nursery. About the end of this time, I met No 1 so came home and saw more of my dog, though I was working for the parents of a friend. No 1 and I were married in August 1955 and went to live in Cullercoats as he was completing his Chief Engineers qualifacations in Gateshead. As we looked out to sea and all I had to do was walk on the beach, it was very sad that we were not allowed a dog in the flat. Consequently, we were only with Niggy at the weekends. We had already bought a house on the North side of the Cleveland Hills, and spent our weekends working on it, usually staying at my home, so Niggy came with us. It was at this time that we became very friendly with someone who was to be very important to us for the next 15 years. He had a breed of yellow labradors, and usually had several of them about. It must have been about then that his main bitch gave birth to a litter which included Charloch (Charly), Cassiopea (Cassy) and Cobnut (Cobby).
We moved into Withy Brook in the spring of 1956. Niggy moved in with us and we were soon joined by Charly. Cassy went to a family who soon returned her as they couldn't cope. They had used a rolled up newspaper to control her, so that she went beserk if she saw a paper. Our friend soon got her sorted out and she was a happy member of the family group. Cobby was a really lovely dog - darkish yellow coat and huge. His gorgeous labrador head was vast in proportion and he was loving and giving. Very sadly he met an untimely end by jumping out of friends van and straight under a car. He was always headstrong. I have a lovely bit of old movie of him jumping a fence - beautiful.
Charly was one of those dogs that you never forget. He was a child substitute for the first 6 years of his life but still loved A when he finally arrived. He gave Niggy abit of hassle as a puppy, but she didn't really mind. She liked Withy Brook and pottered about happily until she became old and ill. She ended her life at my old home which I think she had always thought of as her home. Back to Charly. He was very naughty and very happy to go hunting on his own. I had to watch him the whole time. Despite that, he would escape quite often. I remember once, he had been missing for a few hours. The gamekeeper, who lived just down the lane and was a fairly nasty character, appeared at the door, with Charly's collar in his hand. He drew it out as long as he could before he told me that he had managed to get hold of the collar, but Charly had slipped it! I was quite certain that he had shot him! [Said gamekeeper, shortly after we left, was shot by his wife who then shot herself!]
So, Niggy has gone. Charly is growing mature and we are still at Withy Brook. There is still quite a lot more to tell about him and it is bed time, so that's it for now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Dogs I have known.

When I was born, my mother's terrier ran all round the village to tell everyone that there had been an Event at the Hall! I know Ma loved that terrier but I do not know much about him and certainly do not remember him.

The first dogs that I remember are Joey and Peggy. Joey was a smooth-haired mongrel, about the same height as a small springer, belonging to my Mother. She was black and tan and I loved her dearly. She was soooo long-suffering. I was fixated on driving her and used to try to make her go in 'harness' but it really was not part of her ethos! Peggy was a white and tan springer spaniel. She belonged to my Father and was a 'shooting' dog. She always accompanied my Father when he went shooting, but how good she was, I have no idea. She lived inside and was more of a pet really, I am sure! I did not have much to do with her - she was very much Pa's.
I remember a terrible event - to me, a small child. Peggy had gone missing as happened often with Joey too. On this occasion, Joey had come home but not Peggy. In the middle of the night, the person sleeping in the room at the West end of the house, heard a sort of whining and went down to investigate. Who-ever it was found Peggy outside the gate, in a very weak state. When, next day, she was taken to the vet, she had a very large number of pellets removed from all over. After careful nursing, she recovered, and went on to enjoy many more shooting days!

In the course of time, both dogs departed this life. I do not remember either going or when. Maybe, by then I was at boarding school - I really don't remember.

Then there was Poppy-poo-pa. Where did she come from? I've no idea. She was a brown and white, smooth-haired terrier of some indefinable sort. She was memorable because she just disappeared. She had a habit (as all dogs at home did) of going hunting. That day she was reported as having been seen, about tea-time, in a tired and grubby state, but was never seen again. We thought that she had probably gone down to the river and in her exhausted state had managed to be drowned but it was all speculation.

There may have been others that I have forgotten but we come now into the time when dogs belonged to me!

A black bitch of undefineable parentage appeared in the village and was taken in by the school teacher. She was very pregnant and ultimately my parents took her in. She gave birth to 3 puppies, Gog, Magog and Niggy. Gog and Magog were large yellow, dog puppies. Niggy was a black bitch. After a great deal of wearing down of an imovable mountain, I won and was given the black bitch. The other two were found homes in the village. I expect that I named her Niggy because she was black! As I was at boarding school, it was accepted by all, including Niggy! that she was mine in the holidays and theirs in the term-time. As a very lonely child, Niggy took a very important place in my life, along with my pony, which was of much more use as someone to talk to than to ride! (A future blog perhaps) Niggy's mother was called Gippy and there was only one thought in their minds. That was to escape and to have a jolly good hunt. It should be remembered that in those pre myxy days, there were oodles of rabbits and dogs knew that they only existed to be hunted!! The trouble was that we were in an area with a lot of sheep, so dogs out on their own were in danger of being shot (which was what had happened to Peggy) As a result, one of the dogs was on a lead at all times. They were swopped over regularly. Every now and then the 'on lead' dog would manage to get off and away they went. Even if you were there, you could shout your heart out and they wouldn't take a blind bit of notice!! However, despite a great deal of heartache caused to all, they both survived. I do not remember how Gippy met her end, but I know that Niggy lived to a good age and her story follows next. [I hope to add scanned photos later]

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Terracotta Army and China

Last October, G and I set out for Beijing. As the times of the tour companies flights did not suit anyone from Northumberland, we arranged our own flight by BA. G's son-in-law got us an upgrade (he is a BA pilot) but when we arrived our luggage was still in Heathrow!!. It arrived in our hotel next day.

We did all the usual things in Beijing, including visiting Tieneman Square and the Forbidden City and the Great Wall

Then we went on to Chian, where the army is. It was as amazing as they tell you, to go into the huge aircraft hanger-like place and to see all those soldiers.

This chariot was frequently seen on the television the last few days, in bits and programs about the army. I was amazed at how well it came out. Yes, I did take it myself! Here is a picture of the soldiers. And here is a picture of Belsay Bear from Belsay First School having a look!

We went on to see lots more of China including the 3 Gorges Dam, and having a cruise down the Yangste.

We ended in Hong Kong, which I had last visited in 1970, when I spent Christmas there, while living in Singapore.

While we were in HongKong, the Daughter and son-in-law arrived and the s-i-l flew us home. As a result, Belsay Bear was invited onto the flight deck and had his photo took!