Thursday, 23 October 2014

*Warning: Too Much Information is an understatement* Menstrual Cups

We also all agree that periods are awful? (If you answered 'no' to that question, go away, we can no longer be friends) This is going to be a post about periods, I haven't written it yet so can't vouch for how graphic I'll get, but the phrases "torrents of blood" and "painful vagina" are likely to come up. Continue at your own discretion.

Tampons and chocolate

So... Periods. Painful, little bit gross, completely unfair. As if sexism wasn't bad enough, we could at least do without our own bodies revolting on us for a quarter of our lives between the ages of 13 and 52.

The generally accepted necessities are pads and/or tampons (as well as painkillers, caffeine, chocolate, an exclusion zone for other people, stain removal detergent, new knickers, iron supplements, extra sleep, etc) but they aren't perfect.

Pads, you end up walking around with a squishy puddle of blood inside your pants. Those wrap around wings are always touch and go, have a particularly drawn out month and you'll start to rub the skin at the top of your thighs raw. I don't need to go into the issues of overnight pads do I? we can all agree they're just uncomfortable and despite being the approximate size and shape of a memory foam pillow never quite right.

Tampons. The string. I've never liked the string. I'm sure it's unhygienic, I can't see how it's not. Also the whole toxic shock syndrome risk just makes me very unhappy. I know it is a rare condition but I know two friends who rushed to hospital with it, one of them went into cardiac arrest and very nearly died. Tampons are essentially sponges and they don't discriminate in what they absorb, this is a problem because the walls of your vagina are made of a mucus membrane that constantly secretes fluid to maintain itself, tampons absorb that and mess things up. This can lead to your pH levels being off and can contribute to developing infections like thrush. Plus, there are times when your flow isn't as heavy as the tampon is designed to handle and when it's time to pull it out you end up performing some internal sandpapering. Those of you feeling queasy, I did warn you.

There are environmental impacts of them, we all agree that littering is bad, yes? We are pro-polar bear survival? If we actually stop and think about it we do care about what future generations will think about us leaving them man made mountains of rubbish that aren't going anywhere? Pads and tampons go into landfills, they're not great at biodegrading.

But honestly, whatever. Pads and tampons are not SUVs, and there's enough period shame about with someone trying to tell me that women should stop complaining about their periods and think of the rainforests. Plus, what are the alternatives? Just bleed over everything until it's over? Join a hippy commune?
They can also contain 3 times as much blue liquid as a regular tampon. Source.
When I first heard of menstrual cups I was a bit grossed out. Okay, so they're easily cleanable silicone that I can sterilise as often as I wish, but they're still essentially a small bucket to catch everything that I have to put up and pull out of myself. Yuck.

They do cost more initally, £22 from Boots at time of writing. But if you have to buy a box of tampons a month for a year then you're one of the lucky ones. I need at least two to deal with the fact some days there are torrents of blood and some days tsunamis. Okay so everywhere has own brand versions but they are cheap and nasty to use with a tendency to shed bits of fluff in places I don't want to be fluffy. So that leaves us with the name brands. Normally, yes, there is some kind of offer on, right now you can get 2 packs of Tampax for £5.


Sixty pounds to deal with something natural, that directly affects half the human race, that we pay 20% tax on? And that's just for one year! There is a man (yes, definitley a man) lying in a swimming pool of money somewhere and laughing.

So, menstrual cups. I use a Mooncup, because it's what Boots stock and therefore was the most easily available. They have two sizes, one for if you're young and have never delivered a baby, another that's ever so slightly wider for if you haven't kept up with your kegals.

It looks like an egg cup with a tail. You can trim the tail to whatever is most comfortable for you, but I would advise waiting a few days, as you move the cup will change position. Give it a chance to find it's resting spot, and find out what you need to pull it out. Personally, I trimmed mine too short and sometimes there's a few undignified and panicked minutes of trying to get at it. (See, told you there'd be too much information)
Helpful illustrations from dismembered hands. Source.
You fold it up, insert it, and forget about it for 12 hours. When you empty it just tip the contents down the toilet, rinse the cup under the tap and repeat step one. Running it under warm water I find makes insertion more comfortable, as does remembering to relax.

Mooncups are great, once you get used to them you can't understand why they aren't used by everyone. I've even found I get less cramps using them, though your milage may vary.

If you've got this far I'm guessing you haven't clicked away in squeamish horror or run to the bathroom to vomit, have you ever considered an alternative to pads and tampons? Will you now? Or is this just really icky and you wish I'd never started typing?

Joy xx
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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Crying in Public

The phrase "Ugly Crying" is one that I understand completely: full body, crumbled face, snotty sobbing that leaves you unable to make legible sounds. But I do have a few issues with it, mostly that it implys there is a way to be attractive when crying which is an utterly absurd idea.

Jess, New Girl. via Tumblr
I cry, often and a lot. I missed that part of growing up where I was teased for being a crybaby and learnt to suppress tears. I'm aware it's odd how easily I burst into tears but it's also one of things I've just accepted, not crying would be like not freckling it's a physical response that feels completely out of my control. It's just one of those things that I do, I get emotional and I cry.

If I am upset then there's just an outpouring of fluid from my eyes, my face goes blotchy, and sometimes (rarely) I start to hiccup. It doesn't matter if I'm by myself, surrounded by friends or family, or complete strangers. Being prone to crying and unable to predict it I have found myself in awkward situations, waiting in the queue at Sainsbury's when overcome with depression- cry. In the library after a disagreeable meeting with a tutor- cry. Walking down the street on a day when my hormones have decided life isn't unpredictable enough- cry.

Possibly if those situations had been awkward enough I'd have found a way to get a lid on it, instead they taught me something else: other people don't give a shit.

If I'm around people I know then usually they make it worse by trying to talk about it, which is reasonable, usually crying is a sign that something is wrong, I understand completely that they want to help. But if you're alone in a crowded place no will give a toss. As individuals we care about the emotional well being of someone we know, as a social group crying is perfectly acceptable so long as you still get on with what you were doing. If you're in the shopping queue make sure you have your bags ready to pack and money to hand over, don't miss your stop on the bus, if in the library keep the sniffing to a minimum and carry on reading.

Seriously, we are. via Tumblr
I'm sure if I curled up in a ball, Ugly Crying in the middle of the street strangers would come up to me. But if you just keep your head up, walk on, occasionally wipe away the tears so you can see where you're going, you'll be dandy. Public displays of crying have become so commonplace in NYC that there is in fact an entire Tumblog devoted to the best places to go and cry.

I don't find crying a cathartic experience, it's more like a nosebleed, a mild annoyance that you can't really affect and is the sort of thing best dealt with by yourself- other people blustering around will just get in the way.

I would urge you, if you see someone crying in public, to treat them in the same way you would someone having a nosebleed. Offer them a tissue, ask if they're all right, leave them to get on with it. Obviously step three might alter based in their response to step two- if they're crying or bleeding because someone hit them, for example, stick around.

Do you cry a lot? Or are you more like my dad: see somebody crying, get terribly British, offer to put the kettle on and just leave until you think it's all over?

Joy xx
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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Let's Dance to Joy Division

I am glad I get on with my parents. 

I have a lot of friends who don't, seeing posts on Facebook about how difficult it is, and hearing how upset they are after finishing university and moving back in with them makes me immensely grateful that the decision to move back to Liverpool wasn't motivated entirely by absolute necessity. Which isn't to say I did have any other options, I didn't, but at least they don't turn the WiFi off when they go to bed.

So far they've been feeding me, provided me with a far more comfortable bed than any of my Glasgow landlords ever did and I have full, unfettered access to five longhaired miniature dachshunds. It's difficult to be less than ecstatic about that. There's been a few things happen that I'm a little apprehensive of, but little things that it seems silly to make a fuss of. Telling my mum I'm not hungry and ten minutes later being presented with a cheese sandwich, being asked why and told "but you'll miss X on television" when I mention I'm going for a ride on my bike after dinner, comments about what I'm wearing. Admitedly that last one was started by my sister and she's a whole different can of crazy snakes. Still, they're things I can't decide if I'm just being sensitive about becasue I'm waiting for this whole "moving back in with my parents" thing to become a disaster or if this is the kind of thing I need to nip in the bud and end right now.

Boris, our latest addition to the pack.

I don't want to seem ungrateful and risk alienating them but at the same time it would be nice to get some distance and be able to live here and not feel like a teenager. At least when I was a teenager I knew that I'd be moving out when I finished school, right now I don't know when my bank balance will justify me renting without a family discount again.

I need to think about jobs and the future and what happens next and where my life is going, but right now I'm exhausted. I've got some ideas for jobs I'd really like to do (and even an interview!) but those positions don't start until next year. In the meantime I need money and I'm in the process of sending out applications, mostly retail, hoping for some seaonal work to come up that will help to tide me over. The town my parents live in is about 9 miles outside of Liverpool city centre, by no means an uncommutable distance, but if I can find anything a little closer that will allow me to not spend two hours a day on a train that would be wonderful.

I think my dad is a little disappointed that I'm leaving university and filling out applications for coffee shops, he never went to university and comes from a generation where if you have a degree you should automatically be able to walk into at least a management position. I studied ancient history, with a focus on literature in translation, clearly not a lifestyle choice made with easy employment opportunities in mind so if I can get a job in a shop, working with nice people, I'll be happy for the time being. Something that will give me time to write, rediscover hobbies and that isn't exciting enough I'll have any hesitations about walking away from when a better offer arises.

I know I'm not the first to be in a similar situation, do any of you have any advice? 

Joy xx

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PS The title, in case you were wondering, is from this.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Glasgow Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony Bingo

The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are drawing to a close today. For the past ten days the city has been a riot of tourists, volunteers and athletes. Last weekend there was a marathon going through the streets and a flotilla sailing up the River Clyde. Tonight will be the closing ceremony and Scotland will hand over the baton to Australia who are hosting the 21st Commonwealth Games in 2018.

I still haven't been able to get over the epic party that was the Opening Ceremony- I really don't know what's going to happen tonight after that. Whilst I loved it, lots of people didn't and felt that it was just a hodge podge of Scottish cliches.

I set off yesterday to find examples in Glasgow of as many of the things that were mentioned in the Opening Ceremony "Welcome to Scotland" song as I could. Then made it into a really long video.

Highlights include: HAIRY COOS at 4.15 and a musical interlude at 9 minutes (you have been warned!)

(The original thumbnail picture of this is an awful shot where I look like junkie, I've clicked the button to change it but it doesn't seem to have taken affect yet so if I look like pixelated drunk please ignore that.)

I hope you enjoy it, and can forgive my clear lack of film skills. I sort of know what I'm doing with camera to take photographs, moving pictures are a whole different ball game...

Joy xx
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Friday, 1 August 2014

What's in my (Commonwealth Games) bag | #Glasgow2014

So I haven't been lucky enough to see any of the games live, but there are lots of people here for them and I thought I'd put together a quick post on things I think they should have in their bags...

Most importantly, the bag itself!
I've chosen this beautiful Harris Tweed and contrast leatehr rucksack by Breagha Designs, who hand craft all their bags in Glasgow. I love the simplicity of this design, how it manages to be classic and so bright at the same time. The name "Breagha" is Scots Gaelic for "Chrming, Fine, or Beautiful" which is very fitting given how stunning their whole range is. A rucksack is perfect for moving about in a city, and means you'll have your hands free to jump up and clap when your team win another medal. This one is large enough for everything you'll want to carry and features a padded laptop sleeve for if you fancy taking advange of Glasgow's free city wide WiFi.
Glasgow is an easy city to navigate, the city centre is laid out on a grid system and we have a fabulous subway system to move you around further afield. But (as any good Scout will tell you) you should always Be Prepared and to that end I recommend picking up a good map. This one by Rosemary Cunningham of illustrationetc will be perfect, the front features all the important landmarks and streets while the back provides you with more information on the sights. As well as ordering it through her Etsy shop, you can pop into The Lighthouse gallery on Mitchell Lane to peruse Rosemary's current exhibition The Glasgow Alphabet. You can also join Rosie on Saturday mornings at 11.30am for a walking tour of Glasgow (tell her Joy sent you and she'll sign your map as well!*)
*I may or may not have just made that up on the spot (disclaimer: I did, and am not responsible for artists declining to sign your maps)

It's a little difficult to sit there stuffing your face with delicious, addictive midget gems when being confronted with the spectacular physical glory of the Commonwealth athletes. (It's not just me who does that, is it?) Fortunately there is one fail safe thing we can all do to improve our health easily and that is drink more water. Highland Spring have been providing bottled water for over 30 years, they're certified organic and only use 100% recyclable BPA free packaging, meaning the water you drink is as pure as it can be. Highland Spring is avaliable from all good supermarkets, so keep a bottle in your bag and promise yourself you'll go the gym more next week.
Now I know I said that Scotland is experiencing a heatwave, and we are. But the sunshine is currently interspaced with rainy showers so just to be on the safe side you should pick up one of these Radley umbrellas that feature almost as many Scottie dogs as the opening ceremony!
Joy xx
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Friday, 25 July 2014

Best of Scotland: Bloggers | #Glasgow2014

As part of my series #Glasgow2014 celebrating what's great about Glasgow and Scotland I will today be bringing you a selection of my favourite Scottish based bloggers and why I love them. If you have any favourites I've left off be sure to leave a comment letting me know! In no particular order...

Gillian at elevatormusik

Based in Edinburgh Gillian ticks all the lifestyle blog boxes: beauty posts, days out, recipes, stunning photography. Her Edinburgh city guide posts always make me wonder why I haven't spent more time there while I've been living up here, and her Cocktail Hour series makes me want to be a proper grownup who knows about cocktails and doesn't just stop at spirit+mixer. Her recent video featuring footage from a family trip to the Scottish highlands makes me want to buy tickets and sit on trains all day.

Ayden has been strugling with blogger's block recently but is getting back into the swing of things. She works in TV as a set designer/Art Director and definitely puts in the hours, but it's great to hear about something I've never had any experiences of. In between jobs she never seems to stop, every other post is about a night out with friends, attending concerts or a new workout regieme. I don't know where she gets the energy. Ayden also has a really fun personal style, think Adventure Time wannabe, with plenty of room for colour and comfort- be still my beating heart!

Now I haven't actually given her an IQ test but I'm pretty sure Hayley is a genius. She's starting university soon and since finishing her exams seems to be trying to read every book ever written. She's read 68 so far this year according to GoodReads and many of them have featured in book review blog posts. Hayley reads everything, classics we've all heard of to SciFi I've never heard of. As well as books there's fashion, days out, beauty, how to's and tips, as well as her lovely Things That Make Me Happy series.

Claire at Bee Waits for No One
So I already said in my What to Wear post that I couldn't have done it without Claire, she tracks down the most amazing Scottish Designers that I then wish I was cool enough to pull off. With bright blue hair, nearly as many tattoos as Ayden and what I think you'd call a goth-chic-grunge look, she's not some one that my mum would pick out as being one of my fashion idols. But Claire- in true Wegie style- wears what she wants and pulls it off, that's something everyone can look up to. Besides, I can't be the only one who gets bored of clicking through blog after blog of Breton stripes and skinny jeans can I? Bee is anything but boring.

Kirsty at A Safe Mooring
Another Edinburgh dweller, Kirsty has had a shit year so far. She's lost a baby, her mum and then her appendix. So saying it was shit might be the biggest understatement of the year, and if she ever sees this I hope she won't be offended by it. She's taken some time away from blogging while all that's going on (she also works as a lawyer, so that probably takes up a none zero amount of time) she is one of the best writers I've come across. Even her shortest posts give me an emotional rise, she has boundless personality that comes through in every comma. Her sarcasm makes me snort and her sorrow makes me sob. Check her out, she's one of those people who bridge the gap of having their shit together enough to impress you while still remaining beautifully human. Oh, and she has a dog who wears knitted hats.
I can't remember if I found Kirsty through Cara or Cara through Kirsty. Whatever. They're both on the far side of that "proper grown up" life scale to me. Husbands, jobs, book club attendees. Cara has just moved to London (boo!) but she's Scottish and blogged for ages in Scotland and attending the Glasgow School of Art and she's one of my very favourite bloggers ever so I'm putting her on this list. When I get married, Cara and her husband Nye will be taking the photographs, every shot on their wedding blog is a little work of art. P&P is her personal blog where she recounts her experiences with IVF, raising twin girls, gardening. The pictures are (obviously) exquisite, she studied photography and fine art at university and it shows. Her personality of just a little too sarcastic is perfectly pitched and there's talk of a book being written, which would be excellent.

Joy xx

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

#Glasgow2014 | Accessories Edition

*Part two in my #Glasgow2014 series celebrating the marvellous host city of this years Commonwealth Games*

If you already have enough clothes (said no one ever) then that's fine because as we all know, the real way to make an outfit pop is with the accessories and Scotland has you sorted.

Bonnie Bling
Bonnie makes the most incredible laser cut acrylic jewellery, the current Mr Harpy is already drowning under hints that owning the Highland Cow brooch would make me a very happy girlfriend, but if you want to show off your Wegie pride then it would have to be the Duke of Wellington necklace commemorating the Conegate incident that took place in Glasgow earlier this year. (PS, Mum if you're reading this, Christmas is coming up and the Duke is already in the sale...)
Clockwise from top: Highland Cow, Ladybird & Bluebell, Rubber Duck, Duke of Wellington Conegate Tribute, Pair of Puffins.

I am in love with Ness clothing, their colours are unashamedly in your face and I've had to stop letting myself try their coats on because taking them off makes me want to cry. See previous post for one of the pretty dresses they do as well. This overnight bag looks perfect for a city break, the zip pocket on the side is perfect for keeping your train tickets or hotel reservation handy and it has the most amazing lining. Seriously, go and check it out.

Karen Mabon
Karen's designs make me ooo and ahhh and sigh over the lack of digits in my bank balance. When I started thinking of pieces to include in this post I realised Karen had a few designs that are perfect for celebrating Scottish design and the Commonwealth Games. These enamel jewellery pieces for instance:


Or these scarves featuring Gymnasts and Swimmers:
Isolated Heroes
This is another Glaswegian brand that I think it's fair to say are a bit out there, a lot of their stuff isn't for the shy retiring type but there are some gems in there that will appeal to everyone. Currently Scotland is experiencing a heat wave (it got up to 24ºC today!) so you won't want to be wearing anything too heavy, this silk kimono is perfect for a bit of lightweight sun protection and brightening up any outfit.

Now we can't talk Scottish accessories without mentioning Harris tweed, famous the world over you can get everything from shoes to deerstalkers made up in this fabric. The honourable mention of this post though is going to Doreen MacRae of Ten10Creations for her Saltire Tweed hip flask, just the thing to celebrate your nations medal haul with! Made on the Isle of Skye, this is a limited edition hip flask in celebration of the Commonwealth Games.


Joy xx

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What to Wear #Glasgow2014

*Part one in a series showcasing what's great about Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games*

When it comes to fashion Glasgow punches above it's weight long gone are the days where you had a choice between tartan or argyle. That said, have you seen the latest Pringle of Scotland collection? If anybody wants to buy me a present I'll take this. This post is dedicated to celebrating the wonderful variety that Scottish designers are offering, many of whom are based in Glasgow itself.

If you like standing out check out the amazing dresses offered by Chouchou, I'm particularly fond of their stunning Amalfi dress. Or this skirt by Joanne Mcgillivray is making me consider how important it really is to pay my rent on time. Surely my landlord would understand, I mean it's in the sale, it's a bargain.
Another firm favourite of mine is Obscure Couture, everything they make is a limited run of just 250 pieces each tagged with their individual number, which I think is a lovely touch. Their design ethos is "Every season we bring you new pieces to express yourself, be girlie, be fun, be sexy, be slouchy, be crazy, but always be hardcore"and I have to agree, a lot of the clothes they make are not for wall flowers. Which is fine because they're based in Glasgow and as we've already established Glasgow is not a wallflower city. For a night out I'd be torn between the Alabama Star Dress and the polka dot Bane Skirt.

If you prefer your outfits a little more traditional and less skin tight or see through can I point you towards Ness? I love Ness, I love how unashamedly bright and in your face their colour schemes are and how they use classic fabrics and shapes but always manage to make them feel fresh. I no longer allow myself to try their coats on because taking them off kept making me want to cry.

Their Gwyneth dress would be perfect for floating around in and although we are currently experiencing a beautiful heatwave it wouldn't be a bad idea to carry a showerproof jacket in case of rain. This one has such a beautiful print I think it would cheer me up to put it on even if it did mean bad weather.

Lastly, it wouldn't be a outfit post without shoes would it? Did you know that Schuh are a Scottish company? They are, they won the Scottish Fashion Awards Scottish Retailer of the Year prize last year. For running about in the city, as well as standing to cheer your favourite sports stars, you'll want flat shoes. This mint green leather loafers not only look perfect for summer dresses, they're also less than half price right now!

*This is not a sponsored post, these really are just things I like. Although I am indebted to the wonderful Claire AKA Bee for her ongoing endeavours to showcase all that's wonderful about Scottish design, and forever being so much cooler than me*

Joy xx
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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Chefchaouen - An African Amsterdam?

When locals asked where else we were planning to visit in Morocco they'd nod politely at our list Meknes, Fez, Chefchauen, Tangier 

"Chefchauen? Ahhh." 

There would be nods and knowing smiles, and then the universal hand signal of a pinched finger and thumb being raised to pursed lips as the gesturer inhales. It got old pretty quickly, especially when our insistence that we weren't visiting with the intention of getting stoned out of our eyeballs was met with sheer disbelief. At one point I was informed visiting Chefchauen and not getting high is like going to Amsterdam and not trying a spliff, what else is there to do? (My response of "the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank house" was met with blank stares.)

The attitude wasn't entirely unexplainable, Chefchauen is in the heart of the Rif Mountains and smack bang in the middle of the cannabis growing capital of North Africa. At some point one of Morocco's kings (depending on who's telling the story it was King Mohammad V, Sultan Moulay Hassen or King Moulay II) granted Chefchauen permission to grow and sell cannabis, as the Moroccan Royal family trace their ancestry directly back to the Prophet their permission is not only gilt edged but a holy law which  cannot be revoked. So although marijuana is technically illegal to grow, sell or smoke in Chefchauen saying that it is tolerated is an understatement.
The green things at the back are trees. Probably.
*Let's all bear in mind I'm not a solicitor, have no expertise in international or Moroccan law and I'm only talking about my own experiences in which I was offered weed every time I spoke to anyone and observed a cloud of fumes around every hostel in the city. If you go, get stoned, get arrested and end up in a squalid Moroccan jail on drug related offences don't come crying to me*

I've said all this because everything we read about Chefchauen mentioned cannabis stimulated the local economy, but as an afterthought. In Morocco it is not an afterthought you say "Chefchauen" and they think "stoner". Which isn't why we were visiting at all, the current Mr Harpy is asthmatic and I hardly even drink, if it had been pitched to us as a weed capital we'd have probably avoided it and missed out on a great time in the mountains.
If you think I look terrified, you'd be right, I'm clinging to the edge here.

To get there you have to take a CTM bus through the mountains, if you're prone to travel sickness you will not enjoy this journey but the destination is worth it. Everyone was  really friendly, the entire place was laid back and relaxed (gee, I wonder why?) we had some great food, went on some wonderful hikes and bought some beautiful wool jumpers. The only fly in the ointment was how the natural amphitheatre shape of the valley amplified the calls to prayer from the mosques, particularly the 4am call. It did force us out of bed while the sun was still down and let us star gaze though. Also I'm not sure how much of a problem this would be if you just picked a hostel (and there are plenty to choose from) that was not right next door to a mosque.

Rooftop rooms have the best views.

We never did get a straight answer about why the village was painted blue, perhaps to reflect how close it is to the sky or maybe symbolic of the waterfall they built it next to, in the end it doesn't really matter I'm just glad they did.

Joy xx 
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Monday, 14 July 2014

Lost Dogs and Happy Endings

I've written before about our family dogs, Lily who has had two litters of puppies (and won't be having any more!) from the first litter we kept Angel and Blossom, and from the most recent litter we kept Dita. There's been a bit of radio silence on my blog and if you follow me on Twitter you might know why, last weekend we got a terrible phone call from the owner of one of the puppies we'd sold that she had gone missing. After twelves days Hattie was reunited with her owner and I sobbed with relief when I heard she was home and safe. 

Hattie (originally introduced as Echo on this blog) had been out for a walk and vanished, that had been Thursday. Her owner, who my mum has become very good friends with since they bonded over the joys of owning Long Haired Miniature Dachshunds, was utterly distraught- she had hoped that Hattie had just caught a scent and gotten lost in the park but would be home within a day or two so although she had contacted local rescue centres and vets she had put off telephoning my mum.

Hattie had gone missing near a river and although we were sick with worry that she might have drowned, that might not have been the worst thing that could have happened to her. Hattie is a long haired miniature dachshund: adorable, bursting with personality, and very on trend at the moment. She is also a very particular colour, shaded cream. This unusual colour makes her stand out even more, especially to thieves.

Puppy farm is the expression used to describe despicable pond scum who aim to breed and sell as many puppies as they can in as short a time as possible and for as little money as possible. The dogs can be kept in cages for their entire life and if they need medical attention they are often abandoned or killed to save any awkward questions being asked. One way to cut down your initial investment when setting up a puppy farm is to steal dogs to breed from. They don't care about the dogs, they don't care about the breed, they often don't even bother to try and learn anything about the problems specific to a particular breed. Dachshunds, for example, are often carriers of gene mutation known as PRA, if a dog is a carrier of this mutated gene it can develop problems with it's eyesight and eventually go blind. If you breed two PRA carriers then the puppies have a much higher chance of being born blind, even if a dog isn't born blind it can rapidly lose it's sight at any age. (All my mums dogs are hereditary PRA clear, that means their parents weren't carriers of the gene and neither are they.)

That's Hattie looking at you.

Bitches come on heat twice a year. Theoretically they can have a litter after each time they come on heat, but having puppies is exhausting- how many women would want to get pregnant straight away after their first child is weaned?  The Kennel Club only allow breeders to register one litter per bitch a year, she must be over a year old when the first litter is registered and no litter can be registered if she is over the age of six. These rules only apply to those who want to register litters, and you can only register pedigree breeds. Puppy farms can simply sell the pups as non-KC registered, and for people looking for a family pet rather than a dog to show or breed from buying non-KC can be an easy way to save some money. There are still things you should bear in mind to make sure you aren't accidentally funding a puppy farm though, the UK Dachshund Club has a very help list HERE of what to bear in mind when considering buying a puppy.

We were terrified that Hattie might be taken to a puppy farm, but we told ourselves that it was more likely someone would see the value in her and not use her in a dog fight. Dog fights are cruel and barbaric, like puppy farms they are also illegal and so are often operated by people who don't pay much attention to the law- that is they wouldn't care about snatching a dog while it was out on a walk or not returning one they find. If you've ever met a dachshund then you'll know they might be noisy little dogs but they aren't aggressive, so they seem an odd choice for dog fights. (Those easily upset just skip this next bit) Small dogs are often used by the societal dregs to 'blood' their real fighters. They take small dogs or puppies, who are not likely to cause much damage if it does try and fight back, and they train the fighting dog to attack and kill them. Typing this has made me feel naseous, the thought of somebody deliberately destroying lives like that is awful but the idea that whole gangs of people find dogs- sometimes half starved and beaten ones- fighting to death a form of entertainment horrifies me. The thought of it happening to one of the puppies I'd stayed up through the night with to make sure they fed every two hours made my blood run cold.

Hattie and her owner live in Worcester, many miles away from where I was in Liverpool when we heard, so I couldn't go out looking for Hattie directly and had to content myself with tweeting and posting on facebook in the hopes that #HelpFindHattie might make a difference. Another resource I didn't know existed until this happened was a free to use online service that allows you to register your missing pet's details and get in contact with people across the country who can help you look. 30 dogs were registered as having gone missing just yesterday. You can register on the site and if you let them know where you live should a dog go missing in your post code area they'll send an email alert, it's a really simple thing to do that could make such a difference to someones life if you help reunite them and their pet.

What brought Hattie home was one of her owner's friends saw a man going into local shops around Worcester and telling them to take down the missing dog posters as she had been found. The friend then followed him home, called Hattie's owner to give her the address and told her what had happened. Hattie's owner first went to the police station to see if she could have some support when calling at the suspicious house, the police refused saying they would only get involved if there was proof somebody had stolen the dog. So Hattie's owner went by herself, although she spoke to the occupiers they denied any knowledge of a missing dog, and so Hattie's owner went home. The very next day however she received a call from one of the fishermen she'd befriended while searching along the river bank. They had found Hattie, alone and shivering near the car park, but very much alive. A bit too much a conincidence for me, but nothing strong enough to take to police and press charges on. The vet, whose known her since she moved to Worcester four months ago, said it was a good thing she's always been such a dominant personailty a quieter pup might have just died from shock or exposure at being away from home for nearly two weeks in who knows what circumstances.

She's lost a fair bit of weight and is very subdued following her twelve days away from home, but she is home, she's safe and touch wood there's no lasting damage that plenty of hugs and kisses won't heal. 

If you have a dog that goes missing, notify everyone you can as soon as possible. Local vets, animal rescues,, newspapers and radio stations, if they've just got lost then the more people looking the better and if they've been stolen then you can make them "too hot to handle" by publicising the fact your dog is lost on websites where people might try to resell them. If you have a praticular breed of dog reach out to the breeders in the area as they often have more contacts to help with the search.

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Unnecessary Red Dress

We were meant to be packing light, the Boy did and then ended up carrying my excess baggage. Whoops. I used everything I packed though, which is my benchmark for successful packing. When I was packing there was only one item that I put in knowing in full that I didn't need and packed anyway. The Red Dress. The (unnecessary) Red Dress.

Originally this had been bought for a Christmas do, it's long and flowy and enabled me to wear thermal leggings underneath which was a definite benefit when the temperatures were dropping to -2ºC.
The Madrasa Bou Inania in Fez

Oddly enough, I didn't need thermals in Morocco but the floaty quality meant it felt very light and airy while keeping me shielded from the harsh sun.
The Madrasa Bou Inania in Fez

I had a vision of myself floating around Casablanca in this dress, but we never made it (next time!)

Big floppy hat, long red dress and it doesn't matter if you've only had cold showers for a week you feel a million dollars.

Dress: H&M (old, similar)
Hat: H&M
Sunglasses: Primark
Joy xx
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