|Wee Jack at 7 weeks old;|
a Jack Russell Terrier and Bichon Frise mix.
For some reason, about two months ago, Stuart and I simultaneously and spontaneously decided that we needed a puppy. The thought was just in both our heads one day, "We need a puppy!", and that was that, we were getting one.
|The M6 in Cumbria and our farm shop stop.|
As I held him, he calmly looked up at me and we both knew, Jack and I, that he was right where he belonged. What drew me to Jack, other than the fact he was the cutest puppy I'd ever seen, was that he's a Jack Russell and Bichon Frise mix. I thought what a great combination--the traits of each breed would enhance the traits of the other, and I was so right. I could tell right way he was going to be a very special dog and companion.
We let his mummy say one last goodbye before packing him into his special basket and the drive back to Oxford. We drove the 250 miles in a haze of puppy, Stuart driving and me never taking my eyes off Jack.
Once we were home, it seemed to take Jack no time at all to settle in and become a part of our household and our lives. Since I'm home all day, I have the time to give the attention such a young puppy needs--which is a lot. I haven't gotten much sleep since May 17th, or done much of anything other than attend to the needs of a furry, wee babe, but it doesn't feel like work in the least bit--and now we can't imagine our lives without him.
|Jack, 8 weeks old.|
I was feeling a little bit worried.
|Here I am at the start of our walk.|
I promised to be good and stay close.
|The funny flat boat that went by is called a punt and|
I think the people on it loved the river and the trees.
|That's Christ Church College in the distance.|
|More dreaming spires.|
|Mum took this picture of me talking to my Guardian Angel|
who helped keep me safe on my first grown-up walk.
Max is retired from B&B life now and is living
with a special friend named Julie, who fell in love
with him. At 14, Max suffers from severe arthritis
and all the stairs in our house were just too much
for him. Julie formed a wonderful bond with Max
and as difficult a decision as it was to let him go, he's
now fully in her care. We miss Max every day but he's
very, very happy and pampered, and all is well...
but Max is still very much a part of our story.
Today is Max's 14th birthday and it's a good time to tell the story of how Max came into our lives. He is a little bit greyer now, than when these pictures were taken, and has a little bigger tummy from the sausage and bacon the guests sneak under the table. But then how could anyone resist those brown eyes?
Max is of one of the best dogs in the world and certainly one of the best I've ever had (apart from Cloud, Pumpkin, Rags, Maggie, Casey, Murphy, Jamie and Winnie). We call him our Target dog.
About 13 years ago, Stuart and I were on an afternoon outing to Target (a large department store), back home in the U.S. Actually, I was the one who would be doing the shopping. Stuart just looks at books and magazines. As we drove by the large grocery store next to Target, we noticed a cute, furry, black dog sitting by the front door, looking as though he was waiting patiently for his owner. We both thought, "what a good dog, sitting so obediently."
When we finished our shopping (and reading), we walked outside and the same little black dog came running up to us in the parking lot. He jumped up on us, eagerly wagging his entire body, and we could see what we hadn't noticed before. He was skin and bones, matted, very smelly and very, very desperate--both for a good meal and a home.
|I see sheep!!|
Once he was bathed (twice), brushed, and taken to the vet, we were able to see that under all the layers of dirt and shaggy coat was a beautiful mix of long-haired dachshund and Australian Shepherd. He's affectionate and loyal like a dachshund, and smart and sensitive like an Australian Shepherd. He blended into our home with our other dogs in no time and it seemed like Max had always been a part of us.
He made the 11 hour flight from Seattle to London on British Air in their lovely, climate controlled pet hold, and then spent a night at the pet holding centre at Heathrow. When he was finally reunited with us in England, he was just good old Max, happy to see us, practically licking our faces off, and as easy-going and happy as ever. It took him about a minute to adjust to life in England.....and he's never looked back.
So, if you come to stay at Holywell, I'll be the first person to greet you but Max will be a close second, making sure you feel at home. He'll never bark at you and will be so happy to see you every morning, greeting you like a long lost friend. He asks nothing in return for his friendship, except maybe a small piece of bacon.
|Always one eye open for any|
stray bacon that may come his way.
As I wait for spring to blossom and explode, and mostly to be able to be out in my garden, I've been doing indoor things like sewing, hanging new curtains, and going through boxes that were shipped over with us nearly seven years ago. Yesterday I came upon this old ad in one of the boxes, and it's how it all began for Stuart and I.
After my first trip to England back in 1994, I had to find a way to get back to Britain as often as possible, so I went to travel school and started my own little tour company called English Rose Tours. It was travel for small groups of women, seeing the Cotswolds, visiting gardens and antique shops, stately homes and castles, and having as much afternoon tea as humanly possible. Stuart was our "full-time British guide" and it most unexpectedly and magically blossomed into a full-time life with my British guide. And here we are, seventeen years later--and the story continues.
|Stuart in his early guiding days|
with his own tour company, Spires and Shires.
"A beautiful start to a life-long love letter."
Nearly eight years ago Max and I moved lock, stock, and barrel to Stuart's home town of Oxford. 2008 was the start of a new life and Holywell Bed and Breakfast, but it was eighteen years ago this summer that Stuart and I first met in Oxford. He was my handsome tour guide and within minutes of meeting him I was smitten.
Even though it took a lot of courage to start a long distance relationship, I was bringing with me a broken heart and he nearly 20 years of bachelorhood, we knew we were meant to be together and we persevered. And now, in spite of the fact that in our eighteen years together we've spent the equivalent of six years apart, and have run two small businesses together for the last seven years (without killing each other), we're still smitten, still writing our love letter.
"We that are true lovers,
run into strange capers."
~Shakespeare, 'As You Like It'
Sixteen years later.....................
He's Cornwall and I'm Devon.
|I'm the plains of South Dakota.........|
|And Stuart is of the Dreaming Spires.|
|Bats are for baseball........|
|.......but for Stuart they're for cricket.|
|Stuart's family went on holiday..........|
|.........we went on vacation.|
|The post office delivered our mail.|
|While the Royal Mail delivered |
|Stuart revised for a test.............|
|............I studied for a test.|
|And I'd rather do this...........|
|.........while Stuart does this.|
|We both laugh just as much the 20th time |
as the first time we watched this..........
|We never get tired of doing |
|.........and mostly this.|
|We're very proud of what we've created |
It's taken a lot of love and a lot of courage,
but best of all, 18 years later, we're
still headed here.
Have enough courage to trust
love one more time and
always one more time.