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Enjoying England

Enjoying England

by Clare Mansell

We are home!

Dogs and humans arrived back in the UK safely from Cyprus last Sunday night. We collected Macy & Bella from Gatwick the following morning and although the first 20 minutes – with Bella clearly very frightened – was a little traumatic for us, everything that has followed has made their few hours of air travel worthwhile.

This week, they have experienced many miles of running off the lead in the English countryside, through farms (Jim’s family’s) and across beaches (West Wittering) topped off with a warmth and friendliness from strangers that they have never really experienced. Sitting outside shops or on park benches, old ladies and children have approached them to chat and stroke their heads – a world away from the attitude of locals in Cyprus.

They also got to meet the other two family dogs who are both Border Terriers and by some miracle we actually managed to restrain them all for a photograph together with my niece and nephew.

Tomorrow they start another voyage – this time by car. Over two and a half days they will travel 12 hours up to the Scottish Highlands. This time I have no concerns about their welfare for the journey, both dogs love the car and Macy has actually been climbing into the boot this week for an afternoon doze, so I am confident they’ll get along fine. I’ll fly up and join everyone in the new house next Friday and the blog will be getting a mini overhaul and a new name….

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I do like to be beside the seaside
Thornham Marina
Beach Huts
Wooden sleepers
Along the promenadeWest Wittering

I love beaches, but given the choice between the sunbaked Mediterranean or the slightly cold windy British coastline, I would opt for the latter (almost) every time.

It’s probably partly to do with the tendency to romaticise a place that you are far away from, but it’s also a lot to do with the colours of the English seaside and the very British freedom to walk dogs on the coast.

Will the beaches in Scotland be like this? I do hope so.

One thing is for sure, 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year… Hope you can join us for the journey.

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Homemade Christmas

Homemade Christmas

by Clare Mansell
Christmas quilts
Little zipper bags
Christmas Blurb books
Moo mosaic frames

With all my family finally gathered together for new year, last night we had a chance to exchange our (mostly) handmade Christmas gifts. As Christmas drew closer there had been a lot of talking down of people’s efforts and a lot of “don’t expect too much” being said.

In the end the presents we exchanged were surprising and delighting. My niece and nephew were unexpectedly pleased with the quilts I made them (see top photo) despite the fact they were extremely low-tech gifts for an 8 and 9 year-old. My sister fired up a previously dormant sewing machine and made some brilliant zipped pouches (apparently she sewed 15 in the end when she got the hang of it!) lots of Blurb books were exchanged, I produced some great family calendars through photobox, my mum made aprons for my sister and I, and I framed some Moo mini cards. Despite the stresses of deadlines, temperamental sewing machines and shortages of supplies, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the experience and I personally couldn’t be more delighted with what I received.

I have been in the UK for the past week, where it has been mainly damp and dreary. I had forgotten how short the days can be at this time of year and how dark the mornings are. Apparently the sun is due to shine tomorrow, so maybe there will a chance to capture some photos of the English countryside before I head back to Cyprus on Wednesday for our final four months…

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Last week in the UK…

Last week in the UK…

by Clare Mansell

The last four weeks in the UK have flown by, and tomorrow it is time to return to Cyprus. Apparently the weather has cooled down slightly, I’m rather counting on it!

When I return to the Med I will miss amongst other things, birdsong, grass, trees, rolling hills, rain, changeable weather, the smell of autumn in the air, seaweed, greenery, long off-lead dog walks, mud, jeans and English pubs.

England is not perfect, but there are many subtle wonderful things about it that you take for granted until you leave it, and I am learning to appreciate them more every time I come home.

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This week
230/365 - 18 August 2010
232/365 - 20 August 2010

Whilst I’ve been enjoying overcast skies and cooler temperatures in the UK this week, Jim is back in Cyprus where despite reaching the (alleged) mid-August cool off point, it has apparently still been stiflingly hot.

Bella our beagle was spayed yesterday, and I don’t envy her being the one recovering for an operation in the humidity. There’s small consolation in the fact that this should be the dogs last summer in Cyprus. We are due posting next July and have a few tricks up our sleeve that mean the dogs at least, should get an early release.

Meanwhile it’s another two weeks before I’m allowed to fly back to Cyprus, but my recovery is going well. I’ve had a remarkable lack of pain and the worst aspects have been not being able to shower properly and being restricted to sleeping on my back. Small prices to pay.

It’s been an interesting week to jump on the 365 band wagon. I missed the start of the year, so instead I’m documenting 2010 from my 34th birthday onwards. My mother has kept a 5 year diary for twenty five years, so this will be my modern interpretation…. and of course it will provide lots of photo fodder for this blog.

PS – By the way, that’s my birthday cake in the photo above. You are NEVER too old for jelly babies.

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