Animals and me …

Goosey has interrupted me noisily here and pointed out that he is a bird.  I`ve calmed him down with a Lemon Sherbert (his favourite treat) and at least it stops him chipping in for a bit.

Where was I?  Yes animals … they have always played an important place in my life.  As a small child I can remember walking along the street with my mother and stopping to pet every dog that we saw.   Mother trying to drag me away in case it carried rabies.  We had our own dogs – Rex the spaniel I can just remember.  Dan the Irish Wolfhound who scared the living daylights out of most boyfriends I brought home.  He used to travel with me on the bus when I was a girl, but refused to go upstairs so the conductor would let him ride in the luggage compartment under the stairs and let me stand on the platform beside him.  My own dog Bruce – a black  and white collie.  He was always waiting for me at the bus stop when I came home from school and would walk me back home.

My father was working away from home and came back one weekend with a brown cardboard box – a present.  My brother and I opened it eagerly and out ran a bantam  hen!  The hen, glad to be free, ran down the middle of the main road, dodging traffic with the family in hot pursuit.  We caught her.  I`ve no idea what happened to her but, knowing my mother,  I suspect she ended up in the pot!

The same fate befell our pet rabbit.  I went down the garden one day (I was a teenager by then) and saw the hutch empty.  I ran back to mother and asked what had happened to him.  `You ate him a while ago` mother replied.  `What? Ate our pet rabbit?`  Shock!  Horror!  Mother replied that my brother and I hadn`t bothered to look at him for ages and she got fed up with caring for him.  She then added tartly that she told us he was chicken and we had asked for second helpings!

We had a tortoise who committed suicide … yes I mean it.  He was put in the greenhouse in a box to hibernate.  I went in the greenhouse in the early spring to find poor tortoise hanging from his scrawny neck entangled in some bean netting that had been put on the top of his box.  A warm day must hae woken him early and he`d tried to get out of his box.

Ah – and my goldfish.  He lived in a bowl on the sideboard in the dining room (we didn`t know in those days that bowls were not the ideal environment for goldfish).  I came in there one morning to  find him floating in the bowl of stewed prunes that mother had served for dinner the night before and left on the sideboard.  Not a pretty sight and I`ve not touched stewed prunes since!

When I was first married my husband disturbed a hedgehog nest in the garden.  Mother didn`t return to them so I ended up taking them in a basket on the bus to work with me so I could feed them.  One by one they died but I did my best …

I had a cat called Benito who wouujld retrieve small fircones.  He came as one of a pair of kittens but, sadly his sister (called somewhat unfortunately Jabberwok) was run over.  I`ve never had two kittens together before – they are four times as much fun as one kitten.  What good games we played.  Ben would come in the bathroom in the morning and jump on the edge of the bath (he never fell in). He also used to enjoy chasing bubbles down the bath panel and was so surprised when they burst.

I`ve already written about my wonderful Jamie dog whose picture  is always beside my bed.  He`s been dead for many years now but his memory is always with me. 

Yours Aye.


Just to let you know that I have been busy during the time that my Blog has languished sad, forlorn, forgotten and unnourished pending the arrival of a Bluetooth keyboard and my newfound ability to touch type on my iPad.

George, Goosey and I have spent a lot of time housesitting.  Looking after some lovely properties and even lovelier pets.  Indeed we now find that we spend longer housesitting than we do at home. This does mean that we have to cram all other activities into the time we are at home – doctors and dentists  appointments and other boring things.  The garden looks sad – what is the point of planting anything when we are not here to look after it?  The lawn gets cut and the shrubs trimmed back – soon I think it may be Green Asphalt!

I`ve given quite a few demonstrations to art groups within a 70 mile radius of our home but, again, if we are housesitting this sometimes means a longer journey and so an overnight stay in bed and breakfast accommodation for me while George holds the fort.  I`ve been very fortunate with the b & bs and had some really nice accommodation.  Back in the summer I drove from Hampstead, London to Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  Booked into my overnight stay, put my feet up for a while and then drove off to the venue.  Over 50 – mainly women – crowded into a hot hall.  Chatting to each other full pelt as I began to set up my easel.  I looked round for my paints and the prepared board with the sketched subject.  Nothing!  Panic.  Surely I hadn`t left it behind.  What to do?  Sneak  out the door quickly hoping they don`t notice?  Apologise profusely and offer a refund on my fee?  Speak about art for 2 hours?  Quiet moment of reflection then I went to the car, looked in the black lined boot and found my black art case containing the missing items.  Sauntered casually back into the hall and continued to set up.  I was ready in good time for the demonstration to begin.  I said not a word!!!!!

Have you ever gently fanned a tortoise the size of a 50p piece with a piece of lettuce to check he is still alive?  George (the tortoise) spends most of his time totally immobile under his sun lamp (don`t tortoises worry about skin cancer?) and hardly ever moves.  Perhaps he cavorts around whilst we are asleep but I do worry that he`s going to still be there when his  owners return.

I am now something of an expert at giving dogs insulin injections, cats asthma inhalers with masks and dogs pills crushed in a mini pestle and mortar.

We`ve had no major incidents or traumas whilst housesitting – we`ve been doing it for seven years now so feel perhaps we have met most situations.

Goosey enjoys the gardens and was particularly pleased when one place had a heated outdoor swimming pool that we were given permission to use.

As for my own painting – again housesitting means I am relieved from nagging household duties – there is usually a cleaner.  I quickly find a spot I can call my own and set up my easel where I can paint uninterrupted.  I`ve been working mainly in pastels lately and think, if I were to express a preference, then pastels would win.  Here is the latest off the easel –

Ooooh it`s come up really big – perhaps it will size down when I post it.  If not I shall have to find out how to edit it

Goosey is curled up by my feet whilst I type.  I think the soft plink of the keyboard has lulled him into a deep sleep.  He`s getting on in years (aren`t we all?)  George is happily watching tv.  I`ve got to root around and find materials for a workshop tomorrow.

Yours aye,


GooseyAnne? A woman and her goose? Whatever next!
Has anyone read ‘Archie’s Life of Mehatibel’? The story of a cockroach living in a New York office who, when everyone went home, was writing the life of Mehatibel, the office cat. Now being a cockroach he could only type very slowly by jumping hard on each key. His one frustration was that everything was in lower case. He could not manage the shift key.
To his delight he found one evening that the typist had left the Shift Lock on and he could type in capitals!
I am like Archie. Why you may wonder… Well I’ve been using an iPad for some time now, only using my laptop for long winded stuff. I am a touch typist and find tapping the keys on the iPad, one at a time, very frustrating so my blog has been neglected. BUT (Shift Lock stuff) I’ve bought a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad. Not using it at the moment as I’m in bed and Goosey and George are watching the football in the sitting room. So I shall be able to write using my iPad and resurrect my Blog – always supposing I have any readers left!
More to come … Promise.
Yours aye,


No not giving birth! Gave all that up a long time ago.
There has been a conflict of interest between writing and painting and I’m afraid painting has won. In addition, I have treated myself to an iPad and now use this much more than my laptop but, for writing, the touch typist in me deplores the constant jabbing, one key at a time.
The above picture was painted using pastels from a photograph by Suzanne Wallick. It is called Alaina After the Bath. I hope you like it. I was fortunate enough to be nominated the winner of a three month online Pastel competition by submitting this painting as my entry.


This and a selection of my paintings and photographs are available as cards and prints on http://annesmart.redbubble.com.  Do take a look …  



The highlight of our brief visit to Canterbury was our visit to Canterbury Cathedral. We were, unfortunately, confined by the two hour time limit on parking. It was very pleasant to be allowed to take photographs inside – a practice that is discouraged in some houses of worship for the reason, I am sure, that it encourages the purchase of postcards. The medieval stained glass is wonderful and we were both overwhelmed by the simple beauty and magnificence of the building.

I have this habit of looking up wherever I am and was rewarded by the magnificence of this construction.

I have this habit of looking up wherever I am and was rewarded by the magnificence of this construction.

Medieval stained glass window
The candle marks the site of the tomb which was removed on the orders of Henry VIII.

The candle marks the site of the tomb of St Thomas `a Becket which was removed on the orders of Henry VIII.

George and I visited Canterbury on Tuesday as part of our visit to Kent.  This house is near the cathedral and there is a quotation from Charles Dickens on the lintel `… a very old house bulging out over the road … leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below …`   I figured if the house was in that state in Dickens` time it was not going to fall down any time soon!


We spent some time looking around Canterbury Cathedral – a lovely building.  George told me he used to go there quite often when he was a boy.  My last visit was in the 1950s and I remember wearing new shoes that rubbed blisters on my feet and we couldn`t find which car park where we had left the car.  The Cathedral is a magnificent building and we could have spent much longer there but were constrained by the two-hour car parking limit.


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