What a weekend!

Clearly the wordpress app on my phone doesn’t work. I attempted to write a quick post while I was away last weekend but it didn’t work. I can’t remember exactly what that post was supposed to say, so I’ll just write about the great weekend we had instead.

My family went to Donegal town (which is only about 90 minutes from where we live) to stay for the weekend. Friday was my nephew’s first birthday, and it turned out we had a lot to celebrate. I’d been very busy with work all week, but made sure to take Sibyl for a long walk and a couple of runs in the good weather. She went to a new groomer on Thursday, and she came back feeling and smelling lovely. The groomer insisted on doing the job free, which was really nice of her.
We had a relaxing weekend walking, eating and playing lots of board games because there weren’t many channels on the television which was great. I wish we had weekends like this more often. One of my nephews missed a lot of the weekend because he was playing football in a friendship cup, and he played really well.

The main reason why we stayed only 90 minutes from our home for the weekend was that we were all attending an award ceremony last Saturday evening. I was nominated in February for a ten outstanding young person (TOYP) award from Junior Chamber International (JCI) which is ultimately a world-wide event. I attended the awards ceremony in Donegal at the end of March, and it was a fantastic night. Everyone was so nice, and all the speakers were so humble. Three weeks ago I got an email to tell me that I was chosen as one of the three award winners from Donegal, and one of ten overall winners to be awarded at the ceremony organised by JCI Ireland in Harvey’s point. The hotel is located three minutes drive from the house I rented for my family, and we cecided to make the most of the opportunity.

After a nice walk and lunch, I met the other JCI members at the hotel where we drove to a mountain called Sleeve League for a bit of a climb. Only three of the winners were able to attend. I was nervous because I didn’t really know anybody, but everyone was so welcoming and friendly, and helped Sibyl and myself to climb part of the mountain, before it rained and we were all absolutely soaked! We came back to the hotel like a bus load of drowned rats. We had an hour and a half to get ready, and my sister was her usual brilliant self at helping with this!

The award ceremony was so enjoyable, with inspiring speeches, amazing food, great company and lots and lots of fun. It was hosted by John Loughton, who was perfect for the job. He’s also very inspiring, and definitely worth listening to if you have a chance to hear his Tedx talk online. Each awardee had a different reason to be nominated, whether it was for business, humanitarian work, or personal accomplishment like mine was. They were all very inspiring,, and whoever is chosen to represent Ireland in Amsterdam will be a worthy choice.

Sibyl behaved like an absolute superstar during the whole event. and so many people were commenting on how good she was. Even I was surprised! Do you ever have one of those times when your guide dog just does it’s job to perfection? They don’t happen often here, but that was one of those days. Even after climbing part of a hill, she was still determined to make me proud!

I was genuinely so surprised to be nominated for an award like this, never mind win an Ireland one. Two friends who I don’t see very often took the time to nominate me, which I really appreciate, even though awards like this terrify me and I was so nervous all week. I just do what I do, and I don’t think it’s anything special or unique. I feel like I got an award for doing nothing! Just being myself. And that’s not hard. But it was really such a special day that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Here’s my unplanned and very nervous speech from Saturday, which was filmed by JCI. The other speeches are on their website too.


A challenging week!

I can’t believe it’s this time already. It’s 17th February. My birthday is tomorrow. I’ve done 29 new things since last year that I’ve never done before, which was something I challenged myself to do in February 2016. I have one day left and one challenge to do. If the weather cooperates (which it doesn’t always do in Ireland) I’ll be finishing off my 30 challenges by doing something scary but exciting on my birthday. Here’s hoping!
When I finish the birthday celebrations I’ll put up the full list of things I’ve done. In the meantime, I wanted to write about a few of them that I did this week because they were worth describing in a bit more detail.

Last Monday afternoon I went on a motorbike with my uncle. I’d been on a small one in Thailand before, but this time I was more prepared. I had the trousers, the coat and the helmet. My uncle is a retired guard, so I knew I’d be safe. I wasn’t nervous, but my aunt was, and apparently she didn’t sit still until I came back. The bike shook a small bit as it took off, but when it got going I loved it! We drove for almost half an hour. I had no real concept of where I was until I smelled slurry at one part of the journey and that was a good clue. It was a windy day, but the protective clothes kept the wind out. It’s a great feeling driving along in the open air with the wind blowing around you, holding on tight but also knowing you are safe. If you didn’t feel relaxed, you probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy it.
I can definitely recommend riding a motorbike sometime in your life if you haven’t done it already.

Challenge 28 happened two days later. For many peple, especially my six and nine-year-old nephews, this was a dream come true! I spent an hour working in Munchies, which is a local sweet shop which my friends own. I prepared bags of mixed sweets, where I was able to choose from around twelve different types of jellies and yummy fizzy things which are bad for your teeth. I attempted to put stickers on bags which advertise the shop, but we soon realised that this was not a good idea. I’m hopeless at keeping things straight, so it gave us a good laugh. I was quickly moved on to restocking jars of jellies instead. Cheryl also gave me the chance to serve the children who came in after school. I had to use the till and make sure I gave them the proper money back! I knew lots of the people who came in, and they were surprised to see me behind the counter with an apron and gloves on. I’m usually there to buy things instead. Nobody was more surprised than my two nephews. I had asked their dad to bring them in after school without telling him why. They were very jealous and very excited, and we took some photos as they bought their chocolate bars.

Working in a shop was a brilliant experience that a blind person wouldn’t usually get the chance to do. I had the opportunity to be involved in everything, even working the till, and even the customers were very encouraging. It was definitely the most enjoyable Wednesday afternoon Ive had in a long while.
And yes of course, I did get to taste a few nice things while I was there 😀

Challenge 29 was one that was on my original list, and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time out of curiosity. After dinner with my parents and family, my cousin Evan and a few more family members came to visit. I got the shaver out and shaved his head! I was a bit afraid at first, and felt a bit guilty as soon as I felt the first clump of hair fall into my hand. But there was no going back! I gave him a number 3, so I didn’t completely bald him. Wasn’t that nice of me? His brother helped guide my hand and show me what way to move it. I also made sure that he tidied up the cut in the end, because if he’d left it he might have gotten some funny looks for a while.
It was fun doing something that you should really not do when you are blind. I don’t think I’ll have a career as a hairdresser any time soon though!

This was a good week!

There are a few reasons why the last week has been really good.
I love trying new things, and I got to do a couple of them this week, which were unplanned, not part of the 30 challenges, but still good fun!

My two younger nephews were off school last week so I told them I’d make them lunch and take them to the cinema. My PA drove us to Derry and left us off there. The road where the bus lets people off would be too dangerous to bring a dog and two small boys. They were so excited that Sibyl was coming too, even though they’ve been to the cinema with her before. We went to see the Jungle Book, mostly because I wanted to see it myself, if I’m honest. Anything with animals, and especially the fact that I knew the story so well made it seem like a good choice. We got treats and drinks and sat down to watch it in 3D. A man who worked in the cinema came over to ask if I wanted earphones for the audio description. I’ve never used it in the cinema before, and didn’t actually know that the Moviebowl cinema had it, as it’s not very well advertised. I was glad of it because the film was so visual. I was able to adjust the volume separately in both ears so that I could hear the boys to my right and hear the film louder in my left ear. Every ten minutes one of them would say, ‘what’s she saying now? What’s she telling you now?’ It was very funny. I must remember to ask for them next time I go, although every film is not audio described. If I didn’t have Sibyl with me, they probably wouldn’t have noticed that I was blind and wouldn’t have offered them.

The weather has been lovely, so I’ve been doing lots of walking and Sibyl has been doing lots of free running. Tuesday morning was really warm, and when I went to yoga, the teacher (who is my aunt) told us that she was doing the class outside. It was really strange for the first few minutes, being on the grass, listening to the birds and the sea. Most of the things we did felt different, but it was really enjoyable. We actually had to go inside for the last 15 minutes because it was so warm.

In between the walks and enjoying the good weather, I’ve been busy transcribing. I get nothing for a while and then everything comes at once. I could have a potentially big project coming up soon, so hopefully it will all work out, and I’ll be very happy.

The best part of the week was my new nephew being born yesterday morning. Everything went well, and he’s a gorgeous healthy little boy, with three big brothers to look after him. I’m looking forward to getting lots of cuddles in the next few days, especially when he comes home.

A Very Special 30th Birthday!

I was 30 last Thursday. I had decided a long time ago that I wanted to do something different for my 30th birthday. I didn’t want a party or presents, but my family love celebrating birthdays, so I knew it wouldn’t be that easy! I also wanted to spend time with them, so it seemed like an obvious thing to celebrate for guide dogs.
I came up with the idea of having a coffee morning in my uncle’s bar. People could come and spend time together, relax, have some food, and donate a small amount of money to Irish guide dogs. I literally came up with the idea, created a Facebook event, told a few people, and put ten posters around the town. Everybody else did everything, and it was such a special day.

I woke up early and was entertained by my best friends sending me messages on our what’sapp group. They sent youtube videos of happy birthday songs; one sung in harmony, one barked by dogs, and one called ‘happy birthday Jenny!’
Some of us had spent the previous afternoon having lunch together with Sibyl and a couple of their small children. One friend drove to the cafe (a 20 minute drive) without even telling me where I was going! Only because she knew she would get away with it because I can’t see. Another friend baked me a cake! They are so generous and always want to have fun. I’m very lucky!

Unfortunately Nicky had to go back home that morning, and was unable to be there for the day. My brother-in-law also couldn’t be there. I really missed them both, and thought about them a lot during the day. They would have enjoyed it. Unfortunate things happen, and there was nothing anybody could do. It was too late to cancel anything, and the day just had to go on.

My sister came to do my make-up and brought me to the bar, where people had been busy organising and decorating all morning. They even had napkins with labradors on them! People had made granola, scones, buns, bread and another birthday cake! They decided that a breakfast/coffee morning would be a little bit different rather than the usual sandwiches and lots of sweet buns. People seemed to like the idea too, because during the next 4 hours, probably 200 people came through the pub doors, right from the minute they opened at 10:30. People made such an effort to be there. People that I hardly know. People that I wasn’t expecting. People who went out of their way. Two other guide dog owners came. Everybody donated so generously, and I spent the day feeling so overwhelmed and happy at how supportive people in our town are. My family did so much. My nephews all helped to make it very special. One worked hard behind the bar, while the younger boys made sure that all the children who came were fed, as well as keeping me up to date with anything they felt that I needed to know. O.J was there too of course. Himself and Sibyl had sniffing competitions where they lay, but they behaved really well, and everybody enjoyed petting them.

I received some lovely presents, even though I wasn’t expecting any. Some people even gave me hand-made cards. Everything was so thoughtful. My phone never stopped all day. I was exhausted from talking when we left the bar after 3 PM. We visited my Godmother, who gave me a present, and another homemade cake! That’s three cakes in 24 hours! All very different, but equally Yummy! My brother and his girlfriend made a lovely curry, which we all enjoyed before sitting down to read cards and count the money. There’s still donations coming in, but my birthday raised over 1,600 euros so far. That’s an incredible amount of money!

These are a few of my favourite things…

Happy new year! Let’s hope 2016 is a healthy and happy one for everybody.

Thankfully I had another lovely Christmas, spent with family, friends and dogs. I celebrated a friend’s birthday, went to an engagement party, had a couple of nice meals out with Nicky, cooked very little (which is always a bonus!) and enjoyed some lovely dinners with my family. I think Sibyl enjoyed her first Donegal Christmas. We stayed in my sister’s house on Christmas eve, and my parent’s house on Christmas night, and she loved the change of scenery. The three dogs spent lots of time together, and we all had a couple of nice walks together in between the showers of rain.

As usual, I got lovely presents for Christmas, far too much to be honest. There was no need for half of it, but people were so generous and thoughtful with the useful things they chose for me. Sometimes you get one or two presents that you really won’t use, but I rarely do. New clothes, a clock for my kitchen (I have no clocks in my house), vouchers for cool discs, heating oil and River Island (talk about a random collection!) and money were all brilliant presents. I did get three others that I was really excited about:

Nicky gave me a digital radio for my room. I have very bad reception upstairs, so tend to listen to a lot of radio on my phone. I don’t like doing this because I’m constantly charging it, and I hate using mobiles any more than I have to.

I got an early 30th birthday present of Hunter wellies from my parents. My birthday isn’t until February, but they thought I might as well use them now during the wet weather. I can walk the dog around the muddy park and still look cool! I’ve also discovered that I can get the overpriced socks much cheaper in the children’s section of shops. Having small feet is great!

My new favourite toy at the minute is something I got for Christmas that I’ve wanted for the last year. I got the
which is the coolest juicer/smoothy maker ever! I like eating well, especially fruit and veg, but sometimes find it hard to eat enough fruit, and use it up when i buy it since I live on my own. The idea of a big bulky kitchen appliance that’s difficult to clean put me off getting one, until I saw my brother in law’s Nutribullet. The ninja is the same thing. It’s small, and everything is blended into one cup that you can actually drink out of if you want, so there’s not much to clean at all. It’s safe and easy to use, and from a blind person’s perspective, this is great. They are expensive, but definitely worth the extra money for this reason. I’ve only made two smoothies for breakfast yesterday and today, but already I absolutely love this thing! It’s going to get lots of use in my house.

Holiday Mode

I intended writing about the gig in Dublin a couple of weeks ago, and the lovely time I had there with my cousin. Now it’s almost new year already!
I enjoyed the lead-up to Christmas, being finished work early and having time to buy presents and relax. My brother and two cousins came home for Christmas, and we didn’t think they’d be here, so that made it even better.

I stayed in my sister’s house on Christmas eve and enjoyed watching the boys getting their presents from Santa when they got up on Christmas morning. Lots of people my age think Christmas is boring, but I’m lucky enough to have children around to make it exciting. After the traditional breakfast in my sister’s, we went visiting as usual. My aunt made dinner for twelve people, and we all stayed in her house. Dougal went to stay in kennels for a few days so that things would be easier for him. He doesn’t like crowds of people, and can sometimes snap when he is stressed, so although it was strange not having him around, I only had O.J to think about, and it was much more relaxing. I got lots of nice presents, mostly clothes and perfume which is always good.

On boxing day morning I took O.J for a short walk with my parents. In the afternoon I met up with my five best friends for a lovely couple of hours. The next time we’ll all be together will be next Easter, when two of the girls will have had babies. I can’t imagine that at all, but it’s very exciting. Nicky came up that evening, and we’ve just spent the last couple of days relaxing.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Asian tsunami which myself and my family were caught up in. We were in Thailand at the time, and are very lucky to still all be here. I kept thinking about it lots on Friday. It was nice to be able to spend the day with family and friends. Things could have been so different if we’d been where we had originally planned to be that morning. Even ten years later, that still freaks me out a bit. I’ve done so much since then, and without sounding totally morbid or corny, I’m very lucky to have had the chance.

Want a laugh?

I’ve often written about the funny conversations I’ve had with children in schools and when I’m out and about with O J. I’ve worked in a couple of primary schools recently, where some very entertaining conversations took place. Here’s an idea of how they went.

Teachers spend a lot of time teaching children the rules of the road and how to stay safe, and it obviously pays off, because they are obsessed with how on earth a blind person can possibly cross a road. They sometimes seem disappointed when I tell them that it’s me, not my guide dog who decides when it’s safe to cross. How can a blind person possibly know when it’s safe, sure they can’t see?

Before handing children their names in Braille, I asked them if they knew who invented it. A boy put up his hand enthusiastically and asked,
“Was it Jesus?”
Trying to hold in the laughter I told him that it wasn’t, and then his classmate wanted to know,
“Was it God then?”
The real answer, Louis Braille seemed boring when I told them.

In a class of almost 60 children, I explained how technology helps me to do everyday things, just like they can. I told them that my phone talks, so I can make phone calls, read and send text messages and go on the internet. A small seven year old boy gasped when I said this. And by gasped, I mean this kid was in complete shock! I turned up voiceover on the phone, slowed it down so that they could understand it, and showed them how I write a text message. When I’d done this, the boy put up his hand again and said,
“You know when you said your phone talked? I thought you meant that it had a mouth!”
No wonder the poor kid was in shock, trying to imagine what a phone with a mouth would look like.

I have a talking colour detector which I often pass around the classroom to let children have a go. Basically you put it up against something, press a button and it tells you what colour it is. I explain that I might want to use it if I have two tops that are the same but different colours, or if I want to make sure I’m not wearing too odd socks. One girl was worried that the colour detector might let me down.
“If you put it on your sock and it said black. Then you put it on the other sock and it said black, but maybe another part of the sock was white, the part that the colour detector didn’t touch, you’d still be wearing two odd socks!”
I was exhausted. These kids think of everything.

We went for dinner yesterday evening for my mum’s birthday. I was trying to keep my 3 year old nephew Harry entertained on my knee, convincing him that playing hide and seek around the room really wasn’t a good idea. Firstly, I told him that it’s not allowed, and anyway, if we could play, how would I know where to find him because I don’t know my way around. He’s an intelligent kid and I love challenging him and making him think. His answers make it worthwhile.
“Oh yeah, if you had Dougal and O J with you we could play, because they would sniff and find me.”
I doubt Dougal would be much help, but I agreed. After that he asked me,
“When are you ever going to learn to see?”

The answer is never Harry, but I’m not sure I would even want too. If I could see, all these funny conversations would never happen, and I love them.

Thailand: A Holiday of a Lifetime!

On the morning of Friday 10th February, my parents, sister, brother in law, their three kids and I traveled to Bangkok in Thailand via Abudabi. It was a long journey, but didn’t go half as bad as I’d expected. Etihad airways were fantastic with the boys, (aged 20 months, 4, and 13 years.) They had lots of films and entertainment on the plane, and the airhostesses often brought them food drinks and games. There was lots of music to choose from too, and I was delighted to find a Paul Simon and JJ Cale album that I hadn’t heard before.

We arrived in Bangkok at 7 A.M on Saturday morning, 12 A.M Irish time. We met my brother there and everybody was very excited to see him. His girlfriend is from Thailand and she had already gone to Coh Samui ahead of us. The flight there took an hour. Coh Samui airport is mostly outside, so it’s a really relaxing place to be, especially in 30 degree heat. We were brought to our villa where we were spending the next week. It was gorgeous, and had everything we needed, including very helpful staff who showed us around the area and made a lovely breakfast for us every morning.

We spent the week relaxing at the pool or on the beach, playing with the kids and exploring the Island. There’s so much to do and see, you’d never get bored. Its probably the nicest place I’ve ever been to. The food in Thailand is fantastic, so much choice and everything is so tasty. We went elephant trekking, held a baby tiger and cuddled monkeys. The boys swam in a waterfall and went to a shooting range. We had massages on the beach and went to an amazing spa. Our modes of transport for the week were a pickup (that the ten of us often pild into) and three motorbikes. My brother even let me drive one a bit on our last day. Thai people are careful drivers, but they don’t use seatbelts or car seats for babies or anything.

On Saturday (which was my 26th birthday) we were woken up to a huge thunderstorm. Its just as well we were leaving Coh Samui and traveling back to Bangkok because heavy rain was forecast for the next few days. When we arrived in the capital, I went to my brother’s girlfriend’s favourite hairdresser to get my hair cut. He had no English so I was a bit nervous but it turned out good. Sixteen of us went for dinner in an amazing restaurant called the Greyhound to celebrate my birthday. I got three dresses from everybody, and had a lovely evening. Afterwards we went across the road to a place called After You, which only sold cakes for dessert. I’ve never tasted anything so nice in my life. My brother had it planned because he knew I would be in heaven, and it was amazing!

We were staying in a hotel for the next few days which was more like apartments than hotel rooms. There was lots of space and I had a room to myself, even though sharing with my nephews for the previous week was fine. We ate more lovely food and shopped. Visiting the markets in Bangkok is an experience in itself, so we went to the Chatuchak and Patpong night market. We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked but it was still great to see them again and buy some presents.

Thailand, and bangkok in particular is a fascinateing place for a blind person to visit. There is so much to take in, it would make your head spin. It’s almost impossible to get around because the footpaths are so bad. People with disabilities don’t have a great quality of life unless they have money. Service dogs are trained there but we didn’t see any. Again that depends on money as well. Blind people work in massage parlers if they are lucky enough to have jobs. People are attempting to change laws for people with disabilities in the country, but this is a slow process. Its something I want to find out more about, an definitely wouldn’t rule out a visit there again in the next few years for that reason. Saying all that, the attitudes of the people I met were fantastic and they couldn’t have been more helpful, letting me touch things, showing me where things were, talking directly to me and getting me a seat when we were in shops.

We came back to Ireland last Wednesday morning. Both dogs were very excited to see me. I know they were looked after brilliantly so it was great. I’ve been sick since we got home with some kind of bug, but got lovely flowers and perfume for my birthday from Nicky, who looked after me well and tried to make me feel better over the weekend.

Being in Thailand again with my family was brilliant. It was great to spend time with my brother, and to let the children experience something that many other kids couldn’t even imagine. They have seen cultural differences and experienced things that will teach them lots, but more importantly, they loved every minute of it.

I was in Thailand in 2004 when the tsunami happened, and although most of the holiday then was amazing, the disaster overshadowed most of it. It was nice to be reminded of how beautiful and brilliant the country is, how nice the people are and why they call it the land of the smiles.

Holiday preparations

In my first post of 2012, I think I briefly mentioned that I’m going on holiday with my family in February. We’re all going to Thailand to meet my brother and his girlfriend, and to celebrate his 30th birthday since he won’t be home for it. It was all very unexpected and unplanned. To cut a long story short, its a chance to spend quality family time together, which we don’t often get to do, and lifes too short not to. We just happen to be going somewhere amazing and warm to do it!

Dog owners will understand when I say its not always straightforward to go on holiday and leave the dog. Putting a guide dog in kennels is an option for some people but not for me. Apart from at the vet, when he was probably too sick to care, O J hasn’t been in kennels since I began training with him in Cork almost four and a half years ago. He has a passport but I’d never even consider bringing him to Thailand as its too long of a flight, it would be too hot for him and I don’t want him getting any Asian animal diseases! Anyway, I’ll have three nephews to keep me busy!
I’ve never found a suitable place to leave O J when I’m on holiday. The place I used to leave him was fine. He was kept with Dougal inside and walked regularly, but he was fed too regularly too, which really annoyed me. The people were so good to him and felt that he should be spoilled when I was away, not really realising how that could affect his work when I got home.
The guide dog organisation in the UK has boarders who volunteer to look after guide dogs. They know what to do and what not, and its a fantastic idea if you ask me. I would love to be a dog boarder if they ever did something like that here.
No such thing exists here, and all the dog lovers I know already have dogs of their own and couldn’t watch O J, even though they’d love to.
I found a good solution that I’m very happy with. My aunt has agreed to watch O J in her house, and walk him the days she isn’t working. My cousin is using my house to study and she will keep O J company there when my aunt is working. That way he gets the best of both worlds, walked and company every day, but he gets to spend a bit of time in our house as well. Hopefully the fact that I’m not there every time he goes home won’t confuse him too much. He knows my aunt and she knows how we work together. My cousin is willing to learn. At least I’ll be able to text them if I want to know how he is behaving himself.

So one dog’s sorted, what about the other?
Dougal will have to go to kennels, but he’s very independent and not really bothered about people so I think it suits him fine. I’ve looked at a few and while they all had pros and cons, I’m going with one I visited today that the dog groomer recommended. The family are respected animal people, and the kennel owners are successful show dog participants. They run a small kennel in a quiet area, and although the actual main kennel building didn’t smell the nicest, the kennels themselves were spotless. She feeds her dogs what I feed Dougal so I don’t have to bring food, making them the best value kennels that I’ve found.

So as you can see, I’m very fussy about my dogs! Hopefully they will enjoy their holiday as much as I will enjoy mine, providing the waves stay small of course 😀

A happy Christmas indeed!

One more sleep to go until the big man with the beard comes down the chimney. Oh know, he won’t get down my chimney, what am I going to do? 🙂

I got my holidays from work on Wednesday and they got off to a great start when the boss randomly let me go home 3 hours early. The evening was made even better when
won Glor Tire 2011! I watched it with my very excited mum, sister and a family friend, and it was great fun. I’m not just saying it because I know him, but he was definitely the deserving winner. Hopefully lots of good things will come out of this for him, and he deserves them all. The first good thing is that at least we know we’ve one good singer among us for my aunt’s new year’s eve party!

I spent yesterday wrapping presents and tidying my house. I went to my Granny’s grave with my mum, which is still a difficult thing to do. We will miss her so much this Christmas, but I know she will want us all to enjoy it, and will be happy to know that our family have great things to look forward to in the new year. She was somebody who always encouraged us to make the most of life and do whatever made us happy. That’s something I try to do anyway, but will do it even more now, with her in mind of course.

My parents, cousins and a friend came to visit last night and for a couple of hours the house was busy. Someone left the door to the spare room opened, and when we were all distracted OJ crept in. I found him with his head stuck in the bag of his new dog food! Obviously the food change is going well and he likes it.
My house presents are all becoming very festive now. The place is looking very Christmasy. Its still sometimes hard to believe that I actually live here. I’m looking forward to showing some people the house for the first time over the holidays.

I’ll be spending today and tomorrow with family and friends, doing last minute present and food shopping, and hopefully walking both dogs on the beach because its been so long since I’ve done that.

I want to wish everybody who reads here a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Thanks for all your comments and help with random questions I’ve asked during the year. You’ve all made keeping a blog still feel like a worthwhile thing to do. So from me and OJ, have the best Christmas ever!