So, we were attacked by a swarm of wasps.

article-0-1B127F1A000005DC-383_634x440This weekend a very terrifying and surreal thing happened.

I was visiting my friend who lives in a beautiful place in the countryside called New Mills in Derbyshire and we decided to make the most of the sunshine and take the kids and my dog for a walk in a nearby meadow known locally as ‘The Picker’.

This is a walk that she has done many, many times with her own children.

She had her three children with her who are 11, 7 and 5 and I had my two who are 10 and 8.

We were all spaced out, the boys were running about together a little behind us,  we were wandering and chatting idly and the girls were happy a bit ahead of us. We were very much enjoying the freedom that an open meadow can give you when suddenly I heard my son scream.

It was ‘THE’ scream, the one you know without turning around means something is very, very wrong.

I ran towards him to find out what was going on and saw that he was stood basically batting at himself and screaming, as I got nearer to him I saw why. He was covered in wasps.

Sheer panic set in and I ran to him and grabbed him and pulled him away from what I assume was the nest and tried to get them off him but by this point they swarmed and there were just thousands of them flying all around us, attacking us, landing on us and stinging us continually, and they were not going to give up. We did the only thing that we could and just ran for our lives.

I was half carrying, half dragging my son, my daughter and my friend’s daughter were to the side of me screaming and running and ripping clothes off because they had got caught inside them and were just stinging them relentlessly.

My friend had been running with her two younger children and her young daughter stopped running, she turned and saw that was stood with her arms over her face and was being swarmed. My friend had no choice obviously but to go back into the swarm and go and get her. My friend by doing this suffered the most amount of stings. We stopped counting them at 50 odd.

They continued to swarm, chase and attack us as we ran and this was not over quickly. It was nightmare of running, panicking not knowing when or if this was going to end and at what point any of us or the kids would be stung enough for it to have some real bad effect on us. It took over 10 minutes to get out of the meadow, still being stung by ones that had continued to chase and any that were still on us or trapped in our clothing.

It is by amazing luck that non of us turned out to be allergic to them because the length of time it took us to get out of the meadow  and the sheer number of stings we all had would have been disastrous.

There was a point where the ground got very muddy and wet and I basically went face first into a huge, and I mean huge muddy puddle and struggled to get out of it. I heard my son giggle slightly and that grounded me because I knew then that despite what we had gone through and were still going through that he was ok.

It was only once we were out and that my son started to scream again, I of course immediately thought they were back but he was shouting the dog’s name, at some point I must have simply let him go. I don’t remember letting go of the lead in the panic but he was gone. The kids immediately went hysterical again. Jack is a sight hound so alone in a meadow full of things that moved I knew that he would not have followed us and to be honest, dog lover or not nothing would have got me back in there so we just started to shout him.

I did hear him bark so we carried on calling out to him and we heard a woman shouting ‘Hello?’ and after she followed our voices until she appeared with the dog who had run back the way we had originally came.

We went straight to the doctors, it was only really at the point of getting out of the situation that my friend and I started to feel our wasp sting pain and with so many to go at once one batch had died down on one area of our bodies another batch would start to sting, god only knows how the kids must have been feeling but they were all so, so brave it was untrue.

We were checked over and nobody was showing signs of any bad reactions to armed with anti histamines, pain relief (and alcohol for later for the adults once the kids were in bed for our ordeal!) we headed home.

I can honestly say it was probably the most terrifying and surreal experience that I have known and not something that I ever, ever expected to happen to us.

All I can say is if you are walking in meadows please be watchful of where you or your children walk at this time of the year. As for us, we will be giving them a wide berth from hereon in!

(image courtesy of Google as I promise you I never want to see another wasp for as long as I live and will not be going out of my way to photograph them!!)

 

Conversations with my pets – Jack, get off the table.

'Um... Jack, what exactly are you doing?

‘Um… Jack, what exactly are you doing?
‘Oh you can see me? I didn’t think you could see me’
‘Well you are right in front of the window stood on the table, why are you stood on the outside table exactly?’
‘Um…’
‘Is it because you could not actually SEE me for more than 3 and a half seconds?
‘No, I just thought I would see what the view was like from up here’
‘It’s because you couldn’t see me for more than three seconds isn’t it, you decided to climb on the table so you could look in the window didn’t you?’
‘OK… Maybe I just wanted to check you were there’

Ok, OK I've opened the door, you can come back in now' 'No, no I'm good I think I will just stay here and carry on looking through the window, good view from here' 'You can't get off the table can you Jack?' 'No, no I can not'

Ok, OK I’ve opened the door, you can come back in now’
‘No, no I’m good I think I will just stay here and carry on looking through the window, good view from here’
‘You can’t get off the table can you Jack?’
‘No, no I can not’

'Was quite funny before when I got stuck on the table though wasn't it?' 'No I had to bloody carry you off it like a baby and almost got a hernia you big stoopid dog' 'That was the best bit' 'Shut up Jack'

‘Was quite funny before when I got stuck on the table though wasn’t it?’
‘No I had to bloody carry you off it like a baby and almost got a hernia you big stoopid dog’
‘That was the best bit’
‘Shut up now Jack’

It’s all systems go!

When I moved here two years ago I just ‘did it’. I packed my job in and I moved 60 odd miles to a sleepy seaside town to live five minutes from the sea.

DSC_0004smI always had the intention to move back if the children were not happy, but they were and still are extremely happy to be here.

They are thriving in school, have secure and healthy friendship groups as do I and the place where we live is beautiful and soothing and returned to me my inner creative who I had let go of years earlier.

The only thing that was ever a problem was the lack of work. It is so bad around here that unless you are a care worker or a retail worker it is practically impossible to get a job. Both of those areas require shift /evening work which as a single mum of two young children was really an impossibility for me.

I became self-employed which I have enjoyed but the pressure of being a self-employed sole trader is massive. You are always going to have quiet periods and with no transport I was unable to stretch myself further than my surrounding area, although I have managed I had to cut back on luxuries so I always knew that I needed that second job, the one that would mean I  had a regular monthly income coming in.

Finally, finally lady luck shone on me and I have been employed as a photographer by a large photography company. It is a part-time position so I can continue with my own work and the added bonus is that I get a company car with this job which means I am now no longer limited to where I work so I can broaden my self-employed and more creative work as I please.

It felt like it would never happen and it really was the one missing piece of the jigsaw. The final thing that meant that moving here was the right thing to do.

It also means that I can ferry the kids and the dog around to new pastures for outings and some of those little luxuries that I had to cut back on can return to their rightful place.

It has not been without its problems. Sorting out the right childcare has been quite stressful but I have finally managed to find the right solutions that we are all happy with. It will mean some early starts for the kids but in life you have to make adjustments for the bigger picture.

So July 1st was my official start date, but I have some training to do on the new equipment that I will be using and fully understanding the briefs that are given to me. I then finish for the summer holidays at the end of July and will be working again from September onwards.

So, after two years it does finally feel like the fresh start I wanted has arrived. Living where we wanted and working within the field that I love.

It is all systems go from here, wish me luck .

 

Discombobulated

lazy

Tickle my tummy, tickle my tummy!!

Well it has been a funny old week.

As far as Jack and my son are concerned they are both fine. My son has been giving him lots of commands and rewards when Jack obeys him. This seems to have brought Jack right around to him. He laid on his back and gave him his belly (the dog not my son) quite quickly which is a sign of submission on his part so it seems that Jackyboy now knows his place in the family. We have also been doing a lot of work with him whereby we leave food and tell him to ‘leave it’. He gets better rewards the longer he resists and this will continue until he knows that only food in his bowl belongs to him. So, that is going well up to now.

I have still spoken again to the children about leaving him alone when he is sleeping or eating. I mean it is common sense isn’t it. I wouldn’t want to be disturbed while I was eating or sleeping either.

I feel a bit discombobulated this week for a couple of reasons. Firstly I have been looking for a part-time job to supplement my self-employed job and the perfect one came up. I was short listed for an interview which I attended this week.

I really do fancy this job so badly but it has become clear that even if I get offered it I might not be able to accept it. The problem is that there are a few months of the year that are exceptionally busy and would mean I would have to set off at 6am in the morning, every morning. The early starts for a few months at a time don’t bother me, the perks of the job more than outweigh that. The trouble is childcare.

I have had childcare before but always at what I would consider ‘normal hours’. I have never heard of a child minder who comes to your house at that time of the morning, waits for your kids to get up, gives them breakfast and then takes them to school. I have looked on the internet and I can’t find anything that fits. I have put an advert on the childcare website but haven’t had any responses as yet and I honestly don’t think that I will.

It is at times like this that I realise how restricted my life is. I don’t mind that I can’t go out at night and things like that. Ending my marriage was the right thing to do for many, many, MANY reasons however at times like this I hanker after that normal family life, mum, dad, kids. (Not with my ex you understand, there was never any support coming my way from him) but just being with another person who could support me at times like this.

Also, a personal situation is making me really low and I feel as though it is never going to change no matter how much I want it to. And I do want it to, more than anything. I don’t really know what to do about it. Sometimes I think I can just carry on and leave things as they are for the foreseeable future and others I realise that is just not a possibility if I want to move on in my life and be happy. I have a lot of soul-searching to do and I am not looking forward to where the end result of that is going to take me. I suppose if something makes me more unhappy than it does happy then it just cannot be working out can it? Why can my life not be straight forward and normal like everyone elses? *sigh*

Anyway, enough of my whingeing and feeling sorry for myself. I guess I have to do what I always do and resort to thinking that everything happens for a reason.

Have a great weekend lovely people.

 

Setbacks with Jack

JackWell, after my last post I.thought.I.was.brilliant didn’t I?

Dog staying when I said no and cat happily wandering around the garden. Kids and dog interacting nicely and happily.

Well, guess what,? I have learnt that it really is not that easy. We have had two setbacks this week and they are entirely my fault.

Firstly Belle was coming around beautifully, she was wary of his presence but certainly starting to trust that he was going to leave her alone. My constant telling him ‘No’ and treating him seemed to be working but the next time I let him into the garden it just so happened that Belle was already there. She was startled so she ran and before I could hold his collar he was off and he caught her.

Panic set in because it all happened so fast and I had visions of cat flying everywhere. However, he didn’t hurt her or try to tear her apart thank god. He just wanted to catch her and once he had he simply waited for her to run again so he could chase her some more. My knowing this of course is of no use to Belle who has now taken to sitting back on the garage roof and giving him a very wide berth. Gutted. It looks like dog and cat integration is going to take a lot more work.

Secondly and the biggest problem I have is that Jack seems to think that my youngest son is a kennel mate and a lower ranking one to him at that and the truth of how much of a problem this is manifested this week. Through no fault of Jack or my son.

I have always been very strict about the children not disturbing Jack while he eats, not because I thought he would do anything, but just because this is all still so new to him. At the end of the day he has been in a kennel with other dogs where they have to vie for food and top dog gets it first and will stop other dogs from eating by snipping at them if necessary. He is learning that here he does not have to do that, his food is how own but it is still early days.

I am also very strict about when we eat and that he is not allowed near us when we are eating and he is never given any titbits or food off our plate. He is very good with this and he does not approach us at all when we have food.

Yesterday, we were happily eating our tea and he was lay on his bed taking no notice what so ever and there was a knock at the door. I went to see who it was and of course so did the children, we all, without thinking left our plates unattended. When we went back, Jack was eating my son’s food and as he approached his plate Jack became very aggressive towards him. It was incredibly scary and a side to Jack that I have never seen before. It was clear he was not going to attack him, he was just telling him that this was his food now and go away. Now had I or my daughter headed towards that plate Jack would have allowed either of us to remove it without a beat. The fact that he see’s my son as a threat and a lower rank to himself is a really big problem for me.

The moment I intervened with a very loud and panicky ‘No’ Jack immediately left the plate and skulked off to his bed with is head down knowing he had ‘done something very wrong’.

I can’t blame Jack, he is a dog and food was left and he wanted it and although he does not come near us when we are eating I hadn’t thought about what would happen if food was left available to him that was not his.

Also, he isn’t just any dog, he is a dog that has spent the first four years of his life in a very strict routine, living and eating in a kennel with other dogs. He is now in a place where new things have to be learnt and we all have to adapt in order to make it work. It is new to all of us.

Both these happenings have taught me a massive lesson and I realise that a lot of training is require when it comes to food. This is a really big priority.  Also making Jack realise that he is actually a hell of a lot lower down the pecking order in this household than he currently thinks he is.

Making the children understand that there are times to approach him and time not to approach him is also very important. Sleeping and eating are times NOT to approach him.

Until then, the muzzle is firmly back on when the children are around. I know that he would not suddenly attack them for no reason but a nip or a bite or any kind of aggression is not a chance that I am willing to take.

At the end of the day, no matter how gentle and calm he is 99% of the time I now know that there is an aggressive side to him with regards to food. He is a dog, not a human. Any dogs can be unpredictable and as yet Jack has not had sufficient training to deal with his new environment to give him that level of trust.

So, lots more research into dealing with these behavior problems and how to go about putting them right.

Onwards and upwards.

Life with rescue pets – A major breakthrough!

Jack-and-Belle-2

First of all, please excuse the state of my garden. When I first moved here the grass was about 12 foot long. I now have two lovely gardeners working to bring it all together for me but trust me, it is taking a long time!

A major breakthrough has happened, and has been happening gradually over the last few days. Belle has finally realised that Jack is not going to eat her.

When I first brought Jack home, Belle retreated into my son’s bedroom and there she stayed, demanding that her food be brought up when she was hungry and coming in and out through his bedroom window. She would only go out if Jack was not in the garden and if he was she would simply observe him from a great distance. She would only come down to see me if she knew that Jack was shut in another room. Not great but nothing that I didn’t expect.

The advice the greyhound re-homing charity give you is to introduce the pets to each other right away. Have someone hold the dog and you hold and pet the cat, tell the dog ‘No’ every-time he wants to go near you and the cat, and treat him when he doesn’t. Gradually the dog will begin to accept the cat and ignore it and blissful harmony will ensue.

All fine that really except what they did not take into account was my cat. I knew immediately that there was NO way I was going to be able to do that for a number of reasons.

Firstly, my cat being a rescue herself took 6 months to even come into a room that we were in when we first got her. She literally hid and scarpered out for food then hid again. She took her time but gradually she came closer and closer until she eventually began to allow us to pet her. (Now she demands it). She is not one for taking new experiences lightly.

Secondly she is not a lap cat and never will be. If I had brought her into the room where he was it would have absolutely traumatised her and she would never have trusted me again. She will sleep on my bed and pad at my head when she feels like it, but she will not curl up on your lap to be loved, she makes you follow her around if she want’s to be petted.

Thirdly, my cat after almost 2 years will only now allow me to pick her up if I want to move her. There is a difference between picking her up and holding her. She will not be held. If I had followed the charities advice she would have ripped the very face off me before ripping Jacks face off for good measure. It would have been a blood bath.

I am not saying their advice is not good and correct, just that I knew that it was not going to work for us.

What I did was leave her alone and let her observe from the safety of my son’s bedroom for however long it took her. I instead spent the last two months concentrating on a couple of things with Jack. Recall and making him stay where I want him to on command.

This has been hard work but it has paid off. However, I will say that if he decides he does not want to come to me when I ask or if he is not going to stay where he is, there are times still when he will do as he pleases.  It is still work in progress. If he ‘sights’ something generally speaking my voice becomes something that will not penetrate through his concentration.

The past few days I have noticed that Belle started to venture out when Jack was in the garden. Firstly observing him from the garage roof, then walking over the parameter fences around the garden. Whilst she was doing this Jack would go into ‘sight’ mode ready to chase so I continued to tell him ‘No’ and gave him treats when he stayed put.
DSC_0442SM

Yesterday I put Belles food out on the patio area while Jack was lay on the grass and she came down from the garage to eat it, all the while she was watching him and he was watching her. They both got treats.

Today was the moment I have been waiting for. She came into the garden and strolled around while he was right there and allowed me to stroke her. He ‘sighted’ her and I continued to tell him ‘No’, breaking his concentration on her for a few seconds at a time. Even though he was fixated on her, he did not chase her. Again he got treats and praise. Eventually as she was wandering around he got bored and just went to sleep.

What excited me the most about it was that he was not restrained in any way, he could have given chase at any point, but he didn’t.

It may seem like a small thing but to me it feels like a massive achievement and a major step towards them both living here happily. I don’t expect them to be bezzie mates or for her to cuddle up on his bed with him, but I do want them to be able to be in the same room as me without either of them getting mauled to bits.

We will continue to work on this and for a good while he will not be allowed in the garden on his own. I know now though that if this continues to be successful it is only a matter of time before she leaves the safety of my sons room and comes and lives with us properly again.

It is worth the work and patience.

Jack-and-Belle-1

Conversations with my pets – Life with rescue animals

DSC_0480SMHello again. I have been writing about my rescue pets and posting daft photo’s and general updates about them, including fictional conversations that they may have in my photography blog. I realise that it probably isn’t the right place for those posts so I have decided to move them over here.

A brief synopsis is that my rescue Cat Belle arrived with us  two years ago. She was very nervous and aloof (the aloof thing still stands) and it took her about 6 months to even bring herself to be in the same room as us.

She did come round eventually and now allows us to pet her when it suits. Recently I brought Jack home, a four-year old ex racing greyhound who went by the racing name of Vatican Stein. Belle is dismayed with it all and it is once again taking time for her to come around to it.

Jack has spent all his life in kennels and on the track prior to coming to us so every single thing about domestic life and the great outdoors is completely brand new to him. Training him and getting him used to new things is a huge journey for us all, especially him so I will be writing about that now and again in here.

For the first 6 installments of ‘Conversations with my pets’  are here in my other blog if you want to catch up:-

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/new-section-conversations-with-my-pets/

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/conversations-with-my-pets-2-walking-me-seriously-outside-with-animals-and-things/

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/converations-with-my-pets-3-jack-it-is-rude-to-laugh/

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/conversations-with-my-pets-4-jack-saw-geese-for-the-first-time-ever/

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/conversations-with-my-pets-5-an-actual-conversation-with-jack-on-video/

http://winedrinkingmummy.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/conversations-with-my-pets-6-belle-facebombs-jack/

I will post new ones directly into this blog from now on.

On a personal note, I managed to have a few days to myself child free which as much as I miss them was much-needed and I will not deny that I had a wonderful time. A dear friend came to see me and there was lots of chatting, dog walking , eating out and catching up which was just lovely. When my friend went home I had another two days to myself which included enjoying my brand new mattress to the max (sleep-wise of course!), training Jack (or attempting to) and getting out and about with friends. The cherubs are home now so tonight we get everything ready for school in the morning and head back into our usual routine.

Well that is all at the moment. I will be adding more posts here soon about training Jack and recent mishaps of which there have been quite a few!