Introducing Penny Pincher!

We recently took the plunge and adopted another rescue dog to keep Dougie company.

She is an Australian Kelpie, approximately six months old and so full of beans that rumour has it Heinz want to put her in a tin and sell her.

Her name is Penny.

Penny is as fast as Dougie is slow, as cunning as he is transparent, as clever as he is, um…well, let’s not dwell ok that too much, shall we?

She comes into our lives with battle scars, both mental and physical. We have counted the ones we can see, and noted her absolute terror of the sweeping brush. We clean the floor when she’s out of sight now.

Since her arrival three weeks ago today, she has chewed all manner of things, stolen food and puddled on the floor inside. She has joyously broken free from her leash, leaving me to acquaint myself rather more violently with the road outside than I would have hoped, causing injury to my knees and my pride.

And yet, none of this is her fault.

She has clearly never before felt the warmth of a human hug, been patiently taught that the doggy loo is located outside, had a ball game or been treasured in any of the ways she so deserves. That is now our job.

In these last few days, we have already seen her blossom. She garbles with gruff joy when her human family returns home, her tail whipping from side to side so quickly that I almost expect her to take flight like a small black helicopter.

She is quickly learning that she no longer has to steal food to survive (albeit we have discovered a stash of contraband outside including a toy, a bone and the outside drain cover, all carefully piled together in case of some perceived canine emergency).

Hence the name Penny Pincher (thanks for that, Janette Cook!)

She proudly pops outside to go to the loo, basking in the praise of an encouraging family. She plays with her new friend Dougie and happily trots on the beach alongside him.

Penny came to us with a history she will thankfully never be able to vocalise. But with time, patience and lots of love, we know that this previously unloved puppy will know that she is wanted, cared for and ultimately, that she’s one of us.

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Thank You

Welcome back, dear readers, it’s been a while!

As a fledgling writer, I feel that honesty is important in all things and that without it, you cannot expect the people who kindly read your work to feel or understand the emotion behind it. People know when you’re being honest, and they appreciate it.

I always ask my husband to proof read my blog before I publish each post, and I scrutinise his face carefully to see if he laughs where I hoped he would; for the furrow of his brow where I have hopefully challenged him in some small way. That, to me, is the benchmark by which I measure the strength of my writing, and his opinions are priceless to me.

Whilst this may seem to be pretentious twaddle by some, please bear with me. I have had the absolute privilege of people who follow my blog telling me that I’ve often made them laugh and cry in the same breath. I fervently hope that these sentiments are not just kindly encouragement, because those same sentences made me laugh and cry too, when I first wrote them.

There’s nothing greater than to have someone nod in recognition at what you have written, to say ‘Yes! That happened to me!’ It is a huge rush to me.

I started this blog to combat my loneliness when I first arrived in Australia; and I always feel like I’m sharing my thoughts with a friend. It has been fun, confronting, exhilarating, upsetting, enjoyable…but most of all, so very compelling to write.

This blog is my pleasure to write, and I hope it is yours to continue reading it. I dream of being good enough to write professionally one day, in whatever form that may be. This blog allows me to practise, and without you here reading my posts, I’ll never have the courage to do it.

So, thank you readers for indulging me. I really appreciate you all, and I hope to continue entertaining you for some time to come.

The Grey Army – Beware The Nanja!

As regular readers may know, Australia is an island just off the coast of Bribie, where I currently live.

Bribie Island’s population is predominantly made up of retired folk, therefore there is proportionally little crime and a general feeling of tranquility (translated by my teenagers as ‘boredom’).

When insuring our first home here, the question was asked by the young insurance agent, ‘Do you want to be covered for riot and civil commotion?’

After he had finished laughing, my husband replied: ‘I live on Bribie, mate, there’s very little chance of a riot here!’ To which the young man imaginatively responded, ‘Perhaps the old folk might have a big argument outside your house and throw a walking frame through the window!’

Now, both my husband and the insurance chap had a point here.

Bribie is renowned for its sleepiness and its tendency to be all tucked up in bed by 9pm. We have been eyeballed by the local bar staff who then look pointedly at their watches should you be found outside your home after this time.

However, the insurance agent’s apparently wild suggestion of impending riot may well have been fuelled by knowledge of the behaviour of some elderly locals in a ‘shopping-type scenario’. And in this regard, I now agree completely that a riot may well unfold.

The reason for this? Aldi’s ‘Special Offer Days’ on Saturdays (and Wednesdays, if you’re passing through).

Any Bribie resident intending to set foot in the island’s Aldi store on these days of the week must first equip themselves with a riot shield and nerves of steel. They may want to leave a note for loved ones stating where their scattered body parts may be located in the event that they get fatally caught up in the ensuing mêlée.

Aldi is a unique place where such a random selection of items is available that you never knew you needed an angle grinder, a blowtorch and a tile cutter until you find them at home in the shopping bag with the solitary onion that you went in there for.

My own traumatic experience resulted in the identification of a hitherto unknown species of being: people, I bring you … the ‘Nanja’.

The Nanja can generally fool the public with her white hair and benign expression. She is polite, considerate and an upstanding citizen. A nanna to be proud of.

Except on Bargain Day at Aldi. Then she morphs into a smooth-operating killing machine, using well-versed tactics and commando techniques in the shopping aisles.

The Nanja is a silent, deadly, bargain-seeking missile. And this is how I discovered her existence.

One particular Saturday, we noticed that Havaianas were on a very low price offer at Aldi. Being the most comfortable and practical footwear for living on an island made of sand, we innocently took it upon ourselves to queue outside with the elderly ladies of Bribie until it opened, in the hope of gaining a bargain.

We chatted with them. They chatted with us. It was pleasant. Until the doors opened.

Then, with all the blood-curdling force of Mel Gibson portraying William Wallace in the film Braveheart, this collection of cheery senior citizens surged forward as one. They burst through the entrance and with single-minded determination and tactical stealth, they filled the aisles in an attempt to beat everyone else to their prize.

To our horror, we realised that the store manager had seen fit to place the Havaianas right next to the other special offer of the week – orthopaedic gardening shoes!

We found ourselves carried along on a throng of suddenly vicious and grim-faced Nanjas, intent on securing themselves some comfortable gardening shoes at any cost.

Orthopaedic shoes were passed seamlessly from Nanja to Nanja in a display of sheer mastery, as they tried them on for size. ‘A six here, Marjorie!’ ‘An eight here, Doris!’

Swarms of locusts have moved in a less devastating manner, I swear. A pregnant lady was jostled in the crowd. Roars of approval went up as the correct sizes were identified.

And then, they were gone. Along with every single pair of orthopaedic gardening shoes in the bargain basket.

Just like true ninjas, they had completed their mission with ease and without mercy.

Despite our disconcerting experience, we got our cheap Havaianas.

When we looked in the bag when we got home, we were nonetheless surprised to find an angle grinder, a tile cutter…and a solitary onion.

That’s Aldi!

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