Paradise lost?

Anybody who has visited Kenya will know that it is a stunningly beautiful country whose population are warm, friendly and peaceable. I was lucky enough to live there for nearly twenty years, and have never forgotten the colours and smells and sounds, and the warmth of the sunshine on my skin.

When the recent trouble broke out, in my heart I felt that it would be quickly resolved, because the Kenyan people are born to dance and sing and enjoy life to the full, not to butcher each other with knives. But now, having just been reading the blog of photojournalist Anne Holmes, (warning: very graphic images), my heart is no longer full of optimism, but heavy with a terrible sadness at the sights I have seen.

I pray that some solution will be found to bring a halt to the violence and end the suffering of these lovely people, and restore Kenya to the paradise it used to be.

Togs for needy dogs

Galgos – Spanish greyhounds, are naturally skinny dogs, with very thin coats. Many hundreds of these animals which are so badly abused by their Spanish owners are being rescued and cared for by small charities with very limited funds. Their accommodation is very basic, with no heating, which means that during the winter months and on cold nights, the dogs are unable to keep warm.

If you enjoy sewing and are handy with a sewing machine, with a little spare time on your hands, you can make a difference to a dog’s life by sewing a coat, using this very simple pattern: Greyhound coat.

The Amersham horror

Anybody who keeps up with the news of what’s happening in the United Kingdom will know about the recent discovery of an equine concentration camp in the Buckinghamshire town of Amersham. A sub-human horse-meat trader had allowed 32 horses and donkeys to die of starvation; the bodies left to decompose where they fell.

Another 80 or so animals in appalling condition have been rescued and are being nursed back to health. This has been called Britain’s worst ever animal cruelty case.

Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary in Essex has adopted two of the survivors.


These two are guaranteed a loving home for the remainder of their lives.  Donations and sponsorship are welcomed by the sanctuary, which cares for nearly 300 animals.

Sport? No.

My friend Carole sent me a newspaper clipping about an Englishwoman who has become the French national female champion of live shooting – killing game for fun. She picked up this title by shooting a brace of pheasants. 🙄

This got me thinking about “blood sports”. A strange term, don’t you think? It means pursuing and killing defenceless creatures for entertainment (not food). Spilling blood for the pleasure of doing so.

Isn’t it time to stop classifying this kind of activity as a sport, which, to its adherents somehow justifies its respectability, and find some other term for it? Any suggestions?

Quite long odds, but I won

Last year in the sales we bought a new duvet to replace the ancient one that seemed to have lost all its innards. The label clearly says 260 x 240 cm, which is just large enough for our super king size bed, without allowing much of an overlap.

It has frustrated me for a whole year, because no matter which of several duvet covers I used, the thing bunched up and contorted itself. So finally we measured it. Result: it actually measures 280 x 240 cm. Nowhere have I managed to find a duvet cover of that size, so I had to make one. In another life I worked for a year as a machinist stitching small pieces of very expensive coats for Aquascutum, so I am not entirely without skill on a sewing machine. I just don’t like them very much. Bad memories. Anybody who has pierced their thumb several times rapidly with an industrial sewing machine needle will understand why.

Anyway, off I went and bought some blue gingham. Seventeen square meters of it, enough to make a mainsail for a square rigger. It was not a complicated project, merely a question of sewing a number of long straight seams, although trying to keep the huge area of fabric off the floor where the dogs could wipe their muddy feet on it was rather hard work; and then when you add into the mix two heavy cats, determined to lounge upon the fabric as it whirred its way through the machine, it really did become a challenge. I offered them alternative choices of cushions, jumpers and towels, but nothing, it seemed, could give them the same joy as clinging with tooth and claw to the fabric and occasionally pouncing on it excitedly as I wrenched it around and through the machine. Nobody was more surprised that I was when the thing fitted perfectly.

I was astounded by the price of Velcro in our local supermarket. A one meter length would have cost nearly €15, and still been too small to feed the giant duvet through, so I settled for those handy studs that you punch through the material.

Oh, the joy – a flat, lump-free duvet that almost reaches the floor each side of the bed.