Five Star Review on 'The Long, The Short and The Tall. Life with Rescue Dogs.'

Another lovely review today from American writer Hope Irvin Marson, author of 'Eye on the Iditerod. Aisling's Quest.'

The lady apparently had a little initial difficulty with my 'Englishness', but reports that once she actually realised that I am English, not American, she loved the book.

If you would like to read 'Eye on the Iditerod', you can find it here.

 Eye on the Iditerod. Aisling's Quest

Eye on the Iditerod. Aisling's Quest

 The Long, The Short and The Tall. Life with Rescue Dogs

The Long, The Short and The Tall. Life with Rescue Dogs

5.0 out of 5 stars 'A delightful tale of adopted dogs, and chickens, and the woman who loved them.' June 29, 2016 By Hope Irvin Marston

"This review is from: The Long, The Short and The Tall: Life with Rescue Dogs (Paperback)
I agreed to read this book in exchange for my review because I love dogs and I have a heart for those animals that are discarded like worn out socks. At first I was annoyed with what appeared to be grammatical errors. Before I gave up on the book, I realized this author is not American. She lives in England and she is literate! From then on I enjoyed her moment-by-moment descriptions of how she found and “rehomed” (in America we would say “adopted”) nine dogs that were cast off as undesirable by those who should have cared for them.
This author paints word pictures in such a realistic way that the reader feels her joy and her pain as she finds a way to win the confidence of the dogs she chose for the most part because she thought no one else would accept the challenge of rehoming them.
I enjoyed the way she communicated with her canine family and how she wrote the dogs' thoughts in response to hers. I found myself laughing aloud more than once…and crying when she had to decide it was merciful to say goodbye to some of them. From my understanding in having had more than a dozen dogs in our family, she is quite knowledgeable of dog behavior.
This is not a book you can race through. Why should you want to do that? It’s a leisurely look at life with castoff dogs as lived on a lovely section of England, dogs whose lives were saved by one who valued them, and who was blessed in turn by their faithfulness to her."

Click to see this Review on

Scrumping for Lemons. The Sneak Preview


My next book 'Scrumping for Lemons. Tales from Spain. Rescue Dogs and Perfecting Marmalade is scheduled for release in September.

However, if you would like an early taste of lemons, you can Download for Free ‘Scrumping for Lemons. The Sneak Preview’. This little book contains samples chapters and excerpts from the full book and can be download from my website.

The story picks up where ‘The Long, The Short and The Tall. Life with Rescue Dogs’ left off, with me setting off from the UK for my new life in Spain, armed only with my trusty Peugeot 107, a change of clothes, a laptop, two boxes of files for the Inland Revenue and other annoying officials, and my two dogs, Oliver the English setter and Duncan, my geriatric canine tripod.

It won’t cost you a penny and will I hope, give you a chuckle or two.

If you have any questions or comments, or if you have any problems with the downloads, do get in touch.

All the Best,


 Scrumping for Lemons. The Sneak Preview

Scrumping for Lemons. The Sneak Preview

Why Scrumping for Lemons?

The delapidated house I bought a couple of years ago, here in Spain has almost two acres of land with it.

To the rear of the house there is pine forest, which provides wonderful shade in Summer and which also means we are on protected land. The Spanish authorities protect the trees. I don't know how old the forest is, but walking up the hill, the pines are gradually invading and taking over old olive groves. It's wild and beautiful up there.

To the front of the house, the garden slopes downhill over seven layers of terrace, all planted out with fruit trees, mainly the oranges so beloved of the Valencians. I've never actually counted them , but there are certainly over a hundred trees out there in the orchards.

Scrumping for Lemons

All my friends, when I tell them this, immediately start to wax lyrical about the joys of freshly squeezed orange juice, and sun-warmed oranges eaten straight from the tree. I can hardly disagree with them, but for me, the real luxury is being able to pick the lemons. I love cooking, and to be able to take the humble roast chicken, and transform it by stuffing with lemons and bay leaves from the garden, rosemary, oregano and thyme picked wild from the track leading up the mountain; for me, there is nothing better.

Having said all that, the apricots are in full flood right now. This is really bad news for me, as I invariably eat too many of them as I wander round the garden, scrumping as I go. The obvious consequences of too much fresh fruit catch up with me a few hours later, but that'll not stop me doing it again.

And perhaps I can have some cherries before the birds get them all......

Click Below for the Photo Gallery

Eddie the Podenco

I’ve had a few questions asking about who Eddie is, and what is a podenco?

 Eddie and Blanca Having Fun

Eddie and Blanca Having Fun

A podenco is a Spanish breed of dog, bred for hunting. Like most people outside Spain, I had never heard of them in the UK. Once living here in rural Spain, it is hard to miss them. Podencos are a tall, elegantly leggy, giant eared breed; really beautiful dogs, bred for acute senses and stamina. Unfortunately, because they are at root, a working breed, many of them are treated shockingly, being regarded not so much as living creatures, as hunting tools. A dog who outlives its value for hunting is often simply abandoned to fend for itself.

Consequently, the dog shelters here are full of podencos, hundreds of them. Just as in the UK, the dog shelters are full of staffies and other ‘tough’ dogs, here it is the podencos.

I first encountered Eddie driving back home from Gandia last November. Coming up the mountain road, all tight and twisting corners, I saw a white and ginger dog trotting down the road towards me. Fortunately, there was little traffic, but I was in a spot where stopping the car was not an option. Cutting a long story short, I drove until I could turn round, returned to find the canine wanderer and, with help from a Spanish lady who also stopped to help, got him into my car, cursing the previous owner for the condition of his dog.

He was petrified, cramming himself under one of the seats. Arriving home, I found he was actually slavering in fear. When John and I persuaded him to get out of the car, John was horrified as I at the state of him. Skeleton thin and covered in scabs and scaly skin, his enormous ears looked completely out of proportion to his frame.

We called him ‘Eddie the Ears’ and he joined our little household.

Eddie is slowly learning to trust and to enjoy life. Initially terrified of men in particular, he is learning that not all men are monsters. As his stress levels drop and his sense of trust grows, he is becoming playful. As the mange that was the cause of his scabby skin has been cleared up, his fur has regrown and he is turning into a really handsome dog.

I’ll be posting occasional tales about Eddie, but his full story can be read when ‘Scrumping for Lemons’ is published in September.

 Eddie when he first arrived, frightened, thin, and scabby with mange

Eddie when he first arrived, frightened, thin, and scabby with mange

 Eddie's new life.

Eddie's new life.

A Walk over Pendle Hill

I lived near Pendle Hill in Lancashire, for some twelve years, and would visit several times a week with my Gang of Four; Seamus, Shannon, Minnie and Duncan. Walking the dogs there was always one of my favourite occupations if I wanted to think, or paradoxically, if I wanted to clear my mind. As a friend of mine put it, it was where I would go if I wanted to 'fly'.

 Pendle Hill in Snow

Pendle Hill in Snow

The hill is breath-stealingly steep, but the views, once you reach the top, are simply stunning. A broad flat(ish) plateau a couple of miles across gives views over Clitheroe from one side and beyond to Longridge Fell, with the crown of Inglehead in the far distance to the East. To the West you can see the sea over Blackpool on a clear day. From the North side Sabden and Barley are laid before you, far below, and then beyond to the skies.

Pendle has real 'Spirit of Place' and a moodiness that I have found nowhere else. In sunshine it is harshly beautiful, but if the weather turns you know where it earned it's reputation for witchcraft and the occult. 

Click the image below to see the slideshow.




Another Perfect Day in Paradise

Absolutely stunning day today. After several days of rain and stormy weather, the sun and the blue skies arrived in style. 

We spent the morning clearing rubbish from the garden for bonfires and trying to prune some of the oranges back under control. Both of us got shredded by old palms fronds as we tipped them into the bonfire; where the palm gets its reputation as a symbol for peace defeats me. Handling them is a fraught experience. it's like trying to juggle a bag of kitchen knives. Both of us got blood everywhere after being stabbed in the hands, arms, legs, and in my case the, um, 'chest'.

But we got the job done. Then I took Eddie and Blanca up the track. The sun was hot. The air was cool. Perfect.

Spain is in flower and it ranges between pretty and amazing. The bee orchids are out. So are the wild 'sweet peas', wild alliums, honeysuckle is breaking out....

I came across one slightly macabre discovery on a wild allium, of a spider that had captured a bee, poor thing, but we all have to eat. As the saying goes, 'Happiness is being at the top of the food chain'.

Click the Image Below for the Slideshow


Mountain Walk

I went walking up the trails over the mountains near Barx today.

The views were just amazing. I would have liked to walk all the way to the top, but whereas the lower trails were an easy stroll, it changed as I got further along. I'd only gone out in trainers and jeans and so, when the trails turned into something that really needed proper boots, I turned round, but in the meantime, I had walked some miles and crossed over the ridge from one side of the mountain to the other. I then had sea views over the paddy fields.


Over the Rice Fields

Mountain Views

Peak View

Wild Asparagus

Wild Asparagus

When I first moved here, eighteen months ago, there was this terrible spiky fern growing all over my garden and in the wild areas around the area. It's quite attractive, but I thought it was a bloody nuisance because it is really scratchy when you're trying to do the gardening. My main thought was 'That's gonna have to go....'

Then in Spring it sprouted its new growth, and the penny dropped. I live in an area that grows wild asparagus.

It's coming into it's own again at this time of year and it makes a lovely wild, forager's munch when out walking.

It is now my regular pre-breakfast aperitif while I give the dogs their early morning stretch up the track.