A highland fling

our wee adventure on the Black Isle



We always, but always, have had had 2 boxers. One dog seems to get quite lonely, and has an over reliance on the People Dogs to provide all their entertainment. Of course, 2 big boxer boys can be quite a handful, but generally, they sleep together, play together, and mostly mind their manners. Gus 1

When our dog Milo died recently, we resolved to get a puppy as soon as we felt able. We made the mistaking of waiting too long the last time, and the surviving dog went into a total grief spiral. So never again.

It’s not easy to get a puppy when your beloved dog dies. You feel disloyal, your heart hurts too much, you feel you will never again want to risk that poor, damaged heart. But you do. You do it for yourself, but mostly, you do it for the dog left behind.

So to cut a long story short, we found a lovely group of puppies, hand reared by a lovely couple. They had both the mother and the father, which was nice. It was hard to pick a puppy (why not take 2, says Kenton – ah….no, says I) but pick we did, and, 3 short weeks later, he owns us good and proper!

As the world turns…

I just noticed my last post was February, naughty me!

To be honest, I just haven’t had the heart for it. It seems to have been another one of those difficult times at Casa Tyr — is it just a getting older thing, and we can expect shitty circumstances from here on in? Or is it just another one of those things, a run of bad luck? My optimistic head says it’s the latter.

imageWe’ve had a bit of a bad run lately, for sure. Cancer still seems to be everywhere. A good friend has had his cancer return, and that felt like a punch to the gut. I feel strongly that we need to be there to help them through he difficult treatment times ahead, but here we are in Spain. A friend’s 39 year old wife recently died, leaving a husband and small daughter behind.

Our oldest dog, Milo, had a brain tumour which took him very quickly, after a couple weeks of mysterious symptoms. Our dogs are so much a part of the family that this is always hard, but Milo was something else. Smart as a whip, he joined us the year my mother and Kenton’s dad died — it truly felt like the only bright spot in a very black year. So he was special.

And yet. We have beautiful granddaughters to cherish and love. A friend’s son has a new baby. We have a new puppy for Freddie to play with. Our beloved nephew is coming to visit. Our summer garden is looking very well (gardening always makes me feel better). So bright spots that show, as Manuel always says, that everything, good and bad, is part of life.

The title of this blog? A reminder of my childhood days, when my mother would listen to her “soapies” as she cleaned. I particularly remember “As the world turns”, for its constant round of horrible events in its characters’ lives. I found it funny then, less funny when it happens to me and mine!



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Getting ready for Christmas

We have made a list and checked it twice! The tree is up, the Lujos gifties are made for friends, the presents are mostly wrapped and under the tree.

We have plans to go to Malaga Christmas Eve for a bit of light retail therapy, then some food shopping and lunch, then see the lights. Malaga’s lights are absolutely fabulous – I’ll try to remember to take photos!

Anyway, my friends, one of the jobs today was to do my usual Christmas newsletter, but somehow a video just seemed more appropriate.


Olive harvest 2014

It’s looking like a terrific harvest this year, even though we had our trees trimmed earlier this year. The olives are big and healthy, despite the lack of rain. This seems to differ from most of the rest of Europe, where olives are scarce, and they are already warning of an olive oil shortage next year.

Ann even manages a smile on day 5 of olive picking!

Not picking olives this year, Annie – roll on 2015

It makes me laugh. You would expect that, with a worldwide shortage of olives, the price of olives would rise. We went to our local mill, to see if that was the case, but nooooooo. They will give only 40 cents/kilo, even less than last year!

With my breast cancer treatment taking so much time, we are unable to get out and pick ourselves. (Although I did briefly consider doing it during my ‘good week’ last week! Kenton says it shows how utterly mad I am!)

So what is happening to our crop this year? Given away, my friends. This hurts a lot, but I console myself with the fact that it means some friends who have no work can sell the olives for whatever they can get. This is important in an isolated mountain community – sticking together in time of need, and helping friends and neighbours. As our friend Manuel says, after all, you never know when you might need help yourself.



Puppies are great, aren’t they? So cute and cuddly, so full of life.

Freddy loves his dad and big brother!

Freddy loves his dad and big brother!

We have a puppy, as you know – Freddy is now 6 months old, and oh my goodness, he is a lively soul!

I feel for him sometimes. He so adores his big brother Milo, and wants to play with him and be with him all the time. This can get a bit much for our 8-year-old senior citizen. Milo likes to start his day slowly, and work up to a play as the day goes on, but not Freddy – who is “on” as soon as he’s awake!

So Freddy gets told off a lot! He seems to take it in his stride, and Milo plays enough to wear Freddy out most days. He is really good at finding games of his own, too – and really good at cajoling either Milo or Kenton into playing some fun, new game!

So after several months, I can report that Freddy has been very good for us all. He has reduced the grief we felt post-Fitz, and certainly given Milo a new lease on life.

And Freddy has the best life of any puppy anywhere, I think – a family who loves him, a big brother to teach him the rules of life, and 22 acres of Casa Tyr as a playground!


Sir Frederick (bear) Theodore Smith of Casa Tyr wins our hearts

My regular readers will know how heartbroken we 3 at Casa Tyr have been, ever since our wonderful dog Fitz died just before Christmas. He had such a huge  heart and wonderful character; the strength and patience he showed when dealing with cancer and chemo was truly humbling.

We haven’t been the same since. Add to that the operation that Kenton had in March, from which recovery is slow. Then add to the mix my spider bite and subsequent infection – it’s not been a great 2014 so far, but it certainly has been memorable.

We had always planned on getting another puppy – we think that it’s better to have 2, to have like-minded company for them to run with, and to keep each other company when left in kennels.

It was such a hard decision to actually take, to get a puppy. Every time I looked online for one, it just made me sad. People with pets probably understand how we felt, but those who have never had pets probably won’t. It’s just the way it is.

Anyway, we finally did it. We found a family in a nearby town who had a litter of boxers, and of course, once we saw them, we had no choice. We really like home-bred dogs, they are much better socialised, and used to relating to people. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So home with us Freddie (aka Freddie Bear, Freddy Teddy) came. It’s taken us awhile to totally warm to him, but that didn’t surprise us. But finally, with his funny ways and big personality, he won our hearts.

Even Milo cuddles and plays with him now, and that was always going to be the hardest audience of them all! I think Fitz would approve.

Back to school …. again!

New year, new me!

After a disastrous 2013, 2014 has started out moderately well. The double-glazed windows and doors keep out the cold, the central heating warms us up, and the wood fire not only gives lovely additional heat, it also uses much less wood. Hence, cutting firewood is no longer the all-consuming winter task it used to be, which is a Good Thing!

The upgraded power system is working well, too, and soon we will be taking down the wind turbine for a refurb. It’s making some horrendous sounds, so the servicing can’t come soon enough for us. Do your fixing thing in a timely manner, Mr. Bornay, please!

We are all doing better after the Fitzie debacle, even Milo has adjusted well to being an only dog – he has reverted to puppy behaviour! We will get a puppy in due course, as 2 boxers is always better than 1, and Milo needs a puppy to keep him active and challenged.

We’re also eating very healthily (even more so than usual), with loads of fruit and veg. Cutting back, cutting down is the motto for the year.

Butternut squash rosti

Eating healthy with butternut squash rosti

Add to this my new-found enthusiasm for taking courses! I’m taking full advantage of Coursera‘s great offerings. So far I’m taking “Drugs and the Brain” from CalTech and “How Viruses Cause Disease” from Columbia. These are well-respected universities, and I could probably never afford to go there, but here I am, taking their courses online, for free! Amazing.

I’ve already signed up for my next course, and fully intend to be even smarted by year’s end!