Released On 30th Aug 2021
Dolly's blog: What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger
I can’t lie - it’s not been a good few months. In edited highlights, our lockdown puppy was attacked by a salivating Alsatian that bit him so hard his leg bones snapped. Upshot: major surgery, a £10k vet bill, weeks of constantly supervised crate confinement (farewell my lockdown escape dreams), a temporarily incontinent dog with separation anxiety, and a constant headache from all the “Set me free human!” barking. Also, we had no dishwasher for three months.
In pursuit of wellbeing I took myself for a mindful walk, smarting from the latest indignity of the dog defecating on the kitchen floor whilst I was mopping up his urine. Heading into the countryside, I noticed the trees (tick) and I smelt the cow parsley (tick). Then straining my ears for life-affirming birdsong, I instead heard the unmistakeable noise of gunfire (I’m pretty sure that’s not in the Little Book of Calm) and, all sense of zen now destroyed, tried hard to rid my brain of abduction thoughts as I scurried past a seriously dodgy looking bloke in a van, parked suspiciously in the middle of nowhere and sat next to a salivating Alsatian (FFS…). A relaxing walk this was not.
And then we went on holiday to Wales.
It was the same place we’d visited 3 years ago – the old cottage with no electricity, which had gone down in family legend as “the worst holiday ever” and where the children had cried on arrival, appalled at the prospect of a week-long digital detox but possibly also related to the taxidermy - which I accept may have caused some lasting psychological damage. Family day-trips through driving rain to a woollen mill and a “famous” bleeding tree in a graveyard had also landed badly and not been forgiven with the passage of time. But as I patiently explained to the children (open-mouthed incredulous that we were returning) this cottage was both available and cheap (no wonder, said the children) and, in these Covid staycation and £10k vet bill times, that was frankly good enough for me.
On arrival, we spent the first hour waiting for a kettle to boil on the Aga (children appalled), cleaning (children disappeared), lighting candles (children suddenly present) and hiding all the c**p that littered the place; items I suspect not deemed nice enough to go in the owners’ house but that “would do for the holiday let”. I searched in vain for a frying pan large enough to cook for more than one person and nearly slashed my wrist on the wonky bottle opener (booze consumption was essential).
And then we exhaled, watched the sun set over the sea, listened to seals in the bay below and saw the stars come out. We snuggled under Welsh blankets, lit the fire and read books. The children voluntarily started playing Monopoly. The dog stopped barking. We went to bed early. I reconnected with my children and found time to observe the individuals they are becoming. Also, for the first time ever, we got to use the off-road button on the Land Rover.
On day two I knew I’d won when our youngest screen addict said, “Mummy, I’m glad we came here”. Although in fairness, when we returned home a week later he also said, “I’m glad we’re back in civilisation, where you can google stuff and make toast”.
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she is supported by a wonderful (though often absent) husband as they attempt to bring up three children aged 14, 13 and 10. She’s still mourning the charismatic dog who kept her sane and still can’t talk about that – but the lockdown puppy is helping.