Perhaps a bit of golf to start before taking you to Crufts?  I love playing with teammates helping you out, don’t you?  On Tuesday, our competition was a waltz over 13 holes – one score to count at the first hole, then two scores, then three, then back to one and so on.  We got off to a flier with our best player hitting two crackers to about 15 feet and rolling in the putt for the birdie.  Amazingly I birdied the next, Fiona had a par and continued to hit the ball in a manner that many pros would envy.

Team on its way to glory!

I won’t make you put your spikes on but our highlight came at the short 11th, my least favourite hole on the course; if you were to guarantee me a bogey 4 there for the rest of my golfing life, I’d take it.  Anyway, to our delight Fiona and I made it onto the green, not a million miles from the pin and Jill, our third, a table tennis champion (Commonwealth Games standard no less), splashed confidently out of one of the many bunkers and two-putted for a 4, nett 3 and two points.  Fiona rolled in her putt and I followed her in and doubled up laughing.  Eight points.  Ridiculous.

We were flying.

The wings didn’t quite come off over the closing holes, we didn’t exactly crash and burn but we were less impressive and struggled to keep our score ticking over.

“How many points” I asked Fi at the end.


“Any good?”

“Don’t know.  Hard to tell.”

Well, it turned out to be pretty damned good and we won, by four points.

Sorry for bragging….well, not really, don’t often get the chance.

Friends flew over from Ireland yesterday to go to Crufts, which takes over the NEC in Birmingham and it is huge.  You can walk miles and miles, in little segments admittedly, because there are dogs to admire, stalls to examine, freebies to squirrel away, coffee and beers to drink, more dogs to admire, owners to chat to, from all over the world, Spain, Sweden, Iceland, Scotland, everywhere.  It’s brilliant but exhausting.

I particularly wanted to see the bloodhounds, having fallen in love with them a few years ago when one of the hunts brought their puppies along to a friend’s farm for training.  They were already big but they were adorable, gentle and friendly, not at all scary, unlike the ones on the scent of escaped prisoners in America’s Deep South, with that relentless, mournful howling.

An increasingly rare breed.

A dapper Swede, who used to have whippets, has now switched to long-haired chihuahuas because he wanted a dog he could travel with easily, almost pocket-sized!  If you’re thinking of getting a dog, think long and hard about your every requirement.  I’d love a bloodhound but they’re big, need a lot of space, lots to eat, probably slobber and have a life span of about ten years.

Forgot to ask the owner’s name and don’t know how to spell the dog’s!  Not even sure it is long-haired.

Show days are long and exhausting for both dogs and humans and I couldn’t resist these two examples.

Crufts? I’ve had enough!


And me!

The telly cameras are there in force – catch lots of the action and all the news with the versatile, peripatetic Clare Balding on Channel 4.

Hidden cameraman in the main arena.

The regular reader will know that my trips to watch my beloved Totspurs (Mum’s name for them) are often long and convoluted, so I laughed out loud on the train when I opened the Metro (free paper) and read Adam Dutton’s story about Neil Hughes.

He’s a retired air traffic controller and made an 18-hour, 1,127-mile round trip to travel on the Parry People Mover tram that links Stourbridge Junction and the town centre, three minutes there and three minutes back.  Apparently it’s the shortest route in Europe.  It’s also run on flywheel technology, so that piqued Neil’s interest.  “I like oddities,” he said.

Read all about it.

He lives in Troon, so drove to Glasgow, flew to Belfast (no direct flight at the right time), then Birmingham, got the train to Stourbridge Junction, did the Stourbridge Shuttle, train back to Birmingham International and the airport, then direct flight back to Glasgow and home.  Total cost:  £102.27.  Bargain.

“Some people may find it a dull thing to do but I had to do it,” Neil said.  “I’m certainly glad I did because it is unique.”

His wife Elaine said, “To most people it would sound barmy but that’s an average day out for Neil.”

Doesn’t sound dull to me, perfectly reasonable really and very well thought out.  Wonder if Neil and Elaine play golf…

Several of us went to see Fascinating Aida last week, their 40th anniversary tour and they were as hilarious and rude as ever, brilliant.  We laughed until everything ached.  Then, on Desert Island Discs, Rita Rae, Lady Rae, a distinguished Scottish lawyer, chose FA’s Cheap Flights as one of her records.  Somehow, miraculously, the production team managed to find a clip that didn’t require bleeps.  Dillie did it early in the show, saying, “Might as well get the fecker out of the way.”

Adele, Liza and Dillie in action. A performance that is a physical and mental tour de force. They’re now accompanied by Michael Roulston, a brilliant pianist and musician.

And finally, I couldn’t resist this ad, spotted on the tube as it arrived at Seven Sisters en route to Spurs v Crystal Palace last weekend.  Look at it closely.  It’s a cracker.