Staying with Dave

By Rufus


I’m staying with Dave. It’s not ideal – he has some odd habits, like going out at 7am and not coming back until 4.30pm. But it’s ok and I think I’m teaching him how to do things properly. Like going out in the garden. It’s an important task. I have to make sure that the garden is free from intruders, and I can only do that by frequent and random visits. I know best where this is concerned, despite what Dave thinks. And if I think I need to patrol at 5am, it’s for a good reason.

Where food is concerned, he seems to be under the impression that what is his, remains his. How naive is that? I let him have a lot of leeway on that matter, but I make sure that I give him one of my ‘everything you do is by my consent’ stares while he is eating. It works every time.

He has learned that the back bedroom is mine and he is only allowed to keep things in there because I am kind and generous. The bed, of course, is out of bounds and I have arranged the pillows in just the right way. They are perfectly set out for comfort.

He likes to play with the large bone chew. His favourite game is to chase me around the house trying to get it. I give him chances to take it from me but he never does. He particularly likes it when I growl – for some reason it makes him smile.

I had to help him out last week. He was trying to tear pieces of paper up and when I went to see what he was up to, he said something about shredding for security purposes. I don’t know why he didn’t think to ask me but I grabbed a piece of paper and showed him exactly how to shred. Once he saw how good I was at it, he let me have loads of paper to work on and I was much quicker than him.

He took me to have a haircut last week. To be fair, I was beginning to look like a hippy and some of the cats were calling me an Afghan Hound. But I’m looking much better now.

But all this looking after Dave I do is quite tiring and I do like to have a snooze now and again. One good thing about Dave’s house is that it has plenty of places where I can bask in the sun.

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Fun week

Rufus has come to stay for a week while his owner moves house. This poses a few problems. The main ones being, who owns the sausages in the fridge and who owns the sofa? Actually, there is no problem on the latter, as Rufus owns the sofa and I merely have use of it when he isn’t here. I may be allowed to sit on the floor, leaning against the sofa, as a concession.

My garden has never been completely secure from intruders – I’ve talked about the fox here before. In anticipation of Rufus’ arrival, and to avoid a re-enactment of ‘The Great Escape’, I spent the last week or so putting up new fencing around the garden. I wanted to make sure that while Rufus is here he has free reign over the garden without being tempted by the wider world. Most of the fencing is done but there are a few areas which are difficult to get to and the dim light of dusk made seeing what I was doing hard. I managed to spear myself in the ear with a small branch and several times I knocked my glasses off. So this morning I tackled the awkward bits in full daylight.

I was watched by the boss the whole time, except when he had to go and lie down. He checked out every link and made sure there was no slacking of effort. Then he claimed the sofa for himself once again.

I expect there will be some negotiation over the time and frequency of walks. It may go something like:

“I want to go out now.”

“But it’s 5am.”

“Yes, time to go out.”

“But I need my sleep so I’m can be an effective work unit.”

“Yes, but it’s time to go out now.”

Then there is the little matter of the sausages. I expect it will be similar to the sofa in that it will turn out that I don’t own any of the contents of my fridge. Toast for tea, then!

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Early morning

I’m up at the crack of dawn for work. Most mornings, it’s dark. Recently it’s been dark and wet. But this morning, there was a little more light in the sky than there has been of late. I was intrigued and when I looked out of the window I could see the sky was cloud frees, and there was a faint glow on the eastern horizon.

But better than a clear sky, there was the moon and Venus close together. I abandoned thoughts of breakfast and grabbed my camera. I spent 10 minutes snapping away.

After breakfast, and just before I left for work, I took another series of photos. The difference in the brightness of the sky was dramatic.

I varied the exposures on both sessions. The moon is a sunlit landscape so I manually set the exposure to record that. But in one photos, you can see I’ve exposed for the earth shine – the glow of the earth’s reflected light on the moon. The crescent lit by the sun is over exposed, as is Venus.

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Smooth as a baby’s

The things I do for fun. Two days to go before I fly off to climb Kilimanjaro. This evening was shaving evening! I’ve had a beard for just over two years, mainly because I hate the inevitable shaving rash I used to get when wet shaving (an electric razor never did it for me). But I have to look like my passport photo so I decided to shave the beard off.

Me with full beard


I’ve grown (grown, ha ha! Groan,) used to my beard now and I even let it grow over Christmas until I found coffee and bread crumbs from breakfast still there when I got to work. I trimmed it back again to what you see above. I set to work with shaving cream, two razors and hot water.

10 minutes later, I was at the goatee stage.

Me with goatee


I was alternately soaking one razor and using the other. It still took ages to get the long bristles off. I kept scraping but the razor was being deflected over the longer hairs. Still, eventually after another 15 minutes, I managed to get the Mexican Bandit look.

Me with moustache

Village people

If you’ve ever seen the episode of Top Gear where they make an intro for a 70’s action hero show (with a Reliant Scimitar as the main car) you’ll recognise this style of moustache. By now, all the scraping was taking a toll on my skin and my upper lip always suffers the worst. But the temptation to leave the mo’ was countered by the inevitable comparison to Village People. So the scraping continued.

After another 15 minutes, it had almost all gone and I’d had enough.

Clean shaven

16 again


As I’m writing this, I can feel a gentle waft of air on my upper lip. It’s stinging too. The double chin that the beard hid is still there but I was looking up slightly at the camera (there are some benefits to being a photographer – I know the tricks to hid the undesirable bits).

It’s as smooth as a baby’s bum,. apart from the bits where the blade was obviously blunt, which is as smooth as a piece of sandpaper. It’s got to be worth it just to see the mo’!









A year in statistics

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s windy and wet out, so Rufus and I are taking the opportunity to chill after a few days of being out on the hills and in the valleys of the Brecon Beacons. No doubt we’ll be out again tomorrow, so there are no feelings of guilt. Today is a day for snoring and flopping and sighing and watching things on TV that we’d never normally watch. There will probably be some eating and drinking (non-alcoholic, of course) and a little more eating.

It’s also a time for reflection. I had a look at last year’s early January posts and there were some resolutions and some reviewing. So how did I do on the resolutions?

1. Give up chocolate? Hahahahaha!

2. Do more exercise? Well, yes. I achieved that spectacularly. Not only did I increase the number of times a week I went to the gym (and the activities I did there) but I got out on a lot more mountains. I hiked and cycled a total of 1395.6km, with a peak in December of 164.8km. Also, in December I climbed a total of 6,121m – that’s 226m more than Kilimanjaro! In the last nine days I’ve climbed 2,985m.

3, Take more photos. Well, I kept 16,093 photos from last year so I guess I must have taken about 18,000. I see I took 1300 infra red images, and 804 macro images. I started and completed my ‘One-a-day’ project on Flickr.

4. Save money. Well, yes and no. I’ve made up some of the losses from the car and the house repairs, but I’ve also spent some on the trek. But my philosophy has changed from ‘save as much as possible’ to ‘save and spend wisely’. There are some things I may not be able to do when I’m older, so what is the point in saving up to be able to do them in 5 or 10 years time?

5. Improve. Well, they say a good wine improves with age. I’m not sure that applies to people. We improve by experiencing things, learning new things and practising things we already do. I’d like to think I’ve done all three. It’s hard to measure as I never set goals last year and to be honest, I didn’t want to then and I don’t want to now. My improvement will come through experience, and that may strike at any time.

No resolutions this year. They just set you up to fall. Instead, aspirations, aims and a reminder to myself of something our expedition leader said on the last Everest Base Camp trek: “There are those who dream of adventure and challenge, and there are those who go and do it.” I want to be the latter.

Finally, geeky stats (you know you want them really).

30% of this year’s photos were taken with a Nikon D7000, 11% with a Fuji X10 and only 0.01% with an iPad. 16% were taken on a full frame digital camera. 18% were taken with a Tamron 18-270mm zoom lens, 10.5% were taken with a prime lens and, according to the programme I’m using, 1.4% were taken with a lens of focal length of zero mm! And that’s the bigger picture!

366 photos - 1 a day

366 photos from my one-a day project.


An agreement in law between Me (Rufus) and you (Dave), setting out the terms and conditions by which you must abide when playing host to Me.

Rufus on his bed

1. A bed must be provided, with clean bedding. I am not required to use it, but it must be available at all times.

Rufus in the garden

2. Access to the garden must be provided on call, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. Weather conditions will not prevent access. Interruption of a good film is not a sufficient excuse to prevent access. Neither is reading a good book, enjoying a cup of coffee or using the computer. Being asleep may, depending on the hour, be used to delay the garden visit, but in any case by no more than 30 minutes.

Rufus looking at me

3. Food must be provided on tap. Your food is my food but my food is most definitely not your food.

4. If I am lying on your lap, you may not disturb me. You do not need to get up. There are no circumstances that require you to disturb me except for paragraph 2, above.

Rufus in the shower

5. I do not at any time require a shower. If I smell like a farmyard, it is because I want to smell like a farmyard.

Rufus on the sofa

Rufus and me on the sofa

6. The sofa is mine. You may have paid for it, but it is mine. I allow you to use it at my discretion. You do not need more that 30cm width and any more is a luxury.

Cold and frosty morning

“Snuffle snuffle”

“It’s only 5.30, Rufus. At least another half hour.”

“Snuffle, snuffle”

“Just five more minutes, please?”

“Snuffle snuffle”

“I’m getting up, honest. It’s just taking a while.”

We were in the garden, checking out the activities of the fox at 6.15. At 6.30 we were breakfasting on toast and coffee. At 7, we were heading off for the hills.

I decided I wanted to try the same route as two weeks ago. It gave a decent ascent (521m) without being too strenuous on the knee. I’m building it’s strength back up slowly so it would be silly to try something too much too soon. We set off from the car at just after 8 heading towards Moel Feity before dropping down into a shallow valley and climbing back up to Llyn y Fan Fawr and then on to Fan Brecheiniog.

The weather was gorgeous, cold and clear. The sun was still golden, turning everything it touched a deep orange colour  A thick frost coated the grass and most of the bog and marsh we encountered last time was frozen solid. We skirted the horses on the lower slopes of Moel Feity before turning north and heading up the flank towards the bomber crash site. I wanted to see if my little cross was still there. It was.

The view from Moel Feity was crisp and clear. Clouds were beginning to form a white woolly cap on Pen y Fan to the East and the moon was still shining above Fan Brecheiniog. With a brief stop for a treat and a drink, we set off towards the lake, hidden by low hills at this point. There are few paths and I always make my own way, avoiding the obviously tricky drops and boggy patches. I didn’t have to worry about the water and mud today, but there were enough little dips to keep me concentrating. Rufus tracked me some 50m to the north; he had his own agenda and there were plenty of scents that had to be investigated that didn’t require my presence. Every now and then he would check to see if I was okay.

In no time we reached the shore of Llyn y Fan Fawr. It was calm and the sun reflecting off it was dazzling. There was a lot of heat from the sun and the reflection too, so we stopped for a few minutes for me to catch my breath and for Rufus to catch some stones. Then it was off around the top of the lake and onto the path the climbs steeply to Bwlch Giedd. The path was shaded from the sun, and there was a thick frost on the stones making them treacherous. Even Rufus, with four paw drive, slipped on a couple. I kept an eye on him as we climbed higher but he quickly got the hang of it and, as usual, was waiting patiently for me as I huffed and puffed my way to the top.

I’ve said it before but the ridge to Fan Brecheiniog is one of my favourite places to walk. There’s a combination of solitude, space and achievement there that I rarely feel elsewhere. As we walked along the ridge this morning, I felt it again and it was magnified by the beautiful weather. I met several people on the mountain and we all mentioned how fantastic the conditions were at some point. Rufus and I went on to Tro’r Fan Foel, the ancient and eroded burial cairn on the tip of the mountain that overlooks land that was once inhabited long ago. Then it was time to turn back.

The journey down was uneventful. A thin mist was forming on Fan Brecheiniog, just as it had done on Pen y Fan. Moisture in the wind blowing up the side of the mountain was condensing at the top and blowing across the gently sloping west side. It didn’t affect the walk and wasn’t wetting, but it did spoil the views to the west. By the time we got down to the lake again (avoiding ignominious slips on the frosty path), the top of the mountain was covered in cloud in an otherwise clear sky.

We had to cross several streams swollen by recent rain on the way back, and at each one, stones had to be thrown (or barking occurred). Nevertheless, we managed to get back to the car just over 4 hours and 11km after we started. An enjoyable day.


“Rufus, Rufus, we’re home.”

Dramatic sigh

“We have to get out of the car now.”


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Weather the whether

Snuffle, snuffle, low grunt. Bark.

Time to get up, then, and after a brief garden run and breakfast, off we went to the hills. Fan Llia this time, for a slightly longer walk in the clouds. Sure enough, as we left the car park, the grey mist was descending to hide the tops of the hills and after the recent deluge, the ground was like a sponge underfoot. Within five minutes, my boots were soaked through despite their proofing, and a few minutes after that, my feet were soaking.

This route has a particularly awkward stile right at the start and I always try and get to it before Rufus to give him a helping hand over it. I was over first and Rufus took a run but slipped on the wet wood. In slow motion, he slipped backwards but landed on his feet and with little encouragement from me, he had another go. This time I caught him as he got to the top of the stile and I managed to bring him over.

From then on, it was relatively easy going. We splashed and slipped along the vague path and soon found ourselves in the clouds. The rock cairn loomed and Rufus, as usual, beat me to it. After a few minutes rest and some snacks, we carried on along the ridge. The wind was gusting strongly and before long, the rain started. Fortunately, it was being blown from my back and so the backpack took the brunt. Every so often, the clouds would lift and we’d catch a glimpse of some landmark in the distance. The Ystradfellte reservoir popped into view and then disappeared again, the road along the Llia valley flashed through the mist.

Soon we were making good progress with the wind at our backs. In the distance, we spotted a pair of walkers coming towards us. They were jogging and clearly part of some race. Not long afterwards, we spotted several more pairs, most of whom were consulting maps and heading across our path. None seemed dressed for the weather.

We walked the length of the ridge, over Fan Dringarth and on to Cefn Perfedd. I wanted to do 10km and three hours so once we’d reached the empty sheep pens, it was time to turn around.

But now we were walking into the wind and the going was tougher. Rufus is quite aerodynamic and with his ears blowing back in the wind, he was fine. I felt every gust and, shortly after, every drop of rain that was blown in my face. The slog back to the cairn on Fan Llia was long and hard and there were no great vistas to make the experience worthwhile, I was reduced to convincing myself I’d benefit from this on the trek.  We passed more runners, all heading down towards the road and eventually the cairn came inot view. ASfter a brief stop, we set off for the car.

Heading down the side of Fan Llia, I found out how slippery the water had made things. It was running down over the grass in sheets, which made it almost like walking on ice. I was reduced to walking in the bed of a small stream, where the stones gave me some purchase. Nevertheless, I slipped and slid down to the marshy ground and the stile. Rufus, with four paw drive, had no such troubles. He cleared the stile in two bounds and waited while I struggled across.

We walked into the car park, where an errant sheep jumped out in front of Rufus. It actually brushed past him and while he went to chase it (instinct takes over whenever anything runs away from Rufus – me, the cats he shares the house with) One call from me stopped him in his tracks. I was so pleased with him as he doesn’t really have any control over that instinct. As a reward (and in addition to the treats he got) we went down to the river where Rufus washed his paws in the fast flowing water. I was cautious as the river was in full spate so I didn’t throw stones for him to chase but no sooner had I turned my back to take a photo than Rufus had managed to get himself on to a little island in the middle of the river. Marvelling at his swimming skills, I was disappointed to watch as he skirted the deep, fast flowing parts and found a shallow bit to tip toe across to get back to the bank!

Back at home, there was much snoring and sofa surfing.

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The Silence of the Spaniel

I was watching progressive rock on the TV. Rufus had decided not to join me and had hinted at a visit to the garden but he’d only just come back in so I didn’t relent. There was silence, apart from Mike Oldfield on the box.

Silence is never, ever golden.

I don’t know what made me peek into the hallway but this is what I was confronted with:

Rufus ripping cardboard


Looking a little further into the kitchen revealed the true nature of silence:

Rufus and cardboard

He seemed  quite proud of his achievement and to be honest, he’d done a good job of shredding several items of packaging:

Rufus and torn cardboard

And the moral of the story? Prog rock is bad for your kitchen!


Lookin’ good (by Rufus)

One tries one’s best. I have to look good for all the appearances I make in the media (mostly on here) so every now and then I visit my stylist. We discuss the latest look and what we can do to improve on it. I like to be a trend setter rather than a trend follower. Today, I made such a visit.

Dave was all excited at the prospect, even though he wouldn’t be there for the important stuff (and it goes without saying that I wouldn’t let him have a say in any styling issues – have you seen his hair?) He was good enough to drive me there, though. We stopped off at White Rock on the way so he could get a few minutes exercise. He wittered on about historic significance, industrial revolution and navigable waterways. Sometimes he can be a little boring but I’m polite and say nothing.

He dropped me off at the stylist and headed off do do some stuff. (He told me later that he had coffee, went shopping for bathroom tiles and food, then headed off to Scott’s Pit in Birchgrove, which is some sort of… thing, before picking me up again). Meanwhile, I decided on a sleek, modern look given that the weather has been so mild of late. It’s also quick to dry and now the rain has arrived, that’s as important as looking good.

The plan for tomorrow is to walk a proper mountain. If Dave’s knee doesn’t fall off and the weather isn’t too wet for him.

Dave has supplied the photos below, and the captions. I apologise.

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