I’m not retraining as an arborist – I have entered the world of commerce, in a small way, by having some of my photographs  made in to postcards.  Being fortunate to live  in Cornwall where my working day is spent walking other peoples’ dogs across moorland and fields or along the  coast I am often inspired to  capture the stunning scenery with all it’s moods, so it stands to reason that I always carry my camera (along with poo bags and  dog treats).

Yomping over the  countryside in all winds and weather can be thirsty work, which is why I favour walks with dog friendly cafes on route.  It was after  I’d  slaked my thirst at one tea room that I approached the Proprietor with a view to selling my postcards there. I was encouraged to find him receptive to the idea  having liked the few samples I’d  brought with me. We agreed  I would return with a variety of local scenes and that they would be displayed for sale in their shop. 

So if  you find yourself in Cornwall and would like a memento of your visit and an excellent cuppa  then head for Trevallick’s Farm Shop  or Minions Tea Room and look out for my postcards!

“It’s rather like going for a walk on your own.” My clients told me apologetically as we watched their, German Pointer, Brodie roving along the shore in the distance.  “He’s obsessed with wagtails.” I could just make out that Brodie was stalking something. “I swear he thinks he’s invisible!”  We laughed. “Don’t worry,” they reassured me, “he never leaves the beach!”

We carried on along the pebbly shoreline with Morgan, my client’s other dog, another pointer,  watching his owners intently as he waited for his tennis ball to be launched into the sea.  “At least you’ll feel like you’re on a dog walk with Morgan!”

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I’d finally found the time to call in and say ‘hello’ to my retriever friends.  As I let myself into their garden I was met at the gate by two excited goldies who bounced up and down in front of me barking ecstatically. Whilst Pippa let me make a fuss of her George grabbed a bunch of wilted chrysanthemums lying by the back door and presented them to me!  He seemed to think better of it because, as I reached to take the decaying flowers from him, the cheeky canine whisked them away with a look of glee to gallop around the lawn holding the bouquet between his soft chops!

I was picking at my breakfast of porridge which, because I wasn’t wearing my glasses, I’d mistakenly dusted with ground cumin instead of cinnamon, when Alfie the rag doll cat appeared with a dead robin!  So pleased with himself was he that I swear the feline was smiling, his purr vibrated through him as if he were singing with pride.

As Alfie regularly terrorizes the local wildlife I composed a special ‘killing’  song with him in mind, it can be sung to most tunes.

He does sing of the things that he brings,

Of mice and rats and birds and things,

He does sing of the things that he brings her,

He does sing of the things that he brings!

It is a work in progress but I think that Alfie likes it so far!

“It can take Ollie up to an hour to eat his food now.”  My client tapped the ceramic bowl that held the barely touched meat and stared at the elderly tabby and white cat sadly. “He’s used to eating up on the work top, just make a fuss of him and don’t let the others steal his food.”  Tiger-Tim and Lily, Ollie’s brother and sister,  were already winding around our legs in anticipation of extra helpings!

Every morning would start with me putting a tablespoon of wet food in Ollie’s bowl and then trying to encourage him to eat it.  If he hadn’t been so thin I don’t think we would have been quite as worried about Ollie’s lack of focus when it came to meal times.

My client had suggested I brush the ancient moggy to get him eating and for a while it worked.  So did giving all the cats the same diet, this bit of reverse phycology had Ollie fooled into thinking he was having something that he shouldn’t as he sneaked a few mouthfuls from Tiger-Tim and Lily’s plates!  However, Ollie still wasn’t consuming enough and it would take all day before he’d finish a sachet of food.

The Meaty Meat song was born out of my frustration.  By tapping Ollie’s bowl and pushing its contents about with a fork I managed to attract my charge’s attention.  When I began to sing “Yummy! Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!  He’s got meaty meat in his tummy,” as well, Ollie started to scoff his nosh!  I was amazed, especially as my singing is awful.  It didn’t work every single time but Ollie did seem to associate my little ditty with eating and thankfully began putting on some weight.  Perhaps I’ll give it a go for other fussy eaters.  I wonder if it would work with toddlers and broccoli/!

“Usual routine for the dogs.” My clients informed me as they were leaving for the airport “Nuts for the wild birds are in the funeral urn on the hall table.”  This made us all smile because the last time I sat at Postman’s Cottage I didn’t dare move the urn assuming that it held the ashes of a deceased relative! “And if you wouldn’t mind feeding the badger, we chuck a handful of peanuts and a slice of the tiger bloomer, buttered, onto the lawn last thing before we turn in.” I wondered who else I’d be feeding next-time, damper for the deer? Roti for the rabbits? Or maybe I’d be putting out focaccia for the foxes?

I do occasionally look after poultry although not all of them are as free to roam as Mr Humble, the handsome blond cockerel and his mother, helpfully called Mother. Every night, after a day spent scratching about the property far and wide, they would put themselves to bed in the barn, roosting on a partition between the stables and every morning they would be waiting for me to give them their breakfast at the conservatory door. This happened so often during the course of my sit that I was quite worried the day they didn’t show up for their slice of toast! I soon found them in the disused greenhouse making the most of the morning sunshine to dig up the grubs!