Sunday, 23 October 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Slow, quiet day. The sky has come flat and black and lowering and glowering. It is one of those days when you have to look very, very hard for the beauty. But there is a rose hip, there is the very last of the honeysuckle, there are the misty hills, rising, gracious and immutable, through the murk. There is the eager, questing face of The Pigeon, as I pick up a most excellent stick and get ready to throw it.

I've been thinking about my dear little Pidge a lot lately. (Oh, surprise, surprise, the chorus of Dear Readers is almost certainly shouting, into the ether.) Perhaps I should say: even more than usual. I've been missing her sister. I've been thinking a bit about my dad. I think what happens is that you get to a stage where you can remember without sorrow, but with joy and laughter. I hope that happens. I'm not quite there yet.

As the Pigeon follows me faithfully up the beech avenue, sleeps at my side as I write, sits at my feet as I clean my teeth each morning, lies patiently in the doorway of the kitchen as I cook soup, rests her head on my knee as I sit on the sofa in the evening, watching old episodes of Spooks (my current indulgence), I think of the bonds that are forged in adversity.

I wonder if she remembers her sister. We were a pack, and now we are just the two of us. It makes a different kind of love: fiercer, more profound, more urgent, in a way. It always sounds quite mad to write this of a dog, but I'm beyond pretending that I have any moderation when it comes to the canine island on which I am stranded.

I always come back to one of my favourite song lyrics of all time. It was when Nanci Griffith sang, in her pure, bell-like voice: 'you come home straight and you come home curly'. Well, The Pigeon and I have seen each other straight and seen each other curly, and that makes a difference to things. I'm not putting it awfully well: but there is a gratitude in the love now. I feel lucky and blessed to have such a companion, that's all. It is just a dog, but it's a high, joyful, consoling presence. It is pure affection, and unconditional company. It's many, many things, for one small, black creature to provide, and I don't take that for granted for a single moment.



The old cherry tree, in the wild garden:

23 Oct 1

I took this, of a curtain of silver birch leaves. It has come out all blurred and wrong, but I rather loved it anyway:

23 Oct 2

The beech avenue:

23 Oct 2-1

The changing colours of the trees, lovely, even on a bleak day:

23 Oct 4

The bright rose hip:

23 Oct 5

Fallen leaves:

23 Oct 6

Pigeon, with her busy and determined face on:

23 Oct 12

And off she goes. Places to go, people to meet, sticks to catch, scents to sniff:

23 Oct 13

Suspicion of rabbit activity down there?

23 Oct 14

And the irresistible, Grace Kelly look:

23 Oct 15

Today's hill, quite lost in the dreich:

23 Oct 16


  1. I feel more able to comment on the dog love now as I have travelled to Dog Island and I'm staying for good. The Pidge really is a rare beauty and I am not surprised you feel the way you do. You have had a profound couple of months and she has been there with you say through straight and curly (love that). Even if you had weathered this storm with a human companion, there would have been moments when you would have felt they didn't give enough or gave it wrongly. As for what was given by your dog; it's a different kind of unfailing support and it's never, ever, ever wrong. Hard to explain but I just know what you mean...somehow.
    Lou x the occupant of Dog Island for only six weeks and now utterly stranded.

  2. ...Sometimes you don't come home at all;
    You've broken the speed of the sound of loneliness, you're out there running just to be on the run...

    I adore this song, though it is the Alabama 3 version that I know..
    From the wonderful album 'Exile on Cold Harbour Lane' if you don't have it - get it, there isn't a bad song on it.

  3. Thanks ENTIRELY to you, I went to the blog "Life happens between books" and yesterday bought the first novel I've purchased in (what seems like) years, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
    AND, I'm rather too proud to say, for once I did NOT first read the end.
    It has been far too long since I read anything longer than a blog or magazine/ newspaper article for pure pleasure. (Yann Martel's The Life of Pi was the last time.)
    I am really REALLY looking forward to this.
    Thank YOU, Tania!

    wv "allogre" -- sounds like a Tolkien creature....

  4. Hurray for more remembering of your dad and the duchess and for thoroughly appreciating what we have left. (strokes a dogs curly ear on the sofa).

    Jonathan Strange an mr norrell - what an enchanting read that was,

    Amanda x

  5. I don't think there is any such thing as "just" a dog, anymore than there is "just" a human. Love seeing the Pigeon every day. She may understand the fundamentals of life and death better than we do.


  6. There is a song that I adore - Everything Reminds Me of My Dog, by Jane Siberry. I'm sure it will be on youtube. It is for all of us who are quite happy on Dog Island and have no intention of leaving, EVER!!!

    (only 3 hours at work and pining for the wolfhound, the bullmastiff and yes, even the bull terrorist)

  7. Not youtube -

    Definitely not computer work, but it made me smile!!!

  8. Pigeon is more than a dog - I think all pets are. They give so much unconditional love.

  9. I think Dog Island is a lovely place to be. The darling Pigeon is so much more than 'just a dog', as was the Duchess. Being loved unconditionally is a gift. Lucky you xx

  10. I think being grateful for love and companionship is a wonderful thing. Far too many folk have died this year to forget to stop and be thankful for the love we can still enjoy(I say this for me, I cannot speak for you).

  11. Such, such lovely comments; thank you.

  12. Totally unrelated, but it was on the news (Melbourne Cup day soon, down this neck of the woods). Discussion of Black Caviar (Aust) racing Frankel (UK). From what I've seen of their action, this would be breathtaking and wondrous to watch.


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