Today is 13th February 2019.
After a few weeks of much procrastination and deliberation, today I took the plunge to start another 100 project.
Having completed my previous project, ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’, I found myself really missing it – and it far exceeded my expectations and wildest dreams by snowballing itself into a book! From the 100 copies I had printed (hardback), I now only have one copy left!
So back to the here and now.
I’m really enjoying this photography malarky; I am loving every aspect of learning. I must add I am just ‘blundering through’, but it’s just great fun and so rewarding.
So it was Wednesday; the day I run errands for my old Dad. I finished up a little earlier than usual and because it was such good weather, I decided to drop my car at home and walk up to the school to pick up my daughter. It takes about an hour on foot, allowing time of course to feed the birdlife on the canal. I grabbed a bag full of seed and as I was about to leave home I could hear the Fuji XT20 shouting, “Take me! Take me!”. The 56mm lens also wanted to come along … ah well, the more the merrier … so off we went.
As I walked along the Sutton Road towards the canal, I spotted a beautiful wire-haired canine and his human. The old ‘butterflies in the belly’ were flapping and fluttering their familiar rhythms, but today I would ignore them – “Hello, I wonder if I could possibly take your photograph for a project that I’m doing?”. George the Lurcher was tight muzzled, but his human, Norman, said that would be fine. George was a rescued by Norman years ago. He was 13 years old but still ran around like a young pup.
I often say that the universe tips its cap to you when you’re on the right path – the first dog of the original 100 Strangers project was called George, and today my first was also a George – this could be coincidence, but it certainly gave me reassurance that this was the right thing at the right time.
#1 George the Lurcher and Norman the Man
I continued on my journey and joined the canal, bird seed in hand, as many a hungry feathered friend was waiting to greet me as I descended the steps to the tow path. Lunch was served – moorhens, coots and ducks were fine dining today.
As I walked along the path, I spied a happy little fellow with a very keen interest in the bird life! Enter Flynn, the lovely little Cocker Spaniel. The super cute Flynn was six years old and was accompanied by his human, Liz, a lovely lady. We had a chat, hugged, and parted ways.
#2 Flynn the Cocker Spaniel, and Liz
It’s such a gorgeous stretch of canal, so easy to lose yourself in its beauty. I checked my watch, quickened my pace and made it to school just in time!
On the way home I had the pleasure of meeting the adorable Gloria, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and her humans, Liz and Jen. Gloria will be six years old in April; she had big brown eyes and was quite the lady.
#3 Gloria the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Liz and Jen
Thursday 21st February 2019 (It was so warm today could’ve been summer)
Cycling to work along the canal near Longwood Boat Club, I looked up. Our eyes met … *swoon* … enter Frankie, the Blue French Bulldog and his human Melanie. Frankie was born on 21st June 2018, and, at just eight months old was a handsome devil and quite the character.
Frankie and Mel had just been to the pub for refreshments to break up their two hour walk – water and wine were consumed. Melanie said Frankie was happy to go for a long walk but would be just as happy to stay relaxing at home.
#4 Frankie the French Bulldog and Melanie, his human
A little further along on my journey, a gorgeous glossy coated Welsh Collie with different coloured eyes crossed my path. He was hauntingly beautiful, three years old and called Brodie.
Hetrochromia Iridis is the Greek term for a difference in coloration of the eyes. Some people believe that heterochromatic dogs can see both heaven and earth at the same time.
Brodie was accompanied by his human Geraint. I’d never met a ‘Geraint’ before. He told me it was a Welsh name.
#5 Brodie, the Welsh Collie, and Geraint
Wednesday 27th February.
Another amazing day for the weather, bright blue skies and warm, no coat required! So unusual for February, four seasons in one month.
As it was Wednesday, ‘my day off’, or as it had now become, ’runningaroundformyolddadday’, I took my camera, still with the 56mm 1.2 lens on, just on the off chance that I might meet a canine who would be willing to let me take a photo of them and their human.
The day started with a dog walk for my boys, then the school drop off for my girl.
I arrived at my dad’s house and took his dog Sprocket for a walk in the local park. I bumped into Jason and Rosie who were in my first project. I gave Rosie a snuggle and chatted to Jason and his wife.
The park was surprisingly quiet, not a snap to be snapped.
Fast forward to the afternoon where I had to nip into Aldridge before the school pick up to visit the bank.
As I arrived, I spotted a lovely little ball of fluff with her human. Hopefully our paths would cross on my return. Splendidly it did … deep breath … courage level approximately six out of ten … “Hello, I wonder if I could take a photo of you and your humans?”.
Meet Bella, the two year old Cockapoo, and her humans, Mick and Pat. Mick said that he did a bit of photography and he shot with Canon cameras. He was a retired plumber but did the odd plumbing job for friends to keep his ‘hand in’. He also played guitar. He knew his stuff alright and we chatted a little about guitars and music – right up my street! Mick had a knee replacement a couple of months ago and was waiting to see a specialist as it was ‘clunking’.
Pat said they had just got back from Llangollen, Wales, in their tourer caravan. She said they loved the freedom of it but they were always forgetting pack something. The last time they went they forgot their phone chargers; this time they forgot their microwave so they had to cook their porridge on the stove!
Whilst we were chatting, Bella sat quietly and contentedly on the pavement in the sunshine. Pat said that up until recently Bella wouldn’t have been this patient.
We drew our conversation to a close. I kneeled down and Bella gave me her paw and a big kiss and we bid each other farewell.
#6 Bella the Cockapoo, Mick and Pat
It’s been an exciting and somewhat scary week for me this week.
As I was cycling home along the canal after teaching guitar on Saturday, I received a phone call from Adele, the manager of WEX photography in Birmingham. She said that she wanted to put something to me and asked if was I free to talk? Adele has been very supportive of my previous blog, project, and book ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’.
For those of you don’t know, I had 100 copies of a hardback book and sold them all, just by word of mouth. Any profits that were made went to various dog charities. The books went around the world, from the Uk to Ireland, America, and even Trinidad. I now only have one book left, I have been totally amazed and humbled by how the book was received.
Anyway, long story short, Adele asked if I could do an ‘Inspirational Talk’ on the ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’ project for WEX at a venue in Birmingham in the near future.
Now the cowardly me would usually respond with a most definite “No thank you, but thank you for asking”, however, I don’t know if it was how the stars were aligned or some new found courage from doing the first project, and now starting this one, but I said, “Erm, I could have a go, I’m not sure how or what I can do but if it can help others and maybe inspire just one person to start their own project then … okay?”. What the devil was I doing?! I felt touched and flattered that Adele had faith in me but my usual panic was immediately rising.
I got home, talked to family and friends, put the panic in the bottom drawer and forgot about it. It might not happen.
Roll on Tuesday, email from Clare, the events organiser at WEX, with all the details and requirements for my inspirational talk in April 2019. Looks like it’s really happening then. Watch this space!
Thursday 28th February.
Où est le soleil?
The sky was like a great big soft box today and it was raining, but it was not going to stop me from cycling to work. It’s one of the things that keeps me sane and muddy!
Besides, there’s much birdlife with many a hungry tum awaiting their dinner so, armed with a plentiful bag of birdseed, off I went.
I’d not even bumped all the way down the steps, but the birds were waiting. I divided out the rations and before I’d even finished, out from the trees popped the most beautiful little pup with the biggest and cutest ears. Meet Cookie, the cross breed and her human, Steve. Cookie was about seven years old and was a rescue dog from Birmingham Dogs Home. She had been with Steve for three years. She wasn’t too interested in the ducks but was extremely curious as to what snacks I might have in my rucksack. You could see the massive bond and connection that these guys had. It was quite lovely!
#7 Cookie, the Heinz 57 and Steve, the human
Friday 8th March
It’s been a rainy old week!
I’ve been busy this week getting ideas down for the WEX photography talk. On Sunday morning The Quarter Horse coffee shop in Birmingham was the perfect location, not only for coffee and breakfast, but to do some writing for the talk. It was a really enjoyable experience. Saying that though, I am still extremely nervous and apprehensive about it all.
Also this week I found a couple of lumps on the neck of my Dalmatian/Collie cross, Obi. He’s booked in to see the vet at the start of next week.
I also had a bit of bicycle maintenance to do. There were around 12 thorns in my tyres that I had accumulated over the last few days, which resulted in 15 punctures! The slime inner tubes got me to work but had to be replaced the next day, along with a new tyre. Still managing to cycle to work each day though – nearly a year now, non stop.
Today though, it was very cold and rainy, and I contemplated going to work in the car, but I figured the bird life on the canal needed a little sustenance, and I might meet a canine or two who were taking their humans for a walk, so cycling it would be.
It was so muddy I decided to get off at Longwood locks. I turned off right up the hill and saw an absolutely wondrous sight just in from of me. Three amazing dogs and their humans – the full pack all out for a stroll.
The smallest and youngest member of the pack was the very vocal, Pippin, the five month old Chihuahua cross Miniature Pinscher. Pippin was accompanied by Dodger, the 11 year old Collie cross, Winston the 22 month old Cavachon, Marie the lady human and Ray the male human.
They were all so lovely and very friendly. Marie’s hair matched Winston’s fleece perfectly.
Dodger was a rescue dog who had been saved by Marie and Ray’s daughter while she was working in her local rescue centre. Marie and Ray had had Dodger for the last 10 years. He really reminded me of my dog, Obi.
They all lived on a canal boat called ‘Two Odd Nuts’. Two and a half years they had lived like this. I remember that I spotted the boat when it was moored yesterday as I cycled past. It had a painting of a Squirrel on the side and was quite wonderful! The five of them travelled around so much and were never in one place for too long. Their human kids had to call them up every time they wanted to visit to find out exactly where they were!
#8 Winston, the Cavachon, Pippin, the Chihuahua Miniature Pinscher cross, Dodger, the Collie Cross, Marie and Ray, their humans
Monday 11th March.
Freezing cold out today. This morning I had to take my dog Obi to the vets again. I noticed a lump on his neck just over a week ago and then found another couple of small ones around and about. The main one looked a lot like the mast cell tumours Dexter had removed last July. We saw Max at First Vets in Streetly and he thought it looked a little ‘off’. Fine needle aspirates were taken from all three lumps and the results should be back in a week. It is worrying but on the positive side there’s plenty of skin so wide margins can be taken if needs be. It was nice to see the lovely Lynsey on reception. She helped me weigh Obi, we had a little chat, and off I went.
Homeward to do a little more preparation for the upcoming WEX talk.
Time clicked on and time for work so off on my bike I went. I took some seed for the birdlife and shared it out – I was met with lots of hungry tums and really noisy Geese.
I left the canal at Longwood locks as I couldn’t face getting really muddy again and I wanted to avoid the copious amount of thorns further up the towpath.
As I passed the Whitehouse pub I spotted two fluffy pups with their human. I had the spirit of the cowardly lion running through me today so rode straight past them. I kept riding on, but, after giving myself a good talking to, I turned my bike around and cycled back up to them. Say hello to one year old Ziggy and four year old Woody, the Cockapoo brothers, with their human, Sue. The boys were getting their coats cut the next day, but it was good to see them fully fluffed.
Sue said that the boys were chalk and cheese, Ziggy, the little black and white fellow was a little terror, he was always on the go. Woody on the other hand, was very laid back. I commented that I’d never seen a Cockapoo with a coat like Woody’s. Sue said that it had taken her ages to find Woody as they are quite rare.
#9 Ziggy and Woody the Cockapoos, with their Human, Sue
Sunday 17th March
The results for Obi’s neck lumps came back and they were inconclusive, but as the one on the back of his neck is growing and looks nasty, so to err on the side of caution, he is booked in on Wednesday to have two lumps removed. Watch this space.
A trip this morning to the brand new ‘Ultimate Vegan Cafe’ in Lichfield. Dogs are very welcome here, it’s an amazing place, with incredible food! A good friend is a chef there, and I can highly recommend it.
Sitting across from where I was sitting were two beautiful pups and their lovely humans.
Luna, the two year old Labrador, little Sunny the three year old Cavachon, and their humans Liz and her daughter Emma.
Both of these beauties were in training to be assistance dogs with Dog A.I.D. (Assistance In Disability)
Dog A.I.D. (Assistance in Disability) was established in 1992 to assist people with physical disabilities, improving their quality of life by helping them train their own pet dogs to provide assistance with day-to-day tasks and in some circumstances providing life-saving interventions.
Liz had had Sunny from a puppy, you can follow her on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Sunnyorme/.
Luna came to Emma as a rescue last year, she was four weeks pregnant at the time, unbeknown to them, and had her litter of nine puppies on the 5th December 2018. You can see Luna’s story here: https://www.facebook.com/LadyLunaLab/ .
Dogs are such incredible creatures, they never cease to amaze me!
#10 Luna the Labrador, Sunny the Cavachon, and their humans Emma and Liz
Wednesday 20th March
Today was the day my Dalmatian cross, Obi, had his operation to remove two lumps from his neck. One is a tumour of sorts, but not sure what type or grade until the pathology results come back. Every digit is crossed, a very worrying time indeed. As I am writing, he is resting, with a massive nasty wound staring right at me. Much TLC over the next couple of weeks methinks.
Busy old day today. After dropping Obi off at the vets this morning, then running usual Wednesday errands for my Dad, I headed back home to sort my other Canine son, Dex. As it was a warm and sunny beautiful Spring afternoon, I decided to take Dex with me for the hours walk to do the school pick up. With only the puddles for refreshment, I must add just for Dexter and not me, I’m not that partial to muddy water anymore, we headed up the canal towpath.
On the way home we encountered our first and only Canine, and her human of the day.
Poppy, the two year old Irish Setter, and her Human, Shirley. Shirley was operating the locks whilst her husband was driving the boat through. Poppy was doing a fantastic job of supervising the whole operation.
Poppy was stunning and so calm and gentle. Shirley said that Poppy used to be a terror and ate the curtains at home, as well as some of the table, but recently was the pawfect lady. She also loved being on their boat, unlike their old dog.
I took several shots of these guys but they looked blurry through my viewfinder. I didn’t realise that my diopter had been altered when my camera was serviced at The Photography Show earlier in the week by the lovely people at Fuji. Luckily I realised, and was able to get some lovely shots of them both.
#11 Poppy the Irish Setter, and her Human, Shirley
Thanks to Gina Milicia for Lightroom preset Sicilian Vintage.
Saturday 30th March 2019
It’s been a great week. The vet rang on Monday with the pathology results for Obi’s lumps … the news was extremely good. One lump was a histiocytoma, a benign skin tumour, and the other a small fatty lump, or lipoma. Both were removed successfully and not dangerous, it was a massive relief. His stitches came out yesterday, and he’s healing extremely well. He even posed for a couple of photos.
It was a beautiful day today, spring was definitely in the air. the sky was blue and perfect bike riding weather.
Cycling home, as I was running late, I decided that I wouldn’t take any dog shots unless I saw someone that I couldn’t resist. Enter Rico the Rhodesian Ridgeback and his human Lee. Rico was two years old but soon to be three, in June, and was born in Bristol. He was one of 16 pups in his litter! I really fell in love with Rico, not only was he strikingly beautiful, he was so affectionate, just gorgeous, I was smitten! Lee was a Walsall supporter, and a lovely guy. I mentioned that my friend Darren’s brother used to play for Walsall Football Club, Mark Rees. Lee knew who he was straight away, and said that he was a great player, like a bullet. I on the other hand, know nothing about football at all.
#12 Rico the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Lee, his human
The talk for WEX about the 100 Strangers and their Dogs project has been moved to 1st May 2019. Phew! I must say this pleases me as this gives me more time to prepare. Come along if you’re able, be lovely to see you there.
Sunday 31st March
Mothering Sunday, and the day began with an amazing surprise from my little one. She made me a little model of myself and the dogs camera included, just brilliant!
Then off for breakfast at the ‘Ultimate Vegan Cafe’ in Lichfield.
After breakfast, a potter around the shops lead to meeting my first Canine and her human of the day, Seren, a Welsh name, the two year old Springador, a Springer Labrador cross, and her human Faith. Seren was really calm and sweet with the cutest little legs. She was from working stock in Wales.
I met these guys inside ‘The White Stuff’ shop, where both humans and dogs are very welcome.
I plucked up my courage to ask the usual “I’m doing a photography project called 100 Canines and their humans, and I was wondering if I could take a photo of you and your lovely pup?” “Yeah sure!”
We popped outside and took the shot. Faith even gave me her email so I could send her the photographs. These guys were so friendly and sweet, we had a chat and parted ways.
#13 Seren, the Springador, and her human, Faith
Lichfield City Centre was jam packed with dogs today, it was absolute bliss. There were far too many to stop everyone, but this fellow I just couldn’t resist.
Wallace the the seven month old Great Dane pup, and his humans Elyse and Connor. Wallace was gentle, adorable, and HUGE! Connor said that Great Danes were a German breed of domestic dog, and originally descended from a mix of Mastiffs and Irish Wolfhounds. As a younger pup children would ask if Wallace was a Dalmatian. Elyse and Connor had another dog at home, a Boxer called Chester. These guys were lovely and we had a good long chat. Wallace was a perfect gentleman, a true gentle giant.
#14 Wallace, the Great Dane, Elyse and Connor the humans
A little further on, while his human was busy at the cashpoint, I spotted a little fellow and was immediately drawn to his sweet little face. His eyes really reminded my of my Dog Dexter. Meet Ted the six month old American Bulldog cross, and his Human Jo. Jo didn’t know what Ted’s father was, but said that his mother was a beautiful dog. Ted was one of nine in his litter, and although he was young, Jo said that he was really well behaved indeed. She went on to say that she’d had loads of different breeds of dogs over the years.
#15 Ted, the American Bulldog cross, and Jo his human
After leaving Ted and Jo, I turned the corner and happened upon a Street Fair. It turns out a friend had organised it. It was great, live music, food and stalls, brilliant! I saw another couple of old friends there, Gary, and Lucy, who was accompanied by her dog, Billy. Lucy had rescued Billy from a local rescue centre four years ago, at the tender age of one. Now five years old Billy was a happy, relaxed and contented little girl.
Lucy often gets asked what breed Billy is, so she decided to get her DNA tested to be certain. It turned out that she was a mix of Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Lurcher, a lurcher is a mix of Border Collie and Greyhound – Lucy certainly knew her stuff. However there was 11% not accounted for. Billy recently had an encounter with a Badger, although she just wanted to play with him, the Badger decided it wanted to take a little chunk out of her ear. Fortunately it healed well, and she’s fine now. Lucy also added she only goes out to places where she can take Billy with her. Their bond is wonderful to see, soul mates.
#16 Billy the Staffy Lurcher cross, and her human Lucy
Friday 12th April
Lots of teaching and biking today, there and back, and there and back again! On the first journey to work this morning around 8.20am, I met Vinnie, the three year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and his human, Dave. Now I hadn’t intended to take any photographs of canines and their humans today, in fact I purposefully left my XT3 and 56mm lens at home. I did however have my XT20 and the 18-55 lens in my rucksack, (as you do),and I have broken my own rule. In this project I had intended to only use my 56mm lens, but because of the synchronicity of todays’ meeting, I had to go with what I had.
I was on the last stretch of the canal before I got to my studio, and just up ahead I saw a guy and his little dog. I slowed down to pass them, and was greeted by Vinnie the cute little King Charles. I said hello to him and his human, and before I knew it I was having a good ole chat to Dave. Dave said that Vinnie was his son’s dog, and he was just looking after him for a while. Dave had lost his own dog Tommy, a black Labrador, a year ago to prostate cancer. He missed him dearly. Dave said that his family all used to go on holiday together to Norfolk, and Tommy would run around on the beach. It was only now, a year on, that Dave was starting to think about getting another pup of his own. He told me that he had a beautiful water colour painting of Tommy on his wall, that a local artist had done. He said she didn’t copy pictures, she looked at several photographs and created an image from them. The painting was in fact a Christmas gift from his daughter.
Tommy by Vanessa Johnson https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BellesAdventuresGB
Now this is the weird synchronicity bit. I was on my way to teach guitar to a lovely lady, Vanessa, a local artist, who had done commissions of my boys Dexter and Obi.
Her art is beautiful. Could this be the same person? I asked Dave if her name was Vanessa, and he said yes! In fact, I remember Vanessa showing me the painting that she had done of Tommy in one of her guitar lessons a while ago. What a small world it is! Serendipity in its truest form!
#17 Vinnie, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Dave, the Human
Saturday 13th April
Cycling home from my morning teaching session, I met these two lovelies ambling along the very sunny Canal. Max the eight, soon to be nine year old Dalmatian and his human Glenn. Max was super chilled out and very calm indeed, not your usual Dalmatian! Glenn told me that Max was Epileptic and that he had his first seizure when he was just four years old, but the medication he was on kept him stable. Max was a beautiful boy, and sporting a rather fancy scarf, he was very dandy.
#18 Max, the Dalmatian, and Glenn his human
Tuesday 23rd April
St George’s day, and ten whole days since my last canine and their human post. I’ve been really busy trying to sort out the 100 Strangers and Their Dogs talk that I will be doing for WEX photography next week, gulp!!! So nervous!!!
A few days in Devon is the only thing that can be done at this time…
There are so many dogs down here, wherever you go dogs a plenty! Walking into Brixham today I knew I’d definitely get some new additions to this project.
First on the list was Monty and Bertie with their humans, Steve and Bobby. Monty and Bertie were Shar-pei cross Cocker Spaniels, three year old brothers. Their Mom was a pure white Shar- Pei, and their Dad was a working Cocker. There were eight pups in the litter and every one had very different markings. These boys were absolutely gorgeous! Steve clocked my accent, and said that they too were from Birmingham. Steve’s eight year old Grandson Bobby was great at getting the dogs to pose for the photographs. Monty, the lemon coloured fellow, often got mistaken for a Beagle, he was a very calm and relaxed pup. Bertie wasn’t as calm as his brother, but Steve said that he got stressed out by the traffic. They were equally beautiful and very striking. Steve added that they didn’t bark very often either.
#19 Monty and Bertie, the Shar-Pei Cocker Spaniel cross, with their humans Steve and Bobby
Heading up from the harbour, on my way to catch our little one busking, her first time ever! She did a brilliant job and I was very proud of her indeed.
Right where she was busking I met my next couple of Canines with their humans.
First up was Charlie, the British Bulldog and his human, Nick. Charlie was four years old and celebrated his birthday on St Valentines day. He was extremely cute, and very chilled out. Bulldogs are very family friendly, and great with kids. You can find him on instagram under: https://www.instagram.com/charlie__thebulldog/
#20 Charlie the British Bulldog, and his human, Nick
Only a short while after meeting Charlie and Nick, I spied a big beautiful Akita. I’d not met an Akita in this, or in the last project, so I thought I better pluck up the courage and ask. Now I know you would have thought that by now, all the old fears that I originally had about asking people if I could take their photograph, would have disappeared. Alas no, some days I still struggle.
Meet Tom, the 18 month old Akita, and his human Denis. Tom was like a Bear, just huge, but a gentle giant! I sat down on the floor and got some shots, but not before giving Tom a massive cuddle.
Before Akitas had an “official” breed name they were referred to simply as “snow country dogs.” The breed originated from the snowy, rural, mountainous region of Japan, Akita and Odate, where they were used to hunt boar, elk, and the small Yezo bear. There is a museum in Odate devoted to the breed. They have webbed toes to distribute their weight. There is also a spiritual significance attached to the Akita. When a child is born in Japan, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita, signifying health, happiness, and a long life.
#21 Tom, the Akita and Denis the human
A much needed drink and a snack was to be had, so onto a visit to The Bay Coffee Company in Brixham harbour.
Big comfortable sofas, great food and drink, and cakes a-plenty, that’s why this place is a firm favourite. Also, as loads of places are round here, is dog friendly.
Sitting to my left was a gorgeous female Border Collie. I was totally smitten! Brandie, the ‘about’ 11 year old rescue border Collie, and her humans Becci, and Becci’s Mom, Jane. Brandie was rescued by Becci and Jane, when she was around two years old. She was in quite a ‘state’ and very nervous when they got her, but, with plenty of love and TLC she blossomed into the little beauty that she was now. Even though she was 11 years old, she was as playful as a puppy, gave her paw like a pro, rolled over for tummy tickles, and was especially excited when the coffee shop owner bought her over some gravy bones as a treat!
#22 Brandie the Border Collie, Becci, and Jane, her humans
Thursday 23rd May
It’s been quite a while since I last posted, the main reason being that I had a cycle accident just over three weeks ago, on 30th April, and, to put it quite plainly, it fair knocked me about!
I was cycling to work, as I normally do, down the steps from the Sutton Road entrance. Whilst trying to steady the bird seed in my handlebar bag with one hand, the other on the handgrip, I threw my weight too far forward and my back wheel came up, throwing me over the handlebars and down the steps. It was so weird because it happened in slow motion. I remember thinking “there’s nothing I can do to stop this”. Next thing I knew, I was lying face down in the dirt and gravel at the bottom of the steps with my bike on my back, covered in blood, and winded to stink! I checked my teeth and bones and, fortunately, nothing was broken, just bloody, bruised and battered. Bike survived with scratches, and broken lights. My camera was in my backpack, no damage, phew! I considered myself extremely lucky, as it could’ve been so much worse, I could’ve ended up in the canal!!! I did have a helmet on, and I hate to think what might have happened if I hadn’t. A good friend, Chris, came to the rescue and took me and my bike home. I had a couple of days off work, physio, and it was nearly three weeks until I could ride my bike again.
The day after the crash, May 1st, the inspirational talk for WEX photography on the 100 Strangers and their Dogs project was due to happen. Despite my war wounds, I managed to do it, fuelled up on paracetamol and ibuprofen, and it went really well. To be honest I think the pain took the nerves away, and it was really fun. Met some lovely people too. It all feels like a bit of a dream, as I am the least likely person to do a two hour public talk, but you know what, I believe that I would do it again! This photography malarky is giving me courage, and not forgetting the love and support of friends, strangers and family.
So this new project had been put on pause, but only until I could bend my arm enough to hold the camera again. My wrist and elbow are still dodgy, but it’s early days yet.
Cycling home tonight in the beautiful evening sunshine I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Ribbons, the four and a half year old Patterdale Terrier, and her human, Chris. They were taking a stroll along the canal, and I just couldn’t resist saying hello and giving Ribbons a fuss. Chris told me that Ribbons was a rescue dog from The Dogs Trust in Evesham. They had adopted her last year, and she was quite the character. Full of energy, ball obsessed, and very vocal (sounds like my dog Obi), but totally adorable. Chris said that they originally adopted two dogs, but they didn’t get on with each other, no matter how hard they tried. However, Chris’s daughter, who had just bought her first house, decided to take the other dog, and so all’s well that ends well.
#23 Ribbons, the Patterdale Terrier, and Chris, her human
Saturday 2nd June
After work today I took a trip out to Moseley park for a picnic in honour of a very good friend’s birthday. It was a lovely afternoon and a perfect place in which to celebrate Danielle’s successful completion of another journey around the sun. It was great to catch up with friends old and new, and also the perfect place to meet the next beautiful canine addition to the project, Joni, the little rescue dog from Nepal.
Joni was with her human, Lyndsay, who is an old friend of mine, however this was the first meeting with little Joni (named after the great Joni Mitchell). Lyndsay had adopted Joni three months ago from Nepal, and she was a pawfect little sister to Lyndsay’s other dog Hutch.
Joni was born on the streets of Nepal and was the only survivor from her litter. Her survival was partly due to the love and care that she received from a Nepalese guy, a former drug addict, who now went around rescuing all kinds of animals in need. He gave them medical care and food and did his best to get them to safety. He couldn’t keep little Joni so she went off to a rescue centre in Kathmandu. This rescue is looked after by three women, one from Germany, one from Brighton, and the other a Nepalese local.
Lyndsay, had found about little Joni from a facebook page called:
Lyndsay started the six month long process of adoption, she also managed to visit Joni whilst she was in Nepal travelling.
Joni was being temporarily fostered by a Norwegian diplomat while she awaited her long trip to her forever home. It was here that she received all of her vaccinations and medical treatment that she needed in order to gain her passport to the Uk.
After six long months, she boarded the plane, and took the long journey to Heathrow airport where she was met by Lyndsay, her new Mom. She had been through all of this, and little Joni was still only just a few months old.
Back to the now, Joni is a year old, and despite her difficult start in life, is a very happy and beautiful well adjusted pup, who is absolutely adored by Lyndsay.
#24 Joni the Nepalese rescue pup, and her human Lyndsay
Thursday 20th June
At last a break from the endless rainfall that Mother Nature has been bestowed upon us. At least it’s leaving the grass a luscious shade of green, and it hasn’t stopped me cycling to work and back. However I have been quite reluctant to pull the camera out in the rain, but I have continued to bring food for all the birdlife on canal. They have become quite accustomed to me now, and I can even brush off the rogue birdseed that lands on the backs of the Geese and Gosling’s, an honour indeed!
Cycling towards work, just after Longwood Boat Club, I happened upon my next little Canine, Tyler, and his Human, Mark. Tyler was a nine year old Patter Dale/Lakeland Terrier cross, and had been with Mark since he was a pup. Tyler was adorable, and reminded me of a Teddy Bear. I had a little chat with Mark, and asked them if they would be part of the project, they agreed, hoorah! I took several shots, thanked them very much, and bid them fare thee well.
#25 Tyler the Patter Dale/Lakeland Terrier cross, and Mark, his Human
Saturday 22nd June
An early morning sunny cycle ride to work, lead me to my first canine and human of the day, Roxy, the gorgeous little Shih tzu Rotweiler cross, and Jerry the man. In fact I met Jerry yesterday when I ventured onto the canal to feed the birdlife. He had a narrowboat moored up near to where I get onto the canal. We had a really good chat. He told me that he and his Wife, Mary, live in Canberra Australia six months of the year, and the other six are spent travelling the beautiful waterways on their boat with their little Chewbaccaesque pup, Roxy. While they reside in Oz, Roxy lives with their brother on his boat with his Westie Dog, Dave. Roxy, was a 100 percent bonafide boat dog, 11 years young, and born in Liverpool.
A little later on in the day, on my cycle ride home, I had the pleasure of meeting Mary, who was sitting having her lunch in the sunshine on the bow of their boat, Roxy was looking ever hopeful for a dropped morsel or two. I had a lovely chat with Mary, and she even offered me a cup of tea! Their boat was called Angelica, the name of its previous owner, and also a character from the cartoon, Rugrats.
#26 Roxie the Shihtweiler, and Jerry and Mary, her humans
I continued my journey towards work, running a little late as per usual as there were copious amounts of beaks to feed along the way today. I reckon they’re talking between themselves because it’s as if they’re waiting for me to bring their breakfasts en mass.
Near Longwood boat club I spied familiar faces, it was the lovely Dougal and Craig from the first 100 project that I did last year. Dougal had grown somewhat, and it was lovely to see them both. They were accompanied today by Craig’s brother Scott, and his adorable little seven month old, Cocker Spaniel, Flora. I had one of the ‘100 Strangers and their Dogs’ books in my bag and took it out to show Craig and Scott. Craig had intended to buy a copy when the book was originally released, but hadn’t got round to it, so he made an on the spot purchase.
I took a few shots of Flora and Scott and then grabbed a couple of shots of the whole crew. It was great to the guys again, and to meet some more of the family.
#27 Flora, the Cocker Spaniel, and Scott her human
Craig, Dougal, Scott and Flora
The sun was shining still on my way home from work, in fact it was boiling hot. I’d saved a little food for the birds on my return journey, it was the Swans who bagged most of the remaining booty though. How could I refuse, they had five hungry Cygnets to feed.
The canal was pretty quiet at the Aldridge end, and I didn’t meet my next Canine and their human until I was nearly home. I’d seen the dog and his owner several times along the canal, in fact I had asked the lady to take her photo during the first project, but she had politely declined as they had had a recent canine bereavement in their family. Now a few months on, they agreed to be part of this new project. Hoorah!!!
Enter Moby, the humungous 13 year old Weimerainer, Labrador cross, and his humans Simon and Julie. Julie was a little camera shy, but the boys seemed happy to be in front of the lens. Moby was stunning and didn’t look anywhere near 13! He had a vet appointment later in the day but was kind and patient enough to let me talk copious amounts of photos. Julie said that Moby was very protective of her, he certainly had the stature to carry out this job sucessfully.
#28 Moby the Weimerainer/Labrador cross, and his humans Simon, and Julie
Wednesday 26th June
Been an exciting week this week as it’s the lead up to my little girls’ appearance on The Voice Kids UK this Saturday night. Martha is always singing and playing her Ukulele, and has been writing songs since she was just five years old. She is pretty awesome, even if I do say so myself.
I nipped into Aldridge this morning to get a few groceries and supplies for my old Dad, and whilst in the square outside R1 Bar, I spotted an adorable little ole’ brindle Staffy girl, Libby, accompanied by her human, Rik. Libby was 11 years young, and had been with Rik since she was just six weeks old. She was the smallest of 11 pups in her litter. Rik, told me that he had always had brindle Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and was immediately smitten with little Libby as soon as he laid eyes on her. No surprise really, as she was so pretty, gentle and laid back. In one of the photos that I took, I swear she was falling asleep right where she sat. No leash needed here.
#29 Libby the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Rik the Man
Thursday 27th June
Today I paid a visit to the home of the cute and adorable Roscoe, the 15 week old Flat-Coated Retriever and his humans Simon and Joyce, and what a beautiful home it was! I was made to feel extremely welcome and was greeted with a splendid cup of coffee and chocolate biscuits to boot! I had met Simon, a fellow photographer, a few weeks earlier at the inspirational talk that I presented for WEX photography. He was there with our mutual friend Kate Green and some of their photography group. Simon and I have been chatting on Instagram, and I was invited over to meet his wife Joyce and their new addition to the family, little Roscoe, and capture some shots of them for the project. I’m usually quite shy in situations like this, but the draw of meeting and having a scribble with a puppy quashed any fears that I may have had.
I arrived after the school drop off and stayed ’til midday, it was a thoroughly lovely morning. I got to roll around on the grass with Roscoe, meet the family of eight beautiful Guinea Pigs, I even had a snuggle with the very handsome young Hector pig. Did you know Guinea Pigs vibrate? Well I didn’t, but everyday’s a school day. Simon was very knowledgeable about them, and I do believe these were the happiest little Guinea Pigs I ever did meet. Joyce, Simon and I, plus three Guinea Pigs, and Roscoe, sat in the garden chatting and exchanging stories. I had such a lovely time! Even though Roscoe was only 15 weeks old he was so well behaved, calm even. That was only until I got down on the ground to take some photos of him, and then aaaattttttacccckkkkk! It was so much fun being dive bombed by a puppy though!
#30 Roscoe, the Flat-Coated Retriever and his humans, Simon and Joyce
Friday 28th June
The sun has definitely still got its hat on, hip hip hip, hoorah! This weather makes cycling so much more pleasant, however the thorns are numerous and no friends to my bike tyres. I really hate fixing punctures on this bike, and since taking the wheel off I’ve discovered a rather bad buckle in the rim. A trip to the bike shop methinks!
On my way home along the canal I spied a couple of beautiful dogs, and their human. Bogart was a five and a half year old Dalmatian, and he was stunning looking. His human, Phil said that he had had Bogart since he was a pup, and described him as a lunatic and his best mate. Bogart’s sister from another mister was Bonnie, the four year old Siberian Husky. She was a rescue pup, and Phil had adopted her over two years ago. Both dogs were very active, but were happy to pose for a couple of shots, I even got kisses from Bogart!
#31 Bogart, the Dalmatian, Bonnie, the Siberian Husky, and Phil, the man
Just before I reached my final destination, or as I prefer to call it, home, I bumped into a couple of familiar faces Neo, the Neapolitan Mastiff and his human, Sarah. I often see these guys whilst I’m walking my boys, Obi and Dex, but I never really get the chance to stop and say ‘Hello there’, as my two are always barking their heads off at Neo. Today however, I seized the day. Sarah told me that Neo was six years old, and that Neapolitan Mastiff breed originated from Italy. Their purpose was to guard royalty, families and property. This was due to their protective instincts and their fearsome appearance. Neo most certainly had a thunderous bark, and Sarah said he often did a little front paw jump to accompany the sound.
#33 Neo, the Neapolitan Mastiff, and his human, Sarah
Monday 1st July
We’re all still elated in our house because of our daughter Martha’s appearance on The Voice Kids UK this weekend. She got through the blind auditions and managed to secure the very last place on Danny Jones’s team. This was followed up with a TV appearance on Central News, and radio interviews with BBC Radio WM, and BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester, all very exciting stuff indeed! No respite from the excitement though as she is appearing on The Voice again on Saturday to compete in the battle rounds. Proud is an understatement, what an amazing kid she is!
So cycling home from work with the happiest peddling style my feet could muster, I crossed paths with this group of lovelies. Lacie, the seven month old Pomchi, her human Dad Stuart, and her human Brother, five year old Freddie, also cycling. Lacie was a beautiful little pocket rocket, her Mom was a Pomeranian cross Chihuahua,and her Dad was a full Pomeranian. She was so cute, as was the gorgeous, super cycle little human, Freddie.
#33 Lacie the Pomchi, Stuart the Dad and Freddie
Monday 8th July
A somewhat calmer week this week. Last week was filled with radio and TV interviews for Martha, alongside her Aldridge Youth Theatre production of Farmyard Invaders, which was really great! The week finished off with the TV airing of her battle round on The Voice Kids, and gig on Sunday for both my band Eeek, and for Martha. Busy is good, but, one does need time to wash ones smalls!
On the last leg of the canal journey home I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Tara, the nine year old brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier and her humans, Mike, Julie and Max. Tara was a rescue from Oxfordshire, and had been with her current family for about two years. Her previous owner had sadly passed away from a stroke, but in her past, she had been living on the streets. In October last year, Tara had been diagnosed with cancer on her heart and was given a two week life expectancy. At that point Mike said all the rules went out of the window and Tara was allowed up on the bed, she was also allowed a packet of pork scratchings every other day. Nine months on from the diagnosis and she’s still going strong. Julie said that Tara was never really alone as she spends her days split between her two jobs, one with Mom at The Sutton theatre box office, and the other at Nameplate UK Signage office with her Dad. You could see she was a happy little beauty. I chatted with Julie about my previous 100 strangers project and she suggested I do an exhibition, you never know! It also turned out that Julie’s son Jack went to the same Youth Theatre as Martha, and was in a production of ‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ with her a while back. Jack very cleverly animated a dog puppet during the show, its movements were based on Tara’s – how lovely! My tummy was now rumbling quite loudly, it was 8.30pm, so I bid these lovelies farewell, and continued on my way home to fill my belly.
#34 Tara, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Mike, Julie, and Max, her humans
Friday 12th July
It always amazes me that there are so many new dogs and their humans to meet. I figured that after just over a year of doing this, and the last project, I would’ve pretty much captured images of most of the dogs around this area, but I’m very happy to say ‘no, not even close’.
Earlier in the week however I crossed paths with some people and pups from the 100 Strangers and their Dogs project from last year. John and George, and Andy and Loki. It was really good to see these guys and catch up, no longer strangers.
George ( the Sprocker)
Loki (Norwegian Elk Hound)
Cycling down the Sutton Road this afternoon, just as I was about to join the canal I spied a gorgeous little puppy and his human. Meet Max, the four and a half month old Jack Russell, and his human Mom, Sarah. Max’s human Dad was a photographer, and can be found on Instagram under EdJPearce. I had a quick gander and there’s some beautiful landscape shots, as well as a few of the beautiful little Max. The instagram for the project is @100strangersand theirdogs.
#35 Max, the Jack Russell Terrier, and his human Mom, Sarah
Sunday 14th July
Today was trip out to Stratford Upon Avon to check out a Venue where I’ll be photographing a friends Wedding in August. I had a little practise run yesterday at a wedding where I was a guest. It was great fun as there was no pressure at all to get any sort of shot, and it helped for those awkward times when I wasn’t quite sure where to put myself. I would focus my energy outwards and take away the nervousness by taking phots . I took the Fuji XT20 and the Fuji XT3, the first dual outing for the camera brothers, along with the 56mm 1.2 and the 16mm 1.4 lenses. Some of the shots are here on my personal instagram;
After checking out the venue, I had a little wander around town. There was an incredible male vocalist busking on a street corner, he was amazing! However my attention was elsewhere, meet Tom, the 21 week old Dalmatian puppy, who was born in Louth, with his human Dad, Dave. Dave said that with Tom by his side he got lots of attention, and you could see why, Tom was playful, adorable and absolutely drop dead gorgeous!
#36 Tom, the Dalmatian puppy, and Dave, his human
Wednesday 17th July
This morning I awoke with a start, I’d forgotten to set an alarm, so the day began with headless chicken rushing roundness! My boys got a shorter walk than usual so I could get the small human to school on time, then off to see my Dad and run his errands for the week. It was a nice, but somewhat humid day, and as I had my camera with me I took a few shots of my Dad’s dog, Sprocket whilst walking him in the park. He met a few of his lady dog friends, and showed them a little more interest than was wanted. Reminiscent of “Peppy the Pew’. As this current project is called ‘100 Canines And Their Humans’ I can take some liberties and include friends, relatives and acquaintances, as its not just strangers, so today I thought I’d include Sprocket and my Dad.
Sprocket is a terrier cross, and rescue dog who came to Dad from Angels Hope Rescue (now Buddy’s Angels Rescue) about two years ago. Sprocket is eight years old and was found as a pup in Ireland with his legs tied together, thrown in the water. He came to England and lived with a family in the East Midlands for the next few years, but they decided to pass him on to the rescue as he apparently growled at one of their children. Sprocket does have issues, he goes a little ‘over the top’ if you try to leave the house, bites the doors and goes into a spin, but he is a very loving, intelligent fellow, and let’s face it, who is perfect anyway? Dad adores him, and Sprocket reciprocates. They’re inseparable. My Dad is disabled, he needs two sticks to get around, and is still very wobbly. A lifetime as a Milkman has taken its toll on his legs and spine, his wife is in a care home as she is bedridden and Dad isn’t well enough to care for her, so Sprocket is his constant companion and great company. He gives Dad a reason to get up and Dad even takes him out on his mobility scooter for a walk. Sprocket has a few small health issues but is generally doing well, and Dad makes sure he gets the very best care and treatments when needed. My Dad is a really good guy.
#37 Sprocket, the Terrier cross, and Joe (my Dad) the human
Monday 22nd July
I’ve had a busy weekend with music related stuff. Friday I had the pleasure of playing some guitar at The Greatest Showman opening night of L Fest, and accompanying some amazing singers, including Martha my kid, who really knocked my socks off with an incredible rendition of ‘A Million Dreams’, and the song ‘Tightrope’, in which she played her Uke. You can find her on Facebook under ‘Martha Moxon Music’. She’s really grown in confidence since the appearance on The Voice Kids Uk, and I’m extremely proud of her talent and how she has conducted herself, and only 13 years old!
It was roasting hot today, and as I was tuckered out from the weekend, was quite a slog on my bike. I fed my numerous feathered friends en route with fruit and seeds. Near Park Lime Pits I bumped into a couple of familiar faces, Seth, the Gordon Setter, and his human Graham. I often see these guys on my way too and from work, and Seth runs along with me whilst I’m cycling along. He is extremely energetic and loves to be loved. Graham said that Seth was very fond of me, and shows more than a normal level of interest in other cyclists because of our encounters. Seth is a big friendly, happy guy, and only 19 months old. Graham said he is starting to calm down a little and is getting much better at coming back when called. Graham is a retired Physics teacher.
The history of the breed dates back a fair way, and there are records of “black and tan setting dogs” being in Scotland that date as far as back as the 1600’s. However, it’s thought the Duke of Gordon brought the breed to everyone’s attention around 200 years later when he introduced them into his kennels. According to his records, The Duke noted they were not “fast dogs”, but they were extremely hardy with wonderful “staying powers” which meant they could work from morning till the sun went down at night with no trouble at all. He also noted they were extremely good scent dogs and seldom did they make a “false point”. If a Gordon Setter stood still, you could be sure a bird lay exactly where these dogs were standing.
#38 Seth, the Gordon Setter, and Graham the man