Living with Eva

June 22nd, 2015

Everyone meet Eva.

Miss Eva

Miss Eva

Eva is the latest addition to the Davies household, weighing in at half of my weight and with more energy than all of us combined. She may not look like a puppy, but give her five minutes and she will be chasing her tail or rolling on her back attempting to bite anything (or anyone) who gets near her face. She does an impressive 4-leg-spring where her entire body is propelled straight up into the air, over and over again.

She enjoys eating leaves and licking humans when they’re half asleep or sweaty. She falls asleep in cars and snores. In the words of Sandra Dee in Grease, Eva is hopelessly devoted to Dad. She whimpers if he leaves her for over 10 minutes and will sit staring at the bathroom door waiting for Dad to finish in the shower.

She’s a messier and louder version of dog than Cali and doesn’t have the same eating etiquette as our previous guide dog in training, however she is fitting in nicely into our family and is being regularly smothered in hugs. It would appear that while I don’t like dogs, I do like Cali and Eva.

Here I come, Manchester

June 15th, 2015

Exciting times in the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess (although less exciting for my bank account.) This afternoon I made a substantial investment in a plane ticket, travelling from unusually sunny Perth to as-rainy-as-expected Manchester. My last day in Perth will be 3 September, giving me enough time to get old and most likely complete a marathon before I depart.

It is great to have a date for exactly when the next ‘bit’ starts. Having something to work towards makes a big difference to how I see my time in Perth as now I only have a few weeks left to soak up the sun, see my friends and get lots of hugs from mum and dad.

So get ready, Manchester – please at least attempt to bring out some sunshine for me. I will be eternally grateful and announce to the world that you’re not THAT grey a city after all.

Puppy Love

June 3rd, 2015

Last night it dawned on me that Sinead O’Connor is clearly singing about a guide dog that she has been training in her song Last Day of Our Acquaintance. A trainer and a dog who have a final day together before being separated forever. They will meet again when the dog graduates but when the trainer tries to say hello, the dog will be so focused on being a good guide dog that it won’t respond. And we already know this will happen.

Today my family is understanding exactly what Sinead was getting at. Tomorrow Cali is leaving our house and moving on to help a visually impaired woman live her daily life. She has made it through the training, been declared as one of the top 20 dogs EVER (of course, she’s a Davies), and is now going to spend the rest of her life providing an amazing service to someone who needs a bit of help. And while we’re ridiculously proud of her, we all want to cry.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

Cali, the smartest dog in the world.

My parents have just spent the last two and half years training Cali, pretending not to be getting attached while really falling in love. My brother has spent almost a year with Cali around while I have gotten to know her in the last three months. When I moved back to Perth I wasn’t all that thrilled that a dog was living in my house and stealing attention from my parents away from me. And now I rush home in order to have pats with Cali. I call her over, rub her tummy, take her for walks every evening, I have given her a soppy nickname and I will do anything she wants when she looks at me with her loveable dog eyes. When I’m sad, she cheers me up faster than chocolate ice cream.

WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED?! No one in my family quite understands how a four-legged furry creature who really is ‘just a dog’ has managed to have such a resounding impact on all of us. We have all been affected by Cali’s presence and she didn’t even do anything other than lie around on our floor. Perhaps this is what all animals manage to do, or maybe Cali is a wonder dog. Whatever the reason, we’re going to miss her and she will always be my favourite dog. I still hate dogs, but I love Cali.

A clean dog is a good dog

A clean dog is a good dog

On that note, we will learn more tomorrow evening whether or not it is possible to like more than one dog, when Dad has taken Cali to school for the last time and returns home with Eva (aka Cali II). Yes, we’re getting another one, because rebound guide dogs are always the best option.

Cape to Cape Capers

June 3rd, 2015

Last weekend was a long weekend, celebrating what was once called Foundation Day and has now been politically corrected to WA Day. To make the most of the break, my cousin Kate had rented an apartment down in Yallingup and invited me and my brother, plus four of her friends, to join her. We headed down on Friday after work and by 9pm had arrived at our fancy-pants beach side apartment with ‘squint and you can see the ocean’ views. Good work, Kate.

The weekend involved large amounts of food, numerous bottles of wine and plenty of outdoor time. The weather turned it on for us with remarkably warm temperatures and heaps of sunshine. My Sunday morning involved a walk along the beach and then a swim in the surprisingly warm ocean. Not what you would expect for the day before winter.

Yallingup beach

Yallingup beach

On Saturday morning, Kate, Karina and I went for a run. The other two are in training for a marathon and had planned a 30 kilometre run. I was still sore from last week’s half marathon and really couldn’t be bothered running that far so instead decided I would run 5 kilometres with them and then turn around and go back. While part of me felt lazy and guilty for taking the easy option, as soon as we started running I was so glad I had made this decision.

Kate had planned the route from the apartment in Yallingup along the Cape to Cape walk, around the Cape Leeuwin light house and back down to Eagle Bay. The rest of us would meet the runners (and Tim who was their back up crew on his bike) at the Eagle Bay brewery for an early lunch. As soon as we set off, we discovered that the Cape to Cape trail was definitely ‘off road’ with a lot of soft sand and a large number of hills. The path wound its way along the coast, going up and down the undulating cliffs. It was a very tough run and after my 5 kilometres I was definitely ready to turn around. I don’t know how the others kept going – to their extreme credit they made it the whole way to Eagle Bay in remarkably good time.

Despite the tough terrain, the run was really amazing – we had shrubby bush to one side and rocky cliffs leading down to the Indian Ocean on the other. The weather was perfect without too much wind and the waves were rolling in to the shore, much to the delight of the hundreds of surfers.

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

It has sparked my interest in doing cross country running, something I have avoided since I was at primary school and we had to run around and around the school multiple times. I have friends in England who go for long distance runs along country paths and my Cape to Cape experience may have just enticed me to give it a go when I get back. It is a LOT harder than running on the road and my ankles aren’t all that happy with me, but since when have I ever listened to my joints? Silly weak ankles… Some rocks might just do them good.

Broken Soles

May 27th, 2015

I found a pair of Camper boots in my cupboard on Friday and got excited. Black ankle boots with a wedge hill that made my chosen outfit look fantastic. I headed off to work feeling very pleased that I had rediscovered my boots.

Having ridden my bike to work and sat down in front of my computer for 15 minutes or so, I happened to look down at the floor and noticed grains of black rubber scattered over the floor around my chair. Closer inspection and previous experience brought me to the realisation that the rubber grains were pieces of the soles of my shoes.

Then the grains turned into chunks and soon I was leaving trails of black rubber throughout the office. It would appear that leaving a pair of rubber soled shoes in a cupboard for over four years will result in the rubber becoming brittle and rapidly disintegrating on impact. By lunch time, my colleague, Matt, had expertly strapped the soles of both of my shoes with black gaffer tape, purely to ensure that the soles wouldn’t fall off entirely.

Goodbye sole.

Goodbye sole.

It was a sad day. It was like showing a cute kitten to a small child in the morning and then grabbing the cat away and saying, “No kitten for you!” by the afternoon. Such a waste of perfectly lovely boots.

Speed Racer

May 24th, 2015

I never sleep well before running events. It’s quite frustrating as my body could quite easily use that energy when running excessive numbers of kilometres. However, I arrived at the start line for the HBF Run for a Reason on William Street at about 6.10am and waited for my cousin Kate and her friend Karina to arrive. As they walked towards me bleary eyed and we all grunted at each other, it was relieving to see that I wasn’t the only one lacking sleep.

There were about 3500 people competing in the half marathon and another of 28,000 completed the 4km or 12km courses. It is always so nice to see so many people participating in events like these. The atmosphere is very positive and supportive and it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

The race started at 6.30am with a hill climb up Malcolm Street in the first kilometre. Big thanks to Kate and Karina who helped me up this hill. I hate hills and Kate took the lead and powered us up. She then told me to be on my way as I had a time to beat – Sir Pubert had clearly been in a good mood the day before and had promised me dinner (to the value of £20… wow…) if I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 56 minutes or less. I was quietly confident but Kate and Karina’s pace meant that I wouldn’t make that time so I wished them well on their journey and picked up speed. As many of you know, I’ll do anything for food and running slightly faster seemed achievable.

Mum, Dad and Cali were waiting to cheer me on in Kings Park which was fantastic – not many other competitors had street side cheer squads so I was very honoured. After I had passed them, a fellow runner commented on my Paris Marathon tshirt and we started chatting. He and I ran together for the majority of the course so more thanks go to my new running buddy, Courtney, for distracting me from the pain.

The course was very enjoyable with plenty of good views in Kings Park, along the river and through the city. The long stretch along the Graham Farmer freeway was a bit dull and tedious and seemed to go forever. However a chocolate flavoured Gü gel spurred me on and my legs continued to feel pretty good.

The final five kilometres were rather painful as I became aware that time was going against me and I needed to pick up speed. So I said farewell to Courtney and told my legs to move it. The final kilometre was just ow. My thighs are questioning my logic, however I am very, very, VERY happy to say that Sir Pubert is taking me out for dinner. With a final time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, than £20 meal is going to taste oh so good.

Another medal!

Another medal!

Inspired by Travel – Collagraph Fun

May 20th, 2015

While many a Perthian complained by the excessive rain that fell across the city on Sunday (it was some serious rain… None of that Manchester drizzle rubbish), my Dad and I had clearly known that the weather was going to turn and had booked a collagraph printing course. Held at the beautiful studio of Beau Est Mien in Northbridge, we joined our class at 10.30am for five hours of printing fun.

Beau Est Mien is the wonderful studio of artist Magali Dincher. I proudly own a print created by Magali  that has travelled with me from Paris to Manchester and that is waiting to be hung on my next wall. She is a creative inspiration for me and I would love the opportunity to watch her work.

The course was run by one of her studio staff, Carly, a Curtin Fine Arts graduate. Twelve eager students sat around the trestle tables waiting to learn.

Collagraph printing is remarkably simple – it involves the applying a bondcrete varnish to a piece of matt board and then you etch an image into the varnish layer. You then apply etching ink and put your board through a printing press with a wet piece of paper. And then discover the results.

My masterpiece

My masterpiece

The theme for the class was ‘Travel’ and we had all brought photographs of places we had been or wanted to visit. Not knowing the process, I was instantly disappointed with my choices in photographs and I would have made very different selections if I could have started again. However, for a first attempt at collagraph it wasn’t bad and I learnt enough about the process to be able to do it again on my own at home. This technique allows for a lot more detail than lino printing however has its own limitations with the thickness and style of lines you can draw.

We experimented with water colour at the end of the class

We experimented with water colour at the end of the class

I highly recommend doing a printing course at Beau Est Mien – it is a fantastic way to spend a soggy Sunday.

Carn the Dockers!

May 15th, 2015

No trip to Australia would be complete without seeing a game of AFL. I say this as an Australian who had never been to a live AFL match until Sir Pubert came to visit. I managed to get cheap-seat tickets for the two of us and my brother for the Dockers vs Essendon game at Subiaco Oval (or Patterson Stadium or Domain Stadium or whatever you want to call it.)

Up close to the action

Up close to the action

As I had never bought tickets for a game before, I managed to get us seats in the Essendon fans’ section, which wasn’t quite what I planned as it resulted in a fairly boring game for us to watch as the Dockers dominated. Despite this, it was entertaining to listen to the family of Essendon supporters sitting in front of us yell abuse at the players and umpires as their team failed to deliver. The little girl kept reminding her dad that he shouldn’t swear and then turn back to the action to yell at the players.

Our position right behind the goal meant we were amongst the action as the ball was kicked through. There was one goal from Essendon that resulted in the ball hurtling straight towards us and Sir Pubert touching the man who touched the ball. Impressive.

The Dockers won easily and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the captain, Matthew Pavlich, up close and slicked up with baby oil. Those footballers sure do have arm muscles…

Escape from Penguin Island

May 15th, 2015

On Sir Pubert’s last day in sunny Perth, I took him to one of WA’s most prized tourist destinations – Penguin Island. As the name would suggest, Penguin Island is a small rocky island that is home to around 1000 penguins. We were staying in my aunt’s beachside apartment down the road in Shoalwater and headed over to PI around lunch time. While it is possible to walk across a sandbar stretching from the mainland to the island, the extensive “DO NOT WALK ACROSS THE SANDBAR” signage and the fact that we were carrying delicious sandwiches for lunch that would run the risk of getting wet, meant we decided to catch the ferry.

Heading off to Penguin Island

Heading off to Penguin Island

As soon as we stepped off the ferry and onto the poop-covered jetty, hundreds of pissed-off seagulls rose from their shrubby nests and hovered menacingly above our heads. Within the first 30 seconds, Sir Pubert had been pooped on and I was laughing at him.

It didn’t take us long to realise that we weren’t going to see any penguins that day but we were going to spend a lot of time trying to stay away from sharp-beaked seagulls. It would appear that it was mating/nesting season for the thousands of screechy birds who had built nests and laid eggs alongside the designated tourist walk paths. This meant that every step we took was one closer to another protective mother. It did make for some light entertainment watching nervous tourists trying to escape from attacking seagulls.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Nice island, grumpy birds.

Apart from the grumpy gulls, our visit to Penguin Island was great. Despite being located so close to the industrial zones of Kwinana and Rockingham, the rocky coastline is surprisingly pretty and we managed to find a quiet spot to sit and each our lunch. We were also welcomed by a sleepy seal who had found a sunny spot on one of the island’s beaches. He flopped around on the sand and provided some excellent photo opportunities for the island’s visitors and reminded me a lot of Sir Pubert in his somnolent states.

Show off.

Show off.

Back to Training

May 15th, 2015

After two weeks of relative slacking, it has suddenly dawned on me that I am one week and one day away from running a half marathon. The HBF Run for a Reason is next Sunday and I have signed up to complete the 21 kilometre course. While I am more confident in my ability to complete the distance, it is still quite daunting thinking about how I will have to put one leg in front of the other over and over again for around two hours. Luckily the run isn’t this Sunday as the current weather forecast is for thunderstorms and heavy rain. Let’s hope it clears up during the week.

In the meantime, I agreed to raise money for Arthritis WA and they even sent me a tshirt in the mail. I now feel incredibly guilty that they have spent money on me when I haven’t raised any useful funds for them. So, my lovely, generous readers, I am hoping that you will help me collect at least enough to cover postage. It is a very worthwhile cause and all of my family members who are riddled with arthritis will thank you for your kindness. Please donate via my ‘Everyday Hero page‘. Thanks!