An Island Off an Island

Musings from Bruny

Hi there, Ruby here.

I’m not sure that the tag line is a fair representation of my behaviour of late. Apart from a few unfortunate incidents, I have been trying to turn over a new leaf and as a result I have remained remarkably well-behaved. Those of you who are conversant with my more colourful antics will think unkind thoughts like ‘false sense of security’, ‘what is she conjuring up next?’ Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ve got much more mischief in me.

The sad truth is that I am becoming much more trust-worthy. I don’t like getting into trouble. Take for instance the mistakenly open gate. Time was when I took great advantage to explore the neighbourhood, necessitating M&D madly chasing me up hill and down dale. The more they pursued, the further I would range. The last couple of times the gate was left open I just wandered around the property – admittedly out of reach until the promised, luring biscuit was produced for a triumphant return into the back garden. There are so many interesting and alluring smells out there.

One of my favourite capers was to steal cherished items and dive under the bed with them where I would proceed to destroy them – inner soles of slippers, watch straps, underwear. I don’t pretend that I don’t still do this, but the destructive urge seems to have deserted me. My one guilty pleasure that I refuse to give up is shredding toilet rolls under said bed – that gets a suitable response.

Since the overnighter at the emergency vet’s, M&D have been much more careful to put away small items of clothing, although I did manage a hankie last week. They weren’t happy about the result. I reckon that an open fridge door is all the incentive a dog needs to help oneself. Such an opportunity presented itself a while ago and I managed to score half a peach galette from the back fridge and took it up the yard – plate and all. A bottle of canola oil was liberated from the kitchen bench top when M&D were swimming last week. The top proved to be problematic but I finally managed to have a drink. Not really worth the effort, taste-wise.

 I wonder if being treated like a grown-up has a bearing on this change of heart. When Aunty A and Rylee visited us a couple of weeks ago we had real ‘girl’ time together. We went on outings such as walk-on passengers on the ferry and lunches at local Kettering cafes. You’ve only got to see the accompanying photo to understand how excited and pleased I was.

The other thing that needs airing is my interactions with the local wildlife. There have been some note-worthy episodes – some of which I have been quite proud, others which seem to have been a source of some mirth for M&D.  

My efforts to protect my parents from the constant threat of pesky quolls resulted in me chasing one from the deck into the back verandah area a couple of evenings ago. He/she was a bit too quick for me, which is probably just as well because I have heard they can be rather feisty when cornered. I have no desire for a shredded nose like my friend Mercx. M&D were quite impressed at first, but I’m afraid I couldn’t let it go and woke them several times during the night to check on its whereabouts. This, they did not appreciate. I felt due diligence on the matter was required.

Echidnas have also had a strange fascination since one lives under our house and often shows itself outside the back gate (and therefore, out of my inquisitive reach). I bark ferociously and get precious little response, it knowing that I can’t do much about its presence. So, I was very surprised to come across one in the dunes behind the beach on our daily walk. I investigated in a very agitated manner and proudly announced its existence to M&D. Why didn’t they tell me that my very sensitive nose would not welcome the attention of the echidna’s sharp spikes? I beat a very hasty retreat. Echidna 1, Ruby 0.

I did not find the humour experienced by M&D at all warranted by the next contact with wildlife. We occasionally have birds flying into our house. If they miss the windows and find an open door they panic when they can’t fly out again. That’s nothing to the panic I feel. Am I supposed to deal with this ‘threat’? I’ll certainly try to help by catching it and taking it outside. The last time this happened I managed to catch a very frightened little pardalote in my mouth. It chirped and fluttered in there and I didn’t know what to do. I looked to M&D for help and all I got was laughter and hilarity! It would seem that I appeared to be the one chirping manically whilst displaying total bewilderment. Once they stopped having fun at my expense, Dad opened my mouth and out flew the pardalote, seemingly unfazed and thankfully, unhurt. Sometimes my efforts to keep M&D safe go unheeded and unappreciated. I might just keep to barking at the wallabies from the front deck – apart from being yelled at, I can’t get myself in too much trouble, See, yet another sign of my more mature persona.

Until next time. See ya, Ruby.

A guest blogger for you, Gaye (Gabrielle) Richards here with us from London.

Our much-anticipated visit to Bruny Island did not disappoint. Marcus met us at the airport and took us home to Dennes Point via the famous Bruny Island ferry. It’s a “take your breath away” moment seeing the view from Marcus and Jan’s beautiful home. I’m sure many a visitor would have been happy to sit and watch that scene for their whole holiday with the obligatory Bruny Island gin and tonic in hand. John delighted in taking many photos at all times of the day, all different, all amazing.

Our first morning we savoured the “Dunking Southern Rights” experience. A 10 am get together with Marcus and Jan’s friends in the sea off Nebraska Beach. Not so much swimming but bobbing up and down (in part to keep warm but also to exercise). In fact, we enjoyed it several times whilst there with different, lovely and interesting people each time. Although told it was optional, I know that M&J would have not let me live it down if I had not participated. Lucky for them, we loved it!

We then had a lovely lunch, visited by Jan and Marcus’s long time friends, Margaret and Bob.

Day 2: was the Pennicott’s boat tour exploring the coastline of Southern Bruny. What an experience. The water was clear and the day fine. We saw loads of dolphins (although John only managed a couple of decent photos – too quick!) we saw the seals, large and small, albatross and a huge blue fin tuna.

Day 3: Hobart bound, for a mooch around Salamanca Markets and lunch at Mures Seafood restaurant. Of course, did a little bit of retail therapy included a couple of prints and the obligatory jewellery urged on by that pesky sister-in-law (who i love!) who seems to know what I like and had purchased many of my favourite earrings from some of those very shops.

Day 4: Marcus drove John and I South, to climb the Neck, (great views and one of the prints we purchased), then had lunch on route to the Light House at the south end of Bruny. Whilst a long and winding dirt road, OMG, it was worth the trek. The views are to die for with nearly 360-degree water views, breathtaking.

Day 5: went to Franklin to visit my old Uni friend Debbie and her husband Simon who moved to Tassie about a year ago, retiring to be near 3 of her 4 daughters and their children who live there. They had not long moved into their new, stunning home. How fabulous to be able to catch up after a long time (6 years when they visited us in London).

I write this as I am now back in Sydney before we head home in a couple of days – strict instructions from said pesky sister in law to contribute to the blog!

Reflections! How happy Marcus and Jan are. What incredible hosts they are, what great cooks. Every meal a feast, even if they were leftovers. I’m sure many of you who have experience their hospitality will attest to that.

My favourite bits, sitting drinking gin and tonics, or Tasmanian fizz, looking at the view chatting. Knowing I won’t have to imagine in my minds eye where they live, as I’ve experienced it myself now.

There always has to be a Ruby story and this blog is no exception. The case of the disappearing left over peach flan!!! The Royal Dalton plate and Glad Wrap found in the garden in the morning. Not noticed it had been pilfered out of the fridge when the door when opened briefly. Dear Ruby true to form….

And lastly, my most treasured time, an age-old tradition playing “Take-Two” a form of quick scrabble, with my gorgeous, so loved big brother. I can’t tell you how much I adore him. Cranky he beat me, but a rematch will be on the cards soon…

It is a truth universally acknowledged by the Dunking Southern Rights that this has been a cracker of a summer. After a slow start we have been blessed with warm days, sparkling seas and (mostly) gentle breezes. As we we segue into Autumn let’s hope this continues.

I wrote that on 28 February the last ‘official’ day of summer but didn’t hit the publish button as Summer was still in full swing. Other possible ‘end of summer’ dates presented themselves; the autumn equinox on 20 March and Easter in early April but it still didn’t seem right. Finally, with ANZAC Day today I have to concede that Summer 2022/23 is done and we are in the season of mellow fruitfulness – though the swimming continues.

It’s also been a season of parties! It is traditional for the permanent residents to gather for drinks just before the school holidays begin, to toast the season. This year we offered to be the host venue sending us into an organisational and cleaning frenzy. Age appropriate background music was carefully selected but soon drowned out by the hum of voices and burst of laughter.

This is a scene that has repeated itself in lounge rooms, decks, gardens, boat sheds and beaches across Dennes Point as summer preceded and we got together to celebrate almost everything – or nothing at all. A highlight was definitely the Dunking Southern Right’s beach party with even reluctant swimmers taking the requisite plunge so they could join in the festivities at this long anticipated event. Peer pressure? Never!

It’s also been a season of festivals. From midday on 26 December we began to track the progress of competitors in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht race which round Iron Pot Light just to the north of Bruny on their way up the Derwent to the finish line. The winners snuck in under cover of darkness but we were able to see some of the fleet on the final stage of the epic 630 nautical miles. In February the biennial Australian Wooden Boat Festival transformed the dock area of Hobart and like everyone else we were caught up in the excitement and the beauty of these craft.

We have been blessed by the generosity of friends who have presented us with crays, calamari and produce from their gardens. We have welcomed family and friends from the ‘mainland’ and beyond into our new lives (though a couple of them are ‘Frequent Flyers’ ie Regina and Adrienne! – the other ‘regular’ arrived yesterday – Beverley).

Above all it’s been the summer of the Dunking Southern Rights when we meet with our friends at 10 am for our daily dip. We have progressed to a group of about 20 with a core of 6-10 depending on who’s around. We float, attempt exercises, laugh, sing and chatter at one of our three main locations. Guests are always welcome and various visitors have been dragged in to share the thrill of cold water swimming. We had an ‘away’ day when we participated in the Australia Day swim on South Bruny with our team taking out the award for the oldest swimmer!

As I write we are expecting a 20 degree day, the sky is cloudless and blue, the garden green after recent rain and the sea is sparking. Officially we may be half way through autumn but Indian summer weather persists. Only 7 months to go until we are officially back in summer but until then the Dunking Southern Rights can sing this Nat King Cole song.

On our fridge there’s a red & white magnet with the initials AHVEC and a phone number and I reckon if you ask any dog in Southern Tasmania they’ll tell you there’s one on their fridge too. The letters stand for After Hours Veterinary Emergency Centre and you’ll find them in Hobart’s inner north. The nice Irish vet who triaged me yesterday referred to me as a Frequent Flyer though on reflection I’m not sure he meant it as a compliment. On reflection I’m also not so sure that he’s worthy of the descriptor ‘nice’ given the indignities he put me through, but I digress. Yes, I have overnighted at AHVEC previously ( post sock/hanky removal surgery), and Mum has had cause to do a couple of phone consults most notably when I attacked her pin-cushion and swallowed a mouthful of pins. But yesterday was a whole new ball game when I was rushed off the island after ‘the incident’ and urgent conversations.

Let’s step back a little. As many of you will know Mum’s taken up this cold water swimming malarkey and now Dad’s joined her as well. The whole Dunking Southern Rights club has become bigger than Ben Hur and ‘ a quick dip’ now extends for more than 20 minutes as they gasbag and laugh on the beach. What’s a dog at home supposed to do once they’ve finished their pig’s ear? I’ll tell you what, find something else to amuse them. Unfortunately my choice of something was a bag of citrus fertiliser that had been put up beyond my reach. I love a challenge and so with considerable effort I managed to get it down to ground level, tear the packaging open and begin to have a small snack. I was not that far into my blood and bone treat when the back door opened and I was caught in the act. That’s when the day turned sour.

Apparently there was some wording in bold about the danger of this product to dogs and ‘consult your vet immediately ‘ which resulted in a very quick departure for the ferry. Hell Mum didn’t even have make up on but I felt it was wise to say nothing.

Short version of a long story is that I’ve just returned home from 24 hours in hospital on a drip after the ignominy of being ‘induced to vomit’ – remember the nice Irish vet? Not so nice. AHVEC was in constant contact with the Poisons Information Centre and I look like a pincushion I had so many blood samples taken to measure the potassium and iron in my blood. I was finally allowed home at lunch time – I think they were sick of my ‘anxious behaviour’. The vet who discharged me suggested I be given a treat of steamed chicken for the next few days. Didn’t have the heart to tell her that’s what I eat all the time.

Currently in an out of snooze mode. Mum gave me a blanket bath to make me fresh. and there are lots of kisses and ‘love you Ruby’. I hope they reflect on what caused this and maybe roster swimming so someone is at home with me or take me with them – now there’s a thought!

Love from the Island


For as long as I can remember I have loved getting mail, and by mail I mean hard copy ‘snail mail’ delivered by the postie into a physical letterbox. Email is all very well, but for me nothing beats the anticipation of tearing open an envelope to see what’s inside. Sad though it is even a bill has more charm presented in this way.

Given my mail fixation, the letterbox at ‘Wainui’ came under scrutiny very early in the home purchase process and was found severely wanting (thanks Google Earth street view). Others couldn’t see my objection to the ‘structure’, a cut down plastic container with cake rack in the bottom to elevate the mail from water and a rock the weigh things down. One friend even described it as a very practical country letterbox. I disagreed. Everything about it offended my senses but I decided to bide my time and before making a move. I didn’t want to be accused of being an ostentatious, mainlander interloper!

So began my observation of Bruny Island letterboxes which comprise lots of repurposing, various attempts for weather control ( heavy plastic curtain employed at # 88) interspersed with the odd commercially produced number. All letterboxes are located on one side of the main road, often in clusters to maximise delivery and to ensure that Shaun the Postie has easy access from the comfort of his distinctive white van ( music pumping from within). As we live on the Main Road for me mail collection is just a quick trip down the drive but for others it’s an excursion.

A few months ago Marcus succumbed to my not so subtle comments and a new letterbox was created. It combines the previous practical considerations with a pleasing exterior and smart brass numbers. He even made individual ‘slates’ for the roof. Clever man. Together with the previously reported on sign ad the new driveway street appeal is looking up!

My trips to collect the mail have taken on new energy knowing that there is a receptacle worthy of the letters and parcels within when I make my pilgrimage at 7.35 am on weekdays.

Hi friends, Ruby here.

I must admit I’m a bit conflicted about this whole Christmas thing. I get vibes through the ether from my big sisters, who for the most part, were Christmas Grinches of the ‘bah-humbug’ persuasion. They were of the opinion that the hype rarely lived up to the reality for the canine part of the family. I will say that I am looking forward to the arrival of the man in the red suit because it will mean a relaxation in the ridiculous diet regime imposed by M&D, and hopefully lots of Christmas treats to enjoy. Let me tell you that if mince pies are left out on Christmas Eve for the great man, he will have to be willing to share – actually he gets enough from other houses – I will assist by getting rid of them. The reindeers are welcome to the carrots.

So, on the plus side there is a lot of different festive foods to be reacquainted with and presents to anticipate. We very nearly didn’t get a Christmas pudding this year due to an unfortunate incident in the kitchen. The four-hour cooking of the pudding happened to coincide with the construction of the new Christmas present of a barbecue. Dad regrettably became too engrossed in its fabrication and forgot to top up the water in the steamer, resulting in a shattered pyrex bowl and a very burnt pudding. Thankfully he has made a replacement which I will look forward to sampling on Christmas Day.

I like the tree and I like the fact that every time I get too close, M&D instantly tense in case I try to dislodge any ornament – some of those baubles look very tasty! I do love to keep them on their toes. As you all know, I have a penchant for inhaling socks and hankies, and because of this they have become very careful to put away these tempting items. However, I pinched a sock out of the washing last week, causing great consternation lest another trip to the vet was required. Happily, for everyone, I woke them up for a two o’clock ‘up-chuck’ a couple of days later.

The definite down-side to the season is the many times that they leave me alone to attend various Christmas drinks, parties and events. They have become very entrenched in the local community and as such see the need to socialise – without me! I had to endure a whole Sunday alone while they helped out on the cake stall and selling raffle tickets at the Dennes Point Christmas Fair, another Sunday when they swanned off to drinks over at Kingston Beach. But the biggest indignity occurred last Monday when M&D hosted the annual Neighborhood Christmas drinks. When we have guests, I like to greet them with exuberance and enthusiasm and then proceed to lurk around in the hope of looking cute enough to elicit food from them (I am good at this). They thwarted me on this occasion by banishing me to the studio with Classic FM on the radio and a ‘chill pill’. They couldn’t hear my manic barking, or at least, they pretended not to. When they finally relented there was plenty of crumbs to hoover up in the aftermath.

Walking with Dad, Norman and Leanne and Kent (Normie’s M&D). Pearl was off sniffing.

The afternoon walk on the beach is happily still a constant, although the weather was so bad last week, we actually missed one evening, and I didn’t even really mind – it really was miserable. The highlights are those times when our walks coincide with my mates Norman and Pearl. We have a great time together and the added bonus is that their M&D bring Normie’s discarded beef chews for me. Sadly, my mate Mercx and his Dad have gone back to the mainland to live. At this time of the year the tourists are starting to arrive and with them their dogs. Sometimes they don’t understand that Nebraska Beach is my domain and that they should be a bit more respectful of the locals. The upshot is that I have to be on the lead a little more than I think is necessary. This might have to be put on the negative side of the Christmas ledger.

I am going to remain positive this Christmas and try not to stress M&D too much by bad behaviour. I won’t even mind too much if the presents are a little underwhelming, I really love to rip up the wrapping paper and any cardboard boxes unwittingly left around (although I do suspect that M&D leave them around on purpose).

Merry Christmas from Ruby on an island off an island.

Forget the aches and pains, the extra nose and ear hairs, the short-term memory loss and the out of fashion, curmudgeonly railing against perceived injustices, and shouting at the TV and expecting a response, there is one sure-fire way to denote that you are getting old.

I remember a time when going somewhere in the car meant getting to your destination as quickly as possible. Never contemplate even the slightest deviation from the shortest route known to man. If the trip was long enough to warrant a food stop, it had to be McDonald’s because they were quick, the coffee reputedly good and the bathrooms clean – in, out and on the road again in record time. Needless to say, speed was of the essence and speeding fines were just a necessary consequence.

So, this was the scenario in the early years for many a sojourn particularly between Wollongong and Orange. Pile us and our first dog, Licorice, into the Cortina (!), Celica etc and endeavour to reach our target in under four hours. Fast forward to the present and it was decided that we would drive over to the Cygnet markets and then come back via Kingston – a round trip of a couple of hours. We were to include Ruby because we have a great complex about leaving her on her own at home, (could we stand the recriminations on our return?).

The Cygnet markets were a little less impressive than normal, but we bought some local seedlings for the vegetable garden and it was a chance for Ruby to sniff, strut and preen around the stalls. Back in the car for the picturesque wander through orchards, vineyards, villages and farmland through the Huon Valley. And here comes the first hint of pensioner-type behaviour – a six kilometre detour to a renowned bakery at Ranelagh on the recommendation of a Bruny friend. This would never have been contemplated back in the Celica days. It turned out to be a pleasant distraction that afforded morning tea in the garden with Ruby under the table waiting for her portion of my lemon semolina cake.

Back on the road up through the valley taking in glimpses of the Huon River and beautiful surrounding farmscapes, we found ourselves on a road with 80 km speed limit. Horror of horrors, I wasn’t keeping to the speed limit, but was actually not even reaching it! I was intent on soaking in the scenery and enjoying the rather pedestrian pace. However, I was aware of four or five cars lining up behind me, and much to my absolute amazement, I pulled off the road to allow them to pass before continuing on our merry way. If that’s not a sign of getting old, I’ll take my old man’s driving hat off and throw it away. Jan’s only comment was, ‘Next time we should pack a thermos of tea and stop for a picnic, and you can really buy a hat to wear when dawdling through the country’.

Sadly, more pointers occurred on the way home. Mindless detours, scoping out where the next public conveniences might be and stops at places of interest and local lookouts. The final indignity was having to relinquish the driving duties because of aching shoulders and the very real need for a wee nap. And did our faithful dog enjoy her little outing? We’re not sure as a lot of the trip was spent harrumphing (we suspect,) on the back seat.

Now, with that 70th birthday imminent, I have to say, it ain’t all bad. No more pressure of  work, trying to keep up with technology, a timetable to adhere to, but replaced with time to sit and contemplate, read  and do as little or as much as you feel like – and in your own sweet time. Where did I put that thermos?

Not having any natural offspring to call my own, Father’s Day might slip by unnoticed in our household. Ruby, however has different ideas on this and as an integral part of the family, takes it on herself to be the surrogate daughter and celebrate the day anyway. This year she must have decided that my cultural horizons needed attention and miraculously organized a visit to MONA. She chose not to come with us as her artistic leanings tend to be more beach-oriented and definitely more olfactory in nature.

It was an early start to make the 10.30 MONA ferry for the twenty-minute trip up the Derwent. Ruby picked the coldest day with kunanyi cloaked in snow and a very icy wind sweeping across the water ensuring our coats, gloves and scarves were essential apparel. The one hundred steps up from the ferry terminal to the entrance are a daunting prospect.

What struck me way before the incredible art works and installations was the engineering and architecture of the place – the whole structure seemingly carved out of the sandstone bedrock. More galleries appear to be under construction as we speak.

One can only marvel at some of the exhibits that leave you awe-struck, stimulated and overwhelmed all at the same time. The water curtain that spells words as the water tumbles to the floor or the multi-screened theatre showcasing dance, the topical news rendered in bread sculptures, and the fire-ravaged landscape were intriguing;

The reflective, shiny cocoon, the fat red car and the wall of ‘see you next Tuesdays’ were more whimsical and fun. Amongst all the weird and wonderful, it was interesting to note that the Arthur Boyd’s, the Brett Whiteley’s and the Del Kathryn Barton’s held their own.

Lunch at The Source did not disappoint either. Shared platters of beetroot and broad beans and chorizo-infused custard with fennel followed by blue-eye trevally with scallops and squid in squid-ink for me and a baked cheese soufflé for Jan. I couldn’t resist a dessert of strawberries, panna cotta, cucumber sorbet and gin and tonic jelly.

I can’t help but be impressed by the philanthropy of David Walsh – not only to curate such an amazing art collection, but to make it free for all Tasmanians to enjoy. An added bonus of our Ruby-inspired visit is that like every other person we know, we can now say, “Yes. We have been to MONA”. We no longer have to feel culturally deprived and inferior to all and sundry.

There was, of course a price to pay for our wonderful day trip. The provider of the experience was a psychological mess when we got home. Being left all day to her own devices proved too stressful for Ruby and she went through all the usual darting about, diving under furniture, dribbling and manic behaviour to show her displeasure and genuine concern at our absence.

Readers of this blog will know that a couple of weeks ago, in a foolhardy moment, I suggested to some of my Bruny mates that I would be up for a bit of cold water swimming. Pete, who avails himself of the joys of the ocean all year round took me up on my bravado and we are now officially the ‘Dennes Point Great Rights’- officially might be an overstatement as the name only came up as a suggestion today and so far we have been pretty unsuccessful in swelling the ranks. Our respective spouses shake their heads and our friends V & G have been once – but wore their wetsuits!

So here’s the drill. 10 am ( if we’re around) we meet at the northern end of Nebraska Beach which is quite sheltered. One of us strides straight in and under. The other ( author of this post) immerses herself gradually, never getting her hair or face wet. We stay in for 15 minutes during which time we chat, then we go home. For me this involves a quick 2 minute drive up the hill and then into the shower.

The benefits of cold water swimming are well documented and I must admit I feel fabulous for hours afterwards though my cobbled together cold water swimming ensemble looks pretty ordinary.

What’s the saying about six weeks to make a habit? We’re two weeks in so next time I write about this bit of life here on Bruny it will be commonplace. Air and water temperatures will also be warmer. Today? Air = 12, Water = 11. Yes! #@*& freezing!

Love from the Island

I am now officially a Swans supporter!

I know this will surprise many of you who understand that I don’t give a toss about any kind of football, and that any sporting allegiance I may have is limited to Team AUSTRALIA at the Olympics and Comm Games plus the mighty Colour City Dragon Boat Club. But needs must, and when I had to nominate ‘my’ team for the end of season Dennes Point footy tipping ‘get together’, I followed Marcus’s lead and went for the Sydney Swans.

A bit of background here for our non Aussie readers. Tasmania is an AFL (Australian Football League) state. We come from an NRL (rugby league) state. I have a vague idea about NRL but nought about AFL!

Thankfully Mr M is more across the sporting codes and has been responsible for our participation in the competition over the past few months. My contribution has been that my email address has been used as the conduit between tipping central and M & J Richards! We came a respectable 46th out of 70 which isn’t bad for newcomers. The winner, Marilyn, maintained the lead from day one walking away with the cash prize and perpetual trophy!

We are about to head into the finals, and yesterday was the annual get together of the Dennes Point tippers. We were asked to dress in team colours (hence my having to choose my team). The Swans are red and white which allowed me fee reign in my wardrobe – who knew that those red corduroy pants would come in so useful!

The event was held at the Jetty Cafe and featured a spit roast, salads, cheese, sweet treats and lots of alcohol! It was a great way to catch up with our neighbours and there was a little silly behaviour. I have memories of volunteering for several things including starting swimming from 1 September! Hopefully Pete and V will have forgotten that conversation. We were invited to an after party at ‘Social Central’ but declined the invitation to get home to the, by then anxious, black baby.

A huge shout out to Mick who ran the competition this year and his mentor and event organiser Lynne. Thanks to Justin and Corey, spit roasters par excellence; to Kris and Ray for providing the perfect venue; and to everyone for your food contributions and good company.

I’m now learning the Swans team song in preparation for next year! ‘Onward to Victory’.

Love from the Island.

It would seem that there is a new concern for M&D relating to my health. This can be a blessing and a curse. Let me explain. The day that Mum flew out to Dublin for one of her Library ‘things’ I was taken to the vet because my face had changed shape quite dramatically over the last week or so. Unlike previous dogs in this family, I quite like going to the vet. Its good to get ‘off island’ even if it means an uncomfortable trip in the ute. Don’t worry, I’m in the cab with Dad, but he does get stressed when I insist on putting my head on the console. Anyway, the vet staff are particularly welcoming. Sheridan, the receptionist, always seems to be excited to see me and is ready with lots of liver treats and ear rubs.

Russell, the vet who dealt expertly with my endoscopy on my previous visit checked me out this time. The usual indignities were deemed necessary but this time there were big medical terms being bandied about and a distinct sense of disquiet between Dad and Russell. We left the vet’s in a very sombre mood.

I was referred to a veterinary neurologist from Melbourne, and as luck would have it, I was able to get in to see him later in the week. That meant another long trip in the ute up to Hobart. Dr. Sam seemed nice enough, and I’m sure had the expertise to match his charming ‘bed-side manner’. His prognosis was a little more positive, but still those worrying big words remained in the conversation – Mandibular neuritis, idiopathic tri-geminal neuropathy or hypo-thyroid something or other all got a run.

Snuggling with Dad

M&D are still uneasy because no one can give a definitive prediction of the future. For me, this is a real benefit and something that I can, and do, exploit quite shamelessly. They are constantly looking for any changes in behaviour that may be a symptom. Dad already thinks I sleep a lot more and so lounge-time has been increased and he has been much more likely to be close by to snuggle with.

There have been more treats (for the poor, sick pup). Mum has noticed that I have ‘broadened across the beam’ in her absence, although the blow-torch is applied to Dad rather than me. The dreaded words ‘portion control’ have been re-introduced to the vocabulary.

One minute I’m on the beach, the next minute vamoosh!

The biggest bonus has been me not getting into trouble for my Houdini-like disappearances. Last week on the beach I did my usual trick of taking off up into the shacks and staying just far enough away to be cutely annoying without being able to be caught. I got as far as my best friend’s Norman and Pearl’s before I allowed myself to be grabbed. The walk back to the car was uncomfortable but I wasn’t smacked or even yelled at. I did, however, get the ‘I’m very disappointed’ speech.

Even better, the day before Mum got home, a gate was left open which I exploited to the full and took off for an hour or so. When I saw Dad walking and driving all over the neighbourhood, I thought it best to return home. When he drove up the driveway, I was waiting for him in the fishpond. Just to extend the fun a little longer I ran across the road to say hello to Rosie. (I didn’t think that through because in playing with her, I lost concentration and was unceremoniously collared and marched home.) But here’s my point – No punishment!

So, I will continue to push the boundaries in the hope that my ‘condition’, whatever that may be, will continue to elicit sympathy and a greater understanding of my canine needs and wishes. Wish me luck!


Hi friends, Ruby here writing from the couch where I’m convalescing after emergency surgery. It’s been a tough 24 hours but let me reassure you that I’m fine and the many veterinary professionals who have cared for me during that time have declared me an ‘absolute delight’ – just saying.

So let’s rewind the clock and set the scene. Regular readers will know I have a penchant for swallowing socks and handkerchiefs. Not eating, more like a hoovering action. After a few days in captivity I release them back into the world, usually via the same path that they entered the dark and murky insides of one black Labrador. Aunty Adrienne describes this as ridiculous behaviour while Mum and Dad despair and keep careful watch over my bodily functions.

Over the years there have been mutterings of ‘if it doesn’t come up we’ll have to go to the vet’ but until yesterday I’d managed to perform miracles and ensured that the offending article reappeared before I was loaded in the car.

On 4 July 2022 my run of good luck came to an end and I found myself off to the Tasmanian Animal Hospital in Kingston. After the usual enthusiastic welcome from Sheridan I was ushered in to see Dr Russell who seemed to take the issue very seriously. Lots of prodding and poking and perhaps not enough of the liver treats on the counter ( just saying). Next thing Mum and I were back in the car heading to the surgery in Bellerive where something called an ultrasound was planned! I was quite keen to see this Bellerive place as I know of it from passively absorbing cricket commentary with Dad during summer. Any dreams of running amok on the hallowed ground was soon dispelled when we pulled up at yet another vet practice and I was shown into a room behind the scenes area and Mum disappeared.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur and is recounted from conversations I overheard while in the recovery position. It would seem that the ultrasound showed a mass in my stomach which they deduced was said sock and so I was wheeled into surgery for an endoscopy performed by Dr Rob. From what I understand I exceeded all expectations and made Dr Rob a superstar as he pulled not one, but two socks from my stomach – oh and two handkerchiefs as well. One of the socks went ‘missing’ when Rylee was here in February, imagine! Dr Rob offered to provide Mum with a video of the event, which she declined ( though Aunty Regina is keen to see it for professional interest).

I was then transferred to the AVEC (After Hours Emergency Veterinary Centre) for overnight care and monitoring before being driven back to Kingston this morning where Mum and Dad collected me and bought me home with a big bag of medications and many instructions. I’m already dreading the fussing, Mum will go into nurse overdrive.

I’ve been listening to M&D and they are full of praise for Tasmanian Veterinary Hospitals and the whole customer service experience where they were ‘kept in the loop the whole time’. I believe someone called Mr Joyce could learn from this. Whatever!

Love from the Island from one very sleepy Ruby