Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dog dramas

We seem to have our fair share of drama. Not for nothing that Boxers are known as the clowns of the dog world. Drama Queens more like. And like any good story, dramas come in three's.

1. Ooof! The collar broke. Now that was inconvenient, especially as Brin was at full pull towards a lovely young lady in the woods. Snap, and the collar came off. Ooof, down I went, still holding the lead, into the undergrowth. Slightly winded, a bit embarrassed, I got up, tied Zozi to a tree and went to retrieve my 40kg Boxer dog. Luckily, the young lady was very sensible and was standing very patiently shaking his paw and patting his head. Phew! Dogs collected, I showed her how good Boxer dogs should behave and had them sit for a treat. Impressive!

2. The one where Zozi gets her foot caught in the lead. No, no, it was much more dramatic than that. You know the soft bit of a dog's paw, between the toes? Now, pinch it with the metal clip of the lead. I don't know how it happened but when the dog wouldn't jump out of the car, I knew something was wrong. Of course, Mr B was over at the neighbour, helping her put the roof box on! They were both most surprised when I drove the 4x4 at high speed towards them, Brin looking most alarmed in the front seat, where I had strapped in him rather than upset Zozi in the back. Mr B, the doctor, had it sorted in seconds. I really shouldn't have to deal with dramas like this.

3. I knew I should have brought a tissue with me. I'm sure none of you will admit to this, and maybe it has never happened to you, but the Boxers are dab hands at getting a bit of poo stuck. I'm sure its because they eat stuff they shouldn't. Every now and again, a routine squat in the woods will become a mad, frantic, bottom-rubbing frenzy. And the only way I can save the walk and stop the other dog going mental too, is to grab the offending stuck poo and swiftly pull it out. Now you see why a tissue is handy.

Dog dramas! What dog dramas?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Wellies and PJs

5am, a hideous croaking noise. Not from me or Mr B. The dogs drag themselves from their beds, and stand at the window. I sit up in bed and can just about make out the chickens, protesting loudly that they are awake and hungry, and what the hell are we all doing still in bed?

They see me get up and start to cluck gently. I pull my wellie boots on (they go rather well with my PJs), and the Boxer dogs and I trundle down the bottom of the garden. The dogs soon abandon me, in favour of doing their business, the hens wait impatiently.

'Good morning, ladies' I sing to them. Murmurs of appreciation from the hungry two. Soon, order and quiet is restored, mugs of tea back in bed, happy dogs snoring away.

Good morning!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Kicking and screaming - Farncombe Day Centre

About a year ago, I suggested an online giving page for the day centre. Three months passed before I was given the go-ahead to set it up. On the 1st of October, I emailed the log-in and set-up details for the BT MyDonate page to the Chairperson and Manager of the day centre. On 29th November, they still had not processed the documents. By mid-December, the lack-lustre management team and I had parted company. 

I offered to maintain the Twitter account and other social media networking. My offer was declined. I expected them to request access to the online giving page and to change the password. They did not. This has still not been done. 

As I believe that the day centre makes a valuable contribution to the community, I am still committed to supporting it, and in April, I was able to set up a fundraising event for a sponsored walk in aid of Farncombe Day Centre. Donations and Gift Aid were received by the day centre, in response to an appeal. To my knowledge, no report on these funds has been requested by the management team.

Today, I have removed my intellectual property, including photographs and text, from the page and I am publicly telling the Farncombe Day Centre management to prioritise this, as well as changing the contact details, and updating the charity profile. Updating the website would help too.

I believe that this shows yet again that the management team are not fit for purpose, lacking in critical IT skills, and ill-equipped to deal with the changing world of social media fundraising.

Pull your socks up, Farncombe Day Centre, or you will be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

My case study on the long term sustainability of the Farncombe Day Centre is available by email

My previous posts on Farncombe Day Centre:
Godalming and Farncombe Neighbourhood Planning (GOFARNP)

Disclaimer: The author was a member of the Farncombe Day Centre Executive Committee from February to December 2013, and was asked to step down following a disagreement with the Chairperson of the Committee, relating to the budget shortfalls and identifying such publicly.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Flaming June

The last week of June. Mid-summer. Half a year gone. And just to make sure we all make the most of the summer days, the social calendar is filled with fĂȘtes and fairs, and garden parties, and picnics and Pimm's. Wonderful. Exhausting. 

Life in the village has been typically busy. Something on very weekend this month. I think it may be a bit too much, and we haven't been able to fit it all in, with work, and travel, and quite a lot to do in the garden, too. We enjoyed the party in the Brigadier's garden, but passed at the Garden Safari. Today is the open garden at Norney Wood for the National Gardens Scheme, a Jekyll-inspired garden. Next weekend is the Shackleford fĂȘte, and the village will have its bunting out again. Of course, we'd love you all to join in.

The cricket season is in full swing. The Shackleford Cricket Club has an active calendar, and we can hear the familiar crack of ball against bat, and shouts of 'catch', as we walk the Boxers in the woods.

And if you do drive through the village, be sure to stop awhile at the pond, and 00h and aah at the gorgeous cygnets, with their own Facebook page.

What's not to love about village life? Visit Shackleford.

Friday, 13 June 2014

How to spoil a good walk

The one where the Boxer dogs dragged a human poo into the car. To read more of this delightful dog tale, see my blog at Surrey Life magazine.

And this is how Boxer dogs look after the event, while I clean out the car and wash the dog towels.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Godalming and Farncombe Neighbourhood Planning (GOFARNP)

I have made a written submission to the GOFARNP Community and Infrastructure Group. This group will establish a base-line of the infrastructure in Farncombe and Godalming (including education, health, telecomms, sports facilities, children's play areas, youth facilities, community facilities, green space, culture), paying attention to areas where infrastructure is presently deficient, before moving on to what the community needs by way of new and enhanced infrastructure, and how those needs are impacted by any planned growth of the town. There is more on the process on the Godalming Town Council's website http://www.godalming-tc.gov.uk/neighbourhood-plan.htm.

This is my submission.

Farncombe has a wonderful resource in the day centre in St John’s Street, more than just its provision of a hot meal for older people in Farncombe and Godalming. I would like to see better use made of this publicly funded community space.

When I first became aware of the operational budget shortfalls at the day centre, I suggested more engagement with the local community, to create a sense of pride and ownership. My hope is that showing more people in Farncombe and Godalming what the day centre can provide, for everyone, will generate more regular users of the centre, more volunteers and more donations. I also suggested joining Twitter, Facebook and setting up a new website - all of which would make the day centre more 'visible', but also more competitive. In order to achieve these ideals, community managers would need to up-skill in IT, web management, database management and social media networking, to maximise income potential, be more efficient in day-to-day operations management and increase the appeal of the community spaces to new users, and engage in community partnerships. 

The centre should be a social enterprise. A hub. A community space. A partnership. A place where diverse groups of users are welcomed, contributing to the revenue, generating more users and volunteers; a thriving place. And all this ensuring that the centre will continue to provide high quality engagements with local older people who enjoy a hot meal, companionship and activities on weekdays.

I see opportunities for a food bank, an after school club, or other much-needed community facilities. Perhaps the centre could open on a Saturday morning as a place to get a cooked breakfast or homemade soup lunch; one day a week for families in the community to meet and be supported. Evenings and weekends could also offer opportunities for small business or social enterprise organisations, groups or societies to meet. By offering this meeting space, the day centre would be increasing its network of partners, who in turn will be generating their own revenue streams, some of which will flow back to the day centre, creating a mutually beneficial, sustainable operating environment.

What do you think? Could it work? Would people come to use the facility?


My case study on the long term sustainability of the Farncombe Day Centre is available by email

My previous posts on Farncombe Day Centre:

Disclaimer: The author was a member of the Farncombe Day Centre Executive Committee from February to December 2013, and was asked to step down following a disagreement with the Chairperson of the Committee, relating to the budget shortfalls and identifying such publicly.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Godalming Bazaar

The Godalming Bazaar (formerly known as the Godalming Independent Market) is under new ownership. Jill Spain brings her experience as a card maker and crafter of personalised wedding stationery, together with a passion for promoting local crafts and handmade gifts, to this fine tradition of quality shopping in Godalming.

Under the banner of Surrey Independent Markets, Jill is aiming to change the face of the Independent Market, to bring a touch of shopping glamour to the heart of Godalming. The Godalming Bazaar will bring together local crafts people, to highlight the quality of handmade work available, and which is often missed by shoppers in the high street.

Jill has plans to develop a dedicated Food Court to showcase local growers and food and drink makers, together with a relaxing refreshment area for shoppers and stall-holders.

1.     The Godalming Bazaar brings together Surrey crafty people in a colourful indoor bazaar, offering hand made cards, jewellery, clothing and knitted wear, and lots of gift ideas, from bags to candles.
2.     A dedicated Food Court for refreshments and stocking up on gourmet luxuries.
3.   The next market day will be on Saturday 7th June, the same day as the Town Show, which means that Godalming will be very busy, with plenty of shopping opportunities and everyone getting in the mood for summer.
4.  Future events in the Godalming Borough Hall this year on 7 June, 6 September, 4 October, 22 November, 6 December.
5.   For more information, please contact the local organiser Jill Spain of Christmas Pie Crafts, email thegodalmingbazaar@virginmedia.com
6.     Brought to you by Surrey Independent Markets.