My comfort blanket

Tilly the terrier ponders on her important rôle as a source of comfort at times of stress.

THEY say that a companion animal can be a big help when it comes to coping with life’s stresses and strains.

The Happy Moonraker has not been in a good place lately, both emotionally and physically, so it has been good know that Tilly is always there, with a kindly lick and a warm, soft body to snuggle against when things have been particularly bad.

Let’s hope, with her help, we can emerge together from this tricky phase of life.


Tilly’s heritage called into question

Tilly in the cowslips, looking as though she might have a corgi parent.

WE were in a shop when someone admired Tilly and asked what breed she was. As usual I said she was a pedigree SDWA which meant ‘Short Dog with Attitude’.

Her admirer said that she had a ‘jug’ at home which, she explained, was a Jack Russell crossed with a pug.

At that rate Tilly is definitely a ‘jorgi’ because I have always thought she looks rather like a corgi: her ears, the thick fur round her neck, her way of walking, and so on.

Jorgis of the world unite.

The happy sculptors


Happy sculptors: (l to r) Sean Henry, Roger Stephens, Jay Battle, Rebecca Newnham, Jonathan Loxley and Ben Storch, photographed in Salisbury Cathedral.

EVERY time this shot pops up on my computer slideshow it makes me smile.

They were all looking so happy, Roger later told me, because they had managed to install their respective sculptures for Salisbury Cathedral’s Liminality exhibition without mishap.

It proved to be a popular exhibition and all the pieces displayed were of the high standard that visitors have come to expect at the Cathedral.

Red kidney bean stew

Red kidney bean stew

Serves 4 – 6


1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

1 large red pepper, de-seeded and chopped

2 leeks or medium courgettes, sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

175g mushrooms, washed and sliced finely

1 can of chopped tomatoes or four chopped fresh tomatoes

1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

½ tsp paprika

Seasoning to taste



Heat oil in large pan, and add onion, red pepper, carrots, leeks or courgettes and celery.

Cook together gently for 10 minutes, covered, then add mushrooms, tomatoes, kidney beans and seasonings.

Continue to cook gently, covered, for a further 10 – 15 minutes. Check seasoning and serve.

This stew freezes well and once thawed can be quickly reheated. Alternatively, any leftovers can be combined with cooled cooked pasta such as fusilli or penne, together with chopped feta cheese, to make an interesting salad.

Legendary vegetarian cookery writer Rose Elliot had the first edition of her classic book (left) published in 1985. A new edition, with amendments and additions, came out in 2010.

The cyclist’s ordeal

I’VE said it before and I’ll say it again: you just have to be slightly mad to cycle round here.

As parking becomes ever more challenging, it would seem to be a good idea to dust down the bike and take to two wheels instead of four.

Unfortunately your average motorist doesn’t agree.

In fact your average motorist seems to develop instant selective blindness if there is a cyclist ahead of them.

The cyclist can see that there is a series of drains leading into the gutter along the road so the obvious thing to do is give them a wide berth.

The raging motorist, however, neither sees nor cares about these obstacles but takes delight in skimming the cyclist’s outside elbow.

As for speed restrictions, there is a similar disregard for them too.

If only a little respect and consideration could prevail. After all, the slipstream from a speeding vehicle can easily cause a cyclist to wobble dangerously, or fall.

Over the years, there have been attempts to increase the number of cycle paths but that in itself is costly and complicated when the basic infrastructure is so narrow.

If you do decide to cycle and manage to reach your destination in one piece, all you then have to contend with are shaky legs, dusty or muddy feet and a red face.

Helping our home town

Tilly the terrier pricks up her ears when she learns that Wiltshire Council is trying to help Salisbury.

IT is a positive sign that Wiltshire Council is now putting its money where its mouth is and doing away with all parking charges in Salisbury following the nerve agent atrocity.

In case you weren’t already aware, it is Wiltshire Council that operates and takes the income from city centre parking, not Salisbury City Council.

Not surprisingly I suppose, many people have been opting to stay away from the city centre, and the consequences for small businesses are catastrophic. They won’t have had the means to pay for an insurance policy to cover them against terrorist activity, whereas the big national companies probably have.

Even if shoppers were keen to support some of the traders in The Maltings, it simply hasn’t been possible because so much of it has been cordoned off, for obvious reasons.

So anything we can do to help the city centre is a good thing. Yes, there have been international media crews wondering around, bearing heavy cameras and hoping for the merest snippet of news.

They have interviewed random people and bought cups of coffee. Some of the foreign crews have stayed overnight in city centre hotels, but they can’t make up for the commercial buzz on market day, for example.

Life carries on. We must all support our traders where we can, including Tilly the terrier who is a frequent visitor to the city centre where she accompanies The Happy Moonraker to the bank, to many of the shops, coffee shops and parks.


Spring comes and goes . . .

Tilly the terrier’s expressions says it all: “The snow isn’t bothering me, but where’s my breakfast, please?”

SNOWDROPS, primroses and birdsong. What do they mean when you wake up once more to a landscape completely covered in snow?

Just when we thought winter really was over, it happened again, with the usual disruption to travel and communication.

It will be a week or two yet before we discover what damage has been done to all those tender buds in the garden, but Tilly the terrier has no such concerns.