Whilst I'm waiting patiently for the planning approval and slowly working through the ever increasing list of things to do before Plas y Nant opens I thought I'd let you in on the secret as to how I'm managing to save my sanity. Three secrets actually - Pops, Smidge and Alfie.
Our three boxers collectively keep me sane - though there have been occasions when they've driven me insane with worry. We also have a lovely old cat called Tilly but she has asked for her anonymity to be protected - she's not one for the limelight.
Pops was our first boxer and at the age of 11 she is now our grand old lady, keeping the others in check with a disdainful look. She's been with us since she was 6 weeks old and is well used to the sight of packing boxes - as long as her bed goes with us she's happy. One of her favourite occupations is going for a long run, even though she has very bad arthritis and a metal plate in her leg. However, she eases her aches and pains with a swim around her infinity pool, otherwise known as our garden pond!
Smidge joined us in 2007 when she was 6 weeks old as well. Although she's much smaller in build than the other two she's a right power pack. She's David's jogging companion and has accompanied him to the top of Snowdon many a time. She's really eager to please and has such a quizzical look when she's trying to understand what I'm telling her. Swimming is not her favourite occupation - in fact she can't - and she sits at the side of the pond really frustrated when Pops dives in for a swim. When she's not charging about she can often be found relaxing where she shouldn't be.
Also she loves to lie on top of one of the others if she can - she's always done it, first with Pops when she was tiny and now with Alfie.
Alfie joined us in April this year when he was 9 months old. He was living with a young family but came to us following a change in their circumstances. We'd wanted a male boxer to help protect me up at Plas y Nant in the long winter months and so we gratefully took him in. So far he has had a very eventful life with us. We've discovered he has an allergy to beef and duck and has to have a special fishy diet and after a very unfortunate incident with some potassium permanganate I thought he wouldn't make it to autumn never mind winter. However, he soon recovered and is back to his stubborn ways. He is so laid back I can picture him swinging in a hammock, flat on his back with his legs all over the place. Although they're not related he has inherited Pops's stubborn streak, they know what you want them to do, they know they should do it but they're not going to do it till they're ready.
I wouldn't and couldn't be without my three best friends (not counting David and Tilly of course!). Pops has been with me through thick and thin and the others are catching up. On the odd occasion that certain events have reduced me to tears the three of them have been sat at my feet looking so worried that I can't stay upset for long. They certainly are great stress relievers.