An Indian summer

Buckingham – Summer has returned to South Carolina so we spend the day lying about and eating at home. We call by the nature centre on the way to the beach and sign up for an alligator hunt (non lethal), although I am not invited for some reason, not that I would be so stupid to go after one..

I seem to have overcome my dread of water as I have a good yallop in the waves having been tricked in following my ball, anyway I get totally wet.

They are giving these horrible white pills to try and cure my occasional limping, hopefully they will work or I fear another visit to our new vet.

Horses, an alligator and sun, sun, sun

Buckingham – The summer has returned today so we are in Charleston. Lisa and Mark go off to Husk (apparently the best restaurant in town) for lunch and Lisa has rabbit stew – I know this because she has this ‘I’ve just eaten a cute fluffy animal’ look on her face when she comes out. After lunch we split up, Lisa goes walking around Charleston Market (shops for retail therapy) and

Charleston 911

Mark and I strike the horse motherlode – we find where they all hang out and I go completely mad again. Apparently it’s all in my genes, going back many Dalmatian generations that was my job, running alongside horse-drawn carriages and fire trucks, hence the mascot iconography. This all becomes too embarrassing for Mark so we head off to the dog park in the south of the city and sit in the sun waiting for Lisa to call.

Returning home to Kiawah Mark and I take a quick detour to the beach and on the way I see my first alligator – I am not allowed to get too close – apparently for my own good. It was just lying in the water looking ominously at me.

Rain, rain, rain…

Buckingham – The first real rain of the trip so I am expecting a lie in and curl up tightly when he comes over. No such luck he gets me up at the normal time and we venture out into the wet. Not surprisingly we are (for the first time) the only souls on the beach – big waves, high tide, driving rain, cold – he is still in shorts – a real ‘Chariots of Fire’ moment.

The massed runners from the weekend have now left and our enclave is back to near empty, who can blame them as the weather seems to have turned into winter.

Folly Beach

Buckingham – We are at Folly Beach, about one hour east of Kiawah, not as nice as where we live at the moment and they don’t allow dogs off leash on the beach, but at least it gets us out of the house. Lisa finds a seafood place for lunch so I am reinstalled in the car for a while. She wants salmon, but today’s catch has not yet come in – we find out later that the salmon was originally caught in Scotland. What do you expect if you have lunch at the ‘Crab Shack’.

We see Santa Claus and his people on the beach – very strange as there is hardly anyone else about – what are they thinking?

On the way back we call by ‘the tree’ again and I do my best to provide it with sustenance for the next 300 years while Mark decides that it needs some support – I wish she would stop trying to get me to pose in front of these tourist traps!

Race Day

Buckingham – somethings up, he hasn’t taken me out for the usual run this morning although he is dressed to run, instead he takes me out for a quick leash walk around the houses and then we’re back. At 7.30am we leave, even Lisa is coming. We walk around the corner and thousands of people are there – it’s a race and I’m not invited again. I do my best to protest but he goes off without me and I have to wait ages for his return. We hang around and I get a lot of attention from the multitude but I let him know that I’m not happy that he doesn’t include me.

Mark – My big day, the half marathon. I was worried that I hadn’t done enough prep for this event but in the end set a new personal best for the distance. You just get carried away when you are surrounded by over 3,000 other runners.The start was a traffic jam and the first few miles were spent threading my way through the mêlée before I could settle into a good pace. This was one race where you were not going to get bored as there were plenty of supporters and even bands and dancers en route for entertainment. Lisa and Mr B came to see me off and I could sense that B really wanted to come but it would have been slightly too far, even if he had been allowed. The course is a double loop if you are doing the full marathon and very flat. It attracted some olympic qualifying hopefuls and as the weather was perfect you had a feeling that it was going to be a good day. In the end I knocked 5 minutes off my previous best time and finished in just over 1 hour 40 mins, thanks to being accompanied by Avril, Bruce and Coldplay, I must have looked quite odd singing to ‘Born to Run’ at the half way point. About 1/4 mile from the end there is a choice – finish the 1/2 (my event) or do it all again and do the full marathon. I was tempted to do a Bernard Moitessier but sense got the better of me and I went for the line to Green Day and Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the first line being ‘I walk a lonely road’ – no chance of that today. Of course I could never have done this, and all the other races that I have entered this year, if I hadn’t had my best spotted training partner by my side.

A special mention for Margaret Hagerty the oldest finisher at 88 – there is hope for my old age yet!

Now off to post race festivities – drinking and eating!

Savannah and Beaufort

Buckingham – what happened? Lisa gets up at 7:30am!! whilst Mark is still on his run… now they’re fussing, preparing. They keep telling me I’m coming but I always get worried if they change their minds so I get nervous. I sit next to the front door, making sure that I am indeed going with them. okay, I am reassured because my bed is going into the car. woooof…

We’re in the car for over 2 hours and arrive in Savannah. We’re on Factor’s Walk by the Savannah river. Lots of new smells that I like. We’re now in front of the queen of low country food Paula Dean’s lady and sons restaurant. Lisa wants to sample the food but they don’t allow me non humans so we settle down at city market; an outdoor restaurant but we are under the warm sun. Lisa must be getting used to fried food because she surprised mark and I by saying the french fries are good. We walk some more after lunch, to the Telfair museum so Mark and I hang out across the square: there are 24 within the grid of downtown and they’re nice to sniff. Then another chance to meet my horse friends– why won’t they run away or do something

Back into the car and another hour passes when we arrive in Beaufort. They pronounce the name funny here: bee-u-fert. A very quaint little spot that is beautiful. One of the prettiest towns so far. We sit, kicking off on one of the many swings that the city built, next to the perfectly manicured gardens by the seawalk, watching a swing bridge in motion, whilst enjoying ice cream – of course i get some, but not after having salivating what appears to be an eternity. waiting for the final licks and the wafer cone… and it’s all worth it!!

Natures cruel and another Charleston visit

Buckingham – another day of not running on the beach because they still think I need to rest my paw, even though my limp is slowly mending. We come home, laze around, lunch then an early walk on the beach before they head out, and what a walk, the sea is full of white caps and the winds are howling. my ears are swept back and I can’t keep them next to the head anymore. Lisa spots overhead 2 lonely birds in the sky and she says one must be hurt. minutes later, one drops into the sea and I run for it. I’m inquisitive but the bird is frightened. Lisa and Mark try to stop me but I can’t help but to go near it. I want to say hello. I’m almost completely engulfed by the waves and the cold sea chills my bone but I persist. Lisa is now trying to save the injured bird but the sea is churning it away into the abyss. Tragically, it is gone. Nature has its way to weed out the weak, I slink back beside them and lumber home.

They’re going out tonight into Charleston again. It’s our Silvermine neighbours Judy and Michel’s friends. Janice and Michael are a very nice couple who have lived in Charleston for 10 years in the historic french quarter very close to mccurdy’s – a refurbished restaurant that used to be a brothel. interesting although I’ll never get to see the inside of it. urrrr!! I know the four of them went for dinner at the oak steak house because I could smell the insatiable buttery aroma of beef that is unmistakable, even though Lisa and Mark ate fish.

They’re good to me because they rushed home for me. initially, their plan was to celebrate Christine’s surprise birthday party after dinner but it finished late and they’re mindful that I need to be taken out. I greet them as they open the front door with my full set of teeth, lips curled, smiling… as usual.

Walking with dolphins

Buckingham – they’re beginning to be like me… they hang around in the condo for hours doing nothing – well, after mark’s strenuous run in the morning which I don’t get to do anymore because it’s doctor’s orders that I have to rest my paw.

I’m very glad to be a dog today because I get to have kibble this morning and I thought I would never appreciate those horrible brown bits of crunchy cardboard. Unlike Lisa and Mark, it’s from gluttony to no food last night and to a few fruits only: I can smell orange, apple, banana and pineapple – that’s all they’re eating for breakfast/lunch.

We go the beach at Seabrook (east of Kiawah island) this afternoon because a very nice woman invites us to where the Atlantic ocean is protected with an inlet so we see many dolphins swimming alongside us. For the first time the camera isn’t on me. Well, I guess it’s rather special that the dolphins are as close as 20 feet to the shore. the woman’s 2 dogs keep going into the water to play with the dolphins but I don’t like to get wet so I stay on dry sand. We also see a rainbow behind us and the sunset in front of us. It’s quite spectacular… if only I could run more. soon. Lisa and Mark believe my paw is getting better.

Binge eating and a tree!

Buckingham – another morning walk on the beach then mark drops me off at home and Lisa feeds me. bonus, more walk – she takes me out to the beach again and we alternate between jogging/walking on the hard packed sand and trotting in the cool ocean water for a very long heavenly time until Lisa tells me to look for mark. I find him running towards me (he’s training for next Saturday’s 1/2 marathon) I’m so over the moon to see him I do my figure 8 a couple of times!!

I hear them go out for brunch, at the hotel’s jasmine porch for Sunday buffet. at $75 each, Lisa tries to get her money’s worth by eating a lot of fresh Chesapeake bay oysters. she says they’re yummy – 1/2 dozen is a tease, 1 dozen is plenty, but 1 1/2 dozens is gluttonous!! well, mark, on the other hand, tries to blissfully drink enough champagne and OJ… whilst I wait on a stomach full of ultra exciting dried dog food!


They take me not to the beach in the afternoon but to the angel oak on Bochiket. wow, it is a big deal. 1500 years old. it’s only 65 feet tall but has a canopy of 17,000 square feet ofshade. some branches (huge as tree trunks) are so heavy they fall under ground and then grow back above the surface. all very impressive to humans but I have my moment: I sniff out 3 cigarette butts to satisfy my monthly nicotine fix. they make up for the brown kibble.

Mark – 30 years ago today I landed in Hong Kong with 14 other wannabe Police Inspectors. I have not lived in Blighty since, that was probably the best accidental decision that I ever made and was initiated by a bet with a friend at University – apparently I won. Like now prospects in the UK were grim and what I had on offer was a job selling Volvo’s in Leeds – no decision really. December 4th 1981 will therefore always be a big red letter day for me. Next weekend many of the original 15 will be celebrating together in Hong Kong, unfortunately I can’t be there due to the extended trip that we are currently taking so will have to substitute it with running a 1/2 marathon, fitting really as I was an active runner in the Police. I will do my best to make the 40th reunion.

2 restaurants in Charleston

Buckingham – another morning at the beach but I’m groggy from the anti inflammatory pill. I can’t run so mark walks me. the day goes by with mark and Lisa watching video’s  – well, they want to keep me company because they’re going out at night – I know. we go to the beach again in the afternoon. can’t believe I pick up 7 more sand spurs and they are crazy painful! we meet these 2 couples on the beach who are very nice – of course, they are Canadians!

We finally come home so I can have more dried kibble and then they go out to meet Christine at tattooed moose in Charleston. great music there and the BBQ brisket is fantastic – so I am told… and I dream on but no luck! they leave Christine and friend and head for fig but the restaurant is full till 10:15pm – but that’s my bed time?! so they end up at fat hen (that means they eat again??) they both order appetiser and then mark insists on having a banana cream dessert (hmmmm, lick lick) and Nicki the server convinces Lisa to have a cup of homemade hot chocolate which is sickly sweet. they come home stuffed, again, without any consideration for me, who eats world’s most boring diet of dried kibble, for 8+ years!