A Street Dog Named Scruff

We wanted a female puppy. A puppy would be easier to train, adapt to boat life and less ‘rescue baggage’.

Then we met Scruff.



But let’s back-up a bit, to the very beginning of our doggy journey. Starting with a puppy promise… 

The Promise.

When I was 19, my gorgeous boyfriend (now husband!!!) bought, made and ordered me 19 presents. One gift was a Puppy Promise We’d often bonded over our love of small fluffy things and desire to one day have a dog of our own – but, we were a few years off being in a position to feasibly keep and care for a pet. Knowing that we would be together forever, Ryo designed, printed and framed a ‘puppy promise’, offering to get me a dog in the next ten years, when I was in a position to sensibly have one.

It’s little surprise that I decided to marry this guy.

Years passed, and whilst I regularly dropped hints and made reference to the Puppy Promise, we both knew we were still a while off. Time moved on, until… six years later.

We Were Ready!

Things were coming together as we settled onto our a narrowboat soon after our wedding. But, now we had the added complication of the fact that we wanted to rescue a dog, but many centres are reluctant to re-home to boats as you have no secure garden.

We agreed that the earliest we would get a pup was autumn, it would give us a chance to get everything ready, get our busiest months out the way and let the INSANELY hot summer pass.

This didn’t stop me sending several links of cute pups to Ryo on an daily hourly basis. There were international charities saving street dogs in Spain, people selling accidental puppies on gumtree, and breeders trying to get thousands of pounds per pooch. We just wanted a little mutt in need of love, but the search was coming up short. Then I met a lovely lady and her dog on the towpath. She mentioned that she’d rescued her dog from Appledown Rescue and Kennels, who were more than happy to re-home to boats. I begun <del>stalking</del> watching the Appledown Facebook page closely. They regularly uploaded albums of their newest dogs, and they were gorgeous! They had a puppy waiting list, and there was no guaranteeing how long you’d be on it, days, weeks, months… But we were waiting until Autumn to get our dog.


Little did we know, the winter would bring challenges of its own!

We were in no rush. Then, that weekend, Ryo went to London to see some of his friends at a Star Wars exhibit. I was left to my own devices… By the time he got back, we were on the waiting list and I was reading my newly purchased puppy training book….

The Waiting.

I watched two litters of puppy come and go, and we hadn’t been contacted. They have a very complicated system of matching breed, age and suitability to each dog and family, so when Ryo phoned to try and find out where we were on the list, we were told it didn’t matter.

The Call.

Ryo called again the next week, (on my… encouragement…) and really emphasised how keen we were. Later that day, I got the call. A litter of 5 month old pups had a couple left, and we were welcome to go and meet them any day that week. I thanked her, hung up, and cried.

The Meeting.

I did not have the emotional capacity to go to a rescue centre without my husband and leave without a) breaking into a puddle of puppy-induced tears or (more likely…) b) adopting several dogs. Like, all of them. Besides, Ryo and I were equally excited to pick it out together.

So we agreed to go and meet the puppies together that Saturday.

Friday evening came, and I saw a Facebook announcement on Appledown’s page, they had just had a photoshoot with their new batch of rescues and would be uploading soon. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Re- Ryo, can I please borrow your phone? I’m running out of data and want to look at pictures of puppies.

One by one, the albums started to go up. There were cuties and sweeties and fluffers and-

“Ryo, look at this one.”

My heart stopped, I flipped the phone around and Ryo froze too.

“It’s that one. Yes.”


Scruff in his Pre-Tabusa days.

The centre opens at 10, we were there at 10.04am, I’d stressed the whole journey over whether or not we should ring ahead and make sure no-one saw him until we got there.

We explained that we had been contacted about the puppy waiting list, and would also like to meet ‘Willie Thorne’ (his temporary rescue name). Lovely Appledown employee, Kim, took us round to the gate. With us on the outside, she entered and held up a wriggly little yapper who was cute, but not enjoying this impromptu cuddle.

A girl puppy, and cute to boot. She ticked all the things we’d said we wanted. But it didn’t click and Kim could see it.

“Let me just go get you Willie Thorne. He’s been exposed to kennel cough so can’t be out in the yard with the others, I’ll have to shut them all away before I get him.”

After a very amusing (for us, not Kim) five minutes of ushering, enticing, guiding and cajoling, all the yappers were put away and Kim emerged from the other door with this fluffy, excited, and very keen little bundle of energy. The gate opened, I got down to his level to introduce myself, and he curled up on my lap and looked up at me with those big puppy eyes that informed us that he was here to stay.

Ryo got a very similar introduction and our hearts were set.



Kim’s phone rang.

“Hello? […] Ah yes, well I’m afraid a couple are just looking at him now […] oh, no, sorry, I can’t do that… […] well they are with him literally at this moment… […] well they are from the waiting list […] ok, well yes, you are welcome to come down and fill out a form to join the waiting list- […] ok, see you soon then.”

By the time we got to the reception, the rival couple were there filling out a form to be added to his waiting list. Later that day he had a trainer for film and screen begging to take him home, with three follow-up enquiries, but it was too late. He had plopped himself into our hearts and he was ours.

The Waiting. Again.

Normally, there’s a standard seven day period between selecting your new furry friend and taking them home. However, as Kim had explained, Scruff had been exposed to kennel cough. So they had to wait for his symptoms to come out. Then they had to wait for the symptoms to go. Then he could go to the vets and get neutered. Then he could spend a week recovering. Then he could come home.


Bonding in the grooming room.

Due to previous neglect and some time on the streets, his fur was completely matted. Top to bottom. So, although he couldn’t come home, I could go in and groom him. Every day for three weeks, I went in, plopped him on the grooming table, and slowly teased away his matts and clumps. He was so good and just loved the attention.

Had someone done to me what I was doing to him, I would have bitten them. He didn’t so much as whine.

The Naming

Meanwhile, at home, we were trying to come up with a name. There are many things I can call in a park, but Willie is just not one of them… He was like a little bear – Baloo? (Hindi for bear, strong Disney connections), no, he was too small for Baloo. Ewok? Wicket after the main Ewok? It went on the list. What about taking Willie and extending it to William Shakespeare? We could call him Billy for short? …


We went around and around in circles, until – Scruff. I mean look at his little face. He’s Scruff by name and nature. But, he’s a street dog, we’re bringing him into our lives to give him the best life possible, would he get a complex if we gave him such a street dog name?

So we didn’t.

We called him:

Prince Scruffington of the Low Seas*, the First.

Scruff for short.

(*Mainly the Grand Union)

Bringing Him Home.

You know what, it was so full of adventure, I’m going to do a whole other post on it! (With videos!!)

Now and Next…

We’ve all settled in very nicely.


Scruff has helped me take up running; he goes into the Globe with Ryo when I’m out the country (he even has his own staff pass…!!); he protects the boat; sits quietly through church and has made friends with everyone up and down the towpath! He even starred in a promo for my boat-related storytelling!

He’s changed our lives. We love him so much and can’t wait to see what the future brings for our little family unit!

Happy 6 months Scruff!




How to Say the Right Thing.

I’ve recently started listening to podcasts. (Recommendations always welcome!) They’re a great way to make the chores go faster, and even a good thing to focus on whilst out for a run. The other day, whilst running along with Scruff, I heard a piece of advice that was so simple and poignant, it almost stopped me in my tracks.

Now, I’m the kind of person that is often saying the wrong thing. I’m trying to help, but I can be a bit quick to jump in when someone is struggling, or I feel that there’s a better way of doing things, or I get frustrated and just think someone is wrong.

But here’s the advice that has been swimming around my head ever since I heard it.

Before saying something (especially in the heat of conflict) ask yourself:

Should it be said?

Should it be said by me?

Should it be said now?

For example, you’re frustrated that your housemate hasn’t done the washing up and you want to have a little snipe. Should it be said? Chances are, they *know* that there’s washing up to do, so probably not. Should it be said by you? Maybe, but again, they already know it’s there. Should it be said now? While you’re in the middle of an altercation about something totally different? No.

You disagree with someone’s views over lunch and you want to educate them on your point of view. Should it be said? Odds are… it’s a no. They’ve heard it before, they just don’t agree. Should it be said by you? Probably not, sure, you want people to be enlightened, but that’s not really your job… Should it be said now? No, people are eating, wind the convo down and talk about something else.

This advice has really helped me focus on the outcome of my words. What do I want to achieve with them? Chances are, I’m not going to change anyone’s mind if they are as stubborn in their views as I am. It’s unlikely that reminding my husband that there’s rubbish to take out is going to help, he can see that it’s there. Suddenly ‘just trying to help’ shifts focus and you realise that maybe you’ve been saying things for your own benefit rather than that of those around you. Or maybe it’s just me. But since working on these three questions, I feel like I’m getting better at not saying the wrong thing!

It’s also great advice for the internet. Save yourself a trip down troll-lane with these three simple questions. Should it be said? Should it be said by me? Should it be said now. Where the internet is concerned, the answer to all three is almost always no…!

*If* it should be said, and it has to be said by you, pick a peaceful time when you’re both calm and bring it up gently. But really think about, not only what you want out of the conversation, but what you think a likely outcome really is…!

What do you think? Great advice or something that will only hold you back? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! (And also any podcast recommendations you have!)

Thought For Food.

Dear God, thanks for all the steps this food took to get to me, and all the steps I took to get to it.


(And if you’re not a person of faith, then omit ‘God’ (at your own risk…!))


Anyway, there’s something about being thankful for your food out loud. I remember birthday party buffets being held back so my dad could pray. ‘Say grace’. ‘Give Thanks’. My ‘normal’ friends would be eagerly piling their plates with chocolate fingers and stuffing their faces with chicken nuggets whilst me and my ‘church’ friends would be sat there with our hands in our laps, or together, waiting for the prayer.


Wedding Prayers.


It happened at our wedding, our joint hen and stag dos, any time we sit down to eat. Sometimes it feels embarrassing, or it’s too loud in a restaurant, so we’ll say it in our heads or on the sly.

But a well thought out, earnestly meant prayer – it’s not something to be sniffed at.

I love listening to my husband ‘give thanks’. One of the things he does that strikes me is thank God for all the steps, people and processes it took to get our food to us. Did that cross your mind last time you sat at a restaurant? We’re thankful for the waiting staff, the manager who gave them their jobs, the chefs, the people who built the company from scratch, the deliverers, distributers, the farmers, growers, the seed collectors. We’re thankful for the sun, rain and land it took to grow the ingredients, the technologies that have been invented to develop the products, and the people who invented them. I mean the list is endless!

Which reminds me of another prayer. One of my now best friends (then babysitters) took little Lydia to McDonalds circa 1997. She knew I’d like to give thanks, even though she’s not religious herself. So she invited me to say a few words. And boy, did I. I thanked God for every animal I could think of, by name. With the chips cold and the lemonade flat, I had finally exhausted my knowledge of animal names and happily tucked into my treat meal with the coolest babysitter, and friend, I may ever have. Why do I remember that? Well, partly because said friends will not let me live it down. But also, in no small part, because I really, really meant it. Ok, it was way over the top, but little 5 year old Lyds didn’t want to leave anything out. She was full of gratitude!

Longman Party

Obedient picnic protocol.


Now, in this fast food, fast life world, I think big Lyds has lost sight of that a bit. Ask a kid where ham comes from, and they’ll probably answer you ‘Tesco’. They’re not wrong, and of course we’re thankful for the Tesco staff too, but there’s definitely a disconnect between all the people and processes that go into food and the meals we have in front of us. We turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to injustices, corruption, cruelty and environmental costs because, honestly, it’s exhausting when all you want to do is sit down and eat your sausages.

It would be impossible to think about every step, every person and every technology at every meal. But, if you’re very blessed, you might have a brilliant person there with you who reminds you to be thankful for at least some of them. I have one, and for that, I’m truly thankful.

Sometimes, You Just Need a Day.

Yesterday was Tuesday. Tuesday is blog day. Ever since I launched my blog in August, I’ve published a post every Tuesday. Without fail. Until yesterday.

Now listen, there’s a very high probability that no-one noticed, I don’t think anyone sets their calender by my blog posts. But, it meant something, to me. I made a commitment to myself, one I take seriously and one that means a lot to me. It means consistency, reliability, it means being accountable to myself, it proves to myself that I can commit and follow through with a project all of my own. And yesterday I missed it.

Why? Well, I could say that, in part, it was overshadowed by the 28 Plays later challenge I’ve been completing, I have just one play left and the end is very much in sight. And I’ve had my sights set on it firmly!

Perhaps I could blame the cold, and how my brain seems to be going into some sort of primal ‘priority only’ mode.

But that’s not it. Sometimes you just have to take a day, or more, to focus on you and reset your compass. Yesterday was one of those days. I was mindful, present and peaceful throughout almost the entire day. I went for a walk in the snow listening to a very inspiring Christian podcast. I did the backlog of washing up. I prayed. Ryo wasn’t feeling 100%, and neither was I. We cancelled our plans with our neighbours and just – took a day.

A while ago, an email conversation went viral. It was between a woman who said she needed a day, and her employers who, quite rightly, respected that and told her to take the time she needed.

So why can’t we do this with ourselves more often? Yesterday I did, and it was glorious. The park in which we’re moored has become a sparkling winter wonderland, Scruff and I went for an amazing walk and play in the falling snow. I spoke to my mum briefly, then lost myself basking in the glory of God’s incredible creation all around me. It was lush.

I struggle with meditation, I have a Very loud and active brain that I cannot, yet, seem to control to just sit and think on one thing when I’m by myself. But, with a podcast and this breathtaking landscape, I was able to focus and soak in all the advice.

Advice about thinking on whatever is pure, lovely and profitable.

Advice about showing appreciation to my spouse.

Advice about not looking outwards, but inwards, to find validation and worth.

Advice about being worthy in the eyes of God, and loved by him. That’s some Big advice and not as easy to take in as it should be.

I appreciate that not everyone who reads this is a person of faith. This is still for you. If you have a very busy brain, often feel overwhelmed by the world, and can’t seem to settle your mind and be present.

Take a day.

For me, being outside is what regenerates me. I love to be surrounded by life and the sun and water and wildlife, and everything God created to make our world beautiful and better.
For you, it might be different. I would suggest trying to pray about, or just really think through, what it might be that helps rejuvenate you. For some, it’s alone time with a computer game, for some it’s a craft session, playing sport, running, baking…

Put that smile on your face.

Take as long as it takes. Figure out what helps you to be mindful and calm. Then do it! Do it every day, as often as you can. Build your life around it. When you get overwhelmed, take a day. But honestly, I believe that if we manage to sculpt our daily and weekly routines around things that bring us peace – we’ll need to take fewer and fewer days.

So let’s make a commitment to do what brings us peace, and take a day where and when we need it. I’m sorry you didn’t get a post yesterday… But not that sorry. I needed a day.

Any ideas for switching off and relaxing? I’d love to hear yours in the comments below! Taking a day today as you read this? Let me know!

Play Sixteen: Right on Speck.

Today we’re going to write on spec….

We were supposed to pick a venue that we loved and write a play for that venue. So I chose the Globe, and quickly realised that even if I had longer than a day, I couldn’t write a Shakespeare plays (being Shakespeare is a sort of prerequisite for that…)

So I decided to write a piece to go on the Globe stage, make full use of the wooden O, the groundlings, the magnetude of it all…

I sat at my laptop and repeated “Write on spec. Write on spec. Write on speck. Right on speck….”
next thing I knew, I was writing a scene on a speck of dust. Kind of gutted that I didn’t get to write for the Globe… another day…!!


Right On Speck

World Nomad Entry: Bingo With Babushka.

A friend recently brought my attention back to a competition run by World Nomad – an opportunity to travel with and be mentored by Tim Neville.

I’d seen the opportunity, but dismissed it for the usual reasons – self doubt, time restraints, feelings of inadequacy etc…

But then I reminded myself: This is what I’d love to spend my life doing – writing, traveling, meeting new people, learning as much as I can. So why not enter? You had to tell a story under one of three categories, in under 2,500 characters. This would be a great chance for me to hone my skills, and my pitching powers. Besides, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

So, with the view to creating something and putting myself out there, I took a leap! I wrote about an encounter I had during my very first international project. If you’d like to have a read, you can here.



Play Fifteen: What a Saga.

Let’s write a saga

Massive, huge stories that span over years and years.

Many characters, several generations.

The bigger – the better.

Ok, so my play isn’t that big, and all the generations are there at the same time, but there are some nods to to multiple generations, decades and many years!

Even if it does all happen within the space of half an hour… in the our world..!


What A Saga


Day One: Fight Song.

Day Two: So What, The Deer’s Some Kind of Metaphor?

Day Three: A Celestial Experience.

Day Four: A Summer’s Day.

Day Five: Bang.

Day Six: A Fine Balance.

Day Seven: Untitled.

Day Eight: The Relay Play.

Day Nine: Good Eating.

Day Ten: 고등학교 뮤지컬.

Day Eleven: Counting Calories.

Day Twelve: The Ten Minute Play.

Play Fourteen – Body and Me

Body parts – meet writers, writers – meet body parts.
Hope you have a hoot!

Bonus points? Make the play the most moving, gut wrenching piece of drama ever written, maybe even make yourself weep as you write… but don’t write about illness, decay or death.

Not sure about gut wrenching drama, but I did find myself feeling a little emotional – body and me, we’ve come a long way!


Body and Me

Early People Perks.

Are you always the early one? I am. So is my husband, which can mean we make a dangerous couple, four hours early for a flight anyone…?

The other day, I was early, as always. I was meeting my friends in London at 12pm. I live an hour and half away. I got there at 11.10am… It’s an 88 minute journey and I’d basically left myself an extra hour… story of my life.

Selfies: A Time Killing Standard

But that’s ok. The internet’s full of ‘Early People Problems‘, (some ever dare to suggest that all early people are pessimists!) but I just don’t have any problems with being early. I don’t spend my early time feeling resentful that other people aren’t there. It’s my choice. I’m a panic-er, I would SO rather be an hour early than spend my journey sweating with fear that I might be late.

Besides, I’d rather kill an hour close to where I need to be, than at home and then potentially face delays. Besides, it’s so easy to kill time in London!

Take the chance to wander the streets of majestic London!

So, early people, let’s celebrate our forward-thinking and obsessive time-checking. Let’s not lament ‘Early People Problems’, but party in some ‘Early People Perks!

  1. You get choose where you sit at a dinner table!
  2. You can explore the area and learn what’s around. Then when it comes to deciding where to go next – you’re an expert!
  3. You might discover something cool! (On this occasion, I went into the Tate and stumbled across an enormous swinging pendulum!)
  4. You have time to grab anything you’ve forgotten. (Like a birthday card because you forgot you were meeting up for their birthday…)
  5. Delays do not stress you out. Leaves on the rails and half-hour delays? No problem! (I’ll still be twenty minutes early!)
  6. Employers, and potential employers, love you.
  7. You get a chance to settle, relax and get comfortable. Run to the loo, take a breath, fix your windswept hair – all in your own time!
  8. You learn to be content with your own company and occupy yourself.

Now I get it, my earliness is not an inherently positive thing, I stress way too much at the thought of being even a little late, and it can make me very cranky as we get ready to go, or induce a panic attack. And not everyone finds it easy to be on time, I know a lot of people whose anxiety holds them back and tries to keep them indoors. If I could be on time, and be happy with being on time, I would. But until I’m in that place, why not celebrate the perks of arriving hours early in a strange town?!

Are you an early person or a late one? Let me know in the comments below.

Play Thirteen: The Windowsill of Happiness.

Please write a play to be performed to 14-18 year olds.

Use your phone to record as many people as possible talking […] about their own experiences in the light of a subject that you are interested in.
EG: […] First Love
Listen to the recordings.
Write a monologue play attributing as many as possible of those memories to one person.
You can use Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads as a template if you like.

What a lot of work for one day! I work from home, so I contacted a few friends asking for their input. However, I didn’t have time to send out requests, wait to receive them, listen and process the recordings and then input them into some sort of character. (Though an interesting idea for a future project…!)

So, what to do? I mined my memories for titbits friends had said, or experienced, in the past. Things that have stuck with me. And I smooshed them all into one person’s experience, changed a lot of the details, embellished a bit and… voila!

I think it could be quite a powerful piece for older teenagers, stuck in a messy world of dating, feelings and fragile self-worth. With a bit of work, I think it could pack a real message of self-love and grounding yourself in something other than other people’s opinions of you.


The Windowsill Of Happiness (Adult content)


Day One: Fight Song.

Day Two: So What, The Deer’s Some Kind of Metaphor?

Day Three: A Celestial Experience.

Day Four: A Summer’s Day.

Day Five: Bang.

Day Six: A Fine Balance.

Day Seven: Untitled. 

Day Eight: The Relay Play.

Day Nine: Good Eating.

Day Ten: 고등학교 뮤지컬.

Day Eleven: Counting Calories.

Day Twelve: The Ten Minute Play.