Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Our Travel Nightmare!!

Oh my god, what a weekend, do you know when you're sitting in the comfort of your own home watching the news and you think 'that will never be me.'  Then you find yourself in the middle of a nightmare?

It started Saturday morning when we left snowy Wolverhampton at 10:30am in plenty of time to get to Heathrow for our flight to NYC, little did we realise the chaos to unfold.  We steadily made our way down the M6 averaging about 40miles an hour on the snowy road.  Everything cleared for one junction on the M42 and things were looking up, that was short lived as in soon got back to averaging 40mph on snow again.  Then it all went downhill, we reached the junction before Newbury and it was a standstill - there was snow between the lanes, changing lanes was treacherous and I could feel the tyres struggling for grip.  We were probably queueing for a couple of hours when we got past the junction and the traffic had cleared, again this was shortlived and we were soon queueing again.  This time we were averaging a mile in an hour!

You start to think you had wished you had listened to the advice - keep water, food and a shovel in your car!  We hadn't eaten all day and were starving.  The snow was about a foot deep and the motorway hadn't been gritted, it was a nightmare.  People were going to the loo on the side of the carriageway (we cut the bottom of a bottle out so I could have a wee!  Lol!) and building snowmen on the central reservation.  It was quite surreal!!  We finally got the root cause of our blockage - lorries jacknifed all over the carriageway!!  So we got through and finally got to Heathrow 13 hours after we set off!  All the time following the car in front's tracks in the snow. 

At Heathrow we had already been notified our flight had been cancelled but we got there to see if there was any information on our next step - nothing!!  There were people sleeping everywhere and it was chaos.  So we went for some food at MacDonalds (this is like midnight now!) - wow a burger has never tasted so good!!  While we were there we searched for hotels available - nothing - so sleep in Heathrow?  We decided to opt for the car, Heathrow's cold hard floor didn't look very appealing.  Luckily I had some of those silver blankets in the car but still we were frozen and every time you moved they crunched.  We must have caught an hour's sleep before we got up to get into Terminal 3 to see what was going on.

At 5am we were in the queue at American Airlines behind a lady who had been there when the desk was open on Saturday - she had been given the customer services number to ring (which just makes you hold for ages and fails to tell you they closed at 5pm!!) or to come back on Sunday when someone will be at the desk at 5am.  Well we waiting till 6am and still no show, so we decided to make our way across to terminal 5 to see if BA had any flights available, terminal 5 was a lot better organised however we were directed to BA's website to book.  We made our way back to terminal 3 to see if there was any sign of AA and still no show - the terminal by now was even more packed and really you could not move at all - you would not believe the mess the place was in unless you had seen it with your own eyes!!

Off we went to MacDonalds for breakfast where we searched for a hotel (finding the Holiday Inn available) and new flights (finding flights with BA 22nd-28th - Christmas in NYC and we would be safe with Wednesday flights - 3 days time no problem!)  So we made our way to the hotel and more queues of people - 2 hours we had to wait to check in there were people everywhere again!  We finally got into our room and I was so pleased to have some peace and quiet and a bed!!!

All Sunday afternoon we tried to get through to Expedia (our booking agent) without any luck.  We finally got through Monday morning only be told to ring back later as hotel reservations wasn't open for them to contact for a refund.  Later that day after 90mins on hold we finally got through and everything was refunded, well 7-10 days from the hotel and up to 12 weeks refund by the airline!!!  We booked another hotel with making sure we got through quickly and checking on the cancellation policy.

Our Statue of Liberty View Room - or is that the M4??
Tuesday was looking good as the temperature had risen to 3 degrees, no more snow and the second runway was clear.  We went round to see my aunt and two cousins and during our visit found our flight had been cancelled - the only BA flight to NYC from terminal 5 to be cancelled, all others were flying.  Just our luck, we couldn't believe it.  So all that for nothing, I cancelled the hotel again no penalty.  Gutted, NYC at Christmas was my dream holiday and we had a tour to the Niagra Falls booked which is something Mark has always wanted to do.
Mark, my cousin and me

We decided to leave Tuesday night with more snow forecast Wednesday morning in the Midlands we thought it best to get home, it took a little over 2 hours to get home this time, bit different to 13 hours!! 

We have another holiday booked leaving Manchester on 26th, returning the 2nd to Lapland so I hope we get to go.  I am sick to death of queueing, of snow (in this country as they can't handle it), of traffic, of lorry drivers, of looking at flight information and sky news (which we have done continuously for the last 4 days!!

Saturday, 27 November 2010


It was Rum's 5th birthday on the 25th November, I can't believe he's 5 already!  

Mid October we took him and Diz to the beach as I really am not sure whether Diz will be up to it next year and she loves the beach.  Here are a couple of pics:

Here are a few pics I took today:

And non-dog related, my lovely boyfriend bought me a day's formula ford racing at Silverstone, it was amazing!  

And I raced in the Cambrian Rally back in October, great day, I didn't get as much of a thrill out of it as I imagined, which is good as it didn't make me come away thinking I want to do more - it's too expensive lol!!

Monday, 4 October 2010


I met up with Anna and Lee yesterday and today I was on my laptop when I came across some agility videos and realised how much I missed it.  So I got out the little equipment I have kept and had a play with Rum.  He is such a fab dog, I wish we could go out and compete, he is an amazing partner.  Though it's no wonder my back ached, stand up straight woman!!!!

Monday, 23 August 2010

One Horsepower to a Couple of Hundred

It’s been a while again, have had a bit of a rough time lately but thanks to support of friends and family I am gradually moving along the road to recovery.

Poor old Diz has developed severe arthritis in her neck/right shoulder so is now on metacam full time. It was awful to see her shaking in pain and squealing with the smallest movement.

I had to sell Bean as my knee just wasn’t up to the amount of work he needed, I found myself just hacking him a few times as anything more was too painful. He has a home with a local family (literally 2 mins away) who have their own paddock so he is getting lots more attention than I could ever give him.

I’ve bought a car to take to track days and do some drifting with, well it’s a joint car with my boyfriend – Toyota Mr2 GT. I have a rally driving scholarship final in 2 weeks and it was really to get some practice in for that, however am sure we will keep it and run it until it dies!

Dixie chick is a fab little kitten and although I haven’t done much training with her she has already figured out how to fetch and is driving us mad with it!! I’ve entered her first show in a couple of weeks to get her used to being handled by strangers, always good for doing media work etc.  Here's a little video of Rum getting her to play when she wasn't in the mood as was recovering from her second vaccination!!

I’ve got a musical interpretation day in a few weeks with Emmy Simonsen, I am sooo excited about it. If you haven’t seen any of her routines, look her up on Youtube, she’s amazing! Musical interpretation has always been my downfall and probably the main reason I stopped as I just ran out of ideas. So thought I would take the hairy one (Ember) as Emmy works her sheltie so well, it would be too much (stress wise) for Rum and Cas can’t do as much as she used to. I am soooo looking forward to it!!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Meet Dixie

I thought it was time, after losing Kali that we had a kitten, so her she is.  Meet Dixie, a 10 week old rescue kitten.  I am hoping she will follow in Kali's pawsteps and do some media work.  She already recognises the clicker and we have started working on a sit!

Monday, 31 May 2010

Happy 11th Dizzy

Sometime about now Diz will be (if not already) 11 years old.  She has done so well considering we were told she wouldn't last till too old an age due to her spinal surgery when she was 4.  She does have her stiff days and is a little incontinent but other than that she is still her old bouncy self and living life to the full.

Here she was at 6 months old the day after we had her followed by a few pics taken the other day.

And here's last year's video

Dizzy - Celebrating 10 Yrs from Gina Graham on Vimeo.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Jumping Bean!

Today was the first time I have 'jumped' in 10 years and the first time I had done anything with Bean.  It was the first time he also progressed to more than just trotting poles.  Am so pleased with his progress :)  Though he's already costing me money having broken a headcollar and lost a shoe!!  But everyone who meets him totally falls for him.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Introducing Bean

I know it's not dog related but I would like to introduce you to Bean!  He arrived on Saturday.

Since the weather has been better and we have had lighter nights I have found myself itching to do something. I used to ride from the age of about 7 till I had Diz when I was 15. The dogs have taken up my time and money so I haven't ridden since. Without agility I have time and money for something else. So what else but get a horse! Although so much for saving for a house!!

Bean is a 14.1h welsh section D and is almost 4 years old. I have found the most amazing livery yard just a couple of minutes down the road with 110acres I can ride over without touching roads, so Rum can come out with me which will be lovely.

I must admit the minute I got back on a horse (we looked at three on Good Friday) I felt back where I belonged and that I have 'come home' so to speak. Bean stole my heart, he has the most lovely nature, so kind and gentle. I hope to start jumping him and do some shows late summer so I will keep you up to date with our progress!

I couldn't resist buying him some bling - diamante browband :)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

That's All Folks

Well the van has gone, the sports car has gone and am back to one vehicle - a 2006 reg Honda Civic 1.8 VTEC - my new toy.  I totally adore this car!!

The caravan is going to be sold too (shame as it's such a fab little van), thanks to my lovely bf who is doing that for me :)  And I will prob put my contact equipment on ebay.

I have decided it's time to settle down and save up for a house, agility just uses up virtually all of my salary and I need to start being sensible.  I also want to travel more.

Rum just isn't happy doing agility and he was my hopes and dreams so without him being my partner I am not interested any more.

I am also not sure I like the way agility is going, classes are won by hardly any difference in time, it's down to the wire virtually all the time and it has become far too mathmatical for me.  The enjoyment and fun just seems to have gone.

Also my skin infection returned after setting foot in Kingswood and 3 weeks later the scar still hasn't gone completely.  So local training is out anyway.  I think everything was telling me it's time.

The dogs don't seem to miss it, well okay I think Emz does a bit as she seems to have got a bit stroppy these days.

I will really miss all the great friends I have made during my 9 years competing and thank you everyone who has helped me along the way.  I am not saying never, more like an au revoir.

Here's Rum on one of our morning runs:
Think he was getting a bit fed up of me taking pics!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Another Year Over

2009 - What a year!

My aim for the year was to get Rum into a Novice Final but that wasn't meant to be as he won up to grade 6 in July. Another aim was to get Emz into Grade 7, she is just one agility win away. For Cas it was to stay healthy and she has done that even had some high Grade 6 placings along the way.

Agilitywise I am not sure how I feel anymore, I haven't done a show since the end of October and haven't trainined since before my gastro - mid September. And to be honest I have not missed it. I decided to retire Rum from indoor shows when he just wasn't able to cope with the stress of the UKA show in Cheltenham, there really isn't any point putting him through it. And so I didn't think it was worth doing any with just Emz.

So 2010, am not sure what I am doing. Rum has got as far as he can as I struggle with training him - our only group lesson available is indoors and he doesn't cope well, when in a private lesson outdoors he switches off and plods round, so neither benefits us and we struggled in Grade 6 as he just isn't getting any training. Ember will be 7 this year and is never going to be the most consistent dog in the world. Cas will be 10 and it's only a matter of time before she starts to struggle. So I really don't know whether agility is for me anymore, I just don't have any motivation, nothing to aim for. Plus Rum is a lot nicer to live with when he isn't doing agility, he is so much calmer, he really struggles with the stress of agility shows.

So we shall see, I may see you around, I may not. If I no longer do agility I will really miss all the friends I have made during my time competing.

Happy New Year!