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Apple and Chilli Chutney Recipe

I’m a massive chutney fan, and for years I’ve been planning on using the 300+ apples we get on the tree in our garden every autumn.

I finally got round to actually making some! Shout out to Lesley for the jars!

Lots of jarsDisclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes about 6-8 jars of chutney. Depending on how big your jars are. Obviously.

Ingredients

Fruit + Veg

  • Loads of apples. I used around 3kg (weight before peeling)
    Apples
  • Loads of chillies. I used about 20 medium sized ones. And some jalapenos I found in the fridge. Obviously the more chillies, the more spicy it’ll be.
  • Raisins. I used approx 300g. Feel free to bung in more.
  • Peppers. Think I used about 4?
  • Onions. A couple. Definitely can bulk things out with more onions if in doubt.
  • Anything else you fancy. Carrot? Sure. Parsnip? Why not. Aim to have each additional fruitveg no more than about 10% of the apple weight, ie. 300g.

Other stuff

  • 500ml cider vinegar. Any malt vinegar will do too, but the cider stuff has a milder taste.
  • 450g sugar. Nicer to use soft brown sugar, but anything will do the job.
  • Fresh ginger (or powdered will do if you need to). I used about 2 tablespoons.
  • Garlic. I used a clove and a load of garlic paste. Powder will work too. Use loads, garlic is great.
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 8-10 jars and lids. (Better to have too many than not enough).
  • Greaseproof paper.

Recipe

  1. Peel and chop up apples. You want 1-2cm lumps, breaks down more easily. It takes an age, I suggest watching TV at the same time. Feel free to leave in bruised bits, lumps etc – its all going to be boiled for 2 hours and then left in vinegar for 3 months, it’ll be fine.
  2. Prep your jars. Carefully hand wash them all, make sure they are super-duper clean. Then put lids and jars in a dishwasher at max heat. Or in an oven at 120 degrees Celsius. Keep them there until you need them in step 10.
  3. Throw the apple in a massive pan and start cooking on a medium heat
  4. Chop up everything else that needs chopping. Dump it in the pan with the apples
  5. Add the vinegar.
  6. Stir it loads. Do not let it burn and stick or the whole job is knackered.
  7. Sprinkle in all the sugar, garlic, spices, etc. Keep stirring.
  8. Keep stirring! Once its bubbling all the way through, drop it down to a low heat.
  9. KEEP STIRRING! After about 45 minutes, all the apples will be brown and breaking down. Keep going until it stops reducing in size, then cook and stir it for about 15 more minutes.
  10. Fill jars. Take jars out of oven, use oven gloves, and carefully only touch outside of jars. Spoon the hot mixture in. I used a funnel made out of an empty fizzy drink bottle, which makes the spooning-in-process less of a nightmare. Use a tissue and some alcohol gel to make sure there’s no gloopy residue on the screw or upper inside edge of jars.
  11. Fit lids. Pop a square of grease-proof paper on top of each jar, and screw the lid down on top.
  12. Design your own silly labels. This is the best bit of the whole project.
  13. Leave them in a cupboard or under a bed for 1-2 months. This is so the acidic vinegar taste reduces, allowing the ingredients to come to the fore.
  14. Use as an excuse to eat loads of cheese. Or burgers. Or other things with chutney.

Lots of jars

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert Heinlein

I’ve never read any Robert Heinlein before. Which is a bit ridiculous, given that he’s known as “The Dean of Science Fiction Writers“, and I’m borderline obsessed by the genre.

This one is a moon colony book, in the vein of Andy Weir’s Artemis (which *spoiler* I absolutely loved). I’m always a sucker for moon colonies, I think probably because it seems so potentially achievable, like it might actually happen in our lifetime, and its not limited by the need for close-to-speed-of-light hacks that further out space fiction needs.

I love the disjointed commentary style the narrator uses, presumably intimating a particular accent or dialect from the future.

Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up.

The golden-age-of-scifi catapults to get things back to the moon is cool, plus the surprisingly realistic mainframe that is basically cloud computing.

Coupled with the style is the way Heinlein makes delightful jumps in his writing. He has a confidence in his own prose, and in the reader’s intelligence; he makes allusions to stuff you already know but wouldn’t necessarily connect, and just trusts that you’ll manage it:

“I don’t know Who is cranking, I’m pleased he doesn’t stop.” [talking about God]

Finally, there is a brilliant send-up of politics and governing in general. I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but there’s a beautiful use of busy-work and distraction in the pursuit of an effective government, that both highlights the importance and failings of democracy.

A great read, and one I’d recommend for anyone wanting to get into a classic that isn’t a slog.

Victoria Banana-Sponge with Choco-nana Ermine Icing

During this period of Lockdown, there has been a huge uptick in BBB, or “banana based baking”. Apparently banana bread has been the most searched for recipe on the BBC Food website – we’ve certainly been shoving ‘nana loaf down our throats at an alarming rate.

Yesterday we were donated 25 squidgy nearly-gone-off bananas. After an inevitable, huge banana smoothie, I was still left with fifteen waiting for me this morning. So I decided to invent a new type of Victoria sponge, entirely using bananas instead of butter. That’s right, totally dairy free!

Disclaimer: I am a proud member of the chuck-it-in-it’ll-be-fine school of cooking. I firmly believe a happy cook just throws stuff in a pan, rather than measuring 18g of this and 3.5 medium egg yolks of that; so take my measurements with a pinch of salt, so to speak. This recipe makes one biggish cake.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 310g of self raising flour
  • 6 or 7 medium soggy old bananas
  • 310g of caster sugar
  • 4 eggs.

Filling

  • 3 or 4 battered old bananas
  • 50g(ish) plain flour
  • 100g(ish) icing sugar
  • 50g(ish) cocoa/hot chocolate powder (if in doubt chuck more in. No one ever says “I wish this had less chocolate in).

Recipe

Cake

  1. Prewarm the oven to 180°C Fan (190°C conventional oven) 
  2. Prepare two round cake tins with a bit of oil and some flour sprinkled on top (so it doesn’t stick)
  3. Chuck everything in a mixer or blender.
  4. Whizz it around until everything is no longer obviously just lumpy banana, and has become a cake mixture instead.
  5. Bung half in each tin.
  6. Cook for around 20-25 minutes. It should be brown rather than yellow. If you aren’t sure, stick a knife into the cake. If it comes out still gooey, give it another five minutes.
  7. Turn it out onto a cooling tray to cook down.

Filling

  1. Bung everything in the mixer and blitz it all. Can be lumpy if you like banana lumps, or make it smooth.
  2. Pop it in a pan on a low heat, stirring regularly. Don’t let it stick or burn!
  3. Once its thickened, allow it to cool for a few minutes. Unlike most icings or cake toppings though, you can apply Ermine warm to still warm sponge, since it won’t melt or dissolve.

Putting it all together

  1. Put one sponge half on a plate.
  2. Pour half the filling on, spreading it round evenly with a spatula.
  3. Plop the other half of the cake on top.
  4. Pour the rest of the filling on top, smoothing it round.
  5. Decorate with chocolate chips, banana slices, toffee pieces, marshmallows, whatever sounds good.
  6. Eat it…
  7. Make another one…?

There you go. Hope it goes well. Send me photos if you have a try at this.
Got any good topping ideas? Let me know in the comments…

Blitz Bowl Board

I’ve been getting into the small-team Blood Bowl variant Blitz Bowl – but its not available for sale in the UK.

Which means… designing my own board!

Feel free to download and print yourself. At some point I’ll add a print ready PDF and layered PNG, if that would be useful…

A Crash Course in Homeschool

So, you’ve found yourself stuck at home with your kids. They can’t go to school, possibly for months(!), and suddenly there’s this big hole that needs to be filled. You are pretty sure you can’t just put them in front of CITV for the next 12 weeks, but you aren’t quite sure how to tackle things?

Help is at hand! My wife and I home school our kids one day a week – they go to school the other 4 days. This means whilst I still wish I could pack them off again, we aren’t completely lost about what to do. So, if you are worrying how best to tackle home school, here are eight simple tips:

1. Have a schedule

…and don’t get too stressed about it.

Ever wonder why your kids seem to behave so much better for the teacher than you? Part of the secret is that children respond well to routine. When school isn’t happening, suddenly they feel cut loose and a bit lost. 

We start our home school day with a short assembly, where we take a register (yes, there’s only three of them, but they are used to being asked), and then briefly explain the plan for the day.

It helps to start and end at a clear point (9am-3pm for us) with clear break times so that they know what to look forwards to. Then we work through the day in half hour chunks.

Really, we try to pretend as much as possible that we are an official learning environment: our kids even put their hands up to ask questions (which was their idea!), which helps reinforce the “I’m at school” mentality. We have a blanket ban on phones, games or screens during school hours, unless we watch a subject video on YouTube (there’s lots of good science videos about fire!!).

Just remember – sometimes things don’t go to plan. Tantrums happen, activities over-run. This morning Joen spent nearly the entire morning reading and read a whole book, instead of the planned “Walk” and “Maths”. That’s okay! He had fun, he did something educational – don’t beat yourself up about it!

2. Pay attention to them

…the secret is that you’ll actually enjoy it more!

This one is a bummer, but its still true: its very hard to do effective home school without your attention fully on the children. We find that even with two adults, really its best if both of us are sat at the table with the three of them for the majority of the day.

I know, I know – you are busy, we all are! You want to tidy the house, or cook dinner, or just chill out on your phone. And yes, kids can be boring! But ultimately, if you want to experience some quality effective time with your kids, you need to be present. The secret is that its actually a lot more fun for the adults when they are invested too, rather than when it just feels like a distraction from the stuff we’d rather be doing.

And don’t forget – you get breaks! We have break time, a walk, and lunch, during which time the kids play and we can get some stuff done.

3. You need some equipment

…but it doesn’t need to be expensive.

You always want a box full of activities, so that, at minimum, you can say “let’s write a story and illustrate it” and grab stuff out of the activities box. It doesn’t hurt to have some work books too!

We have a box filled with some of the things below. Good places to buy them are supermarkets, The Works and Baker Ross.

  • Plain paper
  • Coloured paper
  • Glittery paper
  • Stickers
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape
  • Crayons
  • Colouring Pencils
  • Normal pencils
  • Many, many, many rubbers and sharpeners (its insane how many we lose)
  • Felt tips
  • Leap Ahead Maths, English and Science books, for the correct ages (Can pick up this sort of thing quite cheaply)

If money is a real problem, all you need is a ream of paper and some colouring pencils. Just have something you can point to and say “Can you draw me a treehouse” to your grumpy nine year old.

If you want more resources for home school worksheets, check out TheSchoolRun.com which has a free trial and is extremely good value (£33 a year for unlimited resources!).

4. Know our emotions & attitudes

…putting a name to it can help

You are still going to have some tremendously grumpy days. You can’t call the parents or put your child in detention, but we find naming emotions helps to de-escalate.

Maybe because it mimics the warning systems schools use, but we find it very helpful to use this wall chart (feel free to make up your own one like it). When children are messing around, pointing to it and saying “Are we Finding It Hard to get our work done?” is often all it takes to turn around unhappy attitudes.

Of course, if we hit “Star” or “Super Star” levels, then a treat can happen. Sometimes, sneakily, the treat is something already planned, like baking cookies, or reading a story together!

If you need more advice on parenting tips in these hard times, we find Fresh Start Parenting to be a very helpful source of advice…

5. Have a project

…broken into little bits

It can be daunting to think of something to do, but having one big idea and breaking it into chunks can give a theme to your week. Plus it means you don’t have to think of what to do next all the time, you just move to the next chunk.

This week we are writing letters, one each day. Everyone writes a letter (Mum and Dad too!) and we put them in one envelope, and either post them or can arrange to drop them off at our friend’s houses. A great way to keep up with the socially isolated 70 year olds in your family, and a great way to keep in contact with the other kids from school!

We are also having “Story Week”. We asked them “What is a story?”, and the kids helped up break it into component pieces.

Tomorrow we will make some components – “Write 5 characters each, write 5 locations…”. The next day we will write a story using those ideas. The next day we can read them to each other. And suddenly a little idea becomes 4 days of practical teaching!

6. Not every day will be perfect

…and that is okay!

Everyone has a bad day sometimes, and children especially so! They are little bubbles of excitement, overtiredness and emotion, so expect things to be messy.

I cannot count the number of days that have gone astray, with crying, shouting, tantrums. But accept its going to happen, and be ready to regroup and start again.

Tomorrow is another day, and it really can be a blank canvas. Yesterday was our first day of isolation, and our son went absolutely mental, an awful day. Today? One of the best days of home school we’ve ever had, in 5 years!

7. Go outside

…never under-estimate the joy humans get from open skies.

If things are tense, blowing up, or just feel like treading water, sack it off, and go to the park.

Seriously, you might as well! What’s more constructive? Letting the kids burn off energy and breathe fresh air, or constantly forcing a grumpy kid to do some sums through the tears?

Now, don’t just throw out every day of schooling and play outside all the time – but having regular break slots and walks is a very healthy thing for them to look forwards to. And us parents actually end up loving it too!

8. Have fun

…this time together is a blessing!

 

Ultimately you love your children so much that it hurts. That makes this time together a period to cherish.

Every day won’t be brilliant. But some of them will be. Home schooling kids is an utter pain in the bum. But an incredibly silly, fun, joyous pain in the bum.

My prayer is that you enjoy it just as much as we (sometimes) do!

I’ll leave you with a silly video we made together in homeschool…

2019, a review.

So, at the beginning of 2019, I set out some ambitious goals for myself. They were aspirations, more than resolutions, but I still found it helpful to write them.

I wrote two posts reflecting on it during the year, after 4 months and after 7, but now we are in 2020. Quite far into 2020, in fact. Let’s see how I did!

Writing

I fully committed myself in 2019 to finishing my first novel.

Commitment 1: Write 2000 words a week.

Did I manage it? Well, there were some ups and downs to this, but I kept pretty well on track.

  • Total words written in 2019: 91,433
  • Words per week: 1,738
  • Words per week excluding August: 1,945

Most notably, I intentionally took August off from writing to rest and focus on other projects, and I slowed down in December as I allowed the ending to come together.

The important thing is that I finished the first draft of my book on the 4th day of the final week! Just need to finish the endless editing process, and I’m good to go. Job done.

 

Music

My aim, in 2019, was to invest some real time into my skills as a music practitioner.

Commitment 2: 30 minutes of Harmonica, and 30 minutes of Piano practice a week.

And… I didn’t manage it. Pretty comprehensively failed actually. Below is a graph of hours spent on music. You’ll note it ends in June – because I’d completely given up by then.

However, it wasn’t all fail. As you can read in my halfway-through-2019 post, I sort of made an intentional choice to lay the music part down, and still found some benefits within it:

It wasn’t until after our practice that I realised: I wouldn’t have had the ability to transcribe those chords without the groundwork laid earlier in 2019. So although it’s kind of a fail, there’s hints of success in there too. I’ll take that.

It’s not like I’ve done nothing with music in 2019 – I created the Warrington Ska Punk Show (see left), and the WarringtonSkaPunk.co.uk website, full of reviews, interviews and that sort of thing!

So it was definitely a year of music, just not with me playing it. Still, that’s a clear “Not Done” stamped on this one.

Fitness

I made a range of commitments in this field, with more success in some areas than others.

Commitment 3: 5000 kilometres of cycling.

I was doing well here – well on track to achieve it… And then I had hernia surgery after a fairly dramatic helicopter mountain rescue, and lost two months of pretty much anything fun. Below is the obligatory helicopter rescue photo…

As you can see on the graph below, my final total was just a smidge short of 4000km.


So it’s a not done, but through no fault of my own. I did achieve my first metric century (check it out below), which was pretty awesome! And 4000km is better than 0km!

Commitment 4: 30 minutes cycling with the kids each week.

This one I am classing as a success. I steadily spent more time cycling with all the kids.

At the beginning of the year only Joen could cycle without stabilisers. By the end, Neriah had completed a 2 hour road cycle, Joen had done 18km (on a dual carriageway) and Isaac learnt how to use his balance bike fast enough to keep pace with the rest of us!

In the latter half of the year I stopped keeping track of cycling – because it had become commonplace. Definite win.

Commitment 5: 30 minutes Pilates per week.

Err. Nope. I did 45 minutes of Pilates. In 2019. Total.

For reference, that’s less than 3% of my target amount of Pilates. Fail.

Moving on…

Bible

My final commitment was to complete reading the entire Bible, from where I was up to (Joshua, I think). And I didn’t manage it.

There were strong periods of regular reading, and I definitely made some serious progress, but I’m still in Proverbs, with a long journey ahead of me. Part of the challenge has been that I’m a real morning reader, and I changed jobs halfway through the year to shifts where I’m awake half the night, making me sluggish in the morning.

Of all these commitments, this is the only one that actually disappoints me. I managed to put in hundreds of hours towards writing a book, a similar amount of energy into cycling, but failed to start each day with God. As ever, Oswald Chambers nails it:

“The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation….For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you”. It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.”

Challenging words, and I hope to live up to them better over the next 12 months.

 

Summary

2019 is, officially, completed. Job done. And it was a good year. I’m absolutely not going to beat myself up about my lack of achievement in some areas. Ultimately, at least I tried to learn chromatic harmonica, even if I didn’t try very hard. How many people reading this have done that? And I wrote a book, and cycled the equivalent of halfway to Beijing (8123km, in case you wondered).

For 2020? Well, I haven’t written such a prescriptive list this year, mostly because I’ve not had a moment to think yet, and somehow its nearly March already (?!!). But with marathon training, an exciting future ahead for our “incarnational mission” Eden team on our estate, two Warrington Ska Shows lined up and a book to edit and push out? Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be looking back with any less satisfaction in February 2021. Perhaps a little exhaustion.

 

Thanks for reading. What did you achieve in 2019, or wish you had?

Hezebelle 2005-2019

Heze died today.

She was 13, and in some ways she was my best friend in the whole world.

In other ways, of course, she was a fairly idiotic creature, who only reluctantly and intermittently submitted to my authority over the course of more than a decade.

Heze

My best friend

Amongst her crimes:

She used to open and raid the kitchen bin every night, and would then refuse to make eye contact when confronted about it.

She would regularly stand on the dining room table and eat butter directly from the dish.

On the day of our wedding, she ran away. Twice.

The first time was an hour before the ceremony. She decided to go paddling in the river behind the church, whilst wearing her red silk waistcoat (of course she was a bridesmaid, she’s my best friend!)

The second time she disappeared on our special day was during the reception, and this time she went missing for nearly 24 hours, returning to the community centre the next day with a ripped waistcoat and a clearly delighted expression at her night of unadulterated adventure. She ran away at least twice more on the honeymoon.

On the day we moved into our house in Boston, she ran so blindly and excitedly into our garden that she broke a cast iron bench with her head.

Once, on the night after eating a large turkey drumstick, she developed an incredible, volumatous diarrhoea that led to, and this is no exaggeration, over 40 individual clumps, heaps and pools of poo on a carpet in my bedroom. Of our rented house.

Eating, with a literally impossible speed, two entire batches of freshly baked still-warm mince pies, in the 1 minute that I left the kitchen. And then releasing, all night, in our bedroom, the richest, fruitiest, grimmest flatulence the world has ever witnessed.

Steadfastly refusing to stay on the grass, but instead running round and round the tarmac outside the basketball court until her footpads wore completely off, and spending a week struggling to walk with bright red feet. Then doing it again on about five occasions.

Accidentally falling in a canal, and then, on exiting, fixing us with the most intelligent grimace I’ve ever seen, one that transparently communicated the following sentence: “Firstly, its basically your fault I just fell in a canal, and secondly, how dare you laugh at me. This is not funny.”

To be fair though…

And yet, despite her patently (and unabashedly) criminal nature, she was a creature of huge affection.

The little furtive licks she would give you, unexpectedly. Not a licky, slathery ridiculousness like Pudding the Labrador gives. Of course not, Heze was above such things, but a quiet dab on the hand? Well that’s just good manners.

The grunts of displeasure she would give when Pudding tried to sit actually directly on top of her, but rarely actually growling: she wanted her personal space but not isolation.

The time she crawled under several chairs in the lecture theatre I was in (of course I took her to medical school lectures in the hospital – she’s my best friend!), and came up between the legs of the girl who was terrified of dogs, just to say “Hello!”

Endless moments of quiet presence. Under the table, in the car, beneath my chair, by the sofa, on-the-sofa-but-pretending-not-to-have-been on-the-sofa, on the bed, in-the-bed-when-Katherine-was-away… She was just there.

The way she rested her head against me today, even whilst breathing so fast, and so hard, just to press her nose against my leg.

Our family has lost a member

Heze

My children are heart-broken, obviously. Neriah reminded me this morning of one night when she was scared, so Heze slept in her bed (thanks for all the hair in the 4 year old’s bed, dog!). Joen, my eldest boy? His first word was “Heeeggggeeee!”. Or my youngest, Isaac, who immediately attached totally and completely to Heze, to the point that he learnt the word “Aggy!” on his first day with us. He still can’t say “Drink”, but he can say “Heze”.

I remember the time I brought our first baby human home. I sat the dogs down and said “This is Joen. He is one of us now. You need to love him and keep him safe”. Pudding, of course, immediately intrusively licked him, and then wondered if there was any food anywhere. But Heze just looked at him, and then back at me. She figuratively rolled her eyes. I knew, in that moment, that Heze was saying “Well of course. Of course I’ll love him, even if he’s undoubtably going to be just as annoying as all the rest of you. I’m Heze, that’s what I do”.

Her life

There are too many stories to tell.

Adding her to Facebook, her rapidly getting over a thousand friends, and meeting a stranger from a different Uni who didn’t know me but was already friends with Heze?

Visiting the Peak District, to experience Heze disappearing far out of our control to a distant peak, chasing exuberantly towards sheep, unable (or unwilling) to hear our yells. Or later trips to the Lake District, her training complete now, walking a metre behind me and not even looking at the woolly idiots nearby.

The first time she was stiff from running, and I realised she couldn’t live forever.

But surely she couldn’t actually get properly old, not really old, not… dying old? Who would love me unconditionally and raid the bin in the kitchen?

Of course she won’t ever not be around any more, I told myself – she can’t! She’s my best friend!

Heze lived a good (good being a relative term, in this case meaning “really quite naughty a lot of the time but loveable enough to more than make up for it”) life, and I’m glad she hasn’t had to suffer too much at the end of it.

I’m totally devastated right now, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop crying. Heze would think I’m being quite stupid, I’m sure. It’s not like something important has happened, like unguarded mince pies.

So there we go. Goodbye my good, good dog. Thank you for teaching me what unconditional friendship looks like.

Love, Chris

Postscript:

One thing that happened, early on with Heze, is that she gained a lot of names. Her full name was, in fact:

Hezebelle Steven Raging Pigeon Trollhunter Shazam! Hater-of-Lettuce Queen-of-all-She-Surveys Blue Chicken Roo Krishna-Mohammed-Jesus-Buddha-McClane Lymphocyte Toothless Wonder Lovely Comforting Lowry

I know it sounds like I’m making it up on the spot, but I can rattle off that list in 20 seconds, and have done for years. I’ll finish by listing and explaining them, if that’s alright.

Hezebelle

I had planned to name her after Hezekiah, the King in the Bible who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”. But then I realised, 3 days before getting her, that that was a boy’s name, so made it “Hezebelle”. For 13 years, people have said “Oh, like Jezebel?”. And for 13 years I’ve had to say, “No, I didn’t think about that”.

Steven

My friend Ste was a big part of my life in my first year at Uni. His first name became her second in honour of that – and her honorary birthday 3rd December is his birthday too!

Raging

Young Heze was insane. She had so much energy I’m surprised she didn’t explode. She chewed shoes, clothes, bedding, sofas, tables, chairs, cupboards, bikes. She was raging.

Pigeon

At university I stood to be Sports Officer at the Union. Heze was my mascot (Of course she was – she’s my best friend) and my pledge was to spend the entire Union Sports budget on pigeons. I was actually asked to stop campaigning by the Sports Officer because they were worried I might win! Obviously I didn’t win.

Trollhunter

In 2007 we watched the film Bridge to Terabithia, and their dog is a faithful companion in all their adventures, known as “Prince Terrien, Troll Hunter Extraordinaire”. This seemed like a noble enough name for Heze to adopt.

Shazam!

Heze was basically magic.

Hater-of-Lettuce

You could give Heze a huge, piled, sloppy, saucy plate of food, and she would wolf down the whole thing in seconds flat, somehow perfectly avoiding any hint of lettuce leaves. They might be licked clean, but they would still be there.

Queen-of-all-she-surveys

When Heze entered a room, it was hers. Sure, we might nominally be “in charge”, but only because she deigned to obey us. She was willing to fight for that corner, on occasion. Pudding’s first few days in our family were tense, at least until the Labrador realised her place far far far at the bottom of the pile. Whilst being a hugely non aggressive dog, Heze had one notable moment, when my parent’s dog Gracey tried to claim, quite understandably, ownership of my parents home – but Heze was having none of it. The arterial spray of blood from Gracey’s ear did settle that one…

Blue

My favourite colour. My dog. Of course.

Chicken

think this is when we got chickens, and a chicken pecked her in the eye whilst she was sleeping in the sun, and she got scared of chickens forever.

Roo

No idea! Lost in the mists of time this one.

Krishna-Mohammed-Jesus-Buddha-McClane

Around the time of the Danish Cartoon Mohammed controversy I very sensitively named my dog after deities from five major world religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and, of course, Die Hard.

Lymphocyte

During revision for my medical finals, I decided a bit of microbiology would spruce Heze’s name up a bit.

Toothless Wonder

In around 2017, we visited Cadair Idris. At the lake halfway up, Llyn Cau, we were throwing stones in the water. Unfortunately, Heze got a little too enthusiastic at leaping into the air to intercept them, and managed to do so successfully. As a result, she lost 3 teeth, and we discovered our pet insurance didn’t cover dental work. (We later also found out it didn’t cover her heart failure, you know, the only time she was ever sick in 13 years. Pet insurance sucks!)

Lovely

Yesterday, her penultimate day of life, we decided that Heze had entirely earnt this additional name. She was lovely.

Comforting

Today, after getting home from school, Neriah came to Heze’s bed and spoke to her quietly and honestly. “Heze, thank you for always comforting me”. It’s never too late for a new name, not even an hour before you visit the vet!

Lowry

Of course Lowry. Heze was indisputably a member of our family, and we will always love her.