Jane Miller Robinson painted this great pic of Archie and Angel for a charity auction - if you fancy commissioning a pet portrait, you can find her details on the Links page.
Outside of writing
... and teaching, I like to read: and I potter in the garden and allotment, although mostly it seems to always be one step ahead of me. That's fine, as although it drives the parish council allotment scrutineers nuts, it creates a nice environment for helpful wildlife. I've also discovered that long grass rather than carefully manicured lawn paths around fruit bushes help retain ground moisture better so I don't have to water as often, and makes it difficult for greedy pigeons to scoff my produce, so I don't have to use dangerous (for wildlife) netting. The parish council don't agree, but then they don't know the right time of year for pruning plum trees either (don't ask!)
I also like to read - did I mention that? - and I make papier mache models of dogs that I sell for charity: I'd rather make ceramic sculptures and pottery, which I studied at school, but don't have a kiln ... and this is just as messy and a lot cheaper.
I read a lot - sorry, I think I did say that already: and I shoot a longbow, although I've been a bit too busy recently to do much of that.
Oh, and I read ...
"They (dogs) never talk about themselves but listen to you when you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation." (Jerome K. Jerome)
"The horse you get off is not the same as the horse you got on. It is your job as a rider to ensure that as often as possible, the change is for the better." (Unknown)
"Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail." (Henry Wheeler Shaw)
"Training a horse is above all feeling, and trying, according to what you feel, to help the horse and not to force him." (Nuno Oliveira)
"Outside of a dog, a book is probably man's best friend, and inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)
"If I find myself unfit to ride my horse, I stop ..." (Michel de Montaigne)
"... the traveller asked the boy if the swamp before him had a hard bottom. The boy replied that it had. But presently the traveller's horse sank in up to the girths, and he observed to the boy, 'I thought you said this bog had a hard bottom.' 'So it has,' answered the latter, 'but you have not got halfway to it yet.'" (Henry David Thoreau)
"Lessons should be a rewarding exercise for the horse as much as the rider, an instructive game which never brings fatigue." (Faverot de Kerbrech)
"... do not confuse the horse's lack of understanding with lack of co-operation, nor freshness with malice." (E F Seidler)
"We have almost forgotten how strange a thing it is that so huge and powerful and intelligent an animal as a horse should allow another, and far more feeble animal, to ride upon it's back." (Peter Grey)
“Sometimes, we give the best of our hearts uncritically - to those who hardly think of us in return.” (TH White)
“The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else do it wrong without comment.” (TH White)
“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” (TH White)
Books you might enjoy by other authors
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
A classic book - if you haven't ever read it, you should; and if you haven't read it for some time, well worth repaying a visit to. Much of it is as applicable today as when it was first written.
I Am The Great Horse by Katherine Roberts
The story of Alexander the Great's famous horse Bucephalus - absolutely gripping. Find out more about it at www.katherineroberts.com
Three Men in a Boat (To say nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
It may have been written over a hundred years ago, but it's still just as funny today. It also contains one of the most famous fictional dogs of all time - Montmorency the fox terrier.
The Fundamentals of Riding by Charles Harris (J A Allen & Co)
Know Your Horse Inside Out by Sarah Fisher (David & Charles)
Improve Your Horse's Wellbeing by Linda-Tellington Jones (Kenilworth Press)
Kottas on Dressage by Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg (Kenilworth Press)
Unlock Your Dog's Potential by Sarah Fisher (David & Charles)
Getting in Touch with Your Dog by Linda Tellington-Jones (Kenilworth Press)
The Big Guide to Small Pets by Adam Rogers (AuthorHouse)
And this is my horse, Flash.
He's retired now, but still enjoys posing for photos ...