Author Archives: Chris

Hallowe’en Story 2018 – Part 2

The Giant Bat – Part 2

 

As it grew darker, there was noise and movement – the witches arrived, mostly on foot as only a couple were brave enough to fly in.  They lit the great bonfire and gathered around it and then started as did all meetings of the Witches Institute by singing the club anthem.  As the singing died down the bottles of magic gin (mostly sloe, blackberry and pumpkin flavour) were opened and glasses filled and consumed. The crowd split into smaller groups who chatted and cackled amongst themselves.  The atmosphere, Finn thought, was somewhat subdued – maybe they had taken on board his request for a quiet meeting.

However, they could see that each group had a member who was scanning the sky.  It was very quiet up in the clouds as only one or two standard-sized bats fluttered past and one or two shooting stars dived through the darkening sky.

Suddenly, a couple of the “spotters” started to chatter excitedly and point upwards.  The gathering changed as more and more of the hags looked up nervously towards the heavens.  The moon by now was very bright.

Something was definitely coming.  In the bushes the three adventurers prepared themselves for whatever was about to appear; Finn could just make out some movement in the clouds.  A huge black shape was approaching, which definitely had wings – silent ones – and was coming down towards the clearing at a heck of a rate.

The witches started to worry, then panic!  They started to leave, very hastily.  As they ran around and scattered into the forest the giant bat came ever closer.  It was definitely black, very large, and Finn could make out a head, body and..spindly legs?

It swooped lower.  Any witches that were left were now shouting and screaming as they scampered about.

The monster had large ears and blood-red glowing eyes, and it was making a loud screeching a sound and giving off smoke.

As it flew over the bonfire it started to spiral upwards; like a buzzard it was using the warm air of the fire to give it lift and rise into the air.  The witches were long gone by now, and there was only the group of stunned animals to witness the arrival of the bat.  They stepped out into the clearing to see the monster more clearly.  Jeffrey switched on his super-bright head torch and it shone on the flying beast like a searchlight.  It picked out the black wings and the body underneath, the huge head with its red eyes and ears.

The monster screamed as the light hit its face.  There was another cry as a tiny burning ember that was also rising on the thermals from the fire happened to catch the edge of one of the wings.  There was a flash of flame – and the monster began another descent, this time at break-neck speed.

The beast flew across the animals heads but above the trees.  It had gravity on its side as it sped earthwards.  The animals tried to keep up but they lost it in the woods.   Finn stopped them, “It’s no good – it’s too dark.  Make a note of where it’s going and we’ll have a look in the light tomorrow.”

As they walked home they discussed what they had seen and what they thought the monster could be.  Jeffrey was still convinced it was a flying dinosaur, maybe a new undiscovered species that had forgotten to become extinct.  Finn suggested that it had not received the memo..  Rubbish was not sure what on Earth it was.  Finn always put his faith in believing his own eyes.  However, he was not convinced that what he saw was what this thing actually was.  And what it was….that still remained to be seen.

The next morning found Finn and his companions picking up their trail and making their way through the woods and out the other side onto the edge of a vast ploughed field of damp mud.  The two dogs scented the air – there was no smell of monster, just the usual smell of mud and sheep.  Jeffrey had brought along his ghost detector but it failed to emit one pop, crackle or beep.  He was pretty disappointed by the lack of any result.

They began to step across the muddy patch.  Half way over there was a patch of sheep prints but big ones that also looked like they had slid.  Most peculiarly, they started in the middle of the field.   Finn called Rubbish and Jeffrey to his side to examine them.  As they chatted and pointed, Rubbish heard what he thought was a stifled laugh.  A few yards away sat the very same blackbird that had snaffled his piece of bacon the day before.

“How d’you do?” the Blackbird asked.

“Fine, thank you,” Rubbish replied.

The blackbird eyed them curiously.  “So what you looking for then?”

Finn answered, “These strange prints, and the flying beast?”

“Oh aye?” the blackbird cocked his head to one side.

“Do you have any ideas as to what these are?” asked Rubbish.

“Oh yes,” the blackbird smiled.  “The name’s Morris, by the way.  And thanks for the bacon yesterday, it was lovely.” He added.

The animals were stunned. “Well?” Finn looked at the bird.

“It’s Nige,” he replied.

“Nige?” the old moggie enquired.

“A flying monster called Nige?” Rubbish could not believe what he’d heard.

“No, Nigel the sheep,” Morris replied.

“What?” Finn, Rubbish and Jeffrey all asked in unison.

“Oh aye.  Crash landed, he did,” the bird told them.  “Wing malfunction.”

The dogs were now even more stunned.  Jeffrey had to pick his jaw off the floor where it had metaphorically fallen.  “A monstrous sheep with wings?”

Morris laughed, “Come with me.”  He flew low over the field, the animals trotting close behind.

In the next field stood (and lay) a herd of sheep.  Normal looking sheep, not at all monstrous, and not one with a pair of wings.  Away from the herd towards the top end of the field one sheep lay on his own, evidently deep in thought.  Morris landed next to him and coughed rather loudly (and Jeffrey thought, somewhat dramatically).

“I have some visitors who want a word with you,” he said.  “I told you it would only be a matter of time before someone came to see you.”

The young sheep sat up and smiled rather sheepishly (which was very easy for a sheep to do) at the two dogs and the cat.  He knew who Finn was (as did most animals in the area) and he bowed politely, “G-good morning, sir.”

Finn smiled back, “Good morning my young lad.  I have heard from this little bird that you are the source of these tales of a flying monster?”

Part 3 Follows – Tomorrow!

Hallowe’en Story 2018 – Part 1

The Crafty Dog Cymru Hallowe’en Story for 2018

 

Rubbish the Rabbit Hound and The Giant Bat

Part 1

Bob the father rabbit shook his head. “It’s too bad.  These Witches are becoming such a nuisance.”

Bluebell, his wife, agreed, “I know. They are frightening all the kits.  They won’t even listen to Finn!”

She was talking about the local coven of witches who, as the weeks drew closer towards Hallowe’en were getting more and more rowdy – screeching and cackling, swooping low over the trees and scaring the baby rabbits, birds and other animals.  Finn the deerhound had gone to pay these hags a visit, and he had politely asked them not to be quite so loud but they had just sent him off with a flea in his ear. It was a real flea too and he was not amused.

“I’m not amused,” he growled at Rubbish the rabbit hound.  The young hound couldn’t help smiling even though it was not funny.  Jeffrey the old marmalade cat grinned gummily as he stared over the top of his round spectacles at the two of them, “Frightful nuisance,” he harrumphed in agreement.

Finn was, after all, the Lord of the Glen and Warden of the Great Forest and so senior animal of the area.  From the kitchen the Maid watched the three friends discussing the problem in the woods.   She leaned towards the open window and called out, “Bacon roll anyone?”

Three animal heads swivelled as one, and nodded in unison.  “That would be marvellous,” Finn replied.

Three chopped up bacon rolls arrived in three bowls. They had continued talking amongst themselves, and still did so even as they munched on their mid-morning snacks.  The brindle greyhound could not understand why the witches would not listen to Finn.  He shook his head and dropped a small piece of bacon onto the patio, from which it was quickly snapped up by a hungry blackbird that appeared to have just been passing by.

“Bless my soul!   That was a bit of bad luck, young sir,” Jeffrey consoled the stunned Rubbish.

“I was just going to finish that,” the pup said.

Finn laughed out loud, “At last!  Something that is faster than our speeding greyhound’s ravenous appetite!”

The blackbird had landed on the roof of the outhouse, scoffing his ill-gotten gains and appeared to be listening to the three animals talking.

As the bacon rolls were finally mopped up, there came a sound from the bottom of the garden as a little rabbit pushed through the gap in the garden door and scurried up the red brick path towards them.  It was Scutter.  He skidded to a halt, scattering chippings as he stopped.  He was puffing heavily.  “Mr Finn!  It was terrible and frightening!” The rabbit’s eyes were wide with excitement as he spoke.

“Really?  Take a breath young rabbit,” he patted the rabbit on the shoulder.

“And start at the beginning,” added the ancient cat.

Scutter took a deep breath and began his story.  “It was late last night.  The witches were dancing and singing in the clearing where they have their parties.  You know what they’re like,” the rabbit made a drinking sign with his paw.  “They had their brooms and everything, and then….” he paused for dramatic effect, “as the full moon shone over the trees, a huge black bat appeared and flew over them.”

The dogs looked at each other and Jeffrey pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Scutter continued, “They were terrified!  They all packed up and went home sharpish.  Most of them walked – they were too scared to fly.”

Jeffrey laughed out loud and rolled back onto his rather large bottom.  Rubbish smiled too.  Finn however, though he was amused by the thought of something disrupting the coven’s antics, was also concerned about what this flying thing could be.  “Young Scutter – did anyone else see this?” he asked.

The rabbit nodded, Yes, the squirrel family saw it all.  It was a giant bat that made a terrible screeching noise as it flew.”

Jeffrey gave the deerhound a nudge, “Let’s go and see then.”

Finn stretched.  “Come on – I sense an adventure.”

Off the three friends went, following Scutter through the woods to the clearing where the squirrels lived, in a tree next to the witches’ party venue.

Finn and Rubbish looked around the clearing; in the centre were the remains of a huge bonfire, still smouldering slightly.  There were a couple of abandoned broomsticks, broken glasses that had held witches potions (or more likely gin and tonic). There was even one witch’s shoe (like some sort of evil Cinderella!).

“Something definitely spooked them,” Rubbish said.

Finn had to agree, “And they left in rather a hurry.”

Jeffrey was questioning the two squirrels.  He had his notebook and pencil (the ones he kept in a mysterious pocket somewhere in his fur, which so puzzled Rubbish) and was writing down what the squirrels said.

There were no obvious signs of any flying monsters.  No signs of anything in the trees; all in all, very strange.

Back at the house over a bowl of kibble and smoked salmon, (Jeffrey just had the smoked salmon) they ran through what they had found.

“What is big enough to scare off a coven of hardened witches?”  mused the deerhound.

“Can’t have been an owl or a nightjar as they see them all the time,” Rubbish answered.

Jeffrey stopped chewing to add, “And witches are a bit of an expert on bats.”

“True,” Finn confirmed.  “It must have been one heck of a bat!”

Jeffrey suddenly sat up bolt upright and even dropped his bowl into his lap.  “Aha!  Hang on…” then he shot off, disappearing through the hole in the wall into his garden next door.

The dogs looked at each other.  “Eh?”

Back in puffed the old moggie, carrying a huge book, “I know what it is!”  The cat put the book on the garden table and opened it, flipping through the pages.  It was “The Wonder Book of Dinosaurs.”

He pointed to a colour photo, “Look here!  It’s a pterosaur – a flying lizard!”

Rubbish and Finn gazed at the illustration; an enormous bat-like flying lizard with a huge pointy beak.

“Blimey,” Finn said.

“Don’t know about the witches but it would scare the pants off me,” Rubbish gulped.

“Quite so,” Finn concurred.

Jeffrey was feeling quite pleased with himself and you could see his fur puffing up with pride.

“The only problem, my ginger pal, is that they have not been seen on this earth for over 100 million years.”

The cat frowned.

“That’s a really long time,” Rubbish had to admit.

The old cat frowned even more and his puffiness deflated a little.  “But the description fits” he answered.

Finn and Rubbish had to agree with the cat; it sounded like this flying dinosaur, but where had it been hiding for the last 100 million years?

“Maybe it’s come through time through some sort of worm-hole in the space-time continuum?” Jeffrey suggested.

“Hmmmm,” said Finn.  “Or it might be something less ancient and a bit more likely.”

“We have to see it for ourselves,” Rubbish told them.

“That, my young friend, is a good idea,” the deerhound smiled.

“Capital!” beamed Jeffrey. “I’ll start packing my night gear.”

It was agreed that the three of them would meet again at 5 o’clock – after tea, naturally – and they would go and wait near the Witches’ clearing to see what would transpire.

The moon was rising as the three friends slipped through the undergrowth at the edge of the trees to wait for the witches.  There was a pronounced pong from the canvas backpack that the old cat was carrying.

“Cor – what a niff!”  commented the greyhound.

Jeffrey hissed, “its garlic.”

“You don’t say?” chided Finn.

“In case it’s a giant vampire bat,” the cat explained. “I also have some stakes.”

Rubbish looked puzzled. “In case you get hungry?”

The cat tutted, “No – not that sort of steak!  A wooden pointy one.”

Finn chuckled.

Jeffrey rummaged in the bag and came out with a large head-torch on a wide elastic headband.  It was bright orange and matched his (albeit moth-eaten and ancient) fur.  He slipped it on and adjusted the straps.

Now it was Finn’s turn to tut, and to shake his head.

A blast of very bright light in Rubbish’s face made him jump. “Oh, sorry.   It’s a bit bright,” Jeffrey blushed under his ginger fur as he fumbled and turned the torch off.  “I have boosted the light output a bit.  Should help us see whatever it is.”

Finn put his head in his paws, sighed and muttered something under his breath.  It was going to be a very long night!

Part 2 Will follow tomorrow evening!

The Winter Hare – 1 Week to Go!

It’s only 1 week until the launch of the Winter Hare; here are the copies fresh from the printers.  I love the smell of paper and fresh ink!

We are still taking pre-orders (link HERE) and are having some interest from the media.  Tonight we are giving one of our greyhound talks to a ladies group in Port Talbot and may allow them a sneaky peek at the book.  Strictly no issues until the launch though!  If anyone would like any information on the book please message us on our contact e-mail HERE.

Greyhound, Finn, Winter Hare, Welsh Book, Welsh Author, Chris Dignam

The Winter Hare has arrived!

How Did Rubbish the Greyhound Get His Name – and how is he a Rabbit Hound??

People (who have not yet read The Largest Rabbit) ask me why our hero the young dog is called Rubbish and how did he become a Rabbit Hound?   This extract from The Winter Hare explains about who Rubbish is and how he got his name;

Rubbish, Greyhound, Greyhound Pup, Puppy, Winter Hare

Rubbish

 

“Finn chuckled.  He thought back about how Rubbish had come to live here in the walled garden.  It had all begun when an old cloth bag was thrown from a speeding car.  The two rabbits that saw the bag roll down the bank had helped to open it and out popped a little bundle of stripy fur.  The stranger was not sure what his name was, but thought it must have been Rubbish as that’s what the people had said he was.  The rabbits all decided he must be a rabbit too, so they took him home to the burrow where, over the weeks he grew taller, longer and pointier than all the others.  They said he was, “The largest rabbit they had ever seen.”  He knew he looked and acted differently to the other rabbits but he loved them as his family and they loved him too.  To them he was just a funny looking rabbit but one of the family.

It was after meeting the mighty Finn, who was after all a very well educated, cheerful old deerhound, that Rubbish realised he was not a rabbit but a dog like Finn.  He was a greyhound, though Finn declared that he should be called a rabbit hound as he protected the rabbits.   In the magic of the walled garden Rubbish met Finn’s owners the Maid and the Butler, and their neighbour Jeffrey, an ancient, balding and wise (or so he told them) marmalade cat.  Together they had vanquished an evil fox and his henchmen (two weasels) who had tried to grab all the rabbits in the warren.  Realising that he was getting too big to live with the rabbits, Rubbish was taken in by Finn and his family but every day Rubbish still visited the rabbits to ensure that they were safe and do what all good rabbit hounds do.  They all still agreed though that he was the Largest Rabbit in all the world.”

From “The Winter Hare” by Chris Dignam/Crafty Dog Books Cymru, Sept 2018.  Illustration courtesy of Allison Rees/Coppertop Crafts

Winter, Hare, Winter Hare, Celtic Myths, Greyhound, Rubbish, Finn

The Winter Hare

The Winter Hare – Its on its way and available to Pre-Order now!

Finn, Rubbish & Jeffrey Ride Again!

The Winter Hare – the sequel to the  The Largest Rabbit – will be out on the 27th September and is now available to Pre-Order through our website HERE.  The first copies will arrive from the printers next week ready for the launch scheduled for the 27th September 2018 at the Greyhound Rescue Wales Shop on the Kingsway in Swansea, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (ish!).  Come along and meet the author, have your copy signed and dedicated and also meet Penny the Crafty Dog herself!  Here is the cover of the book – artwork by Allison Rees/Coppertop Crafts.

Celtic Magic, Winter Hare, Rubbish, Finn, Greyhound, Deerhound

The Winter Hare

This book takes up the story after the Christmas adventure which gave the Maid and the Butler the ability to understand the animals, and for Rubbish, Finn and Jeffrey to be understood by humans too.  It is a cold winter that does not seem to end, and there is thick snow on the ground.  The rabbits find huge footprints in the snow, with specks of red nearby.  Whose prints are they?  As they examine them, they are being watched by a small figure hiding at the edge of the trees.  Who is the mysterious Winter Hare?  In the fields not far away there are two hunters with guns and vicious dogs – are they after the Winter Hare?  Can Finn, Rubbish and Jeffrey protect the hare and get her safely home?  What will happen if she never gets home?  Will this winter ever end?

As all this is going on, deep underground something is stirring; a black and white army is gathering and preparing to march…

Finn, Deerhound, Deerhounds, Magig, Mighty Finn

The Mighty Finn

This is a tale of dark villains and hairy heroes; of ancient magic, bravery, and of a marmalade cat with attitude, arthritis,and more than a hint of anchovies! Once again, the Mighty Finn the deerhound and Rubbish the abandoned greyhound who now protects the rabbits are called on to rally the friends and try to save the day.  And Jeffrey the cat does his bit too!

It is a children’s book aimed at the 8-12 age group but like The Largest Rabbit it has proved popular with all ages (from 8-80 would really cover it!).  All sales through the webshop will generate a donation of £1 a copy for Greyhound Rescue Wales.

Rubbish the Rabbit Hound!

The Winter Hare – Update!

The Winter Hare – Rubbish, Finn and Jeffrey Ride Again!

The final proof has been approved and the book is off to the printers.  Posters for the launch are being readied too – to remind everyone it’s at the Greyhound Rescue Wales Shop in Swansea 10 am – 3 p.m. on the 27th September.  Keep your eyes out for the posters.  Could anyone who wishes to come please just pop us an e-mail to give us an idea of numbers.

Here’s the back cover illustration and text.

Winter Hare, Celtic Magic,Hare, Greyhound, Finn, Mighty Finn, Rubbish, Rabbit, Winter Hareh

The Back Cover Text

The Winter Hare – Book Launch 27th September 2018!

It’s taken a while but the sequel to The Largest Rabbit will be out on the 27th September and is now available to Pre-Order through our website HERE.  We are currently awaiting proof copies but have set a date and venue for the book launch – 27th September 2018 at the Greyhound Rescue Wales Shop on the Kingsway in Swansea, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (ish!).  Come along and meet the author, have your copy signed and dedicated and also meet Penny the Crafty Dog herself!  Here is the cover of the book – artwork by Allison Rees/Coppertop Crafts.

Celtic Magic, Winter Hare, Rubbish, Finn, Greyhound, Deerhound

The Winter Hare

This book takes up the story after the Christmas adventure which gave the Maid and the Butler the ability to understand the animals, and for Rubbish, Finn and Jeffrey to be understood by humans too.  It is a cold winter that does not seem to end, and there is thick snow on the ground.  The rabbits find huge footprints in the snow, with specks of red nearby.  Whose prints are they?  As they examine them, they are being watched by a small figure hiding at the edge of the trees.  Who is the mysterious Winter Hare?  In the fields not far away there are two hunters with guns and vicious dogs – are they after the Winter Hare?  Can Finn, Rubbish and Jeffrey protect the hare and get her safely home?  What will happen if she never gets home?  Will this winter ever end?

As all this is going on, deep underground something is stirring; a black and white army is gathering and preparing to march…

Finn, Deerhound, Deerhounds, Magig, Mighty Finn

The Mighty Finn

This is a tale of dark villains and hairy heroes; of ancient magic, bravery, and of a marmalade cat with attitude, arthritis,and more than a hint of anchovies! Once again, the Mighty Finn the deerhound and Rubbish the abandoned greyhound who now protects the rabbits are called on to rally the friends and try to save the day.  And Jeffrey the cat does his bit too!

It is a children’s book aimed at the 8-12 age group but like The Largest Rabbit it has proved popular with all ages (from 8-80 would really cover it!).  All sales through the webshop will generate a donation of £1 a copy for Greyhound Rescue Wales.

Rubbish the Rabbit Hound!

!

Crafty Dog Chilli Bean (and Bacon Soup) Recipe

We have had many requests for Mrs Crafty Dog’s Chilli Bean Soup recipe. This is the version with bacon but it also makes an excellent vegetarian soup by omitting the bacon and Worcestershire sauce.

chilli bean soup, chilli bean. chilli soup, Crafty Dog Cymru

A hearty and warming bowl of soup!

Ingredients

3 rashers smoked back bacon – cut into lardons (small pieces)
1 tablespoon oil (olive or rapeseed) to fry in.
1 large white onion (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove (crushed and grated)
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder (or add fresh chopped chillis if you wish)
1 sweet red pepper cut into chunky dice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500 mls vegetable stock (we used vegetable Oxo)
400g can of mixed beans drained and rinsed
(or use a mix of whatever beans you prefer – edamame beans, chickpeas, sweetcorn, peas, haricot beans, flageolet – whatever you like)
1 stick of celery chopped into 1cm chunks
A good splash of Worcestershire sauce
Sea Salt
Ground Black Pepper or ground mixed pepper

Heat the oil in a large stock/soup pan or deep saucepan, add and fry the onions gently until softened. Add the garlic, then the bacon and fry until the bacon colours – a couple of minutes should be fine).
Add the stock and other ingredients.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45mins or so until the peppers are tender.
Season with the salt and pepper – add as much as you prefer.

For a vegetarian version, leave out the bacon and Worcestershire sauce.

You can adapt this recipe by changing the pulses, the amount or type of peppers, even the type of meat. I guess it would work with chopped sausage – chorizo would be fab).

Serve with a grating of hard cheese or finely sliced cheddar and a nice crusty bread.

Enjoy!!

Mrs Crafty Dog

Help a Galgo or Podenco

Wonderful Galgos and Podencos

In a recent blog I mentioned that we try and help rescued greyhounds as well as the Spanish greyhounds and Podencos (Helping the Spanish Greyhounds).    We do commissions for Galgos del Sol where we make suncatchers for their auctions – (you should check them out!).   As well as this we have started selling our own designs of suncatchers/wall plaques with a Galgo or a Podenco on.  For these we donate £1 from each one sold to Galgos del Sol.

Galgo, Galgo art, Galgo painting, Galgo glass

So True! Galgo’s are wonderful!

The example here shows the “A House is Not a Home” design but we also do “When no-one else cares my Galgo (or Podenco) still loves me”.

 

Podenco, Podenco glass, Podenco art

Your loyal Podenco!

Galgos del Sol, Suncatcher, Galgos

Helping the Galgos – Spanish Greyhounds – With Galgos del Sol

Crafty Dog Suncatchers Helping Auction for Charity

Galgos del Sol, Suncatcher, Galgos

Hank Suncatcher

Galgos del Sol is a charity that rescues Galgos Espagnol, Spanish greyhounds, and Podencos. Both breeds are used for hunting and hare coursing with betting. There is a short 4 month hunting season each year, from October to January, and at the end of the season the dogs considered surplus to requirement are abandoned in large numbers, often ending up in killing stations to be euthanised. Some are unluckier still. GdS raise money by donation and with auctions during the year. Donations have included items provided by celebrities, such as Debbie Harry of Blondie fame and singer/songwriter Sia. The money raised covers food, vet bills for injured dogs (many arrive in a terrible state), for routine vaccinations and neutering, and to build new kennels to house the rescued dogs. Hunting dogs aren’t generally considered as potential pets in Spain, an attitude charities are trying to change, as Galgos and Podencos make great pets, just like their better known greyhound cousins. GdS and other galgo charities rehome these dogs in the UK, various European countries and in North America.

Crafty Dog Cymru have provided items for Galgos del Sol for a number of the auctions they have held, including signed copies of Chris Dignam’s book “The Largest Rabbit” which raised over 200 Euros at an auction last year.  At the auction last week, Galgos del Sol sold 58 suncatchers commissioned from Crafty Dog Cymru with an image of Hank, one of the GdS real-life Galgo stars.  The suncatchers raised over 800 Euros for the charity.    Amazing to think that a small business in Clydach, South Wales, could be helping such a great cause and exporting their artwork all around the world!