December 2022 : Crisp, cold, bright mornings…

Dec 16, 2022 | Stuart's Patient Newsletter

I love the Lake District in December.

Crisp, cold, bright mornings, walks that are devoid of other people and the ability to find a parking spot in both Keswick and Ambleside!
We have just returned from a lovely week staying in a cottage in Rydal. The weather was really kind to us, which meant only a couple of days, when I had to wash the dogs. We have had some lovely low-level walks and enjoyed some excellent Cumbrian cuisine.

Maria and I have been going to the Lakes since we first got married, so it almost feels like a second home, but I must admit we have stopped going in the Spring and Summer as it is so busy. However late November and early December ……. Ideal!

As usual Maria booked the cottage. She has the ability to find great cottages, in lovely locations that are also ‘dog friendly’ – obviously the last factor being the most important one. If the dogs are happy, we all enjoy the holiday!

Maria is amazing at organising holidays however I suspect that our new daughter-in-law, could become a ‘World Champion’ at it. Miriam and Matt have just come back from their honeymoon in Vietnam, where Miriam organised a four-centre holiday including all internal flights and transfers. I asked Matt how much input he had, “Turned up when I was told to and paid the credit card bill” he said – welcome to married life!

In fact, our honeymoon in December 1990 was the last holiday I organised. Back in those days it was the groom who organised the honeymoon and it was usually a surprise for the bride. True to tradition I was determined to fulfil my ‘duty.’

December it must be said is not the best month, for choice of destination. I didn’t fancy skiing, as with my ability to ski I could have spent most of the honeymoon with a leg in plaster. So, I opted for somewhere hot and our local travel agent Julia, suggested Thailand.

Great I thought, never been but it sounded just what I was after – after looking at a map to find out where it was! So, I booked 3 weeks including Christmas, with a travel company called Horizon. I blew every penny we had on the honeymoon, my philosophy being that I’m only planning to get married once, so let’s make the honeymoon one to remember.

As it turned out it certainly was one to remember – before we even got there. Three weeks before we were meant to get married Horizon went bankrupt! So, with 21 days to go, we had no honeymoon destination.

To be fair Julia worked miracles. I spent a whole morning with her while she phoned various travel companies, airlines and hotels – don’t forget there was no internet in those days – but by lunchtime we had a honeymoon! A week in Bangkok and then two weeks, including Christmas, at a beach resort ….. perfect! Job done, huge sigh of relief and off to the pub for a beer to celebrate.
Now Julias last words were, “Don’t forget you will both need visas”. Not a problem I thought, plenty of time, as I sent my passport and Maria’s off to the Thai embassy in London. I still hadn’t told Maria where we were going – surprise for the bride – and all was fine until 10 days before we got married.

The passports came back, mine with a visa but Maria’s with a note saying “Visa declined”! It was not the fact that my future wife had a criminal record, but the fact that in her usual ultra-organised way she had changed her passport from her maiden name, into her soon-to-be married name.

Great, so I now had a honeymoon but it looked like I was going by myself! After another frantic phone call to Julia – “Help! How do we sort this?” Julia once again came up trumps. Apparently, another travel agent friend of hers had had a similar scenario and had found a work around solution.

In those days Thailand had a consulate in Scotland, which was basically a Solicitor’s office in Glasgow. I phoned them immediately and spoke to a lovely lady who told me if I took Maria’s passport to her, she would post date the visa to the day we got married.

Fabulous, it’s all on again – the only issue was it had to be; before 9 o’clock in the morning, no more than 5 days before we got married and that she may need to check that Maria looked like her passport photo!

Determined to still keep the honeymoon destination a surprise, I picked Maria up at 4.00 am in the morning, of the Tuesday before we got married and drove – through the snow! – to Glasgow.

I was met at the front door of the Solicitors at 8.30 am prompt, by this ‘old school’ Scottish secretary, who looked through the car window and verified that the visa application was not an illegal scam and Maria really did exist.

I spent 15 minutes completing all the relevant paperwork and hey- presto, I not only had a honeymoon, but two visas as well. I will never forget the parting words of the secretary, “Och” she said, “You’ll be alright. Everyman needs an organised wife behind him!”

After 32 years of married life, I couldn’t agree with her more! As I mentioned at the start, our holidays are based around the dogs, in fact a lot of life revolves around making sure they are sorted. I jokingly said to Maria, “It’s a shame I can’t make them work in the practice”, “You can” she said and sent me the cartoon below.

This got me wondering…

…How well do dogs actually see?

So, for those of you with canine companions there are a few facts below about a dog’s eyesight which you might find interesting.

On a basic level, the anatomy of a dog’s eye is similar to the anatomy of a human eye. They have upper and lower eyelids, a pupil, lens, cornea, iris and retina. Dogs also have a layer of tissue in their eyes which we don’t have, called the tapetum lucidum, that reflects light into the retina.

Much like us, a dog’s retina also includes two types of light-sensitive cells, known as ‘rods’ – involved in motion-detection and vision in dim light – and ‘cones’ – involved in colour perception and detailed vision. The key difference though, is that dogs have far fewer cone and far more, rod cells.

The old stereotype is that dogs only see in black and white, but that’s not actually true. Not only do dogs see in colour, but they can comfortably differentiate between a variety of different colours and shades.

That being said, dogs don’t see as much colour as we do as humans have what’s known as ‘trichromatic vision’. This means that we see three colours – red, green, and blue – and the many different shades between them. Dogs, on the other hand, have ‘dichromatic vision’, meaning they only see two colours – green and blue – lacking the ability to see red. With dichromatic vision, dogs still experience quite a colourful world, but since they don’t see shades of red, they’re not getting quite as much of a vibrant view of the world as we do.

The average human should generally have 20/20 vision, unless they’ve got some degree of myopia. Dogs though, have something more like 20/75 vision on average. Essentially, this means they can’t recognise objects as far away as we can, but dogs are very sensitive to motion – which again, seems to be linked to the high number of rods in their retinas. So, small movements in the grass, or small changes in your posture, are likely to be very apparent and meaningful to your pup.

As well as this, compared to us, dogs also have a great field of vision. Their wider-set eyes mean they don’t see things as precisely as we do, but they have significantly better peripheral vision. Put this together with their great motion detection, and dogs tend to be very alert to what’s happening around them.

This is probably why if I drop anything on the floor, especially food, it is gone before I can pick it up!

Recommend A Friend…

Before I finish, I thought I would just clear up a couple of queries from a patient.

They asked firstly if they could pass these newsletters onto a friend?

The answer is absolutely! If you think any of your family or friends would be vaguely interested in my ‘Ramblings’ about holidays, dogs, eyesight etc then feel free to pass them on.

Secondly, they asked if we were still taking new patients?

Again, the answer is a resounding Yes!

Jenny and I would love to see any family members or friends if you think they would benefit from the services we provide. We have an electronic ‘Welcome pack’ for all new and ‘would-be patients’ so feel free to direct them to the link below.

Well, I can’t believe that it’s nearly Christmas. As usual I haven’t even started thinking about it, I just hope my ‘organised’ wife has everything under control !

Can I just say Thank You, to each and every one of you, for your support during 2022. As I’ve said before, without you, our friends and patients, there is no G.T. Harvey.

May I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a happy and healthy 2023.

Look forward to seeing you soon.
Kind regards

p.s. the small purse/wallet calendars for 2023 are available in the practice, please feel free to call in and collect them.