Eva Bradley: Is there anything I have forgotten?

By Eva Bradley

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Eva Bradley. Photo / File
Eva Bradley. Photo / File

Who knew putting the babies to bed could be so gawd-damned difficult?

As I prepare to fly from these wintry shores to some rather more sunny ones in the Northern Hemisphere for nearly a month, the to-do list just keeps getting longer.

And it's not the things I'm taking with me that are causing the stress, but rather the ones I'm leaving behind - the two big babies in my life: my dog ... and my business.

Perhaps I'm just neurotic, or maybe obsessed is a better word, but right now my "dog" list for the house sitter has reached a full page and is still growing.

When you love and live with something or someone every day, you take for granted the quirks and needs that keep things ticking over.

For Greta, our dog, this includes knowing exactly what she means when she stands beside the bed right before the lights go off ("Please can I come under the covers? No? Well how about at least a pat before I go to my own bed then, Mum?") and what's involved in taking her to the dog wash after she has rolled in rotten fish at the beach (three gold coins, two rinse-and-repeats with disinfectant shampoo and one lead to stop her hiding under the car and refusing to come out as soon as she sees where we are).

My list of favourite off-leash walking spots, feeding information and emergency care contact details is in itself enough to mark me out as slightly mad.

That's before you see the oilskin raincoat I'm leaving out for cold days spent on the porch.

By contrast, the instructions for our young cat Dave are somewhat shorter: feed him twice a day and he'll do whatever the hell he wants in between.

I wish my business could be so easy to leave.

The biggest baby of all, it is too small to justify hiring someone else to do all the daily dog work like replying to countless emails, but a little bit too big to just turn on the vacation message and walk away. Fortunately, I anticipated this problem some years ago and conveniently cloned myself, spawning another photographer who shoots when I can't and - most importantly - kindly and patiently replies to all of the emails when I disappear on winter holidays.

But that doesn't mean I can't also express my inner control freak by writing all sorts of notes even more profuse than those I leave for the person minding the dog.

Such is the complexity of these notes that I have even included a "note to the notes," which serves as a quick reference for anyone brave (or silly?) enough to try and be me for almost a month.

The truth is that when we really look at our lives, we are not as indispensable as we think.

Walking away is often harder on the one looking back than those left behind, and I have no doubt Greta will happily receive her bedtime pat from a stranger's hand with as much joy as she has always received it from me. Traitor.

And Dave will snuggle up close and spill his abundant dribble on someone else's face at 6am, with as much enthusiasm as he has always done with me.

That's one little home comfort I really won't miss.

With all my lists now written and my bag packed, all that remains is to write a few closing sentences to you all here, with the promise that next week's column will come to you from somewhere on the far side of the world, and bring with it all the random left field encounters and observations that inevitably accompany such a shift.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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