A freelance journalist, I live partly in Cheshire and partly in Gascony in the Midi-Pyrénées. Our English Springer Spaniel Monty commutes with us and recently had to have his passport renewed as there were just too many stamps in it.

Now you’re here, why not visit my journalist website or my other blog The Write Horse?

5 thoughts on “About”

  1. Patricia Hansen said:

    Enjoying your web site very much. I will be travelling through France (November) — heading towards Portugal for a winter stay. I’ve been researching all the pitfalls my beautiful Standard Poodle, Charlie may encounter during our stay away. The main concern I have refers to the professional caterpillars. I would really appreciate it if you can comment on this problem especially where it might concern Charlie while driving through France. I know it is a very real problem both in Spain and Portugal. And as you’re well aware of the many other diseases dogs can contract. Charlie will be wearing a Scalibor collar and receive Avantix along the spine of his back every 3-4 weeks on a regular basis. To be honest, I’ve dreamed from many years of spending the winter in either Spain or Portugal away from Scotland, but the problems associated with keeping Charlie save does take away complete enjoyment. Do you think I’m overreacting?

    Anyway love your site and will continue browsing through it.
    Best regards,


    • Hi Patricia

      Thanks for your kind comments. I do understand your concerns about Charlie, as when we bought our French house we were very worried about piro. As it happened, Monty did get piro, but the fact that we were so aware of it meant that we could act very quickly. Having seen the disease in action and knowing that we can recognise it, I’m actually now less worried about it. I wrote an article for one of the UK dog mags about it, which includes comment on piro from our French vet – let me know if you’d like a copy emailing.

      You’re definitely doing the right thing by researching all the dangers beforehand, but I think the fact that a lot of them seem so alien to us Brits make them quite scary. We have the processionary caterpillars in our region (they’re called ‘processionaires’ in French), but I’ve only seen them twice in two years – I don’t know if the problem is worse in Portugal. They make their cocoons in pine trees – they look like big balls of cotton wool – so if you see the cocoons you know you’re in a danger zone. I think the only soluction is to keep Charlie on the lead until you’re away from that area. There’s some more info about the caterpillars in Portugal here. I think the best thing to do would be to talk to a vet in Portugal, who’ll be able to give you more information about the number of cases he sees a year etc. To find one, you could trying posting a request in the pets section on Anglo Info, or DEFRA might possibly to able to help on 08459 33 55 77.

      Hope that helps a bit!

      Best wishes

  2. Patricia Hansen said:

    Hi Sara — thank you for your speedy reply to my comment about “Travels with Charlie”. I would be most interested in seeing your magazine article on piro if it is possible to email. I googled Vets in Tavira and came up with a Vet practice in Tavira which looks from their web site to be first class. Their services seem expansive. They also say in the web site they have a new vaccination now for Leishmaniasis. Disappointingly, they don’t offer an email address. I will definitely visit them as soon as we arrive at our campsite. I guess my initial concern for travelling through France, along the north Spanish coast to north Portugal and then south to the Algarve during November, is when does the season for all these nasties begin. In the past when we went to Spain for the winter, I didn’t place a Scalibor collar on Charlie until arriving. But I think I will do so now as soon as we arrive in Calais.

    Thank you for all your help.

    • Hi Patricia

      I’ve emailed the article – please let me know if it doesn’t arrive. The Scalibor collar needs to be on for a week beforehand, so we put Monty’s on before we leave the UK. You can order them online in the UK before you go.

      I’m not sure about the season for processionaires, but I think they’re mostly active in the early spring. For piro, the ticks are don’t like very dry or cold weather, so aren’t normally a problem in the middle of summer or winter. However, last year we didn’t get a very cold snap in the winter and the ticks were still active in January – it depends on the weather. Check Charlie for ticks regularly and keep an eye on him. Our French vet says that pet dogs are much less at risk than working dogs, as their owners check them more frequently.

      Best wishes


  3. Patricia Hansen said:

    Hi Sara,
    Yes, the article arrived perfectly, thank you. Great article and great magazine spread. Monty could be competition for Charlie, a Black Standard Poodle. Thanks again for all your advice. I’ll certainly put the Scalibor on Charlie the week before leaving here. Actually, we’re also going to travel for a few weeks in the Highlands of Scotland — notorious for ticks — so perhaps I’ll put a Scalibor on him for then as well.

    Best wishes


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