Tag Archive for: Devon

Hello again Dear Readers!

Now I’m confidently saying “Readers” in plural as I’m absolutely certain that I now have more than just my elderly mother reading my blog.  I’ve heard on the grapevine that the father of TOTCA (that’s an acronym for my female human) has also been seen reading it.  This gentleman – who, confusingly, seems to have various names such as Dad, Grandad, Great Grandad and Horace (named after a Golden Retriever, I believe; or it might have been the other way round) – is 96 years old.  In human years.  Which makes him 672 in dog years! Older than Mother I think.

I mention TOTCA’s father because the Season of Goodwill is now officially upon us and this is apparently the time for “Family” and “Festive Fun”.  There is quite a bit of Festive Fun going on at Stockham Farm – trees indoors, sparkling lights hanging from the red deer antlers that were found on the farm last year and TOERAG (an acronym for my male human) spending a lot of time standing by the Aga with cinnamon mulling wine.  I’m not sure why he’d mull over whether or not to drink wine at Christmas – he does it quite happily throughout the rest of the year. 

Stockham Farm in the snow – but still not as cold as the North Pole

Anyway, Festive Fun is great and with my merry disposition I’m happy to join in… but only up to a point.  And that point was reached yesterday when I was asked to sit under the Christmas tree dressed as one of Santa’s elves (as can be seen above).

Now I know Santa is a real human being  who lives with lots of reindeer somewhere that’s even colder than Exmoor in the snow, but I wasn’t aware that he employed Jack Russell Terriers to assist him.  If this is to be my new role on Christmas Eve I feel I need a tighter job description.  Will I wear this uniform the entire night?  Do I need to learn the names of all the reindeer before we set off?  Will I have to actually hurry down the chimneys or can I stay in the sleigh?  Will I be allowed to eat the sausage rolls in the fireplaces or will I have to share (to be fair, Santa does look like he’s had enough already)?  What if Santa gets stuck in the chimney?!!!  Seriously, is there an official emergency procedure in place?

Dressed as a Christmas pudding – the indignity of it

Fortunately, a few members of the Family have come to stay for the Christmas period and I expect they’ll be able to give me some answers.  I’ve asked Mother and she’s not been hugely helpful on the subject – apart from saying it could be worse, I could be taken out in public dressed as a Christmas pudding as took place in 2016. 

Even TOERAG struggled to see the Festive Fun in that.  TOERAG’s idea of Festive Fun involves a traditional seasonal blend of watching Love Actually in front of the fire, carving roast beef (I’m always close by to assist him) and wearing a crown made out of thin paper; followed by hiding in the stables for some considerable hours preparing the big horses for something called “Boxing Day” which doesn’t appear to have anything to do with hitting anyone with big gloves on.

TOTCA is at her most Festive when holding a glass of something with bubbles in it whilst singing about a good King called Wenceslas who took a mate of his (a Mr Page) out in the snow to give a poor man (a Mr Peasant) some bread and wine and pizza – cooked deep pan, crisp and even.  I think that’s the story. 

Mother and I making ourselves useful as iPad supports

Mother and I often choose the Festive Period to make ourselves useful with various Family members by offering our services as iPad and laptop supports on the sofa – we hate to be accused of lounging around doing nothing.

Committing treason – asleep in front of the Queen

A couple of years ago, Mother and I were both formally accused of committing treason as we fell asleep in front of Her Majesty’s speech on Christmas Day.  But that was when we were in Kent and I don’t think anyone at the Tower of London knows that we’ve now moved to a farm on the border of Devon and Somerset.  We’d quite like to keep our heads, so please don’t tell.  We do actually rather like the Queen, albeit she seems to prefer Corgis to Jack Russell Terriers.  TOERAG used to have Corgis that looked after him many years ago – he said that they’re “excellent cattle dogs”.  I don’t dispute this, but I’d like to know if their skills set ever had them assisting Santa on Christmas Eve.  Helping Santa or helping Her Maj – which do you think is the most challenging role?

Our favourite Christmas decorations – Jack Russell Terriers in hats

That’s it from me for now.  I’m just going to take another admiring look at the Jack-Russell-in-a-hat-in-a-bauble that’s hanging from the antlers above the fire.  Festive Fun decorating at its very best.  If you’re at a loose end, do follow me on Instagram: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell

Merry Christmas!


Hello again!

I wish I could begin this blog post sounding a little more hale and hearty, but regretfully I’m of the opinion that (despite the Season of Goodwill being nearly upon us) we’re all going to hell in a handcart.  Actually that isn’t my phrase, I’ve picked it up from TOERAG (that’s an acronym for my male human).  I asked Mr Google what it meant and he said:

To be in an extremely and increasingly bad or ruinous condition; to be on the inevitable path to utter failure or ruin.

I think that might be taking it a tad far because, after all, I do live at Stockham Farm which is nothing short of an exquisite corner of heaven, in the heart of the Exmoor National Park on the border of Somerset and Devon and I have everything a dog could wish for in life.  More importantly, I also have made some delightful dog friends that have come to stay for self-catering holidays here (and bring their humans, of course).  Here’s a pic of Dennis who came to stay in the summer and spent a long time lounging attractively on the big lawn admiring the view over the Exe Cleave.  So actually not a bad life…

My friend Dennis enjoying Stockham Farm

A Hard Biscuit or a Soft Biscuit?

…BUT, if life is so good, why oh why won’t everyone stop looking terribly worried and constantly talking about BISCUIT all the time! Curiously they now pronounce it BREXIT, which is unfathomable as I thought they were quite good at English.  Initially there was a lot of talk about a choice between a Hard Biscuit and a Soft Biscuit which I fully understand is a difficult choice – I’ve always been a Shortbread or a Digestive dog, but with my recent teeth issues, I probably do now prefer a Jaffa Cake.  In fact, a Jammy Dodger would work well as it combines a hard outer with a soft inner. But my point is, there are all these important deliberations going on in the house, and then none of these Biscuits (or Brexits) actually materialise!

There’s also endless Biscuit chat on the square telly box and TOTCA (my female human) and TOERAG stare and mutter and then very recently they’ve begun talking about the possibility of NO BISCUIT!  WHAAAAT?!!!

Back to the Vet!

Whilst pondering the proposed complete absence of Biscuits in my life, I discovered that TOTCA had made yet another appointment to take me to the Vet recently.  The nice Lady Vet was there again and took my picture because she said (quite understandably) that I was a very handsome Jack Russell Terrier.  How embarrassing though that she took the photo whilst TOTCA was on a lead made out of plastic sausages!  Not real sausages, but PLASTIC sausages!!  I think you’ll agree that I look rather disdainful in the picture at the top of the blog.

Mother enjoying a cuddle with TOERAG

I’ve become aware that the Biscuit/Brexit talk is often linked to a discussion about being in a  continent called Europe, which is actually where some nice guests came from in the summer.  Now this is confusing because Mother is also in a continent (though TOTCA pronounces it ‘incontinent’) and this is deemed not to be a good thing and involves a lot of kitchen paper and TOTCA saying “whoopsie” and TOERAG eventually saying “I’ll take her outside”.  And then he takes her outside and they sit on the bench together and look at the view and have a cuddle.  Above is a picture of the two of them on the bench looking happy together.  So I’m stumped: is being in a continent a good thing or a bad thing?  Who’s to know?

An Irish Backstop

Putsborough Beach on Woollacombe Bay, North Devon – not far from Stockham Farm

The latest discussions have been about a lady called Mrs May and an Irish backstop.  Now I can only assume this is about playing rounders on the beach at Putsborough Sands in North Devon.  Putsborough Sands is beautiful (here’s a pic above taken in late October) and is only a 40 minute drive from the farm.  Rounders is a terrific game for all the family involving a bat and a ball – and there’s always someone who’s the backstop and catches the ball when someone can’t hit it. It’s great fun and I’m always incredibly helpful catching the ball when someone does hit it and then refusing to give it back to the humans unless I get a biscuit in return.  But why the big discussion about rounders now in the middle of December?  Is Mrs May having rounders lessons?  Is she coming to Putsborough one day soon?  Does she have an Irish friend that will act as the backstop?  Most importantly – will she bring Biscuits?

If you can help me with answers to any of these questions, I would much appreciate it.  By all means get in touch via my Instagram page Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell or send a pigeon or something.

In the meantime, I’ll go and have a look in the Biscuit Tin.


Hello again!

Well, dear Reader (or possibly Readers, but I don’t want to sound overly optimistic), I must apologise for not gracing your computing devices with my writing for a while – simply put, I’ve not been quite myself.

You may recall from my last blog post that TOERAG (that’s an acronym for my male human) took me to the vet.  Unbeknownst to me, he and TOTCA (my female human) had been hatching a plan to take me back there again – reference my teeth!  Can you believe it?! I’ve been on this planet for over 12 years and now’s the time to start talking TEETH!!

Ralph The Brave One…

Perhaps you’re not aware that for a long time I’ve been known in my family as ‘Ralph The Brave One’.  This worthy title dates back some years, and I have earned it on many occasions.  For example, the picture at the top of the page shows me confronting a toad in Kent – as you can see, I’m the model of bravery-under-pressure here (albeit TOERAG himself eventually removed the toad from the tarpaulin whilst I ate his sandwiches for him).

On another occasion, TOERAG invited an entire pack of foxhounds to visit my farm in Kent.  He hadn’t given me prior warning of this invitation, so I was a little surprised to discover this large crew suddenly outside the tack room.  Somewhat taken aback at all the well-deserved attention I received from these tall chaps, my pelvic floor didn’t quite cope with the situation.  Possibly not my bravest encounter, but it still shows that I’m prepared to go where others fear to tread.  I have shared with you above a rather nice picture of the West Kent Foxhounds taken in 1931 (apparently before even TOERAG was born) – the most interesting canine being the one in charge: a brave Jack Russell Terrier of course!

Always being stoic…

Here at Stockham Farm on Exmoor, there are numerous incidents of my stoic behaviour to recount – regularly greeting the new dog friends that arrive here to stay in the Victorian Wing cottage and bring their humans with them; working hard on the digger to get the large pond ready for next year’s guests; and of course trying to get ahead with the renovation of the Piggery cottage so that more friends can come and stay in 2019.

As usual TOERAG wasn’t brave enough to investigate the contents of this dumpy bag, so I was sent it to have a look…

A second visit to the Vet…

However, a second visit to the vet in under a month is altogether another test of one’s bravery!  On arrival at the vet emporium I heard TOTCA chatting to someone about my teeth AND my gentleman’s cough (I can assure you I’ve never smoked).  Suddenly all the humans started faffing about and before I knew what was happening, I found myself waking up in a cage with a bandage on my leg (featuring cartoon pigs – seriously, not lions, but PIGS!!) and there was TOTCA standing there with water coming out of her eyes telling me I was brave and she loved me.  Obviously she looked ridiculous like that, so I had to lick her face clean to make her feel better.  Embarrassingly my tongue also went up her nose, but she was polite enough not to say anything.

Sometime later, I learned from Mother (when she reluctantly came to sit with me beside the Aga), that nothing had actually happened with my teeth but that I’d had what is called “an X-ray under General Anna’s thetic” and evidently General Anna had discovered I have “a heart condition”.  Well, I know of the Colonel who features in 101 Dalmatians, but I wasn’t aware of there being a General called Anna who’s also a Vet. Extraordinary!  Mother didn’t seem hugely bothered by my “heart condition” because apparently she has one too and what it means is that we get to have a pill every day which TOERAG tries to hide in a piece of cheese.  He thinks we don’t like the pill and just eat the cheese around it, so he has to give us more cheese to make us eat the pills.  Clearly he has no idea that we’re one step ahead and just enjoy seeing him getting fractious dispensing loads of cheese!

At the end of the day, dear Reader, you’ll be pleased to hear I was feeling much better and spent the next few days on the sofa recuperating.  Every cloud and all that…

Thanks for reading.  Do please follow me on Instagram if you’d like to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell



Hello again!

Well I have to begin by saying that it’s not been an entirely jolly week for me at Stockham Farm – despite spending an enjoyable couple of days ascertaining the quality of the new hay and straw bales in the top barn (no mice whatsoever – most disappointing), this was also the week when I had to bid farewell to my best friend, Toffee.

Toffee is a Shetland Pony.  Like me he is incredibly charming and good looking, and I’ve genuinely seen humans that haven’t given a second glance towards the big horses, go all gooey and unnecessary when they see Toffee.  We had some great dogs that brought their humans to stay at the farm during the summer and they all loved Toffee – rushing back inside the cottage to find carrots and picking apples from the orchard to give to him.  This picture is of a grown man stroking Toffee – I do get it, but enough now!

Toffee’s Two Big Issues…

But let’s be frank, Toffee does have two really big issues… firstly, he’s not very tall.  TOERAG (one of my humans – The One Earnestly helping me Renovate Ancient Granaries etc) has helped me create a lot of nice stables for all the horses and ponies that visit Stockham Farm – we’re hoping to become an official British Horse Society ‘Horses Welcome’ destination soon.  But no-one was prepared for the smallness of Toffee – here he is trying to look over the stable doors when he came indoors the other evening.  Not ideal, I’d say.

The second issue is… well, he looks like a girl.  Be honest, you thought so too, didn’t you?  Everyone always refers to him as ‘she’ – even the big horses when they first met him.  He coped with it surprisingly well and wasn’t at all perturbed when Bailey laughed out loud when Jack told him that Toffee is actually a boy.

When Jack was depressed…

Jack and Bailey are also sad that Toffee has left us – especially Jack.  He was rather depressed and lonely in the summer of 2017 and that’s when Toffee came to Stockham Farm to cheer him up.  A bromance blossomed and he made Jack feel a lot better and brought lots of fun to the farm – chasing rainbows and rolling in the snow.

He even hung out with Jack in his stable during the big snow last winter – practically twins they were, as you can see below.  But I was worried that he wouldn’t want to spend another winter here – now that Jack has Bailey to chat to and share jokes with, Toffee was feeling a bit like an equestrian third wheel.  So I suggested he might want to move on.

As you can imagine, Mother doesn’t really care that Toffee’s gone; she couldn’t really see him very well, what with her dodgy eyesight and everything, and I don’t think she cares that I’m upset either.  He left on Thursday morning and I was at least glad I got to say a proper goodbye (there’s a video on my Instagram page @exmoor_jack_russell_ralph).

A tiny brave human called Wilfred…

TOERAG told me that Toffee’s going to be really happy in his new home – there are two big horses that aren’t rude and won’t laugh at him, and a very small human that’s going to ride him.  He said that the small human is 7 months old and called Wilfred, which is a very cool name, and I imagine he’s very brave too as that’s really quite young to be riding.  As you know I rarely believe anything TOERAG says, so I’m not sure this can possibly be true – but if I can get a picture of Wilfred riding Toffee then I’ll definitely post it on my blog or on my Instagram page.  Wilfred’s mother has already sent me this picture of Toffee with his new big horse friends – I think he looks pretty chilled (if rather upside down), so I guess it’s all going to be OK.

I think I’ll now go and sit by the Aga and wear my very sad face – that usually elicits a commiseratory lump of Cheddar.  Definitely worth a try…

Thanks for reading.  Do follow me on Instagram if you’d care to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell



Hello again!

If you’ve ever seen (or read) 101 Dalmatians – possibly the scariest film ever – you’ll know all about the ‘Twilight Bark’, when dog friends contact each other across the world in the early evening with top news stories to be shared from home to home.  I think it’s a bit like the Six O’Clock News that humans watch on the big screens, but clearly they don’t understand what we dogs are doing – they probably think we’re just shouting, but actually it’s really important.  I mean, how else would those ninety-nine spotty puppies have been rescued if it hadn’t been for the Colonel’s listening skills?

Better use of English grammar…

During a recent Twilight Bark, the Border Collie from across the Exe Valley decided to teach us Dulverton and Exmoor locals a better use of English grammar.  Border Collies are exceptionally gifted dogs, as you’re probably aware, so goodness only knows why they spend such a lot of time around sheep.  Anyway, the lesson we learned that evening was all about the use of acronyms, which I have now decided to put into practice in my blog – and thus henceforth I shall be referring to my two humans as TOTCA (The One They Call Ali) and TOERAG (The One Earnestly [helping me] Renovate Ancient Granaries [and other buildings]).

I’m pleased to report that TOTCA and her friends from Kent had a fun weekend together, drinking wine and making a lot of noise.  She took them to see the work I’d done so far with the Piggery renovation project at Stockham Farm and they were all very impressed, particularly the digging I’d done at the side of the path – though TOERAG said that it wasn’t in the right place and it was a “bloody big hole”.  Does that mean he was impressed too, I wonder?


When I ate something I shouldn’t…

In amongst all the fun and excitement, however, I did something unwise – I ate something I shouldn’t.  It was an interesting grey blob that I’d found around the back of the stables with a delightful perfume of fox poo blended with dead mouse.  I wolfed it down without a care, but irritatingly my stomach began to gurgle and it came back up again later in the evening – just when I’d got comfortable in front of the fire on my favourite rug.

Still feeling unwell in the morning, TOERAG said he was going to take me to “see the vet”. Those three words are enough to put the fear of God into any self-respecting Jack Russell Terrier.  After all, who wants to be crammed into a room the size of a small stable with elderly Labradors saying “oh dear, sweetie, what’s the matter with you?” and young Spaniels showing off about how many pheasants and partridge they’ve “picked up” this season? Frankly it’s all a bit much, and none of them seem to comprehend that when a Jack Russell snarls, growls and makes the ground move akin to being in an earthquake, that that is simply our way of explaining that we’re actually bigger than them, but God just put us in smaller bodies.

The Postman has a cat…

Anyway, all was going fairly well until the Postman came in… with a CAT! Yes, you read that right, a cat.  The man person who drives the small red vehicle and hangs around our back door six days a week appears to let a feline share his home! Seriously, why?!  He must know that dogs provide all possible intelligent and amusing company – every day he witnesses our Oscar-winning displays of snarling, growling and barking, followed by effusive licking and tail-wagging when in receipt of a pat or a small biscuit – why then would he ever want to share his life with a cat! I confess I was acquainted with a cat once, long ago – I tried to have an intelligent conversation with it on the subject of mice, but it ran up a tree and refused to come down. I stayed at the bottom for many hours shouting at it to come down and continue the conversation, but inexplicably it just stayed there. Baffling!

Fortunately it was finally my turn to chat to the vet, who turned out to be a nice young lady person and TOERAG suddenly became all smiley and unnecessary.  She didn’t appear to be too concerned about my condition, but couldn’t resist the temptation to take my temperature just to be sure I was on the mend.  I can promise you I am NOT telling Mother where she put the thermometer – some things are just best not shared.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to join Mother on the sofa now for some further recuperation.

Thanks for reading.  By all means follow me on Instagram if you’d care to: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell





My name is Ralph and, in my considered opinion, I’m a perfect example of a Jack Russell Terrier. The picture above is of me as a puppy, and I believe I’m possibly only marginally less cute today (if you ignore the Queen Anne legs)…

Pet Friendly Holiday Cottage Exmoor

A bit of background…

I live at Stockham Farm, Dulverton, Exmoor with my cantakerous mother, two handsome horses, one ridiculous Sheltland pony, numerous sheep, some very large red deer, a lot of irritating pheasants, rabbits, moles, two buzzards and a couple of humans – their friends call them Ali and Jeff, but that’s not what they call each other, so it’s sometimes a little confusing.

The humans decided to move here from Kent (where I had been perfectly happy, in fact) in November 2016 and from then on they’ve done a lot of annoying things with the farmhouse – mostly involving removing the nice interesting smells in the corners of the rooms and doing what they call ‘renovating’ and ‘refurbishing’.  I was extremely helpful throughout all this time (it took them 18 months, for goodness sake) and I taught them an awful lot about digging and how to look under floorboards convincingly, like here…

They’re now very happy with what they’ve done and we now have some friendly dogs who bring their humans to stay in the Victorian Wing of the farmhouse for holidays.  I’m not exactly sure what a Victorian Wing is, but it’s the part of the farmhouse that Mother and I are not allowed to go in and it has its own front door, a huge fireplace, an enormous sofa and some really comfy beds upstairs. I’m not sure why we can’t go in there – perhaps because sometimes holiday humans come here without dogs, which my humans think is perfectly acceptable.  Baffling!

This is to be my own personal blog

I’ve decided that I’m going to write a few words on this website about what really goes on here at Stockham Farm and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it.  I imagine I’ll have to mention Mother a bit, and the horses and humans too. They’re really keen that I talk about their new project – they’re starting to ‘renovate’ the Piggery here.  I’m OK about this as it’ll be nice to have more holiday dogs and humans here, but at the moment I’m pretending to be cross as they’re doing a lot of standing around and talking – but without tea and biscuits and without much looking under floorboards yet.  Anyway, I think they’ll have to get a bit busier because I’m hoping we’ll have holiday dogs and humans here in January!

Thanks for reading – off to claim my spot in front of the Aga and put some pictures on my Instagram page: Ralph, Exmoor Jack Russell