The snail!

11 May 2014

Or it might have been a slug! 

If you are a regular reader of this little blog, you may realise that I spend a lot of time at my 'home from home' which is near my place of work. (I don't live close enough to work to commute).

You may also know that I will soon be leaving this place, very soon now in fact, but Daughter No 1did  manage a couple of days with me last week in a manic session of finishing off pieces for her final project for her illustration degree.

It was hard work, we worked solidly for two days but I am glad to say that the end of it we had something to show for our work. She is making a series of dolls and hanging panels, the topic being how certain dog breeds are seen as dangerous dogs, where as in fact it is more the individual dog and in many cases the way that dog has been treated, rather than the breed itself. 

Over here in the UK the Staffordshire bull terrier doesn't have a particularly good reputation at the present time – there have been a number of cases in the press where Staffie  type dogs have attacked children etc – and if you go to dog rescue places you'll find that the majority of dogs seeking rehoming are Staffordshire's or Staffie crosses.  In the States it's the poor old Pit Bull. (Actually here in the UK, the pit bull terrier is not even an allowed breed. A Pit Bull terrier,no matter what the character is of the dog, if taken into a rehoming centre or picked up by the police etc will be destroyed as a matter of course.)

Now, I'm not going to go into the rights and wrongs of either this policy, or indeed the reputation of the Staffordshire bull terrier. (My own dog is a Staffie X Whippet, also affectionately known as Asbo dog, because he 'struggles' when he meets other dogs when he's out on a walk. Something happened in his past life. We don't know what, but we think he was probably attacked by another dog and his instinct is to attack first rather than be attacked. This is not acceptable behaviour so I have to be very careful when walking him, but in other ways he is the most affectionate and loving dog)

Anyway, daughter has been exploring the facts that historically both Staffies and Pit Bulls, which I understand were bred from Staffordshire dogs imported into the United States sometime in the later 1800s, originally had the reputation as being very good with children and were sometimes affectionately known as 'nanny dogs'. 

So her final piece has explored all the images of these breeds with children and also dolls, a signature pieces really, of dogs etc.

All of which has nothing to do with snails or slugs!

Bear with!

Now much as I love my home from home, because after all that is what it is and I have been staying here for five years, the house itself is very damp! I don't think that it has much by way of foundations, being a very old house probably dating from about 1840 and probably starting out as a fairly modest workers cottage, and it certainly doesn't have a damp proof course. Consequently, on the ground floor there is a continual problem of moisture wicking up the walls and into the solid floor slab. Now actually you can live with this, it's not ideal and we have had a few issues with the electrics, but in the grand scheme of things its okay. 

However it also means that we seem to share the house with squatters, of the snail or slug variety. I am vague about this because you never see the little blighters - all you see in the morning are the trails of dried slime where they have crawled around, usually on the carpet in the dining room but sometimes on the kitchen floor, and sometimes at the kitchen walls. 

Once, I did find a snail attached to the kitchen ceiling! He clearly climbed up the wall and decided that if he tucked himself over the top of the cupboard I might not notice!

I did! 

He went to join his friends in the garden! 

 (I do know that there are some people who are in the 'stamp on them' camp. I'm not one of those people. I'm not a fan of snails, particularly the enormous ones that decimate anything juicy in the garden, but everything has its place. I will collect them and I have been known to put them in a bucket and take them a considerable distance away from said garden or vegetable patch and liberate them.) 

Anyway, back to my tale.

We were making some panels which required paint applied onto canvas with little stitched pieces mounted on the top of the panels. We were preparing one of the final panels and had applied the paint to the canvas, had placed the little stitched pieces ready for mounting, but decided to leave everything out overnight to finish off first thing in the morning. This was partly to allow the paint to dry, and partly because it was getting very late.

Big mistake!

We came down in the morning to find that one of the squatters has decided to go walkabout all over the worksurfaces. There was a snail trail across some of the components of this final piece. It is not easy to get snail trail off painted calico or fabric that has been printed through an ordinary photocopier. 

In fact, it ruins the little printed piece that we had printed out onto organza which had been treated to run through photocopier. 

Much stress! Much anguish! Much gnashing of teeth and ringing of hands!

We did finally manage to redeem the piece, but that didn't involve preparing some alternative smaller stitched pieces to mount. It took us much longer than it should have done and it meant that we were really up against time on that final morning. But in the end things are okay and we managed to get the panels finished.

And the mould of this tale? If you live in a damp house, and particularly if you know that there are snails and slugs That's come out tonight and party, then don't leave any precious items on any surfaces that they might be able to call over. Snail trail is not easy to shift from delicate or non waterproof items. 

Right, I'm off now to really pack some boxes because it looks like the move to the new place is going to happen this week. I'll report back with more news.


  1. Oh goodness, I hope your new place won't have all those extra 'guests'. Interesting about the Staffordshires. It's too bad they are getting such a bad reputation but if it's like the pit bulls over here, they have definitely fallen out of favour. It's a shame.

    1. In the course of this project Emily has found some amazing Pitties on thw web. There is Lily, a 3 legged pit bull, who is just a wonder dog, and another dog with only 2 legs called Fifty - 2 his legs were destroyed when he was shot at simply for being a pittie

  2. Oh I am so pleased you managed to pull it all off in the end. Those pesky things are everywhere and I just hate them. My toes curl up at the sight of them, partly because as a child I was tormented with them. And you are quite right about the bad name some dogs get. It is not the dog but the person at the other end of the lead. Good luck to your daughter I'm sure after all that effort it will be rewarded.

    1. Thanks Annette. It was a challenge and tested all my nerves I can tell you.

      Btw sorry about typos in the story, which I've just noticed on reading back. Predictive text that I missed!!

  3. Maybe you've discovered a new material - bottle it and sell it! ;-)

    Hope your daughter's project goes well!


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