Friday 20 November 2015

Work placement at H&H

We were delighted to have Emily, an A-Level student, join us for a week of work experience recently. Here's what she had to say about her time at Hubble & Hattie ...

"To say I was nervous on the long walk here on Monday morning would be an understatement. I was anxious to meet everyone at Hubble & Hattie for if I didn't fit in or the team didn't like me, and I also didn't want this experience to change my mind about my plans to make a career in publishing. After spending a week with the production team, I can now say that this is something I definitely want to do.

"Once I had spent a good five minutes trying to find the building itself, I arrived to a warm welcome from Kim. She immediately went and made us a cup of tea — something I don't think I've stopped drinking all week — and then gave me a tour of the building and introduced me to the friendly team. 

"Throughout my time here, I have been given an insight into exactly what goes on within a publishing house, everything from author submissions to proofreading the final draft for printing. The amount of time and effort that goes into producing a book of H&H's standards, the endless checks back and forth between editor and author, still baffles me. I don't know how the team managed without the VCR, which happens to hold every piece of information you would ever need about every book Veloce and Hubble & Hattie has published. 

"I was shown how detailed the editing process is, from copy editing to line editing, as well as how the layout and the image resolution can either make or break your book. I learnt how to keep track of the accounts, how marketing through different companies, advertisements and social media expands the popularity of books, as well as how each book is packaged and sent to customers from the warehouse. I also managed to see how chaotic things become when a delivery turns up a day early!

"The team at H&H are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have met, as they made me feel welcome within their workplace and were almost always joking around about something or other. A huge thank you to Kim who has looked after me during my time here, and always made sure that I had something to learn or do, other than just drinking tea! Another big thank you to Rod and Jude for allowing me to come to Veloce and experience the business first hand, and thank you to the rest of the team who gave me their time and showed me exactly what they all do.

"Despite my original worries, Hubble & Hattie has not put me off from getting my degree and becoming an editor; if anything it has confirmed it for me. It feels like I have been here for a lot longer than five days, and I wish that I could restart the week and do it all over again, and not go back to school!"

Thanks again to Emily for joining us, we're glad you had a great time and wish you luck for your future in publishing! 

Friday 13 November 2015

A day in the life of ...

... a KAR Rescue Centre Volunteer

High in the Besparmak Mountains of Northern Cyprus, is Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It's a rescue centre very dear to H&H Publisher, Jude, as it's where she met and adopted Immie, the resident H&H hound, 14 years ago. The centre is run for the most part by hard-working volunteers, and we would like to take a moment to salute these dedicated people who make the lives of Northern Cyprus' stray dogs and cats a lot brighter.
Over the next few months, we'll be getting to know some of these volunteers as they take us through a typical day working with the animals in their care. In this instalment, we're joining Caroline as she gets cooking ...

"Up at 6.00am – an early start. A hasty snack for breakfast before I pack my bag with the requisite items: sandwich for lunch, water and a pair of appropriate shoes. It looks as if, yet again, it will be hot. Very hot. I swap my small bottle of water for a larger one that has been in the freezer.

"I join two of the team who live nearby, and we pile into the car, heading through the early morning traffic to Girne, all of us chuntering about the state of the roads. We manage to negotiate the worst of the traffic and roadworks, and join more of our fellow workers at the KAR van. A well-worn but trusty vehicle, it stands high off the ground, and we short ladies with a larger waistline have a bit of an undignified scramble to climb in the front. Those who can’t fit next to the driver sit on old cushions on the floor in the rear for the trip up to the Arapkoy Centre. In all there are six of us today.

"The combined choir of three hundred-plus dogs in the compounds greets our arrival. The cats yawn, stretch and peer sleepily out of their beds and boxes. On this particular morning, there are no animals abandoned at the top of the track leading to the Centre – an all too common occurrence. The team are allocated specific tasks, and today I am on ‘The House’ – responsible for the animals staying in the main building (two puppies and two adult dogs), cleaning up the kitchens, loo and prep rooms, cooking a vast amount of pasta, and subsequently feeding the fourteen dogs in the adjacent compounds. A busy day lies ahead ...
"KAR depends solely on the donations of the public, its voluntary workers and the kindness of a variety of benefactors to keep it going.  Some hotels kindly supply us with leftover food from their kitchens to help feed the animals – and the results can be fairly interesting. As we are slopping out today’s mush of bread, gravy and veg to feed the four dogs in the back room of The House, I come across a rather odd-shaped lump of flesh. I am wondering quite what this is when one of the lads informs me that it’s a sheep testicle.  We dig around in the slop (rubber gloves a must) and find several more, so we chuck them in a pan ready to cook later for the puppies. I casually mention that I shall have to chop them up into very small pieces, at which there is a concerted wince from the chaps. Concealing a smirk, I take the items out to be boiled and put on two huge vats of pasta to cook. 

"In the back rooms of our building we have treatment pens for small, sick animals, or those undergoing treatment. Larger dogs who need to be isolated are accommodated with their beds in the two rooms available. Today, I have two small Pointer pups in one of the pens – siblings who are being given preventative treatment for Parvo. A pretty Golden Spaniel and a black-and-tan Lurcher make up the remainder of the group.

"I set to with the poop scoop, mops and buckets to clear up the night’s detritus, cleaning out the pups and moving them into a fresh, clean pen with a plastic bottle to play with whilst I get their food ready. It is not a job for the squeamish, or those with a sensitive stomach! 
"The main office holds the Centre administrative functions, and is where we greet visitors. A different mop and bucket is hauled out (another load of pasta is put on to cook) and I dust, polish and mop to make the place look nice and tidy. Through the door, I can see my team-mates trundling their equipment around, hosing out the pens, filling bowls with fresh water, and making sure that any medication is administered. The ‘cat people’ move a group of cats out of their pen into the play area, and do the same.

"Next I clean the kitchen areas, and I decide to boil the testicles while I am working in there. The resultant pong is truly horrendous, and every fly in the neighbourhood drops in to see what this delicious concoction might be. I beat a hasty retreat, leaving the noisome mess bubbling on the stove whilst we break for coffee.  

"A family turns up with cans of dog food. They tour the pens and fuss the dogs, then bath two pups. One takes exception, making a bid to escape and causing mayhem as he runs around the yard with us in hot (literally) pursuit. The bath may not be popular, but the strokes and cuddles while being rubbed down and dried make it all worthwhile. 

"After lunch, another four packs of pasta are boiled up. The preparation room now holds dustbins full of food, and it is time to feed the dogs. Bowls (many well chewed) are filled and taken out. I stand in the pens that I am working on as the occupants eat to make sure that war doesn’t break out, also giving the animals some fuss – and a once over for ticks and fleas. Some dogs like to have their food placed up on top of their kennels, others cheerfully amble from dish to dish, sampling everyone else’s as well as their own. There is no animosity; everyone gets enough to eat. The bowls are washed up and the residue of gravy, bread and vegetables cleaned off the prep room floor. Empty food bins are hosed out and the testicles, now cooked and cooled, are chopped up and gleefully welcomed by the puppies as their second meal of the day. Yummy!

"I clean up behind the pups and dogs in the back room again, then head outside to watch a puppy out in the main run. She is racing round, nipping her mates and jumping on them. The others join in, and a mad five minutes of silliness ensue before they all suddenly collapse and go to sleep in the shade, piled up together in a furry heap.

"Last job – clean the loo so it’s fresh and nice for the staff and visitors the following day. The team have closed up the pens, made sure that the security cameras are on and the gates to the walks are locked. We have had people breaking in, vandalising the compounds and upsetting the animals. I put all my mops in water and disinfectant, then do a last-minute water bowl check, pat a head and rub a proffered tummy. 

"Back on the van, the return journey is a mirror image of the morning. As I get home, my own three dogs race around the corner of the house to greet me, three lucky little animals who all came to us from the Centre. I throw my clothes in for washing, shower and sit down to a peaceful evening. One dog hops up beside me on the settee and puts her nose on my knee. It has been a busy day – ten hours from end to end – but worth every moment for the pleasure of seeing vulnerable animals well cared for."

To learn more about the work of KAR and the animals in its care, visit the website.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

All God's Creatures – Ivor's Alsatian

Bryan Apps, author and illustrator of H&H eBook exclusive, All God's Creatures, shares a story from the book about a couple of regular church-goers who are a bit out of the ordinary ...

"... The Jeffery-Machins had no children, but they doted on their Alsatians. Tombstones in the vicarage garden marked the graves of their earlier pets, and each morning when Ivor met me in the Parish Church to say matins, his dog always accompanied him. She was allowed to wander around the empty church at will while we recited the psalms and canticles, and was always joined by a Golden Retriever, who somehow managed to arrive at the west door of the church at the same time as us. 

"I believe this other dog came up the High Street from the lower part of town, and must have negotiated numerous traffic lights along the way. The two dogs solemnly walked about the church together, obviously enjoying each other’s company, and never getting in the way or being a nuisance. 
"Occasionally, they would disappear behind the altar frontal, going in at one end and emerging from the other. I am sure that the Almighty was as pleased to welcome them as we were to enjoy their company. Afterwards, Ivor and his dog would part from me as we went our separate ways, and the fourth member of the company would happily trot off down the road to wherever he lived!"

For more great anecdotes from Rev Bryan Apps, check out H&H eBook, All God Creatures, available to download now. 

A delightful compilation of funny and touching real life anecdotes relating to animals and birds which have engaged Bryan’s interest throughout his life. They are set, in chronological order, within the framework of his work as an Anglican priest. More generally, the account touches upon the life of a parish priest in the course of a ministry which stretches over more than fifty years.  

The text is complemented by Bryan’s own drawings and sketches throughout.

For details on how to download your copy, visit the Hubble & Hattie website.

Friday 6 November 2015

A day in the life of ...

... A KAR Puppy Carer

High in the Besparmak Mountains, Cyprus, is Kyrenia Animal Rescue. It's a rescue centre very dear to H&H Publisher, Jude, as it's where she met and adopted Immie, the resident H&H hound, 14 years ago.
The centre is run for the most part by hard-working volunteers, and we would like to take a moment to salute those dedicated people who make the lives of Cyprus' stray dogs and cats a lot brighter.

Over the next few months, we'll be getting to know some of these volunteers as they take us through a typical day working with the animals in their care. This month, we're joining Puppy Carer Patricia as she goes about her day ...

"My day starts, not with the puppies, but with a little ritual involving Timmy, a dog who has been with us since 2009. Timmy can only be described as eccentric, and he likes to start his day with a plastic bottle in his mouth. So, on arrival, I have in my bag one plastic bottle to throw to Timmy to catch and run around with. My first job is completed and as you can see, Timmy is very happy with a bottle held firmly in his teeth!

"On to the puppies. This involves clearing poo – and lots of it! We have over 20 puppies in the older
puppy area, and it never fails to amaze me how so few puppies can produce so much poo overnight. We also have about 12-15 smaller puppies in ER7, and they, too, are very messy – on the floor, in their beds – they really are a mucky lot! So it is a quick hose-down to clear the floor ready for the puppies’ breakfast. I also make a quick check of the pups to make sure they are all okay and haven’t got into any scrapes overnight.

"The older pups have their breakfast first. Balancing 15 large bowls of food with 20+ pups jostling for position is no mean feat. I have never yet gone flying, but there’s always a first time. The food is demolished in less than a minute and then I feed the pups in ER7. They too polish off their breakfast quickly and all the bowls/trays are cleared.

"Next is a more thorough clean of the puppy areas. The floors are disinfected and the beds cleared of
dirty bedding and cleaned. If any pups are in cages, they are moved into a clean one while I clean the dirty ones. The puppies' drinking water is also replaced.

"This all sounds quite straightforward, and would be, except for one thing ... The puppies! They like to help – or rather, they like to get in the way. They particularly like to chew the hose if it is laid on the floor for a second, and the floor scraper is one big game to some of them.

"Here I am being supervised by two of the older pups. So, where are the others? Well, they have taken a shine to the person taking the photo, and are trying to swing on the camera strap – and anything else they can get hold of!! It’s a pity I didn’t have a camera as well!

"Now, this is what they are usually like – all clamouring for a bit of love and attention. All they really want is a loving home and someone to take good care of them.

"By now it's around 10am, and time for a quick tea break. A holidaying family have arrived and are
taking some dogs for a walk. Sid and Salt from Pine Walk have just been out and now it’s the turn of Mitch, Cecille and Missy in ER3. "My next job is to clean the ER block, which consists of six kennels. The ER block holds smaller dogs and others than are recovering from illness or injury. Again, the floors and beds are cleaned and the drinking water changed.

"One of the residents of ER block is Beedy, a Cyprus terrier who was already at the centre when I first started back in 2008. Beedy was a bit of an ankle-biter all those years ago, but he's a bit more sedate these days, probably because he doesn’t have too many teeth left!

"On to the Sandpit  – so named because that's what was there before the kennel was built. The
residents here are two sets of sisters – Ellis and Elena, and Emmy and Elisa. "As I walk towards the Sandpit, the other nearby dogs start barking, because they know what is going to happen next. Ellis is an escape artist and always tries to get through the gate as I open it. She doesn’t always succeed the first time, but she then just waits until I go back out again, and this time she is always too quick for me. She charges up the lane and back again, and then, because it’s too hot, waits for me to pick her up and put her back in.

"A quick clear-up near Shannon, a grey terrier who lives under the tree, and then it’s off to the
Cornerhouse. "The current residents are a French Bulldog who was abandoned at the centre, Cinders, a little white & tan dog, and a small black sausage dog who has a skin condition. Cinders and the sausage dog are both very friendly, and they just love to be picked up and made a fuss of. The French Bulldog is rather sad ... probably wondering why his owner didn’t want him anymore and left him at the rescue centre.

"Another visitor has arrived and taken two compound dogs for a walk – Samson and Wotsit. He is
looking for a dog to home and takes a shine to Bindy – a small husky cross who has been with us since the end of 2013. He goes away to think about it and kindly leaves a generous donation. About 30 minutes later he is back, having decided to take Bindy today. What excellent news! After the new owner has gone through the homing paperwork with Joanna, it’s time to say Goodbye to Bindy – she is such a lucky girl! "It is getting near to lunchtime, so I go back to the puppy area for another clear-up before the afternoon feed. I give the puppies clear instructions: no more pooing before dinner. Do they listen? No, they do not!

"Before I stop for lunch, it’s time for a cuddle with the smaller puppies in ER7 and as you can see, they all clamber for their turn to be picked up!

"After a quick bite to eat, I like to take a walk round the compounds and say hello to all the dogs. It’s
become part of my routine. The same dogs wait for me every time I go around – Mini, Galaxy, Gloria, and Geri, plus about 100 others! Some are not so interested in my visit, they look up, think to themselves “Oh, it’s her again,” and go back to sleep.

"By now it’s 2 o’clock and time for the afternoon feeds. The larger puppies are first to be fed, followed by the pups in ER7. If any pups do not eat or are too slow I take them inside and give them a separate feed.

"The dogs in ER block are fed next, followed by the Sandpit (Ellis doesn’t try to escape this time!) and then the Cornerhouse. Afterwards all the feeding bowls are collected and taken inside for washing.

"My last job of the day is, yes you’ve guessed it, clearing up poo. A final scrub of the floors, clean
bedding is put down and the water bowls are topped up. The puppies are still trying to help, some of them particularly like to catch the water from the hose! Finally, they start to settle down for the night and curl up in their beds. So it’s 'goodnight, puppies,' from me, and see you next Sunday. Time to go home and have a much needed shower!"

To learn more about the work of KAR and the animals in its care, visit the website.