Off the Cuff: Lois Nicholls

My first childhood dog, Cindy, was a rather rotund pooch of dubious breed. At odds with her wide girth, she loved nothing more than digging up carrots from our veggie patch and munching them dirt and all. I preferred fresh peas which meant my mum never really managed to harvest enough for our family of five. I’d spend hours hanging out in the same veggie patch making up stories while playing with ants in the dirt. I loved writing from a young age and later became a journalist in the magazine and newspaper industries. Later still, I wrote a book called Aussie, Actually about my experience as a migrant to Australia. 

Making our young family’s transition that much easier was the addition of a beautiful Golden Retriever called Tarna. It seemed fitting that she featured in What Dog is THAT? She lives on in the pages.

There are many other real dogs, past and present featured in the rhyming verses. I met many of them on my daily neighbourhood walks and each time I was struck by the unique traits of each breed.

"What Dog is THAT?" I’d find myself asking. Fortunately, my artist daughter, Lara, is as besotted as I am with pooches both big and small, so she embraced painting the pooches while I wrote the rhymes. And so, What Dog is THAT? was born.

An ode if you like, to all the dogs we’ve loved before. 

My secret pleasure is ... not so secret but dark chocolate Lindt balls.

My first job was ... in the accounts department of the Pietermaritzburg licensing department. I still don’t know what I was meant to be doing.

My most annoying habits are ... being easily sidetracked.  

A clear childhood memory is ... exploring rock pools at Mbotyi on South Africa’s Wild Coast.

What makes me really nervous is ... public speaking.

The best advice my parents gave me was ... 'you can do better' & 'keep your eyes on the road.'

If I wasn't a writer, I'd be … the owner of a smallholding-cum-bnb growing veggies and adopting strays.

I'm most thankful for ... my family.

My favorite meal is ... roast chicken, gravy, pumpkin, broccoli, roast potatoes, and cauliflower cheese. And a good curry.

I know it's good for me, but I hate ... applying sunscreen.

A book I love is ... Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Most memorable is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

A song that resonates is ... What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong.

My 'happy place' is ... walking in the countryside or along an endless, vacant beach.

My most embarrassing memory is ... tripping over a satchel in front of the 'cool boys' at school.

My hidden skill is … juggling with three balls.

If I was a dog, I'd be a … Border Collie living on a farm herding sheep all day. What’s not to love?

It's a bit corny but I love … The Sound of Music.  

I'm most at peace when ... having dinner with my family.

A country I'd love to visit … Canada

Favourite quote … ‘The greatest wealth is to be content with little.’Plato

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