Goa – Love, and a bit with a dog

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Well, I had promised, hadn’t I? Beautiful Goa, alas, provided the proof that you can take all of the preventative steps you like when you take your children away, but it is always the unlikely that will get you in the end.

We arrived in Goa on (yet another) night train, ready for four nights of relaxation at the fabulous Casa Susegad. Susegad, it turns out, means lazy or idle in Goan, and we were planning on being exactly that.

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I can’t think of a better place to do that in. Goa is glorious and, despite the rainy season we didn’t see a drop of the stuff. The Casa, an elegantly restored Indo-Portuguese mansion house owned by a couple from Birmingham had everything we love. Swimming pool, great food, gin and tonic and, of course, cats and dogs for the girls to play with.

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Clover has always been wary around dogs, but decided that the dogs at the Casa were her best friends. Norman, the lovely owner, explained to her how to treat them well. They are pets, quite used to children, and were happy to receive her strokes and cuddles. We all relaxed, until the evening on which Clover wandered off to give one of her new best friends a stroke.

How to describe what happened next? We can only assume that the dog, surprised in the dark, thought he was being attacked. Clover’s screams were horrendous, and by the time Paul got to her (rather more quickly than I did), the dog had fled, and Clover was bleeding from a huge gash in her forehead and a smaller one near her eye.

My poor baby is, perhaps, the bravest girl I’ve ever met. I am so grateful that Norman knew a good local hospital that we could get her to immediately, but I can assure you that you never feel as far from home as when you’re watching your six-year-old daughter being examined in a hospital you don’t know and they are discussing whether she needs a general anaesthetic.

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She didn’t, thank goodness. Instead Clover had six stitches using a local anaesthetic (lots of injections in her poor head) and one (just by her eye) with no anaesthetic at all. She was a star. Together with the ever-present Monkey, and her tablet computer, which she was showing to all of the nurses, she made such an impression that the doctor wanted her to go on a playdate with his nephew. By the time we returned home to a shaken Paul and Daisy she was less traumatised than either me or Norman, and had garnered enough chocolate to last her for weeks.

A few weeks on (and yes, I am late writing this blog) and we are delighted to report that Clover has healed beautifully and is unlikely to even have a visible scar to show for her adventure. We’re so grateful to all involved in getting her prompt medical attention. She’s also not nervous around dogs – the first thing she wanted to do the next day was tell the dog who bit her that she wasn’t cross. Apparently she can “tell he was sorry”.

We didn’t let Clover’s adventure ruin our next few days – though she was annoyed not to be able to put her head under in the swimming pool. We took a trip down to the fabulous beach and played in the sand and surf the next day (making sure not to wet Clover’s bandage), and enjoyed the extraordinary hospitality that we were offered. Clover and Daisy, by then, were ready to adopt Norman as an extra Granddad, and we were incredibly sad to leave on the final night train to Mumbai.

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I didn’t think we’d like Goa – it has such a reputation for parties and we were expecting it to chuck down with rain – but it was instantly charming. We’ll be back (but we might keep Clover away from her four-legged friends next time). It was only the promise of meeting Grandma and Granddad at our next destination – Bangkok – that made it possible to tear the children away.

All’s well that ends well, as they say…

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