Move up north helps Tim write new set of dog tales

Mortimer Fish Goes North illustrator Kate Simpson and author Tim Stafford with his pet dog Worm.
Mortimer Fish Goes North illustrator Kate Simpson and author Tim Stafford with his pet dog Worm.

A NORTHUMBERLAND farmer has written another light-hearted book about canine capers based on his unconventional rural life.

After selling almost all of the 2,200 copies of The Journal of Mortimer Fish, which followed the adventures and mishaps of a Jack Russell terrier through her tongue-in-cheek ‘diary’, Tim Stafford has now written a sequel.

Once again it is based on true events and there was no shortage of material for Mortimer Fish Goes North, seen through the eyes of her son, Worm. It picks up the story shortly before they move up north from Dorset with their ‘mad but harmless’ master, called Him, to live on the family farm near Hartburn and continues until Mortimer Fish dies.

As well as their own activities and those of their companions in the house and a few other interesting animals in the area, the entries include details of the domestic chaos Tim caused as he pursued schemes that included creating a croquet lawn and dog-proof poultry pens and his passions for horses, parties and flying helicopters.

The 70-year-old, who has two sons and five grandchildren and is married to Sid, said: “Many of the people who read the first book said I should write a sequel and when I looked back at what had happened during the move to Northumberland, as well as the months beforehand and afterwards, it wasn’t too difficult to put it together.

“There were quite a few notable and hilarious incidents and many things went wrong, and of course, Worm witnessed them all.

“He got into a few scrapes and his mother got into more trouble than her son, but they’re both fantastic dogs and they have given me so much joy.

“The book is a light-hearted, humorous account of life with a funny elderly land agent, although it also shows how scary it can be for your pet when they move to another part of the country. They are in a completely alien environment and in those first few weeks, I was a bit fearful that Worm would run off somewhere and not return.

“I love living in Northumberland – it’s a glorious piece of the country. We’re terribly lucky to be where we are and there are some fantastic walks, horse riding routes and fishing spots in the local area.”

The illustrations in the book are by Longhorsley artist Kate Simpson. Tim saw a poster advertising her commissioning work at the Pegasus Centre in Tranwell and after giving her some photographs to work from, he was very impressed with her drawings.

The 22-year-old, who recently staged an exhibition of her watercolour paintings at Morpeth Town Hall, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to do the illustrations.

“Dog owners will relate to much of what happens in the book, particularly if, like me, they have a Jack Russell terrier.”

During his career, Tim was a land agent at Wallington between 1976 and 1983.

He moved to Dorset in 1993 and he was given Mortimer Fish as ‘occupational therapy’ by his groom Kate following the death of his then wife. He returned to live in Northumberland at the farm in 2006.

Mortimer Fish Goes North, priced £8.95, can be purchased at Appleby’s Bookshop and Waterstones in Morpeth. Copies of both books are available from Powdene Publicity, call 0191 2650040, or Tim – email