Sunday 30 September 2007

Challock 6 Miler

Twice each year, Dad leads a 6 mile guided walk through Challock Forest, and today's one such day. Meggie, the old girl, at 11, is now a bit weary for a 6 mile one (hour and a half is about her limit now) so we have to leave her behind, but Dad, being a daft old brush, wants to spare her feelings, so concocts a plan to get us 2 away without the obvious "Come on - collars on, No, Not you this time Meggie".

So he races with Meg to the bottom of the garden where he knows she'll be absorbed for a few minutes sniffing for rats in the log piles and other heaps of garden paraphernalia. He hot-foots it back up to the house, quietly lifts our collars out of the basket while she's out of ear-shot, and takes them round to the car. As each of us appear at the side of the house we are quietly abducted, put in the car and collared up. Then when Meg eventually strolls back up he says "On the bed". She sits there obediently to receive her 2 sweeties (maybe wondering where we are but, knowing Meg, not).

He then sneaks out the front door and we're free. See - barking! Had he explained - this is a 6 miler, do you really want to come, I suspect she'd have headed for the bed anyway. It was Sunday morning after all, and a girl likes her rest.

The forest was brilliant. We went right to the far corners where we never normally get - the big new pond, the North Downs Way, the big old badger sett, the Yew Avenue, everywhere. We were exhausted, and we've been napping ever since.

Dad headed for the allotment to pick the borlotti beans for drying to dig carrots, parsnips, beet and salsify (no we don't know what to do with it either - it's a pre-parsip root ver eaten in Roman times but we'll have to google how to cook it!) and to clear the bean ground ready for the autumn planting of garlic. Everyone was up there digging, rotovating, clearing and bonfiring after the recent onset of autumn and a bit of rain to soften the digging and make the weeds pull easily.

Hope you're enjoying your weekends


Friday 28 September 2007


Felix, it turns out, has a bit of an infection, to go with his being 104 years old and having rubbish teeth. Nice Italian vet-lady looked him all over, took his temperature, and then shot him full of pain killers and anti-biotics. Poor cat - got a 2 week jab, and no tablets

Megan has long since persuaded Dad that the best way to give her her daily Cushings tablet (Vetoryl), is wrapped in a neat mini-ravioli "cushion" of either the cheese or ham with which he is filling his packed lunch sarnies, or buried in a tea-spoon full of cat food. House rules being what they are, of course, treat for one dog means treat for all dogs, so we (naturally) have to also have a piece of the afore-said cheese or ham. 2 week jab! Hah! Never was a very bright cat.

It's the weekend. Enjoy it

Thursday 27 September 2007


There's no denying it now. A chilly NW breeze is whipping in at us across the Thames estuary bringing with it dark, rain-heavy clouds. Walks are taken as a dodge between showers, and humans are wearing coats and keeping an eye on the sky.

None the less, we are re-acquainting with all the old walks after our camping and narrow-boat breaks - the Rec, the Cemetery, the Iron Wharf and the boat yard. Yesterday we saw that our old chum S.B. Greta has come "home" to her usual winter residence, after her summer running trips from Whitstable fishing harbour. Soon she will be de-rigged ready for her winter maintenance. We will be able to see ship's dog "Alfie" regularly

Tonight though, Felix is off to the vets. He is sneezing regularly and has been, off and on, for what seems like about a month. More on than off. He may just have a cold, but Mum and Dad are worried that this may be related to a fight we think he's had, when one day he came back with a bit of blood in his eye, or to being grabbed on the nose one time by Asbo. Perhaps it has damaged the inside of his nose, and this is irritating him. But he's a tall, rangey, tough-talking dude, and he never complains. I'll keep you posted


Monday 24 September 2007

Balloon Killer

I promised to tell all about the Balloon Killer in our midst. This tale starts with Megan as a younger dog, taken to an early 2CV camp, long before I was born. The camp happened to be the 10th birthday camp of the local group of 2CVGB (google "2CVGB") centred around Lewes and called (for no accountable reason) the "French Ticklers". The camps were held at the Laughton Showground near Lewes (county town of Sussex) in June, and were called "Strawberry Camps" because the convoy each year was to a PYO strawberry farm

This year, being the 10th birthday, the organisers had organised a hog-roast and then an evening entertainment in a big party-tent which involved giving to all present a red, white or blue balloon. Everyone had stuffed out on the pork, and all the dogs at the camp had been making like Henry VIII's time, wandering about below the spit as it was carved, stuffing out on bits of crackling and over-done pork that were carved and dropped.

Then the people started blowing up balloons, at which point Megan seemed to lose all reason. She danced about below anyone blowing a balloon up, bouncing and barking. The balloons, once released , she had to chase after, trying to bite them into submission, loving the "Bang!" they made, then waiting for the next one. Haggis, apparently was also swept up in the excitement, but did not know why, so he just charged about following Meggie, and barking, but never killed a balloon (it was the same with rats when "we" had chickens)

The people all thought this was great fun, and adopted Meg as part of the cabaret, deliberately blowing up balloons for her, and then trying to keep them aloft by kicking and flicking with hands, till eventually she'd get them and kill them. Eventually the balloons ran out, she tired and sloped off to Dad's tent, to curl up on the sleeping bag.

BUT - the combination of over-excited dog and belly full of bolted pork bits took its inevitable course and when Dad eventually headed for the tent, torch in hand, he found Megan asleep but looking green, and in the middle of the sleeping bag a neat but big pile of doggie chunder. Hmmm... Might sleep under a blanket tonight!

Megan has been doing the balloon killer cabaret act ever since (2CV people don't forget a good act easily) but nowadays we don't fill her with pork roast first.

Hence my pics in yesterday's blog - 3 dogs dancing to try to get a balloon in mid flight. Megan is now teaching me the ropes and I am hoping to join her act when I get my Equity card


Sunday 23 September 2007


Some more camping shots. Here we have "the balloon killer westie game" of which more later , a rather artistic one of my shadow on a 2CV door in the low early morning sun. Dad was just drinking his early morning coffee and he spotted the shape just to his right; and one of Haggis and I chilling inside the tent. I am on a restraining order here (=lead) so it must be a meal time, and there are people eating around the site. Also, why does Haggis get the inflatable bed and I'm on a scrunched up doggie towel.
The rather smart Setter is a young handsome man called Murphy who took a shine to me (as I did to him). He promised to take me shopping in the "antiquities quarter" but as you can see from the pic, he just meant we'd check out the prices in the 2CV spares corner. Holiday romances? My Dad warned me about them. Said he'd write... said he'd call. You know the rest, surely.
Balloon killing. I'll save that for tomorrow - it deserves a blog of it's own. We're all home now and crashed out at various corners of the house. Also, delight of delights, Mum comes home tonight from her week in the Greek Island of Poros, where she's been with Diamond. Tonight as in "midnight plus" though, so we're not allowed to stay up.

Saturday 22 September 2007

Five Horses

2CV camping again. September and we are still enjoying some decent weather. We dogs LOVE camping. We know as soon as we get to the field, what we're about, and we charge about, racing in circles and greeting all the old mates from previous camps. We dogs, now numbering 7 just kinda merge into one bigger pack, this time it is we three, plus collies Ben and Nellie, and then a brown mongrelly chap called Ben and a Staffie cross bitch called Scooter.

We know loads of people there too, so it's nice race about and meet them. They remember me, for some reson, as having dived under all the cars last time to cool off, and got my back smeared with sump oil. The whole site becomes our home and we are pretty much allowed to wander, except when there is cookery going on. Dad has this strange notion that we might patrol around scrounging "inappropriate" food (what ever that is) so we get restrained on leads while that's on, tied to the fence or a tent peg. Is that any way to treat a dog?

Bit of excitement this time is being allowed to meet the horses. This involved me (for some reason, Meg and the H left me to it) racing over to them at full speed, and then as their sheer height and size became apparent, skidding to a halt, bouncing a few times and then, whistling innocently, sidling up to them and sniffing their noses. Was thankful for the electric fence, as they loomed over me.

Talking of horses, oldest car at the camp, a 1924 CV5 in a smart shade of yellow. It is only just restored and put back on the road by club member JJ. So we all took Dad's 2CV round to JJ's house to provide back-up for him as he 35 mph'd from his house to the site. It was running well, so we did a couple of overtake, get ahead, stop and lep out with camera, to photo him in motion on the roads. CV5? It is fom the French - rated at 5 horse power by the French engineers in 1924, CV stands for "chevaux" (horses) in la Francais, the same way 2CV stands for "2 horses" (deux chevaux)

Coo, edumacatnial innit?

Deefer the Outdoors Girl

Thursday 20 September 2007

The Future....

Hi. Today finds me in contemplative mood, chewing the fat and wondering what to do with this blog. My original plan was to keep it going till my first birthday, giving it a chance to build up, if it did, a readership. I wondered whether that's how these things developed - a readership, comments, feedback etc. Well, obviously, for me, at least, that's not the case.

As of today the blog has had 554 "visits" and 1034 "page views" in it's life. First post was when I moved in with this family, on 18th November 2006. I'm not totally sure of the difference between a view and a visit - maybe it has something to do with clicking on/through the pages? Does anyone know?. This week there's been 17 visits and 39 views, which is about average - the average visit lasts 7.11 minutes, the average view 2.3 mins.
The viewers and visitors are from all around the world, which is quite exciting (a little dog loves to know that her stuff is being read from Malaya to Florida, and from West Coast USA to Poland)

I guess in all that time I've had about 20 comments, and those mainly from friends and family. All very nice and most welcome (Thanks Marko for yesterday); all positive and by people obviously enjoying the blog.

And it's great fun to do - we love taking and choosing the pictures, and posting them up, imagining people enjoying cute westie pics (it's very difficult to take a non-cute westie picture!) and (hopefully) finding the writing interesting and readable.

So, whether to continue or not - that is the question. What's weighing on me a bit is that it is all just disappearing into a void, unread and un-remarked upon. Best-Seller material, it is not. A waste of creative effort?

In truth, perhaps I'm just a bit frazzled this week, and don't want to post just so there's no gaps. Maybe the answer is to post when I have stuff to say, pictures to share, anecdotes or interesting stories to tell, and not to worry that I've not posted each day, if there's nothing special happening.

Ah well. On current form, this too, will go un commented upon, so the few out there who read this will find out whether do carry on, and the rest will not be troubled.

Deefer, with a touch of the Blues

Monday 17 September 2007

Birthday Party

Happy Birthday to meee
Happy Birthday to meee
Happy Birthday Dear Deefer
Happy Birthday to Me (and Ellie and Archie)

One Year old today, and we celebrate with a joint walk at Leybourne Lakes in Maidstone, which is a venue big enough to cope with 6 mad charging westies and still allow space for a few walkers and cyclists. Once we'd caused enough chaos there we adjourned back to First Dad's (the place of my birth) for a romp about in the house and garden, and for the humans to eat.)
My pics are of , variously
1) Me with birthday present chew-toy (I also got 2 cards)
2) We 6 in the kitchen getting left over roast lamb - how to get the undivided attention of 6 westies, who are suddenly all on their best behaviour
3) Myself and brother / litter-mate, Archie. He was smallest when we were pups - now he's as big as Mollie and I'm still smaller than my Hector
4) Carpark shot, left to right - Me, Haggis, Hector's ears, Meggie, Archie and Mollie
5) In the lake. Meggie's the furthest in. I'm dancing around on the bank.
We had a whale of a time. When first released from the leads Archie dived straight into a patch of burr-dock and got covered, while the rest of made sure all water-birds were safely on the water (geese, ducks, swans, grebes, coots etc - some of them had leaked onto the land, which will never do.)
We charged around the lake, all well behaved much to everyone's amazement and Archie and me fell in love all over again. Just wish he'd keep it "brotherly" - gets a bit over excited that boy! Most of us managed to stay out of the goose-poo, didn't we Arch'. Dad says getting pics of all 6 was a bit o a mare because dogs were heading in all directions, hence the cop-out ones in the carpark on leads.
Back at the house we carried on chasing each other about, and I rediscovered the hidey hole under the easy chair which we all used as pups, but now only I can fit in. Handy to escape from too much attention. Everyone much amused by me fussing up to real-Mum Mollie, trying to get under her, upside down so she could lick my belly. Very odd, they all said, It's a dog thing, Mum and Daughter
By home time we were all, like the best endings to childrens' party stories, exhausted and 2 minutes into the car journey home we are all flaked out on the back seat of the car.
Happy Birthday Archie
Happy Birthday Ellie - shame you couldn't make it.
Thanks fior the cards and the present
Deefer zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sunday 16 September 2007

2CV to Reculver

Another gorgeous sunny blue skies day, but with a breeze getting up. Everyone is talking like this could be the end of the hot spell that luckliy saw us all through our boating in Yorkshire. Especially at the allotments, where Dad is lifting spuds this afternoon (some very nice Desiree) and everyone passing is saying things like "Yes - I need to get mine dug too before it rains....."

Dad fires up the 2CV. Poor "Clara" has been feeling a bit left out lately. While we've had the new car plus the old (company car) Picasso, the drive's been a bit loaded down, and the poor 2CV, at the back, is always the most blocked in and hardest to dig out, so she's got a bit neglected since August. Now, though, the Picasso is gone and we are back to a sensible number of vehicles.

We have a blast out to Reculver, where the tide is far far out, so we dogs can scramble down onto the beach and have a chase about among the sand bars and cockle beds, racing through the shallow water and getting soaked by kicked up spray. In Megan's case, this is not so much chasing about as trotting along contentedly behind the rest of us, but all three dogs get well soaked in sea water up to their plimsoll lines.

We look manky, but Dad thoroughly approves - he knows that the sea water is great for getting rid of old mud and canal water, and that once we've dried off in the sun and wind on our walk back to the car along Reculver's sea wall, we will be whiter than white among the "furnishings". A quick brush out back home, and it'll be better than if we'd all had a shampoo. And all nicely in time for my Birthday (did I mention that? - It's tomorrow. I am 1 Year Old)


Saturday 15 September 2007

Keeping the Faith

We couldn't resist one more narrow-boat related blog, nor the photo's that came with it. An interior of the galley area, looking for'd through the 2 "double bedrooms" to the bow doors and the foredeck. Mum did most of the cooking - and it was proper cooking - roast joints, risotto, bolognese, lamb chops, even pigeon breasts. No messin' about with microwave ovens and ready meals. We dogs mostly ate on the aft deck.
A picture, too of the scenic "Old Royd Lock" from our overnight mooring (and the scene of Em-J's life-jacket exploding inundation). And finally one of the boat moored outside Sainsburys at Brighouse (hence the blog title, but if you don't know us it'll mean nothing).
It truly was a best holiday ever, and the humans have been talking about doing it again but with a different chunk of canal.Maybe the Rochdale canal again but from the West (Lancashire) side up to the summit and over at least as far as lock 25, linking up with where we had to stop this time. We met one group who had done the whole northern loop - Burnley to Sowerby Bridge via Leeds (93 miles, 86 locks and approx 50 hours of sailing). Coming back up through Salterhebble, though, they looked all in; exhausted; like a group who had perhaps bitten off more than they wanted to chew. One of the ladies, at least said she'd had enough after one day, but then had started to get stuck in with a kind of dull inevitablity.
We toyed briefly with the idea but decided that with 2 young children who are not interested in purely and only sailing (and who would be?) we'd be better off doing a leisurely one again with stop offs. Mum is, anyway, an English Literature buff and was spitting anyway to be that close to Haworth and not be able to go see.
But now we're all home again and the joys of home, garden and the local town walks are once again our thing. It's Ellie's, Archie's and my birthday on Monday (did I mention that?), so we've been trying to organise a joint walk with all 7 dogs (Meg, the H, Mollie and Hector of course) as a celebration. If it happens, we'll keep you posted with some 7-dog photo's. Should be a blast
Meanwhile, carry on enjoying your weekend

Friday 14 September 2007


Foiled in our attempt on the summit, we are now heading downstream, and with a few days now spare, we decide to go down beyond Sowerby Bridge to try out the bits of the "navigation" that are, in fact, the River Calder
In forward gear again we slot back into the deliciously relaxing routine, and chug back down through Hebden Bridge (where we take on water and lose bagged up rubbish), and Sowerby Bridge (where the nice staff at Shire Cruisers replace Em-J's exploded life jacket with a non-inflated one; easier to wear for little Em-J). Then on through Copley and the lovely scenic Salterhebble, where we stop for the night
Mum and Dad have brought with them the bat-detector box , and the Silverwoods are fascinated to stand this on the bow of the boat in the dark, and then marry the squarks, burps, pitter-pats and farts of the box, to the bats we can see zooming round the basin, curving, diving, loop-th-looping and racing in (mating?) pairs. At least some of these, say Mum and Dad, might be Daubentons (we can tell by the frequency). They are certainly too big to be pipistrelles
Evenings are good for chilling out. We dogs are allowed to stroll the canal banks provided the humans are out and about, generally relaxing on the deck with a glass of nice Rioja. The girls have done blackberrying, and are now collecting berries, leaves, flowers and herby bits to make Harry Potter "potions" to cure bruising and mozzie bites (allegedly)
With morning we chug on down through Elland and Brookfoot to Brighouse, where we drop down into the River Calder. Here Dad decides to give the boat a bit more ooomph (realistically 4-5 mph rather than our normal 2!) and chogs up the throttle. We mustn't make a "breaking wake" in the rules, but it's nice to see the proper "V" of a bow-wave and the girls are hanging over the blunt bow watching the water rise. We are shepherded out of the Calder at a weir, through the "flood locks", and lunch (almost) under the M62 near Kirklees.
That's it, though for our downward run. Running out of days, we must turn round and head back up towards Sowerby Bridge, mooring overnight near the basin, so that we can bimble back in to hand the boat back for 09.30. Mum is convinced that all Yorkshire ladies are as fastidious cleaners as Diamond's aged aunt Ella, so she is determined to pre-blitz the boat before hand over.
That's pretty much it for my tale of our adventures on "Northumberland". All that was left was a diversion in the cars to the summit we had failed to reach on Wednesday. We drove there in 30 minutes (it took 3 days in the boat!), parked up and went for a walk about behind the "Summit" pub. Then we parted company with the Silverwoods; they off to Liverpool for a visit to Anfield (Mad keen 'Pool supporters all!) and a night in a hotel; we for the 4 hour drive home.
More tomorrow, as memories occur
Hope you've enjoyed my nautical tale.
I am One Year Old on Monday
Have a great weekend

Oh - the pics today
1) The River Calder below Brighouse, with the signposted right turn towards Sowerby Bridge
2) We loved this waterpoint at the Summit, labelled K9 and (naturally) housing a doggie water bowl
3) Another bottom-bunk escape hole
4) Keeping watch from the aft deck

Thursday 13 September 2007

No way up...

Weds 5th Sept afternoon and we are getting worrying reports from boaters and mountain bikers coming down the canal, that there is a nearly-dry section higher up which they doubt we'll get through without grounding. Dad and Em walk ahead with Haggis and myself, a few locks to take a look. Between lock 25 (Smithyholme) and 26 (Pinnel) we find the problem; a "pound" which is 2 feet down in level (brown drying canal banks) - not enough water coming in from above and either leaks or bad practise by lock users below have almost emptied it.
One of our sister-ships, the Warwick, is struggling down grinding along the bottom and churning mud with her propellor. We walk up one more lock to let a lock full down to help, and Warwick makes it, but she lets that lock full down with her (obviously).

We decide to try it. We chug up to lock 25 and open the top (head) gates but 60 yards into the pound and we hit ground. We retreat back through the lock and decide to abandon the summit. Shame, but there's plenty more canal below Sowerby Bridge to play in.
Problem. We now have a 56 foot boat pointing upstream and the canal is nomally only about 30 foot wide. The next turning round point ("winding point") is 5 locks back down, in Todmorden. These boats are beasts to steer when going backwards (steering mainly works by the propellor wash being diverted at an angle by the rudder; doesn't happen in reverse). So it is a tired gang of wranglers helping the boat back through the locks by walking the towpath beside the boat, keeping her near the path with ropes, or away with poles. It's 8pm and nearly dark by the time we finally turn round under the "Great Wall of Todmorden" and moor up to eat and sleep
By now we dogs are confident around the locks - my first view of the aft deck with the engine chugging below my feet and the deck rocking slightly was worse than the "scary bridge" at Home, but by now I'm nipping up and down the gang plank and trotting happily across the narrow walkways over the locks, or along the planking at the top of the lock gates.This confidence can occasionally lead to recklessness, and both Meg and the H have "near misses" when their front feet (or elbows and chests) are clinging to dry land, but their back legs get wet - haggis has one of those classic cartoon moments when his front end is on the bank and his back feet are on the deck, as the boat gradually drifts away from the bank. He doesn't want to jump as the deck is slippy steel, and he thinks he will be worse off. An anxious looking dog at the best of times, H's face is a picture, till Dad realises his predicament and rescues him
Em-J goes one better, slipping down the gap between boat and bank while blackberry-wrangling, so that her life jacket explodes into full inflation, her sister screams in alarm and Dad has to sprint down the side of the boat to haul her out - cold and wet, upset but not damaged.
My only proper contact with water is when I have rolled in some serious duck-poo and Dad dangles me in the lock to rinse me off. Meanie!
Downstream tomorrow
ps - Oh the pics! 2 of me sprinting round the edges of locks, one of the horridly dark and curvaceous Falling Royd Tunnel, near Mytholmroyd

Wednesday 12 September 2007

The Mission to the Summit

4 pics today -
1) We dogs chillin' in the sunshine at Stubbing Wharf pub on the way up
2) Yours truly keeping a rather professional lookout for dogs being walked on the towpath, as well as locks and boats coming the other way.
3) My little hidey hole on the un-used bottom bunk, when it all got a bit too much
4) scenic pic down near Luddenham Foot somewhere
The training day over and we have made a little ground that evening, mooring near Mytholmroyd. That give we dogs a chance to explore some playing fields and the River Calder (where it's still small enough to paddle in). In the slanting morning sun Dad wishes he'd taken his camera down to the river when the girls wanted a walk. There are a dozen or so geese grazing on the fields, and when the girls race towards them they all take off up into the sunrise - the mist over the fields and the sun slanting off their glossy grey feathers took our breath away.
Days 2 and 3 we are into some more serious cruising, our intention to reach the summit of the Rochdale canal, up through Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. Dad gets reasonably good at the helm (and is very proud to come through the long, curving Falling Royd tunnel without either stopping, or hitting the sides. Dents in the boat roof attest to not all preceding helmsmen being so careful!) Em and Em-J are getting very good at Locks, and the trip is falling into a gorgeous relaxed routine.
The name of Mum's chosen job "Baby Wrangling" leads on, with ever increasing happy madness, to the word "Wrangling" becoming the word of the holiday, seeding "lock wrangling", "wrangling handle" (= windlass), dog-wrangling and even (from the girls) "we're going blackberry wrangling" (there were blackberries growing prolifically at each lock and mooring point, so the girls got quite good at hunting them and they featured in many desserts along the way
It's all very relaxing. Come to a lock, moor up, let lock-wranglers off and (if we're away from roads) dogs get chucked off too. Lock wranglers let the water out of the lock and open the doors. Dad bimbles gently in. Mrs Silverwood lobs rope up from bow, Dad lobs rope up from stern. Boat gets tied up. Em closes lock gates behind boat and opens upper paddles to fill lock. Boat rises, watched by Dogs who are amused to be at forehead height, then nose, chest, waist, and the "floor" height to Dad. Dogs are then rounded up and brought back on board. Em and Em-J open upper gates and boat sails out, mooring briefly after lock while gates and paddles are closed, and wranglers get back on board.
Dad guns engine and boat resumes 2-3 mph progress (diesel chugs away like quiet tractor at idle) up canal, with all wranglers now relaxing on foredeck (curls of ciggie smoke attest to their presence, out of sight from the aft deck). Dogs chill out in sun on aft deck, watching the world go by, till next lock is sighted and wranglers get into positions. Max progress on any given day, at this rate is only about 6 miles. This is not a fast moving holiday! There are periodic breaks at towns for shopping and at moorings for lunch and the occasional pub. Breakfast is a leisured affair, we get going about 10:00 and we finish by about 6pm.
More tomorrow

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Deefer's Log 3 Sept 2007

3rd September 2007

Did I mention yesterday that this holiday was not only "us" but also the Silverwood family - Mum's sis' (Mrs Silverwood), and her hubby Em, plus the 2 girls Em-J (9) and J-M (7) plus Baby-M (18 months). That was the need for the 56 foot, 8/10 berth "Northumberland" we chose.

We were in for an early start as Dad wanted to get clean round the M25 and out onto the M11 Northbound before the traffic. 04:00 alarms for all, and all the packing done the night before. Anxious times for Haggis, who is convinced, as soon as he sees packing happening, that he is to be deserted. Never has been, but that's not good enough reason, as far as he's concerned.
A long ol' drive North, but Mum and Dad share the driving and we get let out for a scamper about at a Motorway services / rabbit sanctuary up on the A1(M). We get to Sowerby Bridge in good time - we can't join the boat till 2pm - and the Silverwoods are there before us (they've only come across from Morecambe this morning). So there's plenty of time for a walk round the town, a chip buttie and a pint of Thwaite's (we are in Yorkshire after all!)
Then starts the serious stuff. They don't just stick you in the boat these days and off you go. There was a training book and a DVD to read/see before you arrived, you had to sign loads of stuff allocating jobs etc, and there was a 3 hour training / familiarisation session where the humans were shown round the boat (engine, gas, electrics, safety etc etc) and the talked through and shown steering and locks.
When jobs were being given out, Mum knew you had to allocate a Skipper. I volunteered but Mum said it had to be a human, and everybody else ducked quicker than Dad, so there he was (my Hero!). Em and Em-J became "Lock-wranglers", Mrs S was Bosun and Mum opted for Galley-slave and Baby-M wrangler.
More tomorrow - but my pics today are of.....
1) A rather smart one of me and J-M's stripey tights
2) We three dogs on the first day (still on leads- that wasn't to last!) looking over the edge from the aft deck in fascinated horror at the maelstrom of water filling the lock when the gate paddles are opened!
3) Tuel Tunnel in Sowerby Bridge, leading to the bottom of the Tuel lock, the tallest in England. It was made when the canal was brought back into service for the likes of us - it had been locks 3 and 4 but when the canal fell into dis-use, some perisher built a road over lock 3, so now they have to get all the rise from the original 2 into 1 lock - so it raises you 20 feet!
More tomorrow

Monday 10 September 2007

The Good Ship "Northumberland"

It's been a long time since I was last on - a longer gap than we've ever made before. Now we can reveal why. The whole family (well, humans and dogs) have been away for 7 nights cruising the canals of Yorkshire in a narrow boat named "Northumberland", which we hired, at Sowerby Bridge, from Shire Cruisers (

It's been a fantastic holiday with many and various adventures, but I won't try to cram them all in one blog. I will spread them out over the next couple of days, till I've exhausted the stories, and shown you a few pictures. Sadly, as I write this, it's all over and we're all back home, filled up on "Butchers Tripe" (sic - it's a brand name, Mum... it doesn't need an apostrophe!) and roast lamb bones. We are all exhausted, and crashed out at all points of the house. The floor under my feet is not gently rocking and the house is not vibrating gently to the chug of a diesel engine as it glides along at 2 mph.
My pics are of, variously, the boats (including "our" one, Northumberland) in Sowerby Bridge canal basin being readied for our adventures, a shot along the length of the roof looking up towards the canal 'summit' above Todmorden, and we three crew members manning the aft deck (and our water bowl), myself on the left, Meggie centre and Haggis right.
Lots more in the next few days, but I can safely say it was brilliant, we were very very lucky with the weather, and I'd thoroughly reccommend it as a holiday to anyone who's thinking about it.
Deefer, Ace Lock Wrangler (but more of that tomorrow)

Sunday 2 September 2007

The Irish Rover

Here's a better view of the "2CV digger" which is actually, we think, a "telescopic lift" available from (which is a website you'd have to say carefully). With the door open right back, you get more of an idea of the shape.

The humans round here are going mad for a song originally made famous by the Pogues and the Dubliners, "The Irish Rover" - as drunken, rollicking and kick-ass a song as you could ever ask for. Mum's brother has re-written the words (brilliantly) to suit an event of which I am not yet allowed to speak (all will become clear, I promise, in a posting soon. Till then, go find the song and listen to it in original form. If you've not met it before, you're in for a treat.

Round here it's a normal lazy Sunday afternoon (got no time to worry... close my eyes and slip away (doopy doopy doo, doopy doopy dido etc). In town the Hop Festival is still in full swing, so the Steam train chugs past every now and then, and there are blasts of music on the wind.

Look after yourselves


Saturday 1 September 2007

Steam Trains and Morris Men

Hop Festival today, so the town is full of Morris Dancers, carts selling hop bines, rock bands, pearly kings and queens, small children twirling flourescent furry pink streamers on long sticks and thousands of people. No place for a Westie - such a crush of humans we'd get trampled under foot, un-noticed. We walk through early on and see some of the preparations, and Haggis goes doo-lally at a horse-drawn beer dray (Shepherd Neames, naturally!) clippety clopping past the house. The "Hop Pickers Special" steam trains woosh and crump past on the line out back beyond the new building site (we won't be able to see that from the house next year).

Forgot to mention sat-nav yesterday. Dad has now received one of these toys as his reward for long service. Daft perisher was using it to nav home the 1 and a half miles from a friend the other side of town, just to test it! After 200 yards, bear left. Mum thinks it (well, the lady's voice on it) should be given an amusing name, so that we can confuse people in conversation. Cousin Cecily, for example. "Ah yes..... Cousin Cecily brought us home..."

Mum has a gang of friends and colleagues round for a "baby shower", one of them being heavily pregnant. There is much chatting, eating and sipping of drinks on the terrace. They all make a fuss of all three of us dogs. I am especially excited to find out that the baby is due on 17th September - my 1st Birthday! How cool is that?