Wednesday 31 December 2008

Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton

"Leave Me Alone". So says the message on the sleep mask, one of Mum's "secret Santa" gifts from work. Its resting place, between uses seems to have become Mum's cuddly toy Shar-Pei which, in turn, resides on the headboard of the big bed.
This chap goes under the rather aristocratic name of "Frederick Altamont Cornwallis Twistleton" which the literary among you will know is the 5th earl of Ickenham from PG Wodehouse's "Cocktail Time"; PGW being one of Mum's favourite authors (she being very well read and of a definite literary bent).
We actually know a real shar-pei, by the name of Summer, who is owned by one of Dad's work mates. From there came a good secret Santa to we dogs - doggie choc-drops. Mum and Dad do not buy these as a rule, as the H "doesn't do plant". He hates all "biscuit" type dog treats - so all those bonio bone shaped ones are neither use nor ornament.
Nope, the "H" is a true carnivore, so dog treats round here are generally the dried meat type, to save Mum and Dad having to keep two types on stock, and remember to take both everywhere. However, since they came from Santa, we have them till they are used up and, from Meg's and my point of view they are SCRUMMY!!!!!. We go so wild for them that Mum has been heard to say "They're not just dog treats, they're crack for lady dogs!"
Meanwhile, here is a link to Summer's kith and kin
And also meanwhile, a pic of we three looking out of the porch on the occasion of Dad bringing the project 2CV "Mademoiselle" home to our house. Megan left, me front, and Haggis at rear. All shaggy and in need of a groom. We are contacting "The Groomer" so that we can try out her skills!
The last post of 2008.
Happy New Year to all my readers

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Jack Frost nippin'

Several days now of hard frosts, where we wake up to white rime all over, and most of it is still there in the shadows at the end of the day. Certainly the top of the Rec, round the tennis courts is all still white and iron-hard. Both ponds here are frozen over and the water butts are all iced. The 2CV is white all over in the headlight beams as Dad goes to work, and is still white all over when he comes home.

In the autumn, we'd bought a load of "Paperwhite" multi-headed narcissus (daffs), which have been in full flower through December. Mum was half tempted to cut them and bring them in - put them in a vase indoors, because she never gets down that end of the garden in the dark to enjoy them. She should have while she had the chance. Frozen, they go all limp and with their heads sagged to the ground, they look a sorry sight.

With not having gone fully back to work, the humans are feeling that these "school nights" are not really any such thing, and are treating them a bit like weekend nights - celebratory foods (steak and chips tonight) and a little red wine.

Meanwhile, I can now claim to have destroyed all vestiges of doggie Christmas. As you know, I chewed up Meggie's ball within minutes and dis-embowelled Haggis's cuddly toy throwing-rope soon after. Since then I have lost, in the park, both my new rubber throwing ring, and now also a pink luminous stippled sponge ball found just before Christmas. No toys left. When's the next Christmas?


Saturday 27 December 2008


For Dad an "old Citroen" flavoured day. One of their project team who have been doing up the old 1961 twinning-gift 2CV (Mademoiselle d'Armentieres) wants out - he wants Dad and the other 2 to buy out his share. They decide to meet to talk about how to achieve this. They decide to meet at the lock up where the car is kept, and take her for a spin; maybe to "one of our houses??".

Mum offers to cook home-made soup for them, and suddenly they have an event. They are joined by Andy's new Hungarian love interest, ZsuZsa (that's easy for you to say!) plus then Cliff and Shelley from the Hoppers, with their brother and sister collies, whom we know very well from the camping, Ben and Nellie.

Dad drives his normal 2CV over to the lock up, and then gets to drive Mmlle back here in convoy with Andy's 2CV van, to proudly park her on our drive while she gets photo'd and admired by the neighbours. The humans come in to do soup, while we dogs play and get to know each other again. Dad the gets to drive the 2CV van back to the lock-up so that Ian can get a turn in Mmlle. Finally he drives his own car home. 3 different old citroens in one day. He is dead chuffed.

We are just closing up, getting washing in and dog bowls out, and Dad standing by the back door, when there is a whoosh over our heads and the k-chishhh of something heavy hitting the foliage of the bay tree, 4 or 5 feet away. Every body jumps, and the sparrows in the tree start cheeping loudly in protest at the disturbance, just when they were getting comfortably roosted up for the night. At first we all think it's a squirrel leaping from the Albertine on the back of the house, but there's another k-chish and curving back out of the tree comes our old mate the female sparrowhawk with a small bird in her talons - maybe a sparrow? Fresh warm supper, anyway.

Which reminds me. We are off to Diamond's tonight for a bite with Ragworth.


Friday 26 December 2008

I Cracked.....

OK, I admit it. I am not, by nature, a "good" person, and the strain of being good up to Christmas to make sure I was still on the list, ground me down. I cracked at about 07:30 a.m. and reverted to type. 07:30, is when Mum wakes up, as bright as a button, and starts prodding Dad and whicpering sweet nothings in his ear about Santa having been.

This is the family cue to round up cups of coffee, any dogs who have wandered downstairs in the night, and any prezzies left around the place by the aforementionned red-suited, bearded gentleman. It came to pass that all three dogs got prezzies. For me, the clever old sleigh-rider had bought a rubber ring for chasing in the park - he obviously got my letter about the death of the yellow frisbee.

For Meggie and extremely squeaky ball. Everyone knows Meg is mad for a squeaky toy, and can actually keep one intact for years, ceaselessly enjoying the squeak and never doing that bad-dog thing of chewing it up to kill the squeak. When she was a pup, well before my time, her first Christmas present was a rufty-tufty mince-pie shaped squeaker and Dad tells me she had that thing for about 6 years, still squeaking till it got left out in the garden and filled up with water, which rusted the squeak into silence.

For Haggis (who lives in mortal fear of the sting of being thwacked in the side by a kicked tennis ball, thanks to Dad when he was a pup (Pure accident, pleads Dad - I didn't expect him to run that direction!) a soft-toy "ball" on the end of a throwing "rope", with a rubbery handle. Also, by chance, a squeaker in the end of the ball, but not as in-yer-face as Meggie's.

So where do I come into all this? We got these gifts at 07:30. My throwing-ring was great but that squeaky ball of Meg's bored into my consciousness like the "Ring" for Smeagol (Gollum from Tolkien's books). I needs it. I wants it, My Precious.......... The craving! I had to endure it for one minute, two minutes, three!......At about 25 to 8, I saw my chance and whipped in and nicked it, racing downstairs. Dad saw me and ran down after me, retrieved it and gave it back to Meg.

The 2nd time, though, he was not so vigilant, and before he could realise, I had it downstairs and chewed great holes in it. The squeaker stopped working. Megan (ha!) was powerless to do anything, as she can't get down stairs. One-nil to me, I think.

Later that day, I spotted a chance to nick the H's throwing toy, and very soon had that dismembered too. No more squeaking for that one either. I am that BITCH. Two-nil

A good couple of days, even so. On the big day we're down at Pud-Lady's and with the Pud Lady not to sure on her pins at present, Dad does a good chunk of the cooking (plus Mum and Dad wade in with some general house-keeping type help. Pud Lady is delighted and is pleased to report that she's had the "Laziest Christmas for about 50, no maybe 52.... no it's 55 years"

Now we're all back here and Mum and Dad seem to have forgiven my indiscretions of Christmas Day (though I suspect I may be on the "other" list next Christmas) and we all get a lovely walk in Challock Forest. The house is full of Westie stuff. 2 different people independently give Mum and Dad each a nice Westie mug, there are westie diaries, Mum has westie socks, we have a proper westie calendar, and we have a "water-ski-ing westies" calendar, which is quite fun.

Merry Christmas everybody.
Squeak squeak

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Stockings were Hung

Just in case you'd forgotten how weird the Humans are around here (Well, Dad mainly), a pic of (I'm sure we've mentioned this before) Rudolph. Rudolph is a Challock Forest Fallow deer (actually a white buck) who died of natural causes in late 2005.

We guess he died happy because by "late" I mean the rutting season, and it is the way of these things that a big ol' boy becomes "Master-Buck" for as long as he can manage it, normally in his 8th or 9th year. He hold the stand for a week or so, but doesn't eat or drink for that time, so he ends up exhausted, and eventually gets pushed off by a young pretender.

Some are strong enough to retreat, re-group and try again next year, but eventually comes the year when the exhaustion is all-pervading, and this old boy (says our tame expert and Forest Ranger, Steve) pretty much wandered off, collapsed and died. We found him after nature and re-cycling had taken it's course, and you have to agree he's a magnificent boy. At this age the antlers are pretty much fully palmated (webbed like a moose's), they are 23" long here and 30" spread. OK small-fry by moose standards, but about as good as it gets for a fallow deer.

Anyway, here is "Big Rudolph" with his "Little Rudolph" stocking hung up in case Santa should come by.



Early Rec Santa

Almost there. Dad has finished work and come home. Presents are wrapped, and I have reason to beleive there may be something in there for us. Mum has nipped out for a last minute item which we almost failed on.... pssstt.... will tell you after! We are walked (and in fact we struck lucky in the "Rec" where an early Santa left me a nearly new bright pink stipply ball. Fickle bird that I am , this is the new fave toy. I had a great game with Haggis who had his evil eye on it, running around to keep him from getting it, while he used all his low cunning (hah!) to distract me)

The tree lights are lit, there's Christmas music on the radio and I heard a rumour that the wine consumption may start soon.

Look after yourselves, and I hope you all have the Christmas you have looked forward to.


Tuesday 23 December 2008

Centre Piece

Mum and Dad are delighted today to get delivered a surprise prezzie from a mystery donor calling himself only "John". We all know several Johns between us so we Mum and Dad will have to make a few sneaky texts and phone calls, but look at the photo. Gorgeous or what? A real tribute to the skill and art of the local florists, amongst whom we suspect the excellent shop not far from here

Anyway, Thank You very much "John" who ever you are, and we hope you have a great Christmas. Only one more work day to go now for Dad and I suspect he may celebrate by taking the 2CV to work.

For now, a relaxing evening belly-full of home made cock-a-leekie soup, watching DVD's of Father Ted

Happy Christmas


Monday 22 December 2008

Not bad, eh?

Not a bad tree, we thought. Nearly there now - cards keep rolling in. We even got a Happy Hogswatch card (One for the terry Pratchett fans there.
Look after yourself

Sunday 21 December 2008

All the Humans are Sick

Last night's party goes well, and there's some good net gains for dogs, along the lines of skeletal remains of poussins (excluding long bones, of course), and a bit of smoked salmon. Some of this comes as as "wrapped around Meggie's vetoryl" treats. Meggie, as you know, has to have a vetoryl capsule each day, and it is Dad's habit to give her this with a treat wrapped around it, early morning as he goes off to work.

Normally this is a bit of ham, bacon , cold meat or cheese (if the cheese is too crumbly to "wrap" it is squidged into a ravioli shaped pillow with a suspiciously medicinal flavoured centre. This morning though, it's a little curl of smoked salmon. Of course, Haggis and I also get one (without the fancy centre) to make it fair.

In fact Meggie is dead easy to sneak a pill to, as she trustingly takes the treat in the first offering. Dad likes to think that this is just her trusting nature (Daddy would never try to poison me, because I'm his favourite!). I suspect that the truth is that she doesn't care as long as it's cheese she's being given, or ham, bacon, meat, chorizo, salmon, or basically anything edible.....

Haggis is a very different kettle of fish, and strongly suspects that any treat (including the dried-meat "we-came-back-indoors" ones) might contain a worming tablet which would give him belly ache. He therefore takes the treat between his teeth, and puts it down on the floor, before, nipping it into a dismembered state to check and only eats it once it has been dissected and ruled free from all medicinal elements.

However, what he isn't is "devious" and after dissecting treat "A", he then does a slightly less careful probe of treat "B". Treat "C" he will then trust and swallow enthusiastically. I will leave you to decide whether you think humans are more cunning that the average H-Man, and where they might hide the medicine.

Me? So far, I've only had injections as far as I know. Dad tells me I'm much toooooo young for him to be sneaking me worming pills and that I have nothing to worry about.

Perhaps the humans should learn from all this. They all seem to be sick with flu at present. Dad is just getting over what he describes as "Man-flu", and Mum just going down with it. Of the 7 who were at our dinner party last night, 4 were sick. For a while it looked like they'd all blow out, but in the end they decided to all gather and swap virusses and secondary infections along with the Christmas gifts and champagne (and smoked salmon aqnd poussins etc already listed, plus a rather splendid lemonny polenta cake, of which we were allowed to have some crumbs).

Crumbs too small to hide any pills, but not so sure about these man-flu virusses. Can dogs get that?

Ahhhh- tchoo!


Saturday 20 December 2008

Singing Dogs

You must know it - it's been played on the radio every Christmas since about 1971. I can't find a link to the original on Google, although there are a million and one imitations or you-tube videos of peoples' dogs leppin around with the song playing in the background to wind them up.

It's that sampler-style version of Jingle Bells with all the dog yaps and woofs representing the notes of all the different pitches - Yip yip yap, yip yip yap, yip yip yap yap woof ! etc. Drives us all barmy, so we have to race out into the garden to find out where all these dogs have suddenly come from, even though Mum and Dad are insisting we "Chill! It's on the radio!"

Nice long walk in the afternoon today for Haggis and I, where I find some superbly sticky fox poo to roll around in. There is a party tonight - Mum entertaining her team, and for some reason I was not, with my fox poo adornments, felt suitably attired to meet the guests in their posh frocks. I have therefore been showered and am now the whitest, cleanest, fluffiest westie in the world.

Meanwhile preparations continue. Trees for us and Diamond have been bought and brought home today, although, what with the party needing all the space, our tree is still in its net tube out on the terrace table till tomorrow.


Friday 19 December 2008


Christmas is Coming, the Goose is getting fat!

Round here, all is preparations for Christmas. Mum and Dad are organising with Diamond to go tree-buying tomorrow, but I am told that only the lights will go on tomorrow. Mum has always fancied a proper "tree trimming party", and this is the year when she finally gets it. She has bought in a rake of cold meats and other party fare and is having Diamond and Uncle John round for the special event.

Cards are arriving by the dozen each day, and are decking the halls in the appropriate manner (well, at least the book cases and shelves). The proper decs are down from the loft. 99% of prezzies are bought (I've still not seen a yellow frisbee shaped parcel arrive) although one needs collecting from failed-parcel delivery depot in Ashford and Mum and Dad are still sneaking in and out of the house a bit sheepishly.....

Meanwhile, the power cut mystery is, possibly, solved. Owner of spaniel "LB" (the "L" stands for "little") who was also affected by the cuts and has had dealings with French energy company EDF in the past, tells us that he has been chatting up the EDF engineers who were working on the substation. The story goes that one in three houses up this road were cut because one of the out put cables (phases) from the sub station was "faulty".

Now guess, if you can, which cable the entire new housing estate being built behind our house and the 97 - bed "Home for the Bewildered" were connected to as a stop-gap while the building works were being completed. With me so far?

Have a powerful weekend

Thursday 18 December 2008

Support Group

A couple of days back we mentioned the late Spinone "Archie", because we'd met another Spinone "Tosca". Archie used to be walked with a lovely little long haired terrier called Jamie, and Meggie and the H always looked forward to meeting them, or passing their superb old jettied-roof, tudor wood framed house with it's inglenook fireplaces and bay windows. There was always a welcome there and on hot days, always a bowl of water for the dogs, in the cool shaded stone flagged porchway.

This link will give you some idea, but this isn't the best house down there.

We met Jamie the other day, out with his Mum, a good friend of our Dad, and as we were in the Rec and we dogs were chasing about, the humans got to talking. It turns out that Jamie , too, has cushings, just like Megan! It's an unusual condition; in fact when Meggie was diagnosed, our lovely vet, John, said he only had one other patient on his practise with it. Jamie, it seems, was diagnosed a lot faster than Meggie, so his condition was not so bad, and his recovery, on Vetoryl 65 is almost total.

The two dogs chatted a while, excited to find they had their very own support group for the affliction.


Wednesday 17 December 2008

The Circle is Broken

Noooo... nothing witchy. My yellow frisbee. Tonight we were giving it some serious stick in between racing around on the Rec with sis Ellie, and old-girl Misha (yay! 5 westies!), when Dad gave the frisbee one huge throw and it "burst" on impact with the ground. I'm told this is where I had almost chewed through it, but I can't help it. It's a lovely chewy feel, which yields just right to a girl's carnacials.

Give it some yang-tang-yang-yang between the back teeth and you produce a lovely scallop-edged cut across it, as if done with pinking shears (Dad used to call them "Crocodile scissors" when he was a boy). The poor ring was quite frayed looking by the end and always looked like a new one might be a good idea. Well tonight it's in the bin and a girl is wondering whether it's too late to shove a request up the chimbley for Santa Clause

Mmmmm... thinks.... making a list and checking it twice..... does shouting at Alsatians count against me? Eating that Chanel make-up compact? Chewing Mum's personal stuff.... almost taking Mum and Dad's fingers off when proffered a sweetie.......? What is a girl to do to redress the balance?

Talking of "old ladies", we are pleased that Dad's Aunt (Pud Lady's sister) is through a heart valve replacement op and is currently being disconnected from all the external plumbing, and that Steak-Lady , in the same week, is through her hip replacement operation. Go you ladies. The former is a definite Dalmatian fan, having owned a succession of enooooormous boys, the latter is currently owner to (Yorkies) Cracker and Rosie, but has had boxers and a collie cross in the past. Both, though, have time for westies. Perhaps they'll put in a good word for me with Santa.


Sunday 14 December 2008

Putting the Old Girl to Bed

We thought you might like to see these update pictures of the Sailing Barge Cambria and the excellent progress being made by Tim Goldsack and his team of Shipwrights. This is the old girl one year into the three year project. You can see that all the double-curve timbers are in place at the stern ("transom" actually; we barge-dogs do not talk of sterns).
The main pic shows the hull framing almost done - there are just a couple more to assemble at the bow. On the left of the pic you can see a load of planking has arrived, and in the centre the steel "I" beams which are the "keelson" awaiting assembly and joining. Barges, being designed flat-bottomed to let them come up shallow tidal creeks, do not have a keel projecting down below. The stiffness comes from this internal girder along the barge's length.
The keel's job (stopping the barge sliding sideways when the wind blows across the boat) is done by big tear-drop shaped "lee boards" either side of the hull, which are let down on the leeward side (down-wind side) while sailing.

Finally a pic, for fun of the Christmas tree the lads have rigged up on the canopy. Today was Dad and his chum Richard's last day at looking after the Visitor Centre and showing people round the barge till after Christmas, so as they locked up and turned everything off it felt a bit like putting the old girl top bed.
Goodnight Cambria. Have a peaceful Christmas

Saturday 13 December 2008

Groomer and the Guitar Man

Our electric power suppliers, British Gas, via distributor EDF (mais oui!) seem to have lost the plot lately. 6 times since the 4th of Dec, the house has been plunged into darkness and the humans, who have poor night vision compared to we dogs, have been reduced to candle light and early nights. Fun and romantic the first time - candle lit supper, coal fire, chatting etc (weh heh!), this has now lost its novelty value. I can't get on here, and Mum can't get on with the fast-encroaching Open Univ assignment deadline.

This leads to Mum on the phone last night giving out (politely and sweetly, natch) to 6 different "Customer Services" (Hah!) types of increasing rank and decreasing ability to pass the buck. The buck, in this case, a feisty human female with her posh voice turned on, and her previous studies with the OU concerning contract law, Provision of Goods and Services Act, the Sale of Goods Act and a raft of case law with names like "Bloggs Electricity supply company vs. Forsyth, 1992" etc. Go Mum! Lambs to the slaughter.

We're off out that night anyway, over to visit Mum and Dad's chums Guitar Man and "The Groomer", plus Norfolk terriers Dylan (who we've met and has featured in this blog before) and newer pup Molly, 9 months old. The Groomer (as I can now call her) was formerly "The Refrigeration Plant in Supermarkets Service Consultant" (not such a snappy title), but we're happy to report that she's now jacked all that in and set up in business as a dog groomer / dog creche in their village.

She is rapidly building a client base and has many pics of poshly groomed dogs, including westies, on the cork-board. There is hope for me yet! The Groomer has a newly fitted out extensive summer-house as a workshop with hydraulic tables, huge-dog sized bath with walk-in ramp at one end, along with racks of lotions and potions, clippers, combs and scissors plus, of course, dog treats.

Mum and Dad have promised us that we will be treated to a pampering day after Christmas, as soon as the weather starts to warm up. We will, of course, let you know how you get on. Diamond, too, is interested on behalf of Rags, though if Groomer can make either Ragworth or myself look like posh show-dogs, then she will come heartily reccommended, and we will shout her name from the roof tops.

It was a good evening. We three dogs packed it with Dylan and Molly (I only had one scrap with Molly, but you do, don't you. Can't have everyone thinking I have become an angel), while Mum and Dad, plus Guitar Man, Groomer and a couple of chums of our hosts, ate, drank, crossed the road to join in the proper carol singing on the church green and wandered down to a superb micro-pub called the Butcher's Arms (Real Ales are us!) - they weren't even too rude in there about Dad's Shepherd Neame sweatshirt !

Back at the house all dogs collapsed on furniture while Dad and Guitar Man played guitar (brilliantly) and sang (badly), while Mum attempted to master the intricacies of the computer game Wii Sport (Tennis). Apart from wanting to call it "Why -Aye!" instead of "Wee", it was amusing to see Mum thrashing at thin-air with her gadget, while the player on the screen completely missed the incoming baseline volley. The screen even did the whistle of the "racket" through the air like a Zorro sword-slash, without the accompanying "thwack" of ball on catgut.

Wet weekend on the cards, though there is talk of us buying our Christmas Tree.

Have a good one

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Mars, the bringer of.....

Dad's home late again and is meeting his 2CV cronies tonight for their Christmas Meal, so it's looking like a rather short walk round the Rec. Kind of OK, in the dark, and I can chase Haggis provided I don't annoy him too much, but near then end of the stroll a superb encounter.

Little 19 week old Jack Russell cross Dachshund, "Mars". We see him first by his red flashing collar - more like a hareem bangle than a full collar. It's an incomplete circle, which springs back into a loose neck "bracelet" but is lit up all along its length like a fairground light stick. Either end is a rounded "lump" which flashes brightly. A great thing all together!

Anyway, Mars is whizzy and playful and just enough slower than me that I can lead him a merry chase, when he's not piling onto Megan or Haggis, that is. We dash and dart round trees and bins and up and down banks, visible mainly by the blur of flashing red brilliance. Gustav Holst, you got it wrong - this Mars was the bringer of pace, craziness and red flashing light.

He didn't want it to stop. His owner eventually gathered him up and walked off a couple of tens of yards, put him down, where upon he raced back to us. Again the man carried him - a hundred yards this time and again he chased back to restart the game. The third time he was gathered up and carried off the Rec to the start of the long bridge, and this time he did not re-appear, so we guess he was distracted successfully and taken home.

Nice to meet you, Mars. Most excellent dog!

Monday 8 December 2008

It Takes all sorts

Down to Hastings and the Pud Lady's place at the weekend (we love her wild wooded garden with its heaps of leaves and compost piles, plus (we found) holes in the fence that we could sneak through if we wanted to explore the neighbours! Dad tells me that when they were kids, he and the brothers would nip over this fence to scrump a few windfalls from the neighbours' apple trees - those trees are still there!)

There, as a change from (Snake and Pigmy) Pud cooked by the Pud Lady, a hot buffet is being prepared by Dad's Sis-in-Law and Brother M.A. who are there with the 17 year old twins, M and L. This will give Pud-Lady a break, as she is a bit unsteady on her pins at present, and Stamp Man is also getting to be tricky manouvring from house to car to pub and back for the "up to now" format of Clan gatherings, a meal in the Queen's Head in Icklesham. Confused yet?

Anyway, the point of this story, is that "that family" are completely non-dog people. Sis-in-Law professes to hate them (us), Twin-M sings off the same sheet as S-i-L, M.A. can take them or leave them, and Twin L is the only one who's had any dog-contact, via a girlfriends dog. This completely confuses the three of us. No amount of schmoozing, or looking up adoringly and cutely (even by King-of-Cute Haggis!) gets us any fussing, or a ruffle of the head hair, or lap space from these three, and only Twin-L can be persuaded.

Doubly confusing, as Pud-Lady and Stamp Man had a dog, and are quite up for a bit of petting and lap-surfing. There is no accounting for taste, we suppose, and Mum and Dad tell us not to take anything personally. They just do not have dog-lovin' in their genes. No matter. We still have a good day, and it's good to be there.


Saturday 6 December 2008

Kookie the Labradoodle

Saturday afternoon sees Haggis, Dad and I down in Challock Forest (we leave Meggie behind, tired from this morning and more than happy to be distracted by Mum as we sidle off) in the wet sloppy leaves and mud. Plenty of dogs again, in the bright, warm sunshine, and we make friends with 13 week old black labradoodle, Kookie.

She's still on the lead and her owner is trying to teach her not to jump up enthusiastically at everyone they meet. Dad doesn't help, with his "Heyyyyy! Little dog!" vigorous greetings, and with Haggis and I chasing around, the pup-training session gets forgotten for a while.

We're in the mood for some "off-piste", today. striking off through the plantations and cutting corners between paths by diving off the main tracks between the trees. It's more tiring than an easy lope along a hard track, but much more fun sniffing out wildlife trackways and animal holes.

Haggis manages to keep reasonably clean, but the state of me has Dad texting Mum ahead with "What price a Deefer sized bowl of warm soapy and some dog towels?". They are there on the terrace table as we round the corner. We are now all crashed out on various bits of furniture, recovering


Tosca and Merlin

Wet underfoot but clear blue skies and the sun is shining. A day for magnificent dogs in the Rec. First up beautifully glossy jet-black 7 year old lab cross with small white flash at his chest, Merlin. He's enough to convert the staid, slow, ambling, old lady, Megan into a frisking, bouncing, eyelash flashing young gal again, all pup vitality and coy play. Tart!

Then magnificent brown and white Spinone, Tosca. What a handsome chap! His brown bits were chocolate coloured, shot through with wisps of harder, longer, white hairs, and he had that lovely grufty beard thing going on, that Spinones do. We got talking, inevitably, and mentionned the only other Spinone regular we know, the famous Archie, now sadly passed away. But, Archie, we all remember you around town.

Plenty of other dogs about too, a wheaten terrier, GSDs, a big ol' shaggy lurcher, a couple of Jack Russells. Everyone up and about and determined to enjoy a sunny weekend.

Have a good one

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Bugsy and Billy

Out in the dark again we have a great run around with our Bichon Frisee friends Billy and (to a lesser extent) Bugsy. Billy is 1 year old and full of beans, and loves to chase around with me, while Bugs is 7 and prefers to stand looking up at his Dad, shouting with impatience to get moving again. Dad is in the Autumn of his years and starting to slow up, so he likes to sit on the Rec benches, not "getting moving again", so it can be a noisy group to meet up with!

Also, their Dad is frightened to let them off the lead, using instead very long versions of those extending leads, so Billy can swoop in great circles with other dogs, but keeps winding the lead-string round rubbish bins, prams, passers by and our own Dad's legs if he stands too close. Makes for some entertaining "Dad-dancing" as he hops over the string when it scythes across the scenery. Billy's Dad holds the handle sufficinetly high up that we dogs rarely get entangled.

Billy's Dad was, in his past, an ecologist; specifically a beetle-expert (Coleopterist). There's little he doesn't know about beetles in Kent, and in his past has been called on as expert witness in forensic evidence giving, or to make statements about the ecological importance of parcels of land for the EEC.

This got us thinking, about the interesting stories you could tell about the "ordinary" people we meet out walking. "Mick the Window Cleaner", for example, who owns westie Misha, and used to have Jack till recently (sadly passed away). He has worked a lot in Stockton on Tees and was a "wood technologist" researching new uses for wood and wood products. At one stage he was involved in inventing a metal-cored, wood skinned household door which became very popular as a blast-proof door in Belfast during the "Troubles"

Just goes to show....

Saturday 29 November 2008

Deefski to Vetski for Jabski

"Gone to Vetski with Deefski for Jabski", says the "amusing" note left by Dad for Mum, fridge-mageneted to the fridge. Very funny I'm sure (how we laughed!) for Mum, and Meggie and the H, but presaging for me the annual booster at nice Vet John's place. Unusually we actually get John - he's usually being much too important and clever to see the likes of us, and we get a succession of 2nd-in-command vets and locums.

I get weighed at 7.6 kgs, poked, prodded, stethoscoped and pronounced 100% fit and well. I get jabbed between the shoulder blades, which seems a bit harsh, but I only whimper instead of shrieking the house down, so everyone pronounces me "very brave". Shucks. Money changes hands and a suspicious crinkly blister-pack of foil is passed across and trousered by Dad.

A couple of days later, supper includes 2 strange pill-shaped white bits, and I get a minor belly ache. Haggis and Megan exchange glances knowingly. Nobody tells me what is going on.

A series of late finishes by Dad at work, have meant a succession of short, in-the-dark walks round the Rec. As long as it's not totally dark, this is a good thing, as lots of dog-walkers get concentrated into a compressed "window" and we meet everybody.

They say you can't be popular with everybody. Although we are a sociable bunch, and have no real enemies, there's this one dark Alsatian who gets walked in the Rec in the dark, always on the lead. suspect this is because he is not the most sociable of beasts. I don't know what it is - he just gets to me, lurking and looming out of the dark like that. I just have to charge at him shouting.

Sometimes I give a few alert barks into the shadows (we'll call it a "pre-emptive strike" but the cynics among you might think I'm nervous of unseen beasties in the dark....."). This gives Dad a chance to grab my collar.

If he fails, and I go into charge mode, we end up with me running round the dark Alsatian shouting, just out of lead range, alternating shouts with squeaks of "He's gonna kill me!" drama-queen-dom. The Alsatian in turn dances round the owner pulling on the lead and shouting and snarling back.

The Dad joins in the shouting and dancing (at me! the nerve!) till he grabs me, apologises to the mysterious, quiet, unspeaking man hanging onto the Alsatian.

It all goes quiet again. Doesn't happen very often, but it did happen on Thursday at about 5 pm, in the dark and the rain. By coincidence, Mum is walking across the bottom of the Rec on her way home from work and hears, in the distance a doggie, shouting commotion which she thinks "vaguely reminds (her) of Deefer", but convinced that we'd not be still out at that time in the rain, she walks on by.

Getting home and finding us all still out she realises it's us she may have heard.

Maybe I deserved the jab and the belly-ache tablets

Thursday 27 November 2008

Long Leather Pouffe

Real Mum (Mollie) is upset and bereft. My real family spend a lot of their time up on the back of the sofa where they can look out of the window, nosey-ing passers by, shouting at the local foxes strolling down the road, and keeping an eye on things. This is thought to be where I got my own love of sleeping along the backs of sofas and settees, even though ours is against a wall, and we can't see the road. Mum and Dad say Meg and the H did enough damage to the back of the old sofa when they were young and the sofa was against the window.

The back of the sofa, says First-Dad, was shot to bits, by the scrabbling actions of multiple dog feet.

Well now the entire downstairs has been re-decorated, paint, wallpaper and new furniture, with the new sofa not being in the same place, so suddenly the dogs cannot see out. Hector and Arch are apparently fairly chilled about this and just crash out on the dog-bed, but real-Mum Mollie is stressed to the max. She paces the room chuntering to herself, moaning and groaning.

First-Dad's answer to this is to buy a "long leather pouffe" to go under the window so that the dogs can all see out again. Such devotion. Don't think there's any chance of my Dad buying me any leather furniture all to myself........

Meanwhile we need another Hallowe'en. One by-product of 4 small children racing round the neighbourhood being given small parcels and bags of sweeties was, when the sweeties were stripped out into the crate, a mountain of small poo-bag sized polythene bags! Almost all used up now, Mr Silverwood, so if you could arrange for another Hallowe'en soon, that'd be great.


Sunday 23 November 2008

White stuff!

We wake up to some quite convincing snowfall - big flakes drifting down, the tops of cars, walls and the pavement white. But this is Kent, where we don't get that lucky. 10 minutes later it's all turned to rain and in half an hour you'd not have known it had even been snowing. Maybe next time.

We get a nice walk round the cemetery and the Rec but Meggie's a bit tired after her forest yesterday, and she's not really into it. She drags behind looking mopey, and Dad cuts short the route out of sympathy for her tired ol' frame. We all come back, anyway, looking grubby and drowned-rat ish, so we get shut behind the dog-gate while we dry out.

Mum is packing, off with Diamond on their annual Christmas Shopping mission. This year, for various reasons, it's not to Paris, but instead to a marvellous retail therapy centre they've heard all about in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Look out Bicester!


Saturday 22 November 2008

Banjo on my Knee

None of the forecast snow yet; we wake up to beautiful clear skies and bright sunshine. That biting wind is still blowing, though. We get two walks today, one round the Rec to let off steam, and have a good run around with brown nondescript terrier (no offence!) Murphy and one, later to Challock Forest. In between the humans have a bit of a lazy morning reading the papers and what-not, and Dad scoots up to the allotment to give it one last tidy-up mow before winter really sets in.

Mum's off to the shops with Diamond in the "normal" car, so Dad and we dogs are 2CV-ing it to the forest. The leaves are all down - the chestnut, larch and even the beech are in stark skeleton form, and the forest floor is a blanket of the russets and browns of slightly soiled, bedraggled autumn leaves.

Here we meet and chase about with 6 month old black and white Staffie, Banjo. "Why Banjo?" asks Dad. Well, when he was a pup he used to like perching on my knee when ever I sat down, and "her indoors" called him Banjo on my Knee, and the name stuck. Fair enough.

It's a good walk, and now we're all crashing out in various corners of the house to sleep at each other.... Dad included


Friday 21 November 2008

The North Wind Shall Blow

...well, the North West one, maybe. Suffice to say the wind has swung round to the North and is bitterly cold. After a run of mild evenings and still-ish nights , the temperature has plummeted to 3 degrees and it's perishing. Luckily we have a coal fire laid that Dad can just put a match to.

He was home at a sensible time for once, so we all converged on the Rec while there was still plenty of light, and we knew lots of other dog walkers would be about. These short evenings compress everybody into the same short hour, after work and before it's dark.

Everybody was about - we saw young male westie, Magic, red setter Bailey, an unknown Staffie came racing over to say Hi, and we met two new kids on the block. A small red spaniel (King Charles?) called Rua (which we are told is Irish for "red"), and a gorgeous blond young Goldie called Angus.

I also had a major charge about after the yellow frisbee-ring, looking a bit the worse for wear by now, but still (just) a complete ring, so throw-able. Now we're "home and hosed", fed and chilling out round the fire.

Have a great weekend, one and all.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Aye Aye Chicken Pie

Pssssst....... (shhhhh!) pretend you've not noticed we said we might stop.......

"Aye Aye, Chicken Pie" is an expression they use a lot at Dad's work - it's just an embellished version of the ordinary "Aye aye", as in "hello hello - what's going on here then?", or "Hey - I didn't expect that". Dad's brought it home and came out with a couple of times in Ireland, at Silverwood's, to 3 year old "M"

"M" took to it like a duck to water and Dad and he were frequently to be heard parrotting "Aye aye chicken pie" 's back and forth. M seemed to like the sound of it and it was a new bit of vocabulary to practise his skills on. Cutely, though, in the way of 3 year olds, he couldn't quite get it right and half the reason Dad kept him going with it was the smile they all had when he didn't quite copy it.

His was more like "Aye yike cheeky poy!" (the same way he says "I like that, or I don't "yike" that). We ended up with these series of bizarre exchanges - Dad would say "Aye aye Chicken pie", M would come back with "I yike cheeky poy" and Mrs Silverwood or Mum would say "do you fancy some for tea then?"

And while we're on Ireland you Silverwoods. Mum has now got back the statements for the diesel we bought over there. Coming from UK, where diesel hit £1.25 / litre at worst, so a tank full was £75 GB, Dad is all nostalgic for the tank full we bought in Portmarnock for 1.09 Euros a litre - 52.41 Eutos total - a big £ 42.84 UK. What's that all about? he says.


Tuesday 18 November 2008

Knick Knack Paddy-Whack

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, you Deefer-Dawg Blog
Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuu!
(Cheers, cries of "Speech! speech!" etc)

Yes, this blog is 2 years old today, so in celebration we have been tried out on a new chew food-stuff, going by the name of "paddy whack". Possibly it's only known as paddy-whack by canny dog food marketing men cashing in on the "give the dog a bone" context, but that's what it's called at our animal feeds store, Gillett Cook's, just outside Teynham

It looks like it might be the tendonny, sinewy bits of beef, cut away into 1-2" wide, 6 inch long "battens". Very tough, anyway - where you can cut down tripe sticks and pigs ears with a garden secateurs, you don't make much impression on this stuff. As a result, we dogs LOVE it, and it keeps us amused for hours a-chewing.

As to the 2 year anniversary, is that enough do you think? Is now a sensible time to run out of steam and call it a day? I don't know - watch this space. I may return as and when things inspire me.

Meanwhile, down in Hastings, the T-fer mobile is not well after its tete-a-tete with the 5-up car. As T-fer texts to say repairs would be £4750, only minutely less than the vehicle was worth, "so it's good bye from her". T-fer will be out hunting down a replacement.

Ah well, readers - just in case this is the last posting, thank you all for your interest, and your kind comments. It's been fun to write this, and take and choose the photo's for it, to go with the adventures. In truth, I am a bit of a diary addict, so I'll probably crack and sneak in every now and again to add a post here and there. Watch this space.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's paddy-whack to work on.

Fare well
Deefer, and love too from all the other characters I've featured.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Her Name is Lola

Her name is Lola
She was a Show Girl........

Or in this case she was a young black greyhound wearing a rather superb chunky-knit sweater; turtle neck, cabling, stripes and toasty-warm thickness. She looked very well in it, and we all had to make a fuss of her.

Meanwhile, do you realise this blog has nearly been running 2 years. I first posted on 18th November 2006, when I was a very young girlie, so Tuesday will be a kind of Birthday. (Dad , if you're listening, you know that Birthday cake translates as "raw pork ribs" in Westie-lingo.)

In the sleepy bungalow suburb of Hastings where Pud-Lady, Stamp-Man and T-fer live, nothing normally happens worth reporting. A text from T-fer today, though reads...

"Who said it was boring here? 6pm Tuesday, blue flashing lights galore outside our house. 3 fire engines, 2 ambulances, 5 cop cars and one car on its side. Chopping off doors, boot, roof etc. 5 people extracted. It was going up our road and clipped the front wheel / wing of my Espace, crossed road and ended up on its side. My car has damaged front wing and bent suspension, so it's the joys of an insurance claim for me. Happy Days. T"

It's all go!
Hope you get it all sorted, T-fer. At least there shouldn't be any doubt about whether there was an incident number!


Sunday 9 November 2008

Warming the Cockles

Nuff said we think. First coal fire of Winter - first pic is of Meg on the carpet basking, 2nd one is of me on the chair with Megan peeping underneath. H is there too. If you want to feel warm just double click either image and blow it up to full screen. You can almost feel the heat on your brow!


Saturday 8 November 2008


Denis (the late Dad to rags and step-dad to Diamond) was something of an artist, and had accumulated during his living in this town, a goodly pile of artist's equipment - fine papers, pallet knives, paints, pastels, crayons, pencils, brushes and a brilliant elabourate easel. To add to these, during the last years before he got really ill, he used to walk down in to town every day while Diamond was at work and visit the market and the shops.

He was always buying "bargains" and reporting back to Diamond what a good deal he had got. We may have already told you that when the humans cleared his shed and took the contents to a boot sale, they had crates and buckets of "tool shop" purchases - hinges still in their packets, mint condition tools, packets of screws and nails etc.

Well, the same applied to artist's stuff - so in his painting cases and boxes there were huge bundles of un-used brushes and untouched paints, and, as he knew what he was doing quality-wise, they were all top drawer stuff.

When he passed away, and Diamond started to clear this stuff, the only other artist we know is "The Artist", husband of the "Late Lady" (No, she's not dead - she's "late in the other sense, being the most "manana", lacksadaisical, relaxed timekeeper we know.) in Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, a very good friend of Mum from when she lived there (and still now when we all visit).

So, when we went over to Ireland this time, we took the crates, easel and other artistic goodies to "The Artist", en route. He was delighted - completely blown away by the bounty. All fantastic quality, he said. keep him amused for the next 30 years! We dropped the stuff and drove on down to Silverwood's. On the way back we dropped in again to collect a painting by "The Artist" for Mum. We sat down and were offered coffee and soon became aware that The Artist had a twinkle in his eye and was dying to tell us something funny.

Turns out that in among all the paints and brushes, he had found a complete set of Denis's old false teeth!


Friday 7 November 2008

Incest - oops!

This here is Dancer (The dog, not the Juvenile Herring Gull (he was only there watching George the Seal - see earlier post). Dancer is a Samoyed cross labrador - "Her mother was a Lady, her father was a handsome stranger". See "Tammy" posts of yore. Dancer is female and neutered, and owned by Mr Silverwood. Unfortunately, Tammy's other pups did not all sell, so there's a boy still knocking around the dog-run, who is sibling and litter mate to Dancer.

Don't people think that boy dogs are attracted to lady dogs, no matter whether they are Mum/Son? Anyway, to cut a long story short, Tammy has had pups again by Dancer's brother. They look fine at the moment, at about a week old, with their eyes still closed, but........

Meanwhile, all's well here and we have just had a pig's ear treat. The humans are chillin' for the weekend around a good bottle of Rioja, and comfort food - Cumbrian sausages, mash and beans - Denis would be soooooo proud!

Have a good weekend


Wednesday 5 November 2008

Respect for the Dead

Ah well. All good things must come to an end, and we are back home at the end of our lovely holiday, and getting back in the old routine. Food is just "food" again, no longer supplemented by the sprinklings of careless 3-year-old fingers, or the generosity of the Steak Lady's over-catering

Here are 3 nice pics to recall it by, now that we and the camera are back and re-united with the PC. 3 dogs on cat-patrol. The Silverwood's young black and white cat moved out while we were around, feeling a bit harrassed by yours truly, but insisted on hovering around the front garden and being visible through the front window.... I know! The Nerve!
Also some rather good elabourately carved pumpkins done by Dad and Mr Silverwood. Ah, we don't just do eyes and toothy evil grins any more - it's all got quite clever. We even do "clouds" by paring off the outer yellow skin and leaving the whiter flesh to shine through (see the witch pumpkin for the effect)
And finally, Haggis showing a due amount of respect for the dead dude in the front garden.
Also, nip back and look at a few earlier posts, which have now had appropriate pics inserted.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Handy Manny et al

We are safe home. Another 12 hour journey from door to door, brings us in through the doors at 18:30. We could better these times, but we were slowed by the blizzards on the way out, and by traffic jams on the approaches to Dartford Bridge on the way back. Other than that it was a good run, and we have visited yet more Motorway services for "comfort stops"

It is pure joy to be back indoors, where it is quiet. We love the human kids madly, but we are used to our quiet house and it is lovely to be able to "give them back". Especially now , in our random sample of "houses with children", all of Ireland seems to have bought a 40" plus plasma, or wide screen TV, plus satellite TV, and paid their subs to Disney's Playhouse Channel. Worse, they have taught their kids to use the remote control and to expect, nay demand, that the TV is on from the moment they get up, till bedtime.

We are totally OD'd at this stage on serial, music-bound, cutesy, moral-message-laden cartoon TV, from "Handy Manny" (Hispanic handy man plus talking tools helping all his neighbours), to Bunnytown (muppet-style rabbits), Pooh-bear (including spin offs like "My Friends Pooh and Tigger" which seems to have gone beyond any Christopher Robin involvement), "5 minutes more" (bedtime stories), "Imagination movers" and something we think was called Higgsytown Heroes, but might not have been.

We know more stupid theme tunes and catch phrases ("Heh Toooodles!") after a week of saturation exposure, than it is healthy for any puppy to know. Conversations in houses-with-kids all involve a nervous-twitch glancing at the TV.

Never mind. It's all over, and we're home, where the TV only goes on for must-see TV. Having said that, Mum, who is a dedicated follower of politics, is about to embark on an all night stay-up watching the American election results roll in, so we have the red wine, glasses, desk-top, internet links and our own wide screen TV set up downstairs and eagerly anticipating midnight (GMT) when the first results will start to appear from the East Coast. Dad will be dead to the world by then, but Mum has nabbed a day off tomorrow to recover.

Obama or McCain?

Monday 3 November 2008

Follow the Three Year Old

A dog learns very quickly to0 follow the three year old. In this case M is almost continuously armed with food, some of which is dog-friendly; biscuits, crisps and so on. Being 3 he is fairly careless when it comes to dropping it on the floor, and fairly easily distracted by the TV, or his baby sister, or passing dogs or humans, so the food tends to get put down and forgotten, or at least forgotten for long enough for a nippy dog to sneak in and neck it.

Where ever M is, there too am I, a little shadow sneaking from room to room, while the humans only ever (if I'm lucky) notice the chattering whirlwind of "Mummy... What you doin'?" and "Why" that is preceding me. I'm doing so well off this unexpected bounty, that when it comes to my own meal times, Dad is amazed to find I'm not wolfing the normal portions down with the usual speed.

The humans were up late again with their Murder Mystery night. Mum done it. No surprise there then. She's threatened us with murder on many occasions.

Today, the girls are back to school after the mid term break, and it's Haggis's and my job to take them to school. We leave Megan (Mrs Silverwood distracts her at the opportune moment with a slice of roast beef) on the basis that we need to get there some time before midday, but then with Em-J walking Haggis, and J-M walking me, you'd be amazed how the usual dithering and dawdling gives way to a fast trot. Lots of the girls friends and parents of friends smile at the sight and greet us.

Dad is joking with the girls that they must make us behave, no talking in the back of class, and concentrate on the lessons. He wouldn't really make us go to school all day would he?


Sunday 2 November 2008

George the Seal

I keep making reference to George the Seal. He is, I think, a Grey Seal (Though I am quite willing to be corrected on this one - big seal, "roman" nose with no sign of a Westie-style "stop" at the eyebrows)

While staying with the Steak Lady we had promised to treat them to a "Thank You" meal at a well known fish restaurant on the Howth Eastern Pier waterfront, the "Oar House" (doesn't seem to have a website, but seems to be owned by (I think) local Fishing Boat and Fish Shop owner Doran's).

As part of this deal you get to meet local celebrity seal "George" who hangs around bobbing up and down in the harbour getting very well fed on fish heads and fish scraps by local fish shop owners and locals nwho love him enough to buy fish to throw to him. He looks very well on it. I'll put a photo up when I can get back to my own PC. He has lately brought some younger companions in with him, whom the locals suspect may be his progeny

The fish meal was gorgeous, and Dad comes out smelling beautifully of cajun squid, and whole sea bream with ginger and oyster sauce. Only one criticism, says Dad. No beers, so no Guinness. Splitting hairs, I think


Packed Away

Early Sunday morning and we're all just breakfasted and back from our daily walk along the side of the Owenass River. It's a 20-30 foot wide, 2-3 foot deep fast flowing stream here, all brown and peaty from its passage through the Slieve Bloom mountains, before it joins the Barrow river just below the town. The water is as clear as dark whiskey, and you can see the stony bottom.

We stroll into town, then along the river bank before circling back along the town streets, before anyone else in the house is up and about. Well, maybe little M is awake, but he's confined behind his baby-gate and can only shout for his bottle till he rouses J-M, whose job it is to nip down and heat up his milk.

We are all a bit jaded this morning having played several games of Cluedo till after about midnight last night (a big exciting treat, stay-up-late for the girls, because we (and especially Mum and Dad (who are Uncle and Auntie to them) are over visiting. Inspired by this, more lunacy is planned for today, as the humans are all going to enact one of those Murder Mystery role play games. According to J-M, Dad is going to play the vicar. He probably "done it" (Reverend Green in the kitchen with the lead pipe, etc, or is that Cluedo?)

So now we have a few minutes peace to chill out after our Owenass adventure, before the troops descend the stairs and set the day into motion. I promised to tell you all about George the Seal ; I've not forgotten... just not got around to it yet.

Hallowe'en is all packed away as if by magic. All the drapes, ghosties and ghouls, skeletons, cauldrons, grave stones and other paraphernalia are boxed up and back in the loft. Only remaining out are several hundredweight of childrens sweeties and lollies, jelly worms and chocolate eye-balls, witches fingers and other e-number and sugar-filled "nourishment" which should keep the human kids a-buzzing till well past Christmas.

Have a great Sunday

Friday 31 October 2008

Ghosties and Ghoulies

More of our journey here tomorrow, but for now I need to tell you that all Silverwood has gone loopy. The house is decorated up to look like a haunted house, the bay window re-covered with great big witches cats, the front lawn given over to pretend grave stones and bat-fairy lights, skeletons covered in black raggedy drapes everywhere, and a CD player playing a loop of witchy laughter, screams, thunder and ghostie moans and howls.

Every child for miles around is dressed in elabourate costumes and face paint - Em-J is a zombie-doctor with a superb half-decomposed-abdomen, ribs and guts hanging out, knee joint exposed, green and black face paint with realistic scars oozing blood (well vaseline and red colouring), medical "scrubs" and white coat covered in blood, rubber gloves smeared with gore.

J-M is a white lady vampire - white tights and top, white shoes, gloves, white face paint, long flowing white hair, black lipstick and realistic dribbles of blood from either side of the mouth. M (3) is a skeleton pirate with similarly elabourate rib cage and "Jack Sparrow" tunic and leggings, one a boot-foot, the other a stump. Baby R (1 on Monday) is a superb pumpkin.

They are, even as I write, touring round the estate(s) Trick-or-Treat-ing armed with big loot-sacks which they will have no trouble filling. Like many Mums and Dads in Ireland, the Silverwoods have bought crates of kids-sweeties (many of them hallowe'en specials like chocolate eye-balls and "witches fingers" jellies, worms and maggots). They will return home several times to unload before going out again. As they are out we stay back here to receive similar numbers of Trick or Treaters inbound.

Meanwhile there are fireworks going bang and general chaos, so we (dogs) are racing about adding to the noise and battling to get out into the street to join in. Not a big disaster, as it's a cul-de-sac and every driver in Ireland is expecting small children to be loose tonight. The kids are too excited to worry about closing doors, so the grown ups are always shouting "Door!" and "Dogs".

Enough again for now. I'll leave you with one amusing story. 4 tiny children (4 maybe) accompanied by Mum but none the less a bit trepidatious about approaching the front door through the "grave yard" and past the skeletons and screaming CD player (Owwwooooooo!). They finally make it and I'm at the kitchen door. I look up and am shocked to see 4 skeletons in the front door way - definitely in need of "telling!!!". I charge up the hall giving it "Raff! Raff" RAFF!!! RAFF!!!", stopping just feet away from the threshold. The kids scatter in alarm, thinking the hound of the baskervilles is at their heels. Ha! Come here trying to scare MY humans!

Deefski the brave
(OK - Deefski the sitting on Daddy's lap shivering at the fireworks)

Irish Hallowe'en

kBy the wonders of technology and a borrowed laptop, a first ever report from "the foreign". We are en famille, at the Silverwood's place roughly in the middle of Ireland, and we're here to see the mad Hallowe'en celebrations tonight. The Irish "do" Hallowe'en in a more lock-stock-and-barrel way than anything we get in England, and they wrap in as well, any desire for fireworks that the English get out of their systems around Guy Fawkes Night

So here we are, after an adventurous journey up on Tuesday night, when it snowed. Dad had seen some stuff about "wintry showers" on one of the screens at work, and we'd left earlier than normal, and a good thing too. Real snow started on the M25, just north of Dartford Bridge, in the dark, and the traffic was soon reduced to 35 mph or so.

Great big flakes were coming down, and swooshing towards the windscreen like one of those "star-field" screen savers. It was so thick that it even laid on the motorway surface, and we couldn't see the cats eyes or the white lines. Dad latched onto the tail lights of a 4x4 and hoped. Some unlucky guy in the fast lane went too far to the right, put a wheel into the gravel trap on the central reservation, slithered to a stop, and had to get his passengers out pushing through the snow to get back onto the tarmac.

We survived an hour of that before the next driver swap on the M1. Here, Mum took over, the snow stopped, and we were soon doing more Mum-like speeds northward. The normal long distance rhythm for us is 2 hour stints of driving followed by a comfort stop for dogs - we have explored the grass and trees in more motorway services than it's probably healthy to know!

We made our ferry in Holyhead and there, as ever, we dogs get abandoned in the car on the car deck while the humans sneak off upstairs, on this occasion having booked a cabin to sleep in. It all goes quiet and boring and we get some shut eye, round to 06:00 and the ferry docks in Dublin (North Wall), and Mum and Dad come back to the car to rescue us.

We drive through the dark to Portmarnock's "Country Club" where we're taken onto the sand dunes and beach for another walk as the first glimmer of sunrise starts to lighten the sky. It's beautiful here, especially looking back towards Ireland's Eye (small island) and Howth Head, all lit up with street lights. The dunes are alive with rabbits.

Refreshed and comfortable again we head for the Steak Lady's house to catch up with our old chums, Yorkies Cracker and Rosie (not to mention try to steal all their chews and bones. Nobody had warned them we were coming so they'd not hidden them very well). The humans have a good fried breakfast (Dad just lurves the Steak Lady's potato cakes).

There's loads more to tell, but that's enough for now. Sam the Spaniel, George the Seal (I kid you not) - more soon

Deefer, Travellin' Babe

Monday 27 October 2008


Sunset may officially be at 17:43, since the coming of GMT

But really the sun has gone off the Rec where we walk by about 5. We just about get some running about in while the sun is still coming in over the trees on "our" (Eastern) side, but it's left the grass by the time we're walking home. We've had a good old race about with fellow allotment-holder, Chris's black greyhound/lurcher Kinsey (we think - but it might have been Ginsey). Named after a composer anyway, Chris being a "muso", so maybe this is him.....

We will check and get back to you. Kinsey has a yellow and black foam rubber ball which I steal and then won't give back. Kinsey is a slobbery dog, so the ball is so well glooped up with saliva, that when it rolls across the grass, it's wake is a stringy vapour trail of ick, stretching off the grass like mozzarella cheese, and clearly visible against the slanting sunlight. Bet you wish you'd not read that! Gross.

We also get a lovely chase about with small black lab pup, Sam, who is rather boisterous (boisturous?) and won't take no for an answer. I put up with it for a good while, but eventually I have to fall back on "drama queen" squeaks and hiding behind Dad's legs.

Sorry about the gloop story.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Megan Mingeth

There we are, all getting ready for the party last night and, yes, Meggie did get her finger nails painted tarty-red (looks disconcertingly like Dad has gone too far up the quicks when clipping her nails!) when Diamond makes an off hand comment about the fact that megan is a bit niffy. Whammo! It is decreed that we should all be bathed. Cheers Diamond!

So today, an hour later than normal due to the change to GMT, we get a nice long walk all round the boat yard in the drizzle. We note that there's a new barge in town, the Ethel Ada (London). Unusual name, we thought - we will have to look that one up in the books - but on the web for all that....

She's fully rigged but now in one of our floating dry-dock lighters, presumably for her Ministry inspections.

We return from our walk all sopping wet from the rain, so Dad takes the opportunity to put us all through the shower. We ming no more, smelling instead, fragrantly of coconut. Damp dog and coconut, maybe, but not too bad for all that. We are now stretched out across various furniture and slices of floor, steaming gently dry.


Saturday 25 October 2008

The Rut

It's that time of year again when the fallow deer are up to their mischief in Challock Forest, the "Rut". Dad is up early to take a trio of Lady photographers (Big Canon EOS's and/or Nikons - huge 400mm lenses, enough to make Dad feel quite out-done) into Challock Forest to try their luck at deer photography.

It's the perfect morning for it. It's windless and the sky is clear. There's frost on the grass and Dad has to scrape ice off the windscreen. Dad and his women meet at 06:30 while it's still pitch-dark, and admire the stars while everyone turns up. They walk in the dusk, from the Jacket's Field entrance, down to the "sledged dog bend" before turning in to the forest proper. This gives everyone the chance to hear the grunts and bellows of the boys.

As the sun comes up they are walking in through the birch, towards the main rutting stand, and it goes like a dream. The sun beams in, the deer do their stuff and everyone is awe-struck by the event and the atmosphere. They all get good views and sights and sounds, but that perfect combination of the right light, a photograph-able deer, and no trees in the way eludes the cameras.

No bad thing in our opinion. Dad has been going there for years and has yet to capture the perfect Challock Forest fallow deer shot. It's one of the things that keeps him coming back year after year to try.

With dad back and breakfast taken, we are all off for our walk round Rec and Cemetery, where we link up with Sis' Ellie and walk round together. I have a good old sniff at the base of the tree where I KILLED MY SQUIRREL (ooh - sorry - did I say that a bit loud?)

Dad disappears up to the allotment, then we all get an "old git's lie down" in the afternoon. Party tonight - Mum's got a gang of work mates coming round to eat, drink and watch Sex and the City. Diamond is here, and there's plenty of meat. What can go wrong?


Friday 24 October 2008


Quite a nice pic, we thought, of Meggie bimbling through the same Autumn leaves you had me in last night. No such luck tonight though - Mum and Dad arrive home from work both late and both frazzled so that, so far anyway, we've not had a walk tonight.
It's shaping up to be a mad weekend, too, with the humans here having a "Sex and the City" party Saturday night (so I suspect Megan will want her toenails painted tarty-red again, like she did on the last episode night. Plus Dad has promised to take a few more people out into Challock forest to see the deer in rut again (eh heh - three women in the forest and none of them are Mum - how racey is that?).
And then there's a lunch do for Diamond's friend Mary. I suspect we'll be fitted in around all that lot somewhere, and a camera and some more autumn leaves may be involved if the sun shines.
It's the weekend!

Thursday 23 October 2008

Autumn Leaves

Back to the Rec for some more chasing about in the autumn leaves, and we meet back up with Louis (...and I think to myself....what a wonderful world....etc) the Cav from yesterday. He is playing with a ball, and naturally I have to try to nick it
This turns into quite a good game, and we have the camera to record this. With Dad standing to one side while Louis's owners chuck the ball, Dad can get some good shots of us at speed.
Young and fit, or what?
Deefer (and Louis)

Wednesday 22 October 2008


Our lovely warm autumn continues, with the leaves coming down in the evening sunshine, and lying in rustling beds for us to romp through. Tonight's a good night for small dogs on the Rec - one of those where we meet lots of terrier sized chums, and we can all have a chase about together.

Not only did we meet sis Ellie, but also out there were a grown up Cavalier King Charles called Louis, and a tiny (12 weeks) pup called Alfie, who is very quiet and a bit over-awed by all this dog activity. It's good, though, everyone agrees, for a pup's socialising, for them to meet lots of other dogs of all shapes, sizes and (nice) behaviours, provided it's done in a sensitive way and it's a happy experience for the pup.

Dad though, does worry about Cav's, after all the stuff on the news and a couple of dog documentaries lately about Syringomyelia (SM), which is something Cav's are prone to. Even (if you agree with the programmes), those from top breeders and Best-in-Show material, but if you're interested google Cavalier King Charles SM and you'll see it all there. So you end up looking at such a tiny pup as Alfie, and wondering what the future holds for him.

Mind you, plenty of people will issue dire warnings about westies, skin complaints, brutal cancers of shoulder joints etc - so I guess you "pays yer money and takes yer choice" (one of Stamp-Man's, that one)


Sunday 19 October 2008

White Death

Today I graduated from birds to mammals in the "steely-eyed killer" department. The only other kill to my name (shamefully) was a robin over a year ago - search robin on this blog and you'll probably find it. But today, being walked home on a lead through the cemetery, the "H" and I were darting hither and thither after squirrels. Dad was not too worried, because squirrels are way faster than westies and have the advantage of being able to cheat, using the 3rd dimension.

So when I dashed after this particular varmint who raced round the back of the tree, and so did I, we all assumed he'd go upwards. Amazingly, he didn't but stayed down in the ivy on the ground, where a terrier nose quickly sussed him, and it was all over in a couple of squeals and a shake, before Dad had realised what was up and had time to react. Haggis came and bounced, and Megan rushed up and sniffed, but I had already claimed the kill.

Not so brave last night though, as the funfair came to town and the owner/manager put on an impressive firework display. Megan is completely chilled to fireworks, and Haggis un-afraid - he shouts at them to get out of his air-space. Me though - I'm not so sure. I cowered behind Dad's legs and when he picked me up, I watched, but my little bod was a-shivering and my tail was down.

Today, looks like a bit of a day off for chilling out and lying in the sun, recovering from all that huntin', shoot'n', root'n' toot'n'.

Oh, and did I also mention that I killed a Chanel compact. Took some doing. Had to bite through plastic and a glass mirror.... but a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do.

White Death

Friday 17 October 2008

Here's a little song I wrote

We're exhausted from a gooooood walk, a chase of the yellow frisbee and a belly full of raw pork ribs. Have a great weekend. Our humans are about to do like wise on steaks and good Rioja.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

On the Road

A couple of nice shots of Dad and his cronies' project 2CV restoration car, Mademoiselle d'Armentieres.
Here, she's first in a line up the other fleet - next to Dad's own "Clara Bow" (why do 2CV owners give their cars pet-names?), then Andy's "slough-built" (yes "we" built 2CV's in England for a while!) and his AK van (another French built and owned one, imported by Andy).
In the other pic she's being driven around near the village of Blean in Kent. The driving around and registration of her belie the fact that's she's not totally finished. There's bit of a list of "de-snagging" to do. Also, we dogs have not been allowed in her yet, which definitely means she's not been Christened, wouldn't you say. Dad says he'll have to do that on a day when we're pristine, clean and dry, plus probably brushed out so that we don't leave a single footprint, nose-smear, or white hair anywhere in her.
It's not that Dad's precious about it - but he does value his bits, and if the others found out....
Mum and Dad have come by a boxed set of the American TV series "Northern Exposure" which was their must-see TV in the early years of being together. It's good for us too - lots of sofa time with Mum and Dad has got to be a good thing.

Tuesday 14 October 2008


Thought you might like to see how the boys are getting on with the Cambria restoration. This shot is taken from the port bow looking astern, so you can see that "we" are now into the curving frames that start to form the bow, but also you can see the shaped frames which start to bring the stern shape in towards the transom.

Those rear-most frames are almost "S" shaped where they join either side to the stern "deadwood" (bottom central timber running "north-south", painted red here, top centre of pic). and then curve out to give the width. This is the barge almost a year into the 3-year build project. It started, really in November 2007.

Meanwhile, you know how sometimes you just "click" with someone. Well tonight that happened to me and a 19 month old white Jack-Russell bitch called Tammy. Dad, Meg and Haggis were forgotten as we two dived into vigorous play together, running, running, running, wrestling and tumbling. Sometimes the H would join in to try to trip me up, but I was really just focussed on Tammy.

Later, when sis Ellie came up across the Rec, we said a quick "Hello", but then I carried on playing with Tammy, and Haggis chased Ellie around. Often we were right under the humans' feet (isn't that always the way?), but then sometimes we'd carve off in great circles, off round the rugby posts, or trees, or the park benches. So it went on for about 30 minutes, chacing and racing till we all had to have a lie down and collapsed, panting on the damp grass. Fantastic!

Tammy and her Mum are from Graveney, a nearby village (although originally, the Mum is a Northerner, from Bradford). We hope we see them again. It is great to find someone to play with as an equal, not someone who's either going to kill me, or wimp out!



Monday 13 October 2008

Missing the Forest (twice)

It comes to something when we've missed two excellent walks in the forest. Dad has been up his "guided walks" stuff again, both at short notice as a favour to the new Committee of the "Friends of Kings Wood", who seem to be plagued by no-show walk leaders.

Unfortunately, on neither was it possible for us to come along, once because it was at in the gathering gloom and Dad didn't want us racing off when he had umpteen small herberts to look out for, once because deer and westies (allegedly) don't mix.

The first was an evening walk for the local "Beavers" (junior cub-scouts)
- the "1st Great Chart". Advertised as a "Night walk" it started at quarter to 6 and the kids were all equipped with torches and those small forehead-mounted miners' lamps, plus the Boss-Beavers had boxes of glow-sticks to give out.

There were 30 children, 20 or so Mums and Dads and 3 leaders (plus Dad and 4 FoKW members). It was a great success, and it was great (says Dad) to look back behind and see a long snake of children with torches winding through the paths, and hear their excited voices. It's quite dark in there by the time we got back to the carpark (19:30) so it must have felt like a real adventure!

3 days later the walks dept was back in action again, this time on the old favourite Deer Dawdle - where Dad stepped in to rescue the day, when Forestry Commission Forest Ranger Steve had to pull out at the last minute.

Dad's been on a few of Steve's walks so can almost do the patter verbatim by now, and knows where the rutting stands are and where to walk to get good views. We even have a skull and antlers for a 6-7 year old Fallow Deer to wave around and show off at the pre-walk intro. The deer performed on cue - roaring and grunting round the stand, and chasing about - even staging an antler-clashing fight off the stand as a side show. It was a great success.

Never mind - we've been promised a forest walk soon to compensate.