Wednesday 28 May 2008

Quiltin' Party

We're all off round to Diamond's for an evening of sewing (like Aunt Dinah's in the song) and drinking wine. I think it's called "domestic bliss". Uncle John swerves it. As with Bindy, when we meet Rags again after a break, we have to re-establish the order of seniority. All well and good, but I keep getting told off for being "feisty" with Rags

Most unfair. Seems only months back that he used to threaten mortal wounding on me on Reculver beach and I'd squeal like a drama queen (even though the humans say he just ran towards me in puppy enthusiasm and breezed by feet away, never touching me, but that's not how I remember it!). Now I'm a bit bigger and stronger, i can get in a few pre-emptive strikes when he comes near "Yafff!" I shout, at my most impressive (before the scolding "Ahh Deefer!") and he backs off.

So we still don't make contact, but now I'm doing the "Yaff!"-ing . Yay me

Mind you, we all look on Rags now with new found respect. There are rumours that while he was in London he ate a Chav child and is now "known to the police" but I suspect someone might be exaggerating here. Probably Rags himself.....


Bindy's Back

Now that we are all back home, it's been good to get back into some of the old walking routines. We've been to the Rec, where there's been a funfair over the weekend, but out of no-where we came across old friend (and adversary!) little Jack Russell "Bindy" and JR of more senior years and portly stature, "Patch".

Always after a long gap Bindy and I, who are roughly the same size, speed, nippiness and strength, have to have a "set-to" just to re-establish who is top dog, (for some reason I won this one), but after that we're greatest mates again, and run around together chasing Bindy's plastic frisbee.

I mentionned that Mum and Dad had been to the Mark Knopfler concert. This was at the Albert Hall and was a birthday present from Mum to Dad. They came back bubbling (well, Dad did.... Mum was fairly enthusiastic about that, but bowled over by the guest appearance of Joe Brown for a couple of numbers ("Picture of You" being, inevitably, one of them).

Mark K was brilliant, says Dad, and played a goodly range of stuff from the early Dire Straits days right up to the most recent album. Dad hasn't got that, so I daresay there'll be some Googling towards imminently.

More soon - probably even some more tonight

Look after yourself


A whole week!

Yeah I know - it's been a whole week since I last posted. There's so much going on! For a start the humans deserted us from Thursday round to Sunday, airborne to Ireland to visit the Steak Lady in Portmarnock, and the Silverwoods in Co. Laois. The occasion was the First Holy Communion of "our" youngest neice, J-M, daughter of the Silverwoods.

The function itself happened in the church in their home town but then everyone adjourned to Portmarnock where the Steak Lady held a big party celebration. That's why Mum and Dad came home smelling gorgeously of the two tiny Yorkies, Cracker (red-head, top of picture, licking her lips) and Rosie (front of picture (always!)) and the very elegant Siamese, Seti.

More of that visit later - Mum and Dad were no sooner back than the abandonned us again to head for the Big Smoke to see Dad's hero Mark Knopfler at the Albert Hall.

I may have been a week without you, but I promise I will make it up by posting more stuff on this today.


Wednesday 21 May 2008

Back to Normal

After our brief flirtation with Night Shift working, Dad comes back to bed at 06:00 this morning and we hang on in there even with Mum going off to work normally. Where Dad is is where a dog should be, even if it's rather sleepy "action".

At just gone midday something wakes us all up - dogs leap into action and accelerate away across the bed..... as it happens, right across Dad's "moobs". Arghhhh!!! A rude awakening or what? Never mind, we are soon forgiven, and we have the rest of the day with Dad awake and around. There's something to be said for these night hours.

The garden is now choc-a-block with baby birds doing "flying school". The fences are peopled by rows of baby brown starlings sitting next to a Mum or a Dad and screeching at him/her to get fed, and next to these are similar families of sparrows, the babies sit crouched with trembling wings. Blackbirds all up and down the street are "Chuck- Chuck" ing in alarm at some threat. Sad to say, at least we know it's not "our cats" this year.

Have a good one


Tuesday 20 May 2008

Workin' on the Night Shift...

Topsy turvey at the moment as Dad has to do a couple of night shifts, so we're working through the night and trying to sleep in the daytime. That's a joke - it's not easy to sleep with that amount of builder noise going on, especially now they've started on the foundations of the "Home for the Bewildered" right out behind us so there are, as we see when we wake up at 4.30 pm, no less than 5 big diggers within 100m of the house, plus a lorry craning a big gen-set onto it's bed.

No matter. It does mean Dad is around and (a bit) awake during the daylight hours, so we benefit from some nice walks. Today's was to Challock Forest where the bluebells are all but over. The chestnut and beech are in full leaf, the bracken is 2-3 feet high and unfurling fast, and the bluebells are green seed heads with just a few powder-blue bells left intact.

Talking of walking - a small dog can fill even a simple walk with drama. Take the footpath round the back of those houses on the North side of town, leading to the allotments. To Dad, Meg and the H it is a straight path from A to B, with occasional interesting grass tufts worth a sniff at either side (M and H, not so much Dad).

I can make it a veritable adventure playground and obstacle course. The fences either side are not that good, so every few yards I can scoot right, through a hole and onto someone's back garden - there are cats to chase and bark at, there are occasional children looking over back fences as we pass, which take me by surprise, so they deserve a bark too. Those cats occasionally stroll across the path 50 yards ahead, necessitating a headlong dash along the path and back. Squirrels chatter from the trees above. Dogs and dog walkers to meet and greet too. A girl is exhausted time she gets to the allotments!


Sunday 18 May 2008

Classic Cars

Today is the day of Faversham's Classic car and Motorbike Show - we always head on down there because Dad's cronies from the Citroen Car Club display some cars there.

They seem to always get good weather for it, too, and today is no exception. war sunshine and a breeze. Before we've even got to the main carpark, where CCC are, we've seen the "Cheese Box" ladies with their white Citroen H Van (ah mais oui! Le Cube Utile!), and a plum red 2CV "AK" van. We know both these vehicles - the AK lives round here and the H we have seen a number of times driving past our house - we think they live in Whitstable. We have also met and fussed with Rags, who is out with "our Tot".

We have also stopped and chatted to a very spruce, clean, shampoo'd 2 year old westie called Bailey, his owners lounging in deck chairs next to their Lotus Esprit, which was in the show. The guy was amusing us by saying that on his way to the show he'd stopped for petrol, and while he was out of the car Bailey had jumped into the front seat.

The man is very proud of his Lotus (he certainly keeps it clean enough!) so when a babe came towards him coo-ing - "Ahhhh - isn't she gorgeous!!!!" he gushed - well - Thank You!, indicating the car. No! Says she - I mean the dog, and proceeds to make a big fuss of "her" (actually Bailey) while totally ignoring the car and the crestfallen owner. Wife was apparently in fits of laughter.


Saturday 17 May 2008

Wind and Rain

The heat wave is finally over. It turns cooler and rainy, and has Mum firing up the central heating again. We are quite thankful of this, as Dad has us all clipped to 5mm - lovely in the heat! Dad is quite thankful for the rain, and can finally barrow trays and trays of kale, kohl-rabi and cabbages up to the allotment and stick them in, with their own little bunny-proof fence.

It's also more pleasant out walking. We don't mind a bit of drizzle, it's the heat slowing Megan down, that we notice mainly.

It's raining baby starlings. Just as we're up and about this morning, and Dad lets us all out the back door to sprint down the garden, a new fledgling starling takes the opportunity to jump from the long box in among the Albertine rose. More like a controlled plummet than a real flight, he slides down the air to land among the box shrubs at the foot of the bay tree, squeaking excitedly. 3 westies are suddenly upon him, and Dad hotly upon them.

He dives under a box and freezes - sensible move, as the dogs lose sight of him, and Dad can get a chance to scoop him up. Dad puts him on the garden fence facing outward (no dogs that side next door!). Sure enough he tries that flying thing again, this time with a bit more lift, and whirrs away across that garden to safety. We all hope he is re-united with parents and by now (4pm), getting fed and ready for his first night out of the nest.

Nearly a very short look at freedom!


Tuesday 13 May 2008

Ragworth's Adventures in London

With Diamond in Greece (Poros) at present with John, Ragworth is being dog-sat by Diamond's little brother "Tot". I say "little" - he is bigger than Dad, but once a "Tot" always a tot in their family. They are from up North, so everyone is "Our Gavin" and "Our Mam" - even Denis's "little brother" who is 70+ is still known as "Our Kid"

Anyway, "Our Ragworth" is currently in the safe hands of Tot and , because Tot works in that London, Rags is currently up in the smoke. He is being walked in Battersea Park and, when he managed to find the only muddy puddle in Battersea fell foul of Tot who "Knows about terriers" and found himself bathed and then brushed out and stripped as you would a Show-Dog for good measure. Rags is reported to have enjoyed the experience and feels very much the man-about-town now.

Our own adventures have been more pedestrian - a nice gentle one to the Rec tonight where the mowers had just been through, so we had a great time chasing about kicking up the mowings and rolling over and over attacking each other in sprays of grassy bits. We met black collie (him of the white hind toes) Ben, and new kid on the block, softest cutest dog you'd ever want to meet, 4 month old Husky pup "Kaya" with his pale blue eyes and the softest downiest coat you'd ever touch.

Go Kaya - go Rags-about-Town


Monday 12 May 2008

The Colour Purple

Our garden seems to move through colour phases as we progress through the heat wave. The early yellows (daffs etc) are long gone, and the blues and whites (vibernum, snowflake, new frshly-opened Erigeron (Spanish Daisy)) are now giving way to floods of purple. The big ol' Paulownia (Foxglove Tree) is the most covered in blossom we've ever had it. I say "old" - it's actually only about 12 years old - they grow so fast it's already 16-20 feet.

The lilacs (ours and next door's) carry on the purple theme on the left side, a purple aquilegia is doing it's stuff in the circle garden, and all around the Erigeron which opens white and then turns purple are giving us ground level purple. Purple honesty is fading but some geraniums are stepping into the breach. We don't plan it like this - it just happens, honest.

Mum has the "proper car" today, as she has a day off work and is on a mission to assist the move of Denis (Rags's Dad) from hospital to a local care home, so our Dad has happily taken the 2CV to work via picking someone up in Ashford. He returns with a beaming smile, the roof rolled right back in the blazing heat, only lacking his usual straw hat (doesn't really go with the hi-viz jacket and workwear "uniform" apparently) for the complete "yokel" effect.



Sunday 11 May 2008

Baby Cheeses

Mum, as many of you will know, is Irish, and was brought up thinking she hated cheese. Cheese to them was mainly two brands, with which Irish readers may be (horribly) familiar - Galtee, and especially Calvita (calcium and vitamins - geddit?) which came in little blocks about the size of 5 Ryvita welded together, in foil and then in a little cardboard flip-top box (very useful for keeping your sewing stuff in in the classroom).

This cheese was truly awful, plasticky and artificial, and reportedly never went hard, no matter what you did to it.

So when Mum went off to la France as a teenager to do a bit of au-pairing, and was offered cheese, her reply "I don't like cheese" met with consternation and amazement! How can you not like cheese? Being true French folk, the family therefore set about converting her by introducing her to ever more interesting cheeses. It worked - Mum and Dad are both confirmed cheese eaters, and are willing to try all manner of weird and wonderful regional product.

Most recently, Mum has come back from the supermarket with a circular flat box of really smelly Germain Epoisses from the Champagne region of France, a cheese washed in brandy to enhance flavour. Honestly, if you didn't know it was meant to look like that, you'd bin it for the fermenting, oozing "mess" it looks like. Have a heart Mum - our noses are 40 times more powerful than yours! Mum protests that this is nowhere near the smelliest cheese you can get. She was given one in france called Maroile by the end of her 2nd year, in the sprit of a graduation exam to become a true "honorary French femme"

Go Mum
Go Epoisses (and it did)


Saturday 10 May 2008


Our heatwave continues. Dad gets us all up nice and early so that we can get a good walk in at 07:30 before any heat builds up. There's nobody about except one-time allotmenteer, Steve, and his golden labrador, Tess. The is everywhere at once and can't stop long to say hello. there is always another bramble thicket, and she races away. We watch her heading for the horizon via all the thorny patches and possible rabbit holes, putting up a hen pheasant as she goes, till she is lost from view.

Back across the Rec we meet up with old friends Gigot, the Bedlington, Truffles (choco-lab) and (Little) Storm, the long haired chihuahua. They have more time for us and we all have a good race about. Old reders will remember that Gigot came to these people as a recue in a very poor state. He is now fully sorted and a healthy, fine figure of a chap - a credit to his new owners.

We never stopped after that, helping Mum and Dad with a whole load of jobs around the garden - planting the new woodland glade bit, digging up another "Angels' Fishing Rods" grass, making a new brick edge, and spreading some more shredded bark on the path. Also chilling on the terrace.

The we all got cippered. Dad decided it was too hot for us to be shaggy, so now we are all buzzed to 5mm, and feel nice and cool as a result.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend


Friday 9 May 2008

Skanky bones and cat poo

It's the weekend, and our lovely private SE England heatwave continues. The car has 25 degrees on the dashboard thermometer on Dad's way home and everything in the garden is drying out and in need of watering

I am on and off my food at present, keeping them all guessing whether I'll want my breakfast, or my supper. Mum suggests, rather meanly I thought, that this is due to my fondness for finding in the garden, putrid, manky old dog-bones and ancient cat-poo. The bones are mainly from fairly recent chunks from the butcher, of cow pelvis, and venison haunch. The cat poo issue is, sadly, now solved.

Where they can, the humans grab the bones as soon as we get bored, and bin them, but where we can get away with it, we hide them. Mum and Dad are always amused by the unsubtleness of our "hiding" antics, and why we don't all immediately discover each others' bones.

A dog nosing among the new aquilegias (Granny's bonnets) with her tail in the air and in full view, and then skulking back with dark brown mud all over her snout? Why would that make you suspect anything?

Then, tonight, we are all keeping a watchful eye on each other as one of us (equally unsubtle) sneaks off behind the top pond (ears and tail equally visible) to rootle about , then produce the loudest gnawing and shlurping noises you could wish for.

Busted, Mum and Dad usually nab the bone at this point and bin it, but by then the damage might be done - these bones are often skanky in the extreme, with or without maggots.



Thursday 8 May 2008

Farewell to Mississippi

Another sad one, I'm afraid. Mississippi even from kittenhood has had uncertain health. With her brother (Louisiana), she shared a strange musculature and tail formation - her tail was only half the normal length, the last few vertebrae were vestigial, curling round to form a small knob, her tail held downwards like a Springer Spaniel, and her back legs always slightly weak and carried low, so that she had a stoop at the back end like an alsatian.
Well lately she's been showing signs that the back end was degenerating (front end, shoulders, neck, head, front legs always looked fine), and she's been less and less mobile, recently unable to get in and out of the cat flap and then, finally, unable to get in and out of the litter tray. Accidents were frequent.
So Mum and Dad have made the tough decision and now her little life is over. She is buried in the new "woodland glade" garden. She will have a little marker of woodruff (Gallium). We will all miss her - she was a very friendly cat and we loved her.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Concrete Jungle

The humans have been working very hard lately, in between the lazy bluebell walks. A concrete path in the garden, they decided, is in the wrong place. We think so tto - a dog chasing down the garden has to veer left, then dive through an arch spraying gravel everywhere like Roger Clark, 90-right onto a brick path, then 90 left onto the concrete and on down the garden to the greenhouse and shed.

The path's basically been in the wrong place since the humans moved in, and they've hefted up all the rest of its length, but this last remaining 12 foot or so has been left, being the path along "by the chicken run". Well, the chicken run is no more, and there are no plans to re-introduce chooks (there's this theory that I'd kill 'em, but I've no idea where that came from). So a plan was hatched to rip up the remainder of the concrete jungle, and replace it with a stylish woodland glade path, curving gently between old brick soldier-course kerbs, and laid in shredded bark

That was the weekend's project and very nice it looks too (plus it's a lot easier to run down!) give or take the pile of hard-core which was the path and now needs to be the carloads heading for the tip.

Dad'll be too tired to walk us!


Tuesday 6 May 2008

The last one?

Another nice bluebell-iferous pic, this one of Meggie (with me obscured behind) and taken yesterday on a slow gentle walk (Megan and Mum are with us, and neither do Dad's "route-march" pace willingly!).

This, though, is pretty much it for picturesque bluebell walks - although the bluebells are probably at their finest, the beech leaves are now well out and the chestnut coming into leaf, so the light levels are falling. So too the herb and bramble layer is thickening up and hiding much of the colour. Never mind - we had a good run at it, and the sunny heat has been gorgeous. Challock's car park was choc-a-block yesterday.

Enjoy the good weather

Saturday 3 May 2008

Challock 6 dogs

As promised, that pic of all 6 of us amongst the bluebells in Challock Forest. I'd hesitate tio say who's who without being able to see collar colours, but I am nearest to camera, with Meggie centre right on the path and Haggis centre right front end off the path. More importantly, look at that carpet of bluebells. Another warm week and they'll be fully out and truly gorgeous.

Have a great weekend


Friday 2 May 2008

Happy 12th, Meggie!

Happy Birthday Megan - 12 today!! Here is a pic of her, eating her birthday cake! It might look a little to you like a raw pork rib from Sainsbury's but let's not split hairs. Naturally we all got a couple (although Haggis is so slow eating his I suspect he may have had 1 and a half, to Meg's 2 and a half, but he can't count, so (Dad) your secret's safe with me!

We also had, treat of treats, another bluebell walk but this time with 6 of us - bro Archie, Mum (Mollie) and Dad (Hector). Dad had actually tried to get Ellie-Bez but her Mum was working

Pics of all that, and more, when I have time!

Happy Birthday, the Megster


Thursday 1 May 2008

Bluebells in Challock

Well, we're getting there. Those bluebells in Challock Forest are reaching their peak now. Another warm week and they'll be superb. There's always a fight at this time of year between the bluebells trying to peak and set seed before too much leaf comes on the tree canopy and in the brambly, brackenny leafy layer. Some years the trees come on too fast, and photo's are spoiled by too much green light.

These, especially the 2nd one with the even grey beech trunks and a wispy green start to the leaves, are OK but, even though we didn't get wet, all the bright sunlight of early morning was cut out by the towering rain clouds all around us. We got back home to the river-like aftermath of a massive cloudburst washing down the gutters outside our house.

We were lucky - Dad didn't even have a coat!