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.


Sunday 12 October 2008

Sorry for the gap

Sincere apologies to any regular readers, who may have been wondering where the blog had gone. No-one here was feeling like writing much around the funeral for poor old Denis, owner of Rags (Asbo) the Lakeland Terrier (?) and Dad to Diamond. Rest in Peace, Den - we'll all miss you and your "canny lass"s and "bloody lovely missus"s.

Once we were out of the habit, it always seemed easier to do something else than write blogs. Not that there hasn't been plenty going on. We have, for example, now officially declared Megan an "old git" and changed the day we do walks. She's got to the stage now where she'll only do about an hour (she is 13), and by the end of that she's definitely dragging and looking like she's not enjoying it.

So now we go out twice - once on a Meggie-sized slow bimble to the Rec or round the allotments so that she doesn't sieze up entirely, and everybody can do "what a dog's gotta do". Then later in the day. Mum distracts Meg with a fuss or a sweetie, while Dad, Haggis and I snick out the back and take off on a longer, faster, route-march type walk, more befitting of a young, healthy girl (and a 12-going-on-pup "young" man like Haggis)

Today's was to the Sportsman pub in Seasalter (near Whitstable), where you can join the sea wall or walk along the beach westward all the way to the nature reserve (Castle Coote?). You can (and we have in the past) walk all the way to Faversham this way although you have to come off the beach at the reserve and walk inland of the sea wall. Dad likes watching the marsh harriers here, and the avocets out on the Swale mudflats. Plus the occasional Thames barge out on a charter.

I guess now we've broken the writer's block, we'll be back in the writing routine again now, so more of this soon, but for now we stink of salt-marsh and need to dry out on the (Indian Summer) sun-warned terrace while the niff disperses.

Look after yourself