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....