Saturday 28 February 2009

Finzi and the Fences

A few pics for you to enjoy this weekend. Up at the allotments the fencing contractor is now finished and we have resplendent lines of fence either side of the footpath and around the car park. Whether this proves to be a deterrent to the herberts who think it's fun to steal, vandalise, torch sheds and trash crops, remains to be seen. The joys of allotmenting on the urban fringe, we guess.

The black lurcher is Finzi, who we've mentioned before - he's owned by a couple who also have a plot. A very gentle boy, given to finding the most comfortable place to sleep and lying down a lot, he looks very distinguished in his handsome wispy beard.
Finally a nice conjunction last night between the crescent moon and the planet Venus. Dad had to take this for one of Mum's threads. No bad eh?
We are related, it seems, on Mum's side, to posh French people. There's a surprise! Mrs Silverwood, in researching one strand of the family name, has un-earthed in the history archive of the Univ. of Nottingham, a letter written in 1794 by one Chevalier Joseph Marie de Cuttoli de Cothi, a minor aristocrat unseated by the Revolution to the Duke of Portland to try to get a job in the English Military. He's presumably hoping to join the campaign to win back Corsica and thus get back his lands.
At risk of sounding like Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley the Alley Cat we knew this of course, that we'd all descended from nobility. The letters are of course in French and it is Mum (our only fluent French speaker) who is given the job of unravelling the effusive grovelly "You Excellency" and "I most humbly entreat you" stuff and, fair play to her, she struggles only on the pre-revolution French Military ranks. Sounds like our Chevalier was some kind of adjutant or an aide-de-Camp.
Sacre Bleu. Absolument!
Baroness de Deefski

Sunday 22 February 2009

Kess and a rescue

An eventful day. Dad is down at the Cambria where they are now back into real volunteer-work, after almost 12 months where "volunteer work" has meant manning the volunteer centre and explaining the project to the public. Today the boys are glad to get back into overalls and rigger boots, gloved up to paint really black sticky paint onto the rolled-steel "keelson" girder which will run the length of the barge along the midline, bolted to the floor. We dogs are not allowed anywhere near, although barge-dog Kess (we've mentioned her before in this blog) gets herself into a pic looking particularly demented, with a nice out-of-focus bargey background.

At one stage Dad has to rescue another Jack Russel (Fran) from the creek. It's high tide and Fran is playing with a ball a bit near the edge, when she puts the ball down on the slope and it rolls in. Plop! Fran is most concerned at this and slithers down the bank to rescue it, and falls in too. Splosh! She grabs the ball and turns back for the bank, but the sides are steep and muddy, and she can't get a grip. The owner starts to fret, so Dad clambers down the quay-side woodwork and hoiks her out by the harness. She is wet, cold and shaken but not harmed. Muppet. (Not clear if Dad's talking about the owner here, or the dog).
Also, for good measure, an nice pic of an orchid which the humans have TLC'd back into flower after we all thought it was a goner. And one of the three of us on the early morning bed, where we have romped and play-fought till it was no longer possible for the humans to relax and read the papers. This shows the H (left), the Megster (centre) and my good self (r).
Hope you had a good weekend

Saturday 21 February 2009

Aye aye Chicken Pie (3)

...see also Nov 28th 2008..........

"Baby M", the Silverwood's 3rd eldest was 3 yesterday, so I suppose, technically, should no longer be called "Baby M", but instead "Little Fella, M".

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday, dear Mmmmm
Happy Birthday to Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

We try to talk to him on the phone, but as is the way with 3 year olds, he cannot cop that we, here, cannot see the toy train (Called "Emily" - is that one of the Thomas-the-Tank crowd?) he is holding up and waving about near the phone.... "Look! Train... Emily!"

He is also a bit confuzzled around the fact that when he sees us it is usually for a Narrow-boating holiday, so he thinks we all own and live on the boat... "We go your boat?" He still responds, though, to the nonsense Dad catch-phrase, "Aye Aye Chicken Pie" and starts discussing what he'll have with his chicken pie - peas (yes), dip-dip (=ketchup) (yes), carrots (noooooo) etc

Ah well. Spring is here. There are frogs cavorting in the big pond and spring bulbs leppin' out of the ground all over the garden. It's warm and sunny, so the sloppy mud of last weekend is drying out nicely and Dad can spend some time digging up at the allotment. At lunchtime, we are all out on the terrace, where the "patio furniture" cushions are back out of storage. We dogs are positively basking in the warmth, even though it's a fairly washed out wintry sun slanting down. Mum and Dad tell me that one of the first things that impressed them about this house was the sun-trap terrace in their first February.

Have a great weekend

Thursday 19 February 2009

Only gone for 15 minutes

There was this rabbit see, and........

Look - I was only gone for about 15 minutes. Dad shouldn't really have started worrying. I knew where I was all the time, and he was making enough racket with his whistling and shouting and clapping, I could hardly fail to know where he was...

But the rabbit chased off into this bramble thicket just as we were turning off the footpath to come in at the North end of the allotments, by the big old antenna, and then there was another one, and another and I got kinda carried away. I am told that when I emerged it looked like I'd been dragged through a hedge backwards (yup, only it was me trying to backwrads drag a bunny forwards).

And, of course we then had to meet sis Ellie all immaculate from the groomer (and her Mum all tanned from a hols in Mauritius) just to show us all up.

So it goes. I go in for a more street credible, "lived in" look and a dirty beige colour. Plus what Mum calls "minging", so I suspect we may be in for a bath at the weekend.

Look after yourselves

Monday 16 February 2009

New Bed

We have a new bed! Compared to the moth eaten, trodden down, mud stained old one, it is pure luxury. The bed itself is actually a blue design, but the humans decided to also buy we girlies a pink throw to spread over it. Best part, say the humans, is that it has a remove-able washable cover. Very smart, is it not? That's Meggie (l) and Haggis (r). I was put on for the shot but lunged at the camera as soon as Dad aimed it at us....
Ragworth - you don't know what you're missing. (Ragworth has been offered a variety of beds but chooses instead his old favourite cardboard lettuce crate. He says it goes better with his London ASBO street cred image. He needs just a bit of bailer twine lead and his own personal homeless person to sit next to, to complete the picture.)
Nice new dog in the Rec tonight - a gingery brown yound female Lab called "Ginger". Still at that loose limbed soppy, unco-ordinated stage.
My other pic is the first fig on our new tree. I believe the variety is "Brown Turkey". These fruits form last autumn. survive through the winter and then mature to ripeness by this coming September. Or, at least, they do on a full sized tree. This one is still only 3 feet high and made up of 4 or 5 twigs, so maybe it won't crop just yet!
Meanwhile, it turns warm and we've already had good signs of dunnocks nipping about in a nest-builder-ish manner, and blue tits declaring territory from the Paulownia tree. Spring is a-coming.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Gardening with a crow-bar

I think we've mentioned before, little 3 year old westie Fleur dressed in her spectacular jumper. It's a cold frosty morning and Dad has us walking early in the Rec, enjoying the white grass and making "snow-angels" by rolling on our backs. It's there that we get buzzed by that blur of high speed green, with a red polo-neck that is Fleur.

"One of Nanny's specials" says Fleur's owner - a bespoke jumper with red polo-neck, a girth strap and little holes knitted for fore-legs and for the harness-type lead to poke through. Fleur is un-abashed and races around with me at crazy speeds.

Today, Dad is up at the allotment, where new fences are to be erected, so a big gang of them volunteer to rip out the old fencing. Being an allotment, "fencing" can mean anything from fencing per se, down through pallets, bed frames and tangles of brambles. So there's gardening equipment, sure, loppers, secateurs, pruning saws, scythes and forks, but also bolt-croppers, crow-bars, lump hammers and so on. They get on well, and are able to tread wearily home by about 1pm.

It's Valentines Day, and Dad's bacon is saved as he remembered that a certain young lady loves fizz and chocs. She, in return is cooking a special meal and the house is filled with delicious fragrances and cooking smells.


Friday 13 February 2009

The World and his Wife

It's "Finzi", as in Gerald Finzi - the black greyhound cross (lurcher?) we meet regularly and who belongs to Dad's allotment chum and musician. All you need to know is on....

The World and his wife are out at the Rec this evening - not only Finzi, but we also have an enthusiastic greeting with Judy, the smooth coated Patterdale we met yesterday, a (new) little white Westie called Lottie (4), and almost inevitably Bugsy and Billy. Several more besides, too.

I am wondering if I'll get any Valentine cards. A girl can always hope (although Dad says that the way I'm feisty with all the boys, he'd be amazed if I do....). I hope, too, none of you lads have forgotten your ladies, canine or human. Dad, we know, is safe. He will probably survive through to at least tomorrow night, alive.

We are sad to hear that the Silverwood's old cat Socky has had to be put down. He generally steered clear when ever we visited, although we have met him (and knew to treat him with respect!). Our sympathies go to the Silverwoods. (How are the assorted dogs? How's Chance? How Sam? Dancer?) Do let us know.....

Dad has been to "Pets at Home" (Pets R Us) for dog food, so a chance to buy yet another yellow, hollow centred frisbee (My 4th) and is amazed and delighted that it survives tonight's first Rec throwing session without me chewing any "pinking shears" cuts into it.....

And so, it's the weekend. Have a good one, and I'll talk to you again soon.

Deefski (Young, free and single....)

Thursday 12 February 2009

Mugging Old Ladies

Our much loved Rec walking companion, rather portly JR "Patch" has a "mum" who always carries dog sweeties in her pocket. I have latched onto this and as soon as I spot her I race over and start bouncing around pleadingly on my hind legs. Dad calls this "Mugging old ladies" but the old girl doesn't seem to mind, and keeps giving them to me. It's called "positive reinforcement", I think.

We also meet black greyhound cross, owned by two of Dad's allotment-ish mates, who we think is called Finnsey, or possibly Finzi. Named after a composer, anyway, as the man is a musician and music lecturer, and if you Google "Finnsey" that, at least, is one composer who comes up. We will have to ask the guy.

As usual, too, we meet the Bichon pair, Bugsy (7) and Billy (1). They're never let off the lead, but their man has these enormous extending leads - must be 15m at least, so while Bugsy shouts almost continuously at his Dad to get a move on, Billy races in great arcs with me, chasing round and round to the limits of the leads, and frequently trying to bolas either me, a lamp-post, a human or two, Megan or Haggis, or occasionally himself, running and running till we are all breathing hard.

And finally, a new one to us - a smooth coated brown Patterdale Terrier. We didn't know they came smooth - the only Lakeland/Patterdales we know are, of course, our own "Rags" and his sister, the red allotment dog, "Fern". They are anything but smooth - real old shaggy wiry dogs, with great Denis Healey eyebrows, wispy chins and rock-and-roll haircuts. This dog, Judy (4) is dark brown with golder patches, and three white fronts-of-feet (just the toes really), plus a white blaze across her chest. She was lovely - very sociable and enjoyed a bit of a chat with we three, Bugsy and Billy.

It must be the lighter evenings - more dogs are conglomerating in the Rec now between end-of-work, and when it gets dark.


Tuesday 10 February 2009

Catching up with the Old Girl

Some of you might be interested in these catch up pics of the restoration of the Sailing Barge "Cambria", which we've been ignoring rather since the Visitor Centre was closed before Christmas. Now it's open again though, and Dad is back involved. The shipwrights have made good progress in the intervening time - all the main frames are complete and in, the big steel "Keelson" is almost assembled but not yet fitted, "inner wales" and "chine keelsons" are almost there as is most of the chine planking.....

Cooo... listen to us coming out with all these boat-building expressions! I will direct you to the Cambria trust website if you are interested enough to find out what I'm on about - .

"We" are now onto discussing more detailed stuff about how the main "hold" will be kitted out as an educational facility, the layout of cabins and store rooms, and even the choice of material for sail cloth.

Meanwhile, more mundanely, on the Rec we meet up with our good buddy, Ben, a collie cross. He never minds if we borrow his old tennis ball, and he's such a playful and friendly boy, that all three of us love a good bouince around with him. Yes, even Meggie was boinging around chasing the ball (all be it Dad throws it very gently and no more than about 6 feet for her these days!)

Good to get back in touch with the barge


Saturday 7 February 2009

Let sleeping dogs........

After lots of years of trying, Dad and his allotments gang have finally obtained grants to fence in the public foot path. The work will be done by proper contractors, but the ground works and clearing up of old fencing will be done by Dad and his merry men. When we say "old fencing", this is, of course an allotment site where the spirit of recycling and "make-do-and-mend" is ingrained in the culture. Old fencing is pallets, bed frames, brambles, sheets of corrugated iron and so on.
So it is that we have been up there today with loppers, pruning saws and forks but also wire cutters and crow-bars.

With Mum away with Diamond in Glasgow, Dad's been seeing to it that we don't feel hard done by, so a treat today of raw pork ribs saw us OK, and Dad has been coming out in solidarity with Glasgow, with a supper of haggis, neeps and tatties. At one point a glass of Glenmorangie was calling loudly to him, but he's pleased to say he resisted, and stuck to traditional Scots Rioja (!)
Now, as you can see, we are all watching West Wing. Glued to it we are. That's "H" on the leather sofa, me up on the back of the sofa against the wall, and Meggie on the dark blue arm chair. You can tell it's a gripping political drama, and just up a westie's alley.

Friday 6 February 2009

Acts and Omissions

2 days ago I gave kill scores for all three of us.

How your sins will find you out - I am shamefully reminded that that score card is not complete.

Look back far enough in this blog (April 2007 should do it, or just look for the posting called "What a difference a day makes") and you'll find reference to a completely unfounded allegation that I once killed a robin. Worse, It is said that it was one of the breeding pair setting up to breed that year in Dad's new nest box among the clematis tangle. Me? I don't remember that at all, so "they" must be making it up.

We are also reminded that Megan's score should include a certain Irish (Silverwood) Hamster. There on a visit before I was born, Megan locked onto watching the family hamster in one of those modern cages made of transparent plastic tubes. Trans-fixed, she would not be distracted at any price, her little brain slowly sussing out that if she were to nip the tea-towel between her teeth on which the cage rested on the coffee table, and lean backwards with enough force..... she might just pull the cage down on top of herself with enough force that the plastic tubes would burst open and........

Ah dear.


PS - and yes, Mr Silverwood. The "half a squirrel" kills were just a team effort with H and M grabbing either end of the same squirrel. It was still one body when it expired, just doubly chewed.

Gimme a break! I'm a Terrier!


With everywhere in the UK except here apparently blanketed in snow, it seems like a good idea to stay put. Diamond and Mum though, decide to jet off to Glasgow to meet a gang of chums for some socialising over the weekend. Look out Glasgow. While they're still in the air it comes on "Sally Traffic" that Aberdeen airport is closed with all flights being diverted, so we are waiting to hear whether the Dynamic Duo are down safely.

Here, as I said, just rain, all be it very cold rain with a definite nip in the air. Won't take much to turn it into wintry showers. On the Rec we meet another new kid - 3 month old red and white staffie, Dodger. Very sweet. He's quite timid but we seem to bring him out of himself and he's soon chasing about. Megan (tart) as usual changes from stately Dowager Duchess to coy young thing bouncing around and flashing her eyes at the "young man". Cradle-snatcher, I say.

Have a great weekend


Thursday 5 February 2009

Killer Queen

The dog-owners have reclaimed the Rec after the snow-man builders retreated in the thaw, so we've had a good walk tonight in which we meet old friends Alfie the young Cav, and Patch, the rather portly JR. I also run away screaming from bouncy young new-kid-on-the-block brown-bear of a Newfoundland "Ava". She may not have got within 4 feet of me but I was outta there screaming like a stuck pig.

But the fun started when we got home and I dive straight under the kitchen sink and start squeaking like I'm in prey mode. I never go under there, so Dad suspects we either have a mouse or a rat. He starts removing cleaning materials and searches with a torch but to no avail. Eventually it all goes quiet, we all relax and off he goes to chop wood.

This is my cunning plan! If he'd known there was a squirrel there and what I was about to do to it, he'd have spoiled my fun - all that nonsense about humane traps and re-releasing them.... pah! While he's down the shed chopping the kindling I drag the little varmint out and by the time he gets back I have it despatched and on display on the hall floor.

Our running scores are now

Haggis: 1 slug and half a squirrel (joint kill with Meggie)

Megan: 40-odd rats during the chicken residence plus half a squirrel

Deefer: 2 squirrels

I may not yet be in the premiership, but Meg's hunting days are over and I am still a young dog....... Bring it on


Wednesday 4 February 2009

Coincidental Shar-Pei

What a co-incidence. We only know of one Shar Pei among our friends, and that's 8 year old "Summer", a rescue bitch, who belongs to a colleague of Dad's, and he was only commenting this week to her that we've never seen a Shar pei around these parts.

So tonight we come across in the snowy Rec, a yound lady out walking a 12 week old, dark furred Shar pei called Arnie, along with an older, scruffy mongrel terrier, Tyson. Yeah, we know - normally the names that, according to the cliché go with pit bulls, studded leather collars and tattoo'd skin-head owners. Not this time - sweet little lady owner in her 20's. we guess, and two very calm lovely dogs. We had a nice chat.

Just goes to show


Tuesday 3 February 2009

Tortoise-shell Shih Tzu

Well, the snow fell, such as it was, and has now largely gone again. We never get that lucky, so a couple of inches is all we've come to expect, and no photo's were taken - Dad has albums worths of "westies in mediocre snow" shots. He's holding out for a decent dump. Just a few miles away, in Rainham, they tell of 6-10 inches, but not here. Still, Dad had the fun of a snow-bound 2CV ride to work, as Mum wanted the "normal" car for a run to Ashford.

The kids must also have a day off school, because there are dozens of them on "our" Rec. The snow, although only shallow, is that good, wet ball-able texture, and the kids are struggling to roll up bigger and bigger balls, some to make snowmen, others just to push the ball till even 8 or 9 of them can push it no more, so they leave it there.

Toboggans are a new one to me, and definitely need shouting at. I am eventually put back on the lead when Dad gets fed up with this, and also worried that the kids around the sleds think it is them I am barking at and get scared. Fun though, while it lasts.

We meet a striking, almost tortoise-shell coloured Shih-Tzu called Seamus. We didn't know they came in those colours - mixed white, greys and browns, but apparently so. He's a nice chap and we have a good run around with him.

But that was yesterday. Today drizzle has pretty much washed away the snow and the thaw has rendered the surface of the Rec very sloppy and greasy. We meet Diamond out walking with Rags, so the humans amble round at Meggie speed (she's OK on dry tarmac, but slows down over frozen snow or mud) while Rags, Haggis and I have a scamper about. At one point Rags races off to greet, rather boisterously, a terrier about half a mile away across the Rec, and in another we get Mollie the Greyhound doing one of her "fly-pasts" .... Voooooosh!


Sunday 1 February 2009


That Cyril will be the death of us all. He's back this morning and a-scampering around above our heads as we lie reading the papers (well the humans are anyway). There must me more than one hole.... take us to Def-Con 3 !!!

The humans have got hold of a boxed set of West Wing DVDs and have definitely been overdosing on the White House and all things politically American.

I am taken up into the loft to explore, and Dad checks the trap to find it empty but un-sprung. Cyril has had the peanut butter-smeared walnut off the spike without springing the trap, and the evidence (clean, neatly halved walnut shell a couple of yards away) has Mum saying "Clever little devil, isn't he...." Too clever for his own good if you ask me. Dad, I was enjoying that scurry around in the loft and just because I wouldn't come back for an hour, there was no need to grab me by the scruff and haul me out of there!

So, as the wind started to blow and the snow started to fall, Dad had the extension ladder out front and a can of "No More Big Gaps" (it's an aerosol can of expanding foam which sets hard in the cavity) in one hand. He was up at gutter level filling all the visible holes with the stuff.

The trap is re-set with cheese and peanut butter, and we await developments.

Pictures of pretty snow soon, all being well. It's coming down impressively at this stage. We still won't beleive it till we see it, though, lying on the ground several inches thick.

Look after yourselves