Tuesday 31 March 2009

Mary Jo

A couple of fun pics tonight - couldn't resist this one of Meggie's eyes peering at the telephoto. We have in the house a similar shot of a Westie who lived in, we think, Hawaii, in the days when Mum and Dad used to frequent a Yahoo Westie chat forum. It's been photo-shopped (or 10-year-ago equivalent) till it looks like a water-colour done with a large brush, and it's almost impressionistic. We have it framed.

Then a pic of Mum's chums, some mozzies, dancing around in the slanting evening sunshine, and seen against the dark of a honeysuckle growing up the fence. Poor old Mum is suffering at the moment having been bitten to death by one (or more) a couple of (warm) nights back. She must be very attractive and tasty to the mozzies - Dad has no such problems.

A sad day yesterday for Diamond and John (Rags's Mum and Dad) - they have lost at 97, John's old Mum, Mary Jo, and the funeral yesterday saw her laid to rest in the Cemetery where we often walk. So tonight we diverted over to pass by the grave and pay our respects. Well, Dad did - the cemetery to we dogs means only one thing - hot and cold running rabbits, so we were pulling every which way on the leads, while Dad tried to keep a semblance of "decorum in the forum" as he read the card(s) and the plaque.

Back through the Rec where we saw, at a distance, but didn't get to talk to, tiny black Patterdale Sue, from yesterday, but did get a good run around with my sister Ellie. Dad and Ellie's Mum now agree that we have become very similar in size, build, speed and boisterousness. We (Ellie and I) seem to have bulked up to the same degree. Mind you, she was, as always, whiter than white and splendidly groomed, while I go in for the lived in look. Go Ellie


Monday 30 March 2009

New Kids - watch out Ragworth

It's a warm Spring day, and Dad can walk us, for the first time, in his shirt-sleeves. We head for the Rec, where it seems that everyone is out and about, and there are a few new faces.

Little tiny "Sue", all-black Patterdale Terrier pup at only 11 weeks and enjoying only her 4th walk out in the big wide world. Her owner is cool with this and has her off the lead, where she tears about in that semi-co-ordinated way tiny pups have. She's no bigger than one of Dad's feet, and feet are a theme with her. She chases over to any new passer by and launches an attack on their shoe-laces, flopping over as she grabs them till she's lying on her back on the person's feet to cries of "Ahhh- isn't she cuuuuuute!" etc.

I chase her about at one stage, but it's easy to catch her up and the smallest nudge sends her cart-wheeling, tripping over her own feet, so Dad tells me to be less rough. This, he says, is another baby Ragworth, who will grow up remembering your bullying, and come back to get you, with her mate Rags, and then there will be two of them!

Also out there is an 8 month old very glossy black and tan terrier (doberman colours, terrier size and shape) called Sonny, out romping with her much oklder companion, black terrier Lucy. Sonny's good fun for a while, too. Patch is there too.

We're done in by the time we head back for the main path, and there we come across Mum coming home from work.


Friday 27 March 2009

Tayto Crisps

Dad and his English compatriots may hanker after the taste of the old Smiths Crisps, with the twist of blue paper containing the salt (Smiths tried to re-introduce it once, says Dad, with a sachet you had to tear the top off, but it was never the same). "Ready salted" was a new and bold innovation once! Can you believe it? (Says Dad, pitching his tent firmly in the "Old Gits" camp!)
But to Mum, the flavours of childhood carry a different brand name "Tayto". Along with "TK" red lemonade (it's a golden red a bit like Lucozade) it evokes a childhood spent in the Liberties area of Dublin, seriously dodgy at the time but now, of course, very chi-chi. It's near what is now the South Circular "behind the cathedral", Dublin 8.
Like Dad's "St Helen's", now very much part of Hastings, Elphinstone Road and the "Pilot Field" is gets them both talking of being able to play in the street, but if you went beyond that line in the concrete any of the local Mums could come out and clip you round the ear and send you back into the allowed bit.
The packet in my pic is one Mum brought home from her recent (homesick) visit to Ireland, where the family now live in Portmarnock. We got to taste some and Meggie and I approved, but to Haggis, crisps are "plants" and the H doesn't do plants. Remember George? The seal, celebrity and long time resident of Howth Harbour? Mum went to visit him, and he's now proudly showing off his harem of 6 female seals. Good Man, George!
Have a great weekend

Tuesday 24 March 2009


Dad has the afternoon off in order to be here for the Gas Man, who's coming to service the "aul' boiler" (no comment). Gas man comes and goes, very efficiently by about 3pm, so Dad hikes up to the allotment to do the Rotovating. It's hard physical work, because that old beast is a big powerful thing, and Dad spends all the time fighting it's wayward tendency to take off across the plot.

All the time, he and his allotment mates are ruefully watching a massive John Deere with a 40-50 foot gang of 4 discs and rollers doing to acres in seconds out on the (new) fields, what it is taking Dad hours to do per square yard. The tractor guy is followed by hundreds of gulls swooping and crying after the turned up worms. Dad is supporting one robin. Yes, the job of turning the "nature reserve" out back into an oil seed rape monoculture is proceding a-pace.

We aren't allowed up - there is this theory that dogs and rotovators don't mix. I was only trying to bite the wheels Dad! In the end we get our walk across the Rec where we meet 8 month old Cav, "Alfie" and try to have a run around. I'm up for it, and Alfie keeps trying, but as soon as it's me chasing him, and I look like catching up he stops and cowers, tail between legs, which puts a bit of a dampener on the game and I get bored and wander off, where upon he chases me again. Odd dog. Needs to learn to play in a Deefer-style, mildly robust way!


Sunday 22 March 2009

Jeepers Creepers

We are out and about all day with 2CV Llew. Dad has him booked to diagnose whether the dynamo on the project 2CV (Mademoiselle) really is failing to send any charge to the battery, or whether this is just bad luck on the part of the shaky hands diagnosis of JJ. Inevitably this mission gets wrapped around with sundry other errands and tasks that distract 2CV Llew from the business in hand.

But heh, it's a lovely warm sunny day, we've nothing killing and Mum is in Ireland, so we chill out. Also, we get to ride about all day in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which means loads of space in the back to stretch out (all be it smelling strongly of Llew's dog and dog-in-law, Rosie and a springer of whom we cannot currently recall the name).

Also we get into some interesting new places where we are fee to explore nooks, crannies, old caravans, old buildings and so on. First up is the boatyard by the Shipwrights pub where the humans have to move the caravan (pictured) from one place to another. It serves as Llew's Summer house and chill-out place and will be surrounded with potted plants, barbecue equipment and one of those pot-kiln type patio-heaters. It also has a generator, so he gets TV and all the mod cons.

Next up, we Jeep it down to a farm half way between Dover and Folkestone, off the old A20, to look at an old 2CV incomplete restoration project which the owner has contacted Dad about in case we knew anyone who might buy it. Always awake to the possibility of a bargain, Llew is on the trail. Turns out the guy also has in an out-building, a very rusty, French reg'd Ami 8 Estate, so then Dad needs to phone Andy B (being the most likely bloke to want that)

And finally, to the barn where Mmle is stored. She fires up like a dream (better than Dad's "normal" 2CV, in fact) and Llew does his stuff with the meter, but sadly confirms the JJ diagnosis. The dynamo might be generating all sorts of power, but none of it is getting out of the spinning dynamo and up any cables to either the voltage regulator, or the battery.

However, all is not lost, as Llew knows 2 different blokes called Kevin, both of whom happen to be experts in the old electrics of old cars, like Mmle's 6 volt 1961 set up. He is hopeful that one of these Kevins will be able to sort her out in time for her brave intrepid mission in May to La Chapelle d'Armentieres.

Hope you, too had a good weekend


Saturday 21 March 2009

Dad's old room

What a day! We're up fresh and early and whizzed off to the frozen Rec to let off steam, running around in the frozen grass. Unfortunately I lose yet another favourite "toy", a fairly dense sponge rubber ball which I have loved to death - chewed all the outer colour off it so that it is mainly white, which means it gets lost in the frost.

But we're off to Hastings to the Pud Lady. Stamp Man is still in hospital and the Occupational Therapy types have got all involved, so now when he comes home it has to be to a hospital-style bed, not to Pud-Lady's saggy mattress, dark carved oak angels too-tall-for-a-westie-to-jump-up-on ancient one. So it has been decreed that Dad's old room will be cleared of the build up of 25 years of boxes of second hand books, cleaned and completely redecorated.

Walls and floors that have not seen the light of day since before Meggie was born will be swept, de-cobwebbed, sugar-soaped, scraped, sanded and painted to within an inch of their lives. We are all loaded into the 2CV and high tailing it to help. Dad's other brother and his good lady, the family that "don't do dogs" will be there (we mentioned them a couple of blogs ago, I recall) and so will T-fer. Pud Lady (on the instructions of Mum) will be forcibly restrained, sat in an easy chair and fed sherry, and denied all chance to lift a finger.

Even lunch will be bought-in salads and stuff (plus Pizza and quiche at the request of Pud-Lady, who is rather mischievously varying her diet away from things that Stamp-Man would like in his absence at Hospital. Go Pud-Lady! You Rebel, you!

We are excluded from the room at some stages (something about gloss paint on skirting boards) but that's OK. We entertain Pud-Lady and enjoy chasing round the mature wooded garden. Dad spoils the fun a bit by telling everyone not to feed us when we scrounge. Spoilsport!

All done by 3.30 pm, and it's still a lovely sunny day, so Dad rolls the 2CV roof back and we cruise home again. I spend some of the trip standing up on the back seat. leaning heavily on Dad's shoulder, with my nose raised into the airflow coming across the top of the car. Lots of sheep to look at across Romney Marsh, but as yet they are all fat fat Ewes - not a lamb to be seen yet!

Have a good weekend

Friday 20 March 2009

Deck Beams

Never let it be said that I don't post a goodly variety of pics on this blog. Tonight you have a couple of land-mark stages on the barge - the fittibng of the first cross-ways deck-support beam. A big curved baulk of oak, 23 feet long. The guys have finished the framing now, so we are starting on the covering in phase.

The pic below shows the beam looking towards the bow of the barge, and the other pic, above, is taken from far-right on that pic, looking from outside the barge. from Starboard quarter towards port quarter.

The flowers are a magnificent arrangement supplied by local shop Botanica (in whom we have no vested interest, but who have so impressed Dad that he's happy to provide the link

They were actually ordered by Mum for the Pud-Lady, but Mum has nipped off to Portmarnock to see Steak-Lady, and Dad collected them from the very nice ladies in the shop this afternoon. Pud Lady will be only delighted we know.
It's a lovely warm Spring weekend, and we've been out on the Rec where the world and his wife were out walking their dogs - we met so many regulars (Finzi, Misha, Ben) plus a new kid on the block, little 4 month old red terrier "Reg".
Have a great weekend, and all you Mums, have a great Mothers' Day

Sunday 15 March 2009

Shipwrights and Shipwrights

A beautiful blue skied warm Spring day. We get Dad up at 07:30 but we're in a kind of moochy mood, and none of us press Dad for a walk first thing. Very relaxing - leisurely breakfast and plenty of time to read the papers.

It's a volunteer day though, down at the barge, and Dad is wielding a paintbrush, painting the inside of the shipwrights' Apprentices Workshop. As well as restoring Cambria as a vessel, the Trust is using the opportunity to put half a dozen apprentices through a wooden-ships ship-wrighting apprentice-ship (probably too many "ships" in one sentence there....). It's an important part of getting your Lottery grant, the Education side.

There is talk of us then being able to link up with 2CV Llew on a mission out to Blean, to sort the electrics on Mademoiselle, which is good for us because Llew just might be round at his caravan near the Shipwrights pub, which means we get a nice walk along the creek bank looking at the boats coming and going and meeting a very smart pair of dachshunds - very glossy!

The Mmle plan, though, comes to nought. Llew can not be found and isn't answering his phone, so we head home. There's then another walk for H and me, over to Diamond's where-at Mum has been helping to wrestle the late lamented Denis's garden back from the brink of becoming an overgrown wilderness. The ladies have been working hard in the warm sun, and are all but collapsing by the time we arrive.

Chill out, you humans
Dogs know how to do these warm weekends.........


Saturday 14 March 2009

Ribbit... Ribbit

"Ah!" says Dad, finishing his breakfast read of the papers with his back to the open door, which leads to the garden, "I think we have frog activity in the top pond". "Ah...." comments Mum, "there's plenty of rurbling is there?"

None of us is sure that "rurbling" is a word, but it does have a certain charm and is certainly evocative of the sound of frogs.

Yes, the warm Spring sunshine has both Mum and Dad out pottering in the garden, clearing away old dead pots of winter-expired plants, nipping and trimming here and there with secateurs, and teasing out the odd weed. It is relaxing work and is done to the accompaniment of plenty of "rurbling". The hopping and swirling about attrcat my attention but I am warned off before I actually lep' into the water.

Later, at mid-morning, we spot the first spawn, with a very handsome Mother frog sitting amongst it, looking very proud of herself.

As well as frog nuptuals, Spring is very much here too for the birds, and our gardening is buzzed and overflown by the comings and goings of great-tits, robins, dunnocks, chaffinches and many many sparrows. Sparrow shortage? Not here we haven't. We've counted up to 78 in the bushes around the feeders before now.

Ribbit Ribbit


Tali at 5 months

Out for our early one this morning we come across old friends Truffles (Choc lab) and Storm (Long haired chihuahua) plus their new Bedlington chum Tali - she's been mentioned on the blog back in January, as replacement for the late lamented Gigot. Tali is now 5 months old and a superb dog. She's fast and full of beans , playful and very friendly, trying to make a fuss of everyone in the Rec at once. Tricky when they are 100's of yards apart!

At one stage she makes a bee-line for Springer "LB" (the "L" used to stand for "Little" apparently) who is walked by near neighbours on the Rec, but always on about 20 miles of cord (OK slight exaggeration!). Tali's owners call and whistle, but LB's up for a bit of running around play, and Tali is a case of "none so deaf as those who won't hear".

We all end up together in one big doggie melee. When we eventually head our separate ways, Tali is led off to a good range before being released. She heads straight back for LB and resumes playing. This happens 4 or 5 times before she is eventually led all the way off the Rec.


Wednesday 11 March 2009

I Can See for Miles

With apologies to Pete Townsend....

To the East and North of our allotment site has been, for at least as long as Meggie can remember, abandoned farmland, gradually being taken over by hawthorn, birch and brambles, and always threatening to turn into a massive housing estate at the hands of a local developer.

It's been fantastic dog walking country, criss crossed as it is by the paths opened up by trail bikers, and you'll have heard in this blog of any number of circular "loop" walks that use it - the Levee loop, the concrete bridge, the high path, the short-levee. Meggie's a bit old now for the full levee loop, but we still enjoy a charge about down there and only weeks back I took myself off for a rabbit hunt through its thickets (see blog called "Only gone for 15 minutes")

It abounded in wild flowers at the right season - rosebay willow herb (fire weed to our US readers), thistles, bristly ox-tongue and blossom from the brambles and hawthorn (may), blackthorn (sloes) and morello cherries. It ran with rabbits and we could regularly see foxes, nightingales, pheasants, cuckoos and kestrels.

Now suddenly, with the credit crunch clipping the wings of the developer, we hear that it is to be returned to farmland, cleared, ploughed and planted to oilseed rape and wheat. So out there now, all across the "Abbey Fields" (as they are known) big machinery is at work - huge hydraulic tracked diggers, JCB's (back-hoes) with telescopic jibs and grabs, tractors with massive tillers etc, clearing the scrub, piling it into huge pyres and torching them. You can see the boiling brown smoke for miles.

You can see for miles, too ! It is surprising how the hawthorn and bramble rises up to hem you in shrinking your horizon to a few feet. Today, on the high ridge path we could see for miles across the feilds - even a dog with her eyes 8 inches from the deck has a clear view.

We don't know whether to be pleased that the threat of the Housing Estate has gone (for now) or sad for the foxes made homeless, the birds forced to move on, and the end to a goodly crop of blackberries. Farmland is OK, but ecologically and in terms of bio-diversity, a bright yellow field of OSR is almost sterile, and wheat sprayed 3 or 4 times a week might as well be scorched earth.

Ah well, the farmer guy is promising to keeop some paths open and allow we dogs continued access.

As for Megan, our walk today to see the fires and clearances is an hour and a half, which is just about at her limit. She is dawdling like a pro by the time we walk back down hill to the house. She's walked those fields since she was a pup - for nearly 13 years we've had that lovely wild place - almost a nature reserve - to walk in, just minutes from the front door.

Ah... waxing lyrical

Sunday 8 March 2009


You know that scene early in Slumdog Millionaire where our hero jumps into the farting swamp of bubbling poo?

We were being walked through the allotments this morning and Dad stopped to chat to a couple of blokes. Seemed like a good opportunity to me to nip off and find a particularly rancid smear of fox poo in which to roll my chest (both sides), collar and rump (both sides).

Dad says he can remember clearly being bathed as a small boy in the kitchen sink, sitting on the draining board. You had to watch your back because behind you was the "Geyser" hot water generator thingy.

Meanwhile, all hail to the weather. It's hailing.

How we laughed.


Saturday 7 March 2009

Another Cracker

Yay! We already know one "Cracker", little Yorkie belonging to Steak-Lady in Portmarnock, Co Dublin, but now we've found another - 3 year old Border terrier cross, shaggy and red-brown. Great for an extended race about with in the Rec this morning.
And some photo's. Dad's solution on how to get some 10 foot chestnut poles up to the allotment, some signs we are well into spring - the tiny tete-a-tete daffs - plus still hanging in there from Christmas, the helebores.
Also (says Dad, rather embarrassingly) a good haul of salad potatoes which should probably have been lifted at least 8 months ago. No matter, they are in good nick and the humans assure me they are delicious. Like having a very early 2009 crop, while most people's (including Dad's real ones) are still chitting in trays in the shed!
We're off to do Question Master on a Friends of Kings Wood quiz night. Have a good saturday night

Friday 6 March 2009

A "Delicate Flower"

Those of a sensitive disposition or anyone about to eat supper, please avoid this posting!

For all that I am known to be a feisty so-and-so, very full of my own opinions and importance, Mum and Dad are exasperated with my guts seeming to be sooooo sensitive to anything other than straight tinned (Butchers Tripe meatloaf) dog food.

Unpredictably, I will suddenly go right off my food, ignoring bowls of the normal food, and toying with the dried-meat dog-sweets (they get called "sweeties" in this house) that I normally take the humans fingers off to get at. This reluctance is followed by a few bowels-turned-to-water motions (just dark liquid and grass!). 24 hours later I'm back, sorted and ravenous.

Megan and Haggis are, by comparison, tough as old boots, and seem to be able to eat anything, so the family dog menu has always included raw pork ribs for treats, or the spine cut out when spatch-cocking a raw chicken, any rabbit or hare bones (avoiding the long limb bones), and even at times chicken bone-ends - the cartilege-y bits cut off the shafts with secateurs, plus of course any big-animal (sheep, cow) bones we can get from the butcher.

These episodes of poorly guts happen about every 2 months, and because they do not seem to follow a pattern, Mum and Dad have been a bit zealous in cutting out these extra foods, thinking that maybe it was that chicken? Maybe it was the ribs? Safer to not give anything. But because it's not fair to me to let M+H have them when I can't, all three of us have had to do without, and no end of potential dog-treats have gone in the bin.

Dad has now decided that I should become an experimental dog. He's had me "stabilised" on the Butchers tripe for a good while now, and he's going to gently re-introduce the extra's one by one, with "boring" gaps in between, to see if I get belly ache. This way "we" might be able to get back into treats for M+H without the squitty-bum effect on me. Of couse, I love the treats, so I'm up for this too.

I'll let you know how we get on. First up - one raw pork rib.....


Thursday 5 March 2009

Taking after Mother

It seems that one of Megan's pups from the first litter, "Lady", may have Cushings, taking after her mother. She is owned by one two Dad's work colleagues (married) and one of them commented today that Lady "may have diabetes" as she is drinking a lot. Getting chatting, as Dad started asking the "and does she...." list of symptoms questions (pot bellied look, incontinence "accidents" indoors, reluctance or inability to jump up onto furniture, lameness for no obvious reason......) it started to look more and more like Meggie 3 years ago.

Dad has recommended testing for Cushings, and googled some websites to print for the lady (Sarah). The vet had apparently listed it as a possibility, but will now look more closely, knowing that Lady's "dam" has it, and started showing symptoms at the same age as Lady is now.

We are back at the Rec and spot, in the distance, Rags being walked by Diamond. Not so much walked as being romped around with in a boisterous manner by a big black shaggy collie and a brown shaggy terrier of similar build to Rags himself. Getting closer we can see that the collie and terrier are old chums Monty (collie) and Charlie (young terrier). What's more the "boisterous" is translated, on closer inspection to be the three boys having a whale of a time chasing, bundling, wrestling and, at times, even getting a bit ...um.... amorous with one another.

This is reciprocated equally between Mont and Rags, with each giving as good as they get, as noisily as each other and in a goodly range of positions (a girl is quite breathless, watching!). We three westies are left looking on in amusement (unless chasing the tennis ball, in my case) while Rags gets back in spades, plenty of what he used to give Haggis (and sometimes gets as loud in protest barking as H used to get).

If you can't take the heat, Rags.... The humans are all amused too, and the general feeling is that it's good to let off steam, and all three hooligans will sleep very well this evening.

Boys will be boys

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Bitter Wind

After a succession of lovely Spring-like days and sunshine, it's a big shock tonight when out of no where comes a bitterly cold wind that cuts through a dogs fur and has all the humans at the "terrier club" on the Rec tonight wearing gloves and buttoning up their coats to the chin. It's not an official terrier club - it just so happens that the half dozen dogs who accumulate in the middle of the Rec are all terrier sized - we three, Misha, Bobby, Mindy.

I've not been on for a couple of days - we've been down to Hastings in the interim to visit the Steak Lady at her lovely, mature, wooded garden. It's a gathering of the Clan for Dad's family, so the Swindon lot (who don't "do" dogs are there) as well as Steak Lady's sis and bro-in-law who normally have big boy Dalmatian "Milo" (but not today - he's at home with one of Dad's cousins)

The Swindon lot are most curious and confuse us no end. They are the only humans we meet regularly who don't like dogs. The mother has always hated them, so the father avoids them out of loyalty, and the daughter has been brought up to shoo them (us) away. Nothing personal, and I'm sure they'd never lift a finger to hurt a dog, but no matter how much charm we turn on, we can make no headway.

Stamp-Man is actually in hospital at present having a series of tests to see if he has a heart or a brain (apparently he does, and they are both fine). We divert over to the big Conquest Hospital on the way home so that Mum and Dad can go visit him. He is bright enough but fed up with hospital life as he heads into his 2nd week, and is very rude about the veggie sausages they tried to feed him - they taste like sawdust, he says. We're with you there Stamp-Man, you hurry and get well soon. You look after yourself, too (and him) "T-Fer" (Human with the name nearest to mine!)