Tuesday 28 April 2009

1630 Club

Dad had promised Mum a walk in the bluebells, and he sees that on his way home from work, in the sunshine they are getting to be at their best. Unfortunately the sun is sneaking in between some black clouds and it's only just finished raining hard, so Dad opts for that walk tomorrow, and today we head for the Rec with the tennis ball for some chuck-about.

By then, of course, just to be cuss-ed, the sun's come out fully and it's a warm breezy evening. Everybody's out. We meet the gorgeously marked Alsatian "Star" who first appears in this blog as a pup last year. Fully grown now and only now getting over a real nervousness around other dogs. She's OK now and quite happy to pirate my tennis ball when I steal hers and soon, her Dad with one of those long plastic whippy "spoons" is chucking both balls in opposite directions to keep us both amused.

Further up the Rec we coincide with a whole series of other chums all being walked and at one stage we have 12 dogs milling and chasing about round the feet of 5-6 humans - the three of us, plus Mick-the-Window-Cleaner's 14 year old westie Misha, another boy westie called Barney, out with scruffy JR cross Chihuahua "Smudge", another brown and white JR Bob and Bindy (poor girl is on lead-exercise only following a leg operation). There's sleek black collie cross Ben, and another couple of collie-sized crosses, Mollie (black and white) and Evie (brown), and a couple of young Springers who pass through. It's a proper meeting of the "16:30 Dog Club".

I need a lie down!


Sunday 26 April 2009

Birchington in the Sun

Another lovely sunny day for Dad's second guided Bluebell walk in Challock Forest. Again, it's just Haggis and I, as Meggie would never be able to keep up. The bluebells are fully out now and gorgeous, and there are dozens of walkers including a 10 or so little children, some of whom I remember from previous walks. In the bright warm sunshine the woods are a-heaving with humans all come to see the bluebells.
Our route this time takes us down past one of the Friends of Kingswood ponds, where some of the kiddies, under less tight control than you might say was appropriate, manage to get stuck in the mud, losing wellies and shoes when pulled out, to much cheering and banter from the adults not-so-encumbered. We dogs choose to be the picture of decorum and mud-avoidingness, and return to the car in pretty much pristine state.
Home and lunched, Dad is off on a mission. It's "Drive It" day and in honour of this he wants to take the old project car to Birchington. He's not been able to raise any response from the Birchington twinning committee, so it's a solo effort, the plan being to trundle the car round town stopping to take pics where ever he feels like it. I've not been in her yet, as she has mint condition but old, bright red seat covering fabric which is not easy to get hold of (she's from 1961 remember), but my time will come one day when I really am clean.
Dad reports that the old grl fires up first turn and never misses a beat all day. he gets pics at the Birchington "city limits" signs, on the sea-front road, and outside the Sea View pub (the latter is great, because the old black and white pics on the cover of the current La Chapelle d'Armentieres magazine of her being originally delivered have the Sea View in the background.
Marv'lous !

Saturday 25 April 2009

The same size

It's great to meet dogs the same sort of size, build, speed and keenness to play ball as myself. makes for a nice exciting walk for me, and lest everyone else chill out while we all get exhausted. So it was this morning when, chasing my own tennis ball thrown by Dad I spotted, out of the corner of my eye, red and white English bull terrier Poppy in hot pursuit of her own ball, chucked by her owner. I chased over and immediately we were having a great game. She was 2 years old and just a little faster than me, but not enough that I'd give up.

Had to go have a lie down after that, but not for long. We came upon a black, shaggy JR cross Yorkie called Ruby. Same furious running game for the next 15 minutes. And finally, young mother-and-daughter white JR's Daisy and Miley. It was all go this morning.

It was a very tired, dew-soaked, tongue-lolling Deefski who staggered home for a rest. Dad's off to the allotment to finish his (Autumn!) digging, and Mum is off round Diamond's to help paint a room. A chance for a girl to recover.


Thursday 23 April 2009

Still not really ready

The skies are blue, there's no wind, and the temperatures are up to the early 20's. Mum's been at home all day working on an OU essay - usual story - mad panic across the last 48 hours, so she's taken time off in lieu (TOIL) and is sitting out on the terrace all day, in the sunshine with the lap top. That's good for us, as we have all day access to the garden, but we don't get very far with our requests to be made a fuss of, so we're delighted when Dad comes home and suggests a walk in the forest, to go look at the bluebells.
To be honest, they are not really ready, and could do with 2 more weeks of fine weather to get them at their best, but it's a nice walk in the forest anyway, and we can dawdle at Meg-speed as we are not leading any members of the public this time. So, that's me tiny in the big sinuous track, and back-lit in a rather handsome way, Mr H "stacked" with darker bluebells in the background, and Meggie with her nose down in the clump, whiffing the heady scent.
Stamp Man, by the way, sis come out of hospital, to every one's relief and is now back home. Meanwhile, in the Home for the Bewildered work on the building itself seems to be done, and the Geordie "roofers" are now car-park constructors, kerp layers, and pruners of the outside of Dad's beech hedge (yay! result!).
They are soon to erect the final fence round the outside of their car park (and thereby erect a new fence for the outside of this garden. Can't be bad! Looks like they may be able to spare a young ash tree, too, which is growing technically outside our property, but also now outside their new fence - technically a no-man's land ash.
Nearly the weekend

Sunday 19 April 2009

Pud Lady

Off down to Hastings today for lunch with the Pud Lady, and a good scout around her garden. This, though, is not a Saturday and there are other guests, so there's no pud, but a smorgasbord of other edibles created by Mum and Sue. Sadly for us, the guests are all either non-dog people, or they are wise dog people, so there's no snack-age forthcoming. I am reduced to nicking some goats cheese out of a bag which Mum left too close to the dog-shelf. This I am now regretting, but not extracting much sympathy for.

The good news is that the Stamp Man may be coming out of hospital tomorrow after a protracted stay. You may remember that Dad was down there weeks back painting out his old room, which is now equipped by a servo-assisted bed, a get-in-and-out-of-bed aid and other modern medical-style services. All are holding their breaths to see if he actually comes out.

Meanwhile, at the allotment, the asparagus bed is finally producing harvest - today the first ever spears (2 of them). These beds were first planted 3 years ago, so have been allowed to grow and consolidate, but this year we're allowed to cut a few spears to eat


Saturday 18 April 2009

(A bit too early for) Bluebells

The first walk of the Friends of Kings Wood Guided Walks fixture list, and Dad's leading, so Haggis and I can come along. Meggie, unfortunately, has to be left behind as she'd never keep up on this 2 mile hike, and the public would not necessarily understand why we had to go so slowly. We salve our consciences by giving her a pet and a dog treat, but she's not 100% convinced! Mum's with her, though, so I expect she snuck a few treats as soon as our backs are turned.

It's a good week too early for the bluebells really, so there is some colour but nothing like the blue blanket that will be there in 1 or 2 weeks time. No way of predicting that though, so when they go to print in their walks programme last October, it's a bit of a gamble. In previous years we've booked May and been too late, and booked April and been either spot on or way, way too early.

No matter, such aesthetic concerns are human-specific. A walk in the woods to Haggis and I, is a treasured treat even without bluebells. It's warm and sunny and there's about a dozen people. We even spot a small group of fallow deer including a white-phase buck. Too far away to be worth chasing, but the humans get a good long look through binoculars.


Friday 17 April 2009

Great Timing

Didn't Dad do well with his timing on getting all those seeds and plants into the allotments over Easter. It was warm and dry following on from the cold snap, and the soil was crumbly. He got loads of stuff in over the break, from seeds of parsnip, carrot, chard, beans, beetroot, peas and salsify, along with the seed potatoes and the onion sets

It's rained the "warm refreshing" ever since - a couple of hefty thunderstorms over Tuesday and Weds evenings, and then goodly quantities of rain through yesterday and the day before. The seeds, plants (and weeds) alike will be rocketting up through the soil.

Meanwhile, talking of timing, we are all, pleased to report that the old 2CV electrics are now fixed and she is good to go. We can thoroughly reccommend the gentleman genius at Square Deal Autos in Chislet Business Park - me I don't understand all that stuff around negative pulsing and feild windings as I'm only a dog (and I'm not convinced Dad wasn't just nodding sagely to please the old guy) but we both could cope with the more basic mechanicals - "The metal fan has sliced through this wire and the short circuit has melted the voltage regulator".

So now she's fixed and good-to-go. Only 400cc, so it's 40 mph max along the flat, level Thanet Way dual-carriageway, but in the ups and downs around Blean she's barrelling over the pots and ruts and touching 50 on the down-slopes. She's a car for the lanes, and "bowling along" rather than the motorways, that's for sure.

Take away tonight. Have a good weekend

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Why - Aye! Champion!

Out back of us, work on the Home for the Bewildered nears completion. Our beloved "Geordie Roofers", with their Bob Marley music (No Woman no Cry with a Geordie accent! Bizarre) have long since finished the roof and moved indoors, so we hear them nothing like as much now.

Today, though, they are laying out gardens and paths and getting ready to build the brick wheelie-bin store just beyond our back fence, so we hear them again, especially when one driving a fork lift to move pallets of bricks around must have nearly got into harm's way, as there were.... ahem.... voices raised in anguish.

At one stage Dad wanders down there to have a nosey over the fence and calls across "Hi, How's it Going?" "Why Aye - Champion!" comes back the rich Geordie accent "Loovely Weather Right Enough!". I have to say, that we (ignorant Kentish) people are calling them "Geordies" - they are probably nothing of the sort - I know that there is fierce rivalry and jealous guarding of such tribal handles - you probably have to be from a specific part of Newcastle (Byker or Walker for example) to earn it, and these guys might well be from South Shields or Sunderland. Mind you, they probably call us all "Southerners" or "Cockneys".

Dad has a day off, for a meeting of the Village of the Year judges (and it might be something to do with his Birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad), and takes advantage of the chilling opportunity, to fit in his due 24-hour blood pressure test. He has to wear all day a box of tricks at his belt, and over his shoulder to the sleeve on his arm, an air pipe. Every 20 minutes the box beeps, then pumps up the sleeve, taking its readings, clicking a few times as it all deflates. At 11pm it will change over to night mode (hourly), and at 08:30 tomorrow he must hand it back in to have the readings downloaded and analysed. No winding Dad up today.

As if

Saturday 11 April 2009

Open Fields

On the wine label - nuff said - it amused Mum and Dad anyway. Good marketing too, I suppose, in that it amused them enough to make them bring a case back from France last weekend.
The burgeonning greenery is sweet woodruff, growing in the "orchard" at the bottom of the garden. Mum and Dad set this up only last year once we'd decided that ever mixing chickens again with my good self was probably not on, and the old chook-run might as well be converted back to garden.
They searched the "be your own expert" books for shaded woodland plants and came away with a trolley load of pulmonarias, arums, sweet woodruff, foxgloves end others which did OK last year, died back to survive the winter, and are now shooting like there's no tomorrow. Makes for a lovely snuffly rootling around garden for westies - piles of logs for mice, old beech leaves and all sorts.

Big excitement too for Dad when some anonymous swirlings in the main pond catch his eye. Too big to be taddies, and impossible for fish after (we think) we got heron'd and have never seen a fish since, Dad suspects newts. He's always wanted newts as they shout "wildlife gardener" quite loudly, but in 12 years of this pond none have come. We all sit and watch and sure enough it's newts - dozens of them! How come you have none for 12 years and then suddenly we have lots?
Nice walk today. Haggis, Dad and I leave the ol' slow-coach behind, distracted by Mum and some meat, and head off to the Abbey Fields north and east of the allotments. Recently cleared of the extensive scrub of hawthorn, brambles and birch, and "restored" (if such it is) to farmland, there are now a few hedges left, and in between acre upon acre of flattish cultivated and rolled tilth. No shoots or germination yet - just dry crumbled then rolled soil. You can see for miles - and you can chase rabbits for miles too! A dog got quite breathless.
Easter Sunday tomorrow - do dogs get Easter Eggs?
ohhh and the final pic is Greengage blossom (Reine Claude, to be precise), also in the orchard

Friday 10 April 2009

Nice day for a... white wedding

Good Friday, but Dad works in the "depot that never sleeps", so he's in in the morning. Big day for one of his colleagues today - Ebonie's getting married. The forecast is not good and, as part of the do, the happy couple have booked an open-top horse-and-carriage ride from the wedding venue to the evening "do" venue - a few minutes by car but an hour and a quarter by h+c.

Luckily the weather, here at any rate, holds off and it's sunny for several hours round about the time of the ride. We know this because Dad grabs the chance to head for the allotment with chitted spuds and onion sets all in need of planting. We aren't let loose at the allotments at present because too many plot holders have finely manicured tilths and perfect rows of seedlings in seedbeds, but we're taken up later on our walk, so we can see the results of his labours.

There's another squirrel taken up residence in the rose and honeysuckle tangle on the back of the house. It's a small and probably young animal, so is way too agile for us, and drives us mad by scampering towards the house, in full view of the back windows, along the top of the neighbour's fence. We can only squeak and hop about inside, driven mad by frustration.

Ah well, it just remains to wish Ebonie and Craig all the best so, in yer best cock-a-ney karaoke voices-ah! Orllll togevvah nah !

.........I gotta be there in the morning - ah!
Spruced up and lookin' in me prime.
Some bloke who's able
Lift up the table,
And get em to the church on time! ah!
If I am flying
Then shoot me down.
If I am wooin'..... etc to fade.......,

Deefski Doolittle-Ah!

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Not good enough....

Haggis is a funny ol' sausage. He has his own fixed little ways and gets quite upset if anything ruffles his feathers and gets in the way. Take the way he quietly decided that as humans decide to sit down to eat, a dog should take himself off upstairs to sleep on the humans' bed till the meal is over. Nobody trained him to, nobody asked him to, it's just a Haggis thing.

Or there's the way that in his world when the phone rings somebody answers it, or when an alarm clock sounds, somebody should wake up, reach out and turn it off. If either of these things happen and the expected response does not, he will start off with a few tentative howls, and quickly build into the full heart-breaking, pain-filled anguish of it all OwwwooooOOOOO!!!!!

When Dad's alarm goes off (about 04:15) Haggis and I wake immediately and follow Dad downstairs to be there wide awake while he breakfasts and gets ready for work. We get let out (with Meggie, who's already downstairs by now), then Dad goes off patting us and giving us the farewell dog-treat, shuts the door and heads round to the car.

Barely is the car off the drive, than we have sprinted back upstairs to get back in or on bed with Mum. Haggis's habit is to come round to Mum's side of the bed, scratching at the woodwork to wake Mum enough to be helped in (he's more than capable of jumping on - it's just another Haggis thing). There are, here too, standards to be observed.

Mum was a bit put out and amused recently when two nights running the "service" she gave was clearly not up to standards. Once he didn't like that she'd only let him on the bed, so he jumped back off and scratched again, markedly asking to be let in under the covers. Another time, when she'd not quite given him enough room, he braced his spine against her and nudged hard to move her over. When, in her dozy state she grumped at him and refused to move, he walked round and poked her sleepy face with his cold wet nose to make sure she got the message. She ended up, she reports, sleeping on "Dad's side of the bed".

Meanwhile, a strange new shaggy dog on the Rec, young Petra. She is a poodle cross Lowchen. Lowch-a-doodle? Westie sized but black and as shaggy as one of those Briards. We'd not heard of a Lowchen, but here it is, as bold as brass on Google - a Little Lion Dog. Hi Petra, welcome to our little 16:30 doggie group



Monday 6 April 2009

Home Alone

Our cruel and heartless parents abandoned us at the weekend, leaving us to the tender care of the Angel B and Jim. Where's that RSPCA number?

They were off to France for an over-nighter, to give Dad his birthday meal (they went a bit mad and had it in a very nice restaurant in St Omer, called le Cygne

... not cheap, but very very good - more of that later, when I've finished discerning the 7 courses from the smells on Mum and Dad when they came back)

From there they were off to La Chapelle d'Armentieres, the town near Lille which gave Dad's project 2CV to Birchington in North Kent as part of the twinning celebrations 20 years ago. The town wants Dad and his cronies to bring the 2CV back for a carnival to celebrate the 20th anniversary, so they were over to meet the main contact lady and sort out the details.

So... we were left all alone from midday Saturday round to about 3pm on Sunday, but we coped, and we are now extracting maximum sympathy (raw pork ribs and multiple fussings) due to guilt on their part.

All's back to normal here-abouts though - they're back at work, so we're into the 4.30 dog-club routine out on the Rec. Everybody's out there. We meet Misha, and Finzi, Ben and a new choc lab belonging to an Ozzie lady. The dog's called "Ciccio" (Italian for "chubby-cheeks" allegedly) and we meet again that 4 year old Shar-Pei called Monty we've mentioned before.

More soon


Friday 3 April 2009


With us now getting to be regulars at the 16:30 slot on the Rec, we are starting now to form a bit of a dog club or kindergarten. We amble about and sure enough over comes Smudge and Barney with their "Mum", and then Ben and his "Mum", and maybe Patch, Billy and Bugsy and who ever is about.

Tonight it's warm and still, and various of us have brought our toys, so the humans start lobbing balls, frisbees and squeaky toys in all directions and different ones catch the eye of different dogs at various times, so we end up with a superb friendly melee going on of toys and dogs. At one point Smudge's Mum produces a full sized football, so Smudge and me get involved in a lovely game of dribbling.

We are both, though, not quite used to joint ownership, so if one of us is claiming it the other backs off. Dad is hoping that with practise maybe we'll all play together with the same ball the same way my real-Dad (Hector), Mum (Mollie) and brother (Archie) do, wearing each other out with the dribbling and tackling, scruffing and barging. The best we can do is when Smudge gives up, panting, his long tongue lolling and his ears bright pink with the heat.

Various dogs and owners pass by, sometimes with dog on lead, obviously not quite sociable enough to be let loose, but with the owner looking on longingly, as if wishing they could be part of the fun. One, in particular, a big male Akita called Seuss (as in "The cat in the hat") passes by and our humans exchange good natured banter with the guy, commenting that it'll soon be too warm for Seuss, and asking whether he has a walk-in freezer to sleep in.

We are all bushed

Have a great weekend

Thursday 2 April 2009

Water Meter

Our lovely warm Spring sunshine has given way to haze and a chilly wind. Our walk is mildly delayed by Dad needing to wait for "A survey by Clancy DOCWRA of the water supply; in preparation for installation of a water meter". Dad has to be home by 4 and wait a man in a van.
We fear this will be one of those like the gas man visits where you are forced to sit in earshot of the front door for hours and like as not the guy doesn't show.
Let's hear it then for Clancy's. Their man was here at 3 minutes to 4 and the "survey" consisted of him opening the little metal cover in the pavement outside and declaring "Oh - you're already set up with the yoke for the meter..... I can fit it straight away". And he did. A bit of digging out of sediment round the "yoke", and all done in 10 minutes. These meters are even fitted with radio-frequency kit which means they can be read from a car passing in the street - doesn't even need to stop. The "survey" was in case they needed to dig up the pavement.
So we're done. It'll be interesting, says Dad, to see if the bills are any amount different.
So, within minutes, we're off to the Rec where we get a good run around with usual suspects Bugsy and Billy (the Bichons), and with Ben. Ben and I each have a tennis ball. Mine is clean, yellow and fluffy. Ben's is almost black, bald and covered in doggy gloop. Now please guess which one I prefer and end up with!
Finally a nice pic of a Crown-Imperial Lily in our garden - just to renmind us that it really is Spring

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Oh Yusssss

More Spring sunshine, and the world and his wife is walking dogs on the rec tonight. We have an excellent ball throwing game with coarse-haired, short legged Jack Russell, "Smudge" followed by a big run in circles for me with same. Megan and the H content themselves with chatting to Smudge's companion, pristine white 10 year old Westie, Barney.

Also out there, a new dog (to us anyway), 18 month old British Bulldog "Sumo" (brilliant name) - all muscles and snuffly grunts as he gets all excited trying to say hello, but we're all on leads by that point. Looks like he'd be fun, but probably not very fast. Could you beat him, Churchill? Ho... Yussssss!

Then on the way home we meet beagle Mollie, our long term chum who lives in this same street. Finzi's out there, too, and "LB", plus (we see in the distance but don't cross paths with, tiny Patterday pup Sue.

It's buzzing!