Thursday 31 December 2009

I saw this and thought of you...

Mum's very sweet and love-able colleague Pam presented these salt and peppers to Mum today saying, with a laugh, "When ever I see something like this, I always think of you!". Mum accepted them in good heart joking back "why don't you think of me when you see diamonds or pearls?" How cool is that? They have, we think, an appropriately Hogmanay-ish "Black and White" whisky (no "E", this is Scotch Whisky) theme. Superb!
So, New Year's Eve at last and nearly the end of 2009. We have Diamond and John over for a full-on roast beef dinner, no doubt a drink or two, and also a bit of First-Footing. It's been an interesting year, and no mistake, with highs (like getting the Mademoiselle project car to La Chapelle d'Armentieres) and lows (Diamond's medical dramas and Meggie passing away) and plenty of fun along the way.
But I don't want to risk this sounding like one of those circular catch-up letters (some) humans put in Christmas Cards, so this is just a quick posting to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Enjoy your parties tonight and don't have too much hang-over tomorrow. Catch up with you all in 2010
Happy New Year

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Now why didn't I think of that?

D'ohhhh! There we all were looking for Westie-flavour Christmas goodies, and frustrated by the lack of westie-flavoured Christmas cards coming from the usual sources (Blue Cross etc), when had we thought about it, all we needed to do was google "westie AND christmas" (the capital "AND" makes the search engine go off in search of websites which contain both words). Step forward, The Westie Shop

...and a wealth of cards and all sorts. Ah well, too late now, but we'll know for next year. As it was we went with various RSPB and Blue Cross cards anyway, plus 60 off a Truprint use-your-own-image one which featured Mum sitting in the project 2CV car "Mademoiselle" by the road sign for the French Town of La Chapelle d'Armentieres (but that's a whole 'nother story - search this blog for the "Mademoiselle" word and you'll see).
Meanwhile, rain, rain and more rain as we drip and slosh gently towards the end of 2009. Happy New Year, everyone. And Mr Silverwood and Em-J, we hope you're feeling better soon.

Monday 28 December 2009


The Humans are still enjoying their long Christmas break - well, 4 days anyway. This is the longest break Dad says he's had over Christmas sonce he started working - more fool him for working in the chilled food distribution industry (cream, meat, turkey, brandy butter, salad - it's always going to be a bit mad around Christmas!).

We are getting some decent walks, such as this morning's one to Conyer where we walk out along the creek bank, past these two old hulks of long-dead barges (and Haggis clambering back up to high ground through the rocks). Conyer is brilliant for it's low scrubby bushes and millions of rabbits running everywhere.

Also depicted, the funkiest pair of socks received this year by mum, resplendent in red with tartan bow and westie face! How cool is that?

And finally, a kit car called a Pemberton. Dad and his 2CV cronies descend on one of their number, Ian C, train driver living in Folkestone. Ian's garage is double length, carpetted throughout and bedecked with railway memorabilia. Even the en-suite loo (en suite to the garage I mean) is done up like an old railway train toilet and when you lock the door it plays railway station sound-effects, and you are made to feel guilty by the sign saying "Please do not use this toilet while the train is standing in the station"

The Pemberton is a look-alike old 3 wheeler Morgan, with open wheels and an exposed engine in the nose, like a WW2 fighter-plane with no wings. The "chassis" is replaced by a space-frame unit, the suspension is ex-2CV, and the engines are some kind of air-cooled 2 cylinder. In Ian's case the 2CV engine out of the wrecked car he broke to get the suspension, but many people use motorbike engines like V-twins. Ian's has Dellorto carbs instead of the standard single solex of the 2CV (we Westies know about these things, of course).

Ah well, back in the old routine tomorrow, for 3 days anyway....


Sunday 27 December 2009

New Trains

Parked up in the sidings at Faversham over Christmas, all this smart new rolling stock - our new japanese built "Javelin" Trains. I bet the local "fat controller" thinks his Christmas has come in style this year, and he has a whole new big-boy's trainset to play with.

We are getting back into nice long proper walks now, in the absence of Meggie, so not only have we done the old "two bridges loop" many times, but also the "levee" loop down past the barge (Cambria) and today a bit of a skiddy, waterlogged one down across the allotments and out round the fields. It's something to do with needing fresh air and healthy exercise after all the indulgences of Christmas eating.

Look after yourself


Saturday 26 December 2009

5000 visits

Hey! We made it. Site meter is recording the fact that this blog scored 5000 visits by Friday 25th which is quite neat timing.
We were off down to visit Pud-Lady and Stamp-Man, where Mum and Dad were due to cook the turkey dinner. In the event, Mum got so focussed in the small kitchen and was enjoying herself so much that, except for lifting heavy turkeys out of the oven and the carving itself, she rebuffed all offers of assistance. Dad was left to chat with the other guests, T-Fer and friend-of-the-family, Jane.
I caused a quick flurry of excitement myself, of course, when I found that a badger dig under the fence meant I could get out of the Steak Lady's garden, and then off across 3 or 4 more gardens. This was much too exciting for me to worry about Dad whistling and calling (won't be a minute Dad; I just have to check out these hutched rabbits and these Dogs going mad barking at me strolling around because they are inside a fenced cage).
I was very good - I always knew where Dad was, and I made sure to keep giving him glimpses of me in various gardens, but eventually he clambered over a few fences and cornered me. There after I was only allowed out in the garden on a lead, which seems a bit mean.
Meal eaten, prezzies exchanged and opened, we headed back to home with a pleasing amount of cold turkey left overs, via a nice sighting in the headlights, of Fallow Deer in Challock Forest, to chill out with our bloated stomachs, to watch Doctor Who. It's been a very good Christmas all round. I hope yours was as nice.
My pic shows a recent Cambria shot, just for an update, deck-beams almost complete and the start of deck planking going on, as we headed in to Christmas.
Enjoy the weekend

Thursday 24 December 2009

It was Christmas Eve, Babe...

Christmas - babies in mangers and all that Jazz. This pic might be of me, or equally it might be of Ellie or Archie; we all looked the same at that age. This is September 2006 and taken within minutes of my (our) birth(s).

Ah... that song, Shane Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues. Surely the best Christmas Song in all time (so says Dad, and Sir Terry Wogan, so it must be true).

Mum and Dad are just back from going to the wedding evening of Mum's colleague Marina to new hubby Ian. Well done you guys and all the best. The "evening" took place in the town's football club new-ish club house. 6 years ago our footie club was all derilect, the pitch overgrown, the buildings all burned out and graffiti'd up, the fences in disrepair, the team disbanded and the management moved on. Then thanks to a concerted effort by the club and motivating dozens of volunteers and getting hold of some money, it rose like a Phoenix from the ashes and is now very smart and doing really well.

From the wedding "do", Dad's now back, and Mum was too, but has nipped off to take Diamond to Midnight Mass. We are all ready. Prezzies are wrapped and (edible content not-withstanding) stashed under the tree, food is assembled and prepped for Hastings tomorrow, and we are almost out of space for any more Christmas Cards.

Y'all have a great Christmas and a well-deserved break from the daily grind.


Wednesday 23 December 2009

Eve Eve

Things are settling down here now into a new, Megan-less routine. We think we've told everyone who needs telling the sad news, except for a lot of the dog-walkers we would normally meet on the Rec, Short evenings and bad weather mean we've not seen the likes of Barney and Smudge's Mum, Ben's Mum or Maxie's or Finzi's Dads, so we'll have to catch up with them in due course unless the Jungle Drums get them first.

It's Christmas "Eve-Eve" and everyone's exhausted. All humans go crazy-busy at this time of year, and only now do they start to wind down towards the Holiday. Dad has, unusually, the luxury of a 4 day break which is, also inevitably, getting filled up with events. We may even visit Diamond and Rags - it'll be the first time we've met Rags since Diamond's been in and out of Hospital (and Rags has been "on his holidays").

Dad and his 2CV mates had their Christmas meal last night, and came back smelling of paté, venison/chestnut/ale pie and Christmas pud with ice cream. Very well fed and soon snoring away - only problem with being designated driver, he was on the alcohol free Becks, and had to forego a guest beer called "Christmas Fairy" which 2CV-Doctor Lew was raving about.

Good long, fast paced walks nowadays - one compensation for the passing of the Megster.

Nearly there

Monday 21 December 2009

Just a couple more

Just a couple more (well, 3 then) pics of Meggie, and then I think we'll move on. Dad has got this cute (and very youthful) face now as his screen background image. The grass one is out on her beloved Rec, strolling about in an aimless looking manner. She probably had an aim - she just wasn't letting on, and had us all beleiving that her aim was to sniff every blade of grass on the Rec, and be admired by all the young male dogs she could find. We used to call her the Dowager Duchess of Kent. If she could've had one of those old "dance cards" she would have done. You can see why Mum called her "Pretty Girl" all the time, and very rarely Megan or Meggie.

Look after yourselves

Sunday 20 December 2009

Some more nice Meggie shots

A few nice Meggie pics, just because Mum is transferring loads of pics from one PC to another and we came across them. They date from 2005 (no, we haven't had that much snow in these parts yet this year).

Enjoy what's left of the weekend

Saturday 19 December 2009

A Big Thank You

A big thank you to all of you who have posted kind and sympathetic comments about Maggie back to this blog. I gather we've even been "facebook'd" from Oz (Hello, Cousins!) although we don't go anywhere near Facebook if we can help it! Thanks, too, Em-J. We'll miss her too.

Dad is amazed by Haggis and myself and how we're coping. Haggis seems to miss her quite a bit, and you often see him trot over to the bed where she'd normally be, and then stop short, seeming to realise that she's not there. I guess it still smells of her there. The two of us were also sniffing round the edges of the grave mound this afternoon before our walk, so that the snow there is now gently dinted up to the rim of the mound with little dog foot prints.

Dad was mildly concerned we'd start digging (Dad! How could you?)

Meanwhile, have you looked at the "site-meter" at the top of this blog lately. We are getting up towards 5000 visits!


Friday 18 December 2009

...and we shall have snow

The South East of Endland is whacked by North winds and some proper snow. It only takes about half an inch to knock out most of our road system, so this 4-5 inches had all the area around Bluebell Hill (the A229) and Detling Hill (the A249) closed and/or paralysed. Huge queues quickly built up and journey times ballooned. Dad set off at the normal 05:00 but came back at 07:00 saying that both the hills were closed - he'd been 2 hours doing the 20 or so miles there and 20 back.
No matter, that gave us a chance to share breakfast with Mum and Dad, and they even went across to the Panini shop for bacon rolls. Later, Dad tried again using the Ashford Road (A251) and Charing Hill to get "down", and this time got to work at midday, a good 7 hours late!
All safely home now though, fire going in the grate, red wine to celebrate the Friday at what Dad's work call DEFCON 4. They are never sure whether the "defcons" run up or down (is 1 bad or is 5 bad? Should have paid more attention to the film "war games").
We are all missing Meggie of course - the click click of her toenails on the laminate, not having to carry her down the garden first thing and last thing to make sure she did her business, her stiff-legged waking up from cold on the bed to come and greet a returning human. Still, she's resting now, down in the orchard, The snow drops are just starting to poke through down there, although there's now a dusting of snow.
Have a good weekend

Thursday 17 December 2009

Farewell to Meggie

Today we are sorry to bring you the sad news of the passing away of Megan. Uncomfortable and off her food for a few days now, Mum and Dad, fearing the worst, made an appointment at the vet's. The short version of the story is that her suffering was a result of acute kidney failure, so that the tough decision had to be made, and she was put to sleep tonight.
Dad was pleased that it was himself there and also pleased that the vet on duty was old friend and vet to Megan from the moment Mum and Dad brought her home as an 8 week old pup, John F. That was 13 years ago.
For those of you who have never been there it was a very dignified and gentle exit. She was up on the bench with Dad cradling her head and a vet nurse steadying her body. John shaved a small area of leg, readied the syringe, then drew back a small curl of blood, and pushed in the pink liquid. Megan never flinched or changed her expression at all, just carried on looking at Dad. In no more than 10 seconds, almost before the last of the syringe-full went in, she relaxed into Dad's and the nurse's hands.
Dad left the room to settle the bill, while the nurse out back wrapped Megan in a blanket, and then rather than bring her through the waiting room, walked round the side and met Dad outside. Dad carried the small bundle back to car and brought her home to Mum. We were allowed to sniff the bundle, but this was then laid to rest quickly in the orchard still in its blanket.
Mum and Dad hope that all their animals are granted such good, full and happy life and then as dignified and painless an end. You can't really do more for a friend and pet than that. Goodbye then the Megster - we will miss you a lot. I'm sure that all your many friends and admirers will wish you rest in peace.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Here to serve

Winter's suddenly seriously here, with proper frosts and North Winds. This unfortunately coincides with Mum's car's heater deciding to stop working, so her car is frozen inside as well as out today and she's scrabbling around (getting nice and warm) trying to defrost the car, and then trying to get into the 2CV. She did, though, find time to take this rather good pic of a rose in the back garden.
Dad gets in stores of coal and logs. We already have a stock of old newspapers, and a good supply of old house-structure wood for kindling after the Panini brothers had done their stuff.
Dad feels like he's "here to serve" today, racing between various sites for work and then at lunchtime it's works Christmas Dinner in the canteen, and the Managers traditionally serve the colleagues at these do's. So Dad and his fellow Managers get a taste of "waitering" dressed in obligatory silly hats, setting out festive settings and scurrying between tables and food-prep areas with trays of food, plates, glasses of (soft) drinks while three sittings of guys and gals get processed through between about half 11 and 2pm. He takes his hat off to anyone who has done this for a living.
Tonight, more "servitude", representing the views of the allotments tennants as the local Town Council starts to negotiate taking back control of allotment running from the wider Borough Council. We await with interest what that will bring.

Sunday 13 December 2009

All better

Within a few hours, my pain from yesterday was gone. I tried to hang it out a bit, but was busted when I leapt down from Dad's lap and landed with a shoulder-blade stretching thump to collect a proffered sweetie, without wincing or squeaking.
Unfortunately, today it's ol' Meggie's turn to be off the weather. She's off her food, taking only a half hearted interest in sweeties, and is mooching around looking fed up, ignoring breakfast and not being impatient for supper (which is a sure sign all is not well.)
Today is Mum and Dad's last day off work - back to the old routine tomorrow, so they have a bit of a tidying blitz - stuff to and from the loft and to and from the shed. Christmas tree bought yesterday is erected and dressed. Mum says it is a bit like "the tree that taste forgot" - no news there then!
Look after yourselves.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Oooowooo - OW OW OW!

I'm in pain, and nobody cares! The humans just keep looking at me all sad, and gently picking me up and feeding me treats and uttering sympathetic noises but nobody REALLY cares. I have had to go to the vets for my annual jabs, which made me squeak, but Dad just told the vet not to worry as I'm a known drama queen.

I was then OK in the car on the way home via some obscure farm cottages in Eastling (something to do with allotments), bouncing around the car and shouting at any passing dogs, and I was OK while Dad trimmed our bums and eyes.

But when the humans decided to go buy a Christmas tree I suddenly realised I was in pain, and I've been woosing around ever since, stiff shouldered and stiff necked, whimpering with pain at every opportunity. It Hurts me so! It's not fair. Dad says we'll rest it and lift me everywhere and see how we are in the morning.

Make it go away! OWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

Deefski (Poor wounded soldier)

Friday 11 December 2009

A little bit of what you fancy

Over the last 2 days, it's been something for everyone. Yesterday Mum and Dad abandon us for a day trip to France, leaving us to the tender mercies of the Angel B and Uncle Jim. They head for a favourite restaurant (La Restaurant du Cygne) in St Omer
which is only about 50 kms inland from Calais. It's very posh, they say, and you find it hard pushed not to sit back with a smug glow thinking "aren't we the badgers nadgers?". There is also time for a bit of shopping for the Christmas Calavados and treats. Yet again they manage to swing a clear skied day with little wind, so the channel is pretty close to mill pond smoothe, and Dad still hasn't seen Mum be sea-sick.
Mum warned Dad about 15 years ago that she was a terrible traveller and prone to turning green as soon as she left port, but in those 15 years, every sea crossing has somehow happened on a reasonable day, so Dad is half expecting Mum to finally admit "Ha ha! Only kidding!".
Because we get left behind on these trips, not having the required rabies jabs and paperwork, Haggis and I get a compensatory nice long walk at Reculver. Here you see us close to, on the beach, then far away on a distant mussel-bedecked mud bank with the towers in the distance, and also some of the hundreds of brent geese over-wintering at Reculver. A girl can put up quite a honking clamour of geese if she runs at a flock fast enough, and none of them turn on me as did those domestic geese up by the narrow boating canal!
Finally, Mum takes Meggie off for a quiet stroll in the Rec, smuggling her out the front of the house while dad distracts us with a bout of greenhouse cleaning. 2 times round the tennis couts apparently and not a blade of grass un-sniffed. So - everyone's happy, and now it's the start of the weekend.
Look after yourselves

Sunday 6 December 2009


It's that time of year again when we are allowed real fires. This pic's a bit of a cheat, being a couple of years back but it gives a nice warm idea of what I'm on about. Meg, needless to say.

Nice walk this morning, down through town while Dad looks around for inspiration on a quiz he has to "quizmaster" for the local Horticultural Society. In the purpose of that we get to meet a load of dogs on the Rec including brown and white Staffie, Frank, plus chihuahuas Trigger and Simba, long haired and short haired respectively. Trigger is a mad fast black guy who will chase around with anything that will chase around with him (I'm up for a bit of that). Simba is a very nervous rescue dog who is convinced he's gonna get mullered by every dog he meets. We help out with a bit of socialisation therapy there!

Meanwhile, it's all change in the Panini Room, with the new fridge freezer now fired up and filled, so the old fridge and freezer go variously to the shed and the dump. This computer gets a new screen.

All the best


Friday 4 December 2009

Do I come here often?

Time for a bargee update, I feel. Here is a photo in through the front entrance of the lighter / polytunnel, which gives you an immediate idea of how the restoration is coming on. Visit the Cambria Trust website and one of the first pics you'll see on the home page is the tired old bow and the splintering, rotten wood of the stem as the old girl languishes in the lighter and is brought back to Faversham for her restoration.
Contrast that with the smart new white-painted (for the moment) stem post which is clearly visible in the pic, and the crisp smart curves of the (also white) "wale" planks (top of the sides of the hull) and you'll be queueing to get on trains down here to gape, mesmerised at the brilliant progress. OK maybe not.
Dad blags another "poets" so we (the "H" and myself) get another good vigorous daylight walk, down past the water works to the creek, east along the levee and then back in land from Nagden, to the allotments, where we stop off to admire the broad bean plants but also to be appalled by the shaggy wet grass. Dad has not been able to get on the plot for a month, it seems like - continuous tilting rain.
All the other plot holders seem to be out there , too, walking around morosely with their dogs, frustrated by the inability to get on the site and dig. Nobody does "morose" quite like an allotment holder in the rain.
Meanwhile, Dad is getting all "togg"-ish on us, swearing he has read a specific bargee article in a mag, but then being unable to find the article again. Silly old git.
Rumour has it both Mum and Dad are off work all week next week. Have a great weekend.