Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year

New Year's Eve and Dad is home in daylight so we get a decent walk, ending up at the Rec where a goodly gathering of Dog Walking humans collect as night falls, to wish each other Happy New Year and compare notes on who had to work when over the Seasonal 'break'. Springers LB and DK are out there and, out of nowhere, Haggis's old chum and 13 and a half year co-puppy Barney-Boy (now still trying to race about but apparently on 'metacam' (?) for his arthritis stiffness.
Meanwhile Dad gets a little flicker of life from Project Erroll as his Boss, in the 2nd last sentence of a 4-sentence chat (the last one was "Happy New Year"!) gives him to beleive that June 29th 2011 might be a significant date. However, no-one in this house is holding their breaths, as this has been so off/on, shambolic and woolly, that we'd equally believe June 2012! You never know, though. perhaps 2011 will see some genuine decisions and actual movement. Watch this space.
Sooooo.... all the best for 2011 everyone and our best wishes to all our readers. Do you realise we have now been going for over 880 posts? No wonder I'm tired.
Happy New Year

Monday 27 December 2010

Cyril's back

A couple of pictures to keep you up to date with how nearly the barge approaches completion; the hull anyway. The Project Managers have even now started to buy paint for the volunteers to slap on (sorry. to apply carefully by small roller in the prescribed order of coats as laid down in the official painting scheme) at an imminent volunteer day.
These two shots though are of inside the hull and show a recent volunteer day where the boys (and girls) were shovelling out the three-years accumulation of sawdust, and also what will be the floor of the aft cabin (the skippers "stateroom" as it was called. In the day, these were quite luxurious being all panelled with dark wood and highly polished).
Meanwhile, we chug gently through the Christmas break not doing a great deal and mainly enjoying not having to go to work. Mum is standing at the back door on one morning idly watching the scenery, when our old chum the female sparrowhawk whooshes in out of nowhere to snatch a starling or sparrow (it happened too fast for Mum to see which) out of the top of the holly, just a quiet thump of heavier bird of prey against light song-bird, a few brief screams of consternation from the victim and it's peers and then silence as the hawk curved away and the rest of the bird population collectively gulped and got itself back together.
Also back is Cyril the Squirrel, or one of his mates, regularly visiting the bird feeders and in particular the peanut dispenser. I like to sit upstairs in the bedroom window now, keeping an eye on my territory and sometimes the little s*d is right up there with me on the sparrow box just outside my window, not 6 inches away beyond the double glazing. That seems to give him enough confidence not to flee even when I give him my best 'I'm gonna get you!' look. I end up glued to the spot twicthing with excitement but unable to do anything.
More fun is when he does scarper off down the garden fence up out of dog range but still fun to chase. The I can squeak, jump off the sill and land with a thump that vibrates the house, tear down the stairs and scrabbling on the laminated floor towards the back door, just a-hoping that there will be a human there to open the door in time before I slam into it.
All the best

Sunday 26 December 2010

Pot Noeldle

This year's award for the maddest, funniest present ever goes to Dad's work colleague "Xena" for Christmas Dinner version of the ultimate student fast-food, the Pot Noodle, now given the seasonal name "Pot Noeldle".
The advertising script around th pot says it is "The Gift that Keeps on Giving" and describes the Pot Noeldle Christmas Experience as a "sprout free zone", says there is a super-deluxe decorative bauble (see under foil lid for details), there's an authentic cracker joke and you can even use the plastic pot as a base for a small tree (tacky fibre optics optional).
We love the maker's complaints blurb, too, which goes "If it's in perfect condition, happy days. If not, have a moan at the customer care dept and don't forget to quote the code on the bottom of the pot so we know who to fire". The foil lid even has a design showing snow-flakes which end in dinner forks. Dad says he can't wait.Thanks Xena!
A beautiful walk today, when Mum and Dad take us into Challock Forest but starting at the 'Jacket's Field' entrance. There's no snow left on the trees, but all the ground is white with either compacted snow (on the tracks) or frozen soft stuff (under trees). The sun is shining brightly so it's a picture. We see no deer but pleanty of tracks and signs. Mum and Dad find it hard work to walk on but from we dogs' point of view the fact that it doesn't cling to out fur in great baubles is a definite advantage.
Hope you're still enjoying Christmas

Saturday 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

OK, this one's a bit of a swizz, as the snow round here has, in fact, almost all washed away but I thought you might like a quick picture of our old chum SB Greta all snugged down in her poly-tunnel under the snow, with a smudge of smoke coming from her chimney. Owner/Skipper has a superb heating system down in there paid for by his main sponsor in lieu of a corporate sailing weekend. Looking for all the world like an old fashionned Kitchen Range (even down to the dark green enamel), pull open any of the "oven doors" and you reveal a hi-tech display of buttons, lights, control dials and digital displays. The barge is as warm as toast inside, even when we are reading -11 degrees C up on the Thanet Way.
There's no 'white Christmas' this year, but we're all awake from about 06:30 and the humans are up to their usual silliness ripping presents open on the bed before they have drunk their first cups of coffee. Mum had been to Midnight Mass so we were all a bit surprised she woke up. She'll probably collapse this evening and sleep like a log.
Today we are off to Hastings to visit and feed the Pud Lady and the Stamp Man. I say 'we' - it's actually a joint effort this year. Dad's bro, Tom has got the party started by putting the enormous turkey in before we got there and set the bread/onion sauce going. Our part is to do veg's and the final cooking, serving, carving etc, so we come down armed with allotment spuds, carrots, parsnips, sprouts etc. It's a good drive down on clear roads with only occasional patches of ice. The meal goes well and everybody has a good time. Mum gets Pud Lady well tanked up on sherry and champagne (not both together). We come away with a mountain of goodies - as well as the presents we have half a turkey, a whole salt beef (still frozen), barm brack and a very pink Acacia. J-M Silverwood would love it.
We race back in time for Doctor Who and, with the car now parked up and no longer needed, Dad can also have a drink.
Hope you're enjoying your Christmas

Friday 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve

Dad manages to slope off a bit early from work (midday) and so has time to whizz round doing some last minute errands, shopping, dropping off a huge and almost flavourless (I know, I tried it) pannetoni to Diamond's for use in bread and butter pudding or sherry trifle, buying wild bird food etc.

We get a nice walk round the boatyard where the shipwrights seem to be working right up to the wire. We can hear the sharp buzz of an electric plane, the thump of hammers, the radio music and the banter between the guys coming from the enclosed coccoon of Cambria's hull, fighting with the chilly wind noise as we walk through the quaysides. More guys are working on the Lady Daphne's side frames, their pile of big (10x10"?) baulks of timber on the wharf gradually depleting as they work their way along the side of the barge.

Back home and dry and waiting for poor aul' Mum who works in a job where the customers might need access to her building right up to 5pm tonight plus she, as one in a position where you must lead by example, is obliged to carry on right up to the 17:00 deadline. We are still 30 minutes off that, with Dad poised to go collect her and save her a chilly walk up what is by now a road almost devoid of workers returning home.

Well, good readers, we all here wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Enjoy the break and take some time to make a real fuss of your dogs, as well as looking after your humankind.

Merry Christmas

Thursday 23 December 2010

Card of the Year?

It is very difficult to do justice to this card, which is easily our most spectacular Christmas Card of 2010. These are hand-made by Kim, friend of Diamond and they really are a bit special, featuring spangly card and paper of various colours in many layers, as well as assorted accessories like, in this case bells, snowflakes, ribbon and (although you can't see it in the flash-glare across the middle of the circle), the 'CHANEL' logo. They are often themed, so appear in various lady-like guises - handbags, scent bottles, shoes etc. Obviously they will not fit in a normal envelope so they arrive wrapped in equally splendid and elegant tissue paper wraps (with ribbons and accessories also). She must take ages over them, and Mum always looks forward to them. Mum has actually suggested that she and Diamond hang onto both them and the wrapping, so that when there is a Kim retrospective exhibition in some famous art gallery, these can go in it!
Meanwhile Mum, who likes the odd drop of camomile tea is rather ashamed tonight to be drinking a troublesome brand. Mum, staunch anti-Royalist and adherent to the fact that she is an Irish CITIZEN, not a 'subject' of anybody. The brand? Duchy Originals!!!! Bought by mistake in Waitrose where apparently almost the entire 'organic' range is now Duchy Originals, these are now stuffed in the back of the cupboard in an anonymous silver foil pack so that nobody will notice!
Ah well. Only 29 more sleeps to Christmas. Have you never noticed how often dogs sleep?

Monday 20 December 2010

Sinking into the Swamp

A couple more nice snowy pics, the first just a bike in the boat yard which we liked the look of, the second taken a few seconds before yesterday's 'miserable Haggis' one. You can see the H trotting off to stage-right (picture left) to check out the iron paling fence. More snow is forecast for tonight.
Meanwhile, those interested in Project Erroll may be wondering what's going on and why you have had no updates. This is bacause at least one aspect of the possible future is sinking into the swamp, and all the moves and official notices have been put on hold. Dad is therefore carrying on regardless and battling through the normal Christmas peak in business, uncertain when the top bananas will make a move and firm up on any arrangements. Watch this space - there's not a lot any of us can do.....
Having worked both days at the weekend he is, though, able to skank and early finish this afternoon and gets home in time to walk us in the daylight round the Rec where we can have a run around in the snow with old friends Patch and Bindy, and 2 black labs who we see a lot but Dad can't recall the names of.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Yonder Peasant

Here are some pics of Haggis looking a bit like 'yonder peasant' and needing the Sire and his man to walk that way first so that the snow can 'lay dinted'. You can see how the snow clings to the fur around his feet and he also looks a bit miserable in the church one. There is also, for fun, a nice pic taken from the aft deck of SB Cambria, of the temporarily-out-of-commission barge Ironsides covered in snow, with "Chambers Big Building" (as we barge-folk call it) in the background.
This morning Dad is off back into work (it's that weekend) but is home by 10. He heads for the barge to take some pictures but also to help with the job of shovelling all the old sawdust out from between the floor frames prior to the new floor-of-the-hold (actually called, somewhat confusingly, the "ceiling"), bagging it up and carrying it up onto the deck and then down onto the quayside.
That done, and some warm soup inside him, Mum and Dad head off in search of Christmas Trees eventually finding a suitable one at Brogdale Farm, the famous local fruit research station and collection of heritage varieties of fruit trees. This is soon back, erected and covered in the usual bling. Tasteful? Maybe not....
Incidentally, some of my readers are, I know, family, and may have received a Christmas Card from Mum and Dad. If so, did you notice that the picture on the front is of one of out previous trees in our front room, the cards being from a website where you upload a pic and choose wording etc to get your own cards made.
Have a good rest-of-weekend

Saturday 18 December 2010

Winter's back

Winter returns good and proper with an honest blizzard whiting out the sky, laying on roads and dropping a 3-4 inch picturesque blanket all over the town in the space of about 45 minutes. Dad's had to work this morning (it's "that" weekend, just before Christmas) but he's home again before the snow starts. He actually texts Mum telling her to hurry home before she gets cut off, which is not the normal way round.
Rather madly, though, he then decides we should all go for a walk in it down to the boat yard. I love it, and charge about like a lunatic. Haggis is not quite so sure, and starts to look a bit miserable as the frozen snowy klingons start to build up round his feet. Dad has to continuously break them away to give him a chance to walk. It's proper big-flake, sticky, snow-man snow.
Back home we have to be freed of the klingons and this involves a good bit of hand-crumbling, raking with the coarse comb, and finally dipping our feet in a washing-up bowl of warm water; finally we are passed in to Mum who is armed with a huge dog-towel and a roaring coal fire. It's all Christmassy indoors as Mum is 'baking' (none of us is sure that's the right word) the red cabbage. We were going to buy the tree today, but the prospect of choosing one from under 4 inches of snow and bringting it home, shaking all the snow off into one of the cars, was too unattractive. We will go out tomorrow all being well. We are running out of time. Only 7 more sleeps!
But let's not forget a bit of a bitter-sweet memorial day which was yesterday, the one year anniversary of the passing away of our old chum Megan. It snowed all around the 17th and 18th last year too. Dad has her cute face as his screen-wallpaper. We miss her still and she was Dad's first ever owned dog so she'll always be a bit special.
Ah well

Thursday 16 December 2010

Correct Forecasting

It seems that the weather forecasters may have it right this time. We are currently sitting through the "rain and getting very much colder" piece, and leading inevitably, it seems, into the freezing hard and black ice which should be followed on Friday or Saturday by the heavy snow falls. Winter is back. Even though it's dark when he gets in from work though, Dad still insists on trotting us out for a splash through the cold puddles.

It's all OK for him, of course, Barbour coat, 'thinsulate' gloves and Donegal tweed (ancient and disreputable) flat cap, warm dry boots, but we come back with our under-carriages lathered in mud and wet, and have to stretch our in front of the fire to dry out. At least he's home tonight. Last 2 nights we've been deserted again. Tuesday was a meeting of the 2CV cronies for their Christmas Dinner over in the pub in Bramling. Wednesday Mum and Dad did a silly fun-quiz for the aul' wans of the town's Horticultural Society - just daft questions about Christmas and the words of Christmas songs, plus some about the town.

It always goes down well with the club members and is followed by a huge cold buffet (ahhh those cheese straws baked by the ol' ladies!) and the a sing-song of Christmas songs, which then infect Dad as 'ear-worms' for days afterwards. Sleigh bells ring..., are yer listn'ing? etc.

We're getting there

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Must be Close

It must be getting close to Christmas now - we noticed that even the Regular dog walkers on the Rec are starting to say "Ah well, if I don't see you again before Christmas, have a good one, now" as they part company.

Dad is doing some long crazy hours too, and only twice because he was stuck in the snow. Snow's all gone now although it's very cold and there is more white stuff forecast. The gang had a load of Mum's friends and colleagues over Friday night for a major meal and party. We love all that - plenty of extra people to make a fuss of dogs!

From there Mum and Dad headed for Isleworth to visit another of Mum's friends, and forgot to come home that night. Must be their ages. There were rumours of lots of walking around Richmond by the Thames looking at the big-scale weirs and locks , Thames stylee, the occasional beer in riverside pubs and then on Sunday an extended walk round Kew Gardens. In the latter case Mum armed Dad with the birthday present video camera, so there may be some footage to check out soon, on You Tube.

We were left behind because the friend, Maisie Lou is a dyed in the wool cat person, having a very fluffy black boy-cat by the name of Beau. Normally quite chilled, he does not take to dogs apparently, and especially fast chasing type dogs, so we were abandonned to the tender mercies of the Angel B and Uncle Jim.

Then it was back to the grind stone with, for Dad at least, an extra quick night shift on Monday night where a server needed re-booting which couldn't be done while it was powering the day job at the 'New Shed'.

Enough for now

Thursday 9 December 2010

MUST SEE You Tube Video

Dad interupts my musings to tell you about a fantastic thang which has appeared on You Tube, namely the 3 and a half minute trailer to a film being made locally by a friend of his, one Mike Maloney, he who made famous and popular local fims "Sideways Launch" (about our town's boat building industry) and "A Dream of Flight" (about early British flight based on the Isle of Sheppey). Mike is now making a film about Dad's beloved sailing barges ("Red Sails") and you can see the trailer on

or by plugging "Red Sails Trailer" into your search engine. Dad says if you are not stirred by the opening shots of a barge in a heavy sea or the old black and white footage of our own SB Cambria (white haired skipper in jumper and skinny 'mate' in specs) her last Captain (Bob Roberts) and mate 'Ginger' (Phil) Latham, then you are some kind of Philistine and you have a heart of cold cold stone.

Ahhhhhhhhh .... deep sighs of contentment. Wonder in Mum thinks she'll get away with not being SHOWN it tonight!


Tuesday 7 December 2010

Rest in Peace Lady

Tonight we regret to announce the passing away of what might well be our last but one remaining pup from the Megan and Haggis stable, "Lady" who had to be put down a couple of weeks back. Lady lived an 11 year long, happy and very gently life with two very good friends of Mum and Dad, Bill and Pauline.
She suffered in her later years with diabetes and was completely blind but she was still able to wander about because Bill and Pauline's house was so quiet and still, and old Bill always took her on the same gentle walk, same route each day, so she always knew where she was.
We loved having you as a pup, Lady, and it was wonderful to know you lived locally and we saw you regularly in town out with either your Mum or Dad. We will miss you. Rest in Peace
ps - the only remaining Pup we are sure about is another "Lady" who lives in Maidstone with Dad's work colleagues Tracey and Sarah.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Back on Board

Ahhh the hardships of ship-wrightery working with wood, skilled use of draw-knife, adze, pit-saw, steam chest and plane...... long hours, no money yada yada yada. OK, making it up here. Not only do shipwrights no longer use adzes very often or pit-saws ever, but this is just a waffly introduction to the fact that we are here depicted aboard SB Cambria.
In the top pic we are down in the hold, the camera looking forward up the port (left) side. I am nosing about among the cables and you can see Haggis, further off, peering over a piece of the original Cambria panelling which has been brought back for use in the rebuild of the aft "state-room" (the skipper's quarters). In the other two pics we are up on the fore-deck. In one we are fussing around Dad's fellow-volunteer Dave's legs, and in the other Haggis is standing on the recently caulked decking.
This being a Lottery-funded rebuild, Dad's team win more points by making it 'educational' so, alongside the rebuild there has been an apprentice course running and this has been about teaching the guys traditional ship building skills. Hence no modern mastic-guns for us on Cambria's decks. Our guys have learned to rout out a groove between the planks into which is hammered shredded rope (oakum) and then into which is poured molten pitch (known as "hot stuff" for obvious reasons). The whole is allowed to cool and set, before the top dribbly bits are smoothed away and the lot painted.
There you are. More ship-wrightery than you probably needed, but at least you'll have something to talk about if it all goes quiet in the snug tonight....

Saturday 4 December 2010


Some bleak ol' photo's of the boat yard in the snow. Last night, though, mild winds blow in and rain washes most of it away as if it had never been. It's the weekend but Haggis wakes up all moopy and clingy and pleads with the humans to sit on their laps. Mum ends up eating her breakfast one handed with the H lying across her legs.
He's better once Dad is back from Canterbury where he has to buy dog sweeties (and other less important stuff!) and we get taken for a walk. We are now stretched out in front of the fire occasionally having to fend off Ragworth who has turned up with Diamond. Mum and D had been off to a rated local butcher in the village of Luddenham (The Angel B and Uncle Jim swear by it) and return here for a bite of lunch.
Have a good weekend.

Thursday 2 December 2010

...and we shall have snow

Proper snow comes to Kent and Dad keeps getting caught in it and enduring huge journey times to and from the new work site by Dartford bridge. 'More fool you' says Mum who pleads with him to take a 'duvet day' but she, unfortunately works about 5 minutes walk from here, so she struggles to use the 'snowed in' excuse!
The worst was probably Tuesday evening when he took 4 and a half hours to go from Dartford Bridge to the M2 near Bluewater Shopping Mall, a run of normally 9 minutes or so. The other 30-odd miles home took a further 30 minutes or so!. This morning it was a jack-knifed lorry by the Inn-on-the-Lake (Cobham) held him up 2 hours on the way in but a problem-free run home.
While he was gone, the snow came down by the bucket load, so that by the time we got taken for a walk in the Rec there was a good 6-8 inches on the ground. We romped and chased about, picking up large amounts of icy 'klingons' which we then dropped all over the kitchen floor, much to Mum's displeasure. Rona-who-lives-in-the-Forest goes one better, reporting "3 inches of snow on Killiny Beach in South Co. Dublin, the likes of which she's never seen before"

Saturday 27 November 2010

Pretty Lil' Angel Eyes

Winter sweeps in across the country dumping a fair amount of snow on Scotland and the North but next to none on Kent and Sussex. We get a quick blast round the Rec, where we meet new 7-year-old Westie on the block, Lily whose Mum seems to be in denial whether she needs a 2nd dog. The human children have apparently been pleading but she was worried Lily wouldn't take to it, so she was pleased to meet us and see us together, and to hear of our Three-ness and now Two-ness and how it works out. I think there may be a pup on the way soon. We will look out for the lady in her bright purple parka. We also meet big ol' ruffty-tuffty Rottweiler Mollie out with my Sister Ellie's Mum's human child and (ha!) she's wearing a coat! Gwaaarrrnnn yer big wuss!).
We head for Hastings and the Pud Lady's house where, out of no-where, the Pud Lady has re-started the pud-making tradition. Snake and Pygmy Puds have been a Saturday tradition in Dad's family since before God was a lad, winter summer, come rain or shine. The only thing that used to displace 'the pud' was if Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, when they had Turkey, and the pud appeared on Boxing Day. Lately though with Stamp-Man becoming ever more elderly and infirm and now finding puds a bit rich and filling, the tradition had lapsed, and hence all these Saturdays when 'we' have been down and cooked the dinner.
But now, gloriously, Pud Lady is back in the chair and the suet is back in favour. Mum and Dad are asked to do only the veg', the wine and the dessert. Right On!
We hear a rumour from the Silverwoods camp, that 4-year-old M is an Angel in the Nativity Play at school (ahhhhh!). He has 2 lines to remember, "You must go to Bethlehem" and "The Baby Jesus has been born in a stable!". A life in Am-Dram and Shakespearean lead parts surely beckons.
Go on M, knock 'em dead!
Deefs (not quite sure she can reconcile M with angelickness)

Friday 26 November 2010

Fabulous Bakers

On a raw frosty morning both Mum and Dad have the day off. Dad takes us a nice walk round the boat yard and we stop and watch while Alan Staley and his boat builders play a game of pendulums with a 7 and a half ton boat on a crane. Mum and Dad disappear off Christmas shopping in Canterbury and return with these rather nice beds for the two of us.

They head on to Lower Halstow where SB Edith May has seamlessly changed, with the coming of winter, from intrepid sailing barge, to Tea Rooms. She is warm and cosy, log fired after a morning in the frost, and Mum and Dad get one of the best baked potatoes ever, down in the restaurant in her one-time hold while listening to0 two old sea-faring types discussing sailing, gas-jetties, tugs and "muddie" barges.
Meanwhile Project Erroll acquires a new stark definition, as Dad's boss announces that the redundancy is on, maybe sooner, maybe after 6 months of deferral. Mum and Dad are pitched into 'project management' mode. The lists come out and the post-it notes come to the fore. We will keep you posted when we know definite dates. We hate to say it, but the horrible situation in Ireland might just play to our advantage just now. More on this soon. It is all currently 'sub-judice' while we sort out who's able to say what and who's in a position to do what to whom
These humans do live complicated lives sometimes, don't they.

Thursday 18 November 2010

We Built This City

Someone's always playing Corporation games
Who cares they're always changing Corporation names
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page

Marconi plays La Bamba
Listen to the radio
Don't you remember
We built this city
We built this city on Rock and Roll

Apologies to Jefferson Starship, but we're up and running. We are "built" and in Dad's case connected, input, configured, installed and cookin' on gas. The first loads have been tipped, broken down, re-assembled and despatched. Batch jobs and end of days have been run and we are in the groove. Maybe now the long hours can relax a bit. Tonight he's home at the unprecedented daylight time of 4pm and we get a decent walk round the boat yard loop in daylight (well, daylight for most of the way). He even has time to feed us and to lay and light a fire before Mum gets in.


Sunday 14 November 2010

New Shed

Here, for anyone who's interested , is the new "shed" Dad has been working towards, to the detriment of doggies for the last few months. Top pic is some brand new offices just waiting to be cluttered up by accountants and HR types. 2nd pic is one of the new chill chambers where Dad's lot will handle all the chilled range (meat, fish, ready meals, yogurts and dairy, salads etc). Finally a pic of the famous 2CV a-top the attached multi-story, looking across to the aforesaid offices. It's a 3-storey office block but 'starts' 2 storeys up already, on stilts, over some of the HGV loading banks. So now you know.
It's a rainy sploshy, miserable day but we think it's brightening around lunch time, so we set out on a walk around the boatyard and down to the creek. In fact it comes on to rain hard and it is a sorry collection of drowned rats who come back needing the attentions of dog-towels and a good coal fire.
All arm and dry now though.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Dunboyne Castle

2 nice pictires for you today. The rather splendid edifice is Dunboyne Castle Hotel, where Neice M is to do a work placement which she refers to as "working in front of office". We assume that's hotel speak for what Dad, in 'distribution land' would call "customer-facing", dealing with the public and keep on smiling! Dunboyne is out to the WNW of Dublin, out past the M50 motorway and as far again, on the M3 motorway to Kells and points out towards Navan, Enniskillen and so on. It all looks very grand, M; will we be allowed to associate with you when you're that posh? We can all think of less comfortable surroundings to work in.
The other pic is of the Traction Avant recently bought and brought back from down Swindon way by 2CV Llew. Nice one, Llew. Very smart.
Dad completes a succession of 11-12 hour days in the run up to the operation start up at their new depot, and gets a free weekend to recover prior to the first trucks a-rolling in. Everyone is feeling a bit home-ish and soul food. Last night sees the humans eating (admittedly posh) sausages, (allotment) mash, carrots and baked beans, and this morning it's the turn of bacon butties. Lunch is oxtail stew turned into a soup. Coal fires are the order of the day and muddy dog walks return via the allotment for harvesting chard, cabbage greens and leeks. The latter slide out of the soggy soil with a satisfying squelch and get root-washed in the water butts.
Dad fires up the 2CV after weeks of lack-of-use. 2CVs are notorious if left, for the fuel draining back down to the tank and forming an airlock between tank and pump. Dad's note to self. Invest in one of those bellows suckers the AA men use to see if you have fuel in the fuel line. Then you won't have to suck and end up with a mouthful of lead-free. Yeurk!
(about to stretch out in front of the fire!)

Thursday 11 November 2010

Traction Avant

Dad is now racking up the hours as his firm prepare to 'go-live' at their new location. All our walks are now taken in the dark and generally after supper. Not a problem - the sights and smells are just as exciting as in the daylight.

2CV Llew takes leave of all his senses and invests in a BEAUTIFUL olde Citroen; a 1952 Traction Avant "Light 15" which he buys on a well know on-line auction site and has to go and collect from Chippenham. The car is in fine, drive-able condition and in need of hardly any work. She has a grey body and black wings. She gleams.

Llew goes down west with a mate in a good tow-car and a serious trailer, and is coming back past our town onthe M2 on 2CV club night, so he phones Dad to suggest we follow him back to the workshop so we can then drive him to the club meeting. Well if he phoned as he was passing then he must have been rattling along because Dad does 20 minutes of fast driving down the A2 and along country roads and only manages to catch him up in the lane, 200 yards from 'home'. That's no way to treat a classic, lads! The men unload the car and put it for safe keeping before adjourning to the pub with beer-drinking dog Rosie (another pint of Betty Stog please), girlie Jack Russell Ruby, and venerable brindled greyhound Janie.

Meanwhile, Neice M from the non-dog loving side of the family delights Dad (and Mum) by managing to get work in a Castle just outside Dublin, She is learning the Hospitality Business and some 'front of house' work is good employment experience as part of her studies. We'll be round to see you soon, M


Sunday 7 November 2010

Gunpowder, Treason and Sleeping

Not that long ago, November 5th, Guy Fawkes night was a major event in Haggis's life, being chief defender of the skies from rockets, whizz bangs, alien debris and any other NIH material (not invented here). Every single fizz, bang and crackle (excluding Sugar Puffs) had him racing to the back door to charge down the garden barking furiously at the sky. How DARE they? The nerve of it! Not for Haggis that cowering behind the fridge that some dogs go in for (hey, Rags?) or leppin' onto a human lap in fright. He was OUT THERE, underpants over the top of his tights, big red "H" on his chest.
No longer.
Now Guy Fawkes Nights come and wearily go; whizzes, bangs and fizzes ignored and derided as the H sleeps on. He is one mellowed out dude. Someone else can defend the Empire. He's had his turn.
Dad and 2CV Llew were out making their own noise in the back garden today (much more intresting to we dogs), chopping the top 5-6 feet out of the beech hedge, which has been allowed to go a bit mad while the Home for the Bewildered was being site-cleared and then built. The beeches were trying to revert to the 'tree' form and nobody minded because not having seen the H-f-t-B yet, we all worried how over-looked we'd be. Now we know what it looks like and overlooking is not a serious problem, so the beech trees are being reverted to a hedge.
Dad's already had a go up the sides with the extended loppers, but today Llew showed up with the 4WD and 2 chain saws; one a normal chain saw, the other a shaft driven extendable thing with the motor at one end and the saw blade at the other. Lots of exciting noise and drama, blizzards of saw dust and falling tree limbs. From somewhere, I produced a dead rat, but no-one saw me 'get' it so they'll never know. The boys also took off the lower limbs of the big Paulownia tree (Foxglove tree) which were shading out the green house and the James Grieves apple tree, this time using a rope to gently lower the branch lest it demolish the green house.
The output from all this was variously taken to the tip in 2 4WD loads, logged up for burning or left in a pile to be used as allotment pea sticks. While all this was going on we entertained Llew's 16 year old Jack Russell, Rosie (of beer and tea drinking fame). She decided to hold with the tradition here of all dogs who have ever been in our garden must fall in the pond, reversing carefully in when Llew came round the corner with the pole chain-saw. She looked up at him with daughterly pride before stepping carelessly backwards, forgetting she was near the edge. Nothing an quickly produced dog-towel couldn't fix!
We all adjourned indoors for a splendid roast pork dinner produced by Mum, who'd also lit the coal fire as by then a chilly wind was beginning to ship through.
Hope you had a good weekend.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

17 Years

Mum, as anyone who knows her will know, is a great one for making lists - Lists are drawn up to plan everything from Christmas menus, itinerary for visits from young Silverwoods, house decoration, projects and gardening weekends to holidays and even, sometimes, work.
Now that next year's narrow boating mission is being organised, a List is being prepared. We are doing the "South Pennine Ring", which is Sowerby Bridge, up over the top at Todmorden and Littleborough, down through Rochdale to Manchester, then back up through Ashton and Mossley, through the Standedge tunnel and Huddersfield, back to Sowerby Bridge. 197 locks! It's quite a list by the time Mum has added all the major stop-offs and pinch-points (having to pre-book summits etc).
It's Mum and Dad's 17th Anniversary today and, unusually, they have both remembered it in good time, so Dad has got the requisite flowers organised and Mum has got in fizz and posh food for a romantic meal.... and a cake. It is also 3rd Birthday of Toddler-R Silverwood, so Mum and Dad phone up and sing Happy Birthday raucously down the phone to her. Being 3, she probably has no idea what's going on but allegedly enjoys the singing and then attempts in her unique monosyllabic way, to list all her presents "Bike..... Bear.... Bike........Shark......Bike!" etc. It's never a long conversation with R though, and she's soon racing back off to play.
Happy Birthday Little R Silverwood
We all hope you had a great day!

Sunday 31 October 2010


Hallowe'en Night and we have the Jack'o'Lantern deployed in the front garden and a big tub of chocs for the hoards of kiddies when they show up, attracted by the pumpkin. But we've eaten our supper, lit a fire, sat back and relaxed and we have had a grand total of 1 party of kiddies, and it's 20 past 6. We (well, the humans anyway) are going to be left, as ever, with a mountain of chocolates to use up.

Dad was down at SB Cambria today doing his usual stint as a volunteer with oppo Richard, showing the public around, so he got back at three and raced round to lay a fire, feed the wild birds, carve the pumpkin and walk us. We head through the cemetery and back via the Rec where we meet everyone - our own doggy Hallowe'en party. Ben the collie cross is out there, and Mum's colleagues Cairn terrier cross Caspar (crossed, says owner, with another Cairn terrier!). There are two new westies we've not met before, called Poppy and Puffy. We all have a good charge around. Caspar is a ball-chaser. I try to out-run him but he's a fast little nipper and he always gets the ball.

Happy Hallowe'en

Busy Week

It's all gone a bit busy round here lately. Dad was away on a training course for Tuesday and Wednesday, reporting that he stayed in a veh' veh' posh hotel near Silverstone circuit, in a place called Whittlebury Hall (Towcester) which was not just a Training Centre but also proved to be a big hotel, a serious golf course and a health and beauty spa. The food was lovely, reports Dad, featuring a hot and cold buffet at lunchtime with mussels at one end, through all the salads and down to stews at the other end. What it didn't have, allegedly, was decent beer, the best available being Tenants Bitter off the keg.

In the work department, Dad has finally had his formal meeting with the powers that be and has a clearer idea over what might be in store. There are some interesting possibilities - it's not all doom and gloom but more of that when we know more. Project Errol, meanwhile, moves on a stage as we are visited by our 'Independent Financial Advisor' Friday.

Watch this space

Sunday 24 October 2010

Kept Waiting

Dad's on weekend cover again so he's on the 04:15 alarm and into work by 05:30, but he's back by 09:00, so Haggis doesn't even notice he's gone. In fact , on the way out to work Dad can't see the H to give him a farewell 'sweetie' so he has a crisis of confidence and has to trot back upstairs, where he finds the H stretched out next to an equally comatose Mum and completely wrapped in duvet. No demand for sweets there, then!
We're awake when he gets back though, so a good walk is in the offing, out to Conyer Creek. Annoyingly Dad decides to go every where else first on errands, and at each stop we have to wait in the car. It's sooooo unfair!. First the Cambria where Dad wants to nip on board and get some pics for the Cambria blog. From there to the site of an old foundry which used to make castings for Cambria 100 years ago (and only recently demolished). From there to Conyer, where Dad wants a pic of their village sign (picture of a barge, naturally!).
Finally we get there and can get out of the car and run round our normal circuit. This place is terrier heaven, with short-grazed turf and thorn scrub, and hot'n'cold running bunnies everywhere. Dad notes that the local boozer, the Ship and Smuggler, seems to be closed, being redecorated but currently stripped of all its pubby stuff (signs, kegs, beer-garden paraphernalia) so we're not sure if this is a permanent closure, or just a refit.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Safely gathered in

For Dad, unfortunately another weekend of cover, but we still get to see plenty of him and have good walks. We are just back from a blast round the Cemetery and Rec where we met, and had a good run around with, 3 month old soppy Collie sisters, Misty and Poppy. They remind us a lot of the brother-sister combo Ben and Nellie who we meet on 2CV events, where you can tell them apart by the width of their facial stripe - Ben is broad, Nellie is Narrow. In this case Misty is the narrow one, and Poppy the wide stripe. Also present is Cavalier x Westie "Harry" - like a coarse haired Cav - very unusual.
Misty and Poppy's owner likes to carry a tin of sweets, so she commands our undivided attention at the Rec, but sadly the 'sweets' are doggie chocolate drops. I am in there, of course, but Haggis's face crumples with disappointment. "They are made with plants!" he wails. Dad has to give him extra 'proper' sweeties when we get home to restore his faith in human kind.
My pics show another shot of a Fallow doe in Challock Forest, this the one chased past Dad by a red and white collie. She (the doe) does not look as if she quite trusts the dog to have given up on chasing her. Plus a goodly pile of logs delivered today by Polish chums of 2CV Llew (Mum thought they were Greeks! Just as well she didn't say so.). We have that 'all is safely gathered in' feel and can cope with winter; all be it now the cold weather has relented and it is mild and warm.
Mum and Diamond have gone off to Rochester Cathedral to listen to a special Evensong service sung by a choir which includes a mate of theirs off the interwebby.
Good weekend so far

Thursday 21 October 2010

More Deer Hunting

Loading the 'pap' lens into the (frosty) car this morning, Dad intends to grab some time back for the long hours he's worked recently, with a bit of deer hunting in Challock Forest. Creeping around on his own, at last, he is able to take some half way decent pictures including a whole series of a small group of dark does in a leafy glade, and this rather good white doe actually on the rutting stand.
The rut seems to now be in full flow. Dad is there in the afternoon from about 14:00 to 16:30 and there is grunting and battling continuously on the stand and frequently off it. We see plenty of female deer mooching about. At one point Dad is sitting by a tree perusing the stand through the long lens when he here's the sharp thud of hoof beats behind him and charging out of the forest comes a doe sproinging along in high leaps chased (rather half heartedly) by a red and white long haired collie. It runs straight at Dad but then spots him and veers off. It's all too fast for a photo, but a heart-stopping close view none the less.
We still get our walk, though, after the deer adventure, with a nice game of ball throwing in the Rec. Now we're all home and the talk is of venison, but it's not related to the fallow deer of Challock Forest - our "hunting" is purely photographic.
Finally running out of patience with the Cinnamon Trust to actually come and vet the house for its dog-suitability, Dad sends them a very polite but final email reminder. We do not expect anything to come of this but you never know. He tells them we are still here and still interested but if they do not make contact this time we will "seek a dog else where".
Meanwhile, no progress either on Dad's work or Project Errol
Patience is a virtue

Tuesday 19 October 2010

A busy weekend

This cute little mutt is the latest recruit to the job of 'barge dog' on the Sailing Barge Cambria. Named Robin, he's in the temporay care of the owners of old friend Kes (mainly-white JR). Very soft and friendly, Robin is here being made a fuss of on the fore deck of the SB Cambria (now approaching completion) by our weekend visitor, Mum's chum Maisie.
It was quite a busy weekend all in all, especially for Dad who had to lead 2 separate deer walks round Challock Forest in search of the elusive Fallow Deer. We are not alone this year in thinking that the famous rut is either very slow in starting, or is much less well attended at our particular rutting stand than normal. Our chum Rona, who lives close by the Forest agrees with this - she heard the start of it a week and a half ago, but where she'd expect it by now to have built up into a fine old crescendo, there is still only sporadic and half hearted noise.
Dad's two walks both saw a few deer, and heard the occasional battle and roar, but saw nothing of the normal milling groups of females, and the off-stand sub-battles between male pretenders. We are all wondering whether 'our' stand is being abandoned in favour of another location, possibly as a result of too much interference by trail-bikers, dog walkers (or even deer photographers!). What ever the reason, Dad still has not got a decent 2010 photograph to show off.
Meanwhile we had our house-guest, Maisie-Lou, so there was plenty of fun and games around the house, lots of fussing for us and walks, plenty of eating and drinking for the humans, and the town carnival on Saturday night, which musters outside in the street to much noise and light. It also involves numerous 'Carnival Queen' babes looking very cold on their floats in the chilly wind, but these days their attire involves thick warm looking furry robes akin toi dressing gowns, so they wrap up well and keep smiling.
Diamond appears along with reprobate dog Rags at one stage, and Dad also takes Maisie and Mum for a look round the barge.
It was a good and enjoyable weekend.

Thursday 14 October 2010

Betty Skoggs

Tuesday night we are abandoned by Dad (admittedly after a goodly walk round the boatyard) who is off to 2CV Club at the Haywain in Bramling. He will return smelling of Rosie the beer drinking dog and the marvellously named Cornish ale, Betty Stog. Our Betty is a buxom wench according to her picture on the beer tap, all be it drawn in that crude 'crayons' stylee that kiddies use, her face round with a curved-upwards smile and her hair sticking out in all directions in coiled ringlets like bed springs.

Dad's driving, so he only gets a taste of 2CV Llew's pint (yeah, lightweight allegedly sticks to alcohol free Becks) but the rest of the evening is given to crude barracking between the club members, especially 'Enthusiastic Pete' who is actually Cornish, along the lines of whether he knew her in his youth; and a raft of made up stories of her exploits.

Deserted again last night too, as Dad is off again to do "Hon Treasurer" at the Hort Soc speaker's night. Remember that scene in 'Calendar Girls' where they are talking about a talk on propogating broccoli? Well this was almost as gripping as that, apparently, the 'speaker' being 2 guys who put together a slide show using a double barrelled projector with a fade between each slide alternating the lenses, and accompanied by gently plinking pastoral music in the 'Greensleeves' and 'English Country Garden' stylee. Zzzzzzzzz, says Dad, Where's that Stog woman when you need her?


Tuesday 12 October 2010


In the garden, the quinces have started to fall. Mum and Dad go out with a carrier bag to gather them up, Dad reaching up into the tree, Mum catching, then finally Dad shaking the tree to bring the last few down. Even with the first few wasted by falling to the ground over the past week, we still gather 8.5 kgs. Half of this is currently cooked and waiting to be turned into jelly, the other half (which wouldn't fit in the pan) is in a bowl scenting the room.
My other pic is Dad's first Deer-in-Challock pic of 2010. Not the best pic we've ever posted, by a long way, more like putting a marker down on which we will improve over subsequent missions to the Forest. We know quite a lot about Fallow Deer but we still learned something from Ray Mears on TV last night, that Fallow Deer have the longest tail of any UK species and when you are not sure of identification, the flicking long tail is a sure marker that you have Fallows. Not critical in King's Wood as they are our only species.
The weekend sees us down at Hastings visiting the Pud-Lady where Dad's Sister in Law is doing the catering this time. Mum and S-i-L see to it that Pud-Lady is well chilled out with plenty of sherry. I manage to escape from the garden within minutes of arrival, but in coming back I give away the escape route, a badger hole under the fence. Dad meanly blocks this with a handy bag of compost.
That's it for now. No progress on the two main issues, the 'Third Dog' problem and Project Errol.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Project 'Errol'

OYEZ OYEZ OYEZ! Be it known throughout the known reaches of the (Deefer-Dawg) blog-o-sphere, that the proposed project to up sticks and move to the Emerald Isle be named "Project Errol" after a runt-of-the-litter hatchling dragon in Terry Pratchett's 'Men at Arms' book (The Police Commander's wife breeds them. Don't ask). Be it also known that although any such plans are at the melting pot stage so far, two iconic 'things' have happened which, if you knew Mum like we know Mum, you would take VERY SERIOUSLY INDEED.
Firstly they have started "A List". Yes, a real one in the ring bound books they keep a-top the freezer. Lists get started for any major events, like narrow boating holidays, home-improvement projects, big garden changes, visits by Silverwood personnel etc. There is now, in existence an "Errol List". You have been warned.
Secondly the above earthenware casserole dish which ' would look good in the Project Errol Kitchen' has been purchased. Mum subtly asked Dad to give her a hand in with the shopping and Dad carried in that particular bag and (luckily for him) spotted the pot and quietly thought 'Ah... I wonder if that's a purchase with Errol in mind'. Seconds later with all the shopping safely gathered in, Mum hefted the pot and asked as if out of no-where, 'D'you know what this is?' to which Dad replied 'Our First Errol Purchase!'.
Maximum points, Dad. You live to fight (and stir the earthenware melting pot) another day!

Wednesday 6 October 2010

You Can Run.....

A quick pic of the two of us racing about in the Rec. I'm in the lead here and teasing Haggis by staying just out of reach, but he doesn't do so bad for a 13 year old pup, does he?
No word yet from the mythical Cinnamon Trust who may or may not be remembering to come round and vet our house.
We go a good walk tonight all round the boatyard and back through town, and the running above is in the Rec when we're almost home. We pile indoors and get fed by Dad while Mum is just finishing off working on the laptop 'working from home'. We all then bimble upstairs to sit with Dad while he checks on the emails and blogs. Dad is vaguely aware that cookery noises have started down stairs and then hears us shouted down by Mum, thinking only that maybe she's got a treat for us. It then dawns that those are actually Dog feeding, can opening noises and he shouts down "They have been fed y'know!" Mum goes mad! Why you lying little skanks, she calls us but then relents and gives us the food anyway, as we're looking so hopeful.
Thanks Dad, for grassing us up. You can run, but you can't hide!

Monday 4 October 2010

Rona says they're rutting

Irish chum, Rona, who dwelleth deep in the Challock Forest and occasionally correcteth my Irish spelling, (slan, Rona, but where were you when I needed an i-fada in my story about out of service buses? :-) ... by the way, it's got by holding down the alt-gr button and typing the letter as in í , ok?) emails to tell me that the Fallow deer have started their roaring in the Forest. The rut is on! Soon Dad will take to the woods armed with the 'pap' lens and start this year's campaign to get the elusive "decent photo of a Challock Forest fallow buck in Challock Forest". Nip to the Friends of Kings Wood website, by the way, and you'll find a guided walk this month to go see them.

Meanwhile, everything else remains in the melting pot. Workwise nothing is settled, much to everyone's frustration, so there is still a big decision to make - stay here and keep at it, or sell up and head for the Emerald Isle. The EI campaign are marshalling their forces with builders quotes, offers to Project Manage and the exploration of ground 'heat-pump' technology. The Stay camp are fanny-ing around indecisively and allowing the EI's to get some momentum going, which is a dangerous game.

'Possible third dog' wise we are also none the wiser as we await a mythical lady from the Cinnamon Trust to come and vet the house. We, meanwhile were declared to be mingin' at the weekend by Mum and were thus subjected to the indignities of the final haircut of Autumn and a serious shampoo. When mythical lady eventually does turn up we are going to be sooooo fragrant and silky she will be unable to refuse us.


Thursday 30 September 2010

Dublin Bus (Bus atha Cliath)

Dad arrives home tonight to be met with a red London Routemaster bus parked almost blocking the driveway. That's all he sees first. He nips in, grabs us and our collars and we are off for a walk, heading up past the bus.
The bus proves to be two buses, the London bus blocking a bright purple double decker behind it which is, amazingly Dublin registered. It even has the 'Out of Service' banner in Irish language at the front. It is therefore presumably one of 'Dublin Bus's green ones now taken out of service and repainted.
The Irish bus has broken down and the boys have come out to repair it in the Routemaster. This is not unusual in our town because we have the renowned South East Coachworks company here who are for ever restoring old double deckers and converting them into rock band tour buses, political campaign buses and even the Union Jack one used in the Spice Girls movie.
Mum thinks the Dublin bus is a sign pertaining to the current uncertain nature of Dad's work and the possibility of a move to the Emerald Isle. Her chums off the internet, who are from Dublin are joking that the Dublin Buses were so often 'out of service' that the Dublin kids grew up thinking that there must be a destination out back of Steven's Green called "As Seirbhís".
Meanwhile, as the shrinking evenings start to compress dog walking into the short gap between 'end of work' and darkness, we are starting to meet up again with all the usual suspects from '1630 Dog Clubs' of old - springers 'LB and 'DK', Jack Russell Bindy, 'blue' shar pei Monty, cavalier Louis, my sis Ellie and so on. We are, inevitably, also joined by some new kids on the block, like 3 month old gorgeous Tibetan Terrier 'Lily'.
And, finally, our contact from the Cinnamon Trust, who shall be known as Moira rings to say she's sorry she's not been in touch but has been on holiday. The JR who may be known as Daisy is still available and we will be contacted over the next few days to arrange our house vetting visit
It's all go
(Slan abhaile)

Sunday 26 September 2010

Couch coug...cutitout..ough

Some nice hops... very 'Our Town'. The gang are off to Hastings today to visit the Pud Lady and family but go armed with food with which to cook lunch, and some serious gardening kit, with a view to some heavy pruning. The Pud Lady's garden is described by the more sympathetic as a "wild woodland" garden, and by the less sympathetic as a jungle glade, top billing going to a massive and old cricket-bat willow which towers a good 50 feet and has a girth of more than a metre.
This gnarly old beast looms over all the gardens in "The Crescent" like an ancient matriarch and the rest of the garden aspires to catch it up. Our mission is nothing like brave enough to take on the willow, but we are there to start off by taking out the top 6 feet of whippy dog-rose, blackthorn, ivy and Forsythia which is allegedly just this year's growth on the northern hedge.
Pud Lady puts my Dad and his brother Tom to work on this hedge, which Haggis and I rootle about in 'the jungle' (Dog Heaven, of course, and in my case I translate ' the jungle' to include any neighbouring gardens I can get to within the crescent (plus one over the road, from which I have to be retrieved by Tom, who spots me while retrieving some loppers from his 4x4). Mum goes to work creating a magnificent fish pie, but keeps an eye on the boys and gets a bit frustrated that they are pussy-footing and not getting really stuck in.
This, the boys argue, is due to them knowing "The History", in that the Pud Lady never lets anyone loose in her garden without hovering anxiously and stopping them if they snip more than about 3 inches off the end of anything, or more than a few leaves. Today though, with her increasingly 'autumnal' years she stays in her comfy chair and although she can see the tops of the afore-mentioned 6 feet of hedge (and watches happily as Dad and Tom lop and stack), she can't see anything lower down due to the window sill height.
Mum, hopping from foot to foot with frustration strides down the side path and chides them to 'get on with it'. Her ideal garden is a lot less jungly, and she would dearly love to get to grips with 'this mess'. At one point Dad is messing around gently with the front of the hedge and Mum appears to be having a coughing fit, but it's one of those 'stage whisper' words-disguised-as-a-cough things. Cough cough- cut it out cough! The boys gird their loins and start to hack back into the hedge reducing its billowing front back off the path, back off the long-buried spare washing line, and then downwards to clear nettles, brambles and eventually grass to expose a lovely former spring-bulb bank at the foot of the hedge.
Far from upsetting Pud Lady when she does come out for a tour of inspection, she is delighted, as she finds she now has room to perambulate her wheelie-zimmer down the wider path and can actually tour the garden as she has not apparently been able to do since May. Dad hadn't known that and is delighted to have re-opened the access.
The fish pie was superb too, according to the humans, washed down with pink wine and followed by 'Cartmel' brand sticky chocolate pudding or sticky ginger pudding with cream.
A good day all round