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.