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!