Friday 29 April 2011

Party Time

It probably didn't escape your notice today that there was some kind of a flap on in London. We turned it into a party down here in darkest Kent, with Mum inviting a houseful of wimmin round for drinks and food and to watch it all on the TV including regular member of the cast of this story, Diamond. The house was primped and prepared to within an inch, the sideboard loaded with bottles and the fridge was bulging with everything from Coronation chicken, quiche, strawberries and cream and crisps, with guest bringing reinforcements of sausage rolls, a superb rhubarb tart and more booze.

This was always going to be a 'girlie' event with lots of commenting on dresses and hats etc, and the men decided to do a runner. We got our walk round the boatyard really early. John headed for a house he's doing up in town and started chipping off old plaster. Dad had agreed to go help 2CV Llew in his workshop down the other side of Canterbury. He stayed home to see the guests arrive and to share in a breakfast of salmon and scrambled eggs but then loaded me into the car and headed off.

Llew's "workshop" is in fact an enormous commercial (disused) green house with an earth floor which has, at the back end of it a decent sized rabbit warren. Some of the panes of glass are long gone so the rabbits have fairly free rein to come and go from greenhouse to the surrounding farmland and outbuildings. Others are broken and there's enough room for a rabbit to nip through but maybe not a westie..... (can you tell where this is going?).

The boys set to work moving cars about and tidying up. I wandered off in search of bunnies, rats and other farm beasties. At one stage I got a rabbit cornered but couldn't actually get at it and shouted at it, which set off Llew's dog, Rosie. The barking attracted out the land owner, just to check what the barking was about and he was chatting to Dad and Llew when they both hear a glassy crash. Men ran to see what was up, to see me whoosh off across the field in pursuit of a bunny. They worked out that I must have chased it through one of these not-quite-big-enough holes and 'finished off' another pane. There goes Dad, apologising for me again, but land owner was amused and not that worried.

A few more chores and Dad and I returned to the house in time for the food catching the wedding 'balcony scene' on the radio. The pictures tell some more tales of part tomfoolery.

All the best, William and Catherine


Wednesday 27 April 2011

Do I come here often?

Haggis gives Mum and Dad a bit of scare by coming over all trembly again, being obviously uncomfortable and restless, and doing his groan and grumble thing every time he moves so Mum, who has these days between the long weekends off, whizzes him round to the John the Vet. He's also been very vacant lately, quite often forgetting where he is, forgetting to follow Dad when they're out walking, forgetting to come back indoors when he's been let out for a wee - Mum or Dad eventually go looking for him and find him at some random place in the garden sitting or lying down, looking about him with what they've come to call his "Do I come here often?" look.

All clear from the Vet though - John thought he had detected some enlargement in the liver so did a blood test for all sorts including Cushings (which is what afflicted the late Megan) but all the bloods came back normal. All major organs were also OK, so Vet John pronounced him justb tremoring occasionally and off his food and forgetful just because he's old.

Amusingly, Mum also told John, who's Irish (but we didn't know what part) about Project Erroll and it turns out he's from Co. Offaly (Tullamore) so they had a good chat about that.

Tonight, Mum and Dad are off to the Hort Soc to present a quiz between our town and the village of Stockbury - this has been running home and away legs for about 30 years. It's all good fun, with plenty of amusing questions rather than serious dry dusty-fusty stuff.

Go Faversham!
(oops - sorry, meant to be impartial!)

Monday 25 April 2011

Hottest Easter

The hottest Easter for ages continues, all be it with a bit of a chilly evening last night, when Mum and Dad had been invited round to Diamond's for a superb roast lamb dinner. We dogs were left behind on the grounds that it was too hot, but I suspect that my 'ambivalent' feelings towards Rags may have been taken into account. Diamond jokes around with Mum and Dad about them 'deserting her' when Project Erroll comes off and cooks superb food to make sure they miss her! Dad's favourite gratin potatoes and Diamond's home made ice cream feature.

On these really hot days, Dad takes us for our main walk really early - we were out by 20 to 7 this morning when the dew is still all over the oil seed rape and the bunnies have not yet woken up to the fact that humans and dogs may be up and about. At one stage a rabbit runs away from me down the lane but then turns left into the waist (on Dad!) high rape. All Dad can see for a while is the tops of flowers twitching as I crash about out of sight in the field. He whistles and claps and shouts. Eventually, I am done, and I emerge looking like a drownded rat but with a superb bright yellow slick up my spine, of rape petals.

Dad's been down at the barge, of course, over the weekend, painting 'below decks' and re-oiling the top mast. The Creek is starting to empty of barges now, as each one emerges from its poly-tunnel cocoon, gets its gear up and slides down to the Swale on a Spring tide. Greta heads for Whitstable, Lady Daphne and Repertor for London. Only the infirm and locally-owned are still around, and of course the 'not-quite-ready' like Cambria herself.

It is a Spring tinged with sadness, as no-one is certain whether the over-wintering in Faversham will continue and the barges return in the autumn. The Landlord of the Standard Quay has not renewed the lease of the operating company, and looks like , in effect, turfing all the shipwrights, boat builders and dry-dock users with their noise, clutter, tools and piles of wood, off in favour of wine bars, restaurants and the like, keeping some barges in place just for show. Where they will go for repairs, servicing, winter refits, sail-dressing etc, nobody knows - maybe Essex? Medway? Iron Wharf? Whitstable?

It seems like the end of an era.


ps - Dad is baking bread, so we have to keep putting down this keyboard and doing baker stuff. Mrs Silverwood would be proud of us.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Linseed Oil

The blue skies and sweltering heat continue. Dad wakes up early again and we get our walk between 0700 and 0800 padding through the dew and then picking up all the dust on our wet feet, out through the allotments, across the fields and over the "concrete bridge", then back through the boatyard, churchyard and Rec.

Dad's on Cambria duties this morning and comes home full of having done the linseed oiling of the topmast (one of several coats, anyway). Cambria's topm'st (these salty sailor-men love their apostrophes) is a 50 foot long trunk of Douglas fir now shaped into a perfect round with the bottom 6 feet thicker and "D" section planed and sanded as smooth as silk. With linseed on and soaking in this spar positively gleams. Oil, we gather, rather than varnish because the top sail (tops'l) needs to slide up and down held to the wooden mast by loose-fitting iron rings when being hoisted, and these rings can jam against varnish, but never against linseeded silky-smooth wood.

Great therapy, says Dad, painting away in the hot sun, chatting to passers by.

Up tops'l!


Friday 22 April 2011

Kicking Off out the back

You couldn't really ask for a hotter, more blue-skies Good Friday than we are enjoying today. There's not a breath of wind and it's hot, hot hot. We went for our walk good and early, while the dew was still on the fields and the mist had not yet burned off, and it seemed that many other dog-walkers had the same idea.

The humans are a little fragile after slightly over-doing the red wine, and sneaking a few brandies and calva's down too, sitting out on the terrace in the still evening listening to music and planning for Erroll while we dogs mooched about sniffing at night scents and investigating night noises.

Today has been a day for a little light gardening, tidying and de-cluttering, moving compost about and planting some bits and pieces from Diamond's John and some begonias Mum had bought. It was too hot for such things, though, by about 11, so we have all retreated to the shade for a 'quiet' rest.

No such luck - the Home for the Bewildered out back, normally so quiet you'd think there were no residents (We all started to believe the rumour in the local papers that it is struggling financially and about to be closed down) are having a birthday party for someone called John. (Happy Birthday John!) Oh yes! It's all kicking off. There is bunting out and a small bevvy of the old dears sitting around in sun hats while possibly the worst female singer in Faversham (and a not-so-bad bloke) murder covers of My Love Will Go On, The Wonder of You, Oh Carol, Sweet Caroline, etc. These "songs" are intercut with good ol' London knees-up material like My Old Man said Follow the Van, Daisy Daisy, and Blowin' Bubbles.

Mum questions whether it's OK to sing "I'm half Crazy" to a bunch of people with Alzheimer's but she gets admonished for being 'evil' by a friend on Twitter (LOL). Ah well. God luv'em, the old dears. We'll all be old and silly one day, God Willing.

Keep On Enjoying Easter


Thursday 21 April 2011

The Shipwright's Arms

Poor old Haggis is not very well and, naturally, as he is 14 years young, this is the cause of a certain anxiety among the humans, including the Angel Betty. He was off his food last night and spent the evening mooching around groaning and grumbling theatrically and was a bit sick at one stage.

This morning the humans cannot deny that they both crept anxiously down the stairs whispering "Please be OK!" and were immensely relieved to find the "H" strolling about un-concerned (and no longer groaning and grumbling). Mum left a message for the Angel B, who came round to check up on him each hour but only reported a coughing fit. Tonight he has his appetite back and is still not groaning, so we assume he's recovered from what ever it was.

Dad liked these pics, both taken from the deck of the SB Cambria last Sunday. This guy put-putted off down Faversham creek in his sail boat, midday-ish, sails furled, outboard running, black and white collie leppin' about under the (reefed) fore-sail. He returned under sail at about 2 pm, weaving interestingly with his dog running along the north bank. He'd presumably been for a lunch time drink at the Shipwright's Arms at Hollow Shore, which is accessible from the Creek side.

Every now and then the dog (who you can just see centre left in the pic, up on the grass bank) would judge himself far enough ahead to run out across the mud and swim out to catch the boat, but he'd always get it slightly wrong and the drunken sailor would weave by the swimming dog, apparently oblivious of the dog's attempts to get back on board. The dog, disappointed, would paddle back to the bank, leap across the mud, shake himself and run on ahead again up the grass levee.

We presume eventually man and best friend were reunited but everyone probably needed a good lie-down by then!


Wednesday 20 April 2011

Suits Me.

There is a story going around that "prison suits me". That I'm a much calmer person for the change to downstairs sleeping, away from the humans. Not so neurotic, feisty, clingy, easier to live with. Either way it looks like the new regimen is here to stay, if only because the humans are getting quieter, more restful nights sleeps (also free of unwelcome warm wet enhancements, if you'll pardon the expression).

Some nice calm pics then, of the garden in Spring, some cherry blossom (we have a "Black Glory" variety tree), silver birch catkins and a shot up the garden from the woodlandy bit. The soft green looking, low-growing herb centre-bottom of the picture is sweet woodruff.

As if Cambria wasn't enough, Dad got involved in the rescue of another old decrepit sailing barge yesterday afternoon, the SB Westmoreland but, again, I'd refer you to the Cambria Trust website and the 'Volunteer's Views' tab which Dad writes.

Project Erroll meanwhile, expands out into some tentative internet house-hunting, first in Co. Laois and in Co. Offaly (we now know places we'd not even heard of a week ago - Rhode, Birr, Moneygall, Ferbane and the Slieve Bloom Mountains) plus, lately into Co. Longford but that might be a bit too far away from the Silverwoods current haunts. The gang are also toying with the idea of a yurt for the 'garden'.

Look after yourself


Sunday 17 April 2011

Keeping Your Nose Clean

Can it please go on record that I did not do anything naughty today. These days do happen. I don't always have to be peeing on Mum in bed, killing nesting robins, invading neighbours' gardens and driving away their cats, battling with Rags or bickering with Haggis. There! Dad spent much of the day down at the barge, where the painting effort has now moved below decks as the outside is largely finished and awaiting its new rigging. Below decks the shipwrights are trying to create light airy living and educational spaces as befits a barge attempting to attract schools paying money to use the facility for projects about the history of the London River, trade, coasting barges and distribution before the era of motorways and HGVs. Also charter customers, who are no longer prepared to put up with "bucket and chuck it" toilet facilities and lousy damp bunks (I know!), but need single sex loos, shower cubicles, hot and cold running water, a decent galley and comfortable sleeping accommodation. Heating even! Gadzooks! Dad's cronies were talking of a nice evening sail today but that was before they'd read the tide tables. High tide was 13:00 today, so by evening all the boats were back sitting high and dry on the muddy ooze, and not going anywhere. Maybe next weekend lads! As a result, we all got a nice walk, out across the fields behind Dad's allotment. We ended up going a bit further than planned which was good for me but which had the H struggling a bit in the warm sun, his tongue lolling down to his front feet. Those fields were formerly abandoned and fallow, running to scrubby hawthorn and blackthorn and long grass, the hedge rows all thickening up and invading the fields. They were beloved of the local "yoof" and their trail bikes, and were criss-crossed by bike-trails which divided and split and came together again in a really useful network of choices of path. 2 years back, though, when the owner/developer finally admitted that he was probably not going to get planning permission for the dozens-of-acres housing estate of which he dreamed (and probably couldn't sell the houses anyway) , he engaged a local tenant farmer to reclaim the land for agriculture. This guy has moved in with big modern farm equipment and done what they always do - ripped out all the hedgerows, levelled banks and filled in dips to join up the small fields into huge areas, 50 acres or more per field. All the bike trails are gone and now there are just the few big tractor-roads around the site and them probably not really rights of way, the rest a glaring sea of bright yellow oil seed rape. Hence our long walk. Places I thought I could shortcut from A to B, there was no longer a trail - we had to go all round the outside of the huge fields. No matter, at least we can, for now, still get access, but it is a shame that all the wildlife we used to see in the abandoned fallow will probably not come back - the nightingales, cuckoos, hares (we even saw a got-lost-migrating white tailed eagle once!). The farmer guy has built a nice big pond by damming a stream, so he's probably ticked all the boxes to get his 'eco-farming' EEC grants, but we know different, don't we? Eco-dog Deefs

Saturday 16 April 2011

To be taken into consideration

Mum and Dad are impressed by how good we are after another noiseless night, this one with Haggis downstairs as well. Everybody gets a good night's sleep and the humans are even talking about enjoying the fact that they can lie straight in bed, not curving their spines into "S" bends to avoid small dog bodies scattered at random over the bed surface. On a lovely sunny day, we all head for Hastings and the Pud Lady's house in the 2CV with the roof rolled all the way back. I love it there as the garden is deliciously wild but I am a bit keen on diving through the badger holes under the fence and exploring further a-field and today I am 'busted', rounded up by neighbour Carol. It is alleged that I wandered around their garden for a while before wandering into their house and greeting Carol like a long lost chum. I was grabbed and bundled under arm back round to 'our' house. Luckily Carol takes it in good heart - she is a cat person really and is un-impressed by her cats being chased out of their own garden by furry white strangers. Does this constitute one of those "other offences" that criminals under sentence ask to be taken into consideration? Mum and Dad feed the Pud Lady and "T-fer" with a vegetarian mix of pasta parcels; mushroomy ones and a spinach and ricotta version. Pud Lady is impressed. T-fer seems less so, so maybe he doesn't like 'veggie' stuff and prefers his meat. Ah well Deefs

Friday 15 April 2011

Doing the Time

I'm back, you guys. I can take it. As they say, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". Mum and Dad decided that as I'd survived the first night of my ban without too much whimpering and barking, they might as well go the whole hog and ban all dogs from the bedrooms hence forth, so Haggis joined me in the kitchen-diner (aka "slammer") last night and the humans can report that there was not a whisper of noise, no barking, no crying, no nothing. Everybody got a good night's sleep. Mind, we were both very very happy when Dad finally did emerge, rousted out of bed by the 05:00 alarm.

So that's just now the way it is, "business as usual"; we are downstairs dogs and we sleep in the kitchen. We guess that's just the way it's going to be now and here and through to the flowering of 'Project Erroll'. We hope to be able to join the humans at "reading the papers in bed" time tomorrow.

Dad had a good birthday and the presents took on a 'clothes for the project' theme. He loved the red check shirt I bought him, and the blue check shirt Haggis chose, and has some excellent narrow-boating clothes ready for this Summer's big adventure. Mum, for some reason, took exception to the famous 'poncho' Dad has used un former narrow boating trips, possibly because of the way it inflated all around Dad when he fell feet-first into the pound in Sowerby Bridge 2 years ago and made him look like a demeted jelly-fish or octopus. Oops! I don't think I was meant to mention that.

Thank you, Rona, for offering to represent me as my "crack legal team" and also thanks to Mr Silverwood for offering to 'spring' me in his "Free the Faversham One" campaign. You can stand down at present (but don't go away). This ol' Jailbird can cope.

Evil Piddlin' Bee-atch


Thursday 14 April 2011

In the Slammer

Deefer's Legal Representative writes (2) I regret to inform you that my small white furry client has been found guilty after due process of law, of the crime of being "Bang out of Order" and has been sentenced to being barred from the bedroom for the foreseeable future. We can therefore tell you that my client spent her first night in "the cells" (also known as the kitchen-diner) and coped OK. There was a bit of crying and a bit of barking but eventually everybody relaxed and the humans got a good night's sleep. My thanks go to Mr Silverwood who has offered to raise a "Free the Faversham One" campaign while admitting that he might not get many signatures on the petition." Meanwhile (whispers Deefer), Happy Birthday to Dad, who is 54 today. Deefs

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Legal Representation

(Deefer's Legal Representative writes) This office regrets that our small white furry client is currently unable to post in this diary as she is allowed only one phone call, and no access to the internet. It is alleged that she did, on Tuesday April 12th, completely unprovoked and for no discernible reason, top all past crimes and was guilty of being "Bang out of Order" as defined in Sect 4, Para 12, sup-para 3 of the Canine Outrageousness Bill (2011). To whit she did wait till all 'the pack' were a-bed and bordering on sleep before climbing on top of the small mound of duvet known as 'where Mum sleeps' before peeing, yay, down through the clean-on duvet cover, the duvet and the brand new designer PJs onto the 'I-was-only-just-starting-to-feel-warm' bum-cheek of the aforesaid human female. Our client is therefore grounded pending investigation and charging until future reference. She has been banned from the upstairs areas of the house and will be sleeping in the kitchen until the humans are convinced that she has mended her ways. This office will keep interested parties and stake holders abreast of developments. Legal Beagle

Saturday 9 April 2011

6 again!

Poor Mum gets stung by a wasp at work. It is half asleep and sitting on the bannister of the main stair well and Mum plonks her hand down on it. She now has a hugely swollen middle finger smeared in a variety of narcotics with names like "Wasp-Eze". It is very painful she says and relates a story of heading for the pharmacy to buy the cream like a grown-up when she was actually 6 inside and just wanted the nice lady to give her a hug and a lollipop. It's April and the weekend, clear blue skies and warm sunshine, all be it with that creeping NE breeze which gets us here in North Kent, rattling in over Nagden Marshes with nothing in its way from the North Sea, so that as soon as the sun goes down the chill comes and the humans retreat indoors for their supper of Cajun ribs. Much to Dad's alarm, the 2CV will not start this morning, giving a few pathetic churns before running out of battery. Somewhere in the re-assembly by Llew or the hand over to Dad, someone has knocked the radio on and although the radio has long since lost its ability to reproduce music (or any nice sound at all in fact), it does a good line in static hiss and can flatten a car battery from fully charged in a week of non-use. It is an olde Amstrad with a cassette player of a type which was probably wholly appropriate in 1986 when the car was new, but is now probably just an e-Bay museum piece. Or was. After flattening Dad's battery twice; once today and once, if we remember correctly when Em-J Silverwood was fiddling with it, it has now been exorcised from the car and is now sitting in the wheelie bin. Have a good weekend Deefski

Saturday 2 April 2011

Bucket and Chuck It

2 rather bizarre views of the famous Cambria barge today. In the first you are down in the aft cabin, the Skipper's stateroom looking upwards at the skylight. In the 2nd you are looking at the luxurious toiletry arrangements.

You are on the port (left) side right at the back, looking at the rear chamber of the wheelhouse, where a suspiciously small "room" is accessed through a door from the deck. This is actually the crew toilet (as was) and would have had a galvanised bucket and not much else. Nuff said. Nowadays, of course, for our more sensitive and prudish modern customers, we will have proper flush toilets below decks which meet all the current regs for passenger-carrying craft. It's almost a shame!

Dad has his 2CV back at last.. 2CV Llew finished the work this week and we collected the car Thursday, so it's back on the driveway. We had Llew round for steak and chips Friday and enjoyed the company of his elderly JR, "Rosie", the tea and beer loving Lady. Llew is currently in town cleaning up the bottom of his sailing boat. so Mum, Diamond and Dad drop past to heckle on their way to see the Cambria. Llew needs winding up occasionally.

A good walk today - we did the old "2 Bridges" loop, starting off across the Rec and then using the short bridge across to the 'upper church', then looping round via the A2 and the now-closed Windmill pub to return to the Rec along the 'long bridge'. I got to play chase the ball or to carry it all the way. Happy Days.

Have a good weekend