Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Snow is back!

Oh I have been so bad about keeping this blog up to date! I do apologise if you do happen to venture on here for updates occasionally!

Anyway, we have had a new addition to the family. We enjoyed having a new dog so much, it seemed a shame not to find some company for her - especially as she didn't like being on her own at night. So we registered with some springer spaniel rescues (we had to be a bit more careful with this one - it is one thing bringing a single dog into the house, but a second dog has to be family and dog friendly!) At the beginning of December we heard about Ruby, went to visit, and 2 weeks ago she came to join the happy family.

She is another liver and white girl, 6 years old - 2 months younger than Candy! Very different circumstances to Candy's - Ruby was a much loved pet whose owner made the sad decision to part with her as she was having to work long hours and Rubes was being left alone far too much. In 2 short weeks she has become part of the furniture and has gone from a little pudding to a pocket rocket!

She sure likes her food - she has not learnt to be gentle yet and the boys have to watch their snacks (and their fingers!)
They get on very well together - lots of playing and racing but no overt affection. Two girls together was always going to be a bit touch and go! Hopefully that will improve with time - I can't wait till the day they actually snuggle up together!
She is far more spanielly than Candy - which just makes me think even more that Candy may actually be a sprollie! They are very different - but equally as gorgeous. Feels like we have had them forever!
It is nice to go on familiar walks and watch how they respond to their surroundings. Today it was Ruby's first time at Wistow - perfect on a sunny, snowy day. The ancient church of Wistan:
Across the fields to the canal - which was frozen!
Candy surprised me - she is the least confident of the two, but she braved the ice!
The boys had fun finding things to throw onto and trying to break the ice.
Finally managed to break a little bit at the side!
Making snow angels had to be tried as well.
Great way to tire out two boys!
We were very fortunate to be given a super duper dog crate when we collected Ruby. Very handy for the car, otherwise they climb about all over the place! Two bonny girls after their walk:

Monday, 26 October 2009


Now normally Butlins is not my idea of a good place to holiday! I hate slot machines, I hate Bingo and I hate 'organised' entertainment! Purely because I do like to get back to 'non' man made when I holiday - beach (for walking rather than lazing), forests or hills do it for me every time.

But Butlins at half term was a gift from Grandparents to the little boys and as hubby was working, I got to go too! It was actually much better than I thought it would be! So bear with me while I show you Butlins!

Firstly we had a gold appartment. Highly recommended! Having stayed in silver and standard appartments many years ago and vowed never again, this was very pleasant for a short break. And the pastel painted, clapboard chalets with planted areas even looked quite quaint! We got to dine in the Yacht Club restaurant - very good value and excellent food.
The boys obviously had a great time! They met some of their heroes and spent loads of time on the Bob the Builder rides! And the swimming was a great hit with the water slides and bubbles and waves. We even saw a couple of the shows, and very entertaining they were too!
But I had to drag us all to the beach at least once during the week. It was dry and sunny but incredibly windy - fabulous for beach walking! And Skegness does have rather lovely beaches.
The boys were not in the least bit bothered by the lack of entertainment - they dodged the waves; made sandcastles and beachcombed; running and hollering into the wind like mad things! It was wonderful! They did stop to admire the windmills way out at sea (we even managed a short lesson on electricity and wind farms!). I didn't take my camera when we visited Skegness itself, but there is another lovely beach there as well. I didn't manage to completely avoid the slot machines and bingo. But it didn't matter. We all had a lovely time. Thank you Mum and Dad! xxx

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Autumn Glory

We bunked off church today! It was such a glorious day, there was only one place to go. Bradgate Park. After spending half term at Butlins with the boys, I needed to get out into the wide open spaces again!
The air had that semi crispness of autumn, the sky was blue as blue and the colour in the trees and bracken was stunning! The boys appreciated it too - they spent ages running and climbing up and around this rock.
Candy had a good run! When she is first let off the lead she really races around - then she settles down and starts to investigate the scents. Can you see her disappearing up the path?
We visited the ruins - the childhood home of Lady Jane Grey.

Sat on a bench by the river, soaked up some rays and admired the colours.
"OK, time to sit wiv me Dad"
"So what we lookin' for den?"
She did manage to play in the river, but I think she just prefers to be with her humans!
We have decided to look for another dog to keep her company, so on the way home we paid another visit to a couple of the rescue centres. Lots and lots of staffies and rotties but no gundogs. Maybe we are being too fussy, maybe we should consider a pup. Decisions decisions!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Dog walking and Hedge scrumping

I am rediscovering the joys of dog walking. Dennis was never one for long walks - and he was a monkey, preferring to run away from us rather than with us! And for the last couple of years he has hardly done more than a quick walk around the park under duress!
With Candy we are rediscovering old walks that we used to do with the retrievers. We are so lucky here to live within a 2 minute walk of open fields in any direction. And a 2 minute drive takes us to even more possibilities - rivers, canals and woods.
Candy investigates the bridge, not sure how to get across it yet:
Typical springer lollop - tail flying, tongue lolling, ears flapping - so much to see and so little time!
Time for a quick cool off in the river - just the feet, she didn't venture any deeper.
Have to check out the trough as well.
She is a joy to walk! Not brilliant at coming when called, but she doesn't run off far and although she loves to say hello to other dogs, she doesn't want to be seperated from us.
This evening though she blotted her copybook by sliding into a very fresh cowpat. Most of it got scooped up into her collar, the rest was smeared down her side. Lovely!! However she redeemed herself by standing stock still whilst I hosed and shampooed her in the garden. My own fault really - I was engrossed in picking sloes and blackberries and she got bored!
On the plus side, I have a huge haul of sloes ready for gin ( I would never have spotted that bush if it hadn't been for Candy!)

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Dog Days ...

I have become very lazy in my blogging recently! I do apologise! I came to post about recent goings on and realised I never did share the finished pictures of Dans bedroom!
Anyway, here it is - although not quite finished (I never did get round to making bunting for his window - I might one day!) but his lighthouse is finished.
And we have the Normandie Express ferry racing across the wall as well. He has moved in and loves his new room. One day he might even get it finished!
Since then, we have had some rather sad happenings. Our little westie dog Dennis had to be put to sleep the other week. He had been slowing down for a while, back legs looking very stiff, and I just assumed it was a touch of arthritis. But then he deteriorated really quickly and was struggling to walk in a straight line and becoming incontinent. The vet diagnosed nerve damage and put him on valium. This cheered him up no end, but he still couldn't walk properly and was really beginning to struggle so we made the hard decision to let him go.
I was quite looking forward to the freedom of being dogless, but hubby had other ideas and so we did a tour of the local rescue centres last Monday.
I'm very pleased we did, because we found this little lady and brought her home with us.
Candy is a 6 year old Springer and she is adorable. She is an angel with the children - likes to sit and shake paws for a treat, and is very gentle. When in the house she just wants to be a couch potato! But get her out in the fields and she goes into full Springing mode and is great fun to watch.
However, she is also very fond of the chickens so we do have to keep them segregated. I don't know if she will ever be safe to be around them, but we will wait and see. In the meantime she spends many happy hours trying to figure out how to get into fort knox to play with them. Luckily their run is Springer proof, and they are very laid back about her attentions.
So it's back to daily doggie walks. Oh well, I suppose at least it will keep me fit!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Moving on, growing up and memories

Well the time has finally come to redecorate the nursery. I was quite excited at the prospect of a bit of redesigning, but didn't realise until we emptied the room, just how sad it would make me feel as well! As I started taking things apart it brought back so many happy memories of those days just before Dan was born - setting up the nursery, and then after the birth, long hours sat in the sun, rocking my newborn. At the time it felt as though those days would last forever, but suddenly it is 6 years later - and time to grow up!

But I loved that nursery - the changing table was below that little shelf on the right. I had all the nappies and wipes and paraphernalia on that shelf, and there were clothes pegs glued to it with cuddly toys hanging from them for entertainment. The room faces south west so gets a lot of afternoon sunshine. I had mini glitter balls hung in the window and Dan would spend ages just lying in his cot, watching the reflections of light dancing across the ceiling. I had a rocking chair in there and would often sit there and doze myself.

But back to reality, and moving forward, not back. It hasn't been a nursery for over a year now as the boys share the larger room. It has been a playroom (or rather a dumping ground for too many toys). But Matthew starts school in a couple of weeks, and Dan goes into year 2, so space and a bit of responsibility are required. As the owner of the cabin bed, it makes sense for Dan to move into the smallest room, and he was a willing volunteer.
He was very keen to get started - how often do you get the chance to legitimately peel off wallpaper?
Two willing helpers in fact! As the border came off, it revealed my first attempt at decorating - a handpainted border! Replaced by the pretty Mamas and Papas Zoofari border when it appeared in the sale bin! Dan said he would have preferred the wavy pattern - maybe I should have saved my money! See that washing up bowl? I used it to soak the wallpaper and wash the glue residues off the wall. But at lunchtime the bowl disappeared.
By the time I found it, it was too late - they had 'borrowed' it to wash their bikes, and then Dad's car, along with all the neighbours children. Ooops. Dad was not impressed and had to go out and wash all the glue off the car.
But back to decorating. Dan wanted a red bedroom. Well he is manic at the best of times, so I wasn't keen to go with that idea. So suggested maybe a neutral theme with red accents, how about something nautical? He like that idea, and then I started to get ideas. A couple of coats of white paint later and I had a blank canvas.
Yeah, I got a bit carried away! Anyway, that is enough for today. I have a few finishing touches to add to the paintwork, then I can start on the soft furnishings!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Allotment Booty!

Well we have been home for just over a week now, and I am beginning to catch up with the 'news'!
First job (apart from the mountain of washing) was to visit the allotment. I couldn't wait to see what had changed! I'd already been out to the greenhouse and found the tomatoes bearing masses of fruit and these little lemon ice cucumbers!
I took the tubtrug with me as i thought there may be a few broad beans left to pick, and I needed some potatoes for tea. This was only half of it - it was overflowing by the time I dragged it back to the car. It held potatoes,squash, carrots, broad beans, peas, onions and shallots. We had a delicious frittata for tea using home grown eggs with some french salami and shallots and squash from the allotment. Yummy!
I couldn't carry everything! Look at these beauties! The squashes had escaped onto my neighbours patch and into all the beds adjoining theirs! I had to pick them, although I now wonder if I shouldn't have left them. They have since been utilised into soups, casseroles and rissottos, and some given to friends! They are lovely - very sweet and tasty, much nicer than courgettes.
The growth on the plot is amazing - what a difference 2 weeks makes! I have runner beans and brassicas (not sure what yet, there appear to be at least two cabbages, several sprouts and some purple leaved things, probably purple sprouting broccoli)
Huge onions - pulled up the biggest ones and took them home to dry on the greenhouse staging.
I can't tell where my fruit patch and next doors weeds begin and end (although we have new neighbours now and they have been very busy clearing the weeds!) My marigolds look gorgeous!
I can't believe how much everything has grown!
The sweetcorn is the best I've ever grown - there are loads of cobs very nearly ripe! There is some lovely looking chard there too. Sadly the beetroots and radish have disappeared underneath the marauding squash.
Carrots and parsnips amongst the marigolds. Only a couple of carrots with very minor carrot fly damage.
The whole site is looking amazing - and to think we didn't think we would be able to grow anything but potatoes on it this year!

Monday, 10 August 2009

In and around Brittany - a few more pics!

As well as spending time at the farm, we also got out and about a little (only a little because of car problems, but we are keeping this a positive experience, right?) LOL
Anyway, Brittany is full of picturesque little villages - Locuon is a short walk up the road from Belle Vue. We found these pretty cottages down a little grassy track. They were deserted. There is so little employment in the area that this sight is becoming more and more common. I could have moved in straight away - the thought of the commute back to Leicestershire put me off a little!
Just round the corner from the cottages we came across this beautiful shrine to the Virgin Mary, built in an old quarry. Again a common sight around Brittany - we spotted another in the middle of a field while we were out riding but I didn't have my camera on me.
A short drive from the farm is the Nantes a Brest canal. Another historical monument - built for military purposes and completed just as military use was no longer required. It would be perfect for longboat holidays, but the road bridges have been built with just enough headroom for a kayak, so it sees very little use. But the paths are wide and even and lovely for walking and cycling. Good for pond dipping as well.
Around the coasts of Brittany are some beautiful beaches. We discovered the Quiberon peninsula and the little town of Saint Pierre on the eastern side. We spent a lovely day taking in the quaint architecture and soaking up the rays - soft white sand between the toes is a lovely feeling!
Excuse the pale legs - they did get a little browner! I just loved the look of lilac crocs, aqua toenails and pale sand! I had a lovely time, sat playing in the sand while the boys went rockpooling!