Doggy Saturdays

Every Saturday at 11.00, I fetch Meggie and Badger and take them for a lovely walk.  It is one of the highlights of my week after spending hours sitting in front of a computer.  They don’t care where we go or how long we are out.  They don’t even care about the weather.  They just want a bit of time to run around and express their personalities.

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There’s a fabulous walk we often do, from their house to the park, and then on to the river valley where they can jump in and out of the water to keep cool, and we can all enjoy the shade of the trees.

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Come on!

Dogwalkers are very sociable people and we’ve met lots of regular walkers and made lots of doggy friends over the summer.  Bonbon the chocolate labrador and Stanley the spaniel have a really cool blue toy which they are happy to share.

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Meggie leaping for the blue toy

Sometimes I fancy going somewhere different, just for a bit of variety.  But I’ve avoided taking the dogs further afield because they don’t like the car very much.  Badger won’t settle; he jumps from the back seat to the front and then onto my lap.  Basically he wants to drive the car.  And Meggie, typical neurotic collie, is stressed by Badger not sitting still, and freezes on the back seat.   I have recently solved this by installing a new seat cover on the back seat.  It attaches to the headrests front and back to create a sort of hammock.  There’s now enough of a barrier between front and back to stop Badger jumping forwards, and they can’t fall off the back seat into the footwells.  So they feel much more secure travelling in the car and we’ve had a couple of lovely walks checking out new footpaths on the edge of town.

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Badger in his element up on the moors

On the way back, they are tired and happy and relaxed and they lie down on the back seat for a snooze till we get home.

At home the routine is, treats, fill up water bowls, and chat about our adventures whilst I give them both a lovely brush.  My goodness they are much easier to brush than cats!  They both love it.  Meggie sits still like a princess having her hair done.  She even gives me her paw if she thinks I’m stopping.  Badger rolls over on his back and offers me each side to make sure I don’t miss a bit.

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Meggie in her element on an open field

Then I say goodbye and I miss them like mad until the next Saturday.

Volunteer dogwalking and pet care is arranged for free by The Cinnamon Trust.

 

 

 

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North and South

A week off between jobs was the ideal opportunity to visit friends in Aberdeenshire.  They have renovated a watermill and created a totally unique gift shop and tea room.  The waterwheels are fully functioning and it’s very special to have your tea and cake with the sound of the water hitting the big wheel as it turns.

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Eden Watermill

If you are ever in the Banff area, call in to Eden Watermill, the scones are the best ever and you will have the warmest welcome.

Eden Watermill is also the home of Needlenose Creative Arts, a stunning range of Harris Tweed handbags and accessories, all designed and handmade by Elaine.  Elaine is also a qualified kiltmaker, which is an extremely difficult thing to achieve, as it demands huge amounts of tartan fabric to be measured, cut and pleated with incredible precision, and stitched by hand.  It takes many, many hours to make a kilt, from taking bespoke measurements to the finished article.  Elaine has used these skills to great effect in her original and bestselling handbag, the ‘Wee Kilty,’ a bag with a hand-pleated kilt panel on the side.

The weather was amazingly good, and although time was short we squeezed in a visit to Fyvie Castle, a fairytale castle with lots of turrets and a fascinating interior.

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Fyvie Castle

The walled kitchen garden is wonderful, the largest, neatest and most elegant veg patch I’ve ever seen!

Less glamorous but not without interest was a visit to Peterhead, the most easterly point of mainland UK, a deep water harbour with a long history of fishing and of servicing the North Sea oil rigs.  I love sea ports as my father was a sailor and I grew up by the sea, so I loved finding out about the hidden tunnels built by smugglers in days gone by, and the 150 year old dry dock.  Even on a fine summer’s day it was bleak and extremely windy, but not without a sense of humour.

Below is the dry dock and some local wisdom from outside the optician’s on the high street.  Totally agree!

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My constant companion during my visit was Belle, the jack russell terrier.  She knows no inhibitions and leapt onto the bed every night and burrowed under the duvet, usually with her ball.  Some dogs have such huge personalities!

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After a couple of days back home in Sheffield, I was off ‘down south’, to Hastings in East Sussex, to start my new job with an induction at the company’s head office.  I am a Sussex girl and used to visit Hastings as a kid on family day trips, but I’d not been there for many years.  As a kid it was all about the beach and the amusements, but now I was charmed by the old town, the medieval streets, the castle and the view from the clifftops.

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There’s a huge amount of history to discover in this area, invasions and battles, the changing shape of the shoreline, and more recently how the place was affected by the Second World War.

Now back home and settling in to the new job. So glad I made the move, it feels really good so far, very happy to be back in the heritage and tourism sector.  That’s what I’m drawn to, even on my days off, so I’m lucky to be able to weave in my interests with my day job.

A dog walk and a sunset walk

Here in the UK we are basking in a glorious early heatwave.  We can only hope there is more to come, and that this isn’t all the summer we are going to get this year.  British people joke about this all the time, for example, ‘I hope summer falls on a weekend’ and so on.   Well I made the most of it yesterday with two beautiful and very different walks.

I did my usual Saturday dogwalk with Meggie & Badger (or Madge as they are affectionately known).  I was thrilled to be joined by my friend and her 3 month old puppy Bluebell, out mingling with the big dogs for the first time after her vaccinations.  There are lots of regular walkers in the local park so it’s always sociable, but even more so with a new puppy.  We had a great time talking to our dogwalking friends and watching Bluebell interact.   She was so good and just wanted to play.  The other dogs were great with her and it was fascinating to watch her learn.  She was allowed off lead for a short while and she ran around madly with Meggie which was wonderful to see.  She raced after her ball but has yet to learn that she needs to bring it back – I wonder if Meggie can teach her this important rule?

Later on I accompanied the OH on a walk on the moors to catch the sunset.   It’s usually a lot colder up there and almost always windy, but we found it balmy and still.  With hardly a cloud in the sky we watched a beautiful sunset at ‘The Hut’.  This is an abandoned shepherd’s hut by a large pond in the middle of the moor, inaccessible by car.  It’s quite substantial for a hut: stone-built with two rooms and an ancient kitchen range inside.  It has a real air of mystery and makes a great focal point for pictures.

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We have done this walk loads of times in the biting cold and snow, sometimes we are almost blown backwards by the winds, so it felt quite special to be there in the fresh warm air, after such a long winter.

 

 

 

Puppy Love

A birthday lunch in the pub with my BFF and her new border collie puppy.    Bluebell is 12 weeks old and so keen to learn.  She already has ‘Sit’, ‘Down’, and ‘Paw’.  She is such a good girl….for a puppy anyway!

Fortunately my friend understands that you have to be firm right from the start, or you end up with an annoying dog that you can’t take anywhere.  When the food arrived (steak pie no less!) Bluebell wanted to get her face in it.  She was leashed to the table leg and went frantic.  We moved to the next table out of reach and ignored her.  In a couple of minutes she settled down for a snooze.

Thank goodness for dog-friendly pubs!  We were in the Three Merry Lads at Redmires, on the edge of Sheffield, not far from Stanage Edge and the beautiful Hope Valley.  The food is hearty and wholesome and the staff are lovely and patient with dogs in training.  There is even a jar of dog treats on the bar.  We will definitely be going back, to do some long walks too when Bluebell is a bit older, she will need tiring out!

 

No knitting?

No knitting?

No knitting for ages, and a neglected knitting blog as other activities have taken over.  My art print business, Go To Design, has kept me busy with a load of trade orders.  Great news for the art biz, but curtains for the knitting, for the time being.  I have a full-time day job too, which quite often takes me away from home.

The joy of the last few months, however, has been my new dog-walking gig with the Cinnamon Trust.  Every Saturday I walk Meggie, a classic black and white collie, and Badger, a black field spaniel.

They are adorable and so different.  Meggie is very engaging and just wants to play ball.  She doesn’t care where we are, as long as I am throwing a ball or a stick for her.  In fact she is so ball-obsessed that I have to watch out for kids in the park playing football, because she will invade the pitch.  She looks at me all the time and I talk to her constantly. She is wonderful and I am a little bit in love with her.

Badger is not interested in balls, sticks, or me.  He just wants to scurry about following  scents in the bushes.  His recall isn’t great.  He has been known to chase squirrels or rabbits and he once stole a chicken from someone’s back garden (not on my watch – and the chicken was OK).  So we have made a deal.  He is off-lead in the park where we begin and end our walks every week.  Then for pastures new he is on a long lead and I do my best to keep up with him.  When we sit down for a rest he leaps into my lap and snuffles for a treat.

I have to plan the walks to cater for their different interests. Meg needs a big space to run in, and Badger prefers footpaths in fields or woodlands. He also loves water, especially in the hot weather.  He can’t wait to find a river and jump in it.

I’ve found the ideal walk for us – at Rivelin Valley in Sheffield. The river goes along the valley floor through stunning woodlands, with rocky paths and little bridges. There are lots of shallow places where they can go for a paddle and a sit down.  Today they spent most of the walk trotting through the river.

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Till next time,

L x

A Festive Walk with the Westies

This was a particularly festive walk to the local park at the Bole Hills in Sheffield. Not because it was snowing or anything, but because there were people out wearing Santa hats, and I came across a bench decorated with a very smart Christmas wreath.

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We paused here because the bench was new and the wreath must have been in memoriam. The view was spectacular and I thought it was a very special way to remember a loved one.

A friend of mine has been taking me to the Sheffield local carols, which take place at this time of year in certain pubs on the outskirts of the city. These are the old folk carols, not the familiar O Come All Ye Faithful church carols. They are very jolly and upbeat, mostly with different words and melodies to the ones we all know. So it has taken me a while to pick them up. But the joy of it is, the sessions are packed with enthusiastic singers, the pub is crammed full, the sound is sometimes deafening and people even sing harmonies with ease. It never was like this in church! So a newcomer like me can just pitch in and sing anything until I get the hang of it. There is even a song for passing your empty glasses back to the bar because it’s impossible for the bar staff to collect the empties amongst the crush of singers.

I had recorded one of the carols on my phone in an effort to learn it, so on my walk I played it back to myself. ‘Goodwill to all mankind, goodwill to all mankind’ etc etc.

Harry and Dixie on the Bole Hills

Harry and Dixie on the Bole Hills

But the dogs were confused and it made them bark, so I turned it off. Still, it was ever so festive while it lasted!

I have started to get some temporary office work which is a real godsend. I will be working over the holidays for the first time in ages, but I don’t mind at all because it’s great to be back in the workplace. I am actually enjoying the temporariness of it: meeting new people and finding out about different workplaces, systems, and of course politics.

I hope all your plans for the holidays are coming together!

Till next time,

L xxx

 

Sunny Sunday dog walk

There was a clear blue sky in Sheffield yesterday, bright sunshine and a cool breeze, perfect for taking the dogs out. No jumper needed, just took a bottle of water, dog treats, and a bit of money for the ice-cream van.

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Harry and Dixie posing nicely

We walked to the Rivelin valley again, a favourite walk of mine with loads of variety and interest. There was one more route I hadn’t quite figured out so that’s the route we took. This route was less strenuous as it didn’t go all the way up the hill but cut through the woods mid-way up. Perfect for a hot day.

About half way round we stopped in a glorious meadow for a rest. Wild flowers were abundant and the air was scented. I kept the boys on their lead in case there were sheep around the corner. But it didn’t stop them from rolling around in the cool, long grasses.

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It was such a beautiful spot that I took some more pictures.

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They looked so happy and joyous that I felt it too. It’s great hanging out with these guys.

A little further on we were in the woods following the river. The boys did lots of paddling in the shallows and I played the game of swooshing water on them to keep them cool, which made them run away like nervous bathers!

Nearer home we stopped for another rest in the meadow next to the cemetery. There is a natural spring here where they like to have a drink. I sat down in the long grass and enjoyed the scent of the cow parsley and other flowers and blooms whose names I don’t know. Harry and Dixie had a good wander around in the cool grasses until it was time to go.

Time to go, boys!

Time to go, boys!

I can’t think of a better way of escaping my computer and my desk than this.

Till next time,

L x