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.

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!

 

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

 

Feels like Summer – and a Cemetery

It’s been a glorious day here in Sheffield, UK. Most unusual for a bank holiday weekend. Yet only two days ago it was cold enough for gloves. Such is our changeable climate. This afternoon I took Harry and Dixie out for a good 3-hour ramble, from their house down to the river and woods at Rivelin and back.

This is one of my favourite walks because it’s so varied and interesting. There are so many footpaths to choose from that the walk is different every time. Starting off in suburbia, it then covers parkland, woodland, fields, rocks, and allotments. There are sheep, horses, fishermen, a cafe, ice-cream, and lots of other dogs. A cool river to paddle in, and once you’ve climbed back up the hill, a simply stunning view.

My route today took in Walkley Cemetery. I find cemeteries fascinating. They are so full of history and hidden life stories. I find them mysterious and atmospheric. This particular cemetery is all the more interesting because it isn’t neat, tidy and well-attended. It is neglected and dilapidated. In a wood on a steep hill, it is overgrown with ivy and creepers. There are clearings, footpaths, and stone walls which have fallen down. The ancient trees provide lots of shade, so it’s like wandering through a rambling old house, from room to room, full of antiques in various stages of decay. Some of the headstones are spectacularly ornate, with stone statues of angels and draped urns.

Entrance to Walkley Cemetery

Entrance to Walkley Cemetery

Harry and Dixie leading the way

Harry and Dixie leading the way

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A little further on, we were treated to a lovely display of bluebells.

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We weren’t far from the river and I could already hear the happy sounds of children larking about. Down at the cafe and kids’ play area it was crowded with families having picnics and barbecues, and playing in the river. I put the boys on their lead as they are terrible scroungers when there’s food about. Further up the river it was much quieter so I let them off again. Someone had dropped a packet of crisps in the path and Harry was onto it: opened and devoured in two minutes, cheesy wotsit crumbs all over his chops.

Yum yum

Yum yum!

At the big pond we usually have a rest because it’s a good place to paddle in the river and get a drink before we leave the valley floor and climb back up the hill. I let the boys have a good mooch round. They went and made friends with (i.e., scrounged food off) all the other people there. After a while I couldn’t see Harry anywhere. Then I noticed he was up on the footpath around the pond, talking to a fisherman. Uh-oh! I hadn’t noticed the fishermen there. I always put them on the lead around fishermen because in general they don’t like to be disturbed and they certainly don’t want dogs trying to eat their bait. So I grabbed Dixie and ran round to get Harry, full of apologies. But fortunately the man was laughing. ‘I have to tell you, love, that your dog’s just eaten some raw bacon’. Well I wasn’t too bothered, as I raw feed my cats and I think dogs should be raw fed too, ideally. The man then offered Dixie his last rasher, and it vanished without touching the sides. Well pleased with their pickings, the boys had one last dip in the river and we headed up the footpath, through the fields to the allotments at the top.

Footpath through the horses' field

Footpath through the horses’ field

The view is well worth the climb. We had a rest in the meadow which was full of lush long grasses and  buttercups. The lads rolled around in the cool grass and had lots of belly-rubs.

Wild flowers in the meadow

Wild flowers in the meadow

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Back home, Harry and Dixie flopped onto the kitchen floor and nodded off whilst I related our adventures to Ken.

I would never have found these places and pieced this walk together if I wasn’t a regular dog-walker. All thanks to the Cinnamon Trust.

Where shall we go next Sunday?

Till next time,

L x

 

 

Walking the Dogs

Sunday is my dog-walking day. I walk Harry and Dixie, a pair of West Highland terriers, for their owner Ken. I like to give them a good 2 hours off the lead, so we take a short drive to where we can have a good run away from any roads. Here we are on a jaunt around Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

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Just for fun we like to have a game of chase where I run away from them, and they run after me, round in circles.  It’s good for me to have a run as well.  Simple pleasures!

Ken is a very experienced dog owner having had dogs all his life. He’s had Harry and Dixie from puppies and now they are 7 years old. They are extremely well-trained, well-socialised and great company. Ken relies totally on volunteer dog walkers, so sadly  this means that the lads don’t get out every day. They only get walked 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes less. Sometimes it’s only a quick stroll around the block. So on Sundays I give them as much time as possible. It’s wonderful to see them run free in open spaces.

Wyming Brook

Wyming Brook

There’s a nature reserve near us called Wyming Brook. The brook runs down a steep wooded hillside. There’s a wide, winding track which leads through the trees down to the reservoir.  Alternatively there’s a steep rocky footpath running alongside and criss-crossing the brook itself. Here you have to jump from rock to rock and cross rustic wooden bridges as you go, with the constant roar of the water around you, shaded by tall trees. You can go down the rocky footpath, and back up the track, or vice-versa, making a round walk. The footpath is exciting, but the track has its own charms. The trees and their alpine scent make you feel you are up a mountain, with the occasional glimpse of distant Sheffield.

Harry and Dixie are game little dogs who will tackle any terrain. I don’t have to worry about them: they always come back to me when called and they are relaxed around other dogs. However, I do have to watch out for horse or fox manure because Harry is a roller. Dog walkers, you know what I mean. When this happens we divert to the nearest stream or brook to wash the worst off. Harry doesn’t much like getting wet. His brother Dixie jumps straight in, even if he’s not dirty, but Harry needs persuading. Fortunately Ken isn’t in the least bothered if I come back with two filthy dogs. As far as he’s concerned, they should be out all afternoon getting mucky. He gives me a dog blanket for the car and baths them before teatime.

Harry asking ever so nicely for a crisp in the beer garden.

Harry asking ever so nicely for a crisp in the beer garden.

Ken is full of appreciation for his dog-walkers. It was the Cinnamon Trust who put us in touch. They are always looking for new volunteers, particularly for dog-walking and fostering cats. If you live in the UK and if you are a pet lover with a bit of spare time, do get in touch with them.

I am looking forward to this Sunday’s outing, especially now the weather is improving! We might have company, in the form of my friend, her daughter, and their little terrier Daisy. Woof!

Till next time,

L x