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

 

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Officially unemployed

After 20 years of full time employment, my contract has been terminated.  I am officially ‘on the dole’. I have been to the Great Hall of the People (the Job Centre) for the first time in my life, and I am humbly accepting as many hand-outs as I can apply for.

They make you register on their jobs website, so that a civil servant can go online and track your job searching activity. If they see that you have not been using the site, they may decide to withdraw your Job Seekers Allowance. Now I think this is only fair. You should be at least trying to get a job, after all. The trouble is, I find I am either overqualified or under qualified for just about every job advertised. Or I don’t have the right background. I used to run the office of a fine art giftware company. So I could run the office of an estate agent or a training company, right? It’s called having transferable skills, right? Wrong! They want people who have actual experience of property management or training courses.

What I would really like to do is to make full use of my existing skills – for myself, if nobody else wants them. I am working on setting up my own company. OH is building me a website. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll let you know. It is nothing to do with knitting! But the knitting will continue alongside, as it did before.

I walked home through the park yesterday. The leaves made this beautiful pattern on the grass. The ducks and geese were mooching about under the trees and the sun was low. Autumn is so pretty!

Weston Park, Sheffield

Weston Park, Sheffield

Till next time,

L x

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.

Harry and Dixie - finally both in the same shot

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

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

 

 

Extreme Knitting Basket is Finished! And Snow.

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I finally got this project finished! I’m very happy with it and so are my crew. Now I have a firm pattern in 3 different sizes. I’m also thinking of what else I can make with this fibre. I love its bold, sculptural quality which could lend itself to other projects.

We had a lot of snow yesterday and a ton more overnight. This was the view from our window this morning.

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There was no chance of getting the car out so I tackled Saturday shopping on foot with a rucksack. Fortunately I didn’t need anything ridiculously heavy, like cat litter. And there are lots of really good shops fairly nearby.

There was up to a foot of snow, and it was still coming down. There were no buses running and only a few cars sliding about on the main roads. I decided to take a small detour to Ken’s to see if he wanted me to take the dogs out. They were delighted and he got Harry and Dixie ready with their smart brown overcoats on.

We headed to the park down the road from Ken’s house, and my goodness, the snow was deep! It was heavy going for the two little dogs but they were up for it. They hadn’t been out for a walk since Tuesday.

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They had to leap over the snow in order to get across it. It was quite comical but then I realised the poor things were dragging great big snowballs around after them. So I gave them a couple of treats and pulled the worst of it out of their fur. We found the path and passed a family having a great time building an igloo. An igloo, in Sheffield, on 23rd of March. They were using their plastic recycling box as a mould for the ‘bricks’, and making a very good job of it.

I took the boys back home and walked home myself, laden with shopping. We thought it was time Larry went in the garden. He is a Maine Coon after all.

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He made it down to the gate and back. Meanwhile, Herbie and Monty discovered that the new cat basket is big enough to share.

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Till next time,

L x

The Cinnamon Trust

I have never owned a dog. But I love their company so I am an occasional dog-sitter for friends. I am also a volunteer dog-walker for The Cinnamon Trust. This is a UK charity which helps the elderly or terminally ill to look after their pets. Their many wonderful services are detailed here.

Imagine that you have become ill and you can’t walk your dog any more. Or take him to the vet. You can’t drive a car any more and your mobility is restricted. What is the effect on your pet? Their quality of life suffers yet you can’t bear to part with them. It may even be your pet who is keeping you going every day. The stress and anxiety this causes could make you even more ill.  Not everyone has friends and family nearby to support them.

A call to the Cinnamon Trust will get you a friendly volunteer in no time. They will walk your dog, take your pet to the vet, give your pet its medication, and provide temporary foster care for your cat or your dog if you have to go into hospital. You can leave your pet to the Cinnamon Trust in your will, giving you peace of mind that when you are gone, your pet will be well looked-after, either at one of their pet homes or with a long-term foster family.

The Cinnamon Trust understands the bond that exists between people and their pets. They know how traumatic it is, for the person and the pet, when they are forced to separate due to old age or long term illness. They have spearheaded a campaign for more care homes to accept residents with their pets. They have compiled a list of pet-friendly residential care homes, which is growing each year, so that people in that situation may not have to part with their best friend.

When my Grandmother-in-law broke her hip and went into residential care, she had to leave behind her beloved cat Susie. To us, Susie was a cantankerous old moggie who used to give you a nip without warning. But to Nana B, she was wonderful. Every time we visited Nana B in the home, she would say how much she missed Susie. She could still remember how soft Susie’s fur was, and what it felt like to have Susie on her lap. Nana B was 92 and we all knew it was Susie who had kept her going for so long. Susie was an old lady too and she had gone to live with our friends nearby, where she had a fine time terrorising the neighbourhood in her twilight years. But that was no good to Nana B, who just wanted to spend her last days with her companion. She was too frail to be moved and animals were not allowed in the home. It broke her heart, and mine too. I hope I am never in a similar situation. If I end up in a care home, it would mean the world to me to have my cat with me.

I am walking two West Highland terriers once a week for Ken. I really look forward to our walks.  The dogs are as keen as mustard to go to the park. They are very nicely-behaved towards other dogs and people. Having said that, I haven’t let them off the lead yet because I’m terrified they won’t come back to me. But Ken says I shouldn’t worry. As long as I’ve got their doggy treats, they’ll come back all right. He wants them to have a good run about off the lead. Maybe next week I’ll give it a try.

Here they are:

They had just been bathed and groomed and they looked gorgeous! It was a beautiful warm evening and I took them up to the local park on the hills where there is a fabulous view. It’s a great place to watch the sunset.

Till next time,

Lx