Thursday 31 July 2014

Dogs, Cats and Polytunnels

Lonely little doggy ....

...not for long. 
And no I didn't tell them to go and join her :-)
The last day of the month, where has the time gone, it's been a little bit puppy dominated this past week, but fear not you gardeners out there, soon all this will change.
The final trenches for the polytunnel are being dug this weekend and the concrete will then be ordered ready for pouring next weekend.  Then suddenly we will be in action.  Adding the hoops, covering them in polythene and getting the whole thing built and filled with raised beds and a potting bench.
Exciting times ahead, but for now .....
... I can't resist putting up one more animal picture.
She'll jump in anyone's bed ... the little hussy!!
Sue xx

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Rosy Good, Phone Bad

The one concern we had about getting a tiny puppy, and the one that stopped me from saying yes to buying Charley, until I was surprised with her as a gift, was the thought of Rosy hurting it.
She can be a bad tempered little b*gger at times, and when a Jack Russell that is used to hunting rabbits and birds, and can kill a rat with one bite and shake of her head wants to hurt something it will ... in the blink of an eye and give you a big doggy grin and say sorry afterwards.
BUT, she is being brilliant, yes she has snapped at Charley to put her in her place when she has invaded her food bowl at tea time, and growled when she's been climbed all over, but luckily Charley heeds the warning and backs off immediately, rolling on her back and showing that delicious little puppy belly.  So much so that Rosy has relaxed completely and now sees Charley as a little accomplice and something to watch with amusement..  I think she knows that finally there is someone in the doggy family who idolises her.  It really has brought out the best in our eldest girl.
So Rosy is good, my phone however, is BAD.
I was sat in M&S CafĂ© treating myself to a coffee after running errands all morning and I got out my phone to check for any messages and the date said Tuesday 29 July.  I sat there like 'piffy
 on a rock bun' (a Manchester saying for a confused abandoned person) trying to work out how it could possibly still be Tuesday when I have already done so much this week and been out and about here there and everywhere. Then I realised I had turned my phone off on Monday night at the Gardening Club meeting and then back on again later, obviously somehow it had gone wrong.
Even now as I'm sat at the computer I keep checking the date in the bottom right corner to make sure that yes it is Wednesday ... I'm easily confused .... it must be my age  ;-)
I do love the picture of Rosy at the top of the post , I took it yesterday after she had been playing with Charley and Suky outside, she was out of breath and obviously very happy.  Her head isn't  really that huge compared to her body .... she was leaning towards me as I took the picture.
Sue xx

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Chipping Paths .... and Squeezing Through Gaps

Lovely Hubby worked his socks off over the weekend, barrowing load after load of chippings to top the membrane we have laid between the raised beds.
It's looking good now and we still have half the chipping mountain to use.  Some of them are being mixed with the soil being put back into the raised beds to give it some body.  We are removing the stones before we put any soil back so it is reasonably fine with only smaller stones being able to fit through the mesh of the giant sieve we are using.
And of course the stones are not being wasted they are forming the base of the roadway between the two gates.
Another trench has been dug, this one is for the bottom edge of the net tunnel when it goes up and will be completely filled with concrete to hold back the earth of the hillside, and to hold the anchor plates for the metal frame in place.
Can you see a little face peeping through the pile of wood?

Someone came over with me and Suky to bring the worker a drink, but didn't watch as we walked through the gateway and chose to come the more complicated route instead  :-)
Sue xx

Monday 28 July 2014

We Did Do SOME Work - Honest!!

We did do some work over the weekend - honest.
The shots of what we did do are mostly in the camera but are more evident looking around the place.  Grass was mown and strimmed.  Chicken World especially got a good manicure.  Chickens prefer shorter grass, we tend to let it get a bit longer and only mow it a couple of times rather than once a fortnight like the rest of the grass near the house this way it doesn't all vanish under lots of little chicken feet and pecks. 
The chippings that were piled up at the bottom of the hill have been barrowed up the hill by Lovely Hubby and laid on top of membrane to form nice deep paths.  As it settles down the levels will lower and the chippings compact more.  And we rounded the weekend off with a bonfire, burning all debris and rubbish from around the place.  Everywhere looks nice and tidy now.
But to be really honest our work was very punctuated with a certain little madam.  We obviously had to keep an eye on how the other animals were reacting to her.  Suky has lots of patience and will pretty much let Charley do as she pleases, Rosy is holding herself up as top dog, and letting little one know how far she will let her go before she will get a growl and a threatening show of teeth.
Luckily Charley has taken this on board and today she is showing a lot more respect to Rosy who as our eldest dog should have a bit more respect shown her by any newcomer to our furry family.
Ginger, the cat is not totally sure what to make of her yet, and when Charley pushed her luck and licked his face when he was asleep he jumped up and batted her away, no claws just a heavy paw, he is a wonderfully gentle cat.  But I think she's learnt not to take liberties with him when he's asleep!!

She's found all the toys that the older two had gotten fed up with ...

... and is distributing them all over the house.

Half way through the morning it all got too tiring, and ignoring all the doggy beds she curled up on Lovely Hubby's slippers and shoes under the table and completely zonked out.
But later in the day when Suky went for a sleep, Charley joined her in the dog bed and they spent a couple of hours snoring happily together.
It was a good, if slightly dog orientated, weekend.
Sue xx

Sunday 27 July 2014

Just Say Awwwwwww .....

If Lovely Hubby looks tired in this picture it's because it was eleven o'clock at night and he had just worked all day and then driven over 300 miles to bring me this lovely surprise
I was instantly smitten and the girls, Rosy and Suky welcomed her with just a modicum of suspicion.

She is called Charley and she is a second generation Chug.  Both her parents are Chugs ... that is they are Chihuahua cross Pugs .... and she is GORGEOUS.

A lovely little handful of puppy charm.

That whizzes around like a miniature live wire and then crashes and sleeps.  She takes every new experience in her stride and accepts everything.

She has come from a brilliant background.  The lovely guys Lovely Hubby bought her from own both the parent dogs and once they heard on the grapevine that there was a chance we would buy her and that we already owned a Pug, had turned down a couple of what they considered to be unsuitable homes, and kept their fingers crossed we would be tempted .... we were.
You know they care when she comes with a lovely gift bag like this ...

... and a matching flower for her collar :-)
Suky has gone all motherly ....

... and Rosy just wants her to know who's boss, but in a nice way.

In the couple of days that we have had her she has settled in really well.  It must be so strange for her to be away from her brothers and sisters and her Mum and Dad, and the people she has known since birth but she is coping wonderfully.

And after a trip to the vets for her first vaccination, she is sleeping peacefully at my feet as I type this.
Charley Chug ... welcome to our family ... you will be loved.
Sue xx

Saturday 26 July 2014

Going Away for the Weekend ?

I just thought I would share a quick tip for any of you who are going away for a few days during this hot weather, and want your houseplants to survive without having to ask a neighbour to come in and water them.
After giving them a good water you can simply stand them all on a wet towel in the bottom of the bath, or as I usually do because I only have a few indoor plants, half fill the kitchen sink with water, lay an old towel in the water, put the other end of it on a large tray and stand all the plants on top of it.  They will draw up water from the towel as they need it and the towel will absorb more from the sink as they dry it out. 
This time however, just as I was setting this up ready to go away last weekend, I remembered the water under our kitchen units and put half the towel under the cupboard in the puddle of water and the other half onto the tray, this had the added bonus of getting the plants in a nice shady corner of the kitchen too and they were soaking up some of the water while I was away from home.
Sue xx

Friday 25 July 2014

Serious Shredder Envy

A huge pile of chippings has appeared in our roadway ready to be barrowed up the hill to top the membrane we are laying on the pathways between the raised beds.
And it didn't cost us a penny!!
It's all thanks to these guys, the tree surgeons that have been given the job of trimming all the overhanging trees and branches around the electricity cables on the hillsides around here.  When they came to let us know what work they would be doing I was quick to ask that all chopped wood be left behind for burning and then Lovely Hubby asked them what they did with the chippings. 
They were very quick to offer them all to us if we needed them, so up to now we have had six deliveries at the end of their working days.  They were really pleased to be able to tip them all and head off home with an empty truck ready for their next days work, and we were really pleased as it means that all the chippings on our land have pretty much come from our land and the surrounding hills and woods.
And I have serious shredder envy ..... ours takes one or two branches at a time theirs took dozens and tidied up the place in no time at all.
Sue xx

Thursday 24 July 2014

Suky's Favourite Programme

Suky's favourite television programme is on once a week at the moment.
Once a week she settles herself down in front of Alan Davies and The Dog Rescuers.  Following the work of the RSPCA and the terrible stories about the dogs they have to step in and rescue.
She watches a lot of TV this Pug of mine, preferring animal shows of any kind, and loves adverts with animals in them.  Sometimes she spots animals we have not even noticed in the background, but this show is most definitely the one she loves best.

She sits glued to it on the opposite end of the sofa to where she normally sits snuggled up against me, so that for this show she is directly opposite the television for better viewing.

She loves the little dogs that come on with the title of the show every now and then, but funnily enough doesn't react at all to the Pug.
The other week there was the story of a man that was prosecuted for deliberately mistreating a small puppy and the RSPCA had managed to film his systematic mistreatment, nay torture, of the small defenceless little puppy.  It's squeals of pain and distress brought both our dogs to sit in front of the television, obviously they heard the anguish in the poor puppy cries.  Rosy usually cannot see the television but in this case she heard it and sat with her sister while the tale unfolded.
Last nights show had me in tears and both dogs snuggled up to me, bringing comfort where it was most definitely needed. 
It's nice when television brings you together  :-)
Sue xx

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Thanks for the Thanks

It's always nice to hear the thud of post through the letterbox isn't it, but all too often you get there and there is a bill from your phone provider, a circular extolling the virtues of a Stannah stair lift, regardless of the fact you may live in a bungalow, and then there's that regular envelope telling you that 'congratulations you have been accepted for the latest 'credit repair' credit card'.  HUH!!
But every now and then something wonderful arrives, as you approach the doormat a jewel coloured envelope peers up at you.  Oooh you think ... "it's not my birthday, what's this?"
In my case in the space of a few days I received two such joyously inviting envelopes, ripping into them they were both saying "thank you".  One from Kay who won the giveaway on the Blog the other week and one from a friend of my Mum who was on a day trip with Mum and a coach load of their club members to Llandudno a few weeks ago.  I drove in to meet them and we had lunch together and as Mum wanted to plant some new plants on Dad's Bed, Barbara came home with us.
They're still on the mantlepiece bringing a little bit of happiness into my days every time I pass them.
And so a little Challenge for you all ..... who can you send something to, who's day do you want to brighten up a little.  It could be a card, a tiny gift, a poem typed out on your computer and printed off, a book you've read and loved and want to pass it on to a person you know will enjoy it as much as you.  Popped in an envelope and addressed by hand and for the price of a stamp and a short walk to the post box or even drop it into the post box next time you're at the supermarket (they nearly all have post boxes now).
  And stamps aren't that expensive .... 62p for a letter and 93p for a 'large letter' (if you pop anything in your envelope it's best to put a large letter stamp on it).  I think that is such good value, after all if I gave you 62p and said "please take this to Scotland for me" would you ;-)
A smile on a loved ones face is always worth the price of a stamp.
Go on surprise someone :-)
And finally, Kay and Barbara if you're reading this .... Thanks for the Thanks.
Sue xx

Tuesday 22 July 2014

And we just wore our own clothes .....

I was away over the weekend, I travelled down to stay in Lovely Hubby's digs in Berkshire with him so that we could go to the CLA Game Fair at Blenheim Palace on the Saturday.  As we are members we get a free ticket every year, it also means we get to go into the members enclosure as often as we want during the day, which this year we had our breakfast in.
It is such a huge show that you really do need a full day to make the most of it so to avoid the traffic chaos we set off at 6.45am and were sat enjoying a cooked breakfast by 8.30am.  Not a bad start to the day.

 We had learnt a lot from our previous visits here and had bought a Priority parking ticket which meant our car was just a quick walk from the showground, meaning we could walk back to it a couple of times for cold drinks and to deposit our coats when the sun came out. We took tasty salads, crisps and nibbles washed down with chilled wine.  We even took ice cubes in a flask and our wine glasses to give ourselves a real treat.
Our first ever visit was totally different. 
We got there in the crush of people, parked in the free car park which meant a long walk to the entrance and no means to be able to get back to the car until the end of the day.  Before we left home we had breakfasted on a quickly grabbed slice of toast, were hungry by late morning, paid through the nose for a lunch that left us hungry again by mid afternoon, got tempted by Pimms which set us back just under £30 for two glasses.  So we spent lots of money and came away with nothing.
Picture from Google Images
We did a lot of people watching over a long and leisurely lunch, which we had taken ourselves in our picnic basket and cool bags.  We sat on a rug alongside the car watching folk doing the same or some just arriving.  So many people had obviously bought themselves brand new 'country clothes' to wear so they would look the part.  Head to toe in classic country garb, brand new shiny leather boots, waxed jackets so glossy and sheeny you could tell they had never been called upon to defend the wearer from rain.  You can recognise the real country folk, they are the ones in threadbare check shirts, old flat caps and well worn wellies.  This year there were also lots of 'festival attire', short shorts, flashy floral wellies, long flowing hair, and even longer tanned legs ..... no wonder LH managed to stay awake through lunch :-)
This time instead of spending money on overpriced food we spent a little on a couple of treats for ourselves.  We bought this lovely 1930's sketch of a Pug with a real look of Suky about it. 

And also a cheese making kit, it's about time I tried my hand at this.  So I guess overall we spent about the same amount of money but came away with long lasting gifts and tummies full of good food.
It was a brilliant day, long and tiring, but the weather although extremely hot was mostly dry and kind to us,  and we just wore our own clothes ..... oh and yes, Lovely Hubby wore his battered old flat cap  ;-)
Sue xx

Monday 21 July 2014

A Sucker for Stationery

How cute is this !!
I'm a really sucker for nice stationery, especially notebooks and this little one jumped out at me and begged me to buy it.  (It's available in National Trust shops if you fancy one for yourself.)
I end up with lots of lovely notebooks, but I use them and that's the difference in my opinion between wasting money on knick knacks and spending wisely.  If you can find a souvenir on a day out that will make you smile every time you use it for months to come after it's purchase then it's worth every penny.  The fact that this little chicken also reminds me of Molly, one of our very first rescue birds and my all time favourite chicken is just a very special bonus.

And this little beauty lives in my handbag ready to jot down notes for things I want to Blog about and for jotting down a quick shopping list when the one I made before my journey out is suddenly remembered to still be sitting on the kitchen worktop. 
Three pounds very well spent in my opinion  :-)
Sue xx

Sunday 20 July 2014

The Front Bed

 I did a post the other day about the edibles that I've managed to grow near the house this year, so I thought for posterity I would just show the front flowerbed and how that's coming on.
It seems to have been planned out with a very pink and purple colour scheme and most of the plants that are still coming through are following this trend.  Quite coincidentally the things I've added, apart from the daisies, have all followed this pattern.
I love lavenders and am slowly building up my collection again after leaving ALL my plants behind at our rented place, we simply couldn't fit everything in the truck or trailers in our many journeys to Wales.  I just buy the odd one when I spy a good variety at the garden centre.  I will always, always, always make room for a Lavender or Rosemary plant :-)
There's a lot of the plants that I don't know the name of .... and do you know, that doesn't bother me in the slightest.  If it looks pretty, is useful for the bees and more or less looks after itself it's very welcome in my garden whatever it's called.

Of course lurking further along the bed is the bit we never got round to weeding and mulching, as it is currently awash with a giant lavender plant that the bees love I am not disturbing it at the moment .... well that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Sue xx

Saturday 19 July 2014

The Aga Toaster

I was asked for an explanation of the Aga toaster in an email and so here it is :-)
It's so simple, you just place your bread, buns, teacakes, bagels or whatever you want toasting between the two halves of the toaster, close them together and place directly onto the Aga hotplate.

Put the lid down and stay close by, the intense heats makes toast from frozen in just a couple of minutes.  When you can smell the toast cooking nicely open the lid and turn the 'bat' over and toast the other side, remembering that this second side will toast so much faster as it is already warm from the lid of the hotplate.
 We always toast straight from the freezer as that way we never have bread in the breadbin that might go stale.  We only get out exactly what we need, and when the bread (or whatever) is frozen there is no sticking of crumbs to the toaster and it wipes down so simply, but be very careful as it is obviously VERY hot.

I usually stand the toast in a toast rack for a minute, literally 60 seconds as I was advised to by Delia Smith (on tele .... not in person) many years ago, just to allow the steam to disperse and the toast to crisp up, and then butter for the most perfect toast you will ever have tasted.
Or in Lovely Hubby's case add a layer of Damson Gin Jam to complete a simply delicious breakfast or snack.
Sue xx