a playful weekend

agnes

We had our lovely friends M&V stay with us last weekend and they brought the gorgeous Agnes with them.

Agnes is a rescue saluki cross lurcher that came to them as a pup.  She is a complete star and absolutely beautiful.

mates

Max and Agnes love each other quite a bit!

They are an unlikely line up; one is leggy, very pretty & quite graceful, the other is short, stocky and a bit clumsy.  That is one of the many things that I love so much about dogs; it doesn’t matter what shape, size, creed or colour you are!

They play endlessly between rejuvenating slumbers and Max does his best nuzzling moves on Agnes to get her attention. It is very cute and completely engaging to watch.

They get to see each other when we are eating at one another’s homes (no need for the dogs to miss out!) or in the park walking but we haven’t had the chance to spend a weekend away together since Agnes was a pup.

and they’re off!

They have run themselves ragged and had THE most fabulous time doing it.

ha!!

Max is pretty fast for a terrier and has come second at Woodlands Farm Open Day Terrier Race twice on the trot.

Agnes, however, is in a completely different league and left poor little Muss standing on more than one occassion. Not one for declining a challenge, he has a good go but Agnes is as fast as lightning when she changes up through those gears!

I’m sure she keeps a lid on it just so her stumpy little pal has a chance of keeping up but then every now and again she throws a move and reminds him of her incredible speed and agility.

now what?

What fun and none of us can wait to do it again!

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a new chair

newly painted chair

A house near us was getting rid of a few kitchen dining chairs and they were outside for the taking.

I love a bit of free cycling and have been searching for spare chairs that could be set side but would be called upon when the numbers around our dining table burgeon beyond the daily capacity.

Not wanting to be greedy, I only took two of them but didn’t check them first. One of them is broken so I only have the one to recycle now.

That’s OK though as it fits with the idea of the chairs that temporarily join those usually around the table would make a mixed up, harlequin set and the 3 bedrooms would have a different chair in each.

covering the blue

Although we have some blue accents in our bedroom, they are gentle and the blue on the chair had to go so I painted it in an off white that I think is called Midnight White (Wilkinson’s eggshell or satinwood) which is the same as the other painted chairs around our kitchen table.

first coat completed

The raffia seat finish softens the hardness of the white on such a simple chair design. The painting isn’t of a professional standard by any stretch of the imagination and I confess to having no patience for painting and decorating but that is fine, I want the finish to naturally acquire that shabby chic kind of look where an odd chip that reveals the furnitures past lives is a welcome and interesting feature.

rail detail

This chair eventually cost as little to decorate it as it did to acquire it as I used up the last drops of a tin of paint we already had left over from last chairs I decorated and we had the paint brushes already, so no cost and a nice new chair.

I’m pleased with the results.


house guests

Pupinksy

We have had the pleasure of a house guest for the last 2 weeks and are quite bereft to see him leave.

His name is Hamlet although no one calls him that. He is about 11 years old; but we aren’t sure.  He is completely bonkers; but we absolutely love him. He belongs to my sister and only answers to the name ‘Puppy’!

mental!!

I suspect that being called puppy all this time is one of the things that has kept him fit and spritely and not at all a dog of 11 years.

He has featured large in Max’s young life as he was the first dog Max met outside of his litter.

‘Pups’ has taught Max a little respect for his elders but he hasn’t managed to kerb Max’s enthusiasm or make him grumpy. ‘Pups’ is definitely grumpy!!.

huh?

We have enjoyed our early morning walks with ‘Puppy’ these last  2 weeks, we have met even more nice dogs and nice dog people than usual, we have enjoyed some toasty cuddles and cleared up some mess too (we won’t mention the slightly grubby protest one night!!) and it has been a complete pleasure.

The ‘Pupmeister’ (or ‘Pupinsky’, ‘Pupster’ or any other similar versions) has some typically obsessive terrier characteristics that do make you wonder at what is happening in that little noggin?  BUT, that is one of the reasons why we like terriers!

what’s in there?

He has wonderful ears, breath that could floor a man at 10 paces and big old chocolate button eyes that are not without some wounds from taking on the odd rat or two! He is also a great dog shaped shadow; following me around every second he was able to and risked being squashed when I changed tack.

He also makes THE best foot warmer ever!

Me? I’m up to nothing at all!!

If you sit still for more than about 2.5 seconds, there is a gentle sensation around one of your feet. Nothing much to start with but slowly that gentle sensation becomes more defined and eventually has some weight behind it. Finally, a little tan butt has backed up to your foot and lowered itself down to keep from getting cold.

Can’t say I blame him, he is very close to the ground and it can be mighty draughty down there.

house mates

His biggest challenge these last 14 days or so have been hills!! He is a fit little dog and always has been; there are signs of a little thickening around the waste but I’d say that is all about being relaxed and at ease with yourself when you get to ‘Pup’s’ age but boy does he hate climbing a hill!!

The reason is simple geography!! The ‘Pups’ has spent ALL of his life on the lincolnshire fens and you just don’t get hills there. His greatest challenge when it comes to changes in level are usually

a) can I get on the sofa?

or

b) can I get into the car?

After 10 days though, he is scampering up those hills after his tatty old tennis ball and not bothering a jot that the hill is probably bigh enough to be 100 of him stacked on top of each other.

My sister is getting a hill trained athlete back into her house.

the three terrierteers!

I wonder if it is too late to enter him for the Jubilympics?


elder flower cordial

elder flower heads

The Elder is a much maligned and hugely underrated tree. It generally self seeds where it is not wanted and is quite underwhelming compared to a lot of our indigenous trees that grace our gardens wasteland and countryside.

It looks very scruffy and not much of a tree most of the time. It is awkward in shape and grows without much form.

elderflower head next to a bunch of mint

BUT

there are two times in the year when it is splendid and one of my favourites.

elderflower heads

Now is one of those times when it is laden with it’s tiny milky white flowers that give off the most heady scent.

The window of opportunity for gathering these potent little flowers is limited and the heads are best picked in the early morning when the scent is at its sweetest; preferably not after rain but that might not be possible with the weather we are currently enjoying.

Pick over the heads for bugs and dead flowers but don’t wash them before you take the flower heads off.

There is a lovely blog post about elderflower cordial by the graphic foodie but this is a recipe taken from a free booklet that came with The Field magazine some time ago (who happen to do some cracking recipes if you like a bit of food for free):-

elderflower heads being iced off the stems

ingredients

12 whole heads of flowers (with all the individual flower heads picked off the stems)

600g sugar (the colour of the sugar will affect the colour of your cordial – i.e. demerara makes it darker)

the zest and juice of 2 lemons

the zest and juice of 2 limes

1 litre of boiling water

method

put all the ingredients into a large heat proof bowl making sure you have picked over the flower heads to check for stalks etc

bring the water to the boil

pour the boiling water over the ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved into the water.

cover and leave for 24 hours

sieve and put into 30ml sterilised bottles.

The second time involves the berries later in the year when there are other harvest fruits to go along with them


lapwings

baby lapwing hiding

One of my favourite birds is the lapwing.

They used to be in decline due to farming methods and the loss of wetlands where they wade for food. And although there are now conservation strips on farms, RSPB coastal reserves and untouched pasture in some of the upper dales that all help, they really need set aside and pasture that remains untouched for the whole of their breeding and nesting season.

It would be a great loss for their numbers to reduce even further.

lapwing chick hiding while mum and dad keep the baddies away

It has a sweet ‘peewit’ call (which is where it’s local name in the north east comes from – Peewit), an interesting style in the sky and it does some amazing things to save it’s young from predators.

breaking cover

They nest on the ground which leaves their broods more vulnerable than most; so in order to keep the attention away from their well disguised eggs and equally well disguised young, they fly around somewhere away from the area to attract attention away from the nest of eggs.

doing as mum tells him and going for cover

Even more impressive than this is the fact that they sham injury and flap around on the floor to drawer a predator to them and so allowing their young to make a getaway.

ever watchful

There are about 4 pairs that we see near us quite often at the moment and they are likely to have eggs in the nest and possibly young by now (the photos in this post were all taken near my dads last year) as they have their broods between april and june.They only start to look like adults into the autumn.

taking refuge under mum’s wing

They can also live up to 10 years which is remarkable for a relatively small bird.

So, they are good looking, got the moves like Jagger, are great parents and live to a ripe old age, what’s not to like?

.


jubilee cool

union jack

This won’t be the only blog post about the Jubilee this weekend, you simply can’t get away from it.

I have seen London transformed in my work travels this week and I have no doubt the same applies to other cities, villages and towns across the uk.  And it is lovely to see.

oxford street on Tuesday am

The coming together of a nation to celebrate something quite remarkable; a sovereign who has reigned for 60 years living her life in the full glare of the public eye.

Undoubtedly difficult at times but she must have seen some amazing things in those 6o years – man on the moon, mobile phones, computers that no longer take up a whole room, her children through to her  great grandchildren and much, much more.

Whether you are a supporter of the royals or not (I happen to think they give more to the country than they take), having such an interesting and traditional institution such as a royal family is one of the things that makes britain british.

We aren’t in london for the diamond celebrations this weekend ourselves but we will be watching some of the footage.  We went for the golden Jubilee and it was great fun so anyone who does go for the celebrations is guaranteed to enjoy themselves.

big jubilee bunting

Whilst we are not there, we are getting into the spirit of the whole thing – I am sporting my favourite pair of union jack knickers and some us have equally patriotic attire!!

the very gorgeous Agnes!!!