September is my favourite month for many, many reasons.
The end of September always makes me a little sad but but I am always looking forward very much to the next one.
It is filled with lovely things for us:-
It is the month we take our main annual holiday
It is the month of Burghley Horse Trials
It is the month of harvest
It is the month of Sandringham Game Fair
It is a month when we do most of our walking
It is the month when the best fungi appear.
It is the month of Food Festivals across the country. Ludlow being our favourite.
It is the month for Bramble picking & making Jam.
It is the month of Indian Summers when the heat has left the sun but the cold months are not showing themselves yet.
It is the month we got our hound and collected him when he was just 8 weeks old.
And it is the month we got married
JC bought a Go Pro Hero 3 + black edition in August 2014 and has been playing with it and buying bits for it ever since. He is officially in love with this little bit of tech heaven and now our friend’s daughter has one (from Santa) so they can be geeks together.
Geek aside, it is rather sweet to watch them getting over excited about a tiny box of tricks. There are a good few decades separating them.
Anyway, in the interest of Go Pro advancement in our household, our terrier Max has been persecuted with a cumbersome harness and a little camera recording his every move on some of our weekend walks.
To be fair, Max is completely ok with all of this and just takes it in his stride.
I think the harness is designed for a larger dog and some adaptions will be needed to the straps but they get by and Max seems unaffected by it. On occasion, he does try to bury into a straw stack or some undergrowth and can’t quite seems to understand why his progress is limited.
JC doesn’t have much footage that he has chosen to keep yet but he is persevering and we have some half decent stills so far.
Watch this space, our little Go Pro mule might offer some interesting images to show you yet!
It’s safe to say that Max does not like the water.
He’s spent an extraordinary amount of time getting wet with weekly baths to sort out his skin problem so I can understand the aversion to it.
But even before the allergy started, he wasn’t the first into the sea or any body of water that you’d throw a stick into.
He might venture into the shallows to retrieve a treat but we have lost a lot of balls and toys on the beaches of norfolk because he just won’t go in to get them if a swim or deep water of any kind is required.
Add a bit of competition though and that is a completely different matter as we found out recently.
We have my sis’s JRT, Hamlet with us for a while again and we took Max for a walk with him to a pond nearby and as soon as there was a chance that Hamlet might beat him to the retrieve, he was right in there.
Swimming no less!!! (well, it actually looked a lot like drowning a lot of the time to be fair).
It was such a lovely evening that we stayed for ages, wearing out the boys and enjoying the sun set.
It feels like an age since we were on the beach with Max and his little blue ball and this warm weather really makes you want to be somewhere with a cool breeze and easy access to the water.
This heat is very hard on dogs and owners are frighteningly careless with their 4 legged friend’s wellbeing at this time of year.
There are too many tales of windscreens having to be smashed to relieve a distressed and possibly dying dog in a hot car. Too many feet injuries from hot tarmac and surfaces that we protect ourselves against with shoes.
We’re pretty diligent and since Max now has fur (long story), he feels the heat much more than before. He didn’t have a high rate of tolerance for it at the best of times and has been to drag along on his late afternoon/early evening second walk when it is warm and humid.
He is a terrier however and he isn’t beyond baking himself on the decking before retreating to the shade panting like a steam train but he’s able to control that.
It is easy for a little dog to forget about cooling off when he is tanking around enjoying ourself when it is hot. And I think it is easy for owners to forget too.
The beach offers the chance to cool off in the water and as long as there is fresh water to drink (the effects of drinking sea water are pretty unpleasant, rapid and can be quite dramatic), it’s the best place to be in the sunshine.
Even so, JC found a novel way to cool Max right down. He was buried up to his neck in cool damp sand while we were taking a well earned rest and a bit of a snooze over the papers.
He loved it and stayed there for ages. He even managed 40 winks at one point.
We have been enjoying the Kate Humble and Steve Leonard ‘The Wonder of Dogs’ programme on BBC2 Thursday nights which explores all the amazing things that a lot of us don’t know about our best friends.
Sadly it is now finished but it covered the science of breeding, intelligence, breed traits, how humans have ‘used’ dogs in history as well as how we have welcomed them into our homes.
It is done in hand with an open university course so it is scientific in it’s approach but it is executed with a huge sense of fun. If you have the slightest interest in dogs or our relationship with them, you will find it fascinating and it can’t do dog reputation any harm after some of the horrendous and tragic articles in the news about dogs lately.
We have taken quite a lot of stick from friends and family about the parentage of our JRT Max who was supposed to be 10″ long (the last coat we bout him was 20″ long). He displays traits that you’d find in other breeds and not JRTs (he points – sort of ha ha). He isn’t mad and yappy like a lot of terriers and he isn’t very terrier like in many other ways.
Fox Hound, Dalmation, labrador, beagle are to name but a few of the breeds that people have wondered what he really might be. Pretty much anything other than a Jack Russell!!
We did everything right when we got him, we met the parents, went to the home where he was born and all of the things that the sellers told us about the others that they had from the same parents was pretty true.
He is a great family dog, he loves kids and he does look like his mum and his dad.
Clearly there is something else going on somewhere though and the breed traits and DNA tests that were covered in the programme a couple of weeks ago got us thinking.
So JC sent for a home doggy DNA kit (is there ANYTHING that Amazon don’t sell?) and the results were emailed through to us this week.
So!! To all those doubters…….
He is in fact very much a Jack Russell Terrier but he also has a bit of Fox Terrier in him from grandparents and from his great grandparents there is…………………..
I hate mess and things that are untidy need to be out of the way; behind a door or drawer front of some sort if remotely possible.
I love a well ordered, easy to manage spaces
These spaces in other peoples homes are inspiring and I’m very envious.
We have an odd shaped area off our lincolnshire kitchen which was used as a dining space by the previous owners.
It’s narrow and really doesn’t lend itself to anything other than somewhere to dump stuff. It houses the hoover, dishwasher, washing machine, ironing and has become somewhere to hang coats so it has become our Utility/Boot Room.
It is far from perfect but does a sterling job in providing hanging space for a rather large collection of green coats and long boots. It needs a few things adding such as a clothes dolly so we can dry the washing without calling on the radiators or having a clothes horse standing in the way somewhere on those wet days when it will be wetter if it was hung outside.
We have a clothes dolly; it is stored in the garage but that is as far as it has got so far.
The space also needs blocking off with a bit or wall and a dipped pine door (that we also have stored in our garage). The opening is already partly closed off and begs to be finished.
We have made some progress though……
It now boasts a worktop where there had previously been none.
It has transformed the space. It provides a valuable and incredibly useful surface for dumping things on such as the dog’s towels, shopping basket, dog leads, binoculars, cameras, wallets, keys and all those other things that we need handy pretty much all of the time.
I think the dogs feel safer having their beds underneath something when they have a sleep to so I think they like the change.
It has worked well so far and I can’t wait for the door and wall to be done so we can close it off from our coats smelling of our last meal and we won’t have to look at all the mess anymore. Just as it should be!!
There’s a man in the village who I have all my hopes pinned on!
We had a wonderful weekend away with friends last weekend. Their luscious long legged lady, Agnes came with them.
She and Max officially love each other to bits.
It is very sweet to watch them and they never seem to tire of the endless entertainment that is to be had from play.
They conk out every now and again but the spells of rest are short lived and they are off with their playfulness once more.
The expressions are hilarious and even though there are teeth on show during the whole game, there are moment when they really look like they are having a bit of a kiss and a cuddle.
It is exhausting to watch but completely engrossing.
Their physical closeness and joy that they find in each other is very sweet. If they were human, you’d tell them to get a room! It is intimate and physically close and there is nothing but play and fun in that closeness. Highly recommended I’d say!!
It is also an exercise in outwitting your opponent and moving just that bit quicker than them.
Other times they look like they are just whispering the very best secret ever to one another.
There is nibbling, fake biting and getting as much of your opponents actual head into your mouth as possible
Tantalising and incredibly funny to watch.
There was a LOT of sleeping on Monday with no more playful distractions.
This recent hot weather is really tough on dogs and it is so sad to hear that there are still people leaving their dogs in cars to die or walking them on hot tarmac until their feet burn and blister.
Our old boy, Hamlet has always loved the sun and used to spend hours on the lawn lapping it up. (He may have been a lizard in a previous life).
He still enjoys it but he certainly gets hot and the heat that we have been getting have seen him struggling. He has a heart murmur too so we have to be quite vigilant and not let him get over hot. he has had odd little funny turns in the past which may be related to his ticker, heat and dehydration so we do as much as we can to try to prevent repeats of these.
In order to avoid the heat of the day I’m getting up at about 5.30 to walk them and JC has been hosing them down to cool them off when it is particularly bad. I’m not sure they actually like this ‘shower’ but it certainly makes them more comfortable as it evaporates out of their coats.
When faced with the prospect though, they don’t seem to appreciate the benefits and they have been known to hide. Max definitely does a runner when he sees the hoes or the tin bath.
They even hide after they have been drenched (although I’m not sure what they think that will achieve). Bless!
Ice cubes in their drinking water have helped and getting them to lick ice cubes instead of gulping lots of water is great for keeping them hydrated without the risk of them throwing it back up.
Max isn’t great at doing ice cubes and tolerates them in his water but Hamlet likes to have them thrown for him to catch and crunch.
He’s quite an enthusiastic little dog (read bonkers!!) whether it’s going out, chasing a ball or catching a treat so catching ice cubes brings a bit of a wild look in his old eye.
He would stand there waiting for them eternally I think.
As always, hugely entertaining and endlessly funny.
This weekend of blistering temperatures and the threat of summer actually arriving, has reminded me of a weekend we were lucky enough to disappear on recently.
It was a gloriously sunny and fun weekend in the peak district to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in far too long.
We booked a cottage that catered for all our needs, that was in a rural location but also close to the amenities of a little market town called Wirkworth.
We did brilliantly well with our choice and the cottage was amazing. Recently converted from a barn just next to a very pretty public footpath, it afforded us quite a lot of privacy but the occasional distraction from passers by; especially since Max decided to greet each and every one with his big bark!!
It was just what we all needed. We went with absolutely no expectations and found it completely charming and far better that we could have hoped.
We had good weather, gorgeous surroundings, great company and enough beer to kill a man. What else do you need?
Everyone mucked in, there was lots of booze drunk, rubbish spoken and food eaten and it couldn’t have been better.
Mostly we just chilled out at the gorgeous, gorgeous and perfectly appointed cottage. We played cards around the garden table or set up tennis (for the more energetic amongst us), we read, we chatted (a lot!!) and thoroughly relaxed.
When we did venture out (we were very tempted to stay put but really felt that we had to see more than the wonderful view from the barn garden), we were just as happy with what we found and some of it came as a complete surprise.
We had briefly passed through Matlock Baths on the Friday night as we arrived, so we decided to go and wander through this sleepy little ribbon town on Sunday morning. We would grab a coffee, maybe an ice cream and enjoy the peace and quiet of the riverbank walk and it’s pretty shops. It should be pretty quiet leading up to lunchtime.
I think we were the only people in the whole county who DIDN’T know that every Sunday, Matlock Baths is overrun with bikes and scooters of all shapes and sizes as well as the diverse collection of people that ride them.
Every single parking space along the length of the village has 2 wheels parked in it and even the station car park was struggling to accommodate the 4 wheels that had chosen to visit at the same time.
JC got some cracking shots of some of the bikes (clearly someone’s pride and joy) and the irony of the huge, seemingly out of place, ‘think bike’ sign wasn’t missed on us – you really couldn’t help thinking about bikes since it was practically all there was as far as the eye could see.
Once we thought about it, it made sense that this funny little place couldn’t sustain about 8 fish and chip shops a greater number of cafes and 2 bike wear shops without something spectacular like the sunday pilgrimage to contribute to the coffers.
Everyone was clearly happy and there was a nice vibe.
Not remotely what we had expected but quite wonderful all the same.
We eaked out as much of the weekend as we could and didn’t leave until the latest possible (our booking was until monday am but we all had to get back for work!! boohoo) with another walk to check out the local station of Wirkworth and the sweet town centre itself.
These small towns are clearly affected by the out of town supermarkets and the change in our shopping habits but it is hanging on in there. Like all small market towns, it has it’s problems but it is surviving. It has retained its charm and there are a handful of brilliant little retailers as well as decent pubs and I hope it lasts.
We are going to make this little weekend an annual event now because we were so taken by the place and the surroundings. We’ll be booking it well in advance so we aren’t disappointed.
I’m looking forward to it already!!
what can I say about Agnes?
In fairness, the title does most of it for me.
She is a very lovely saluki cross lurcher from a rescue charity
she is about 2 years old
she loves chasing squirrels
she can jump higher than ANY dog I have ever seen
she is as fast as grease lightening
she is VERY, VERY gorgeous
Max adores her
and she is very well loved!!
She lives with and loves friends of ours who are local and she came to us for the day recently. She and Max have great fun tearing about the place chasing one another until neither can keep their eyes open a moment longer!!
It’s like a whirlwind but they are a treat to watch and could not be more different to one another – agnes is fine and delicate, gliding over the face of this lovely earth like a whisper, whereas max is solid and makes the noise of a heard of small elephants when he is on the move (no matter what the pace and no matter what the surface!!)