September

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

The Shropshire Way

Walking – The Shropshire Way

It is the month of Burghley Horse Trials

Burghley Horse Trial

Burghley Horse Trial – Burghley

It is the month of harvest

Harvest in Northumberland

Harvest – Northumberland

It is the month of Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding - Sandringham Game Fair

Horse Boarding – Sandringham Game Fair

It is a month when we do most of our walking

walking - The Lakes

Walking – The Lakes

It is the month when the best fungi appear.

Fungi - Fly Ageric

Fungi – Fly Ageric

It is the month of Food Festivals across the country. Ludlow being our favourite.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle

It is the month for Bramble picking & making Jam.

Brambles

Brambles

It is the month of Indian Summers when the heat has left the sun but the cold months are not showing themselves yet.

September Sun - Ford Village

September Sun – Ford Village

It is the month we got our hound and collected him when he was just 8 weeks old.

Max

Max

And it is the month we got married

September Wedding - Rings

September Wedding – Rings


Hot Dog

the chase

the chase

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.

cool damp sand under foot

cool damp sand under foot

This heat is very hard on dogs and owners are frighteningly careless with their 4 legged friend’s wellbeing at this time of year.

retrieved

retrieved

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.

and very pleased with himself

and very pleased with himself

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.

cool as....

cool as….

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.

hot dog

hot dog

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.

nodding off

nodding off

 


a bit of DIY

the old fire place

the old fire place

There used to be a very imposing and completely inappropriate fire place in the living room of our little lincolnshire house. I have always hated it.

It has long been the source of discussion and apart from being architecturally wrong for the period of the house, the size is too grand for a house with such tiny proportions.

gone

gone

A particular picture from a magazine page has been gracing our notice board for a long time by way of inspiration and finally it came into it’s own.

We set about tackling the beast in the may bank holiday weekend in 2013! We carried on over our september holiday (which is our only real holiday of the year!) working into the night most days and finally got everything back into shape ready for christmas.

It had taken us a day to strip out the entire fire, hearth and mantle surround (in tact too). I popped it on ebay to raise a few extra pounds to pay for the materials (now restored and in a local shop). Then we spent a day preparing the space for a new hearth plinth of slate tiles.

brickwork exposed

brickwork exposed

The plastering (husband has good skills but kept this one hidden) took up the Monday by the end of which  the plaster was the only sign left of where the old surround had been.

freshly plastered

freshly plastered

It’s quite satisfying stripping something like this out and revealing what is behind.  We weren’t sure how wide the fire opening would be or if the brickwork would be in good order.

Imagine our delight when a nice wide opening with a lintel and good brickwork revealed itself and all in tact.

Even with the fireplace out and the brickwork exposed with no new wood burner, the improvement was immense and we couldn’t have been happier.

wood burner and slate hearth

wood burner and slate hearth

We picked out the wood burner we wanted and booked the installation for later in the summer.

ahh cosy

ahh cosy

Eventually the day came and we got the wood burning stove fitted and someone couldn’t wait to get that bad boy fired up and it was barely dry from the installation.

the dreaded decorating

the dreaded decorating

This long awaited change also meant we could start the very long over due decorating. No great shakes; just a spruce up as it was starting to look tired and sooty from the old fire.

The biggest change would be painting out the timber skirtings, cills and door surrounds which I particularly hated.

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

the dog bed gets the best spot in the house!

That just leaves the rest of the house to do now and the decoration has made the other areas look REALLY shabby. Forth Bridge comes to mind!

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now

tada!! just a mantle shelf needed now


a weekend in the Peak District

the view

the view

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.

our acommodation for the weekend

our acommodation for the weekend

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.

Max watching the coffee and cards session

Max watching the coffee and cards session

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!!

Hamlet making the most of it

Hamlet making the most of it

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.

village pond

village pond

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.

Matlock Baths - Biker's Paradise

Matlock Baths – Biker’s Paradise

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.

rows and rows of speed machines

rows and rows of speed machines

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.

 

think bike - bit difficult to avoid it really

think bike – bit difficult to avoid it really

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.

 

hamlet enjoying a cooling roll in the grass

hamlet enjoying a cooling roll on the grass

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.

 

some of the lovely little stairways in town

some of the lovely little stairways in town

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.

 

rambling pond side properties

rambling pond side properties

Everyone was clearly happy and there was a nice vibe.

Not remotely what we had expected but quite wonderful all the same.

 

village waterwheel

village waterwheel

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.

 

dry stone walls

dry stone walls

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.

 

lovely hilly meadows

lovely hilly meadows

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!!


Thank You Flowers

an open flower head

an open flower head

These gorgeous flowers are sadly finished but they lasted amazingly well.

They are peonies and just about the most perfect choice of flowers for me; they are pretty, not formal looking, they are simple and they are white.

perfect

perfect

They came as a thank you from V for having Agnes for the day while they were away.

They have been beautiful and lovely to see every day but they were completely unnecessary as having Agnes was so much fun and we’d do it again in a flash.

closed flower bud

closed flower bud

The flowers kept their form and colour and only started to droop 2 weeks or so.

a pretty bowed papery head

a pretty bowed papery head

I think I am going to treat myself to a vase of these every week or so from now on, I love them so much.


Horse Boarding

The Dead Pigeons in Round 1 time trials

The Dead Pigeons in Round 1 time trials

Unlike the title might suggest, Horse Boarding is NOT a form of torture.

It is an equestrian sport and it is tremendous fun!!

And what’s more, I can’t believe I have been in the dark about this fantastic sport for the 5 years since it was originated in the UK.

The Dedicated Drinkers

The Dedicated Drinkers

There is a horse boarding association.

They have a Facebook page.

There are national horse boarding championships.

Do or die

Do or die

There is membership, a magazine, courses and endless videos but I still didn’t know about it until yesterday!!

We went to Burghley Game and Country Fair which we have done for a couple of years now.  It is a good opportunity to stock up on all things country and country sports. There is more camo and green clothing than you can shake a stick at but there are also great fun demonstrations and competitions.

Kauldren

Kauldren

We always watch whatever is on in the main ring as we shop, we always check out the dog agility and terrier classes, the birds of prey and we always check out the food village.

We went a lot earlier today than normal and I think that may be why we caught the fly fishing demonstration, bought some (more) green clothing and most importantly managed to catch the Horse Boarding spectacle!!

Do or Die were flying in the time trials

Do or Die were flying in the time trials

I love horses and spent a lot of time around them as a kid. I wasn’t always involved in the proceedings but I was an enthusiastic spectator and helper. As a result of my close dealings with them, I love them, their smell and a lot of horsey sports are of interest to me. I don’t ride anymore, if I could do it all the time, I would take it up again (I really don’t fancy walking like a gun toting cowboy every few months because my thigh muscles have ‘forgotten’ what they are for between times!!) but I don’t have enough time for less demanding things so taking up horses again would be impossible right now.

Anyway, yesterday was soooo much fun to watch. One of the team horses is Lord Atterbury whoh is a retired race horse who was one of only 13 finishers about 4 years ago in the Grand National.

Ross of the Dead Pigeons uses a decoy for streamlining his helmet

Ross of the Dead Pigeons uses a decoy for streamlining his helmet

Apart from Burghley being just lovely as a venue, we already enjoy the horse trials in september and will continue to go for years to come, this country fair and the sandringham one are a great way to get close to the country sports that both JC and I have been involved with since we were kids.

We live in the city now but our weekend jaunts to the countryside allow us to dip into these lovely pass times every now and again.

Lord Atterbury doing his thing

Lord Atterbury doing his thing

We didn’t stay for the 3pm final as the sun had brought a lot of visitors out and it was getting very crowded by lunchtime but we will be looking out for it again and the teams that entertained us so well yesterday.

Good luck in the championships Do or Die, The Dead Pigeons, Kauldren & Designated Drinkers!


tourists

the fabric tree at the national

the fabric tree at the national

We are very lucky living in London.

Everything is here and I love it.

the centurion at 'the savoy'

the centurion at ‘the savoy’

There are wide open spaces, incredible amounts of wildlife, galleries that are free to enter, ever evolving architecture, a busy river, a comprehensive transport system, more restaurants than you can shake a stick at and some of the best tourist attractions there are in the world.

I spend a lot of time in London at meetings and on sites but I am guilty, like most London residents, of not taking advantage of anywhere near enough of the amazing things that sit on my very doorstep.

classic scene of parliament from the south bank

classic scene of parliament from the south bank

As usual this is only put to rights when we get visitors who want to take in the sights.

JC’s sister and her other half joined us for a weekend a few weeks ago.

the wonderful london eye

the wonderful london eye

And it gave us the perfect chance to soak in some sights.

We don’t see them often enough and it is a real shame as we get on really well. The boys used to hang around in the same groups when they were troublesome teens and JC’s and his sis have been pretty close in the past.

Both ‘kids’ were bought a weekend away by JC’s mum for Christmas. A great present that took us off to the gorgeous countryside along the Thames in Oxfordshire and theirs brought them down to London to see us.

the under side of the hungerford bridge

the under side of the hungerford bridge

We saw the inside of a few pubs & coffee shops but we did lots of walking. Even though it was bitterly cold, it gives you plenty of opportunities to stop off for something to eat or a warming drink. We had a great time wandering along, chatting, sight seeing and generally catching up while soaking in the surrounds.

London is very small really and if you aren’t in a hurry, you can link up with some fantastic sights and catch a few more besides if you look out.

some urban art (this changes almost daily)

some urban art (this changes almost daily)

There are lots of surprises.

And it is constantly changing (whether through your perception of it or actually changes).

You should look up too, there are some wonders and delights above the eye line that lots of people miss in their mission to get somewhere particular but a wander and a gander is to be recommended.

the courts of justice (constantly featured in the news unfortunately)

the courts of justice (constantly featured in the news unfortunately)

Some of your discoveries may not be quite along the lines of what you expect as I found at the royal courts of justice where some eejit had grafittied my name (nearly). Great fun for a photo but a real shame to see it.

grafitti by one of he doors at the royal courst of justice

grafitti by one of he doors at the royal courst of justice

Especially when there is some incredible graffiti around the city that has become a tourist attraction in itself.

beyond here lie dragons

beyond here lie dragons

We covered miles and caught up loads as well as seeing some bits of london that we haven’t seen for a very long time and enjoyed some of the great things that it continues to offer.

 

I can’t actually wait to do it again.

some delicious street food in the piazza

some delicious street food in the piazza