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
Spring has definitely sprung.
In the last couple of days, the world has changed and there is new life and wonderful stuff everywhere.
It fair lifts the soul.
We have seen so many different birds that seem to have been hiding until now; yellow hammers, hobbies, shelducks and lapwings to name but a few. The crops are visibly growing overnight and before too long the oil seed and beans will be waist height.
There are blooms and butterflies everywhere and I could not love this time of year more.
The loveliest thing we have seen though was the arrival of 2 foals on the nearby farm and both at the same time.
They are simply gorgeous and it is such a privilege to catch them within hours of arriving in this world. This little colt and filly arrived in glorious sunshine on Monday and we have watched their gangly little legs get stronger by the day as they feed and get used to this strange & noisy place.
Imagine the challenge when all those inches of leg and neck have been folded tightly in a warm dark are suddenly sped into this bright frightening world.
The first day, the mares were a bit spaced out from the delivery and you could do just about anything you wanted with them and their offspring. But as they regain their strength and the bond between the dam and foal develops, the mare will more often than not put herself squarely between you and her precious little one.
They are getting bold and confident even after just 2 days and when they aren’t gambling about between feeds they are laid out enjoying the warming sun.
I could watch them all day and their smell is completely addictive (anyone who has spent time around our equine lovelies will know exactly what I mean).
One of my favourite birds is the Wren.
This gloriously sunny weekend was very welcome and so was the sight of a Wren while we were out on a walk.
We were severely chastised by this particular Wren who I suspect is trying to build a nest near to where I had chosen to sit.
I love these pretty and perky little birds, not just for their size but how their size is completely disproportionate to their bravery.
We are vast mountainous creatures compared to a Wren but there is little, if any hesitation when it comes to telling us off .
If we have had the temerity to step over the invisible line that surrounds and protects her little haven, we will be subjected to a barage of chipping and chatting that comes with an urgency and tone that leave little doubt that she is cross!
I wasn’t disappointed.
It is completely hilarious and quite disarming. I hope she settled back to the job in hand none the worse for having to stop what she was doing to tick us off for getting too close.
Hamlet has been with us for about 6 months now and he seems settled, always delighted to see us and he is eating really well.
His appetite has, historically been a barometer for the state of his emotional health (read bonkers!). If he is off his food, he’s not a happy little dog and it signals a decline into a state of madness.
This madness manifests itself in serious grumpiness, cowering, loss of appetite, endless licking (like anything!!), lots of sleeping and lots of barking. I truly believe he shows all the signs of severe misery!!
Hamlet is prone to being grumpy and a grumbler at the best of times but the level increases tenfold if he is fed up. Even when he is happy, he is prone to obsessive behaviour and a ball or toy is guaranteed to bring that out in him. I don’t think some of these things will ever change.
Old age is also starting to present itself and he is slowly losing his sight. There is milkiness to be seen in his eyes now and I think he gets startled and scared easily because he can’t see properly.
He has responded positively to our routine though and I think our relatively quiet and peaceful house suits him very well.
He’s a little treasure and we love having him with us
When he is happy, he is a complete joy; he can’t wait for his mealtimes and will take your fingers off for a crumb given the chance, he stands expectantly at the door for his walks, he strides out and is even happy to see other dogs (that almost never used to happen!!!).
We put him on a raw diet the same as Max’s for ease and it seems to suit him, he looks fit and happy, he is slim and full of beans (between monumentally noisy sleeps!!).
He is still fundamentally the same weird little dog he has always been and I’m not surprised my sister misses him as much as she does.
We are very lucky living in London.
Everything is here and I love it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Especially when there is some incredible graffiti around the city that has become a tourist attraction in itself.
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.
When we walk the dog/dogs at the weekend, it is evident that the place is teaming with wildlife. We see some of it but mostly we are left with only signs of vast amount wildlife that is in the area.
There are deer living in the trees, grazing on the crops and moving through the cover. Their footprints (or slots) can be seen everywhere, especially when the ground is soft.
There are badgers, muntjac, hares, foxes, rabbits, predatory birds, herons, pigeons, pheasant, owls and partridges to name but a few.
The deer are the ones that we look out for most as there is always a chance that you will see them. We know some of their favoured spots and the regular routes that they take in their day. We see small groups, singles and larger family groups but lately they seem to have been even more shy than usual. We know they are occasionally hunted in the area and that might affect their numbers slightly but they aren’t hunted a lot and should be quite comfortable in the area and certainly not small in numbers.
Deer are jumpy and shy at the best of times so they are never really relaxed for long. They are constantly looking out or moving on if they don’t like the look or smell of something.
We recently found out from someone (who knows lots about this kind of stuff) that an injury to a deer when it is young or something else has interfered with it’s growth creates asymmetry in the antlers which can be seen in their hooves too.
The lop sided nature of the antlers is one of the things that hunters prize.
Deer look so serene when they are grazing or gently moving around their territory but they are spectacular when they running. They can move at great speed.
The photo of the slots above was taken this morning in the frost. The dips at the back of the hooves are the dew claws and although these tracks aren’t fresh (they are a few days old), the slots show that the deer were running when they were made. You don’t always see the dew claws as hopefully they are grazing or wandering about, rather than running from some perceived danger
We have a tracking book that shows all these kinds of interesting details that you miss most of the time and you could make it a lifetime’s work just studying the tracks and trails of any one species.
I find it fascinating and I love the fact that they have been out there before you in the silence of dawn or the depths of the night, quietly going about their business and sensibly getting out of the way when us humans appear making lots of noise!
I have blogged about my sister’s terrier Hamlet before. He’s been around for ever. We think he is about 12 or 13 but no one is quite sure.
His eyes have recently become a bit milky and we think it has affected his sight but he is fit and generally very well. He is, however, very, very grumpy.
His grumpiness has got him into trouble in the past but it is kinda how he is and that is it. To be fair to him, he is only grumpy with other dogs, he clearly loves people and he especially loves men. His diminishing sight and overall grumpiness hasn’t been an issue really until recently when Fizz came to join his household.
She’s young and has boundless energy, I think she jumps into view and scares the bejesus out of the old fella. She gets told off A LOT. Add that to the fact that Heston, who also joined this previously ‘one dog’ household is as tenacious in his attempts to annoy Hamlet as Fizz is in her attempts to annoy Heston and the end result is that no one in the household, especially Hamlet, was happy anymore.
We took him for a few weeks at the end of the summer to give everyone a holiday from each other and hoped that when he went home, order would be restored, Fizz would have settled down and the grumpiness would have subsided slightly. Unfortunately for all concerned, it was even worse.
After struggling for a couple more weeks, my sis & Kit made the very difficult decision that perhaps Hamlet really needed some peace and quite and that a new home might be the ticket for the Old Boy.
He is undoubtedly grumpy and he has nuclear rancid breath that could render you speechless from 20 paces but JC & I didn’t hesitate to offer him a home and told my sis that he could come to spend his dotage with us and Max. He wasn’t to go elsewhere under any circumstances.
Max, our 4 year old JRT, winds him up sometimes and isn’t always pleased about sharing us but we 4 all to rub along fine and have settled into a new slightly different routine but it seems to suit.
There is still enough space for a cuddle on the sofa.
There is still enough space on the back seat of the car.
And there is still enough food to go around.
We have spare leads, spare beds, spare bowls and many more things that have made the transition an easy one. Also, we know Hamlet, he used to come and stay with us for his holidays before we had Max and he absolutely LOVES London.
We are all happy with the set up and I am sure that Hamlet and Max are happy, fit and well in this new arrangement.
My sis called around over Christmas and it was the first time Hamlet had seen her and Kit in a few weeks. He was clearly DELIGHTED to see them and stood at the gate for a while after they had left which gave me a few moments cause for concern.
We subsequently went for a walk with them and a full quota of dogs and everyone had a great time. Hamlet is still spritely even though he grumbled a few times it was evident that he was enjoying himself. I did think he is probably missing his original pack and you have to ask yourself if you have done the right thing for the old fella.
It was very clear at the end of the walk where he wanted to be and who he was going home with! He practically made a run for it!
He’s on our sofa dribbling and snoring quite loudly as I write!!