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Showing posts from August, 2008

Goodbye August

Another summer is quietly slipping away, not that it has been very noteworthy, except for its dullness. Having said that, it was a glorious day yesterday with warm sunshine and a light breeze. I took the dogs for an early walk and came back absolutely thrashed as I kept Basso on the lead in an effort to improve his "walking to heal". He is so strong that my arm and shoulders really ache from correcting him, so a long hot soak in the bath was most welcome.

Our lunch party was a very pleasant affair with all the neighbours in attendance. The hostess is 83 and very wisely catered the party from M&S with paper plates so there was minimal clearing up to do. The excuse for the party was to inaugurate her new glasshouse which is one of those really pretty ones with the brick base and white decorative top, very Victorian. She is a lady of some character and extremely interesting to talk to. She was married to a diplomat and has lived all over the world. Thought she does …

Tinned fish and dogs

Yesterday started badly after I had made the jam I got ready and set off to go riding. I arrived at the yard at about 9 am to find the farrier there shoeing a couple of the horses, but no sign of Morks owner. It was fascinating to watch the horses being shod but after an hour and half and 2 cups of tea I gave up and went home. No sooner had I got indoors than the phone rang it was Kat the horses owner apologizing for being late her son had had a mega nose bleed so she had been delayed. Normally, I would have got the horse and tacked him up but she had the tack in her car so that was out.

The next problem came as a surprise, I prepared the lunch and we decided to have tinned fish - mackerel in brine and sardines in tomato sauce with some toast and a salad. While the toast was in the toaster I set off up the garden to collect the eggs. I didn't notice that I only had 3 dogs in my entourage the 4th dog Mary was happily standing in the middle of the dining table devouring the tin…

End of the week

August is drawing to a close but you could be forgiven for thinking it is November the weather is so dull and dreary. I took my pack of dogs to the estuary for a walk yesterday but I failed to check the tide tables before I left. It was high tide and so all the dogs went swimming with the exception of Basso who just did major paddling. Anyway when I got home I then had 4 dogs to rinse off to get the salt out of their coats. They were each tethered to the outdoor tap and hosed down then towel dried and all the collars and leads had to be washed off and hung out to dry thank goodness none of them has a leather collar. The remainder of the day was very quiet as they slept for most of it only getting up for food.

I, on the other hand, had things to do but at least I had peace to do it in. I mowed the grass which is looking terrible there is more moss than grass. I thought of applying moss killer to it but I think it will just make it look even worse so I have left it, at least it i…

Thursday 28th August

What a strange day yesterday was the weather was so overcast I kept thinking it was going to rain any minute but in the end I had to put the hose on and do some watering. I dug over one of the veg beds and have made a net construction to keep the pigeons off so that today I can plant out some winter vegetables which have been in the shed for ages waiting for some free ground to become available.

Walking the dogs was interesting, I took the whole lot in the car up to the rugby field and then walked Basso by himself on the lead which he hated. I then swapped over and took the 3 terriers for a run around we then came back and collected Basso [still on the lead] and all 4 had another circuit. By the time we got back I was totally whacked but at least the "wonderful Jane", had had a free run of the house with the hoover. In the evening I took Basso for a training walk and he behaved impeccably, he just seems to loose it completely when we go to the training class and he is in…

Half way throught the week

The bank holiday makes the week whiz by so quickly we are at the half way point already. The weather here was dry but miserably dull yesterday it looked as if it was going to rain any minute though it never did.

My friend Shiona is off up to Scotland today and has left me in charge of her dog Mary for the next few days so I now have a pack of 4 dogs this can make walking them quite a challenge fortunately she has been to school and is well behaved on the lead. Interestingly Shiona has got a first class ticket to Glasgow from Kings cross for the princely sum of £54 which is not bad and makes the train much cheaper than going by car given the price of fuel.

Talking of Scotland I guess that Anne will be back from the fringe and I look forward to hearing all about it.

I picked my first calabrese from the garden yesterday, from the few plants I managed to save from the pigeons. Today, I think I will try to make some raspberry jam as the freezer is getting quite full and I am picking appr…

Blackberry heaven

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The photo is of Mork my 30 year old mount who was entered into the veterans class at the local horse show which unfortunately I missed but he was beautifully turned out with his mane and tail all plaited and won himself a rosette for second place. I have managed to get myself roped into helping at another horse show in October and have asked his owner to show me how to plait him up for that.
Yesterday morning as it was dry I went off blackberrying with my friend and one of her twin girls and her little boy who is still at the pushchair stage. We must have walked miles and collected blackberries I don't think I have ever seen so many and easily accessible too. We filled our various containers and then moved on to the abandoned orchard where there are millions of pears and apples. The apples were rather difficult to get to and I could have used a machete as they stinging nettles were chest high and brambles covered the floor. However, with a little effort we managed to load our …

Bank holiday Monday

Well the late august bank holiday is with us and it is anything but beach weather it is only 14 degrees at the moment so quite chilly. The forecast is for dry weather but generally cloudy so with any luck a blackberry picking and dog walking day.

Yesterdays shooting went well and we were lucky that it was dry for our shoot. I was delighted with my score of 20/25 which shows that I am improving. I used a 12 bore instead of a 20 bore and found it much easier even though the gun was heavier. We then set off for the restaurant where we had a fabulous meal. I had a grilled aubergine and courgette salad with mustard dressing and a soft boiled egg, followed by wild sea trout with brown shrimps, then cheese and Melba toast and an espresso. It was all delicious and beautifully presented.

We finally got home at about 3.30 and after a cup of tea the men went and fixed the gun cabinet to the wall I'm glad I didn't have to hold it as it is quite heavy. We retired early to watch the TV…

Sunday and a shooting day

It is still pitch dark but dry so who knows what the weather has in store for today. It would be nice if kept dry for our outing this morning to the shooting ground. I believe it is supposed to be changeable with scattered showers.

Val do you have any plans for your 2 weeks off? or are you just going to mooch around and relax. I remember one 2 week holiday we had when the kids were young and we spent our time doing a loft conversion and building a glass house, we were very pleased to return to work for a rest!!!!

We had a nice supper last night when my son arrived I had made some pasta and fagioli soup with the borlotti beans I picked form the garden. It is a very simple soup but so delicious when it is doused in Parmesan cheese. The lamb steaks had been marinaded all day in olive oil rosemary and garlic so I just gave them a swift blast on the griddle and served them with fresh runner beans from the garden. The peaches, which had been like cricket balls when we bought them, wer…

Bank holiday weekend

Well folks it's a bank holiday weekend so by rights it should be cold, wet and windy. My riding was rained off yesterday for the umpteenth time so I consoled myself in the kitchen making assorted soups from the garden produce. As luck would have it it stopped raining shortly after I had cancelled the riding so at least I managed to get the garden chores done. I have left the bees to get on with making their honey but I will have to go and have a look at them soon. If they have produced sufficient I will then be in need of my mentor to help me extract the liquid gold and then to jar it. All my neighbours are delighted with their crops this year which I think is down to not only the good growing weather but the hard work of my bees. A big box of bulbs arrived yesterday so it is very nearly autumn and I will have to look at the window boxes which are due for a complete revamp ready for spring. I will leave it a little longer as they are in full flower and its a shame to do it…

Difficult days ahead

Yesterday was fine day in the end the weather stayed warm and sunny and the dogs had a long walk in a place we had not been to before. I will, however, be returning as there are millions of blackberries just ripe for the picking not to mention an abandoned orchard of apple trees ladened with fruit. I just can't resist free food and I can see some nice apple and blackberry crumbles being made for the freezer. I made a mousse with some of my excess cucumbers which turned out very well and they are already frozen for a future date.

Helen, I made the soup and it was delicious, we ate it for lunch with some crusty bread, so thank you for the recipe.

We had a trip to the butcher and bought 5 duck legs for £5 these are now in the oven on a low temperature for the next 3 hours after which I will be vacuum packing them and freezing them for future use as crispy duck. We also bought some sirloin steaks which we had for supper as my youngest son was coming home to eat and to vacate his fl…

Nealry the end of another week

It is damp and rainy here at the moment but it's pitch black outside so I can' really see what the sky looks like. The forecast is for sunshine and showers. I managed to get 4 machine loads of washing done and dried on the line yesterday so now it is on with the ironing.

The shooting expedition went well and we took Basso with us for the experience of the guns. He stayed in the car as I didn't want him too close and frightened by the noise but I need not have worried as he slept peacefully through it all. I managed 20 out of 34 shots with both a 12 and a 20 bore gun so I was very chuffed.

Just when things seem to be going so well there is always a fly in the ointment. My son popped in to announce that his relationship with his girlfriend is at an end after 2 years so things are a bit torrid there and the birthday celebrations for the weekend are now in abeyance. Then a friend, who lives near Bath, rang to tell me that her husband, who was diagnosed with prostate cance…

Good morning all

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I had a very productive day yesterday and cooked up a storm so today I can stay out of the kitchen for the most part. I also steeled myself and did the lawn and cleaned out the chickens so I can relax about that. It was supposed to rain yesterday evening but as luck would have it it was dry for my gun dog class. Basso found that the teacher was a hard task master and she took him from me for an individual lesson. He kept looking to me to protect him but got no joy!!! I have come to the conclusion that I will have to walk him separately from the others as he does need some intensive work if he is to come up to standard. Anyway, I am developing a pair of shoulders that Mike Tyson would be proud of. Who needs a gym when you have 4.5 stone of bounding puppy to try and control....I have to keep reminding myself that he is only 6 months old despite his enormous size.

Today, there is some excitement to be had as I am going for my first shooting lesson so I hope the weather holds as shoo…

Tuesday and dry so far

Riding was cancelled due to the inclement weather but I managed to get out and walk the dogs yesterday between the showers, and also collected a nice bag of blackberries. I have added these to my collection of summer fruits in the freezer. Despite my best efforts I managed to get well and truly stung by the nettles but my long walking stick which I had purchased for the princely sum of £4 came in very handy as I could reach the top branches which the other collectors had missed. My neighbour has a bramley apple tree and one branch hangs over my chicken run so I will have enough apples to make the odd apple and blackberry crumble.

The grass is still in need of cutting so that is making its way to the top of my to do list. I will also need to make sure that Basso gets a run before we go gun dog training if I am to stand any chance of a reasonable evening. I checked with some other people who also attend the class and apparently it is held no matter what the weather!!! I suppose this…

Here we go the beginning of a another week

Well I don't know what the weather is doing near you but it is bucketing down with rain here. That kind of put pay to some of my plans. I think riding will be off and I was hoping to go blackberrying but that too may be scuppered. I should have mowed the grass yesterday but never got around to it so now with all this rain the lawn will look like a jungle. The runner beans will appreciate the water and so will the raspberries. I guess today will have to be indoor pursuits unless the rain abates. Last week I took down and washed part of the glass ornaments that I have but I only managed to do about half of them so I think it might keep me out of mischief finishing that job. I have a small collection of Bristol blue and some nice pieces of crystal all of which look terrible if they are dirty. The silver is a nice shade of brown also so that could do with a clean.

Basso was absolutely shattered and spent most of yesterday sleeping obviously being beautiful is very tiring. Hope…

What a day!!

Yesterday started as one of those days when you know you should never have got out of bed!! Everything went wrong, the smoked salmon turned out badly and was impossible to slice so I decided the only thing was to cook it and have hot smoked salmon. I decided to make part of it into a frittata and while I was collecting a few courgettes to go with it Basso decided to dig up the slate in the garden. When I came back from the veg garden he was filthy and had move about a ton of chipped slate onto the patio. By the time we were ready to leave home at 9 am I was in a foul mood, stressed and frustrated. I had calmed down a little by the time we reached my friends house but by the time we reached Rye I as really not in the mood to do a dog show. Basso was bounding around on the lead and doing his best to remove my shoulder from its socket. We entered the puppy class and were duly ushered into a ring. I had no idea what was expected so I basically just followed the dog in front. I lo…

Hoping for a dry day

Good morning all, today I would really appreciate a dry day so if you have any influence with the head gardener put in a word for me. We are off to a dog show in Rye near Hastings. Basso was duly bathed yesterday and much to my surprise he was as good as gold and just stood in the bath while I shampooed him from stem to stern. This was the first time he had ever been in the bath so I was expecting hysterics. I then trapped him in my bedroom, which is quite small, and turned the hair dryer on him. He did back away but with a small room and long lead on the dryer there was nowhere to hide. We will be entering the puppy class as he is nearly 6mths old so wish us luck. This is not something I intend to do on a regular basis as showing really doesn't interest me.

We had fabulous weather yesterday and I got lots of chores done. I abandoned the riding as there was just too much to do while the weather permitted. The pool was cleaned and packed away for another year. This is a pre…

Friday and the end of another busy week

I have woken and feel quite sleepy this morning, I think I am just tired though I did feel quite rough last night. I think it was my own fault I ate a massive lunch including a slice of chocolate cake. It is most unlike me to fancy a dessert but I was really in the mood for chocolate and downed a large slice covered in cream. We had a lovely walk in the woods and managed to be in the pub having lunch when the heavens opened so a very fortuitous bit of timing.

The weather today is supposed to be good so I have a fairly packed schedule. I am supposed to ride this morning but that will depend on circumstances. I will finish emptying the pool and get that stowed away. The salmon which has been drying for 24 hours will be ready to put in the smoker which will then take about 4 hours to impart its flavour. We are going to a dog show in Rye tomorrow and so Basso will need to have a bath as he is absolutely filthy after his long walk in the woods. I have never bathed him so this could…

A bit poorer but very happy

Pitch dark outside so the days are really getting shorter. Yesterday was like an autumn day with high winds and many sharp showers and quite chilly. My salmon is in its cure and due to come out soon then it will need 24 hours drying time before I start smoking which I intend to do on Friday after riding weather permitting.

We had a free day yesterday so we decided to go and have a look at our local gunsmiths to see which way the land lay. Mistake!!!! well to cut a long story short the gun cabinet is standing in the hall awaiting the bolts and fixing. The gun is still at the gunsmiths until I have a licence and can go and fetch it. Now all I need to do is have 4 passport photos taken and fill in the form. Apparently it will take about 4 weeks for them to process the form fortunately my friend is a barrister so she can counter sign the photos. One of the interesting things I learned during this process was that, of course, a gun cabinet will also double as a safe so things that ar…

up at an ungodly hour again!

Sadly I am awake again at this ungodly hour, I was asleep by 10 so I have had 5 hours sleep which I guess is not bad.

Yesterday was a day of catching up with so many little tasks that needed doing. First a major shop then on with the washing. My poor neighbour had hung her washing the night before and it was bucketing with rain in the morning. By lunch time the wind had got up and it was really blowing, her whirly washing line is not fixed in a socket but is held down with some stone slabs around an umbrella base. Well, the line took off and headed for the pond, where it dived gracefully in. The next thing I saw was her and her husband trying to extricate the line from the pond and as they did this so half the pond weed had draped itself on the arms of the line. I guess it was back to the drawing board with that particular pile of washing.

Lunch was experimental I had courgettes to use up so I thought I would make a pancake mixture with Parmesan cheese I then used part of the mixt…

Behind schedule this morning

6am unheard of and it is pouring with rain. I was absolutely exhausted yesterday evening and bottled out of going dog training. I decided we would just have a session at home, the half hour puppy session is all stuff I already know so I don't think I will have missed much. Tonight is a different matter and I will have to steel myself for the gun dog training.

I had a wonderful ride in the morning one of the little girls has taken me under her wing and decided to take me out for a long ride over the downs. Mork decided it was a picnic rather than a walk and was a bit of a pain eating everything en route. I did have one moments excitement when he stumbled and went down on his knees and by some miracle I stayed in the saddle.

Having had such an early start I decided to have a kip after lunch but forgot to switch off the phone so a phone call woke me almost as soon as I had dozed off. It was hardly surprising that by 7 pm I was beyond redemption.

Today my friend Shiona is comin…

Before the dawn

It's 3.30 and still pitch dark but at least the wind has dropped. I am bracing myself for a busy day, the cupboards are pretty bare so shopping will be on the agenda it might be better to leave it until tomorrow as the butcher and fish monger are both closed on Monday. I will ride this morning hopefully and then walk the dogs so that they loose a bit of steam ready for obedience training this evening. My wonderful cleaning lady is off on holiday so I will have to step into the breech and run the hoover around a bit. She normally does 2 hours on a Tuesday which is such a help as she doesn't get sidetracked like I do.

Yesterdays excitement: I had a wonderful breakfast of my first ripe figs straight from the tree with a little honey [unfortuately not my own yet]We then set off for the shooting ground at about 8.30 as it is an hours drive to Canterbury. It was such a lovely day that we decided to go in my neighbours open topped Mercedes which she opened up a couple of times …

Sunday and shooting day

At least the weather has moderated it is still a bit windy but the rain has stopped. When I took the dogs for a walk yesterday there were loads of people with binoculars including the police and local paper reporters all lined up along the shore line as it is directly opposite the Kingsnorth power station so they were hoping to to see what the protesters were up to. It was like a war zone with constant wailing of sirens as the police zoomed around the place. As far as I am aware nothing much happened and for certain the protesters got pretty wet. I just managed to get the grass cut just before the heavens opened and the wind got up and blew a gale.

As far as the MBT trainers are concerned I walked about a mile with the dogs but it felt as though I had walked 5 they certainly do what it says on the label and make your leg muscles work. They are particularly difficult on rough terrain, but much easier on paved or flat ground. I will, however, not be wearing them today as I think I …

Opening ceremony

Did you watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics? What a spectacle the Chinese can be rightly proud of their efforts. I went to go riding in the morning but it was so black overhead that I decided against it and took the dogs for a walk instead. Basso was fascinated by the horses, so far he has not encountered many creatures that are bigger than him. We then took ourselves to the running shop as I needed a new pair of trainers and as luck would have it they had a sale on. So I purchased a pair of MBT [Masai barefoot technology] for half price £70 instead of £155. Very pleasing, now all I have to do is learn to walk in them. They are supposed to relieve the pressure on the joints and make the muscles work instead. They feel really weird as the sole is convex so you are rather like a rocking horse as you walk and they look absolutely dreadful. However, they are not any worse than the croc's that I live in.....

The weather looks clear and bright here this morning but I saw …

Friday and the end of another busy week

Well I had my rest day yesterday and I did just potter about doing odd jobs, the ironing only took about an hour. I took the dogs for a run and put Basso on the lead for about half so that he could improve his heel work. It is difficult for him when his brothers are running around free but this is all part of the learning. I also took him on his own for a walk in the traffic as I noticed he is getting a bit skittish with passing lorries and buses.

I had a root around in the freezer and found a lamb stew which we had for dinner with new potatoes and runner beans and for lunch I stuffed a couple of mushrooms which we had with some salad, so very little work there.

Today is a riding day and after the pain of earlier in the week I am some what worried as there is no way that I want to go through that again. I think it will have to be a gentle session or may be go out for a nice walk. It is a pity I can't combine dog walking with the horse ride.

Yesterday evening I got a phone call…

Day of rest coming up

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Basso and his stepbrothers, look at the feet, there is still plenty of growing to come!!!!!


I have every intention of just pottering around today and maybe having a nice walk with the dogs. However, the best laid plans and all that, but I am at least going to try. The dog groomer came yesterday and I now have some very smart terriers, Basso still has his puppy coat and so needs little work at the moment. My friends little west highland white was on heat so there was a bit pandemonium as although both my terriers have been castrated they still understand what is expected of them and are only too willing to oblige. Basso also got the idea pretty smartly and as he is intact he ended up getting "banged up", in his crate where he practiced humping his bed!!!!!

There was a terrific thunder storm and huge downpour in the night so the air is a bit fresher this morning, it was stiflingly hot and humid yesterday which I find really saps your energy. I did manage to get the laundry …

Absolutely pole axed

It is pitch dark still so the days are drawing in already. The weather forecast is for a cloudy day but hopefully not a wet one as I have loads of washing to do.

When I got up this morning I found I had muscles, which were aching, that I never even knew I had!! My legs are aching after riding but now my shoulders and arms and hands have joined in.

Basso had his first experience of size-ism, the trainer at gun dog classes was very strict with him before finally asking how old he was and when I said five and half months she apologised to him as he is only a baby, she can be forgiven for not realising as he was the biggest dog on the field. Can you imagine trying to keep him in a sit position for nearly an hour and a half, with only very small opportunities to actually do anything. He did however have an opportunity to do HOLD and DEAD which completely surprised her at what a very soft mouth he has and how very well he was able to do the commands. So much so, that he was made to de…

Good morning all

Well what a strenuous day I had yesterday, first it was off to catch the horse and get him groomed and tacked up, by which time I already felt whacked out. The a riding lesson with lots of collected cantering and trotting over coloured poles. This terrified me as I had visions of the horse stepping on a pole and then roller skating over the rest. On the first approach he was gearing up to jump them which also terrified me but fortunately there were 5 of them and the spread was too large for him so he just walked over them. Phew what a relief!!!!

Once we had finished riding his owner offered to give him some grub and turn him back into the field so I beat a hasty retreat. On my way home I passed the place where they used to do clay pigeon shooting so I thought I would take a detour. After a fruitless drive around what looked like an industrial estate I saw a young man outside what looked like an automotive unit. I decided to pull up and ask, well some times the Gods are with you.…

Another day another dollar!

Here we go another week just starting. The chicken we had for lunch was superb I used a trick that my chef friend showed me of stripping back the skin and putting a mixture of herbs salt garlic over the meat then replacing the skin before cooking and the flavour was wonderful. I also concocted a dish with some cucumbers which I skinned and pipped and diced together with some carrot celery and onion then placed in a pan with just a little knob of butter and gently sauteed. Great way to get rid of the excess cucumber supplies. We also had a small portion of our own runner beans, hurray I just love them newly picked and lightly boiled or steamed.

I finally managed to get the grass mowed yesterday and just in time before it rained quite heavily. I then had the bit between my teeth and cleaned both the kitchen and the bathroom, hoovered and spot treated the carpet in the dining room. This rain will be just what is needed to plump up the blackberries which look like they are going to b…

Wet Sunday morning

It's all my fault, I watered the vegetable garden so now it's raining. Anyway, at least it is nice and cool and fresh.

After my early start yesterday I ran out of steam after lunch and took to my bed and slept for 3 hours which has made me feel a bit more human this morning. While I was out with the dogs I found a blackberry bush that was all ripe and ready so I picked a nice bag full to bring home. I have used them to flavour some low fat natural yoghurt. My early morning foray to Tesco was highly successful; that is if you don't mind negotiating the shelf stacking trolleys and the children doing the shelf stacking. As our builder once commented about employing young men "one boy, equals one boy two boys equals half a boy", I parked right outside the front door and whistled round getting all that I needed and also purchased some chicken wings and a turkey leg to make stock with. I also bought a nice free range happy chicken for lunch today. I fancied a r…

Saturday and very early

I fell asleep very early last night and consequently am up at this ungodly hour of 3.30 with dreadful cramp in my left leg and frozen cold would you believe. Anyway hot coffee and a warm dressing gown have cured the problem but I am now wide awake so I may as well get on with the day. The temperature has dropped down to 16 degrees and there is a cold wind blowing.

Yesterday I managed to strip and launder the bedding from the guest bed and also got the net curtains done. It was perfect drying weather with a strong wind so everything dried quickly and has been ironed and put away. I always find it satisfying to get everything done and away in one day.

Basso was better behaved in the vets even though we had a longish wait to be seen. As far as he is concerned it is some kind of play group but I won't let him play with the others. Anyway he has been given the all clear and we have another dose of the medicine to give him in a fortnights time if he needs it.

I didn't manage to…