Saturday, 5 July 2014

Catch up


So, what's been happening here lately?. Life has been chugging along at the usual pace with the season's changing noticeably around us as the hedgerows along the lane began greening up and thickening with wildflowers, brambles,and raspberries along with swathes of nettles and meadowsweet. Nettles seem to be the dominant "weed" this year and have filled every tiny bare space along the lane and also in my garden. I have given up the fight trying to keep the boundary stock fencing line free from them so now we have a nettle windbreak along the back of the house. There have been a few small changes around the house/garden area too. An unknown delivery driver managed to reverse into the front wall of the garden so we had to have a new stretch of fencing erected as a replacement to keep Jake in the garden. We took the opportunity to have a much taller fence built.
 The chickens also now have a new much larger coop and a new pen, where they are safe from attacks by foxes and hawks. The new pen is at the back of the house and also encloses my blackcurrant bushes, cordon apple tree and plum tree, so in effect it doubles up as a fruit cage. It is a very large pen and gives them plenty of space and a mix of areas for dust bathing, scratching, laying in the sun or in the shade, sheltering under the fruit trees or cosying up together under the coop. They love it and are totally safe now from predators.

 




The small garden birds who like to share the chicken feed can still get into the pen by hopping down onto the plum tree and then down into the pen but the larger crows and buzzards we have around cannot swoop down now. The grass and weeds in this pen area were knee high when it was built just a few weeks ago, it has taken the five chickens just that short time to scratch up and eat most of what was here.
 Conversely it has taken nature the same short time to almost fill the previous chicken pen area with nettles and brambles.
The old chicken coop is now destined to be turned into a kennel for Jake with an attached run for days when it is too hot for him to be with me in the car on journeys. He will be happy to be outside rather than left in the house.  The rest of the space in there will be turned over to raised beds and veggie growing, the earth in there will be very rich with nutrients after five years of chickens scratching it up and adding their manure to it. Several old raised beds have already been moved from the area the chickens now inhabit to be reused. Sorting out that area will be the next big project.     
We have had a couple of short spells without internet connection. First the house was struck by lightning during a storm a month or so ago which blew out the telephone line, router and other electronic equipment connected to the phone line. It took a while to get that fixed again and equipment replaced. Luckily we had already unhooked all the rest of the electric equipment in the house so nothing else was damaged in the strike.
Then about two weeks ago we lost our phone and internet connection again when one of the local farmers managed to pull down a phone line with a high sided trailer when collecting in the haylage bales from the fields. We weren't too worried about being offline that time as we were about to leave for a holiday and everything was restored by the time we returned.
We have just spent almost two weeks in Spain enjoying some sunshine, Sophie and Marcus came along to help me with Ian, as he really wanted to enjoy one last foreign holiday before his condition makes it impossible. It was hard work all round, but he achieved what he wanted to do.




 
Now we are back home and getting back on top of the weeds in the garden.

 Jake and Bow enjoyed a holiday on my friend's farm while we were away , playing with her dogs and spending time with the alpacas and apparently didn't miss us at all, so everyone was happy :)
The next occasion to look forward to will be the birth of my first grandchild who should be making an appearance in just five and a half weeks now, I can't wait :)

Quick hello

Apologies for such a long break, I sort of fell out with the internet for a while, and have just been quietly getting on with day to day life. I am spending time today catching up with some of my favourite blogs so I can see what my online pals have been up to lately, and then this evening I will do a catch up post of my own. I hope you are all happy and well and enjoying summer - Liz xx

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Break

Just taking a little blogging break, everything is fine and I will post again soon xx

Sunday, 25 May 2014

J is for ..........

Joining in with  Mum's Simply Living Blog  for another alphabet blogging post.

J is for Jake.

I really couldn't let this one go past. Jake my border collie is now three years old and has made a big difference in my life.Three years ago I was in a bad place dealing with some medical issues, I had chronic pain and was starting to feel withdrawn and even though I was living in a beautiful place I was not getting out and enjoying my surroundings like I wanted to.I decided I wasn't going to let my medical conditions take over my life so on one of my visits back to Lancashire to visit family I called into the canine rescue centre and picked out a dog for rehoming.
The puppy was 14 weeks old when Sophie and I collected him and for two days he didn't have a name as none of the ones we thought of seemed to fit his personality.Then I came up with Jake and it just seemed right for him so we settled on that.



At this point Ian had no idea that I had been and got a dog as he was still at home in Scotland. I drove home with Jake in a crate in the back of the car and as I pulled up to the cottage Ian came out to meet me. I told him I had brought someone to stay.He thought my mum had travelled back with me and was puzzled when I said no, and that he should just go and see.He was very surprised to find a puppy in the car! We got Jake out the car and he followed us happily down the path to the front door, clambered up the couple of steps and ran straight into the house where he just made himself right at home from the outset.
Having a puppy to look after meant that I had a specific reason to force myself to get up every day, even on the days when I was in a lot of pain, and fatigued, and really couldn't face the day ahead. I had this small being who needed me to be there for him, to feed him, let him outside, play with him. teach him, and keep him occupied.It gave me a focus and a diversion from my conditions. He also gave me a reason to get outside, at first this was just in the garden for short periods at a time until he had completed all his puppy vaccinations.After that we were walking daily with my friend and her two dogs, short distances at first until little puppy legs got accustomed to the terrain and built up stamina.



Soon there was no stopping him, and extra walks were added into our days, just me and him out and about exploring the beautiful countryside around us.Wherever I went he would be with me, travelling in the car with me, sitting at my feet in the house, sleeping in his basket in the bedroom at night. He became my constant companion, and still is today, wherever I am Jake is close by.
No matter how I feel health wise on a daily basis I know I will wake up and Jake will be there wagging a good morning greeting, eager to start the day, never in a bad mood and always offering unconditional love.When I am feeling down he will be there beside me quietly giving me companionship and someone warm and cuddly to connect with.He makes me go outside every day for fresh air and exercise whatever the weather, and his enthusiasm and energy have a way of lifting any bad moods and make walking fun.In turn the regular exercise has helped with some of my health issues, reducing pain levels and even helping me reduce some of the medication I take.



 I can't think of a single thing in my life that hasn't been improved since I got Jake. He really has given me back my life, opened my eyes to the beauty in nature all around me,and shown me by example how to bound through life with enthusiasm and energy at top speed.


Three years ago I rescued Jake from the pound but every day since then he has rescued me :)       

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Beach

Bow had his first trip to the shore with us today. The sun was shining brightly around tea time so Sophie, Marcus, the two dogs and myself jumped in the car and drove to the beach. Bow is not a water baby, he prefers to stay firmly on dry land :)
 
 
 


Jake and Marcus were quite happy getting wet. I think Jake would have stayed at the beach forever if he could have found someone to keep throwing pebbles for him to chase.
 
 
 Jake was working on perfecting his backflips today!
 
 
 I'm not sure who was the wettest when we got back to the car later :)
 
We have to make the most of these spells of sunshine, especially when we can have a whole shoreline just to ourselves!

Monday, 19 May 2014

52 Projects Sunday on Monday again!

For the second week running my 52 Projects post has ended up being posted on Monday instead of yesterday. I had a very good reason for my tardiness this week though. Most of the day yesterday was spent driving my friend on the 120 mile round trip to go and see a possible rescue dog. After making arrangements with the centre the day before and then doing the 60 mile drive there we were devastated to be told that there were two other people in the queue before us and that it was very unlikely we would get a chance of the dog.After a bit of checking though we were relieved to be told that there had been a mix up and my friend was actually first on the waiting list and had been expected.
We went through to the quarantine pens, where new arrivals are kept for a week to prevent them spreading any doggy diseases they may be carrying,we were introduced to four year old Daisy a beautiful, friendly, and energetic West Highland Terrier.
Needless to say my friend was smitten immediately and pending home checks and formalities little Daisy should soon be making her way to her new forever home to help fill the huge void left by Beena :)



Anyway back to my projects and this week I have started on a running programme. I did try this programme out a few years ago but back then I was in a bad place and lasted only a couple of days before giving it up as an impossible job.This time around I am much healthier. I have been swimming regularly for the best part of a year now, I eat a diet of unprocessed foods and I have my medical conditions under control. I am a different person to who I was back then.
I took inspiration from a few people, bought running gear and shoes, set a day and decided to just go for it.
I am following the Couch to 5K programme.This is a totally alien concept to me. My body does not coordinate for running, even as a child I could not run gracefully and the thought of running for pleasure seems like a bit of a paradox but I want to give it a go. A couple of years ago just the short spells of running on this programme had me feeling like my heart was ready to explode, my lungs were burning, knees and ankles felt ready to collapse and the blood pressure pumping in my head was as bad as the migraines I suffered from. Needless to say after a couple of attempts I gave up. Obviously my swimming and dog walking has paid off in general health terms as this time around I could follow the programme with ease and without most of the issues above.It's very early days yet but I might just get the hang of this running thing - that is something I never thought I would ever say in my lifetime!!! 

So what has everyone else been up to?

L-A

Scarlet

Ann

Angela

Juhli







  

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Sleeping

Just another photograph of a tree,...... or is it?



A friend of Sophie's had told her about someone who used to walk their dog through the woodland where we take the dogs each day. The dog had died, and because it had been one of their favourite walks they had put a little memorial there.We had looked and looked around for this memorial but never found it.Sophie eventually spotted it a few days ago.

 
Tucked down at the base of the tree in a little hollow is a stone statue of a wee sleeping dog.


I love how the owner chose something small and unobtrusive to blend in with the natural surroundings, even from a few feet away it just looks like a rock, and it is placed on the side of the tree away from where most people walk.
I think it's lovely!

Salad time


Humongous salad time.
 1 little gem lettuce, 1 apple, 6 big cherry tomatoes, a beetroot, a handful of blueberries, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 orange pepper. large stick of celery, 1/2 cucumber, handful of parsley, 6 silverskin onions, a large carrot, and 6 mushrooms - all mine!
It takes me about an hour to munch and chew my way through one of these colourful salads, nom nom nom :)

Small stuff

 
When you walk the same tracks daily you get attuned to noticing slight changes around you and just being more aware of your surroundings.
I get fascinated by some of nature around me enjoying the textures and form which is thrown up by the environment. This photo is a tangled web of roots attached to a tree felled in gales last winter. The wind and rain have already bleached and smoothed it leaving this very textural and tactile mass.
 
 
 
This photo shows a large branch broken from a tree during gales last spring. It has had a bit longer laying on the ground. Moss and algae have begun to grow over it and the first twirling tendrils of ivy have started to creep amongst the branches. 

 
 Underneath this ivy is a large branch that came down from a tree the winter before last. Gradually it has been covered in moss and lichen and completely camouflaged by the trailing ivy. 
 
 
It doesn't take long for nature to reclaim its own, and blend it into the surrounding landscape in a much more natural and pleasing way than mankind could ever do. It's a continual on going process noticed much more when you walk through the same areas regularly and actually look around and observe your surroundings. Anyone driving past in a vehicle would miss these transformations, and couldn't feel the texture of the gnarly roots or smell the earthiness of the decaying branches and moss.
Sometimes it's good to just slow down and notice the small stuff :) 

Friday, 16 May 2014

K is for .........

Joining in with Mum's Simply Living Blog once again for an alphabet blogging post.

K is for Kipling, Rudyard Kipling , and one of the first poems I studied in depth way back in my high school English Literature class. 


IF


If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
  And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
  If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


                                  Rudyard Kipling.


Still a favourite poem of mine after all these years and still full of good advice :)

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Slow days

Slow days just now ,enjoying being out and about with Jake within walking distance of home, wandering down the lane and enjoying the hedgerows bursting into life with spring flowers and lots of greenery.




Morning walks down to the forest without meeting a single person on our travels, just listening to the sound of woodland birds, the wind blowing through the pine trees and the distant sounds of sheep and cows in the surrounding fields.



Exploring beyond the tree line, under the canopy of pine trees.Nothing much grows under here as very little light gets through and the floor is carpeted with a deep bed of pine needles. I collect these to spread around my blueberry bushes as they like the acidity.We quite often see deer under here, the forest is full of them. On three occasions we have seen a pinemarten, I don't think there are as many of those around here as sightings are few and far between.




I have also been doing some dog sitting whilst Sophie has been working extra shifts, more excuses for walking and enjoying being outdoors. Bow knows when he sees my car that he will probably be off on an adventure somewhere. The weather is still being a bit unpredictable but there have been some good parts of each day, and when there aren't I just stick on wet weather gear and go out anyway.
   

Bow is quite energetic for an almost 15 year old dog with a heart condition.I think he just wants to enjoy the rest of his life. Jake makes the most of every day of his!




Just a couple more days taking it slow :)

Monday, 12 May 2014

52 Projects Sunday on a Monday



A day late with my project this week but that was because my project was a gift for a friend and I didn't want her to see it before I gave it to her.
So this is what I have been making, it's a bit of a doggy themed keepsake for my friend to remind her of Beena, with representations of our three musketeers on one side.





 They aren't strictly true to type so a bit of artistic licence there but we know who it represents so that's all that matters really.



She loved it anyway :)

Here's what everyone else has been up to the past week;

Ann

Angela

John

L-A

ChickenladyJane

Friday, 9 May 2014

L is for ..............

 Joining in with Mum's Simply Living Blog  once again for an alphabet blogging post.

L is for lush .............


Loving lots of lovely fruits and veggies every day :)
 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Blast from the past

Within the past few days I was contacted by an old friend who I hadn't been in touch with for years. Back during the mid 1980's we met at work and became good friends. When I got married Sue was my chief bridesmaid and had the unenviable job of keeping all the rest of the bridesmaids and flower girls in order. I have a large extended family so there were lots of them. I was looking back at some of my wedding photo's earlier, fortunately the photo's lasted longer than the marriage, the less said about that the better.
My mum made my wedding dress, head dress and veil and all the bridesmaid and flower girl's dresses and head dresses.



Sue was married shortly afterwards and we were both expecting our first babies at the same time, although I was about two months further on than Sue. I was in the maternity ward after giving birth to my eldest son when Sue was wheeled into the ward. She had just given birth to her eldest son two months prematurely!
We both went on to have more children and would spend lots of time doing stuff with all the children together. Once they were all at school it became more difficult to meet up and then we moved to a different area, and as I didn't drive back then eventually get togethers were mainly school holiday events, parties, or meet ups at the big park in town. As the children got older,we both went back to work and there were more house moves, and sadly we lost touch. Now all the offspring are grown ups, and the next generation is starting to appear. I'm really glad Sue managed to find me and we will be having a meet and catch up next time I head down to Lancashire.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Yesterday

Yesterday's day out began with a drive out to Clatteringshaw Loch which is a huge reservoir and is part of Galloway Forest Park. We had a bit of a walk with the two dogs around the shore of the loch.



 Thirty years ago the remains of an iron age roundhouse were found here and there is a reconstruction of this there today.
We went inside for a closer look.
The dogs enjoyed running ahead of us on the trail.
 Meg is as bad as Jake for finding boggy ditches to wallow in.
 
 We also had a peek at The Bruce's stone.

 
The dogs both got so muddy we had to get them to have a paddle in the loch to clean off before getting back in the car.

 We took the scenic route to New Galloway, and then headed towards Dumfries stopping at a garden centre where we had a coffee and a chat before taking the coast road. I also bought a Borage plant to add to my herb garden.
A short while later we stopped at  Sandyhills and ate our picnic lunch in the car as it was still grey and drizzly. Then we donned coats again for another walk with the dogs, this time down onto the beach and a little way around the headland to a small cove.
 The wind was a little bit wild around the headland as it swept in from the Solway. The dogs didn't care they enjoyed running on the shore, jumping through tidal pools and fetching sticks. The small bay was carpeted with cockle shells and drift wood.
There was also a large jelly fish on the sand which we had to keep the dogs away from.
 This little bay would probably be a sun trap on a hot day but today it was grey, wet and windy. It didn't stop us from being out there though :)
 From Sandyhills we travelled up the coast a little to Rockcliffe where we parked up on the hill and walked down into the bay. The dogs were wet and chilly from their beach adventures so they were towelled off and left in the car for a bit of a rest at this point.



 We walked around the bay and then followed the National Trust coastal path which led to Kippford.
 Everywhere there were masses of bluebells and wild garlic plants.
 We walked along the path for a distance, passing the Mote of Mark, and skirting the estuary, before heading back down into Rockcliffe and back to the dogs.



 
 Our next stop was a short drive to Kippford which is a big sailing centre on the Urr estuary and is full of moored sailing boats.
We didn't stay there long as parking is very limited on the single track waterfront and there wasn't really anywhere we could let the dogs run about.
It was late afternoon by this point and we were feeling in need of a hot drink after being outside in the wind and drizzling rain most of the day. We continued on to Castle Douglas and stopped at the National Trust visitor centre at Threave Gardens for a coffee and a bit of a warm up. Our final stop was Kirkcudbright where we finished off our picnic, then the dogs had a short walk around the harbour before we headed for home. We had been out for almost ten hours and despite it being a horrible grey day weather wise, we had a lovely time just exploring one place after another with no schedule to stick to or any real plan of where we were headed.