Sunday, 19 January 2020

Compasses ready at Cammo Estate

Missy turned her paw to a new hobby this weekend; orienteering! Despite absolutely no sense of direction, I used to love orienteering as a kid and, over the years of spotting those familiar red and white plaques, I've learned that this was an equal passion of my hubby's when he was a boy. Every time we spotted an abandoned control point, we'd discuss that we should find out the local groups and... that was it.

Earlier this week I spotted an advert on Facebook for an orienteering open day at Cammo Estate and decided to give it a go and see if it lived up to my childhood memories. It was originally to be a solo event but, through the power of "do us a favour", I ended up with Maisie (but no brother), my older sister and BIL, thier dog Wee Ben and eldest nephew (10) accompanying me. I won't beat about the bush, my nephew hates outdoor pursuits and activities. If there isn't a screen involved, he won't partake in it. I've managed to get him into some board games (exploding kittens is a favourite) and, thinking myself clever, got him into Pokemon GO. What's wrong with that? Nothing to do with the game (I've played it daily since it launched) its just that he doesn't actually want to walk and play, he'll stand and catch pokemon and, screen glued to face, shuffle at the slowest pace. Not ideal for dog walking, or being anywhere near traffic! I've digressed. I was worried as he'd already expressed disdain at the thought of the sport, even though I'd tried to dress it up as "treasure hunting".

A quick run through for those unfamiliar to the sport; you get a map with points marked on it and, going 1 through to 20, use the map to find all the points as quickly as possible. It's all modern now, you have little trackers on your finger that you pop into a little reciever which beeps and records the time stamp. In my day it was a literal stamp made from pins that you punctured the sheet with!

Indicating North, I handed my nephew the tracker and map and off we went. The first one is always easy and, as we organised ourselves to find the next point (I was having him do it all by himself and was just guiding things along) I asked where North was. He pointed. True North. It was like the clouds parted and the heavens shined upon us, the first in my genetic family line with an internal compass. He was clearly delighted with this unexpected praise and elation and, recognising he had a natural knack to the sport, was hooked.

No complaints of being tired, he ran as soon as we spotted the next navigation point. No complaining for the phone or making excuses to stop and delay, we made our way round that track in a very respectable time, telling his parents to hurry up. 
Highlights included a fleet of cavalier King Charles in pyjamas (no photos sadly, we were admiring at a dash) and some huge tree plates from some fallen trees which, for reasons unknown bearing in mind his usual vampiric dislike to Sun and outdoors, my nephew finds totally fascinating. 

Afterwards we parted ways and I heard later from my mother (who they visited next) that it was all he would talk about. Hopefully his parents will encourage him and make it a hobby, I'll certainly be letting them know if I spot another one! 

I'm going to leave it on a high, with a comment to say to tune in next week as Missy has some exciting news to share! 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

A Sleepy Start to the Year

It's that part of January. Everyone is back at work (or, for those who didn't take all the holidays, it's the first full week back), it's still cold, it's still dark all the time and it's just miserable. Yep. The January blues are in full swing across the nation and in my household that basically means everyone is just exhausted.

A combination of just really bad weather and illness saw plans of a girls trip to Perth cancelled (although my locally based friend still came round for lunch and we had a good gossip about life), so it was a quiet weekend for the most part. With the dog walk really being more of a paddle and swim, Missy hasn't been interested in going out and neither have I!

And yes, I do stalk Missy and take hundreds of photos of her sleeping!

Its not been completely unproductive, holidays and future adventures are being planned during the dark evenings whilst the wind howls and the rain lashes down on the central belt. Hubby and I have been like something from a 40s novel; we've whiled away the evenings playing board games and working on jigsaws whilst listening to audio books and dramas. Its really been a week to recharge the batteries and get prepped for the year ahead.

When not playing the housewife, I've had a good week to push on with projects, mostly stash busting, but as most are gifts I cant share them just yet! But I will share these Potter themed tote bags:

Just a short post this week, after our recharge we should be back to regular programming in the near future!

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Bringing in the Bells

Firstly, Happy New Year. It is not only a new year, but a new decade. Merely by virtue of being alive I have now seen two millennia, two centuries and now five different decades - not bad for 32! 

In my house, New Year is the time of friendship and we didn't buck the trend. In what's become a tradition, we had a friend come stay with us on the 30th, and then we went to another friends (parents of our honorary neice and nephew) house for the bells. Missy was definitely ready for a party and we all played with hot wheels, then pass the parcel and then had dinner before moving onto more grown up games as the kids went to bed. Hubby had picked up the crystal maze board game and, with his best Richard Ayoade impression, was desperate to be games master. So as with years past, and hopefully those to come, the bells arrived to laughter, friendly rivalry and good food. What more could I ask from the year ahead? 

New Years Day presented the usual problems, what was open, where could we go that two young kids would enjoy and we can either bring Missy or won't have her left long. The Camera Obscura and World of Illusions stepped up to the plate for us and ticked all those boxes. Most importantly, open. Indoors, warm and dry and good for kids? Absolutely. And the best part, much to the delight of the little ones, dog friendly. 

We arrived for 11 and Missy was immediately fawned over by the staff. There was a lady in the queue who wasn't keen (read visibly rigid in terror) of dogs, and that was  absolutely fine and we offered to move Missy as far from her as possible. The Obscura runs a comfort policy, so Missy ran the risk of being removed to a different part of the building if she upset the lady too much, but she was as keen for us to have a nice time as her and her family to have one. It's always nice to come across someone who is reasonable about their phobia, too often the hubby and I have been screamed at for the mere presence of Missy, calm and relaxed and under control, at somewhere she is perfectly entitled to be at, so I always get a bit panicky about these things. 

Almost as soon as our hands were stamped and the first glimpse of wonder had been seen in the distance, the fire alarm went off. Sheer outrage and disappointment dissolved to delight once a fire engine showed up and my neice and nephew waved eagerly at the firemen - oh, to be five again when life's problems were so swiftly fixed. Thankfully the false alarm was quickly resolved and we got to skip the barmy of the newly forming queue and dashed straight up to the very top to see the Camera Obscura itself. 
Missy has visited in the past, so I won't go into too much detail except to say that the staff were just as friendly to us all, and that we had an absolutely fantastic day. Their hop in and out policy meant we could leave for lunch and then come back in when it got a little quieter again. Its the first time our friends have done an actual "attraction" with Missy, and they were all very impressed at her as she calmly mooched about and paid absolutely no attention to the crowds (except her admirers, of course, dogs aren't that common a sight at the Obscura, so I found myself promoting the policy a few times!) 

And that was the day. The 2nd was spent recovering from two back to back busy days and then I started the process of putting the house back together again as hubby was back in work. I have had a break from the tidying to get on with some sewing:

The one feedback from my attempt at a low waste Christmas? The presents could be seen. Solution? Gift bags with zippers, just in time for my eldest neices (15!) birthday. She was very pleased with her gifts and loved that her feedback had been taken on board. I suspect the bag will end up storing craft materials or something, so very pleased.

We also managed a games night with them, at 15 and 10, my eldest niece and nephew are now old enough to actually learn and play (nicely) proper games. Well, that's if you consider exploding kittens and throwing a burrito at one another as real games. 

(Side note, I'm not very good at exploding kittens, but I am the champion at throw throw burrito!) 

Here's hoping the year continues with good laughter! 

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Keeping Christmas on the Rails

I think, maybe (possibly, hopefully) Missy is starting to cotton on to the whole Christmas thing. We decided not to do a tree this year (the below photo shows the extent of our festive decor) and Missy has been in generally better spirits than in Christmases past; certainly, I haven't had the panicked "omg, your home - you left forever ago!" that I was getting last year, which usually resulted in Missy running and jumping on me whilst trying to pirouette into a cuddle before slowly sliding to the floor to lie there, wagging tail between legs, on her back and whine crying. A phenomenon that only started when the tree went up and ceased when it went down again and, despite how funny the picture sounds, both hubby and I found very distressing. 
The correlation has been proven, no tree, no hyper anxiety, so that's us, no tree anymore. 

Missy got an early Christmas present after staring out her stocking for 20 minutes, and we spent the day doing the rounds. A dog walk with my brother (and of course Maisie in a wonderful Xmas bandana) and mum, and then a visit to the BIL who is doing well considering the year he's had. We then had the evening to ourselves and, after dinner, the three of us all cosied up on the sofa with a Christmas film and munchies. A good day.

I've said before that hubby works retail, so I had a few quiet days post Christmas to get the place back in order whilst he worked. I'd noticed online that the Bo'ness and Kinneil railway were doing a Diesel Gala Day the Saturday and decided that it would be a good way to get out and about again and burn off some of those Christmas chocolates.

Having a season ticket meant I could get one return ride as it was a special event day and I knew I wanted to have a shot on the DMU from the 50s. For those who aren't train nerds (and I certainly wasn't one until I got me annual pass!) a DMU is a diesel multiple unit, basically engine and carriage are one and the same. The one at bo'ness is so old and decrepit that it took the same time to run half of the line and back as the other trains take to do the whole thing. I had missed it at the 50s day in August, so was keen to try again.

My mum came along for the ride (no pun intended) and it was a good distraction from the news of last week when we lost my uncle. It was one of those funny days where everyone seems to want to know what breed of dog Missy is. I think those are the days my mum likes best, she loves talking to random strangers and Missy has raised through the ranks to be her favourite grand-doggy-daughter, so she loves talking about her too.

We had people in the cafe chat to us, and then two separate couples on the train ride itself as well as on the platform. Missy was in full tart mode, cuddling up to the legs of the people we were sat beside and demanding, via nose-nudging, for more pets. The return journey say us with a father and young son (5 yo). The boy was nervous but the father, who told us all about the rotties he used to keep, was quite keen for us to sit with them. Letting the kid give Missy some treats soon cemented that friendship and they were having photos taken together by the end of the ride.
A successful ride! 

We did the harbour walk afterwards and then it was home for homemade steak and ale pie before my mum left as we were losing light. The winter days are certainly too short.

I've been working away on the sewing machine, but this quilt was the last of my Christmas present makes. It's new owner (BILs girlfriend) was very pleased to receive it and I don't think will be parted from it anytime soon! She loves cuddling on the sofa in a duvet almost as much as Harry Potter, so this Hogwarts house themed quilt was a sure win.

We've always done Christmas for family and New Year for friends, so I'm looking forward to next week and will need to have a think in new year resolutions. Missy, after doing so well, broke her no vet visits resolution a few times this month, so I think we need to lower the bar for her! 

I look forward to writing again in the next decade! I'm looking forward to the 20s - I have grand plans for holidays over the next few years, and in a smaller time scale, some fabulous sewing projects (although part of me wants to get some vintage sewing patterns and really embrace the decade).

Until then! Have a wonderful New Year.

Monday, 23 December 2019

A Strange Christmas

It's been a struggle for me this year to get Christmassy. Each time I feel that I'm starting to get that way, and my mood lifts, and the cold dark days don't seem to everlasting, something comes up. My Christmas weekend with the in laws was blighted with some truly bad weather and the hubby's broken toe. Cheer from my mini Christmas was short lived as the brother in law had a bit of a scare with his post op life (he's OK, still not fine, but OK).

So I was determined. Absolutely determined that I was going to get christmassy this weekend. The Cameo Cinema was hosting a dog friendly screening of Its A Wonderful Life so I scheduled a girls day out with the cinema and a lunch planned and a walk along the canal. My friend and I had a good laugh on the walk to the cinema about the fact that our parents had been equally horrified that we had never seen the movie before, and how we had both had the same response of "well, that's because you've never shown me it before!".

The event had been organised by the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home who were also fundraising. I bought Missy a big bag of biscuits and she put on the charm to get pets and biscuits off everyone else. One of the staff recognised her as an" ex resident" and I got a proud pawrent moment saying that Missy had won best rescue this year in the open day. Then off we went to the show.

It was a sold out event. There was maybe 30 dogs altogether and they were all amazingly well behaved. There was the occasional chain of barks (one specific dog clearly had to have the last word) and an occasional grumble, but other than that, nothing. My friend was very impressed, she had expected the dogs to be doing laps around the screen or howling and barking throughout!

Feeling thoroughly christmassy, I switched my phone back on and found 40 missed messages. I just knew exactly what had happened - my uncle who had been very poorly had given up the good fight. I cancelled lunch with my (very understanding) friend and then spent the rest of the day on the phone. 

There was one good moment of the night, a rare coming together of siblings where my older sister came up with the idea of sending flowers, we all agreed on a bunch, my little sister picked some beautiful words and I then got it organised and they were delivered the next day (and very well received). Knowing my aunt has both her sons looking after her (and my mother, her sister, is already visiting to check on her) has alleviated my feelings of guilt about the unfortunate timing. They want to be left alone for the season and I respect that. 

Hubby had Sunday off and, bless him, did his best to get us back on track and in good cheer. There was Christmas music, we wrapped presents together and went on a lovely walk around beecraigs before having cream scones at Dobbies (whilst it's amazing they now have a dog friendly section in the cafe, the three tables given to dog owners were in high demand, so it would be nice to have a few more tables in future!) 

Missy humoured me and sat in the sleigh very nicely, and we then mooched about at all the Christmas tat. Hubby is on a quest to find a nutcracker but, whilst we say some ornaments that looked like one, they didn't actually crack nuts. How will we be protected from the seven headed mouse King of our nutcracker can't crack nuts? 

Yes, we've both finally read the nutcracker stories. Its a strange year this one. I think it will come together, I know my BIL is very pleased we are visiting him on the day, as is my brother who has been invited to join us in our traditional Christmas dog walk, complete with santa hats. Perhaps their enthusiasm will rub off. 

Not the brightest note to end on, but I'm sure there will be another update before the year is out. I hope that one will be more positive. The new year for me is a time to focus on what has went right and what has gone well, so I should be in a more optimistic mood. 

Think of family and loved ones, those who are with us and those who are gone, and be pleased for the company of those around us.

Have a merry Christmas all, we are all luckier than we think. 

Saturday, 14 December 2019

A Quick Catch Up

It's been a busy couple of weeks! So, as mentioned in me last post, hubby has fractured his toe so I've ended up taking on all the dog walking chores although this last week he's managed to slowly make their way around the park for the morning walk.

After a long week, we had the in laws through with Ruby Havok last weekend. My hubby's Aunt (MILs sister) also came for a visit with the intention of us all getting in the Christmas mood. 
Ruby is doing very well, she's only 7 months old but is now an equal weight to Missy, so they got along very well now they can actually play on equal ground. As you can see from the photo though, she's still getting the hang of having her picture taken! It took almost a whole day to puppy proof the house and we did OK, the only casualty being some air hardening clay (which she ate, threw up and then ate some more of... Clearly not the sharpest tack in the box!) 

We were supposed to be doing the lights at the castle, but they were cancelled last minute due to high winds. Then the Sunday was a wash out with some pretty horrendous rain. Sunday had always been planned as the dogs day, and Aunt had asked to see the Kelpies. Despite the shock of my sister who lives nearby (and rang me 3 times to say it was terrible weather and I was mad to go out) but as I said, dogs need walking and so we went anyway. 

Yes. It was very wet. But not so bad that it put Ruby off trying to swim in the canal! Both dogs were quickly snuggled up in dressing gowns (MIL has commissioned one for Ruby) and we all had a well deserved cup of tea when we got in. 

Monday was much more successful. We had booked the lanterns at the zoo and woke up to a hard frost and bright blue skies. I'm happy to do the cold, it's the wet that I hate. I made pancakes for us all much to the Aunts amusement - it had been years, she said, since she had pancakes for breakfast! 
The in laws went to visit BIL and the hubby and I had a quiet morning with the dogs. He hobbled around a nice slow dog walk (linhouse loop, it was the flattest I could think of with something resembling a pavement) and we enjoyed some time to ourselves. 

The lanterns were spectacular. My inner six year old nearly died in joy at the life size triceratops and smilodon. I wasn't sure about the theme originally as I feel dinosaurs are a bit over done these days - and as someone who wanted to be a palaeontologist as a kid, that's saying something. However, I absolutely loved it. The lanterns translated really well into the dinosaurs and, with a pause for a hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows, it took us 2 hours to get round them all. 

Tuesday was back to normal and by the time I was home from work the house was empty again. A lovely visit and finally starting to feel a bit christmassy. 

I didn't get a lot of time for craft, but I was very pleased with this quick project. This is Ruby's first Christmas and I felt she needed a stocking. It had to be girly and sparkly and full of fun treats. I just hope she likes it as much as the rest of us do! 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

December Day

We've had a quiet week. We'll, it's been a disastrous week. Missy has sprained her pinkie toe which has caused her to hobble - she's racking up the ailments this winter, clearly making up for lost time! One day this week I found myself cleaning her ears, giving her eyedrops as she wasn't opening one (suspect it was a bit of grit, she was immediately the better and its not returned), painkillers and cream on her toes. Whoever said mongrels are less prone to ailments than pedigrees never met Missy! 

On top of that, hubby has fractured his toe. The lengths a man will go to to avoid working black Friday (which didn't work as he still had to go in, but did office stuff instead of being on the shop floor). I have threatened him (playfully) with eye and ear drops as he seems keen to emulate Missys condition. Either way, it's made life awkward as I now have to do both dog walks, so this week is going to involve a lot of 5am get ups so I have time to walk her before going into work. 

Needless to say, there has been much snuggling under duvets to avoid the cold weather and poor luck. Thankfully we had some time this morning for December Day. 

So let me explain, hands up who has a family tradition that when mentioned, everyone thinks your crazy? In my household, that tradition is December Day. Held on or as close to the first of December as possible, my hubby and I exchange gifts. Now let me explain before you think I'm crazy or totally wrapped up in the commercialised mess that is Christmas, we swap Christmas themed gifts. I collect the ravensburg Christmas jigsaws, and theres no point getting a jigsaw of santa on the day when you aren't going to have time for another week to touch it. Then there are Christmas movies, cds, books, all things you want on the run up to Christmas. It all started one year when hubby asked his mother for JRR Tolkiens "letters from father Christmas". He was super pleased to receive it Christmas day but by the middle of January when our lives had calmed down enough to start it, we were definitely not in the mood for it! So, that's why we do December day.
Missy is above us in such festivities, but did get excited for her advent calander, so I'll call it a win win! 

I'm sewing news, it's all gone to the dogs this week:

(See what I did there?) 
These are the Christmas pressies for all the doggies in the family - most of it is stuff I was already making for the craft fair, and I felt a dog tote bag to put it all in would go down brilliantly. And don't worry, the cats haven't been left out:

I think it's safe to say that I do overindulge Missys furry cousins! 
Next week is due to be very busy, I just hope my invalids will be up for it! I'll tell you more next week!