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! 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Santa and Cthullu Cults

Dont let the title fool you, Santa is not a Lovecraftian creation! The contrast between my sisters life and my own is sometimes too amusing - read on to find out why!

It's that time of year where all the Christmas markets spring up and all the rehoming charities start fundraising again. The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home did their annual Santa Paws visit and I was pleased that the madness of life allowed me enough time to take Missy along and my mother came too. 

For a dog that hates Christmas, she really does enjoy the fuss and attention of these events. She got loads of cuddles and fussing and stared out several stall keepers in order to obtain biscuits (and even had those without biscuits apologising to me). Her Paddington stare, as we call it, has only intensified over the years! 

Missy did me well as always and was perfectly behaved for Father Christmas. He had a great big tin of gravy bones that he was being very liberal with so she happily sat up beside him and worked her charm on him. After being deemed the "best behaved dog of the day" we were all sent off with a sweet treat each. 
My mother was proud of such praise and I could only laugh that Missy had clearly pulled the wool over his eyes. But hey, I won't mention the squirrels if you don't!

We walked along the promenade afterwards and watched the sea attack the storm walls. It was a pleasant day, and we certainly caught the best of it, but I think the weather is going to turn again. 

On a completely different end if the spectrum, and a break from Christmas sewibg: Cultist Robes.

(Hat knitted by my sister for her crazy Cthullu Cultist weekend, which is outlined here). 

Long story short, my sister and brother in law batted their eyelashes at me for some cultist robes that would a) look cool but not like something horrendous from the KKK, b) not give them rashes like the polyester ones they could find online and c) not bake them alive, hence the felt and not fleece choice in material. 

I was more than happy to take the challenge and used this Fleece Fun pattern which I liked best. I was keen on a multiway design as I wanted more used from them than one weekend, and my sister and her family are always game for laugh and dressing up. I've been sent photos of my BIL playing a out in his with a lightsaber, so it's clearly the right choice! I also liked this pattern as my sister was going for a goat demon (hence the hat) with a thousand young and we had bandied about the idea of putting eyes inside the cloak. I wanted something she could easily swish open to show off said eyes - I didn't get 1000, but there are 30 sets of eyes on there! 

So that brings me full circle to what I found so humorous. She's off taking her children to a Cthullu themed party complete with bonfire and I'm taking my furbaby to see Santa Paws. I dont know why I think that's so funny, but it is!

Although I totally think Missy could have pulled off some kind of hellish Lovecraftian monster very well! I've listened to a few of the stories and they do give me the absolute heebie jeebies, so I may have to outsource to my sister on suggestions as to what horror might suit Missy best! 

Monday, 18 November 2019

An blast of a weekend

It's been a crazy weekend, but a good one, so I'll keep the post short! Basically, my Manchester based sister, brother in law and two of their random mates snuck up to Scotland for a Britcit nerf event. They went to a skatepark event on Friday and on the Saturday we all did iCombat.

It was a great day. Our team won the day overall and the 'rescue the Bob' game was a definite favourite! Good day all round. And plans are already being spun for next year! My sister posted a full summary here.

Missy was very much the centre of attention amongst our visitors. My sister had hammed up just how lovely she is and clearly expectations were met. The little tart (Missy that is) clearly enjoyed the non stop petting and endless supply of treats!

On the sewing front, I've started the mammoth task of the Christmas gift sewing. First on the completed list:

A quilt-come-sleeping bag for my eldest neice. At 14 it's hard to balance cute and grown up, so I hope it goes down well! 

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Looking for Vampires

So, on last weeks ghost walk, the story of William Henry Millar and his truly bizarre burial was brought to our attention. Buries in a lead lined coffin, in a shaft 40ft deep, was this man who had a huge collection of occult books afraid of grave robbers, of vampires or...was he a vampire himself?

Set in the middle of Craigintinny, near to Portobello, the Craigintinny Marbles, a 30ft tall monument, towers over the little council built bungalows and bowling green that surround it. There were  no information stands nearby, so I was glad I had done my homework before my mother and I went looking for it. Millar had requested to be buried away from the population of Edinburgh and, in the 1860s, this would have been farmland so it would have completely dominated the landscape. Whilst interesting, I was disappointed at the way it has mostly been ignored, like a large inconvenient rock, and built around. I felt it deserved perhaps a small grassy park and some trees, not a high fence and a car park.

Either way, it's an impressive monument, and it's peculiar situation fits the peculiar man it was made for. 

I had suspected it wouldn't be a long visit at the monument so had already organised that there would be a trip to the seaside. Portobello was only 5 minutes away and, despite the chilly day, there were plenty of dogs out walking their humans. I always love the visual juxtaposition of a blue sky and sand with people in wooly hats and thick coats. I don't know why, but it makes me smile.

Despite best attempts, I could not coax my mother into having an ice cream on the promenade and so we headed back to where I had parked the car. I have walked that beach a hundred times and lo and behold, yesterday was the first time I had noticed the absolutly ginormous pottery kiln, neatly tucked away behind some flats. 

Clearly a day for finding odd giant things in bizarre places! We detoured off and had a look at it (I had originally thought it was perhaps an old grain silo from when Portobello had a proper harbour, but the sign corrected us as to the rich history of pottery making in the area. News to me, but fascinating nonetheless.

I've been making Christmas the last few weeks and prepping an army of doggy bows and bandanas for a craft fair I have next weekend. Don't let the photos fool you, there has been so much Christmas fabric that I'm almost bored of the season and it hasn't even begun!
I've been putting together squeaky heart toys too, so will get a more festive photo later. Having lots of little things on the go at once has worked well as I can easily pick them up and put them down again, although I am looking forward to getting my teeth into a bigger project soon! 

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Spooky Fun

Missy had her Halloween party on Monday and I won't lie, it was an eagerly anticipated event! As it was organised by the same company that does Missys dog walking and classes (just about finished level 3, she doesn't need them, but we approve of anything that will mentally stimulate her) we knew that there would be dogs and people she knew.

So it was a party, that means games, right? Well, there was Dookin' for (gravy) bones, various Halloween themed agility toys and games for dog and owner to partake in. We came in second with the game were we had to have Missy perform a obedience trick (sit, stay, paw, beg (a work in progress), lie down, stay, touch, back up and, strangely enough for us, stand (we need to train her to stand on command so we can work on bow which is turning into a disaster, but I honestly don't mind, there are worse things than a dog that is over keen to sit and wait for a command!) and then we'd take a little sticker off the wall with different pictures having different values. 

Amongst the games, there was time for making some new friends, including the above whippet who, had we stayed any longer, my husband was going to put in the back of the car with Missy to steal as our own! The costumes on the dogs were great, we had a Halloween onsie on one dog, another painted up as a skeleton (most of it had rubbed off by the end of the night, so he was absolutely fine), harnesses decorated with devil wings and Missy went as a triceratops. She's clearly hit middle age and has done that odd thing  some men do were they seem to get broader, not put weight on, but just physically become more broad in the chest. Most of her costumes are a bit snug around her neck and chest, hubby thinks it's muscle from all the squirrel chasing and I'm forced to agree!

Yesterday was a bit of a different dog walk - we had a two hour ghost walk in Edinburgh with Thistle Knights Tours. They were great in responding to enquiries about which of their tours, if any, allowed dogs (the ones that go into the museum obviously aren't!) and I soon organised a puppy play date for Missy and Maisie together. My brother is game for anything really and we also invited my mother, who then invited her sister who then invited their other sister...
I will confess that I was annoyed that my play date had been comandeered by the three witches of McBeth (and I mean that as in they dressed up as witches. Without telling me it was now a fancy dress affair.) Mostly I was concerned it would be a bit pants (its a free tour, X Files Edinburgh, and you just tip at the end, so I was naturally dubious of the quality) and I would somehow be blamed for dragging them all out in the cold and rain. By this point in the week I'd had to scrape frost off the car 4 out of 5 mornings and then the last 24 hours were solid rain. I was a bit concerned it would be a literal wash out.

Of the 18 booked, we made 6 of the final 7 on the tour. And it was great, I shouldn't have been so worried. The rain had stopped but the dense cloud cover had brought the temperature up away from 0C and had also brought in a dense mist, perfect for ghost stories in a graveyard. At each point we got a choice of three stories, so we could make it as Spooky, gory or silly as we liked. I got to have a shot at dowsing and we made a very slow circuit from Greyfriars to the Canongate. The chap doing the tour was great and very quickly sussed out the nature of us all so didn't scrimp on offering us big laughs and gory details. Definitely a recommend for something a bit touristy in the capital!

I also finally got a picture of Missy with Greyfriars, it's normally far too busy to try. A group of Italian tourists watched in stunned silence as I had her neatly sit and stay, at which point it suddenly sounded as though this was the most adorable thing they had ever seen as a wave of "Awww" and other such sounds were made. Missy tarted herself out afterwards as they all then wanted to pet and cuddle her. She's a daft wee thing, honestly! 

Maisie was worn through after her first bus trip and the excitement of town. So we all headed home afterwards to a relatively early night. 

Not a bad wee week! 

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Seeking a Metaphorical Umbrella

So, that little proverb about it never raining but pouring kinda sums up the last week or so.

It all started so well. We had a murder mystery planned to kick start our mini-break away and the weather was forecast to be cold but fair. All looking good.

Then the hubbies work basically blew up and I barely saw him for a week. When I did he was either a zombie or cross at something someone hadn't done and left for him.

Missy added a cracked claw into the mix with her pulled muscle (which is now almost completely better, but we're still being careful).

My sister then dropped the really bad news that her hubby was possibly being made redundant and they didnt know if he was even getting paid this month (update, he got paid, but currently we don't know if the job is safe or not)

So, I felt Missy, the hubby and I really deserved a holiday to take a break from the chaos and take a chance to get ourselves re-centred before going back out and helping support the family again. Not a lot to ask, right?

Fate deemed otherwise.

We got an early call from the Brother-in-Law who had had surgery earlier this year. He had had some stomach pains for a few days and had written them off as a pulled muscle from overdoing things. His fiancee had finally bullied him to go to hospital.
Hubby explained that it was morning rush hour, he should just get a cab as by the time we got there, it would be more than an hour to the house and probably that again to the hospital. Keep us posted.

We get down to Dumfries and stop at our first port of call, Sweetheart Abbey. It was a cold clear day and the first thing we noted was scaffolding. The hard winter had damaged the foundations so you could only walk around it and not into the property. We both quizzed each other as to wether we had seen that written anywhere (it is mentioned on the website under opening hours, but not in the main text, so we had managed to miss that).
Still, it was a nice little place to wonder about, and we explored the graveyard (Missy found no ghosts that we could see, but got very excited in the long grass - hopefully it was just mice!) and then we found our way onto a field where we could then give her a bit of a proper walk.

Next we wandered around the village of New Abbey and found the New Abbey Corn Mill which ironically ground oats, not corn. The site itself doesn't allow dogs so, after quickly discussing it with the nice gentleman in the gift shop, we managed a whistle stop tour in just over half an hour whilst Missy had her lunch and a nap in the car. It was probably the highlight of the day and we really enjoyed the old building and the water wheel. The pond is infested with an aggressive plant so the mill isn't currently working, but there was a video you could watch of it in action which was a nice alternative.

We called the day quits and, after tea and scones in a quaint little cafe, found our Airbnb. Missy instantly hit it off with the hosts dog, Willow, and we found ourselves in the most eclectic little granny flat I have ever seen. Paintings of men playing the piano hung beside sketches of naked women, copper teapots sat on the windowsill behind the bed and there were books on every topic available, from bulldogs to rubber.
There was no signal so we notified everyone that we needed to be contacted online and had an update that the BIL had gotten a bed, so we assumed that meant he was at least being looked at and wasnt sat waiting to be seen still. No worries.

Morning. There were panicked text messages from my mother in law. Missed voicemails that I was unable to achieve enough signal to receive. Hubby had the same. After much panic and trying to balance around the small house we sent the hubby out to try and find signal and see what was going on.
BIL had an abscess on his intestines, was being flushed with morphine and antibiotics. Surgery may be required. MIL was coming down the next day on the bus and didn't know where she was staying. The morning was spent researching how to get to the hospital (he'd been moved to the Western General overnight) and where she was best staying. A thirty minute bus journey from my BILs house won over the 1 hour and 40 minutes it would take from mine and she decided she was not staying at mine.

We decided to scrap our plans of going to a lighthouse as we didn't fancy the 2 hour drive anymore and had lost most of the morning. Lochmaben was scoped as our nearest castle and, whilst we knew there wasnt much of it left, we were surprised at how little remained. Again, that pesky winter had destroyed foundations and we were unable to view or wander about most of it. There were signs for a lochside walk and we decided to give it a shot. 
It started off well. There was a nice boardwalk and a bird watching hut. Then a little fairy garden.  But no signs to say how long the walk was in terms of distance. After half an hour and barely making a dent in the circumference of the loch, we finally spotted a sign - it was a two hour walk. By this point we'd run out of random conversation and small talk and I just turned to my husband.
"Do you want to go home?"
"What? No, you deserve a nice holiday."
We are both bad for that. Making ourselves miserable to make others happy. I pointed that out and was countered with a very vague shrug.
"We're just trying to kill time, neither of us are actually enjoying it. Lets go home."
He conceded and agreed it was for the best. By the time we got back to the airbnb and had the car packed (I messaged the host to explain the situation), he seemed in a much better mood. We had both agreed it was better to sit about and be anxious in the comfort of our own home than it was to be stressing about no phone signal and that something may had come up.

I cant say we were very happy about the choice, it was meant to be our holiday away together having a nice time with Missy, but at the end of the day it was only one night we lost out on, the plan having been to come back the following day originally.
Its been a weird little week. I was kinda thankful to get back to work on Thursday for the normalcy of it all if nothing else. And thats really been it. We've fitted in lots of nice local walks, but the focus has been on being on hand if we were needed.

BIL is now on oral antibiotics, and provided he keeps them down and doesn't have a seizure (I had it explained that this was the most common side effect, so they had to wait just in case) should be out in a day or two.

And that's been it. As a family unit, we're fine, its just the world around us is in chaos. It seems to calming down again, but I'm now on anxious alert mode for more trouble.

Does anyone have a sturdy umbrella I can borrow, just in case?

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Dancing and Spooky fun

Its October and time for all things Spooky! Today's post is a little backwards as I'll start with Sunday first. 

I had my Manchester based sister and her family up for the weekend and, after a very late Saturday, we decided to check out the Halloween festivities at Almond Valley. They had a scary skeleton pie making diorama that was a little too scary for the six year old so Missy helped solve it instead. 

They have now introduced alpaca feeding as a paid for event at the farm and it was a delight to watch my neice and nephew get close to the animals. 

So, as I've already said, todays post is actually a litle backwards as Saturday was the main event - my mother's 60th birthday. She was in the loop for the whole thing and, after some stresses (like having to find a DJ last minute), it all came together perfectly. Everyone had a lovely time, we all saw people we hadn't seen in years and, most importantly, everyone behaved themselves and my mother loved it. 

It was a fancy dress affair of dancing through the decades and here is my ensemble - fully hand made following the vintage 40s pattern for Rosie the Riveter. I was surprised at how few people recognised it, but those who did thought it was brilliant. 
And of course I had on the red head scarf! 

Just a very short post, it's late and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep!