Monday, 25 June 2018

Fun in the Sun

With the thermometer set to hit 22C at the weekend, we decided we had to go out for a day at the beach...and at the same time tick off a few more on our Historic Scotland to-do list.

We started by going up to Arbroath and getting the Abbey ticked off. It was apparent from the start though that it was going to be one of those days: we were late setting off and then we lost Missys lead on the walk before going into the Abbey. We literally think someone lifted it as we'd left it on a large stone whilst getting bags sorted and it wasn't there when we ran back to get it. Fortunately I had packed a spare lead, but seeing as it was a really nice good quality bungee we'd lost I wasn't very happy. Well, it will teach us for next time not to rush about.

The Abbey itself is a beautiful ruin, it's a distinctive red sandstone that had weathered eerily. I prefer my castles to abbeys and cathedrals (more back stabbing and bloodshed) but we still managed to fill in a few hours wandering about the grounds and having lunch in the sunshine.
Highlights were the lego exhibition (bizarrely enough!) - the underwater scene was my favourite one but there was loads of little cityscapes and monuments made from lego. We also found a tower with some incredible acoustics where they kept the lunatics, and Missy only got one question wrong on her quiz sheet, so we were pleased to walk away with a sticker.

An ocean of Lego
It was about half one by this point and we weren't sure what to do as we were both tired and it was very warm. Very glad we did push on with the day!
Initially it looked like another disaster - we were going to do St Andrews Castle, only to discover it wasn't dog friendly. It didn't have a roof (the usual telling point that it is dog friendly) and the website hadn't specifically stated no dogs (although further inspection shows they do have the symbol there, it just wasn't that obvious when your in a hurry, although, again, they normally explicitly say). 

At the Cathedral
Nonetheless, a quick search and we discovered St Marys was dog friendly and we decided to have a gander about that. Then it came to the Cathedral - talk about conflicting information! The sign said no dogs, but it was full of dogs. Even the website says dogs must be on a lead, followed by no dogs allowed. We took it to mean that she was allowed on the grounds (where all the other dogs were) but not into the visitors centre or up the remaining tower which was ticketed. No one seemed to mind and we felt a sense of achievement at another site getting ticked off the list. Then off to the beach!

Missy is funny about water. She's getting braver in her old age and will sometimes step into it, but she's never shown any inclination to wanting to swim and play in water. Because of that, we'd never done a 'proper' beach with her before (mud flats and rocky shorelines don't count as proper beaches!) so we were curious to see what she would make of us wading in the water. The end result was hilarious - she kept running away from the waves and kept trying to coax the other dogs onto the sand flats to play instead of in the water.

A woodland dog, through and through, our Missy, although she did have fun and the water was a good idea to help her keep cool. We finished the day with fish and chips by the band stand watching people play and swim in the sea, and the aquarium was kind enough to refill Missys water bottle with tap water for us, so I picked up some ice creams from the gift shop and we had another wonder down the beach.

So, despite not going to plan, we did have a wonderful day. Missy was shattered and happily spent the rest of the evening having cuddles on the sofa and, though we wouldn't do an entirely beach holiday with her, we're more confident about adding beaches into our future staycation plans. We may make a water dog of her yet!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Arthurs Ambles

A lot to talk about this weekend! Firstly, with storm Hector in full swing on Saturday, Missy and I spent a ridiculous amount if the day drying off in our dressing gowns. We managed to avoid the worst of the rain, but still managed to get soaked through twice. With the weather insisting we have a chilled out day together, I decided to get the sewing machine out (see bottom of post).

Sunday I'd organised with a friend to do the Arthur's Amble - Historic Scotland do free walks about Arthur's Seat and occasionally do one that is specifically for dogs too. So we turned up and were surprised to discover that everyone else booked on the tour had cancelled that morning owing to the poor weather the day before. But it was OK, we were quickly informed, there was the longer walk - Arthur's Adventure, and they would just check if everyone on it was happy to have a dog join. Lo and behold, three other dogs were already on the walk, the owners had booked not realising that it wasn't meant to be dog friendly, so we were more than welcome to join in.

It was a good group, everyone was really chatty and the dogs were soon off the lead to get to run and play, clearly ignoring their history lessons! The walk covered the geographical history of Arthurs Seat, as well as the human history from what we know of the early settlers 3000 years ago to the Kings and Queens of the 1800s. And of course everyone's favourite unsolved mystery of the landmark, the tiny coffins.

Getting home, I had a surprise. The caterpillar we adopted back in August (and I have just realised now I never wrote about) and had overwintered as a pupae, finally hatched! Quick back track, my youngest niece was keeping a caterpillar and my oldest niece decided to join in and, after finding this chap, I had too join in as well. The youngest niece ended up putting hers outside as the cats wouldn't leave it be, and I don't know whats happened to the other one...
So, firstly, Absolem as a caterpillar:

We knew Absolem was an elephant hawk moth when he was a caterpillar owing to those magnificent 'eyes' he had, but even so, the hubby and I were stunned at the colours of the pretty little moth. I immediately took him outside for a little photo-shoot and then left him be, he is after-all a wild moth, and I would love to have more in my garden. Although I won't be keeping them in the house again, he ate a phenomenal amount as a caterpillar!

Lastly, I finished my sewing project and I am a terrible person.
A truly terrible person.
Meet my tricera-dog!

I'd make it slightly differently next time, the hood is designed for a toy dog so is a bit too upright for her, so next time I'd change it to the more hound shaped hood I used for her bathrobe. However, I like the fit on the body, so will merge the two patterns. It will certainly make her next Halloween costume easier to make!

And of course I need to stress that she had tons of treats for sitting nicely in the costume, and had it on for about five minutes. Quick and easy, fun and stress free, the most important elements of a photo shoot!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Meet the Cousin!

Just a short post, but I can guarantee lots of cuteness! This weekend we went to Liverpool to meet up with some good friends and Missys new cousin, Ren. A Shiba Inu at four months old, he's a wee bundle of fluffy squish!

Missy is great with puppies, something I've seen first hand and I've had reported to me from the dog walkers who use her with the new puppies who haven't learned play etiquette. She's happy to put other dogs in their place with a growl and, when her temper wears thin, a warning shunt and a bark, but wont bite. It was quite interesting to see Ren learn his manners, on Friday he was essentially trying to climb on her face or hump her every nano second (which is totally normal with puppies) and by this morning he had figured out his play bow and was goading her to play by patting at her feet and generally being a little goofball beside her.
A big improvement! 

Thick as Thieves!
Whilst the dogs hung out and played, we did much the same, playing board games and generally catching up. Since he's so little, we kept things local and tried a dog friendly vegan/vegetarian cafe, which was surprisingly nice (especially as the hubby is the sort who expects a piece of an animal with every meal!). The staff were enamoured with both dogs and we got chatting with the other customers. It was an interesting experience to see as Missy was rather overlooked for Ren, but she took it in her stride and put her attention into befriending the table beside us with her doleful eyes and good manners. The hard effort didn't pay off as they didn't share their doughnuts with her, but she did get plenty of pats and lots of compliments.

No squirrels harmed!....This time....
There's a few nice parks in the area, so Missy was not short on squirrels to chase and got plenty of opportunity to play and run. Shiba Inu's aren't allowed off the lead at any age owing to the fact that they just have no recall ability, so Missy got to play her favourite game of 'Maypole' whereby she has a dog chase and we all get wrapped up in the lead! With the weather being great we mostly spent time in the garden and it's been really good for both dogs. Both are absolutely knackered, which I always take to be a great success on a visit! It was brief but good fun, and I rather think that Ren was sorry to see us leave!

Monday, 4 June 2018

Revisiting Castles

We've previously done Tantallon and Dirleton Castle before, and revisited them this weekend as part of my brothers birthday celebration. He purchased a Historic Scotland pass last year and is now working on getting all the castles in the central belt ticked off the list, so doing these two together seemed like a great idea.

The har almost hid Bass Rock from us
We had a panic about the weather as there had been lightning storms forecast for the weekend and then heavy rain was predicted for the day, so had made a back up option for the Seabird Centre (which I have only discovered now is dog friendly, so expect to see that in the future!) but thankfully the weather pulled through for us. We had some stunning har when we first arrived but it blew over in about 20 minutes to reveal a beautiful day.

Lunch was called for whilst in Tantallon, which was the first castle we did, and we enjoyed a picnic in a lovely sunny spot in the courtyard before moving onto Dirleton where we managed to catch the bulk of a 'Men at Arms' talk about medieval weaponry and life which was incredibly interesting (even though the thought of hurling burning piglet carcasses at the enemy was a bit revolting!). The chap running the show was great and did photos afterwards, my mum wanted a shot with him and, upon my request to pretend he was stabbing her, we got a terrific photo. Good times!
And then back to my mums for cake and take away - a very good ending for the day!

The weekend was finished with visiting friends in town. I had a moment of panic about whether Missy would be allowed on the replacement bus, but there was no problem at all. I popped over to the Meadows Festival as I had time to kill and we saw popped over to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat home stall and chatted away to the staff. Missy also found the fire brigade stand and decided that she was going to go and have cuddles there, so I had to make small talk in order to keep the dog happy!

I met up with my friends at the Holyrood 9a and their twins, now 4, are at that fantastic age where they can actually talk, and it's all sweet ramblings. Both are enamoured with Missy who, as I've said before, is very good with small kids. We then managed a walk around the 'mountain' (Arthurs Seat) and went looking for trolls in the hedges. After that we went back to theirs and the hubby joined us for dinner after work and we all stayed up far too late.
Tired today, but absolutely worth it!