Sunday, 9 May 2021

An Odd Week

The weather has been frightful this week. Snow, sleet and giant hailstones. Stormy winds and lashing rain. Bright sunshine and clear blue skies.
All in one day, in some cases!

So it's been a relatively quiet week. She saw the polling station twice (and was thoroughly unimpressed at the lack of canine representation on the ballot paper) and from there its been business as usual. She's also collecting ouchies this week, we have an ear infection (trying to syringe her ear twice daily is not fun) and a cracked pad (so washing the paw twice daily and short walks on grass). Poor thing doesn't know what's hit her, she hates all this fussing!

There's been plenty of cuddles and TLC however, so she is quite happy (between ear cleans and pawdicures).

Been busy getting on with crafts, I murdered my second sewing machine (just as its warranty expired!) so decided to invest in a heavy duty one. Its a juggernaut, but I love it already as its weight easily stands up against the pull of my larger projects.

Whilst not my current quilt, I can finally show off this beauty which was a very late Christmas gift to my sister! 

Just a short one this week, gotta keep Missy well rested - we had some really grand adventures getting lined up this year, so she needs to be in good shape for them! 

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Lowther Castle

The border is officially open and today marked the great border dash, and a brand new adventure for all of us: Lowther Castle. Not only was it a new adventure, but I got to see my sister for the first time in 8 months, the castle being a perfect 2 hour drive for us both - ideal for day tripping. 

I shall be quick: whilst we managed to refrain from tears, it was a close call. My emotional cup is full, her cup is full and everything in the world looks a bit brighter and I'm feeling more optimistic for the future. Now, onto the day;

Lowther Castle is an odd attraction, built in the 19th Century and demolished in the 1950s, it was left desolate for years. Then it was transformed. There is something for everyone, ruins, gardens within gardens, wildlife aplenty and, a big hit with the kids, one of the biggest adventure playgrounds I have ever seen. With the exception of the adventure playground, dogs are permitted across the site (and being honest, Missy would not have wanted to step a paw amongst the bustling children - strolling through rock gardens and endless rows of daffodils are far more her style). I always find it interesting how differently I look at a place when I go with neices and nephews (7 and 3 in this case) - ordinarily we wouldn't have ventured near the playground, but here we were taking turns to frantically chase a giggling child determined to find every zip wire and slide. 

Due to Covid, the exhibition about the castle was shut, as was the shop and the cafe was doing take away only. They also asked we only have one adult per child in the playground. All of which was fair enough - the outside tables were plenty and most had umbrellas up (although we were fortunate that the weather was dry).

Outside of the playground (by far the most popular thing for the kids) there was plenty to see and do around the gardens. Each area has a unique feel, from wildflower meadows, an avenue of tree swings, stone gardens and finely cultivated rose gardens. Ponds and fountains, weird and wonderful statues and ornate stair cases that led to nowhere. Before we knew it, we had burned through 4 hours and exhausted both kids. 

If we had been staying locally (and I've pencilled it in for a revisit on my next lakes holiday) we would have ventured across the wider estate where there was more ruins and folk were out enjoying the bank holiday weekend on bikes. I could have easily spent an entire day there. However, there was a 2 hour drive home to go and my hubby was exhausted from his first proper week back at work. 

It's been a good week all told, a few dog walks with my brother who had some annual leave and, despite being tired, hubby has been in a better place too. Here's hoping for a better run for the rest of the year! 

Sunday, 25 April 2021

Going with the Tide

It's been a hectic few weeks with the lockdown restrictions easing across Scotland - it feels almost like a second Christmas I've had so many gifts to drop off!

This weather this weekend couldn't have been better for outdoor meets. Sunny and bright but with a brisk breeze, perfect for long walks. And we have walked a lot this weekend: firstly a proper catch up with one of my friends in Edinburgh as we rambled around the Water of Leith and the canal before stopping for lunch (the biggest bacon and egg roll you've ever seen, and a very nice raspberry brownie). Although we've kept on contact online, it was nice to be out and just enjoying the morning. We're hoping to get to Perth next month and then we three (4, we must include Missy) girls can have a proper catch up. 

After that, we parted ways and I stopped in to see my mum and eldest neice. My brother had popped round too, so Missy and Maisie enjoyed some doggy sunbathing together. It was good to catch up with my neice without her mother about, she's now 16 and her interests and hopes for the future have begun to deviate from the path her mother wants, so it was good to see what she's thinking and give her some advice from my own experiences of school and beyond. After my brother headed off, we went for a short walk and Missy was more than ready for bed.

Hubby is back in work now and, whilst he's rightly anxious about Monday, it's been good for him to have a solid purpose again. He was starting to get frustrated with the world, so I'm pleased things are becoming more normal again. With hubby going back to work, I suggested we took the opportunity to get up to Dundee to see an old friend of his that we haven't seen since the New Year that we welcomed in 2020.

We decided to go to Broughty Ferry and walk the beach before the bathing season kicks in and dogs aren't permitted on it. Missy isn't much of a beach dog, and her favourite part of the day was the very short walk through the nature reserve. It was really nice to see our friend in person - he's previously struggled with his mental health, so it was good to actually see him and know that he's doing OK.

Broughty Ferry also means Visocchis Ice Cream, and, walking along the promenade in good company, seeing hubby truly happy whilst Missy and I trailed behind and enjoyed the sun, the world feels like it's coming back to rights.

I shan't say too much, lest I jinx things, but the trend of good meets and long awaited get togethers are set to continue through the May day weekend. So, I'll raise an ice cream to the slow unlock, the long awaited get togethers, and here's hoping we don't have to do it again.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Seeking UFOs in Dechmont

Its been a quick week. Firstly, allow me to introduce Missys new siblings:

Meet Rowntree, Cadbury and Fry (L-R). They are not the whim they seem to be as hubby and I have discussed keeping birds for years and, looking into ideas for my eldest nephew who has decided he wants a pet, I found these three seeking a new home. They were with the SSPCA and their previous owner had passed away.

Its no secret that the SSPCA is bursting at the seams with unwanted animals, but I was still shocked at the speed we got these guys. I filled in the application Monday (kudos to the SSPCA, the questionnaire was very focused on life after covid, they don't want these poor animals coming back) and two hours later they called asking for a letter saying the vets were able to accept them and that they wanted to see a video of the set up. So, I purchased the cage and emailed the vets.

Tuesday we got the OK from the vets. Wednesday the cage arrived and we assembled it (its a flight cage, I was panicking it wasn't big enough for three budgies but, seeing the boys in it, realise my fear was completely unfounded). Thursday morning I sent the video in and at 10.30, half an hour after the rehoming office opened, we were officially approved and could we take them today? 3.30pm and they were in the cage, startled and a bit bewildered, but safe.

Missy on Thursday was obsessed. She watched them with great interest, although not in a predatory way - I've seen her stalk enough rabbits and squirrels to know when that instinct has come to play. Anf on Friday she couldn't care less, choosing to sunbathe in the window rather than see them. An arrangement that suits me fine. They sit in my office with me and have already delighted half my colleagues with their chirping. Once they are out of their shells a little bit, expect more updates on them!

And a note on names, yes, chocolates. Not just chocolates, but the original British Quaker families who I consider the founding fathers of chocolate as we know it. 

In other news, I couldnt risk Missy feeling left out, and so we scoped out some new and interesting walks. We had visited a friend who I needed to measure up for a waistcoat (goodness knows what his neighbours thought, us all in masks in the garden and me with a measuring tape!) who recommended the UFO walk. I've been in West Lothian almost 8 years now and had never heard of it - proof that you never know every secret in your area!

The Dechmont UFO walk was the perfect way to start the day this morning. The story goes that, on November 9th, 1979, Robert Taylor, a forestry worker, walked along a forest path up the side of Dechmont Law with his dog. He reported seeing what a "flying dome" above the forest floor in a clearing about 500m away from his truck. He was then seized by small spheres that dragged him away until he lost consciousness. Sceptics think it was an epileptic seizure, but lets not let that get in the way of a good story.

Regardless of the history of the area, it was a lovely woodland walk - just the kind of place that Missys like best. It was good to see her running ahead of us and sniffing out rabbits. We didn't climb Dechmont Law, deciding to save that for another day, and have added it to the roster of local walks to do with friends and family.

Its just begun to snow. It feels more early March than near mid April!

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Restarting Adventure

With lifting restrictions and the start of better weather, some old favourites are starting to reopen. This week, Jupiter Artland opened its doors and we booked ourselves an Easter walk amongst the peices of artwork.
With news that the pool, which had been closed last year for refurbishment was open again, we were keen to check out a part of the site we hadn't seen before. Apparently they are hoping to open it for swimming sessions this summer - which I will admit, we're sorely tempted to do (unfortunately without Missy, I don't think she'll be allowed in the pool and, to be honest, the gently lapping water would probably be a version of hell for her as she hates water).
I won't lie, it was absolutely delightful to walk somewhere I hadn't stepped foot on in 6 months. The adventures are back up and running (scaled back, of course).

Asides from that, it's been a very busy little week. It was back to work on Monday (so many emails), a lot of various odd jobs that needed doing, and then yesterday we built ourselves a new greenhouse (polycarbonate, but a big improvment from the old one which was basically a tent!) so very excited as to what I manage to get growing this year.

From there, craft wise, its been pushing along with the usual big projects and also a bit of Easter themed baking.

White chocolate and mini egg fudge (and cream egg tiffin). First time making the fudge (super easy, here's the recipe) and I was very pleased with how it turned out, both visually and taste.

A short update today, we're making the most of celebrating the weekend to break the monotony of hubbies furlough. Don't eat all your chocolate at once! 

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Another's Odd Week

I've been on leave again this week and, whilst the weather hasn't been as nice, it's been a busy little week all the same. We've made an effort to get out walking in some more interesting places and I've made a dent on my sewing and other crafts.

The #mindfulmarch photo challenge has been ticking away in the background and, 4 weeks in, I'm pleased I've managed to post each day. "Motivation" was probably my fav to set up, mostly because I think wristwarmers for dogs should be a thing, even if Missy isn't so sure!

We did a new walk this week, starting at the Falkirk Wheel and walking to the Kelpies and back again. Missy absolutely made some toddlers day at the Kelpies as, during her obligatory photo with the horses, I could hear delighted cries of "look at the doggy! It's having its picture taken!"
Whilst I'm pleased we did the 8 mile walk, I wouldn't particularly recommend it; unless back-of-industrial estate canal is your kind of walk. We had a weird one where we were stopped by a lady who's 7 month old Westie had been allowed off lead and wouldn't return to her. She'd been trying to catch him for an hour and was absolutely wind bunt and frozen to the bone. Hubby and I were more than happy to help, but I was honestly shocked tmby the number of folk who completely ignored her pleas for help. We did manage to corral the pup and, 30 minutes later, he was caught and back on the lead (I suspect permanently). 

Our other big walk was another 8 miles, doing a repeat of the Bo'ness to Blackness walk. We met with our friend who lives in Bo'ness and gave a puppy play date a go. Lily, like Missy, is an ex-rescue who likes other dogs but is totally over this bouncing on each other thing. She seemed delighted to meet another dog who was passively interested in her and they took turns to casually sniff the other before going on thier adventure.
Rescued from the roadside in Serbia, Lily is definitely part terrier and she was content to sniff everything and everyone. Both dogs trotted alongside each other for the bulk of the walk and seemed rather pleased about the arrangement, so I imagine more play dates will occur in the future. 

Pleased to report that both dogs are totally tuckered out in thier respective homes!

Sewing wise I've done rather well in squaring off odds and ends with projects and getting things tidied away. I'm particularly pleased with this baby quilt and matching tote I made for a friend who's expecting. There will be a matching cross stitch, but I have a few months still before that needs finishing!
Gender is unknown and being kept a surprise, so I kept it neutral with nice greys and a lovely mint green. I find Dumbo to be a neutral character too, so either way the baby should get some use out of the quilt.

Hope your all doing well and staying safe, till next week. 

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Spring is in the Air

Its been a strange week for me - I had to use up some annual leave or I'd have lost the days. Ordinarily that would have meant a wee trip up north to see the in-laws, or south to see my sister, or a staycation somewhere random and dog friendly but in these times of covid, that's meant more free time in the same 4 walls of the house.

To add salt to the wound, these two weeks (I also have next week off) were meant to have been reserved for a holiday in Florida. Thank goodness we had the sense to not book anything last year, but regardless, I have found myself a few times lamenting over foreign holidays past and where we may go in the future (I think Japan may be revisited as our next big foreign break, they seem to have everything in order and I only had time to do one of the two Disney parks when we went last time, although we did sit down and have a serious chat and, realistically, I think it will be 2023 before we go abroad again).

So, what have I been doing? Mostly the garden. There is now a new baby hedge in the front garden (hedge I say, its mostly a small wall of sticks) and the planters have been topped up with fresh compost and the seeds planted in the greenhouse. The waiting game has begun. Hubby was laughing when I dug out the spare calendar (they're like buses, some years no one buys you one, and then others you get three of them) and marked on it what seeds were to be planted each month, what would be ready to pick each month and a sketch of the planter rotation, but I think he's secretly impressed at the pedantic organisation.

Theres been lots of local walks, kite flying on the beach and, with the meeting up restrictions moving to 4 people in a group, we've got out to see some friends on dog walks. I managed to catch up with my brother at Almondell Country Park today and Missy and Maisie had a great time together. Missy can often take or leave the company of other dogs (she's clearly the cool aloof loner type), but Maisie is very sociable (I like to think of her as an overexcited cheerleader with an underbite) and this lockdown has been hard on her.

Not that she would pose for me in the daffodils! One day I will get a nice photo of them together.

With the warmer weather, spring has definitely been in the air and its got me out of my crafts rut and I made a new garland for the window - the rabbits I cut from felt myself, but the little flowers are ancient and have been kicking about the bottom of a drawer for ages now. Does it count as spring cleaning when its turned into spring crafts?