Monday, 28 November 2016

Advent is upon us

Well, that may sound a touch more gloomy than it meant to...

The Christmas songs have started, lights are appearing in the gardens around the estate and I've bought the advent calendars for us all (I'm so happy that Wainwright do biscuit ones, Missy isn't allowed dairy so its always a bit of a struggle to get one for her!). I've also been ploughing on with my Christmas crafts.

I would show off a lot more of the bits I've made, but just as my sis (and knitter extraordinaire) has been lamenting, it would spoil the surprise for a lot of people! So here is one of the peices I can show off:
For my eldest neice - she wanted a dress that was both sparkly and purple. I promise that here is much more sparkle in real life, the camera really doesn't do it justice! As she is at the awkward cusp-of-tweenhood age, I really tried to make something that would appeal just as much to a young teen as it does to her sparkle-obsessed current self. (I kid you not, I've seen the sassy eye rolls and pouts and sighs, any day now and those hormones are gonna hit her hard, and anyone else in a subsequent 20 mile radius!)

My other big craft project is for Missy and some of the doggy relatives in the family. She had a giant of a vizla for a daft old uncle (I stress the daft in that comment) and a little tiny King Charles for a cousin and the plan is to make bathrobes for them all. I made one for Missy a while back, and I can safely say it is the most useful thing I have ever made - she's one of those dogs that stays damp for hours no matter how much you towel her. Now I just wipe the mud off, pop the bathrobe on and let her sleep on her pillow by the radiator and no harm done to anyone!

I've even modified it into a little fleecy pyjama set for her! The nights are getting very cold (its set to hit -5C this week) so she needs a little something to help stay warm at the moment.

Well, hopefully I'll fit in a nice interesting walk or two and post again soon! 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Craigmillar Castle

This is actually a take-two for this castle. Last time I tried to go to this one, it was shut for renovations! But nonetheless, Craigmillar Castle is finally off the hit list!

Deemed a 'romantic ruin', this castle is regarded as one of the best preserved castles in Scotland. Tucked away behind a hospital and a housing estate, it literally pops up out of nowhere when your trying to find it. 

A 10k was underway in the large field/forest area beside the castle, so we decided to just go straight in and do a proper walk afterwards. The hubby picked up the kids quiz and we were off. As it was one of those very cold still days, there was only a handful of other people in the castle, and for the most part we had it to ourselves. Missy has become a master of the spiral staircase and, with it being so quiet, we simply let her off the lead to come up and down (one of us went ahead first, so she was never left unattended).

The big historical draw for this castle is that Mary Queen of Scots visited here, and this was where the "Craigmillar Bond" (a pact made by her close followers to murder her husband, Lord Darnley) was written up and signed - with or without her knowledge, no one knows for sure. The coop was successful, although it proved to be the start of the slippery slope that led to her execution.

Once we were done in the castle, we took Missy for a walk along the grounds. The race was still going (the men where now running, the ladies who we originally saw having finished) and we did our best to keep out the way. I cant say the same for Missy - whilst she wont chase runners, she seems to delight in taking up as much of the path as possible and wagging her tail at them! 

After that the day was pretty much done - I must confess that I am terribly looking forward to spring and the days getting longer again!

In other news, the first batch of baby plecos have been rehomed and I'm now growing the next batch on a little more. As I suspected, the adult plecos in the main tank have decided not to use the lovely pots I've given them and proving more difficult than ever to spot! My Christmas sewing list is slowly being worked through - hopefully I can get some photos up soon of the non-spoilers!

Till next time!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Antonine Wall

Well, the nights are drawing in and the days are starting late, autumn seems to be swiftly passing into winter - complete with a snow warning in place over the next two days (which hopefully will come to nothing). 

We decided that we wanted to fit in a few 'bumper' walks for Missy as (thankfully) she dislikes miserable weather just as much as I do. I had been looking about on the Scottish Heritage website and spotted the Antonine wall. Its the less famous cousin to Hadrian's, and is perhaps less a wall and more a very deep trench and turf mound.

The "Wall"
Despite the low impact visual of the area, there was plenty of information about the fort stationed there and its history. We were at the Falkirk side of the wall (at 37 miles, there was never any thought of trying to walk it all) where the Rough Castle Fort used to be. Interestingly, it was manned by the Nervii, a Belgic tribe who were conquered by the Romans and held in high regard - we had a good giggle at the Asterix cartoon that Historic Scotland used for describing them!

As an aside, to access this part of the wall, you park at the Falkirk Wheel and then walk over to it. I plan on revisiting the wheel in the warmer weather (after 3 hours wandering all around the Fort and the wall, even Missy was ready to call it a day), so will do a more in depth post later, but it certainly looks like a good day out for the whole family! Perhaps an Easter doggy play date...

I wonder if the Romans had wellies...

Monday, 31 October 2016


Halloween is coming, the geese are getting fat!
Please put a penny in the aulds mans hat!

Perhaps one of my favourite times of year, Autumn has truly settled in, everything is red and gold and the weather is still just mil enough to be pleasant for a dog walk.

Missy is a pirate this year (as she was last year) and has been delighting all the trick or treaters that come to the door. Although she's starting to have had enough with all the getting up and down! This year I've modified an actual kids Halloween costume as I have found absolutely nothing for a dog her size - come on pet companies, people with medium to large breeds want to dress up their pups too! All I could find were chihuahua size costumes....

Enough grumbling! I've gone for Pokemon pumpkins this year (I perhaps have too much time on my hands!) and so far one kid has correctly identified team Mystic (L) and team Instinct (R) and I congratulated him with an extra lollipop. 

After hearing that 70% of pumpkins grown aren't actually eaten, I felt shamed enough to do some baking with the pumpkin pieces and innards. I blended the pumpkin into a puree and made cupcakes (for humans), a loaf cake and then Missy of course got some cupcakes made for her! I adapted this recipe and substituted the banana for 4oz of pumpkin mulch. 
As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of pumpkin anything. I was brave and did try a slice of the loaf cake and have to sadly concede that my tastes have not changed, and sent the hubby of to work with the cupcakes (he's going to finish the loaf cake!). Missy loves her cakes and, as pumpkin is super high in vitamin A, I've frozen most of them and she's getting them as a special treat now and again.
I made myself some flapjack, and made sure it wasn't contaminated with the pumpkin! Perhaps next year I may try again...

As a final update, Plec-Gate is still ongoing. I've had two definite sets of eggs, and the babies themselves look to be in possibly 3 age categories. I've finally set up my nursery tank and mnaged to one-by-one, catch 36 babies out of the main tank! They're now safely away to themselves, and I'm concentrating on getting them grown on a bit more before taking them to the pet shop.
Although, I'm rather liking the second tank being set up...

Happy Halloween! 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Bothwell Castle

We've been desperately trying to enjoy the last of the nice weather, and also squeeze in all those obligation family visits before the mania that is the Christmas season begins! My hubby works in retail, so this really is the last stretch of time that we'll see each other before our lives dissolve into ships passing in the night.

I have family out in the Glasgow area so we decided to squeeze this fabulous castle in on the way home and give Missy a chance to stretch her paws and run off all the custard creams she'd been fed (even though I had provided Missy-safe biscuits, it was insisted upon that she should have a custard cream - even at a diminutive 4'11'' inches, I am too terrified of my grandmother to argue!). 

Anyway, back to the castle. Bothwell wasn't too difficult to find and, being a keystone castle back in the early independence wars with England, bears its battle scars with pride. As the tourist season is truly over, we were allowed to break the dogs on lead rule which made the spiral staircases somewhat less challenging!

The grounds of the castle look like the local dog walk and we saw a lot of collies and such. After a good little run we went into the little village we had originally driven through and enjoyed a very late lunch out in the sun.

The last of the good weather!

Well, that's all for now, just a short post today! Till next time.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Lake District

So that's us not long back from our week away in the  - I've posted before about how wonderfully dog friendly the area is and we were not disappointed a second time!

I wont witter away for too long, so here are the highlights!

Our first port of call was in Ulverston (about 40 minutes from where we were staying) to the Laurel and Hardy Museum. Its completely dog friendly and goes over the life of Stan Laurel who was born in the village. There is a little bit about Hardy too and there is a cinema screen constantly playing the movies. The chap who runs the place (his grandfather founded it) was very chatty and full of interesting facts. A definite recommend! 
We then went to the nearby Buddhist temple and took Missy on a nice walk along the 'beach'. We had planned on stopping at the Stott Bobbin Mill, but fortunately I noticed when putting in the postcode that as it was off-season, it happened to be shut the Tuesday.

Wednesday we did a cruise with Windermere Lake Cruises and did the green walkers route, which picked us up at Brockhole, took us to Ambleside (we found an amazing pet shop there and got Missy a new collar and a lovely tea shop) and then to Wray Castle. We had planned on walking out to the newly built view point but hadn't realised it would be a 6 mile round walk (next time we'll do it!). We had a theatre show booked for the evening, so instead did a 3 mile walk to a lovely old barn house that was another viewpoint. 
The show that we saw was "Meeting Mrs Bea" at the recently built Old Laundry House theatre. It was about Beatrix Potters later years as Mrs Helis when she had become an accomplished sheep farmer and had given up on writing stories - I wont say more than that, but if it tours by, or you can find the original radio play its based on, its well worth a watch.

Thursday was a busy day! We started out by hunting down the locally infamous orange sheep and enjoying a walk around Troutbeck which is were we were based for the holiday. The sheep did not disappoint and are much more orange in real life than either photo or video shows!

We then took Missy out on a row boat and, whilst unsure at first, she quickly settled into it all, even risking a damp nose and peeking into the water a few times! Whilst Missy is an incredibly strong swimmer, she stoically makes a beeline to shore and does not enjoy the experience in the slightest , so we had no worry or concern that she would jump into the lake (living by a river that flows very strongly after rain, we did test that she could in fact swim not long after getting her, whilst she would allow me to carry her into the water, she did not venture in on her own free will!).

Our last day was going home through Keswick. The Pencil Museum was sadly closed for refurbishment, but we found some nice shops and a lovely little cafe to enjoy our last day in.

Its now Sunday and Missy is still quite tired from her adventures, and we're already planning the next one! Till next time!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Stockley Farm

It was my niece Felix's 3rd birthday party on Saturday and we decided we would travel down for it and start our Lakes holiday off with a bang. The party was held at Stockley Farm as it was deemed an easy location and was relatively cheap for a whole day. By pure coincidence, its also incredibly dog friendly - there was an old trip adviser review stating that dogs weren't allowed most places, so I emailed the place who informed me the policy had since changed and they were welcome everywhere so long as they were well behaved.

I would add photos of the birthday girl, but alas, my sister (the mum) doesn't particularly like the idea of said child appearing online, which is fair enough, so I will just spam you all with more photos of my (fur)baby!

It was a great day out - there was meet the ponies, a great big indoor bouncy castle and sand area, and a great big outdoor play area too. We found a pig who was desperately trying to escape, a goat with a bucket on its head and a lovely nature trail handily marked with very large red triangles - perfect to let a three year old think they're leading the way for us all! At this point we squeezed in a picnic and sung happy birthday and Felix got to blow out her candles.

The only thing that wasn't dog friendly was the owl show. The woman running the event came over and was very good about the fact that Missy would upset the owls and pointed out a screened area where the hubby could still watch the show and the owls would be happy. It was a very scaled back show that was really more of a 'here's a barn owl, line up kids and maybe you can hold one' kind of affair and unfortunately my niece is minuscule for three years of age and wasn't keen on pushing in on the press of excited children!

The little red rocket!
By this point the birthday girl was fairly tuckered out, so we finished the day with the sheep racing. You could bid on a sheep to win (you bought a numbered badge for 50p) and in order to ensure both family's won something, the hubby bought all the badges for both races (8 in all) and divided it up. By great coincidence, the birthday girl herself won and so did I - although I decided Missy suited the rosette far more than I did! All in all, a great day had by all!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Little Baby Plecos


Well, In addition to Missy I keep fish - currently just the one tropical tank (I had to downscale having previously run two) and its a 240L, which unless I can get something custom made, is the biggest I can have in the house!

A few weeks ago I noticed that my bristlenose plecs were acting pretty weird, but decided to leave them be as they looked healthy and it was fun to watch them digging and burrowing about all the bog wood. Then the hubby spotted one of these:

A teeny tiny baby! Less than 5mm long.
And then I spotted all of these!:
Yes, all those yellow things are eggs, and Daddy is guarding them!
And now they've all hatched. They're too small to take out into a nursery tank, so we've had to leave them to fend for themselves. We'd always set the tank up to be as anti baby as possible - plecs and corries to eat the eggs, congo tetras and butterfly fish to eat any small offspring. The plan backfired when the plecs guard their eggs, and then, since they are plecs, they never leave the bottom of the tank, the other fish haven't really eaten them...
Currently I can spot usually 8-10 babies at any one time, last night I got 16, so goodness knows how many there are going to be! The plan is to hand them into the local aquatic store once they get big enough to fish out (no pun intended), but I will keep you all updated on plec-gate!

In other news, we're all heading down to the lakes for a week - Missy never likes us packing so she has been regarding the whole thing with great suspicion. I'm sure I'll get some nice photos to post up once we're back (at least, if the weather is fair! Its been horrific the last few days!)
One of the reasons we're going down that way is that its my nieces birthday weekend, and she is perhaps the greatest receiver of sewn goods from me, so here is a few bits I'm taking down for her!


The cloak is because she wants to be a vampire when she grows up! It matches a little waistcoat I made her earlier in the year (But alas, have no photos of!). The little dungarees are adorable but I think its going to be the red lucky cat pinny dress that goes down the best with my sister!

Till next time!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Blackness Castle

Its another one for the Scottish Heritage pass! Desperately trying to make sure we get our moneys worth out of these...

So, Blackness Castle - the boat that never floated....

Seriously, from the pier it looks like a ship - its the strangest little castle you can imagine! And of course its dog friendly, so Missy has been continuing with her history lessons. This one boasts a prison tower, a great hall, a large courtyard and even allows you to walk around most of the curtain wall. We bumped into lots of other pooches who were enjoying their lessons as well, so it seems a local favourite for a nice afternoon.

This was a good castle for the dog as, despite the winding staircases (she's just about mastered them now without towing one of us to out imminent deaths) it was really quite open, and the grounds included a nice stroll along the beach which had plenty of rabbits in the long grass for shaking off any history-induced-cobwebs.

Missy is admiring her kingdom
In addition to trawling the local area for castles and other unusual and fun places to take the dog, I've been getting on with a lot of sewing projects. Whilst I enjoy dressing Missy up in silly hats and coats, the hubby prefers a more practical look for the dog (Missy, her wagging tail reliably informs me that she really doesn't care, so long as there is treats at the end of it all!) And so I present to you all (courtesy of Simplicty Pattern 1578) a doggy bathrobe! Perfect for little doggies like mine who absolutely hate being dried down (really, the way she acts when you try to dry her paws would have you thinking you were wielding a rusty saw at the dog!)

I also do sewing for humans too - mostly little ones like my nieces and nephew, but sometimes I do manage to make something a bit more grown up sized. I might do a wee post sometime soon with a wee sewing round up, but until then, cheerio!

Sunday, 11 September 2016


Long time no type, and my apologies for that.

I've been a bit lost as to the general direction I want to take this blog, and think a less formal approach is perhaps more needed, as well as something that encompasses a bit more of my general life. So, here's to another try!

For our birthdays the hubby and I got Historic Scotland passes and we were pleased to realise that a lot of the sites allow dogs. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if there is no roof, then the dogs welcome, which is great news for Missy!

We decided to christen the passes with what is technically the nearest site to us - Cairnpapple. Its basically one of the highest natural hills in the area and was used as a ritual site by various peoples in time. Originally hosting a henge (of the wooden sort, although the size of the holes that supported the timbers are huge, so it would still have been impressive in its day) it was then used as bronze age burial mound and then again in the early Christian age.

We all really enjoyed the site, the hubby won himself a sticker filling in the kids quiz (on Missys behalf, of course!) and I managed to get a few nice photos. I'm hoping for a really crisp clear day soon, the view is terrific and would love to get some more photos of it.

In other news, I've been playing about with the up-cycling trend (good for both the environment and the pocket!). Missy is unsure of wether she approves of this!