Monday, 30 April 2018

Sunny Days and Long Strolls

I feel I talk about the weather a lot, but when your furbaby insists on an average of two hours a day walking, your life starts to revolve about it. This last week has been constant niceties to the other dog parents - "Spring is definitely here now!", "Isn't this sunshine wonderful?", "Rumour says more snow" and my personal favourite; "I honestly don't care if its warm or cold, at least its dry!"
That sums up the weekends weather, dark cloudy mornings and then glorious sunshine with a chilly wind. Once in shelter, its glorious, but its certainly that time of year where you fear not bringing your coat then end up taking it off and putting it back on at least five times a walk! With that in mind, and the fact that the summer opening hours on all the historic Scotland sites has kicked in, meant it was a perfect weekend for a family outing to a castle.

Between my niece volunteering last summer at Linlithgow Palace, my constant inviting people along to the castles with us and last years jousting, pretty much everyone in the family now has a pass with Historic Scotland, so its a good cheap day out that lets everyone get some fresh air and much needed vitamin D. We have done Bothwell before, so I will spare you all the history, but it was the first time my brother, my sister and her two kids had seen it, so was well worth the revisit. Sadly the Beast from the East has damaged some of the foundations, so we were unable to get into the dungeon, but there's still plenty to see and wander about in.

This time we added the riverside walk to the day. It was my brother who had spotted it when looking up the castle, and it was a splendid way to burn off our picnic we had on the castle grounds. The path was just sheltered enough that it felt warm and pretty soon the kids were climbing in trees and insisting I get their photos. They love that my camera bluetooths to my phone so that they can see a big version of the picture instantly rather than crowding around a tiny screen.

"Wee Ben"
Missy's little cousin Ben had come along for the day too and, though he isn't trusted off the leash (he will chase anything - cars, bikes, joggers etc) he did very well and kept up with us all. He dislikes bridges, and wooden stairs you can see through which, as I'm used to Missy who has absolutely no fear, was very odd although I did feel sorry for him crawling nervously about, so insisted people carry him (I would have, but I have a strict one dog per person rule when in groups and was in charge of Missy).

And that was our little day out. My brother has definitely got the castle bug, so expect to see plenty more! The hubby and I are also thinking about our annual "staycation", and are tempted either doing the Isles or going up Elgin way to get a bunch of sites ticked off the list. I'll let you know what we decide on when I know!

Till next time!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Peacocks on the Pentlands

The weather has been glorious the last few days, so I had to go out this weekend and do something fun and a bit different for Missy. A friend of mine had suggested doing the Pentlands a few times, the first attempt was snowed off, the second I called off owing to having some teeth pulled (orthodontic work, every tooth pulled has been good and healthy, if a bit squashed) so this was actually the third time we've scheduled this and I think possibly half of Edinburgh too!

We met at the Flotterstone Information Centre and, at 10 am the car park was full, but thankfully I got a wee space in the small overflow section. My friend has walked the first reservoir a thousand times, but has never actually climbed them, despite living only five minutes away. We decided to do both the reservoirs and have a bumble about the bottom of the hills, but not actually walk them this time (we've got an action plan picked for next time!) owing to the fact its lambing season and, whilst Missy has no real inclination to sheep and would be on a lead, I didn't fancy the risk of upsetting a farmer with my big scary flobble dog.

I feel that comment needs explaining. Owing to her colouring, people at a distance (and sometimes rather close up too) think she's a rottweiler and her habit of running and showing of her sparkling pearly white teeth can give people a fright. Hence her pink collar. And the pink raincoats. And the little red parka jacket. And her cupcake one....
I do my best, but At 20 kg of pretty much just muscle, she's a sight to behold when running full pelt towards you, so I concede to the fact that people automatically see a big scary dog.

Anyway. It was a beautiful day for it. There were people fishing in boats, anglers out on the shore, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and plenty of walkers. We could hear shooting at the MOD base there were running an exercise, but loud bangs don't bother Missy, so we spent a good 4 hours enjoying a nice walk and exploring a bit.

There was plenty of wildlife. As the title suggests, in addition to the sheep and local birds, we saw a peacock. Just strutting about like it owned the place! I need to stress that the Pentlands is fairly remote, and peacocks don't fly so well, so I have no idea how it got there or what it was doing, but it was certainly a highlight. Missy will flush birds but wont actually hunt them, and she was certainly curious and bemused in equal measure by the electric blue monstrosity strutting about. I feel a need to confess that, as it was on a wall far too tall for her to jump, I wasn't worried about the bird, however, I did not expect it to actually fly down right in front of her. Needless to say, she instantly went to flush it and the peacock very quickly went back on the wall, feathers ruffled but none harmed! My poor heart though, after Missy being so utterly well behaved I'd have died if she'd caught the thing - I'm too used to bunnies and squirrels that do their utmost best to keep out of the way of anything of the canine persuasion!

After the peacock we saw some toads which rounded off the end of a really nice day and we made a slow trundle to the car. By this point there were cars everywhere, both carparks full, the nearby pubs was full and people were parking on the street and verge, which really added to the impression of how busy it was. Still, it was really nice seeing people out and about enjoying the nice weather, and Missy got to bounce with lots of dogs and is now snoring away on the sofa. 

A very good day!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Victorias Baby

I am referring to, of course, Victoria the female polar bear in the Highland Wildlife Park, and her cub who is being very well advertised as the UKs first cub in 25 years. With a friend of mine recently moving up to the Inverness area, two birds were killed with one stone as another friend of mine and I visited and we three went to try our luck seeing the baby.

With the drive up being horrendous fog, we weren't hopeful, but Saturday cleared for us and turned into an absolutely beautiful day. I don't want to be a jinx again, so I'll just say that it felt like a season we all sorely want had arrived! 
We arrived fifteen minutes before the park opened and were shocked to be in a quickly building queue. Fortunately we had prepurchased the tickets and got in no problem - apparently last week the park filled and they had to turn people away.

Weirdly enough, despite the fact that by lunchtime all the car parks were full, we only ever felt like it was busy at the talks and at the female bear. Of course that was one of our first ports of calls (after the red panda) and we were fortunate to see mother and baby straight away. I got some photos, but with them being right at the back of the enclosure they weren't great. I was super pleased just to have seen them and we continued on with our day.

The snow monkeys put on a terrific show for their feed and then it was the big cats and the wolves. It was one of those rare days at these kind of parks where we saw everything. And even managed to get good photos of them all.

After lunch we went back to see Victoria and her cub and we were treated to the cub (it's not known yet if it's he or she) having a wee swim before playing with mum in the long grass. I got some photos I was pleased with and then we just spent  about half an hour watching them and chatting to the keepers who were doubling up as crowd control.

A very successful trip. Although I was pleased to hear that, once they know if it's a boy or girl, the cubs name will not go out to the public to pick (although they may allow the public to vote from a shortlist) - they don't want Furry McFurface the polar bear!

(Edit: Its a boy!)

And I can't forget my own Missy McMischief. After the drive home today, I was very pleased to be welcomed with a big cuddle. I'm always worried she'll take a huff with me when I'm away. So after cuddles we both had a well deserved walk in the sunshine.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Sunday Snoozing

Not a lot to say this week, although it certainly feels like its been very busy! I think Missy is longing for the nice weather - she seems a little put out and generally wanting cuddles with us on the sofa. Her appetite is fine and she's in good health, so my only conclusion is that she's fed up with one day being warm enough walk without hat and gloves, then the next its more a swim and then the next:

My first site visit. Needless to say we ended up aborting early, even in our radioactive neon bright day glow high visibility coats its was getting a struggle to see each other through the sleet. Still, a day out the office is nothing to sniff at, and an early finish just means more cuddles for Missy. Even though we are both sat on the sofa enjoying the late evening sunshine coming through the window, I don't think either of us is ready to quite believe that it may be spring.

Missy scoping out future projects
Its been a good week for crafts, but I cant share any of them yet. I've just completed the nephews birthday present, so will get some good photos and store them to one side until after the big day - his birthday isn't until late May. Other commitments mean I wont be able to make it, so I decided to get it made early and managed to blitz through it much faster than expected!

Next weekend I'm up visiting a friend up north and hopefully we'll get to see the new baby polar bear. If I get any good photos I'll share them! Until then!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Post Easter Update

This year, Easter had proven to me that really, it's being with family that counts. My sister came up for Easter celebrations now that Inkling, the youngest, is sleeping through the night and a longer drive seemed more plausible. We've had a terrific long weekend all together; trampolining, spooky dog walks, baking and just enjoying one another's company. Felix is positive that the hubby is a real wizard, so we had magic with lunch and a bedtime magic quest where she had to save the Princess after completing three trials. I honestly have no idea how to best this visit - I had thought the otter cuddle party impossible to beat, but Felix really seemed to have a wonderful time and was loathe to go home.

Easter itself was full of high points - we had dippy eggs for breakfast (an absolute must in my household) followed by a battle of bubbles in the garden. We woke up to a white Easter, but it quickly warmed up enough to allow everyone to get out and play with bubbles. No one is too old for bubbles, and I have evidence of both my sister and brother in law delighting in them - one day when her kids think she's old and boring, I can prove otherwise!
And then it was off to 'grannies' for the bonnet competition.

I knew Missy was never going to win the bonnet contest (although look at her in those snow drops, is that not the perfect summary of Spring?), but the competition was fierce this year! As a quick update, my family have recently started the tradition of having an Easter bonnet competition after Missy inadvertently gatecrashed and then totally owned a neighbourhood one of my older niece and nephew. Last year, I came in at a dead last having continued in the traditional vein of flowers for bonnets and...well, artistic taste. So this year I upped my game with the multicoloured stove pipe monstrosity on the far left, top picture below and still failed to rank!
Nevermind! Back to the drawing board...

I can finally share now the gifts I made for my sister for Easter! My nephew is having a hungry caterpillar theme for the big day of his first birthday and I wanted him to be suitably attired (with a matching hairband for his sister!). I've felt bad for a while now that I haven't sewn more for my nephew, but truly, boys clothes just aren't as cute! I'm hoping to remedy that, so suggestions are welcome!

I also made some cat coasters for my sister as I had been asked not to do eggs owing to the millions they knew they would end up with by the end of the day. Not sure if she recognised the fabric, but they are scraps I have hoarded since making my neices baby quilt nearly five years ago (and yes, I have a problem, I'm trying to remedy it!)

Well, that summarises this weekend, far too much to tell. Missy is completely exhausted, she has been absolutely terrific with the kids about but her need to keep up with all the going ons has meant that she's not napped all weekend. We are fairly certain she has been training Inkling. My nephew has suddenly developed a hard stare when there's food about that he wants but isn't allowed, and it's almost as intense as Missys unflinching gaze! My nephew has been rewarding her for the advice, he seems to be deliberately dropping food for her.
The start of a beautiful friendship, I think!