Monday, 9 September 2019

Inchmahome Priory revisited

Missy has previously done Inchmahome Priory (back in 2017!), but we weren't going to turn down a puppy play date just because we've been before!

It was my brother and Maisie, my mother, Missy and myself. My brother kindly offered to pick me up from the house and we were soon on the road. He was looking forward to trying Maisie on a boat, as she hadn't been on one yet, and he was hoping she would prefer it to the steam train. 
I just laughed and told him that I would have thought for her first boat he would have done a proper big boat. 
I swear, if he could have stopped on the motorway he would have. I was drilled as to what kind of a boat it was and, thinking he was concerned about Maisie, tried to play it cool by describing it as a rowboat with a motor.
Would we be given life jackets? He asked with some alarm.
Life jackets? For the dogs? Then it clicked. My brother cant swim. 
Yep. Enjoy the irony - I, the scuba diver, has a dog who will actively avoid water whilst my hydrophobic brother has a dog that will find any excuse to leap into it. The more I think of it, the funnier it seems!

Well, I wouldn't be writing the blog if we never made it. So despite his panic, the boat did not sink and even though I insisted I wouldn't judge him, he declined the offer of the life jacket. Maisie enjoyed it more than he did.
We got onto the island with no fuss, got our tickets and stopped for our picnic. Now, like everyone else, I'm trying to reduce plastic and waste and picnics are one place I find myself still seeking some plastic sandwich bags - not anymore:

Tada! A sandwich wrap (more photos on my instagram @missdaisysewing) - just simply put the rolls in the middle and assemble the velcro the right way and voila! I made a few earlier in the week so was pleased to road test it. Missy and Maisie were keen to share the spoils as we all enjoyed the unexpected beautiful weather.

The priory is a complete ruin. The foundations are completely intact and some of the buildings have most of their walls, but there is only one roof and that's the chapter house (Missy went on point in the completely empty, dark and chilly room so we didn't linger, just in case she had spotted a ghost).
What does remain is beautiful. Stone arches and tall plinths which are perfect for having dogs pose on (Missy and Maisie would not cooperate together, I have lots of nice photos of them individually, but they wouldn't sit nicely together!

As with all sites across the central belt, there is a lot of fuss about Mary Queen of Scots (she seems to have visited just about every castle - I'm waiting for the day I find a privvy with a sign stating "Mary Queen of Scots had a wee here") and there is a boxwood bower it is said she planted. My brother isn't a fan of the priory's and abbeys, much preferring the castles, so his highlight was the grounds of the island and its abundant trees. Despite only being half a kilometre long, there is a sizeable portion of 'woodland' which both dogs enjoyed.

Missy made friends on the boat ride back and Maisie decided to nap, a far cry from her excited barking going to the island. I was sat in the back with both dogs (they were harnessed in, Missy normally has the boot to herself) and they both fell asleep on the ride home. Definitely a worthwhile day out.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Trains and Rosettes

The 1940s and 50s day at Bo'ness had been on my radar for a while. I originally spotted this advertised when taking my friend to the railway earlier this year and have subsequently stalked Bo'ness and Kinneil railway through all their social media channels since. Ironically as I hated it as school, I've developed a real love and passion for history of all kinds in my old age and try and get along to all the reenactments that I can. This was obviously not a reenactment but a celebration of the time period with live music, dance displays, both steam and diesel engines and, of course, encouraging everyone to dress up. I love dressing up. Which is funny as I'm always in dog walking trousers, walking boots, a baggy jumper, tatty baseball cap and an obnoxiously bright hi-vis coat. My own mother today told me how lovely it was to be seen in a dress and my response was that they just aren't practical when walking the dog. But still, any excuse to embrace something bright and fun and I am there!

So, I've already said I wore a dress so the post today is a little back to front:

I actually made this nearly two years ago. It had not seen the light of day until now - not because I wasn't happy with it, I adore that I made something with a vintage pattern and the trials and tribulations I had as a novice at sewing at the time, but it's just so...fancy dress. It's bright and colour blocked and really in your face, which is exactly what I wanted until I realised that I had no opportunity to wear it! It was a vote two to one against a 40s vintage pattern outfit I've made (I'm keeping that for later!) and so off I went whilst wondering what I'd let myself in for.

My mother and I arrived in time for the first train of the day so we caught that and had brunch whilst the rest of the place was set up. We were both pleased to see three other women dressed up in our carriage having had a moments hesitation in the morning (whilst I don't care what other people think, the weather was changeable and I was concerned everyone else would be sensibly attired in macs). Missy had on her party collar and all three of us received compliments and we equally gushed over the other outfits.

Once off the train we jived a little and watched the dance demonstrations. We had already decided to skip the second train and decided to go warm up a little with some tea in the cafe. The staff all had on poodle skirts which I thought a wonderful touch. As we had our tea my eldest sister and her two (niece 14, nephew 10) arrived. I swear my birthday doesn't seem to be ending this year as I was handed pressies.
I noticed very quickly my niece didn't seem right. It clicked as we watched a group of flapper girls laughing in front of the pack of photographers - I had been actively trying to encourage all my family to dress up. My mother and myself were the only two to do so (credit to my nephew he wore a waistcoat and a flat cap to look a bit vintage) and had spent most of the morning explaining what we were wearing and that they should join in. My niece is at *that* age. She is very fashion conscious and doesn't like to break free from the herd and be different. She clearly expected my mother and I to be the only muffins dressed up and had instantly regretted that she had missed such an incredible Instagram opportunity. Those dressed up, I could see her little mind thinking, were clearly getting the most attention and having the most fun.

My sister had wanted to get me afternoon tea for my birthday but had lost out to two things, firstly that the buffet car is the only place you can have it and it's also the only place Missy is unwelcome, and secondly, you have to book months in advance. Even on days were there are no events it sells out right away. She had therefore decided to bring a picnic and we all enjoyed that on the next train. The ride was fun, my sister blagged me a shot on the foot plate at Manual saying it was my birthday and I got to hang out and play pokemon with my nephew.  A good day all in all!

After the excitement of the 40s/50s day, it was a day for Missy as we went to the Paws at the Prom event held by the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. We did this last year and had a great time and, with the promise that this year was to be bigger and better than last, hopes were high.

In the car and off we went, picking up the entourage on route - my mum was coming as was Maisie; she was getting a wee day out without parental supervision owing to my brother working. We arrived in good time - I parked in Portobello and we walked over to the home, and both dogs were keen to say hi and meet new people and other dogs. They have recently built new paddocks on site and were using these as zones (Education in one, shopping another and so on) in addition to the arenas and stalls in the main field. It meant that even though this year was definitely busier than last (the good weather was most certainly the reason for that), it felt less crowded.

Gotta love a photobooth!
Neither Maisie nor Missy placed in Bonniest Girl and we decided to commiserate with lunch at the burrito van. My mum particularly loves the golden oldies category and, waiting for it to start, I got chatting with the "paw"rent of one of the competitors. I think they appreciated me checking if the dog was human or dog nervous owing to its harness being bright yellow with "nervous" stamped across it, and was told that it was a "generally everything" type nervous. We cheered them on, although we were pleased that a very elderly 17 year old dog won.
Following on from Missy completing her level 2 training, I had decided to place her into best trick as well. She decided that instead of spin and turn she would much rather lie down or give an unenthusiastic paw. Humiliated (but in good humour, Missy wasn't the only one to get performance shy), I returned to my mum and had to laugh that our new friends had stayed to cheer Missy on.

Maisie watching the competitions very seriously
We then went to the QandA session they were running at the Education Area and got some good advice to pass onto my brother about Maisies reactive barking. Then it was back to the main paddock for the last competition I had entered Missy in for: Best Rescue. The day had turned warm and the sun was out and Missy had decided that she didn't want to stand or sit pretty, she just wanted to lie down, sunbathe a little and have her belly scratched. Which is absolutely fine, but in a paddock full of dogs within a field full of dogs, certainly gains a lot of attention!
With the judges going through the names, I complied to Missy and gave her belly a scratch and she stretched comfortably and made herself very at home. I could hear people laughing at scene, even the DJ, when he clocked sight of us as he called out Missys name, laughed and said that she was clearly relaxed and enjoying herself. The judges deliberated for a while before announcing third place to the dog on my left, then second to the dog on my right. They clearly weren't going to pick all three dogs from the one corner so I was shocked when they called out Missy who "was clearly embracing her life as a rescue and showed perfectly just how wonderful a rescue dog could be".
Absolutely overwhelmed. Missy got to pose with her rosette and clearly didn't understand what the fuss was about. An over-proud doggy-grandma, my mum insisted we return to hers and celebrate (with tea, I was driving!).

Missy was glad to get home and fell fast asleep on the sofa (after I had put away the spoils of the day, you know, just in case I dropped some of the free sample dog biscuits). Her rosette and certificate are by her bed - a perfect end for the weekend.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

A Ruby in the Castle

As its the birthday run, the hubby and I took some time off work to go up and visit his parents in Aberdeenshire. We had originally planned on a sneaky trip to the borders, or maybe Oban, but with the stress of the bathroom and that going over budget, we decided that sneaking away to the countryside and being fed cake sounded like a very good plan.

We also got to meet Ruby properly, their now 16 week old puppy Visla. And she is gorgeous, and she knows it!

The weather was too kind. It was bright and sunny the whole visit. We started our trip with us all going to Crathes Castle where Ruby showed off her recall and we got her into the water for the first time. I had to take my socks and shoes off and wade in the river to encourage her to do so, and we had good results. Missy joined in for a paddle too, clearly taking the opportunity to cool off.

We stopped in at the cafe which was very busy and bought drinks and cake and dog-friendly ice cream for the dogs. Missy loves ice cream and, not being allowed dairy, it is a huge treat for her to get anything akin to it. Then we finished the walk and it was good to see them both interacting with one another - Ruby has mostly grown out of the typical bad puppy habits; she isn't jumping on other dogs faces and understands a growl means that the other dog wants space, so the visit in general was much easier than I expected!

The next day we decided to let the puppy rest and the hubby and I took Missy to Dunnattor Castle which has been on the to-do list for a while. Its a half hour drive to Stonehaven where the castle is situated and its impressive from the onset. You have quite a walk to get to the actual castle from the car park, but it does give plenty of opportunity to get some really nice photos!

It was a fairly intact ruin with some fun tid-bits of history. It held off Cromwell and had its fair share of scandals - including the "Whigs Vault" where 167 Covenanters were imprisoned for three months in a tiny vault. Some died whilst others attempted escape or where tortured. Its last Earl was also convicted of treason for supporting the Jacobite rising and the castle was subsequently seized by government. 

It was another glorious day and, whilst at first it was very pleasant, after a few hours it was unfortunately getting too hot. Missy does not do well in the heat despite her short coat and she started to hobble a little so we decided to see if she wanted to cool down by the sea. She dipped a paw in but wasn't interested so we called it quits and headed back so that she could cool down properly and have some sleep.

We finished the evening with a puppy walk at Castle Fraser and, as it had cooled considerably, it was much more enjoyable for everyone! Missy chased rabbits and Ruby delighted us all with some sprinting, although she really does need to grow into her ears! Shes at that really funny stage where she's starting to look like a dog, but isn't quite there. Her legs are too long and gangly and her ears are hysterically too large on her. She takes it all in her stride though and clearly doesn't care what we think.

On our way home, we all stopped at Stonehaven. The hubbys parents had decided to try Ruby in the motorhome (latest update is that she hasn't chewed it to bits yet, but has figured out that its tremendous fun to jump between the seats) and they decided to go with Stonehaven as, if it was a disaster, they could easily get home. We joined them for a walk on the beach and some ice cream before deciding to head home ourselves. Lovely as the visit was, its always nice to go home and sleep in your own bed.

This weekend has been a busy one and I'm aware this post has rambled on long enough, I'll update you all on this weekends adventures later!

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Normal Programming will resume shortly

Well, that's the bathroom in, we had a few hiccoughs - some just the fault of the house (rotten dry boards) and some on the part of the company (they originally tried to put the wrong flooring in), but its done. And we are all very, very glad that that's the case.

The weather has been on and off. Heavy rain then bright sun. That with just being worn out from two weeks of quite invasive work being done, all of us were far too tired to think of adventures. So this weekend has been a quiet one with all of Missys favourite local walks peppered in. We did Beecraigs on Saturday and explored a new path and today was Murieston.

As a treat for being so good, I made Missy a snuffle matt:

A what? A snuffle matt. She has discovered these at her Intermediate 2 dog training, and absolutely adores them. You hide a few treats in the fleece strands and she will happily snuffle at them for ages. They were selling them at the centre, but at £18 a pop, I knew I'd be able to put one together for a fraction of the price. I always try and support local businesses, but there's a line in the sand and that crossed it - I made Missys for an almighty £2 as I had masses of scrap ends of fleece and just bought a sink matt to act as the base.

I think she's very pleased! She even tried to help make it:

In an earlier than expected update (as someone was naughty and opened their birthday present early) I've been playing with vintage patterns. I found this adorable apron pattern and just had to make it for my sister:

She's daft on cats and I felt the somewhat twee fabric was a perfect (or should that be purrfect?) match to the pattern. Apparently my niece wants one too, so there may be more in the future! 

I expect next week will be a little more back to normal with the adventures, I think it'll take he whole week to get back to sorts!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Birthdays and Baths

Its been an odd week - we're getting a new bathroom fitted and, as with all these kinds of jobs, its invariable grown arms and legs. Basically the plaster on my 70 year old 50s build had given out and needed replaced, setting us back a week.
Missy doesn't like change. We all joke about how she doesn't like Christmas and always seems happiest after visitors have left and life is normal again, but that's very normal. So a week of having strange people coming and going, drilling and hammering and banging about has really put her through a loop. 

She also doesn't like me working from home. If I'm in the house surely I am there to do as she wishes? Opening doors, inviting her onto the sofa, playing with the squeaky toys, giving her cuddles - all the things a human is meant to do. Not sit at the dining table staring at a screen and occasionally talking to myself wearing my very fashionable Britney Spears-esque headset.
I had to apologise on a call when she decided to play the squeaky toys at me and I can only iagine what the flies on the wall thought of my frantic miming for her to just lie down and not go into the hall where there were workmen drilling.

Friday was big sisters birthday and, after joking that I really had to steal a shower ad would come bearing cake and gifts, she organised a get together in her house for us all. As a surprise, she ran me a bath and I got to have a long overdue soak whilst my hubby helped build my sisters new sofa.
She always has the oddest parties, and coming from me, that is saying something!

Saturday I tried to make amends with Missy and we had a nice quiet day with lots of cuddles on the sofa and her favourite local walks. The weather was fair, so I also got work done in the garden as she sunbathed.

Sunday...not to fair. It was positively horrendous. I had organised a girls meet up in Perth and, despite doing our best to stay out the rain, we got pretty soaked through. In fact, you can how bad the weather was when I took just one photo:

I follow Dog Friendly Perthshire on Facebook (owing to the fact that I often end up there for days out) and The Yard has been advertised as a new local venture and, most importantly, dog friendly. Its a pop up foodie thing and we had lunch there (the waffles were to die for) and admired all the dogs. My only complaint was that there wasn't anywhere comfortable for Missy to lie down, it being coarse gravel underfoot. Food was great though and we still had a nice time. 
Then we headed into the city centre and rocked up at the old favourite, the Bark and Chew. We were too stuffed from the waffles to enjoy cake as planned, so just had some tea whilst Missy napped under the table.
And that was the weekend! Short and sweet.

Now back to the banging and drilling, I do hope Missy forgives us soon!

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Bo'ness and Birkhill Walk

So this was a funny weekend in terms of plans. A puppy play date was always on the cards and there was a list of places my brother and I want to take the dogs to. When asking my mother if she was free and fancied joining us, it was revealed that my aunt (who is undergoing cancer treatment and cant get out much) was coming through with her son, my cousin, and that my mother had already promised them both that we would all be going out and doing something together.
News to me!
Nonetheless, after pointing out that what doggie play dates generally entail is a lot of walking, we bumped heads together and decided on the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway. I quite recently took a friend there, so wont go into too much detail about the site itself, but it seemed a good choice as the weather has been particularly unpredictable of late and there wouldn't be much walking about. Owing to Maisie requiring her six weekly spa day and pamper, we agreed on the 2pm train and managed to talk my sister into coming along as well.


Anyone who knows me knows that two in the afternoon is a day of adventuring lost, so I decided that, after dropping the hubby off at work, I'd just head off and see what I had time to do in regards to local walks. I'd gotten very keen on the idea of walking from Bo'ness to Blackness Castle (a 4 mile circular) but as it was already hitting 20C and we'd be walking on an exposed coastal path, I decided against it. Coincidentally, as I was purchasing an annual ticket for the railway (there's at least one event I want to do this year, and I'm pretty certain I'll end up along there at least once more after that, so it will have paid itself off before the years out) it came out on the tannoy that there was the Kinneil house walk and the Birkhill walks that could be done as part of a journey.

I'd previously scoped out the Kinniel walk and knew it would be more than an hour, which would be cutting it fine to catch the train on return. A quick query with the station master revealed that the walk at Birkhill was a 20-25 minute amble of a walk and I'd have half an hour to do it in settled that for me. Missy decided to cuddle up to and hug a train spotter who made the mistake of smiling and making eye contact with her and, after assessing the situation where he was rubbing her face and ears and posing for selfies with her, I decided she was clearly causing no bother and got some photos of the train coming into the station.

Both Missy and I had lunch on the train in the 15 minutes it took to get to Birkhill and then disembarked at a scenic little station and found a clearly marked woodland walk sign. I was quite disappointed to realise there used to be a clay mine in the area and that the visitors centre attached was closed to public visitors in 2013. I found some old signs and peered down into the gorge before trundling along the track. With the thought of the return train in the back of my mind we briskly walked the circular route and were done in less than twenty minutes. I ambled about the remnants of the mine information for another five and then headed back to the station. 
As usual when I have time to kill, I had Missy pose about the place for some photos and we quickly gathered a bit of an audience who were all very impressed at her sit and stay abilities. She made friends with a little boy who, after realising they were the same age, begged his mum for a photo of them together. I'm rather enamoured at the thought of Missy making her way into someone else's holiday snaps, and was more than happy to let them have a picture together.

I timed the trip back well as everyone was just arriving as the train pulled into the station. It was good to see my aunt and cousin again and I was pleased that my sister arrived in time as well for the train. She had brought her very elderly MIL with Wee Ben in tow. She's too old and frail now to keep him full time, which is why my sister usually has him, but she has been desperate for some time now to come along on a puppy play date as I always make sure to send her photos of the dogs having fun together.
Tickets were bought, group photos taken and on the train we went. In contrast to the previous train I had gotten this one was mobbed. Clearly the post-lunch train is popular! We made do with what we could and I found myself chatting to my sisters MIL and my nephew. He was perplexed as to why we'd all want to go on a steam train (alas, he's clearly forgotten when I took him to a Thomas day many, many moons ago and he was inconsolably happy) and I joked about a lack of screens and enjoying the scenery.
He did enjoy it once he'd realised that this was his opportunity to rule the conversation and we spent most of it chatting about Pokemon Go. His mother and grandmother clearly thought we were speaking another language, but enjoyed the time all the same. Maisy however, was not happy. She looked miserable on my brothers lap and refused treats, so on the return we moved the dogs to a different car where they could lie down properly and Maisy seemed a bit better but still unsure.

After we disembarked, I mentioned that the tickets were an all day ticket and there was another train still if they wanted to go again. I found a booth in first class and they all crammed in except for my brother and his friend who'd found a roomier space in a different carriage. They messaged me and said they were going to do the Birkhill walk I had done earlier and I offered to take Wee Ben out and agreed to join them.
That's where the day was almost an absolute disaster. 
Missy spotted a deer or a rabbit or something and basically went missing. After ten minutes my somewhat nervous but its-all-ok attitude melted into blind panic and we split up to try and cover more ground to find her. 
After 30 minutes I realised that we were going to end up missing the train. My brother very kindly offered to get the train back, fetch his car and drive back to the station to help with the search. The rest of the family (barring my sister who was driving) had found out that the buffet car served alcohol and would be in no state to help having been left unchaperoned for so long, but he was resolute that they could suck it up and be left at a pub in Bo'ness if it came to that. He was going to come back and help.
40 minutes and I had reached meltdown. I couldnt shout anymore so was on the verge of sobbing out Missys name over and over when my brother called. No sign of the train yet and Missy was on the tracks. 
I've never run so fast in all my life. Missy was soaked through and cried at the sight of me before doing a 360 turning cuddle and whimpering and licking at me as I hugged her. Our guess if that she fell in the gorge, couldn't get back out and had to go downstream, cut across the woods at a distance where she couldn't hear us shouting and then made her way back along the tracks to find us. I have genuinely never been so frightened.

The train pulled in as we were all hugging Missy with an apology from the conductor about being late back (we said nothing, but boy, I was so pleased they'd run late) and we were back on the train. We reconvened at the station and, as my family staggered along and insisted we raid the gift shop, I discovered that the reason the train was late was that my sisters MIL decided to try and chat up the train driver and then stole his hat. There are photos of them all smiling with the driver taking turns in his hat.
For once in my life, I am not cross or embarrassed at them.

On a different note, today (asides from looking at dog trackers on Amazon at great length) I had a go at a craft project that's been on my to-do list for a while. Beeswax wraps!

Ok, not super exciting, but I'm trying to reduce plastic and this is whats being touted as the new clingfilm. I've made a few test sheets in some scrap fabric in different sizes to see what works and will revisit the project on a larger scale if successful.

Missy is asleep on the sofa. After a thorough check, she's non the worse for wear after her misadventure. Not even a broken claw or misplaced hair. 
She's stiff today but, after checking her PitPat activity monitor that doesn't surprise me - those 40 minutes I spent pacing and screaming for her, she ran at full pelt. She was very sorry for herself last night, and had clearly got a bad fright herself as she just velcroed herself to us. Saying that, clearly though she's not sorry, she vanished off after rabbits on her morning walk, but thankfully returned to me within a minute looking a bit sheepish.

Hopefully next weeks adventure will not be so hair raising!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Scottish Seabird Centre

I often start with a weather update, but this time I feel its truly worth commenting on. Thursday was the all time high temperature recorded in Edinburgh (31.6C) and then by Saturday the high was 18 complemented with torrential rain. Saturdays doggy play date with Maisie was downgraded to a pop round for lunch and a shuffle round the park so today I was determined to have a bit more of an adventure.

I always love to find a new dog-friendly day out and the Scottish Seabird Centre has been on my radar for a little while, but I've held off as the good weather meant that the place would probably be rammed. A slightly damp weekend seemed like a good time to try it and we pre-booked the morning boat with fingers crossed for better weather. I also rang them to double check just how dog friendly they were and was pleased to be informed that, apart from the kitchen, Missy was more than welcome anywhere.

The weather was kind - it was still overcast and a bit drizzly, but it was warm enough a light rain coat was all I needed and cool enough that Missy was comfortable to be exploring. We timed our arrival to get checked in for the boat and were surprised to learn it was a full boat. We'd been warned that the skipper had last say about the dog (basically if they were being boisterous they may be asked to leave) so it wasn't until we were on the boat that we breathed a sigh of relief. It was a nice catamaran type boat and we left those with kids to the sheltered bit and sat at the back so Missy could have some space and I could get some nice photos.

A very different perspective of Tantallon Castle
It was a bumpier ride than we are used to! Loch Katrine with tea and cake, easy. An audio tour on Loch Ness with tea and cake, no problem. Windermere with, yep, tea and cake, a breeze. Tea would have been a safety hazard on this boat as we lurched and bounced over the waves and laughed as we were asked continuously if we felt OK. I had a bag to hand just in case Missys travel sickness returned and we all watched as someone made a dash to the privy to lose their breakfast. Missy was a trooper and just cuddled up to us, taking it in her stride as always.
The worst was over as we arrived at Bass Rock and it was certainly worth the rough journey:

So. Many. Ganets. The noise and smell was astounding. I remember fondly doing the same boat ride as a young child and I was surprised at myself that those two things had not left an impact. We made a leisurely sail around the rock and were given its history and had the behaviours of the birds explained to us. It was fun watching them dive into the water by us and see them flying back and forth to the (now very large) chicks. Missy clearly found the smell exciting as she stood up and wagged her tail at all the activity, but she's not daft and showed no inclination to move to the edge of the boat or water.

We then sailed over to another island and watched puffins and shanks in the water. I was pleased to spot a seal before anyone else as we watched the tiny puffins. In a moving boat, it was very hard to get photos of them, so I sat back and just enjoyed watching the little birds. After that it was almost a trundle back to dry land and we decided to grab some lunch before going into the seabird centre proper.

We decided to upgrade to the annual pass as I can definitely see us at the centre again with other family members. The staff were great and seemed genuinely pleased to see Missy and we happily played with all the cameras and read all the information about the conservation projects that were ongoing for the birds.
There was a very nice looking cafe and soft play and we scoped out the play room ad well which had plenty of appropriately themed kids books sat out for parents to read.

We finished with a walk other beach and I was surprised to see the old tide pools in existence. Perhaps next time I'll come prepared with a swimming cosie and go for a paddle - or at the very least a bucket and spade to build some sand castles! A lovely day all round, I'm already planning a repeat trip with the neices and nephews and their fur cousins!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

A Wee Wander aboot Toon

The weeks continued to be busy - there's good news in that the BIL is out the hospital and settled in back home. We're on alert just in case of emergency, but everyone's breathing a little easier and looking forward to getting their summers organised again.

I managed to slip away for a few hours to see friends. We went for a nice stroll along the canal with Missy in tow and then we enjoyed a lovely burger at the Red Squirrel. After a bit we then decided to move onto Affogato for ice cream sundaes before strolling back along the canal.

We spotted a few of the Oor Wullie statues that are currently to be found across Scotland and got a some photos of them. They certainly divide opinion and I agree with the MIL in that there's simply too many of them - I really enjoyed the Edinburgh cow parade and the checklist you could download and mark off and this one doesn't really have that option. Still, they brighten up the street and make you smile.

I haven't managed much on the sewing front, but expect to have a few pieces for next week.

Just a short one today, hopefully back to regular programming next week!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Dalkeith Show

Well, life's been a bit funny the last few weeks - without getting into far too much detail my brother-in-law (hubbys brother) has had to have a large operation, my mother in law is coming to stay with us for an unknown period of time from tomorrow and basically everything is being held together with spit, polish and smiles.

Its not all that bad, its just that by nature I am verging on pedantic about time and whats happening. Not knowing when something is happening, or for how long a thing is happening or even if its going to happen at all puts my heart into unhealthy palpitations. So, being the third wheel getting second hand information on a situation that's very uncertain to begin with really stresses me out but I need to be the calm one and support my hubby and those around me. In short, I had to call time on my family and tell them I had to take a step back and focus on my husband and his, which was hard to do, but as I said to my mother today, the worlds still turning and no ones irreversibly fallen out with anyone, so its all ok. The BILs op went well, it was less invasive than originally planned and he's not had to be tube fed so they're already looking at cutting out the time he's to be in hospital.

With that in mind, I needed to find something for Missy and I to do that was near the hospital as the hubby had promised he was going to visit on Saturday. Little France is an hours drive from me and we agreed it was unfair on Missy to be left on her own for such a long time and that, with it being highly possible that the BIL wouldn't really want company, that it was a long way to go to possibly turn around again. I spotted that the Dalkeith Show was on and, being 15 minutes from the hospital, was ideal. We went for the show starting and then at lunchtime, the hubby headed off to visit his brother whilst Missy and I got to enjoy the rest of the day. We had also organised to see a friend afterwards who lives ten minutes from Dalkeith so it was an absolutely perfect situation.

It was a really good day. I was in a bit of a panic when it was raining in the morning, but by the time we parked up it had stopped and the sun was out. We mooched about the stalls and were very pleased fur-parents when we were told Missy had an ideal body weight at the vet stand. She got a goody bag of treats and various things and then we were off to watch the first event which was the Clydesdale horses judging.
I have a soft spot for the heavy horses. I love their sheer size, their shape and just the way they gracefully and yet stoically get on with things. The foal was a real treat as he followed his mother on his stilt like legs, already stout and stocky but still a little wobbly.

Following on from the foal, the dairy calves and young handlers was a real treat. Dressed in shirts and too long ties, the kids wrangled their unruly calves with the ease of those born in the trade. The hubby and I were much impressed at the shortest lad, a stout wee ginger thing, who simply put up with no nonsense and dragged the calf where it was needed and were genuinely pleased to see him placed first.

As the pipe band played we had an early lunch of jacket potatoes and eagerly awaited the mysteriously billed "Ore Terrier Racing". A barking truck rolled out and a lure was set up and we were treated to watching genuine ratting dogs race after it. I will confess that o was surprised that ratting with dogs is a legitimate thing still - not because I'm squeamish, Missy bringing me back rabbits the size of small cats got that out my system, but because I thought poisons and traps had made it unnecessary. I suppose there are lots of situations where poisons would also be dangerous to human, or protected wildlife, health and can understand the lack of appeal of traps.
It was tremendous fun to watch and, as they offered the watching canines a go, decided to see what Missy would think of it. She was excited at the sight of the lure as it wriggled about but, upon release, hesitated as the other dogs decided to have a barmy and play and then clearly realised it was fake and showed no interest again. A pity as I would have much rather she took an inclination to chasing a lure than a real animal!
Very few dogs chased the lure, in the first or second display, but they all provided some great entertainment. I, and the whole audience, laughed as a little husky puppy would bumble with great purpose after it but then decided he didn't like the tables turned when the lure changed direction towards him and so the puppy ran away from it.

The hubby took that as his time to leave so I walked Missy for half an hour in the woods of the country park after saying goodbye. She had a comfort break and I got some nice photos of her on an old wall with an iron gate that led to nowhere. We managed to catch the end of the vintage tractors before getting to watch the ridden Clydesdale event. Missy enjoyed watching them walk, canter and run around the ring as much as I did before we registered for the dog show and she dozed through the champion of champions. A show horse won that I hadn't seen compete, so I can only assume it was judged before the event started or somewhere Missy was not allowed to go.

Then it was the cattle parade which I was really pleased to see - the livestock area was the only place dogs weren't allowed and so apart from the dairy calves, I hadn't seen any. The commentator stated that there was a Highland cow calf in a different colour to normal (apparently they come in seven colours, I'd only ever seen black and orange before) and I just had to laugh. My initial expectation had been something small and fuzzy. What actually happened was someone, who had to have been an older brother to the wee lad who had won the dairy calf at a stout six foot and ginger, hauling this cow that was nearly the height of him literally over his shoulder. To be fair, it was almost brindle in colour, but the comedy of the moment won over the fact.

We did the dog show (Missy didn't place in loveliest lady so I have decided that we need to learn an obscure trick to see if we could do better in that category next time) and then went for another walk. I messaged the hubby to check all was well (his company was being much appreciated, so all good) and then caught the second round of Terrier racing before the vintage tractors did a victory lap. Missy was getting tired by this point. She has a tendency to get very cuddly when she's tired and, any stranger who smiled at her and made eye contact with her got a cuddle whether they wanted it or not. She simply shuffles in close, sits on the persons foot so they can't escape and leans on them. I make some small talk, apologise about the cuddling dog, get told off for apologising, Missy gets fawned over and petted and clearly wins the arrangement! 

Thankfully the hubby arrived as they were clearing up and we went to see our friend. After chatting and food we played some retro video games on the N64 and laughed as Missy lay in her bed and snored through it all. She was unimpressed to be awoken when it was time to go home - and who says dogs aren't like small children?!

With the MIL due tomorrow, we've been cleaning the house today. She doesn't expect a spotless house, but is renowned for stress cleaning, so we didn't want to provide any targets. Missy still got a nice walk this morning and my friend popped round last minute to join me on the afternoon walk and save me from cleaning.

I have managed, at last, to finish my big project. It should not have taken as long as it did, but I'm happy with it despite everything that's going on:

A lovely three piece suit for the son of my sisters friend who apparently loves tractors but needs to look smart for a christening. Expect some dungarees for my nephew in the same fabric to turn up in the future!

Going to be a bit patchy over the next few weeks, so hopefully will be back soon with more adventures.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

A tail of two Abbeys

The weather this year has officially been crazy. After flash floods on Monday, Thursday and Friday were hot enough that my poor tomatoes have heat damage (lots of water and a dose of tomato food should hopefully revive them). That's right, in the space of 8 weeks I've had frost damage and heat damage. I honestly couldn't make this up!

With the good weather set to turn over the weekend (typical) the hubby and I decided to go and follow the sun south to the borders and visit first Jedburgh Abbey and then on the return home, Dryburgh Abbey. There was an ambitious plan about also getting Melrose, but we shelved that as too ambitious the moment we arrived at Jedburgh and were offered the audio tour.

Now, I'm sure I've mentioned before that hubby is quite severely dyslexic and, whilst he refuses to let it stop him or put him into some kind of social box, he really struggles going around anything heavily word based that involves having then having to read with the distractions of a) other people, b) the dog, c) other people's dogs and d) dustmotes. It is one of the reasons we love and advocate the kids quizzes, they give us a nice stop by stop tour of the place, encourage finding the important answers, make sure nothing special gets missed and, most importantly, a sticker for the scrap book upon completion.

Audio tours on the other hand, let him unlock everything about a place. And I mean everything. Not a number shall be skipped, it shall be done in order and all interesting facts will be relayed to me as I'm having far too much fun photographing Missy and skimming the information boards to bother with the tour myself. I do enjoy them, and don't mean to belittle them at all, but for me, having the hubby recite weird and wonderful facts at me is far more enjoyable.

I digress. Long and short of it, once we knew there was an audio tour we knew there was no risk of it being a quick fly by look of the place so decided to scrap off one Abbey from the list. Better to do less well and enjoy it than rush three things and feel like you missed something.

It's unkind to Jedburgh Abbey to assume it would be a quick visit. Barring roof and upper floors, it's remarkably intact and and is huge. Built in the late 1100s with a red stone, it dominates the small town of Jedburgh. They're obviously very proud of it and, after going through an elevated viewing room filled with wonderful and odd little artifacts (loved the comb with Hercules) the place was immaculately well kept. We enjoyed a picnic looking up at the Abbey before exploring (I'm getting worried that Missy is starting to pose on her own accord, she went onto the bench without prompting and sat and smiled at me beside the hamper). The audio tour was a bonus as we found the stone room which had some great information about how they built the place (it took that long that Roman went out of fashion and Gothic came in, which shows in the shape of the vaulted windows)  and enjoyed the views from the viewing platform. Most definitely worth a visit.

Dryburgh, a twenty minutes drive away back north, was an Augustine abbey as well but, unlike Jedburgh which is in the heart of a city, Dryburgh was very isolated and had some woodland to it. A very different atmosphere to effectively the same type of building. 

Built about the same time as Jedburgh, this one is predominantly gothic and, has the added interest of having been bought in the 1700s and done up as a romantic ruin. It felt a very different place to our first abbey and, whilst I couldn't pick a favourite, Missy clearly preferred this one. There was a rabbit to point at and field mice to stalk, important misadventures when getting ones history lessons. 

The trees are huge, and it homes one of Scotlands oldest yew trees (hint, it was ginormous) - they are clearly very proud of the trees as we were eagerly handed a sheet of the important trees to find whilst being given our quiz. Missy was fawned over by the staff and we bought her a Harris Tweed collar from the dog display which had a matching bow. They've also introduced tap water bottle refills (which they kindly did to resupply us with water for Missys return journey) and it's something I'm super pleased to see and want to see more businesses do.

We timed our trip home well, the moment we entered the Edinburgh limits the heavens opened and it poured down with rain.

Missy got to wear her lovely new collar on Sunday as we went to the eagerly anticipated Paws at the Palace at Scone Palace (I really must visit the actual palace sometime - I've done loads of events there now!). 

After the wash out of Dogfest, and a forecast of showers, I was armed with wellies, umbrella, full waterproofs and a rain hat. Guess what? Didn't rain! We spent the whole day avoiding talk of the weather so as not to jinx it, but it was that perfect dog weather of sunny with a cool breeze.

We checked out the stalls and watched the flyball have-a-go as well as the gun dog have-a-go (basically retrieving skills) and had a laugh that whilst Missy would be very good at them, it's such a pity she has no inclination to tennis balls and therefore wouldn't turn her paw to them. We did have a go at agility and she became best buddies with a bonkers collie mix - I'm sure she was somehow leading that dog astray whilst being on impeccably good behaviour herself!

There was a DJ and a dog parade (we didn't bother joining in with the parade, it clashed with prettiest girl and Missy wouldn't have enjoyed being in the rabble)  and the time honoured dog show where she didn't place. I think had there been fourth, she may have gotten something at prettiest eyes, the judges were taken with her and chatted to us which wasn't the case with prettiest girl, but it doesn't matter, she had fun and the entry fee went to a good cause. 

It was the events first year and I think they weren't expecting it to be so successful - there was only three portaloos, and the contest overlapping the parade was a schoolboy error, but overall I was very impressed with it and hope they throw another paw-ty next year.

I have one last announcement before calling it quits for the night - look who has officially joined the family! I can't wait till Ruby has had all her vaccines and we can go visiting!