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!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Looking for Witches in Witchcraig Woods

Back to regular programming with the adventures - Missy and I had a busy weekend (hubby was working, but its never stopped us before!) and we started off with the Korean War Memorial and Witchcraig Woodland. Its neatly tucked away around the back of Beecraigs and parking is simply a lay-by in front of the (rather decorative) gate.

I wasn't sure what to expect from a Korean War memorial, but wasn't disappointed at the pagoda that neatly listed all 1100 men who were killed in the war. Poppies and wreaths had been laid, to show they were not forgotten, and the air had that calm tranquil element to it that is unique in places of respect. After paying ours, Missy was keen to explore the woodland and we decided to explore the trails that snaked off from the main path.

First we went to the viewpoint (I felt that their promise of being able to see Arron was a bit too keen) before losing the afternoon to wondering down deer and rabbit trails in the sun. We briefly saw some cyclists, but mostly had the place to ourselves which was a nice way to spend the day. Missy enjoyed herself tremendously, leading the way and weaving through gorse in the hunt for rabbits. 

Certainly worth a revisit - it was large enough that I didn't feel I was having to add to the walk to justify the drive and there was plenty for the humans to look at too. A win win!

Today was the Besieged at Direlton event and I managed to organise a family get together to go along. Fur cousin Maisie with my brother and his friend, my mum and eldest niece (14).  The event was more successful than my last attempt, mostly because the temperature stayed below 20C, and it was nice e getting to hang out with the older contingent of the family. It was already well stated on the cards that if Maisie took umbridge to the gunfire we'd default to Tantallon Castle or Yellowcraig beach and I was pleased to see my brother copy my lead of sitting well away from the muscat fire and slowly working nearer as she got more confident.
I have previously mentioned that I find the screen generation hard but, as my niece ran about trying to get *the* instagram shot of herself in the castle, I realised she was very easy to get along with these days. I simply had to suggest what I thought would look cool and she suggested what she thought would be neat and between us we got a lot of photos taken and a happy teenager!

And yes, we did manage to get *the* shot!

Owing to the gun displays, whilst dog friendly, the sieges never seem to attract many dogs and Missy was an instant hit. She cosied up to ankles, wiggled under benches for pets and even stood up to ask for some cuddles. My brother, whilst enjoys reenactments, doesn't go for the chatting to random people bit of things, so Missy had a monopoly on it as we worked our way about the village. She was particularly enamoured with a chap who was helping with the cookfire (and he her) and throughout the day he kept coming over and commenting on her temperament and posing skills.
We got a lot of laughs by a wheelbarrow of limbs - I was telling Missy to say "bring out your dead!" in my best Monty Python impression and a couple started whaling with laughter with the idea Missy might steal a limb and run amok with it.
That never happened, I'm not sure if I'm relieved or disappointed! 

Once we hit the heat of the day we decided to all go to Yellowcriag beach - one of the nicest beaches in Edinburgh and always very popular when sunny! My brother got lost trying to find the place that was literally a mile away and got parked at completely the opposite end to us. We had a good laugh about it as we tried to find one another and both dogs got their paws wet.  My niece and myself where the only ones to go paddling, the rest of them are clearly just old bores!

The day took a turn for the worse though after O got a call from my husband saying he was in a cab to A and E on account of cutting his hand open when at work. Thankfully once cleaned it was deemed that no stitches were required, but still, gave me a fright. He's to keep it dry for a week and watch out for any swelling or discharge (read that as I will be keeping said eye out!). It didn't spoil a good day, and he's enjoying the excuse to get some chocolate ice cream and 'sulk' over it. It's the best humoured sulk I've ever seen, but I will leave him to it all the same!

Starting a big sewing project this week, so hopefully I'll have some items to unveil for next post, until then!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

A Soggy DogFest North

Well, you can't predict the weather! This weekend was the much anticipated DogFest that Missy had won tickets for and we ended up going down just us as the hubby was working and couldn't get out of it.

The plan was to crash at my sisters the Friday and then we'd all go along the Saturday. The weather was forecast for showers, but we're all outdoorsy types and own waterproofs and wellies, so figured it would be fine. The plan was to go for lunchtime owing to my niece having a swimming lesson (for 5, she's doing brilliantly and has managed to get herself up a class so she looks tiny compared to her peers) and then we'd head over and catch the festival. The itinerary showed that the day repeated itself, so we knew we wouldn't miss anything with the later start and, my sister having heard horror stories about Tatton Park and getting parked, was keen to miss the first in barmy.

That's probably where the day went to plan before going all wrong. We parked nice and easy and, as we had our tickets already got to stroll past the massive queue and it was all looking up. Missy got given masses of treats owing to a stall holder taking a shine to my niece (he apologised and said he desperately wanted a girl, having all boys, not that Missy complained) and caught the last song of the dog dancing.

All good so far. Well, the heavens then opened. And it rained. And poured. And heaved it down before, for good measure, chucking it. The promised shelter was inadequate for the number of people and the number of very wet and high strung dogs (sorry, don't care what people say, they don't like being squashed in crowds, I always try and find space for Missy to be able to breathe and not get stepped on). 

We darted and dashed from stall to stall, looking for ones with gazebos and some physical space before there was finally a break in the weather. Some doughnuts and finding the fair ground games (skittles, magnetic fishing and so on) soon brightened the kids up who then decided that they had had enough of standing about and didn't want to watch the dog dancing or agility. I can't blame them, but it put Missy in an awkward position as she also had some energy to burn. We agreed that my sister and I would do the dog walk with the youngest (2) whilst BIL went with the niece and found a proper play park. 
If the sun had stayed out, I think we could have turned the day round and salvaged it, but no, ten minutes into the walk it started pouring again so we abandoned it, relocated the remaining family and called it quits. It wasn't fair on anyone by that point - kids and dog were soaked through and adults tempers were fraying with the want to be polite to one another and not can the day whilst being concerned about everyone's health at being so wet.
I'm gonna be fair to the event and not judge it - we didn't see enough of the activities to gauge the quality of the thing and stalls are stalls at the end of the day. Perhaps next year if the weather is looking better I might give it another shot.

This shoebox counts as shelter, right?
We had scoped out a dog friendly pub and, after showers and fresh clothes (including a early birthday gift for myself from my sister of a gengar jumper which I am tremendously happy with), we ate there and had a pleasant, though tired, dinner. Once kids were in bed we managed to chill out and catch up.

I'm sure once my frustration at the weather being absolutely against me doing anything nice with my sister wears off, I'll find yesterday funny and shrug it off, but at the moment that song comes to mind:

Raindrops are falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothing seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

So I just did me some talking to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleeping on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

Perhaps I need to tell the sun off for being lazy! It's really turning into a wash out of a summer - but I gotta keep looking on the bright side; I got to see my niece at her swimming lessons (an overdue promise), I got to hang out with my sister and her family on their turf, my sister and I are more organised about my mums party later this year and Missy got to hang out with her cat-cousins, one of whom (Dashie) is beginning to figure out that Missy isn't going to chase and murder them all. I do love that cats look of abject horror as the other two are completely disinterested in the dog in the room!
Oh, and I got handed a bag of fabric to add to the stash. Mustn't forget that!

Well, that's all for now, hopefully the weather starts to improve for next weekend!

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway

Its been a weekend of two halves. Saturday rained. It poured and chucked it down. It drizzled and spat and was just a generally gruesome day. Sunday however, well, it may be cloudy at points, but its been warm and dry and just the right kind of day for getting out and about in the world.

Its been a funny weekend for reminiscing. We've got a friend visiting and, without really meaning to, we've mostly been recollecting adventures past and how things once were. My hubby and said friend are going to London for a boys weekend at the end of August (there's a wrestling match involved, so I'm very happy to leave them to it) and I was fondly recounting when I went as a kid with a family friend who, in the nicest and most fond way possible, is an absolute anorak, so we'd actually gone down to see some new plane or something at the time and caught a steam show too. It came out that our friend had never been on a steam train and we decided that needed rectified immediately.

The Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway is an oldie but a goodie - I've been to a few Thomas days and even without an event, the atmosphere is great and its busy. I like to see these little volunteer run places doing well and, as we waited for the train, we watched the model railway (house in an old carriage) and wandered about the engine shed. The place must be full of mice; Missy's nose was going the whole time as we looked about the old carriages.

It takes about an hour to do the round trip on the train, starting at Bo'ness and finishing in Manuel where they turn the around and head back down the line. It was busy enough that there was a good atmosphere but not so busy that we were going to struggle getting seats and soon we were on our way enjoying a picnic and admiring the view. We were sat directly behind the engine and there really is no noise quite like a steam train as it chugs along the track.

Missy was much admired by the staff, being mistaken as a puppy rottie, and her modelling skills got a good laugh (and a shot on the train footplate, not many dogs can claim that). After the round trip we decided to go on the harbour walk and let Missy stretch her legs. We had not real destination in mind other that a vague 'that way, towards Kinneil' and ended up going for a walk around a tidal island. 
The gorse bushes were clearly full of rabbits and Missy was almost yellow from the pollen when she decided to check in on us. As a treat, we spotted the train passing us by and I was lucky enough to get a shot of it before we lost it in the foliage. 

As I said, Saturday was miserable so I managed a lot of sewing. Missy was given plenty of walks and chased some bunnies, but wasn't in the mood for a soggy adventure and happily slept on the sofa whilst I worked away. I have a large project that I aim to start this week, but wanted to do a palette cleanse project first as I've done a few large ones on the bounce. This ones a gift for my sister who adores all things spooky:

There's a lot more to the set, but didn't want to clutter the photo too much - 4 place mats, 6 coasters, 3 big bowl covers, 4 small bowl covers (a must against the cats), 3 pot holders, the teapot cosie and table runner. I'm rather looking forward to offering to set the table when I next visit!

Although I am concerned her other house guests may start to presume she's a witch in disguise - or that she's gone completely batty!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

A busy week and Calmity Forest

It's been a pretty crazy week, but a pretty awesome one. 

After a whirlwind visit from the in laws who took Missy away on her holidays, it was a double family holiday to Disneyland Paris with my sister, her hubby and two kids. Its the first time I've done Disney with kids - my niece and nephew being 2 and 5 respectively, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it went amazingly. 

Of course there was some tantrums, but they were of the sort triggered by having too much happy - my nephew was inconsolable after two goes on Casey Junior, and then a boat ride and then a Mickey Mouse pizza! It was great to see the delight on their faces and see them truly believe in the magic of it all. I couldn't honestly pick my favourite parts, but watching my niece explore the Cheshire Cat Maze was definitely one of them!

Missy didn't miss out on any fun and was spoiled completely rotten whilst away with her grandparents. I was sent daily updates of the places they all visited and what friends she had made. She was returned to us Saturday morning and, at time of writing, is still sleeping off the week, much like the rest of us!

We decided to go to Calmity Forest today as it was pointed out as a good walk to us by the FIL when we were visiting Ruby. It was a delightful riverside walk that, in drier weather, would be a definite recommend. Its clearly rained all week whilst we were away as the ground is absolutely saturated through (and my garden has sprouted like crazy).

Missy certainly enjoyed the walk - she was hunting voles in the long grass and sniffing along the old deer trails. Its funny how empty the house felt without her, even with all my family staying. Very pleased to have her back!

I didn't get much sewing done whilst away, but I'll share this fabulous set of short dungarees I made for my niece as part of her Disney experience. Shes a big Darth Vader fan (and yes, we did queue to meet him) so I felt the print was just perfect. An added bonus is that the white bits all glow in the dark too!