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!