Always Strive To Be The Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Friday, 2 October 2015

Dos amigos

Nearly three years ago the manager of Animal Care and I bundled a very unhappy little girl into a soft crate in my car and tried to ignore her cries as we did up the zips.  Daisy (or Macey as she was then) didn't make much noise; she was too tired, too scared and too hungry.  On my journey home there was the occasional grumble and whimper and I had to just harden my heart and get up the M6 as quickly as possible.  I still wonder what on earth she was thinking.  Having been rescued in Bolton by Homeless Hounds she was transported to Lancaster where we found her.  Who knows what unpleasant journeys she'd suffered before that, so it is no surprise that she was deeply unhappy at the prospect of more car travel.

She never really did like my Honda but the Scooby seems to suit her much better and she has to be restrained from jumping in before the back is fully open (it's one of those automatic thingies).  I guess by now she realises that nearly all trips in the car now end at rather nice places:-)

As she made that scary journey our little girl could have had no idea what sort of life was ahead of her.  Does Little Miss Perfect now realise just how privileged she is that THIS is one of our local dog walks? 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

October is officially "be nice to myself month"

With Christmas decorations already in the shops we hurtle at breakneck pace to that introspective time of year when bloggers, diarists and all & sundry other writers begin to review the preceding 12 months.  I'm no different so look away now if all you want is pretty pictures of Daisy and the fells*.  What follows is going to bore the backsides off everyone and is recorded for my own benefit.

2015 will be remembered for finally breaking the back of the major jobs in the house and garden, hurrah, for finally getting our Lovely Lunar, hurrah, and for me being not terribly well, hurrumph...... 

At the start of the year my back muscles went into spasm which was less than amusing seeing as Management was 300 miles away at the time.  Took a few weeks for that to completely go away.

There was a bout of gastritis probably brought on by taking NSAIDS to combat the muscle pain (below) which scared the cr*p out of me for a few days until we confirmed a diagnosis.  

Then we have the ongoing problem of constant muscle pain, limited range of movement and general things-not-right in my arms and shoulders.   Anyone who has been around Bag End for a while might recall that on and off I've had a horrible time for about the last three years.  Long story massively condensed:   Previous GP was cr*p and didn’t care after I refused surgery for [supposed] calcific tendonitis; changed practice, new GP took less than 10 minutes to identify Polymyalgia Rheumatica, the miracle treatment for which is Prednisolone. Within 4 days all the pain had gone and I was sleeping properly which meant the brain fog cleared and the Energiser Bunny was back. WONDERFUL. Only the treatment tends to be for up to 2 years and I did not tolerate the steroids at all well, leading to taking myself off them after a couple of months.
Steroids play merry hell with blood sugar levels and for someone who is at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if I’m not careful, This Was Not A Good Thing.  End of this saga is back to nice GP who shrugs and, if I won't take steroids or the exciting alternative Amitriptyline (Google that one if you want some unpleasant side-effects), can offer nothing except physio.  Which offers nothing that I'm not already doing for myself via yoga and dog walking. 

And to top it all the infection in my knee which, despite my general reluctance to take prescription meds, could have become something dreadfully nasty without antibiotics (although I will never shake the suspicion that if I hadn't been taking steroids - which suppress the immune system - the infection might not have taken hold in the first place).  Still limping a bit and having to be careful not to do too much.

I confess whilst I was on the steroids I felt GREAT, leaping out of bed before the alarm went, feeling wonderful and ready to take on the day.  But if I really do have Polymyalgia (and the jury is actually out on that one) then steroids do no more than mask the symptoms until it clears up on its own.  And apart from "oh, it's an auto-immune condition" no-one can say what causes it or how to get rid of it.  So Management and I have done our own exhaustive research and concluded that painkillers to help me sleep and a good diet are my best [only?] option.  Prednisolone is too risky and I'll end up with steroid-induced diabetes which is really going to f*ck up my health, so the new diet is very low carb.  But alongside diet is the [radical and new to me] activity of really looking after myself - putting myself first, letting "The Lists" go to hell and get dusty, and just chilling out.

So that is why October is officially 'be kind to myself month' and November and December might just head the same way!

* I lied - of course there are pictures of Daisy and the fells :-)   On Tuesday Little Miss Perfect and I had our first visit in far too long to Crummock Water.  I have christened the beautiful quiet beach on the Mellbreak side "Solitude Bay" and had the joy and privilege of sitting in the sun for nearly an hour in total peace and quiet.  That definitely counts as being nice to myself!

and now I'm off to sleep in the caravan - just for the fun of it :-)

Thursday, 24 September 2015


It was many, many years ago that Management and I bought our first home together.  It was a new build, and by the time we found the house the developer had installed the kitchen.  It was wood and very brown:

(Clearly I had not cleaned up for this old photograph)

A few years later we decided to move and purchased another new build.  By the time we found the house the developer had installed the kitchen.  It was wood and very brown:

(Yes, I had cleaned up for this one!)

A few years later we moved and purchased Bag End.  Which obviously had a kitchen.  It was wood and very brown:

(Before we moved in)

Are you seeing a pattern here?  For nearly 25 years I have badly wanted a kitchen THAT WAS NOT BROWN.  And for nearly 25 years I have lived with very good quality, solid wood kitchens which were brown.  I could never justify the expense and waste of getting rid of a perfectly good set of units, and changing doors doesn't sort out the problem of corner shelves, coving and edges.

Six years ago we met Kate, a local painter and artist who specialises in kitchens.  Whilst I would have LOVED to have her work here back in 2009 there was no point when we knew the kitchen was going to get knocked about a bit. So in November 2010 we changed the cooker and lots of units were taken down and reassembled in new places. And two years later we did the same thing, but on a larger scale;  it is hard to believe that was nearly three years ago (but we don't always move fast at Bag End!)

However, on Monday morning, Kate arrived to finally transform our kitchen into the room I have been waiting for for a very long time.  This is Days One and Two.  Every door has been removed and sanded down, and there are two undercoats.  She is now working hard on FOUR coats of Farrow & Ball "New White".  Yes it's disruptive, and yes, having everything upside down the same week as I can't walk around without a stick is definitely not ideal but oh, it is So Worth It!

As we have the Lovely Lunar as an 'outside kitchen' Management and I have been going down to the caravan every morning for a leisurely breakfast, which rather minimises the grief of having your kitchen in chaos.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Taking things for granted?

I would like to think that I do not take my (generally) very good health for granted but the last week has reminded me to say 'thank you', very quietly, every day.

A severe but not particularly unusual tumble in the garden seemed to have given me 'just' a bruised wrist.  Unfortunately, by Friday lunchtime it was apparent there was a little more damage than first thought . . .   a small scratch which I had not even noticed allowed an evil infection to get hold of my knee and the last week has been eye-wateringly painful and unbelievably debilitating.  Thankfully the antibiotics seem to be working, the swelling is slowly going down and although I cannot walk far without a crutch, I can at least put weight on it and get around a little.

Management has been working at home, and doing all the Daisy-walks, and much of the cooking, and the running around and I suspect both he and Daisy will be as relieved as me when I'm back to normal!

"Bored, Bored, Bored
Why won't Mum play with me anymore or take me for walks?"

Life at Bag End is never quiet and boring, and at 7.00am this morning we had no water.  Which bothered us very little but I am sure it has upset many of our neighbours greatly.  There are some folk around here who really cannot cope with their little worlds being slightly disrupted.  Dear Management zoomed to the nearest supermarket as it opened and came home with enough bottled drinking water to last us a couple of days and we took advantage of the caravan to cook and wash.

United Utilities managed to repair the burst water main (which half blocked the A66 and caused all sorts of chaos) by tea-time.  It was a useful reminder not to take our clean, safe and hygienic supply of drinking water for granted.

And now I shall take full advantage of flowing taps and go and soak in a deep bath full of Epsom Salts.  Limping around with a knee that will not bend throws everything else out of alignment and my hips, back and shoulders will also be relieved when I am back to normal!

Monday, 21 September 2015

A very sad day

Today started so well.

And then it went distinctly downhill.

I've often said this would happen but I always, desperately, wanted to be wrong.   I've been in touch with the local red squirrel protection group and a trap is set.  The grey will be back now it has discovered a tasty food source.  When the little grey bastard is caught he will be shot.  If you don't like that then tough.  The only thing which would prevent the demise of our beautiful native reds is the eradication of non-native greys.  There is neither the will nor strength of public opinion to do enough about this to really make a difference, so all over the country small pockets of volunteers do what they can. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

The (ever changing) View from Bag End

Settle down, if you will, for a little story.

By the time Management and I moved into our rented house in November 2007, thanks to Rightmove we were well acquainted with the details and specification of nearly all the properties for sale in a 20 mile radius.   Six weeks later we had viewed every house that might have had the potential to become our new home - and rejected all of them for one reason or another.

On a wet and grey Sunday morning I had made an appointment to visit the house we now know as Bag End even though we had absolutely no intention of buying it.  The house was too large, the garden too big (and there were all those Leylandii) and the asking price was silly.  It had been on the market for over a year partly because of the silly asking price and partly because Mrs Previous Owner made it abundantly plain that she really did not want to move*. However, after looking at the Rightmove details so many times I was itching to be damn nosy and have a look inside.

We walked up those horrible 'posh' steps (which are now no more) and waited on the then doorstep.  It was damp, the cloud was low and I think it was fairly cold. Through the leafless huge cherry trees we could see the river, and the base of the fells from Grisedale Pike to Grasmoor, but not a lot more.

Management stuck his hands in his pockets, turned 180 degrees and looked at what little of the view could be seen.  He denies it, but this is a little bit of body language I recognise and interpret fairly accurately.  It always puts me in mind of the late Jack Warner saying "Good evening, all" at the beginning of 'Dixon of Dock Green'.  As I watched him take in the the huge expanse of sky I knew there and then we were buying this house regardless of what we found inside.  A few years and a lot of tree surgery later I still shake my head in amazement and wonder every day when I look out and see the constantly changing landscape unfold in front of us.

None of these photos have been edited, they are "SOOC" - straight out of camera.

18th August, 8.30pm

24th August, 8.00am

1st September, 8.00pm

3rd September, 8.00pm

17th September, 7.00am

* What we didn't know during the first visit was that Mrs PO HAD to move.  
What she didn't know was that you never want to sit the opposite Management during a negotiation if you have the remotest hope of coming out on top and when he says "take it or leave it" he is not bluffing.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Damn, drat, b*gger, blast.

Wednesday's squashed hand has now regained almost full mobility and the swelling has mostly gone down although the side of my thumb joint is definitely 50 Shades of Purple.  Unfortunately, that has not been the end of my 'little tumble'.  On Wednesday night when I knelt to do the wood burner I discovered I had a very sore knee.  Most of yesterday I hobbled around, or sat around and assumed it was just a bit beaten up; no bruising, not much swelling, I was fairly certain nothing was broken.

Today it's been more than painful and walking was becoming almost impossible.  Management INSISTED we were going to hospital.  I agreed as long as we went to a nearby Minor Injuries clinic and not A&E.  Whilst the poor NHS crumbles under the weight of current pressures there are still outstanding personnel in local units who do their damnedest to deliver the highest level of care and we saw one such Nurse Practitioner this afternoon.

A lady called Pat gave my leg a thorough examination, procured an Orthopedic Consultant with a wait of approximately three minutes, and together they agreed I had no breaks, no ligament damage, but there was an infection introduced by a small puncture I'd not even noticed.  This morning my knee looked fairly normal, by mid afternoon it was red, hot, angry and in bad need of antibiotics.

So that's me on Flucloxacillin for a week and Management on Daisy-walking duty. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015


Dear Daisy,

Which bit of "that ball lives in the garden, not the sitting room" do I need to translate into a language you might understand?

The boys have been shopping

Whilst I spent much of the day in a relaxed Tramadol-induced haze, the boys went to a nearby scrapyard and did some shopping.

The sheeting is for our big compost bins.

With a bit more expert welding from Management, most of the posts will become a base for another shed . . .

. . . yes, another shed!  No such thing as too much dry storage in the wettest county in England.  I'm now starting to believe that, this time, LP really is going to move house.  Not content with clearing the garden of all his logs, last week we were the recipients of his garden shed.  "Small" by Bag End standards at 8' x 6' it weighs a horrible amount as it's fully insulated and lined.  There was much sweating and possibly even a little swearing as LP, Management and LP's neighbour carried everything from the drive to the top of the garden.

Next instalment in a couple of weeks :-)

Mildly insane but fun

1.  LP and trailer collect so-cheap-it's-almost-free bundle of waste wood and offcuts from local timberyard.

2.  LP and Management spend half of the day cutting it up and moving it to the log store.

3.  So much fun is had that LP goes back after lunch for a second bundle.

4.  We end up with so much wood that it has to be piled in the veg patch until we can get it stacked under cover . . .

5.  LP then spends best part of a day efficiently and neatly filling builders' bags :-)

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5  =  at least two year's worth of 'small stuff' that burns extremely well.  And yes, I know we've already cornered the market in 'large stuff' when it comes to local leylandii but anyone with a wood-burner or open fire will tell you that you need both large and small bits.

We did this last week.  After Wednesday's 'little tumble', today I ache in places I didn't know I had places.  However, the Gods of Careless Gardeners were definitely watching over me yesterday and in the great scheme of things I've got away remarkably unscathed.   Even so, most of Thursday is going to be spent messing around on the computer 'cos it hurts too much to do anything else :-)

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


Surprisingly few caravan related posts since our Lovely Lunar arrived at Bag End but we've not been completely idle. A small amount of customising has sorted out wardrobe and under-bed storage.

The drawer unit finds itself in the basement room replaced by a custom-made cushion from a local upholstery firm.

Although events and life have conspired to scupper two attempts to go away for a trial weekend we have slept in the van (and cooked breakfast).  With the indulgence of pure wool duvets and mattress topper it's a sound and thoroughly lovely night of ZZZzzzzzzzs.

Extra hooks in lots of places :-)

We've worked hard to ensure Daisy is relaxed and happy in the van, think we've succeeded.   MUST make a start on the new curtains.

After The.Great.Magnolia.Removal it was a surprisingly easy task to reposition the caravan which looks much, much better tucked into the side of the drive.