Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Self-exercising dog?

The first thing you need to know is that I am useless at taking video.

The second thing you need to know is that Millie is fast, blisteringly fast, and when this was taken she was already tired and going slowly . . .

If, like me, you get motion sickness really easily, you might not enjoy this.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Millie's first day

Yes, you read that right - Little Lady has a name.  You can call her Millie, or the Honourable Lady Millicent the Magnificent if you want to really curry favour.  I am calling her all those things, plus whatever appropriate endearments trip off the tongue.

Our first day has been full-on and we're knackered.  She slept brilliantly - I had to wake her at 8.00am when I figured it was bladder emptying time and she really didn't want to get up.  No walks outside the garden yet, but plenty of exercise either walking around Bag End, or doing flat-out racehorse impersonations and tearing up the Cottage Garden lawn {gardener shrugs shoulders and truly does not care!!}

Busy day because the fridge was woefully short of fresh vegetables so I nipped out first thing and stocked us up on two-legs food, and four-legs food, and various bits which I did not need her present for.  Came home, unpacked the car, then we took Millie to Cockermouth and found a lovely soft harness which she cannot wriggle out of, and a couple of toys.  She continues to travel extremely well in the car apart from the small incident which led to the demise of a bee/wasp.

No photos - but it was hot, car windows open and a buzzy thing flew into the car, Millie does a fine job of trying to catch it whilst Management tries to stop her and get rid of buzzy thing and I keep my eyes on a terribly narrow road that we were using because our normal route had been closed due to an accident. We seem to have rapidly returned to the insanity that has often personified Bag End life.

No photos either of Millie's first bath.  I had it all planned so well - buckets of warm water in the Cottage Garden from which she cannot escape if it all went horribly wrong.  A gentle dilute shampoo on hand, and lots of big towels for after.  What I hadn't planned so well was the weather;  I got her wet, but halfway through applying the shampoo the heavens opened.  I was already very wet too so decided to press on and start rinsing her off, but when the thunder started almost directly overhead and the rain took on monsoon-like ferocity I dumped one last big jug of water over her head and we both sprinted back indoors - no help from Management because he had needed to go out briefly!

Millie has a very gentle manner and it took no time for her to forgive me, and since then apart from the odd bowl of food or attempt to kill Squeaky-Rabbit she has crashed out big time.  Management joked about the fact that I've always wanted a dog who would curl up on the sofa with me - neither Ollie or Daisy would do so.  He said "I never thought if you ever got what you wanted it would be from a dog quite so big".  He's right, I'm already wondering if our new (only a month old) sofa is too small . . .

And here's a couple I took yesterday, shame about the IBC tank in the background, and we must get lounging-around-during-the-day beds which are big enough :)

Monday, 29 July 2019


A couple of weeks ago I woke up and realised, with remarkable clarity, that I needed a dog.

And as soon as I had acknowledged that thought, and accepted it, it felt like I was coming to the surface after too long under water.

When Ollie died it took me over three years until I was ready to share our lives with another four-paws, and after the deep, soul-tearing shock of Daisy’s death it is not surprising that I assumed the same sort of time-scale would apply this time. But every death is different, and Management and I are not the same people now as we were when we lost "The Boy”.   We had some very long talks: did I really mean it or was this just another phase of bereavement, an emotional something that I would move past. And then we got online, checking out rescues, making phone calls, doing all that adopting a dog entails. Last weekend we had an exhausting 250 mile round trip to a dog who had, poor little thing, issues way beyond our capabilities.

I got past the emotional wringer of that, and on a whim contacted Homeless Hounds, from whom Daisy had (sort of) come. They had a little girl whose pictures and brief description captured my heart, but she was not available for us - she was about to be moved onto another rescue and we were far too far out of their normal adoption area.

But the incredibly selfless lady who runs this charity admitted to me today that she “saw” something in M. and I.  Long story short, after being home-checked and thoroughly interviewed, today we drove down to Lancashire, met this little girl and brought her back to Cumbria - officially for a ‘home trial’ - we can back out at any time in the next couple of weeks and no-one will think less of us.

We had decided a smaller dog would be very sensible as we get older, so this Little Lady is of slimmer build than Daisy but might end up taller.

We had decided that our next family member would, like Daisy, be at least 7 or 8 years old. As a stray with absolutely no history no-one has a clue how old Little Lady is, but looking at her mouth and the delightful skittish way she plays with her toys we are probably in the 12-18 months old range.

One thing we were sure about was that our next baby needed to travel well in the car. As I typed this in draft whilst Management steered us up the M6 she was flat out in the back of the Forrester snoring her head off next to me. So at least we met one criteria out of three.

I do know she is going to need a bath (usual “kennel smell”) and that she is incredibly quiet and gentle, and can go mad on the lead if she sees anything exciting:

"Oh look, there’s a butterfly, wheeeee, bet I can catch it.   

Oh look that’s a wasp, wheeeeee, I bet I can catch that too".

I have also worked out very quickly that the garden might never be the same - her "zoomies" in the Cottage Garden are a thing to behold and everything goes in her gentle mouth to find out what it is - plants, pens, the Sky remote . . .   I will try to get video tomorrow of the Self Exercising Hound.

What we are not sure of, bless her tired little heart, is her name . . .  she hasn’t told me yet.
Although there is an idea, see if it "takes" overnight.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

A day in pictures

Friday was hard and at the end of it we were completely wiped out, but thankful to be in that situation, "first world problems" and all that.  In truth, the entire week has been particularly tiring . . . both emotionally and physically.

Tiring started last weekend with a day trip to Scotland, a 260 mile round trip.  Tuesday and Wednesday mornings were busy with new yoga classes - Tuesday's was physically very tiring and Wednesday's was only slightly less so.  Every afternoon this week has been spent in the garden taking advantage of the superb weather (superb because we never got above 23/24 degrees and did not have to endure the significantly higher temperatures that London and the south were subjected to).  We are both thoroughly out of condition and working outside most of the week has been knackering, but no complains because we have got a lot of maintenance and tidying up done, and the fact that I even had the motivation to get outside was cause for celebration. 🎉 🍾

On Monday our builder had actually popped in when he said he would, measured up for the external access points and promised to come back on Friday morning.  And he did . . . good grief,  AND the carpenter turned up a couple of hours later as promised.  Even though we weren't doing the work there are endless questions/micro decisions to make, and the overall mess & stress of having trades around.  I've come to the conclusion I hate it, actually, that is not true - I BLOODY hate it.  It is possible that next time anything is done indoors I'm going out/away;  Management won't enjoy having to be in charge of it all but he "owes" me numerous days of supervisory duty for all the years he was slogging down to London whilst I was coping with builders/plumbers/electricians and LP   😁

First undercoat/primer is on, but it's too damp today to do the next coat.  The hatches are secured and covered up until next week.

It has not all been hard work, there are potentially good things happening too but I am not going to tempt fate and talk about it.  I'm putting in a lot of work to overcome/deal with/move on from my depression and starting to see results.  There have been a couple of "lovelies" this week:

An unexpected present from a friend with the best heart - a "real" book, such a joy although I have done no more than dip into it so far.

My view with coffee before the yoga class commences:

Friday, 19 July 2019

Knock-on effect

So, last night I walked past the dishwasher when the door was open and caught my ankle.


And it hurt like hell and still hurt when I went to bed.  I guess I slept wonky in an attempt to ‘protect’ the ankle from the weight of the duvet, or something, and woke up with no lower limb pain but a really horrid kink in my back!  One of those “it hurts sitting, standing and walking, and stretching doesn’t help” kinks. Nothing serious, it will wear off.

But I was in need of a laugh.

And thanks to Pinterest, I found it:

I think this is who I will be when I grow up.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Signs and portents

Yesterday was (by recent standards) a good day; today not so much.

But when I glanced outside after a supper and saw this, I have to wonder if it was a sign that we ought not ignore . . .

Damn, the view from this place just doesn't get 'old'  🤩
We both still pinch ourselves on an almost daily basis . . .

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A different harbour

Am feeling a little more pleased with myself than I have of late.  It's Wednesday which counts as 'day three' in my way of organising a week, and I have been out in Bill THREE TIMES!   Yay, that's massive to actually get off my bottom and go out three days running.

Both Monday and Tuesday were little shopping outings combined with a brief stop at Workington harbour in the vain hope I might see dolphin again, but it was not to be.  Possibly also not to be is much returning to this location.  On both visits this week I was bitten to scratched insanity by something, maybe tiny sand fleas (which aren't fleas but minuscule crustaceans).   Whatever it was my skin has reacted badly and it's not nice.  Neither, I have concluded, is the "feel" of the parking area here.  It is not unsafe, there are no piles of stinking litter or unpleasant people lurking around, but three short visits is enough to convince me that the location has no soul.

Today Bill and I ventured a little further afield, although sudden rain curtailed a walk from the cliff top down to a different harbour, but I am sure it will happen on a different day.  A location which felt much nicer, easy and level parking (always helpful in a camper) and included one of the best yoga classes I've ever taken.

This plaque had my stomach turn inside-out.  160 fathoms?  Holy heck, that is 960 feet in new money (or 290 metres to younger folk), just the thought of it makes me shudder.

The rain followed me home so there was much hunkering down and minimal activity for the rest of the day.

Monday, 15 July 2019

A sunny afternoon in which I learn a couple of things

The first is that the GPS locator on my phone is alarmingly accurate:

The second is that those interesting little black triangles in the far distance are not fins:

If I knew the first thing about the sea, which I don't, I would have realised immediately they are channel markers.

No dolphins, but some amusing sunbathing starlings and a couple of pretty little Black-headed Gulls.

And a campervan which made Bill feel very under-dressed.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Overcoming inertia

M. and I have worked very hard over the years to create the home we want, and generally we've been successful.  In a strange way maybe too successful.  Because it is so comfortable here, the views are wonderful and I have all my "toys" to hand - whether they be for sewing, gardening, reading or whatever.  So when I am feeling incredibly "bluuueeerrgh" and none of the things I used to go out and enjoy are anything I want to do right now, it is actually terribly easy to stay put.  In a lovely comment recently, 'Florida Farm Girl' summed this up perfectly when she said "it's that inertia thing".  She is so very right.

I absolutely had to force myself, but yesterday I drove over to 'Dolphin Harbour' for a couple of hours.  Didn't see any Tursiops and the first time I tried to go for a short walk I got half soaked, and on the second attempt I was nearly blown off my feet, but at least I got out of the house even if I did spend most of my time sitting in the van with a big mug of tea and binoculars 🙃

A nice Herring Gull was up for a portrait session though:

And I got to wonder at the amount of braincells (or sheer bloody-mindedness?) it takes to stand on the end of a breakwater, in gusty winds, on an incoming tide?

Today was more deliberate 'inertia-busting'.  Finally got the sewing machine switched on and modified one of those packing cubes which are absolutely useless for clothes.  But it's now got potential for camera accessories.

Finally made a start on one of the boxes of scraps, small strips have become 'slab' and 2½" strips just cannot help themselves - they will end up becoming a long, long strip and eventually some sort of 'Random' pieced top.  It's slow going and going to take a very long time until I get all these boxes of scraps cleared out.

Monday, 8 July 2019

That went much better than expected . . .

The clematis over the canopy is no more.  We cut off all the cable ties holding the netting onto the frame, then Management fixed a strap to the back corner and he rolled as I pulled.

There was a small whoopsy when the strap came adrift and I flew backwards onto the green trolley (ouch) but no significant damage occurred.  It didn't take long to cut the net away from the plant, and take it in sections down to the compost bin, where the blackbirds think Christmas has come early.

No point being sad about cutting down such a big plant, although I am.
I suspect removing the steel is going to take a lot more work 😏

In other news, on Friday whilst Management kept an eye on the boiler service, changing out parts which haven't worn well, and whatever else was being brought up to a better standard, I managed to get hold of our builder and a carpenter so "Plan B" for more mucking around under the floor has officially commenced ☺️.    In the afternoon I wasn't in the mood to do anything "nice" but I didn't want to sit around doing nothing, so I cleaned and polished nearly all of the house.  Bonkers, exhausting, but satisfying.

With all my usual "weekend jobs" done a day early any sensible person would have gone off somewhere in the campervan.  But I struggle to break through the inertia, and I really couldn't be ****ed;  there is still a tear or two on an almost daily basis but I know eventually this will pass and I'll be back on my travels.

Thursday, 4 July 2019


Spelunking - a delightfully silly word which sounds much dafter than the English version of potholing.

Potholing - a word which, whenever I hear it, has me asking (usually loudly) BUT WHY?   Why the hell would you want to . . . It's not that I am disinterested in geology, but claustrophobia and going underground into confined spaces just don't mix.  I can no longer get on an aeroplane, and forget using a lift (that's what stairs are for).  So it came as a monumental surprise to both Management and ME when this morning I found myself suggesting I got appropriately dressed and braved the confined and cobweb encrusted voids under our house.

We have found a new plumber/heating engineer who seems unfazed by many of Bag End's idiosyncrasies and one task he agrees would be worthwhile is to rummage about under the house where access is possible, and put new insulation on as many pipes as we can reach.  This is a thoroughly horrible job which other trades have agreed to do, but never actually completed.  Having spent nearly an hour under the floor this morning I cannot really say I blame them.  Some of the spaces are a metre tall, but the main access is about 12" and requires a belly-crawl.

A bit of a survey was needed, and one that we were in charge of, not someone else emerging covered in cobwebs and dirt saying "yeah, 50 metres ought to do it".

So off I went, and took as many photos as I could (which don't even begin to show how dusty and messy and generally horrible it is) but of course once back in the real world and cleaned up it was apparent I might need to do it again; oh the joys of an old house 🤬.  And there are big sections where access is frightful and getting materials in would be a nightmare, so I've suggested a Plan B.  Plan B will cost five times as much and take eight times longer but I think might be worth it.

Remember that big bit of wall under the bedroom window - behind it is a big void.  I'm thinking large hole in the wall with a lintel, door and a padlock . . .   just need to find a co-operative builder.