Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Update on Rocky my foster greyhound

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Rocky our current foster greyhound came to stay with us in September.  Since fostering him we have been told a little more of his previous history.  Apparently he was bred in Ireland in 2003 and bought over to England for the purpose of hare coursing, which he was quite good at.  After hunting with dogs was banned here in the UK he was no longer useful to his owners – another words once he could no longer make them any money, they weren’t interested.  So lucky for Rocky (as he didn’t meet a different more final fate) he was relinquished into the care of a rescue centre.  This is where his history gets sketchy for the next 2 years.  We can only assume he was pushed around the re-homing system, when probably in a bid to finally get him adopted he was transferred to Great Yarmouth Homefinders, part of the The Retired Greyhound Trust.  In 2007 he was finally adopted along with another greyhound by someone in Sheringham.  Rocky must at last have thought he had found his forever home but after 2 years he again found himself homeless.  This is where Annie of Action for Greyhounds stepped in and took ownership of him and this is when he came into our lives.  He had lived with a cat and was supposed to be cat friendly but Ali our cat was just too interesting for him and it took quite awhile for him to lose interest in him.  Now in the house he is fine with him but outside in the garden the chase instinct kicks in and he can’t resist giving chase.  Luckily Ali being very old now spends most of his time indoors and usually only ventures outside when he knows it is safe to do so.  Also Rocky is very interested in my chickens as the first thing he does when he is let out in the morning is to race over to their run to see on the off chance if one of them has escaped enabling him to have a jolly good chase round.  A couple of months ago this happened and he was gleefully chasing round the garden with one of my geriatric chickens in his mouth.  We managed to wrestle her out of his jaws and thought she must have died of fright but lo and behold she was none the worse for her ordeal.

Rocky is one of the quietest and easy to look after greyhound I have looked after.  In the house you wouldn’t know you had him as with most greyhounds he LOVES to sleep.  On walks he is easy to walk and doesn’t pull at all.  As he has been a hare courser in his younger days, he is quite ‘keen’ so on the occasions when we do let him off the lead, it has to be somewhere fairly safe if he gets it into his head to take off as his recall out our garden is non existent.  Most of the time he is content to quietly lollop alongside sniffing all the wondrous smells that are in the big outside world.  As yet there hasn’t been any interest in him.  As Action for Greyhounds is mainly a campaigning group it will be a matter of waiting for that one special person or family that wants a dog with Rocky’s personality.  He is so friendly with everyone he meets, young and old alike.  Very clean in the house and sleeps all through the night and can be left in the house safely.  Most of the time he is ok with other dogs but once in awhile he will take an instance dislike to a dog he either meets or can see on the other side of the road and he will snarl and bark aggressively – although i think this is out of fear mainly as he is quite submissive especially with my own greyhound Tillie.  He is the dog we have looked after the longest mainly because all the other times I have fostered have been for a different charity whose main priority is rehoming and not campaigning.  Secretly, I hope that no one wants to adopt him as I think he is gorgeous, a real halo dog and the only reason I haven’t openly said I would keep him forever is the fact that I wouldn’t be able to continue to foster other greyhounds.  So I am content to look after and love this special hound as long as it takes.

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Monday, 28 December 2009

Tote-tastic!

I was mooching around the internet looking for a string bag type pattern and came across this wonderful pattern Reusable Crocheted Grocery Bag.  Since finding this pattern a couple of days ago I can’t stop making them.  I have mostly been using some of the yarn that people have kindly donated to me for the use of making items for fund raising for the greyhound charities I support.  Some of this yarn wouldn’t have been suitable for making toys etc with but is absolutely ideal for making these string type bags.  Apart from the all beige, all cotton bag (far left in photo) I have been combining yarn and crocheting with mostly 2 or 3 yarns of different weight & colour with quite nice results. The yellow & white bag was made with a white nylon/acrylic yarn (Sirdar Sunseeker Souffle) and some yellow, hairy mohairish type yarn. The pattern is genius as there is no sewing up involved as you start from the handles and work down to the bottom of the bag.  The only reason I have slowed up making them is my thumbs are sore especially the left one – the dreaded RSI has reared its ugly head and I think I need to rest them for awhile. It is strange as the thumb that hurts the most is the in-active one, the thumb that holds the project.  I will have to try and relax my grip.

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Monday, 21 December 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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Well the icy grip of winter has its hold on most of the UK now and it is looking likely that we are going to have a white Christmas after all.  I know it isn’t like the snow other countries are used to but for the UK it is a lot for us!  I was supposed to be helping Annie of Action for Greyhounds with some collections outside a couple of Pet Shops all this week but the weather has put a hold on this as we collect outside the shops.  Maybe later on in the week we maybe able to collect for a few hours as it will be a shame to miss out on this vital fund raising event.

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Friday, 18 December 2009

The Best Christmas Card of the Year

When I went upstairs to bed last night, laying on my pillow was my Christmas card from Nigel.  By far it is the best card I have received, combining two of my favourite things – greyhounds & knitting.  I am so lucky to have such a caring and talented husband, especially as he puts up with all the visiting hounds that come and go and vast mountains of yarn around the place!

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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Mittens & Snoods

Brrrr!! The temperature has dropped considerably since last week.  Until now we have been experiencing really mild weather for the time of year but since since Sunday it has got chillier and the last two nights we have had frost – the first ones of the winter.  Tillie and Rocky were glad of their warm coats and snoods on their morning ramble today.  They are sporting the wonderful pattern by Erssie Major - Dizzy Lizzy A Snood for a Greyhound - Money from the sale of the pattern is donated by Erssie to her local greyhound rescue charity.

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I wanted to knit a pair of Bella mittens for a Christmas gift.  Now I am not a great lover of circular or dpns and normally avoid it, after all I only have 2 hands and 2 hands = 2 needles – enough said!  Anyway I gritted my teeth and cast on.  Lovely, all was going well (at this point I was knitting on circular needles using the magic loop method) until I got to the thumb gusset.  All hell broke loose as I left some stitches on a holder and attempted to knit the remaining bit of the mitten.  What I ended up with was a huge hole.  I ripped back and attempted again, twice but to no avail, as I was still left with a hole.  After spending a good few hours Saturday night on about a fifth of a mitten I admitted defeat and undid the whole lot.  The next day I found a sort of similar pattern knitted on 2 needles (Mittens knit on two needles – A Pair of Cables) and proceeded to churn out 2 mittens in as many hours.  Not quite the mittens I was after but all I could manage at the time – I hope the recipient likes them anyway.  I will attempt the Bella mittens on circs again but I will get a longer set, I think this might help. 

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Sunday, 13 December 2009

Yummy!

Did a bit of cooking today.  We had a roast dinner – Pheasant (which was a gift from a customer) for Nigel but not for me as I don’t partake in the eating of animal flesh, instead I had 2  veggie sausages and all the veg including leeks and carrots from the garden, Yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips and roast potatoes.  I made a maple & oatmeal loaf of bread and for the finale what we call in our household ‘Triple Decker’ – way too many calories but I only make it once in blue moon.  Delicious, especially as there was melted Galaxy chocolate on top!  As I said in my title YUMMY!

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Finished Bags & Bags of Bits

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I have finished off the first String Bag in Sirdar Denim Chunky Brown and also another one in the same yarn but a flecky plum colour.  I finished them off with some small flowers sewed on just below the handles.  They are so easy to make and practically no sewing up (which I am beginning to loathe).

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The husband of my friend Barbara (she of the volunteer knitter fame) dropped some bags of finished pieces off at the boatyard for me to stuff and sew.  Barbara loves knitting and will knit anything I ask and really quickly but she hates sewing up!  There is a mixture of her own things and some things she has knitted up for me to sell for greyhound rescue.  Over the next few weeks especially during the holidays, I will hopefully get them assembled.  Keep logging in and I will let you know what those little bags of bits turn into!

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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Bond Bag Lady

Cast on last night (can you cast on in crochet?) the string bag from First Crochet by Lesley Stanfield with some Sirdar Denim Chunky. 

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Not sure how this is going to turn out as it doesn’t look very level to me at the moment.  I had to rip it back a few times as I had half an eye on the book and half an eye watching an old Bond film On Her Majesty’s Service.  We watched it on video as we had collected all the Bond films for Sam on video but then videos are old hat now and he now has them all on dvd which he has taken with him to Uni.  Very dated, apparently made in 1969 and the skiing special effects are along the lines of the actors being filmed from the waist up swaying from side to side in front of a picture of some snow, but great anyway.   I love James Bond but was disappointed with the last film Quantum of Solace as I thought it never really got going although Daniel Craig is definitely easy on the eyes.  Anyway, hope to finish the bag tonight, if I don’t get sidetracked by something else - Alison Hoggs Cupcake Pattern is calling me…………..!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

End of hols

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Friday saw our last full day in the Derbyshire Dales.  We finally did the walk around Hartington we were supposed to do on the Monday.  The day was beautiful, clear blue skies and quite mild.  We parked the car in the side of the road high above Hartington village and walked through a little lane between fields edged with dry stone walling, whereupon we immediately met the River Dove tumbling down and through Wolfescote Dale. 

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We follow the river through the dale which is flanked either side by huge limestone crags and pasture with cows and sheep perched precariously, grazing the still lush green grass.  After a little while we turn up through Biggen Dale where the once path is now a small fast flowing stream, so we have to pick our way from slab to slab and tufts of not too wet grass and eventually arrive at a huge slab of limestone which lies conveniently by the path as if to welcome weary walkers to have a rest.  We stop for a coffee and mince pie break.  Tillie immediately gulped her pigs ears down and waited expectantly for any snippet of mince pie she could get. 

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We then move off and meet a very muddy lane where there is ample evidence of some newly herded cows, eventually meeting the road we drove up earlier and gently climb up this back to the car.  The little stone walled lane we started from is now filled with naughty sheep that have pushed their way through some wire and are now happily munching grass.

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We head back to the cottage where the owners are busily putting up Christmas lights around the farm which once it gets dark twinkle prettily in the dark.  Later on Nigel drives to Sheffield to to pick Sam & Sarah up and then drives back for me and we have a hugely enjoyable meal at The Ashford Arms.  We drive back once again to Sheffield to drop our guests off and drive back in some rather nasty fog to the cottage and by the time we arrive it is past midnight and all is very quiet in the adjoining cottages.

This morning sees us pack all our gear up and head one last time into Bakewell for a cooked breakfast before heading home to Norfolk.  The day again is bright with blue skies but the sun lays quite low in the sky and Nigel dons his sunglasses to drive the 4 hours journey home.  Its a quick unload of gear and then immediately out again to drive to Norwich to pick up Rocky from his holiday foster home where we are glad to hear he has behaved impeccably.

Nice to be home and looking forward to my own bed tonight.

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Lovely drawings by Nigel.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Water, water everywhere

Wednesday we drove to the Derwent Valley to walk alongside the Derwent Reservoir.  At the car park is the towering dam wall of Derwent Dam with water cascading over the top as the reservoir was full the other side.  The noise was deafening and I can only imagine how much water roars over the dam every day.  This place is the setting for the famous scene of the wartime film ‘The Dambusters’ where RAF’s Squadron 617 practiced bombing the dams at night before their mission to destroy the Ruhr valley dams in Germany.  I am not a great lover of war films but I like the films from this era such as ‘The Battle of Britain’ – very ‘jolly hockey sticks’ and ‘stiff upper lips chaps’! 

There is a footpath that goes around the whole of the area, snaking round the three reservoirs – Ladybower, Derwent and Howden.  These were built just after the turn of the last century and supplies water to most of Derbyshire, Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham.  It was quite a dull day so the photos didn’t come out well but it didn’t rain.  Also in my excitement to pack for our trip I omitted to pack the charger for the camera battery so we were trying to conserve the battery life and not take too many photos.  We walked on the right hand side of the Derwent Reservoir to the next dam which was also cascading with water, stopped to have some nibbles and a flask of coffee and retraced our steps back.

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In the evening we went to the Anchor Inn in Tideswell and had a meal that wasn’t worth writing about.  We were the only guests in the pub – draw your own conclusions.  Although we did see a good idea on top of the wood burner which we might try at home – an eco fan which distributes the heat a bit more around the room.  More snow whilst driving back to the cottage, however we were soon back inside warm and cosy.

Thursday dawned with rain which didn’t really stop until the afternoon.  We decided not to walk anywhere today as there is nothing worse (I think) than walking in the rain & mud, which round here there is plenty of.  We had a delicious cooked breakfast in The Bean & Bag in Bakewell (I had the veggie version), wandered around the shops buying a few bits and pieces for the people who are looking after Rocky for us whilst we are away.  We drove back to the cottage and had a really lazy time, reading, surfing the internet (free wifi here!), drawing (Nigel) & me knitting & crocheting.  About 2pm it finally stopped raining so we took Tillie out for a walk alongside the river in Partington Woods in Lathkill Dale.  Once back in the car we drove around looking for somewhere nice to eat later on and ended up in Castleton again and ate at the Cheshire Cheese Inn which again was what we call very ‘bog’ standard.  Back to the cottage again for a nice quiet evening apart from the guests staying below us having their TV on loud.  I didn’t come all this way to listen to someone else’s TV.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Chilly Tillie in the Hills

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We have been on some nice walks here in beautiful Derbyshire. On Monday, Nigel said we were going for a walk to Hartington but at the last minute changed his mind and we did a circular walk from just above Youlgreave taking in Bradford and Lathkill Dale – from the book Collins Ramblers Guide Peak District by Roly Smith.  Apparently it states it is about 4 miles and should take 2 hours – It certainly didn’t feel like it to me more like 6-7 miles.  Both Tillie and I were shattered by the time we got back to the car!  It was a very nice walk though and the weather was clear and bright.  We were wrapped up well in woollies and of course Tillie had her coat on. 

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She had to be poked under gates and prodded over stiles somewhat and Nigel had to lift her over a couple of stiles, no mean feat when she weighs about 30kgs!  In the evening we wandered across to Litton and the The Red Lion where we have eaten before and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals in this cosy, friendly pub – I had Spicey Vegetable Enchiladas and Nigel had Ham & Eggs followed by for me Stilton Cheese & biscuits and Spotted Dick & Custard for Nigel.  Got back to the cottage for a lovely warm and cosy evening, but not before we met Shirley one of the owners of the cottages searching in the dark for one of her wandering collies.  We offered our services for a search party but she didn’t seem to be that worried and luckily this morning he was present again. In bed by 10.30 which when we are at home unheard of for us as we don’t normally retire until about 11.30 to midnight but it must be all this fresh Derbyshire air as we slept through until 8.30 this morning!

After a late breakfast in Bakehill we headed off to Castleton, where we did another of the walks in the book mentioned above.  Although we found it difficult to find the start of the walk but after a bit of wandering around we eventually set forth up a very slippery and wet path (more like a stream bed) that was at the side of Peveril Castle

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This path climbed steadily and somewhat steeply to eventually come out on some hills overlooking Castleton.  The path eventually took us near the famous Blue John Caverns and then down through Winnats Pass which was spectacular.

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We eventually wound our way back into Castleton.  This walk didn’t seem to be as tiring as the previous one and yet it was supposed to be the same length.  Again we were extremely lucky with the weather as it was dry and sunny albeit chilly after quite a heavy frost last night.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Blogging in the hills

Saturday saw us return for the fourth time to Lathkill Cottage situated just outside Bakewell high up in the hills.  Hopefully we are here for the whole week this time as usually we normally only can manage a few days.  Yesterday was Nigel’s birthday and Sam our son and his girlfriend Sarah came over from nearby Sheffield where they are both at Uni and we went out for lunch with was unfortunately disappointing.  The service was really slow and unfriendly and the portions were somewhat disappointing.  I had mushroom risotto and for £10 I had a spoonful of mushroomy rice – rice being one of the cheapest ingredients around, this was served with nothing else.  Very disappointed, never mind we will try elsewhere in the week.

It is a lot colder here than in Norfolk and on Saturday night before we went to bed,I looked out of the window to see the first flurries of snow falling.  This didn’t settle and Sunday started off very wet and when we took Tillie for her morning walk the fields were extremely muddy – thank goodness I bought my wellies with me!

I have a whole box of wool, needles and patterns with me and I am enjoying knitting what I want for a change after tackling all that finishing off lately.  I have started my Autumn Log Cabin Throw, started and finished a pair of fingerless mittens for myself for dog walking, have started a secret project and also doing some Fuzzy Mitten toys.

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We are hoping that the weather stays dry today so we can go for a nice walk to Hartington after a cooked breakfast in Bakewell!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Catching up on sewing – Part 2

I am still battling away with sewing up all the projects in my FO box.  I know I said I wasn’t going to start anything else off until I had finished all the making up but I just had to try Debi Birkin's Diggerdy Dog Greyhound Pup.  I didn’t knit the trousers and knitted him in a brindle colour. 

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He has gone to his new home already!

Here are some more of the projects completed recently in my Marathon Making Up Session

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I am halfway through making up Sidney Slapstick, have 4 mini Jean Greenhowe elephants to make up, Peter Rabbit and Jean Greenhowe’s Emily Doll.  Maybe this time next week I will start that throw I am longing to make Autumn Log Cabin Throw

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Geese Galore

by Nigel - Sunday 8th November 2009

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After a morning working in the vegetable garden and Sara cooking her first roast since Christmas last, we decide to take the dogs for a walk, it being such a super autumn afternoon. We park my Morris at Somerton staithe around 3pm and follow the path skirting around Thain’s farm and alongside the canal straight dungeon river, toward but on the opposite side to Somerton drainage mill, from far off a cow lows repeatedly across the marshes. This is Wentworth Day country, the prolific author on the countryside, wildfowl and his especial delight, punt gunning. He held the tenancy for the whole area, reaching across the golden flat reed beds toward the distant Horsey Mill and beyond the Holmes to the sand dunes at Winterton and then across arable fields up Blood Hill to Martham church.

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At the little boathouse the narrow path cuts away toward Martham Broad past the dissected, managed, reed beds and as we near open water we hear the honking grey lags idly drifting in quite a raft, seeing them close up, unbothered even when Tillie splashes around on a sandy beach.

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To our left though on a flat recently ploughed sugar beet field we hear more geese, but kind of yappier and see glimpses of them through the trees as they drop down to feed, and through a gap in the hedge see surprisingly thousands, possibly even three thousand, standing shoulder to shoulder, yapping, feeding, slowly moving in one direction feeding and overall a loud humming.

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Out of the large sky, skein upon large skein appear at great height and each time the greys on Martham Broad get excited and honk even louder though it is impossible for them to see the newcomers set their paddles and glide downward, one or two even tumble and amidst all this tremendous clamour they land and begin to feed. From the odd grey standing amongst them we can see that these geese are smaller, with stumpy beaks and dark heads and slender necks, their shoulders are blue grey, I think that they are Pink Footed Geese.

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Honking loudly, the greys begin to lift off from the Broad, cross the path and also drop onto the crowded field. After some time we move on through a scrubby little wood and out onto the marshes, in a small meadow two barn owls quarter the lush grass and a herd of sheep graze contentedly until a 4 x 4 parks at the gate and two sheep dogs scamper around and amazingly up flies a peculiar small heron like bird, but smaller, with no neck, one leg is tucked up behind and one long leg trails down, it is a ‘Bottle Bump’ or Bittern, he crosses the path and on into the reed beds, a view of a lifetime.

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Our dogs are alert, out of a small grassy depression, a deer emerges, but after he takes a look at us and the sheep dogs, it slowly slinks back into cover and they don’t even know its there.

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Dusk begins to fall, odd skeins of geese cross the sky above Holmes drainage mill and suddenly in a crescendo of noise the whole of the Pinks emerge above the trees and swirl away, filling the whole sky towards Hickling. We walk back, the sugar beet field is strangely empty and quiet though the greys have returned to bob about on Martham Broad. Up at the Dungeon river we look back at the sun setting behind Holme Mill, two Marsh harriers glide on the evening air with a couple of business like cormorants crossing a flock of Lapwings fluttering and flickering over Horsey.

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