Monday, 18 February 2019

2019 Update - Alfie

Steep learning curve with our newest family member. He's a full-time job. 

15 December
Alfie graduated with honours from Dogs Trust Dog School this morning.

Alfie at Dog School graduation. Instagram video clip.

24th December

Merry Christmas from Alf via Playdays Country Boarding for Cats & Dogs

7th January
Took Alfie to The Field at Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training . After being put firmly in his place by one of the regulars (border collie), for an over - excited greeting, Alfie had a great time playing chase with new furry friends in a secure environment.

9th January

Took Alf to The Field Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training at lunchtime, today. He had a great time off - lead. I suspect he 's done some agility before, so will look at doing some work with him here.

14 January

Took Alf to The Field, again this morning Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training. He had a wonderful time. MWNN played 'auntie' to the dogs who wanted a cuddle instead of a walk in a muddy field. Alf showed his ability at agility.

16 January

Some pics of Alf, taken at yesterday's Playday Country Boarding for Cats & Dogs. I asked the Supervisor if Alf ever had a nap. She said 'no', but he has time out and rests. He chose to share his bed with a rather sweet whippet.

21 January

Alf met three Salukis, as well as his usual chums, this morning at Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training . He really enjoyed playing with them. He also tried out over the hay bales.

28 January

Finally - had a game of "fetch the ball " in The Field Woof 'n' Wag Dog TrainingAt least ten minutes continuous retrieve, drop, sit, while ignoring all distractions. It s a first !

29 January

A very big thank you to Rosebuds cafe, Hitchin. for the warm welcome you gave Alfie and me on this bitterly cold morning. Alfie says "thanks for the chicken ". We Love Hitchin.

31 January

A brisk walk with the big dogs, in The Field Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training this morning. One poor boy was in the " time - out " kennel.

6th February

Alf is really getting the hang of this fetch - the - ball lark. at Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training this afternoon.

12 February

Took Alf to Woof 'n' Wag Dog Training 's Field this morning. He had a great time and was very polite to all the new playmates he met, even the anxious French Bulldog . He seems very fond of greyhounds, probably because they are as fast as he is. He was keen to help with the construction work that was going on, and play with the remains of a tennis ball retrieved from the Pointer.

The weather was mild and bright. I glimpsed Kevin the Buzzard over the tall trees, but he didn't come close enough to get a photo.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Two sickies in the house

Thank goodness for Ocado deliveries.

Last week it was Dave in the onion van - wonder who it will be tomorrow?

Could do with an Ocado version of dog-player.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Valentine's Day flowers

and cards are still with us, seven days later.

Unfortunately, so is the chesty virus that came calling at the same time.

Now MWNN has fallen foul of the lurgy, it's thank goodness for our new cleaner, and an Ocado order that arrives tomorrow morning.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Hitchin Remembers

Thank you to JP Asher for the following report in today's Comet 24

Hundreds turned out on Saturday for a celebration of crafts in Hitchin – featuring a display of knitted poppies honouring the town’s fallen First World War heroes.

Some of the Hitchin Stitchin' members who contributed poppies to the Remembrance Sunday display at Festiwool (L-R) Philippa Gregory, Patricia Harris, Pam Coxon, Alicia Hammond and Hillary Ide. Picture: Mia Beskeen

The display at Festiwool, held this year at The Priory School, comprised 99 poppies, each representing one of the 99 Hitchin troopers killed in 1917.

The Hitchin Stitchin' Remembrance Day display of 99 red poppies at Festiwool. Picture: Mia Beskeen
The exhibit was particularly apt as the festival for lovers of textile art, sewing, knitting and crochet was held on Armistice Day.

Patricia Harris, one of the Hitchin Stitchin’ team behind the display, told the Comet: “We have a museum that hasn’t been open for four years, so people haven’t had a chance to pay their respects – and 1917 is the year of Passchendaele.We decided to make poppies for them, and, because this was on Armistice Day, we made it into a display.”

Festiwool chief Philippa Gregory said the new venue at the school had been a great success, with 850 people in – and that she hoped it would be even bigger next year.

Saturday, 4 November 2017


A Capella. No instruments, just the voice of Midge Ure and the amazing talent of Sons of Pitches

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Summer is back

although nature seems to be in Autumn already.

Blackberries @Stanwick Lakes

The blackberries are almost all gone. This speckled wood butterfly is feasting on the last of the ripe berries.

Elderberries @Stanwick Lakes

The elderberries are ripe and ready for picking

We had a day on the boat today. It needed cleaning and clearing of many spiders' webs. When we went on board, MWNN noticed there was no power; neither mains nor battery power was working. After a bit of help from a neighbouring boater, we managed to get the mains power working, but the batteries were absolutely flat.

While MWNN commenced with the vacuum, I took Ron for walk number 2, along Stanwick Lakes cycle track.

The track runs between the woodland that separate the lakes and runs alongside the river Nene.

We passed a lone fisherman on the fishing lake opposite the lake in which the boat is moored.

We watched boaters enjoying the side branch of the river, between Watts Marine moorings and Blackthorne Marina,

and noisy paddleboarders (and their dogs) on the other side of the bridge Ron and I were crossing.

I'd expected more people on the cycle track, but it was no busier than other times of the year when the weather is fine.

There was a group of cyclists, a couple of runners, some walkers, and a pair of horse-riders.

Unusually, I was the sole dog-walker on the track.

We about-turned after the bridge, and returned to a clean boat in time for lunch. Then it was nap time before tea and home. The battery maintenance box was still flashing red (and green by the end of the day). We return tomorrow to check the status of the batteries.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Some things which were lost and some things which were found

MWNN and I are slowly getting the 'stuff' which was displaced re-integrated (or dumped, given to charity, swapped) into its correct storage space.

Some things, which we thought were gone, have re-apeared (eg filters for the kettle), and duplicates (six sets of earphones for various electronic devices and two picnic sets).

But one important item has failed to materialise.

I recently had a large Lowry print re-framed, because the old frame was broken after falling off the wall in the guest room, for the third time. This reminded me (don't ask, I arrived at it by a very convoluted route)of a Batik I had made after our cruise through the French Ardennes into Belgium in 2000. There it was that we came across the legend of Quatre Fils D'Aymon. The idea of the magnificent horse, Bayard, carrying the four sons of Aymon away from Charlemagne's army fired my imagination. I decided to work an image, not in embroidery (too large a project), but in batik. As we cruised, I kept a notebook of photos, sketches, and information, and made rough designs on which to base the batik.

I made a mock-up in applique, which was used as the template for the batik piece.

I was fairly pleased with the result and had it framed at the local art shop. It hung for a while on MWNN's bedroom wall. Then it was replaced by shelving when MWNN's study was re-converted back into a guest room, and the garage conversion became his new study (2005).

Since 2005, I have not seen the framed batik. There has been plenty of opportunity for finding it as we re-organise the study, conservatory, utility, and larder and remove things from the loft to create more archival storage space. But nary a sign of it.

I may have to print off a small version of the original image (as it was prior to framing) and keep it as a memento.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Progress and set-backs

The trip to Norwich for MWNN's cataract operation was beset with difficulties. The actual op. was very successful, and MWNN is planning a re-run on the other eye soon.

One of the problems we encountered was the location of our accommodation for the four-day trip.

It was very centrally located, right next to the Cathedral, where there was no long-term parking, even with a visitor's permit. To be fair, the nearest multi-story car-park was a mere 3 minutes walk from the house; but the weather wasn't kind - it rained - a lot.

Add to that the regular need to negotiate Norwich's one-way-system to get to the hospital, less than friendly local motorists, and a the Bint on the Sat Nav not being up-to-date with the local restrictions, and stress levels rose every time.

On our arrival, I discovered the local 'park' in which Ron could be exercised. James Stuart Garden was literally round the corner, in the next street.

The path leads from the main entrance gate to a circular walk around the main planting area. Just to the left, is a side gate, hidden in a very ancient yew hedge.

One entering, the scent of bluebells soothes frayed nerves, and the areas left un-mowed are filling with wild flowers.

I told MWNN about this convenient area, which he used later that day, for Ron's final outing.

It's very easy to find because of the beautiful entrance porch.

MWNN ventured further afield later in the week, and found the Cathedral Close.

There's no car parking (except for residents) so the chance of visiting the Cathedral and leaving Ron in the car, were nil.

On the final morning of the trip, I walked Ron to the Cathdral Close, taking the pedestrian route, along Horse Fair Loke, which forms part of the (gated) Riverside Walk.

View from the corner, approaching the Close.

By the morning after the op., MWNN reported that his vision was 20/20. He was told not to drive for a few days, but, after I confessed to having a vertigo attack while waiting for him in the hospital car park, he insisted on driving the following day.

Vertigo was just the tip of the iceberg. I'd been nursing a painful left shoulder for days before the Norwich trip. It was easing off as we travelled to Norwich. By the following day, it had swapped shoulders and the pain grew worse throughout the trip. Breathing in was painful as were certain movements. I put it down to a bad sleeping position and a very soggy bed in the Cathedral Street house.

By the time we arrived home, the pain was quite bad and I felt absoultely shattered. Sleeping was virtually impossible, but I still put it down to a muscle problem and didn't think of taking my blood pressure until Bank Holiday Monday. It was very high. Only a few weeks ago I had thought of asking to taper off the BP medication.

I hate taking medication, specifically long-term for chronic conditions. 

I looked up my old LJ Blog to find the period during which I was diagnosed with high blood pressure (235/113). It was during the long hot summer of 2003. The heat was killing people by the thousands in France, and we were aboard a narrowboat, where temperatures soared to over 40 degrees.

I managed to get an appointment with my GP early on Tuesday morning. The 'muscle' pain, was pleurisy (should have suspected when both lungs were involved), probably the result of the head colds and sinus infections. The BP was high, but falling, and was probably the result of stress and pain over the past few weeks.

Looking back on my entries for August, after we returned from the South of France, it is clear that the heat played a major part in my problem. MWNN was away in Ireland when I had the diagnosis. He flew back early because he was worried about me being on my own.  Add high BP to my chronic chest complaint and it seems wise to stay on the medication indefinitely.

But I don't like it.

I'd like to visit Norwich again, to appreciate what I couldn't during the recent trip.

The area around the Cathedral is ancient, with a history I would like to explore.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

More boats

MWNN, Ron, and I spent a night onboard last week, to escape the clutter of the house and avail of the good weather.

We also managed to reorganise some of the boat's storage spaces and create more worktop space, by relocating the microwave,

The moorings have been extended, with new pontoons installed over by the woods, between the marina and the fishing lake.

It's not a spot in which I'd like to be moored, as the mosquitoes thrive in the 'dead' water beside the bank.

I do, however, envy this boat's outdoor seating space, which  will be shaded once the trees are in leaf.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mothering Sunday

Today, it being Mothering Sunday, there was a delivery from the local florists. Thank you Kate and Norm for these gorgeous blooms.

The day has long been associated with mothers and family. For centuries it was custom for people to return home to their ‘mother’ church on Laetare Sunday – the middle of Lent. Those who did so were said to have gone ‘a-mothering’.

The day often turned into a family reunion and a chance for children working away from home – often young domestic servants - to spend time with their mothers. Many used to pick flowers from the verges along the way to leave in the church or hand to their mothers when they got home.

Simnel cakes are associated with Mother’s Day. During Lent, people did not eat sweet foods, rich foods or meat. However, the fast was lifted slightly on Mothering Sunday and many people prepared a Simnel cake to eat with their family on this day.

 Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with a layer of marzipan and with a layer of marzipan baked into the middle of the cake. Traditionally, Simnel cakes are decorated with 11 or 12 balls of marzipan, representing the 11 disciples and, sometimes, Jesus Christ. One legend says that the cake was named after Lambert Simnel who worked in the kitchens of Henry VII of England sometime around the year 1500.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Introducing a Limited Edition of

the Three Tenors  Bunnies




All knitted using Woolly Chic's Rabbit pattern (Riley from the full Kit)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Summer Lady

Today is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring. What better way to celebrate than by sharing the collaboration of Steeleye Span and Terry Pratchett.

From the Wintersmith Album

The Summer Lady
We've suffered enough, at the hands of the WinterSmith!
All had our fill of the frost on the ground.
Let's drink, to the health of the fair Summer Lady.
And wish her the best, as she draws the sun down.
Go back to your mountains, you cold-hearted lover! Your magic is broken, your mischief is done!
The time is at hand, for the fair Summer Lady. To take up her place, and to draw the sun down.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Too long, have we lived in the clutches of Winter.
Too long, have we lived in the grip of the cold.
One wave of her hand, and the fair Summer Lady.
Will turn the white fields, into yellow and gold.
To breeze through the corn, on the first day in Springtime.
To lie under skies of magnificent blue.
Just look in the eyes of the fair Summer Lady.
She'll harvest our dreams and she'll make them come true.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Let the warm winds blow!
Send the North Wind on his journey!
Sweep away the snow!

The Summer Lady's here!
She'll smile on the hillside.
She'll dance on the lake.
She'll shimmer with brightness.
When she is awake.
She can turn the sun blood-red,
In a hot burning sky.
But when Summer is over,
The Lady MUST DIE!!
So drink, to the health of the fair Summer Lady!
Bathe in her glory and be of good cheer.
As sure, as the Summer is followed by Winter.
We'll call on the Lady of Summer each year.
Let the seasons turn!
Let the rivers start a flowin'!
Let the hot sun burn!
And melt our frozen hearts!
Let the warm winds blow!
Send, the North Wind on his journey!
Sweep away the snow!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!
The Summer Lady's here!

Writer(s): Rick Kemp, Robert Michael Leonard Johnson, Peter Knight, Julian Nicholas Hugh Littman, Liam Genockey, Maddy Prior, Terry Pratchett