Friday, 31 July 2009
Haggis's 12th Birthday next weekend though.........
We know from when we've tried it, that it's true that the food is almost 100% digestible, and the dog's poo comes out chalky white, pretty much just ground-up bone. The ARF lot also say that the firmness of the poo lets the dog effectively strip it's own anal glands (by the extra effort, shall we say, not wishing to upset anyone's tea). Anyway, you can read all about it by Googling ARF or clicking on the link
Anyway, as I've said "we" try it every now and again - and often get the "chicken backs" (spine, rib bases, pelvis and Parson's nose) raw when ever Dad is spatch-cocking a chook to roast it.
Tonight, though, the humans are having rabbit, and although the saddle bit is way too meaty and lovely for humans to pass to dogs, the rib-cage bit and neck end get passed down. They are leapt on with gusto by Meggie and the H man, but I amaze everyone including myself by taking one lick, and then turning up my nose and walking off. Yuck! Rabbits - grand for chasing but don't try to feed me them as dinner. I'm not off my food - I dive into the tinned as soon as it's offered.
There's now't so strange as dogs!
Have a great weekend
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Prior to that we'd had a quick walk at the Rec, but the H and I had been promised a "proper one" in the afternoon. So we headed for Challock Forest where we planned to do the 2-miler sculpture trail route in reverse. But just below what we call the "rib cage" sculpture (these are Stour Valley Arts sculptures among the trees, made out of mainly local materials) we come across an intriguing A4 paper-laminated temporary sign saying "Miracle of the Legs". An arrow points straight on.
We follow 4 more signs till we are walking northwards above the SVA's "Cloud Chamber" sculpture (a log igloo which works as a camera obscura), where upon the signs run out, leaving us flummoxed.
Dad has a vague memory that at one of the last Friends of Kings Wood Committee meetings he attended, SVA were proposing this sculpture which involved carved wooden legs grafted onto existing trees and wondered whether this might finally be the finished product. Amusingly, at the time, we had learned that the legs were carved as copies of the legs of a lady we know, who also used to be on the Committee (Hi, Mrs B) and was a reguler walker of two rangey springers in the Forest.
However, we could find nothing, so we are none the wiser. Miracle of the legs? Maybe they've miraculously vanished. Nothing for it but to go home and google it.... tara!
Monday, 27 July 2009
Meanwhile our saga of the Good Ship Sussex comes to a close. No more dramas. Just an early start for the boys climbing the 2 locks out of Salterhebble, and then chugging back along the 45 minutes of well wooded canal to Sowerby Bridge. Here we kill the speed completely and execute a very nifty reverse turn to dock back alongside an sister-ship at the wharf, to be greeted "home" by Susan and all the team at Shire Cruisers.
It's been a fantastic week of energetic and relaxing fun and, as usual we are already talking excitedly about doing it all again next year. While we've been chugging along the ladies have finished the packing (all the Silverwoods' stuff arrives "packed" in black bin liners (nice and squishy to fit in the weird shaped cubby-holes and lockers on these boats - no place for rigid suitcases here!- so it's simply bagged back into those for the move back to the cavernous boot of the S's people carrier.
We dogs are disembarked and tied to a handy bollard, the younger kids carried to the cars and strapped in, while the grown ups and the older children chain-gang the stuff up out of the boat and across the right car. Mum executes a lst blitz of tidying and wiping down ( we just KNOW the cleaning gang is going to be fearsome Yorkshire gals, who probably were up at 05:00 scrubbing their front steps, and we don't want them to think the worst of Kentish domesticity).
Then we buy a few bits from the company shop, say our goodbyes to each other and to Susan and co, and we go our separate ways, the Silverwoods heading for the Thomas the Tank Engine land of Drayton Manor (that one mainly for young M's benefit), we off across to the M1 and down South again.
It's been a blast
Sunday, 26 July 2009
Dad and Mr Silverwood dress for the conditions (Dad's in poncho, straw hat, shorts and sandals again!) while everyone else hides "indoors", emerging only briefly now and then. Dad has to do "Chief Engineer" - the boat had been handling oddly at the end of yesterday and a fouled propellor was suspected. To sort this the back deck lifts up and there are hatches and access holes to let you get at the shaft with hands and, if required a junior hack saw. Dad pulls a great tangled mass of plastic sheet out, which explains the lumpy, unresponsive drive.
With the prop freed, we set off, chugging down from Brearley, through Luddenham Foot and down the tall Tuel Tunnel Lock (where the Waterways guy, tee shirted in his warm dry office asks our drowned-rat forms "What are you doing moving a boat around in weather like this?" (but he's happy enough to don hi-vis waterproofs and work the lock.).
Now it's only 2 locks to Sowerby Bridge, where we do not really plan to stop. It's not the end of the holiday till tomorrow and we don't want to give it a premature sad end by just mooring up here all afternoon and overnight. We are hearts set on a gently (45 minute) chug down to Salterhebble for our overnight, and then a 7:30 start Saturday to give us a bit of boat action before we hand in the old girl.
So we're between locks 1 and 2 and Dad has an attack of muppetry. He and Mr S had been hauling bits of tree out of the pound with the boat hook while lock 1's chamber filled, and Dad found himself at the bow of the boat (which was by then tied to a bollard, the stern sticking out into the pound, too far from the bank to jump across).
The chamber filled, and Dad had to get back to the stern, but the "dining room" is congested with ladies, children and dogs, so he decides it's easier to ignore all the advice and warnings you're given never to use the narrow side "Gunwale" walkway, and to "tight-rope" along to the stern. He almost makes it, his right hand is hovering over the ash-tray right at the back, when he loses his footing and splooshes in feet first.
Nobody is looking and luckily, because of the rain the pound is unusually completely devoid of "gongoozlers" (boaters term for gawping tourists). Mr S hears the sploosh and turns round to see Dad's head and shoulders in the water surrounded by a big khaki green "lifebelt" of the poncho, which has risen up around him. Dad swears at the cold and the soaking. It's only chest-deep though, so he can wade to the bank where Mr S pulls him out.
There is then several minutes of mad activity where Dad strips off the poncho and coats and races through the boat (the right, safe way this time!) to the bathroom, grabbing a supply of clean dry clothes on the way. Everyone is laughing with relief and genuine hilarity, cracking comments and enjoying a chance to break with normal children's rules about it being rude to "point and laugh". Mum nips into Sowerby Bridge for brandy and hot-chocolate ingredients.
The boat is now being guided into the lock by Mrs S and Mr S, as the chamber is long since filled, so when Dad appears back on his aft-deck (probably the cleanest dryest person on board now!) we just have to close the gates and let ourselves down to Sowerby Bridge basin level, to moor up for hot choc brandies.
Realistically, we were lucky not to have worse damage - you can get badly hurt, crushed by the (7 tonne) boat against something, injured by propellor, pick up an infection from swallowing water and, of course, drowning. Our only casualty is Dad's (work) mobile which he stupidly had in his pocket. Point for next year - all electronics inboard in bags etc, not "topsides" while working.
Much excited babble about how stylishly Dad hit the water, compared to Em-J's "polaris missile" job in 2007 (she lost her footing while black-berry-ing and slid down the gap between boat and (concave curved) bank, where-upon her life jacket exploded out and shot her back up the gap like a missile breaking the surface. Dad and Em-J now consider themselves in an exclusive club - the "Gap Divers". On the basis that you cannot call yourself a dinghy sailor or canoe-ist till you've capsized, Dad and Em propose that you can't call yourself a narrow boater till you've fallen in the water.
Pointing and Laughing becomes a boat-wide sport, and various children are captured on video and even on Dad's voicemail system (he finds out at work much later by putting the still-working SIM card in a colleague's identical phone)
Ah well, Mum eventually asks "Are we moving any further today, or what?". The boys man their stations and we cast off, turning right out of Sowerby Bridge, for the long chug to Salterhebble. It's getting on for 4pm by the time we come down the first two Salterhebble locks and we must moor up facing back up, so there's some gently bank-nosing and rope hanging onto, as Dad tries to wind the boat's 56 feet round turning on a (big) sixpence.
Mr S takes this opportunity to fall into the canal out of solidarity to Dad. He's on a rain-slick grass bank holding the bow-painter (rope), when he spots a big slug (we kid you not!) and only has time to say "Look at the size of that slu...." before he disappears from view from Dad's aft-deck viewpoint, and it is quickly apparent from the ironic cheers (and more pointing and laughing), that he's in too. Luckliy again, we get away with it - he's chosen a bit of bank that's only thigh-deep, so he is hopping about in gales of laughter.
Not a good score - funny but also fairly stupid and dangerous - 2 humans being careless and behaving like muppets, so although we're joking about "Gap Divers" and jokingly pointing and laughing the grown ups are anxious to stress to the kids that this cannot go on, and that "look what happens when you ignore all the safety advice" etc. The ladies and children can all feel justifiably superior tonight, but I'm guessing they are secretly determined not to do anything silly tomorrow. That really would be difficult to live down!
Deefski (I've not been in yet!)
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Friday, 24 July 2009
I am writing this in the midst of a mahousive thunder storm, which is banging and rattling around, quite alarming. Aside from the wisdom of using a computer in such electrical mayhem, it is also difficult to type because at every bang, the H has to rush downstairs shouting his indignation, and naturally, I have to charge down too to support him. This makes for some distracted typing, but bear with me.... I'll do my best.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
The tupperware box "must" be stored in the fridge according to the Silverwoods, to keep the maggots fresh. So far so good.
On one of the days the boat was left to the dogs, and Mum and Dad, while all the Silverwoods went off strolling or shopping. We dogs were out on the deck admiring the view, and enjoying the peace and quiet (a rare commodity with the 4 children around in a confined space) with Dad when we suddenly became aware of Mum, down in the galley starting to have absolute conniptions. "Ahh! Ahh! Nooooo! and assorted more fruity epithets". Dad raced down to see what was up.
Mum had gone to start cooking, so was trawling the fridge for likely ingredients, and had spotted a maggot crawling determinedly across a packet of goods. This rapidly escalated into lots of maggots as she quickly whipped each pack or salad ingredient out, her voice rising and anguish ringing around. It was obvious that the maggot box had not been closed properly and the little blighters were everywhere!
The fridge was rapidly emptied and the beasts either hunted down and corralled from closed food, or the open food thrown into a big bag with no holes in it, held by Dad. Then the fridge started to be picked apart, as they turned out to be behind shelves, under the wire racks, in among the rubber seals, and Mum was yelling and fretting throughout. She even found some frozen to the back plate of the fridge and had to scrape them off with a knife. Some had got behind and under the fridge too.
Right! That's It! Said she - No more maggits in the fridge! New house rule! The maggots (now sealed down) were confined to under the seat on the front deck. The food was mostly thrown away in the carefully sealed bag. One tub of minced beef which was recently open but had at least one maggot in (on the blood-pad) was quickly fried off for us dogs (so this was a good thing as far as we were concerned). Dad restrained Mum from hoying (good Northern word meaning to "throw". Diamond uses it in context of "Hoying it over the wall") the whole lot into the canal.
The Silverwoods (well some of them) protested on their return "But we neeeeeeed maggits for fishing...." but one look at Mum's face and they could see that the jokey "New House Rule" sign on the fridge, was about as far as this joke would run, and the maggits stayed on the front deck there-after. there was not, anyway, much appetite for fishing after Mrs S had been so badly mozzie'd and I don't think they got another airing, before they were indeed hoyed into the canal on the last morning as we were packing up.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
As two boats were booked out of Sowerby Bridge on the same day, and both due to cross the summit on the same day, this made it inevitable that we were "stuck with" the other boat for at least 3 and a half days. Needless to say you want these to be "nice" people or it can ruin a holiday. We were lucky then to be paired up with a couple from Leeds with whom we could get on (ish).
Ish? She was an absolute diamond, ex vet, now accountant, rescue dog owner and a demon around the lock-wrangling. He was just a tad less "easy" - a bit of an un-reconstructed old boy with a high, nasal Leeds voice that had you reminded of George Formby and who our lot were soon making sly comments about Ukulele players.
Totally useless domestically, apparently (we blame the parents) and given to expressions like "t'Dragon" (every time he was talking about "t'wife", and while totally glued to the back deck and his tiller, very generous with his advice on what she should do differently, an all round "expert" on everything. We were all waiting for a proper "domestic" to break out, but it never did.
These two were secretly named "Heckle and Jeckle" and the name stuck.
We hit Sowerby Bridge at about 1pm, to find the Silverwoods are already on site, gathered round a caff and thinking about lunches and coffees. That's Mr and Mrs S, of course, then Em-J (11), J-M (9), M (3) and baby R (18 months). This boat is going to contain 4 adults (well "grown ups" anyway - more on how "adult" some of them are soon), 4 children and we 3 dogs. As is the law around these boat hires, Dad is nominated "Skipper" (someone has to be), and for fun all the rest are allocated tasks and ranks - Mr S is "Chief Lock Wrangler", for example and Mum is "Galley Slave and Baby-wrangler". Baby R is "Ballast".
At 2pm they release the boat to us, and give the humans their briefing and training/refresher (electrics, engine, gas, central heating, cooker etc) plus show them through the first couple of locks - probably more to assess them than to train them. Would you let this lot loose with £100,000 and 7 ton of boat? Nor would I.
This also neatly gets us through one of Sowerby Bridge's more famous loacks , the Tuel Tunnel double-height one, nominated numbers 3/4. When the canal pretty much went out of use and was abandonned in the 50's, some councils took the opportunity to widen main roads by filling in the canal and building over the top.
When the campaign to re-open them started with the explosion of tourism around waterways, this meant that some sections of canal had to be re-invented along slightly different lines. In Manchester (we think it is) there is even a new right angle bit around a fairly new Supermarket. In Sowerby Bridge, locks 3 and 4 had been demolished, and the solution was to tunnel under the road (the Tuel Tunnel) and then create a hugely tall lock chamber with massive tall gates that lifts the boats up the equivalent height (19 feet 4" total) of the two original locks.
This lock is manned by the British Waterways officials, and you "rope on" by feeding a loop of rope through vertical slidey cables set in rebates in the lock wall, so that your loop of rope comes up with the boat.
Then we had lots of paperwork to sign and we were free to go!
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Saturday, 18 July 2009
Friday, 10 July 2009
Just one more pic from the "home leg" of the twinning thing if I may - an oil painting presented from La Chapelle to Birchington (one of many gifts in a looooong ceremony!) and look, down there in the lower left is "our old girl", Mademoiselle d'Armentieres.
Sorry that postings have once again been a bit thin on the ground. It's been mad round here through June and July as Dad has had the Village of the Year judging (we cover the "Environmental Action" category, now called "Sustainability"), and Gardens for Wildlife judging, and Mum has been trying to be there for Diamond who is in hospital.
Diamond update - she's OK and being well looked after; she's in the safest place; but it is quite a long and hard treatment she must go through before she can be pronounced fit and well, so all those who know her will be wishing her well. Rags has been to visit, we know and although he took a while to suss that this was his Mum, he was overcome with excitement and joy when he worked it all out. (Anyone who wants to know an update, email my Dad privately and we'll tell you all).
Meanwhile the allotment has gone from nothing really ready, to glut, all in one hit, but as we are shortly feeding the 5000, this is a good thing, and Dad has been up there tonight to gather in the first French beans, Rainbow chard and baby beetroot, plus some more artichokes, broad beans and peas. More of the 5000 later.
Talking of babies, a lovely sight tonight when a parent goldfinch brought young to the garden and provided food from the sunflower kernel feeders (presumably part-digested). First time we've knowingly seen young gold finches.
Ah well, with all this judging over, we might be able to post more regularly soon (although we must just get through this feeding-the-5000 hiatus.
Look after yourself, and have a great weekend
Saturday, 4 July 2009
We're not sure we want such references made to our Dad (and hero!) especially when you can get quotes like this, below from Wikipedia.....
"(1797, aged 12) [Linton] was asleep in a corner, wrapped in a warm, fur-lined cloak, as if it had been winter. A pale, delicate, effeminate boy, who might have been taken for [Edgar's] younger brother, so strong was the resemblance: but there was a sickly peevishness in his aspect that Edgar Linton never had."
... but we think we know where she was coming from.
Today, Dad's been out most of the day at the barge Cambria, which is open as one of the attraction in Faversham's "Open Houses" festival, whereby local residents with interesting and historic houses open them to the public
They had over a hundred visitors to the barge and they were exhausted - all that declaiming in the hot sun! Rush home and enjoy some Haagen Dazs icecream, would be my advice.
Oh, you already have!