Monday, 30 May 2011

Every dog we ever had.....

Every dog we ever had visit this garden has gone in the pond at least once, Every visiting dog, every owned dog, every pup we ever bred. At this stage we are used to it, so when we have a dog visiting we all sit in the gravel garden by the pond, armed with dog towels and await the inevitable. The new dog(s) charge around exploring, maybe playing with resident dogs and eventually the play gets that bit too distracting or the draw of this new, unfamiliar 'thang' is too strong and there's a plop or a splash.

Dogs can probably get out again easy enough as there are beaches and edge planting, but Mum or Dad generally lean over, grab the wet collar and haul the unfortunate sodden beast out onto the gravel for a run around, shake and towel off. Then it's just a question of allowing drying nature to take its course before the dog is brushed down, good as new, all be it minging of pond. Better this system than we sit somewhere else and we are not immediately aware that the splash has happened and the dog flounders around getting scared or, God forbid, drowned, which would rather dampen the party spirits.

So here is a picture of Boris, who visited again tonight with 2CV Llew, freshly dunked while Rosie (an experienced dipper) sleeps contentedly in Llew's arms. He'll do. He can come and stay with us in June. We'll cope!


Sunday, 29 May 2011

...and the horse you rode in on!

While Dad's off painting barge again today, Mum 'entertains' yet more house viewers sent to us by the Estate Agent. We are getting quite seasoned at this now and even though we are very keen to sell the house it would hurt to have to sell it to some of the types who are posted our way. We are getting quite discerning and, mentally appraising them even as they appraise our house to see whether we would actually want to sell to them and land our lovely neighbours both sides with a horrible person or family next door.

Mum thinks she may have reached the peak of this today as a mother and daughter combo picth up who are so snooty and sneering ("Oh look! It's like a scaled down version of our house in Whitstable!" or "Our kitchen table might not quite fit in here") that she wonders why they are deigning to look round at all.

Being a well bred lay-deeee and an ever-patient 'vendor' Mum holds her tongue while mentally shredding the old cow. Dad thinks he may have felt the urge to usher them rapidly off the premises (but of course, would have done no such thing). Both wish they had the option as do possible buyers, of 'feedback' via the Estate Agent (not really what we were looking for / too small / garden not child-friendly etc). Today's may well have been "Well **** you and the horse you rode in on!

Why are such horrid people allowed out in this town?


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Meeting Boris

Tonight we have come away from all mention of Ladies of Negotiable Affectiuon whether hailing from the west coast of Ireland or not, and we are introducing a nice young man, not yet 6 months old, to whom I was introduced today to make sure we get on.

Step forward Boris, new dog of 2CV Llew, now added to the household along with 19 year old beer-drinking, tea-drinking Jack Russell, Rosie. Dad's been down at the Cambria today but afterwards takes Haggis and I over to Llew's place in Herne Bay and shoves us in the back gate. He then lets us get on with getting to know the pup while he helps Llew build a dexion-framed log-store similar to the elabourate log 'house' Mum and he have seen in La Chapelle d'Armentieres. We get on like a house on fire. I am soon racing around with Boris playing while the H plays it cool. preferring to wander about sniffing stuff and not joining in with the antics of da Yoot.

This is good news, as we are hosting Boris for a week in June while Llew goes abroad, so we will be on our best behaviour and I will have to be the hostess with the mostest. It's a whole week, so the theory is that if I'm gonna kill him, then that's a good chance to do it!


Thursday, 26 May 2011

An Dreoilin

There you are. I promised you a Galway Hooker. I hope you weren't hoping for an Irish Lady-of-Negotiable-Affection because that just wouldn't do. No, No. We refer here to the traditional West Coast working sail boat. Ours is possibly the only example of such a craft currently in England, and even more certainly in Kent.

This one, "An Dreoilin" (The Wren) is 24 feet long, so is from the 3rd size class down in 'hooker' terms. a GleĆ³iteog (pronounced, as best we can render it from Mum's speech "Gli-choge", to rhyme with Rogue). She is not really old, having been built half way up Bray Head (a bizarre location to be a-building trad West coast vessels) in 1984 by a German boat builder for a local author, as a copy of an original 1894 boat. Our man (Ray) actually bought her from a bloke in Waterford and brought her to Kent on a trailer on the back of a big 4x4. He has since done quite a bit of re-planking and restoration, though her frames were all sound.

Ray is a well known local Sailing Barge aficionado who was good friends with the father of Dad's fellow Cambria volunteer, Dave B and also owns an Essex fishing smack (Nercissa). Dave managed to wangle an invitation last night for himself and Dad to come and clamber all over the nearly finished boat to take pictures. They report that Ray was delighted that Dave and Dad had even heard of Galway Hookers, never mind knew a bit about them and had read books on the subject. Ray also turns out to have a huge collection of trad sailing boat pics including, amazingly an old fashioned Kodak photographic-paper-box of various Hookers.

So, now you know!


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

What Lies Beneath

We come under attack from those cruel and heartless Silverwoods, who suggest that our cleaning and preparations for the professional photographer from the Estate Agent might be only skin deep; superficial and not constituting genuine de-cluttering and improvements on da house. Out of a sense of open-ness and honesty, we therefore publish some pics of where the junk all went for you to judge for yourself, to whit, "under the stairs", "the big bad bookshelf" and "the walk in wardrobe". Wanna buy this house? Immaculate and well cared for?

Meanwhile, Dad has lost his heart to a Galway Hooker and spent tonight climbing all over her, stroking her and getting inside. Is this Ok on a family blog? All will be revealed tomorrow.


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

D Minus 37

For those keeping score, we are now only 37 days from June 30th which is a VERY SIGNIFICANT DAY in Project Erroll terms. A life-changing day, a huge crossroads and a bit of a scary prospect as well. Do you get the impression that maybe the humans are focussing here?

Mum and Dad are both working hard in their separate domains and evenings are long and dry, either warm and balmy or, at present, a bit cold and chilly. Mainly dry, though. We have not had any significant rain for what feels like almost 3 months in the SE, all of March. April and all of May so far. The ground is as dry as dust and nothing is growing. Lawns are straw-coloured and soil is cracked.

For we dogs, of course, life bimbles along as normal. We get plenty of walks in the dry evenings - tonight round the Cemetery and Rec where we meet and have a good scamper about with 2 year old westie Jimmy. Dad plays that old favourite game with me of 'chuck the abandoned pop bottle' - Lucozade tonight and then I amuse all comers by walking home from the Rec with it between my teeth as if using it to cool my fevered throat after the hot playing.

37 Days


Monday, 23 May 2011

It never rains

Five comments on one blog-post? It's a positive blizzard by recent standards. You all seem to have taken our house sale and potential move to heart. In fact the day didn't go quite according to plan despite Mum's (self confessed OCD) stage managing and preparatory cleaning, polishing and de-cluttering. The professional photographer turned out to be one and the same person who had contacted Dad last week announcing himself as the 'energy efficiency assessor' to postpone to the afternoon, so Mum's lens man never showed.

Mum contacted him and left him copious instructions as to how to set scenes and what to include and what not to include (bare light bulbs, dodgy bits of undecoration etc) and the guy seems to have moved lots of stuff about while they were out, but Mum and Dad are anxiously waiting to see what ends up on the website.

It never rains

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Professional Photographer

With the professional photographer from the Estate Agent due tomorrow and Mum critically appraising some of the pictures already up on their website ("Some of them haven't even made the beds!") this weekend has seen a mad flurry of de-cluttering and 'stage managing' the rooms likely to be depicted. Our normal style in this house is to live among a clutter of "stuff" - newspapers put down over there, too many coats hanging on the coat rack, work-diaries, security pass card on lanyard and pens on the mantle piece, book shelves over-stuffed with books we'll never refer to again wedged in all ways, empty fruit bowls, shoes in the hearth and so on.

You should see it now! The shelves are stripped of all but a few token books. The theory is that because most people these days are not bookie, a room that shouts 'Books!' too loud gives them a bad (non-buying) vibe; likewise a clutter of doggie stuff or children's toys. You need, we are told, to gently suggest 'family' or 'clever and educated' or 'fit and healthy' or 'good food' but in a way where the potential buyer's subconscious can edit it out and move on to noticing things they could do with the place.

So, books are being purged (bagged and boxed and lugged upstairs pending a formal "what's in Erroll and what's out" sort out), mantle shelves stripped, glasses, crocks and cutlery being rendered 'out of shot', dog-stuff (gasp) being written out of history and everything else seriously "audited". The fire hearth and grate are back up from the shed but all tools are down there.

Cleaning, hoovering, polishing are the order of the day and even weeds and plants which have dared lean across the garden paths are being judiciously controlled. Mum has even taken a few test-photos (see above) which have been scrutinised like our Reconnaissance Officers did with aerial photos of enemy V2 sites in the war (OK, slight exaggeration there, she didn't actually get the light-table and high-definition magnifier out!).

Mum has an ongoing running joke with her Irish chums on the interweb about what bits of lifestyle are "Cafflick" and which bits "Proddingstant".We are definitely on the Proddingstant end of the spectrum right now. Wish us luck tomorrow.


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Lost in France

Yesterday we saw the small convoy of 3 cars reach Calais passport control following an incident free run north through the French countryside and you, the reader, maybe wondering what was the drama which I have so far avoided describing. Well, tonight I will let you all off the hook and tell all. The Judge has overturned the Super Injunction.

Dad was at the front of the queue coming into the port, with Mum passing the 2 2CVs as the guys stopped to retrieve passports and tickets from car boots and jacket pockets, but then dropping back to take up her position bringing up the rear. The three drivers each chose a different queue at passport control and pretty much trundled through abreast, with Dad's central queue possibly moving slightly faster. Relieved to have come back up through France in such old cars successfully, the boys are focussed on getting home, returning the Mmle car to its dry-store lock up.

Passports checked (twice) Dad trundles his car the few yards to check-in, noticing both Andy and then Mum following him across the gap a few moments later. Here Dad's middle queue is definitely moving faster and he notes both Mum and Andy swapping out of their lanes behind him to choose faster moving queues. Andy is 2 cars in front of Mum. Dad gets his boarding card - a small hooked piece of paper to hang over the rear view mirror reading X31, relaxes and heads off to find the lane number mentally ticking the lower-number lanes off as he drives forward.

He is expecting to happen exactly what always happens both outbound and inbound; all three cars end up in the lanes waiting 2 hours for the ferry to start boarding; all the humans get out, wander about, chat, find a coffee etc. Instead he sees that lane 31 is empty and the only vehicle in any lane is a white van in about 36. Ah well, he thinks - it is 2 hours till the ferry leaves. But no! Man-in-hi-viz-jacket waves an arm and says in heavily French-accented English "Straight on board - up the steep ramp to the upper deck, s'il vous plait"

Dad complies, happy to have passed one more milestone - "safely aboard ferry", he gets out of the car on the vehicle deck and is immediately approached by 2 well dressed French speaking business-men (Algerian?) who admire the 2CV, start talking about how much they love them and telling him about a Mehari (plastic bodied desert/beach variant of the 2CV) one of them owns. Dad tells them to wait a few minutes and an even older 2CV will come down the ramp, namely Mmle. Andy duly arrives a few minutes later smiling triumphantly and hugging Dad in a "we made it!" gesture.

Then the phone rings. Dad's (work) phone has not worked all the time they've been in France for calling out or sending texts but can receive both. "Where are you?" says a confused Mum. "On the ferry", say the boys. It seems that the vital 2 car difference between Mum and Andy on the check-in queue had been the point at which the kiosks stopped checking in cars for the earlier 18:40 ferry, and switched to the real booked 20:30 boat. Mum had got a boarding card saying T61 and was way over to the left of Dad's lane, first car sitting waiting the 2 hours while the queues built up and Dad and Andy's boat cast off and steamed away over the horizon.

Mum was understandably a bit dis-chuffed about this and about being 'abandoned', lost in France and there was, what I believe is called a 'frank and open discussion in which some robust views were aired'. Ahem. Up on deck, watching Calais become ever smaller behind the ferry, Dad borrowed Andy's phone to send another apologetic text and got one back about "the small figure raising a finger in the air is me!"

Long story short, the boys got home via depositing Mmle back in the lock up, about 20:30 UK time, by which time Mum would have been sailing an hour, and she returned safely about 22:00 with a few more choice words about driving like the Virgin Mary. Dad has had to eat plenty of humble pie and has had to buy fizz, chocolates, flowers and an apologetic card in order to restore things to normality. I suspect he may never drive through a passport control or a check-in in front of Mum ever again.



Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Three 2CVs in the Big Parade

The third and final day in the gang's madcap adventure in Northern France in which the main event is the Carnival Parade up the main street of La Chapelle d'Armentieres. Prior to that though are many and various festivities around the arrival of a busload of visitors from the twin-town of Birchington.

There is a flower market all around the Mairie (Town Hall), a brass band plays and marches about, pigeons are released from wicker cages and the town's Carnival Queens and court (Les Damoiselles) and Mayor do presentations and handing over of ceremonial keys to the town from last year's court to this years. Dad, Andy and another 2CV-ist (Geoff) show their cars again on the pavement opposite the Mairie and at one stage receive a parking contravention ticket put under the windscreen by a joking Mayor, Bernard Coisne who assures us in heavily accented English "They are not real". Just as well - the fines marked are up to 2500 Euros!

Everyone adjourns to the Sports Centre for a lunch and aperitifs reception to meet the Birchington lot (who the gang know anyway from 2 years ago's 'home' and 'away' visits.

Then the cars must be fired up and driven down to the top end of the high street to meet the assembling carnival parade, which the 2CV's are to lead. Dad's car and the old 1961 girl collect various female locals, their Hostess for the weekend and other 'dignitaries' and family to fill the back and passenger seats - everyone is charmed by the iconic car and wants a ride in the Carnival. All the usual carnival lunacy ensues - noise, marching, line-dancing, baton twirling, horns blaring, music, people dressed as bananas and gorillas etc.

The cars lead the parade back down to the 'Restaurant Scolaire' where at the Mayor and others up on a covered, bunting-bedecked podium review stand. The Mayor says lots of nice things about 'nos amis Anglais et les deux-cheveaux' including joking about how many young ladies you can get in the back. At that stage the gang's work is done. They park up in the central reservation allowing the parade to stream by either side (once reviewed by the Mayor club by club, school by school, association by association.... it will go on for hours)

'Les Anglais' are invited up onto the review stand for a sit down and a watch of part of the parade, but soon they are looking at their watches, anxious to head North and not miss their 20:30 ferry booking. They hit the road, convoying back up through Hazebrouke, St Omer and Ardres till they pull into the Port of Calais and its passport control queues. All grand so far.

So what of this mis-adventure of which I have spoken? This cause of anger and angst in some parties?........ Oooh - Dad's calling me away for a walk and a sweetie, so more on that tomorrow....

Deefs (Whoosh!)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Adventure Day 2

Day 2 of the French adventure sees the gang installed in La Chapelle d'Armentieres and asked to show the 2CVs off to the local public, outside a building called the Restaurant Scolaire, the school canteen (serving 3 schools) which is also being used for an art exhibition, an exhibition of trad African art and carving, a philatelic exhibition based around the Jules Verne stories and a bizarre exhibition of papier mache farm animals which includes some very bright pink piglets.

200 yards down the high street a massive car boot sale is going on all along a disused railway line which crosses the main high street at 90 degrees. Called "Braderies" these sales are hugely popular in France and this one rather eclipses the car and art show, so the gang aren't exactly buried in the rush.

They do, though, get approached by an old octogenarian named Josef Costeleyn who tells them that he worked in the 50's for a firm called Mottez who had diversified out of supplying rope and textile products mainly for the ports and for lorry transport (tarpaulins, tilts, sails etc) into accessories for the then new 2CV's coming out of the Citroen factories. They would develop good options, like a 'hatch-back version' or different seat covers which reduced the tendency for back seat passengers trousers or hosiery to snag on the tube and wire seat frames.

These options were first supported by Citroen who would send customers round to Mottez for their improvements to be done, and then usually adopted and taken in house. The boys are fascinated by this guy and talk for ages. He later comes back having been home to collect some photocopies of adverts and magazine articles from the time, which he is happy for Andy and Dad to copy.

The gang nip out to neighbouring village of Wez Macquart almost on the Belgian border to a favourite deli for local beers, food for lunch and a gift hamper for their hosts.

In the evening they are invited to a big dinner/show; a massive buffet followed by performances by a 'transformiste' (an amazing lady singer who can sing in a huge variety of styles and accents and whips a hurried costume change through between each song - she does Edith Piaf, Abba, Josephine Baker, Carla Bruni, a whole run of funnily bad talent-show contestants and a crazy huge butterfly shaped head-dress costume with fairy lights on for the encore) and by a troop of Brazilian dancers.

There - and I still am not allowed to tell you about Dad's massive transgression for which there was nearly murders and divorces....


Monday, 16 May 2011

La Chapelle d'Armentieres 2

There we go, abandoned again. This time it's both Mum and Dad off for a return visit to nrthern French town La Chapelle d'Armentieres. twinned with Birchington in N. Kent, and the original source of the old 2CV restored by 4 blokes from Dad's 2CV Club and widely now known as Mademoiselle from Armentieres after the WW1 song (It's the only thing UK school boys know about Armentieres!).

The old girl, built originally in November 1961, is in her 50th year now so they decided to do a revisit to the town's Carnival weekend, retracing the steps from their triumphant visit in 2009, the 20th Anniversary of the original twinning.

I am being told by Dad to describe this adventure in real time plus 3 days, so I have to take the three days to tell it, so here's day 1. The guys decide to take 3 cars over - the old Mmle car, Dad's 1986 2CV and Mum's modern car as support in case anything untoward happened. The were booked on the 11:30 Sea France, so it was a fairly leisurely get up and breakfast. We were left in the capable hands of the Angel B, so we were OK, though A-B did grass me up for being off my food and missing my Dad.

They met up at the dry storage where Mmle spends her days, and convoyed down to the docks, the only hiccup being Mmle having a stall while not really warmed up. At the docks, in the marshalling lanes, Mmle attracts many admirers and much comment. On the ferry the gang buy maps and plot a good route down - Ardres, St Omer, Hazebrouke, La C.d'A. Again an incident free run to arrive at the house of thier friends, an English lady married to a French guy. It's all fairly gentle as the old car, with its 435cc engine can manage only 48 mph (75 kph) on the flat, so they all toddle along.

The main entertainment that night is being welcomed by the town and the Mayor, invited to see the local schools' "Spectacle en Anglais" - a series of sketches in English by the local children of 6-7 years old, with the 7 local schools taking a sketch each following the story of Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days". From there to a free rock concert by a French band. Difficult to hear most of the words in the rubbish accoustics, but good renditions of, for example Cocaine Blues.

And so to Bed, but because this is semi-real time Dad says I can't yet tell you about his howling faux-pas which left Mum swearing about having to drive like Virgin Mary and now has him buying apologetic fizz. You'll have to wait for that.

Sworn to Secrecy


Thursday, 12 May 2011

Whoa... Scary Stuff

In a scary and 'in yer face' development, the boys from Ward and Partners come and thump in the angle iron to which they strap the "For Sale" sign. Mum and Dad have been titivating the house, especially out front, in case of some interested viewers, removing dandelions and other weeds from the block paved drive, for example, leaving only the allowed Erigeron (Spanish Daisy), Californian and Welsh poppies and the Nectaroscordum.

Mum fears that the cat will now be let out of the bag. She has told work of her plan to leave but the big bananas have not really taken it in and keep trying to give her work as if she was there till at least June 2012, as if they are in denial. Big boss AD will see the sign tonight on his way home, and it might start to sink in. Whilst she finds it flattering that they cannot concieve of the working day post-Mum, she also feels a bit like the Mother watching her little chicks fly the nest and hoping they are fitted for the ruffty-tuffty world out there.... they are failing to face up to the fact that she will be gone a notice-period after the house sells.

Dad is meanwhile counting down the days, knowing that the 30th June is only 49 days away, and is trying to brain-dump as much of his 29 years of experience as possible into those who will follow him on. Sounds good in theory? In fact neither of his replacements have actually started yet, the "assistant" starting Monday and the actual replacement not till 16th June, which leaves it all a bit tight for brain-dumping. Dad will have to be a very good teacher and the bloke a very good learner. Meanwhile he has only a (very keen and willing) Stats Clerk to teach.

Heh ho. Not my problem


Wednesday, 11 May 2011


There is a new westie on the block, 7 month old Boris, latest acquisition of 2CV Llew. Originally named Bernie, this dog comes from Llew's girlfriend's brother's ex wife or some such complicated provenance, and is a pedigree posh dog (certainly more pedigree than me anyway! Dad says he's a nice looking pup - broad skull, good "stop" (eyebrow ridge), straight back, high set tail and all wrapped in that disreputable scruffy hair and topped off with the big tall ears of any "adolescent" stage westie).

He has not been all that well treated and arrived rather thin and with some signs of itchiness and discomfort that can point to the feared 'skin issues' that some say westies are prone to. (Mum and Dad think that those issues are mainly nurture rather than nature but let's not go there). Anyway Llew is not one to panic so the dog was closely examined, a flea was found, the dog was bathed in insecticidal shampoo and proved to be crawling with the little visitors. That's a relief. Fleas we can deal with, say the humans, - all our lot swear by Frontline and none of us lot have a problem with fleas.

A good name, "Boris" we think - white haired gentleman, toff, Mayors of major UK cities notwithstanding. He will have a great life, too. Llew is nothing if not chilled out and the dogs go everywhere with him, so their lives will be pretty much free from anxiety. He will hopefully turn into a chilled out, well balanced dude. I have heard that he may meet us and come and stay a week with us soon, so I'll get some pictures then.

Meanwhile Project Erroll takes a great leap forward. The house is officially on the market and we straightway have three people/families who want to view lined up. The awesome prospect of having to pack up and move sooner rather than later crosses our minds - maybe we'll end up living out of 2CV Llew's old caravan down by the Shipwright's Arms!

This urgency set off a little plan to make good any 'delapidations' as they say in rental house terms including a big dint and crack put in the landing ceiling by Dad when he was heaving a bookcase flat-pack about. There are also several other cracks caused by the house being built on a brickyard in 1936, so Mum and Dad call for the best builder(s) they know to get a quote for re-sheeting the ceiling etc. These are, of course, the "Panini Brothers" who knocked our kitchen and dining room through in November 2009 - see many blog posts for more detail.

Ah the Panini Brothers

How well we ate that month.....


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Doesn't turn into a pup during cooking

It's that time of year again when Dad gets to lead the Bluebell Walks in Challock Forest, for the Friends of Kingswood. These are always a bit of a lottery as the walks programme has to go to the printers pre Christmas, by which time you never know what stage the bluebells will be at in April or May. The FoKW try to pre-empt this by straddling a number of dates, and the first of these this year was today.

To be honest the hot dry weather through March, April and now May has marched everything on a bit too much, so that in many areas the bluebells are well past their best - drying and faded to the pale blue dusty stage, and the leaves on the trees are too far out to give that lovely filtered-down cathedral light which makes for the best "carpet of blue" effect. It also chose today, early on, just when people were deciding to come on the walk or not, to give our town a short sharp shower.

No matter, the few who did show up got a good walk and saw some nice patches of bluebells. I got talking to a nice little 7 year old named Saffi who made a big fuss of me (even when I jumped up and planted 2 dusty dog foot-prints on her black leggings!). She'd been on at her Mum for ages to buy a dog and liked Westies, so I was charm itself to encourage Mum that this was a good idea.

Meanwhile in Project Erroll, it all just got a bit more focussed, urgent and solid, with Mum inviting the lady from the estate agent round for a look and getting a load of paperwork to complete to agree the description of the house and sign us up to having them as sole-agent. We've got a valuation and the lady thought we should stand a chance of getting some interest soon. I think it's a-coming at us now like an un-stoppable bull-dozer.

Mum spots an interesting cooking instruction on some "Arosis" Greek pudding-rice, which may have lost a little in translation. "In areas with hard water", it advises, "you should use bottled water. Rinse the rice thoroughly without letting it soak, so that its soluble vitamins and beneficial metals wont be destroyed. Proceed to cooking. Arosis rice remains granular and doesn't turn into pup during cooking"

That's handy. I'm enjoying being the youngest in this family.


Monday, 2 May 2011

Long Weekend

This long weekend is turning into one of those glorious holidays where you seem to have done so much and had so many days off already, but still you have plenty left and it's nowhere near the end. Perhaps it's because it all started way back last Thursday with the arrival of Mazy-Lou as house guest, 4 sleeps ago.

Turns out, by the way, that Mazy, daughter of vicar, grew up in a vicarage, loves a bit of 'church brass' to clean. The very best treat apparently, if the children were really good, was that they were allowed to Silvo an ancient and venerable, heirloom chalice and platter set which vicars of old would take round to houses of parishionners who were unable to attend church, in order to "do" (administer? celebrate?) communion in their homes. So there's nothing Mazy likes more than a bit of therapeutic Brasso-ing. Step forward, then, the Denis Memorial sundial currently languishing, tarnished and unloved on its Denis Memorial bay tree stump. Look at it now! Thanks Mazy!

Mustn't forget, in all the adventures of the weekend that Pud Lady's Birthday was 1st May (luckily we didn't forget! Dad made the phone call, chatted happily about gardens, comparing the progress of Spring in Hastings and in North Kent and making final prep for the imminent gathering of the clan in celebration of Pud Lady's big day. Happy Birthday, Pud Lady.)

Incidentally, Pud Lady gives us a westie calendar every year and we just want to draw attention to the rather superb photo now open for May 2011 - none of your cutesie, twee westiedom here. This is a low angle action shot of a chunky dog strutting across the field of view, seen from the "port-bow". It has all the masculinity and strength of a good 'heavy horse' shot, solid compact legs, head held high....... be still my beating heart.

So, the humans continue to enjoy their various adventures and we dogs are getting some good walks, nice and early in the morning. For some reason, Dad's been waking up at 06:30 ish, fresh as a daisy, quick cup of coffee, then out for 06:45 and back by about 8 before anyone else is up. Dad's had a couple of days painting down at Cambria, Mum and Mazy have been off shopping or exploring, either with Diamond and her two remaining guests (Kim and Joan) or on their own. They've done Whitstable, Canterbury, Faversham, taking in tapas lunches, the superb "Goods Shed" farm shop in Canterbury, Macknades, charity shops and so on. We've eaten well and drunk well (and sensible, this time - must be getting all mature and growed up!). We've lazed on the terrace reading the papers and got a fair mileage out of the Royal Wedding and newspaper write-ups there of.

It's been a blast. Now, as I write this, we are just back from this morning's rather blustery walk and chilling out on the sofa and waiting for the ladies to stir.