How is it Monday already?

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Monday already. How does it come round so fast?

It’s like Groundhog Day when the alarm goes off! While I try to wake myself up to take the dogs out for a walk with hubby, Fido is there jumping all over the bed in excitement! Lola is a bit like us. Actually no that’s wrong. We do get moving when the alarm goes off, whereas she lies there moaning, groaning and stretching! She really doesn’t do mornings !

At least now the mornings are lighter! Chilly but spring is definitely here!

The weekend was good. For a weekend with nothing planned it was fun.

Saturday morning was a leisurely start. An amazing brunch followed by a spring clean! I do love it when you give the house a good going over! Hubby was productive too in the garden. It’s the first time this year he has been able to really get out there! It looks so much nicer now with the spring bulbs coming through and the new shoots appearing. It’s amazing what a bit of sun can do!

Saturday evening hubby had offered to cook dinner! If you know me you will know that rarely happens! He had seen a recipe in the latest Tesco magazine for a Chinese soup! As long as I made sure he had all the right ingredients he would make it for me!

OMG, for a man that doesn’t cook very often it was amazing! I know he followed the recipe, but even his chopping and presentation skills were spot on! Restaurant quality.

You can see what we ate here on my YouTube channel.

We ended a perfect day by watching Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a great film don’t get me wrong, but I’m not sure I’d go and see it multiple times. Hubby thinks we feel that way because we already knew the story, and maybe he is right! I’d still recommend you watching it though.

As the days are brighter we decided on Sunday to take the dogs for a longer walk. We opted for Earlswood Lakes. I haven’t been there for years. I printed a walk off the internet and off we went!

Now, I have to point out that today it wasn’t our fault! I know whenever we go on long walks hubby and I will always take a wrong turn at some point, but today wasn’t down to us!

The route we picked didn’t include a map! The instructions looked clear when we started, but soon they didn’t make sense. We had to ask directions a couple of times. Well I did! Hubby wouldn’t ask lol!

Eventually we gave up on the route and did our own thing. We didn’t mind. It was nice just to get out!

As we headed back to the car it dawned on me! We went the wrong exit out of the car park at the beginning! No wonder it didn’t make sense!

At least it made us chuckle!

The afternoon was relaxing with a visit from my wonderful parents.

As with every Sunday in our house we had a lovely roast to finish off the weekend.

Next thing I know the alarm is going off and it’s Monday again.

As we arrive at the station the car park is more full than usual! I’m dreading the train now. I’m expecting to crush my way on!

As it pulls onto the platform I look through the windows. A few people are standing but there is still daylight! I’m shocked but pleased. What happens next shocked me even more ! I got a seat! Woo hoo! I can’t believe it! Maybe Monday isn’t going to be so bad after all!

Have a great week!

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So what are you doing this weekend?

I’m so glad it’s Friday. Early mornings and busy weeks mean that by Friday I’m exhausted.

I’m so excited this weekend! Why? Because I have absolutely nothing on!

Ok that’s strictly not true. The house will still need cleaning. That washing basket won’t empty itself. Believe me, I’ve asked it so many times to no avail! The dogs will need walking and of course we will need feeding, but apart from that I have nothing on!

Tomorrow there will be no alarm clock waking me up! Ok technically again, I won’t set an alarm. I will just have Lola and Fido waking me! The challenge will be how many times I can send them back to bed before I have to give in and put them out!

If it’s around 5 I don’t mind. I can put them out and all go back to bed, but if it’s after 7 it’s a dilemma. Is it worth going back to bed to sleep? Shouldn’t I just pop the kettle on and watch tv in bed with a cuppa? It’s always a tough one!

The main thing is that this weekend, I don’t have to be tied down to doing anything at a certain time.

I know it’s sad, but I find weekends like this so precious. It’s a chance to recharge my batteries and spend time on things I enjoy.

We may end up packing lots in, but it will be at a far leisurely pace than normal!

So whatever you are doing this weekend enjoy it!

Happy Friday !

Photography Show and my Gimbal!

So on Saturday hubby and I, together with a friend headed off to the Photography Show in Birmingham.

This is our 3rd trip to the show which was held at the NEC.

The last couple of times we went it coincided with the Comic Show! Thousands of comic fans arrive dressed up in some incredible outfits. It’s an amazing sight!

Sadly this year this wasn’t the case. The Big Bang Show and a craft show didn’t have the same impact.

We arrived about 10.30 at the show. Hubby and I have a routine when we attend. We start off in the far left corner and work our way up each row.

The show is full of a large variety of exhibitors including Canon, Nikon, printing companies, Studio equipment, digital photo albums, editing software etc.

I had a list of things in my head I wanted to look for! A new case for my Canon, new editing software and a hip holder for my camera!

So as we head up the first isle we are curious to explore what is on offer as well as see what amazing equipment is out there ! Some won’t be of use to us, but is interesting. A lot will be out of our budget but it’s still great to look at it and maybe have a play! But what ever was on show, it was certainly going to be interesting!

At the end of the first row we come across a stand for Removu. They are selling Gimbals! I’d never seen or heard of them before so was really curious. There was a couple that caught my eye. One for your iPhone and the other a 4 in 1!

Now if you don’t know what a Gimbal is, and I didn’t as I said, it’s a piece of equipment that helps stabilise your camera when you are moving.

I used to use my iPhone for videos but found it was chewing up my memory and battery. I invested in a GoPro and a Canon Powershot last year instead. When doing my cooking vlogs I use them both together.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had much success videoing when we are out and about because you tend to get a bit of shake. My hubby says it’s like getting sea sick! So Gimbals really captured my curiosity.

The 4 in 1 particularly got me excited. The Gimbal had a built in camera, video recorder and stabiliser all built in! It’s rotating head meant you could capture some really good wide shots!

The stand has a show offer on. £100 off the Gimbal plus a free case and rucksack holder. You could also buy an accessory kit half price! I was sold! I thought hubby would try and talk me out of it. Tell me it was a gimmick, but he too could see it’s worth!  Don’t get me wrong, he wouldn’t have stopped me buying it.  I earn my own money,  so can spend it how I like, but it is good to get his opinion.

Although I wanted to buy it there and then, I decided to wait and see what else was around . I mean, I hadn’t actually planned to buy anything like that before I came!

We continued our walk around. There was so much to see. Some amazing cameras and lenses that we could never afford!

I found a stand that did the hip holder. The stand was busy so I couldn’t really get to ask questions.  It was perfect from what I could see – Spider Pro SCS.  It was however a lot more expensive than I thought!

https://amzn.to/2HCQ8d3

I decided to leave it for another day!  I have a birthday coming up, and it could go on that list

The Gimbal though was still playing around in my head!  Finally, after a few hours we had exhausted all the stands!  I suggested to hubby that we go back and have another look at it.

We had seen another Gimbal on another stand.  It was a lot more compact, didn’t seem as good!

So we headed back to the stand again.  I had a lot of questions to ask, and they were able to show me some videos that had been recorded from it.  It definitely lived up to my expectations.  The decision was made.  I was going to buy one.

The stand didn’t sell them themselves, you had to go to the London Camera Exchange stand.  So off we went.

At the stand I asked them for the product.  After a bit of difficulty locating it, they finally found it.  When they came back though they hadn’t got the free gift or the additional accessory kit I wanted.

After another long search they came back with the free gift.  Still no accessory kit.  The computer said they should have 1!   Yes you heard it – 1! I’m not being funny but this was the first day of the show.  The Gimbal stand were promoting this amazing deal, however they only had 1 item available to sell!  This is so not good marketing!

After another long wait, they couldn’t find that 1 item.  They did however offer to send it to me.   Initially for a £4.99 postage charge!  I refused to pay this.  If they don’t hold stock on day 1, then it isn’t for me to pay to have it posted to me.

The lad who served me was lovely though and I did feel for him.

It was agreed it would be sent to me free of charge, although not until after the show!  As it was only a ‘nice to have’ additional accessories, I didn’t mind.

Whiles I was waiting for them to find the items, I checked on Amazon for the micro SD card.  It was half the price I could get it for at the show, so I quickly ordered it for delivery the next day.

Eventually, I had my new toy in my hands and on the way home to try it out!  Very excited I have to say!

Gimbal – https://amzn.to/2FiUiW0
Accessory Kit – https://amzn.to/2FiUiW0
64GB Memory Card – https://amzn.to/2OiEPYZ

When I got home, I placed it on charge.  The next day the card arrived.  Ooh the excitement!

I read the instructions quickly and decided to go for a walk to try it out!

I have to apologise for anyone who may have seen me, skipping and singing at one point!  I wanted to test the microphone and movement out!

I got home and downloaded it onto the laptop!  

The quality of sound and video were fantastic.  I was over the moon I decided to do a product review vlog!

See my vlog here:

I was so happy with my toy!

Now, I just need to go on a long walk and really test it out! It has 4 hour battery life which should be enough for a nice long country walk!

So even though I never planned to buy a Gimbal, I have to say it was a fantastic purchase. If I hadn’t gone to the show, I would never have known about it! If you see a show like this go along. If you book early you tend to get some good deals.

For £11.00 each, we had a great day out, and learnt a lot more about photography and what is out there! Plus I got a new piece of equipment to improve my videoing ability!

Live every day like it’s your last!

In the last 10 days I’ve heard of 2 people we know who have passed away suddenly. One was a friend of my husbands and the other a young lady who works with us!

It is so sad to think that she tucked her young children up in bed, with her whole life before her, then never waking up!

As with my hubby and his friend, we have all been in shock!

My heart goes out to both families.

I like many others have really been reflecting on this.

The reality is that none of us know when our time will be up. No one has a date in their diary saying the exact date and time we are going to become ill or pass away suddenly.

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. I was officially diagnosed the day after my 43rd birthday! I certainly never expected to have cancer at such a young age! Thankfully I’m all clear again now, although last week I had a horrible scare. I’m so grateful for the NHS and my private health care through work, as we only had to wait 24 hours to know if it had returned. Those few hours though were hell. I can’t begin to tell you everything that was going through my mind! What wasn’t was wishing I’d argued more, got angry more, had more money or a better car!

Im glad to say My cancer hadn’t returned, but again it highlighted how fragile life can be!

How many times have you fought over something so trivial that days later you can’t even remember what it was about? How often do you worry about silly things that don’t really matter?

Life is so precious we should be making the most of it!

Tell those dear to you how much you love them. Embrace life. Follow your dreams. But most importantly, don’t take anything for granted.

Have fun, be kind, laugh, love and be happy and grateful for what you do have! Focus on the positives.

Live today like it was your last.

And then it was Friday!

Another week has flown by! I can’t believe it’s Friday already! So much has happened in just a few days!

Technically for us it was only a 4 day week as we took Monday off. If you read my previous blog you will know we spent the weekend in Gloucester. As we hadn’t had a break for 6 months, I really needed to charge my batteries!

So on Monday, we decided to extend our weekend and head to Stonehenge for the day!

I can’t believe I’ve never been before. It’s only a couple of hours drive away. It’s also free if you belong to English Heritage, which we do, so there has really been no excuse.

The weather was on our side! It was a beautiful spring day. Don’t get me wrong, it was blooming cold and windy, but the sun was out.

When you drive to Stonehenge you may be surprised to see it from the road. Well I was! It was just like the first time I saw the pyramids in Cairo.

I had visions of them being in a remote area. Next to a busy road was not what I expected!

Although it is free to enter for us, you still have to book a slot. This is such a good idea as it limits the crowds.

Once you collect your tickets, you can go into their visitor centre which tells you all about the history of Stonehenge. English Heritage are really good at giving you information in the form of audio equipment. Sadly, in the excitement we forgot to get ours! It didn’t matter though, there was still a lot of information about.

Next you get to walk around a replica village. I was a bit disappointed here as only one little house was open for you to view! This meant everyone was focused on the one building rather than spreading it around.

Next you board a shuttle bus that takes you to the stones. They run every few minutes, so it’s all relaxed! You can walk it if you like, but as I said, it was a tad chilly!

Nowadays you can’t get very close to the stones. I can’t believe people used to try and damage them!

There is a good footpath around so you get a great 360 degree view of the stones. With the sun out and perfect blue skies, our cameras were busy!

If you go, look out for what is left of the old road next to the stones! Being so close, I can see why they moved it!

Here is an account of our day.

It was such a lovely day we decided to call into Bourton-on-the-Water for a very late lunch.

One of the benefits of going to tourist places this time of the year is that you miss the crowds.

We only had 1 extra day off, but I felt like I’d really had a good relaxing break!

Tuesday was back to work. Boo hoo! We live in hope to one day win the lottery so we can both travel more! It probably won’t happen, but you have to have a dream!

Have a great weekend!

Dogs behaving (very) badly!

OMG, I think this programme from Channel 5 may have just saved my sanity!

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you have dogs who don’t behave well, you have to watch it.

Graeme Hall is one of the UK’s top behaviourists and dog trainers. Each week, he helps dog owners sort out their dogs annoying or potentially dangerous behaviours.

Being the owner of 2 Border Collies, with 1 in particular having a list of bad behaviours, I was interested to watch it. As with many of the previous series about changing dog behaviours, I was a little skeptical, to say the least!

We had Fido at 16 weeks old, from his previous owner who could no longer keep him. She lived in a first floor flat, which was quite small with 2 young children under 5. If anyone knows Border Collies, they are extremely energetic and need a lot of exercise. They are also very clever.

The minute I saw Fido and his living environment, I knew we had to take him home.

I already had a dog, a Collie crossed with a retriever. The vet had recommended a puppy to help keep him active. I wanted a rescue dog, as I had always had rescue dogs, but we had had a bad experience when a previous dog we had hoped to home, had attacked my dog. Fido seemed like the perfect solution. He wasn’t technically rescued, but he did need rehoming!

From the minute we brought him home, he showed signs of trying to be the dominant male. He constantly tried to attack my older dog. Ember was such an amazing dog. He never turned on Fido. He was so tolerant and patient!

He came from a dogs home himself and was very traumatised. It took a lot of hard work and commitment to get him to the dog he was, so I wasn’t a stranger to working with dogs.

Even toilet training Fido was a nightmare. I don’t think I slept for the first 6 months, putting him out in the night to do his business. He had so many accidents. Even though it was cold or wet (it was in January), I never gave in. Wrapped in layers, I would stay in the garden until he did his business. I praised him like they tell you to, but it still took forever. I think a lot of this was due to the fact that back in the flat he didn’t have a garden. As he wasn’t vaccinated until a week or so before you took him, he wouldn’t have been able to go out, so his toilet was the flat and puppy pads!

We were hoping Ember would help us train Fido. Sadly, Ember passed away suddenly 6 months later.

Even as the only dog in the house, Fido continued to be a difficult dog, but I wasn’t going to give up on him. With us, he was such a loving dog, he still is. He is very needy and insecure, needed constant reassurance.

He never had a bed in his previous home. He slept with his owner. This was a hard habit to break, but again we continuously made him sleep in his own bed. Even now, he will try and get back onto the bed if we don’t tell him to get off!

As he got older, the problems seem to grow:-

Chasing cars, bikes, joggers etc on his walks
Barking at any noise such as Microwave, planes etc
Getting stressed if he hears the door bell, bangs etc to the point he loses it (behavioural wise)
Trying to attack other dogs
Not allowing anyone in or out of the house

It got so bad, I even thought of giving him up, although I am not sure I would have gone ahead with it.

We thought that maybe a companion might help him. We did some research and took advice. It was recommended that we look at females to help with his male dominance issue.

We tried rescue dogs, but he just attacked them. It seemed hopeless. We then decided that maybe a puppy that he could mold might be the best answer! So almost 2 years after we got him, we got little Lola, also a Border Collie. This time though, we picked her direct from her breeder.

Lola was a completely different dog. She was toilet trained in 2 weeks. Coming from a litter of 11 though she wanted to play with Fido. He didn’t seem to feel the same way back!She would constantly try and get his attention, which would end up with him going for her.

In the first couple of months I never left them on their own together. I wanted to make sure that I was there to protect Lola from him. When I mentioned it to the kennels, they advised me to stop intervening! Lola had to learn when to back off! So after a short weekend in kennels I picked up a happy Lola with a cut on her face!

I was absolutely gutted, but they were right! She had to learn boundaries! After that, things settled between them. Now they play happily together, if he doesn’t want to play she knows it, and walks away!

The other problems were not easy to sort! I would try and walk both dogs on my own. Getting out the house was stressful as Fido would fight with Lola to get out first. He would then try and chase every car that past us or attack any dogs we saw. By the time I got home I would be so stressed out, I was almost in tears, and it wasn’t even 6 am! I was beginning to dislike him!

As a last resort we called in a dog behaviourist! I could no longer cope with the embarrassment or shame of his behaviour! We were not avoiding people when we were out for walks. Letting Fido off in a field to run around wasn’t an option anymore. Worse still, Lola was learning these bad behaviours from him too!

The behaviourist pointed out that those 8 weeks before we had him were crucial for puppies, and if it wasn’t a good experience it could effect him forever.

One thing that I noticed with Lola was that when she wanted quiet time, she would go into her puppy playpen or under the chaise lounge. Fido never had that in his previous home. He would have had 2 active toddlers running around with him, in a very small space!

I suddenly realised this wasn’t his fault, so vowed I would stick with him! He deserved that.

That was almost 2 years ago!

I had researched different methods on the internet, read books and watched tv programmes. None of them really helped me.

Then the lady who looks after the dogs for me in the day told me of this programme. I’d seen Graeme interviewed on This Morning. I even tried looking for the programme on the tv, but was looking under ‘The Dog Father’. I now had the name and could series link it!

Every night I watched an episode! It was worth trying! What had we to lose?

I decided to break down all Fido’s issues and work on them one at a time.

The first one was the problem of anyone entering or leaving the house, including us! He barks and lunges at the door! To be honest, sometimes he scared me, so god knows what anyone else thought!

We had previously tried everything to no avail! We even had a child gate up in the hall to give us space between him and the front door to leave without him near us! Fido hates metal, so wouldn’t cross it! Then I saw Graeme deal with a similar issue.

The trick was to give the dog a line not to cross! Graeme only had 1 dog to deal with in the programme, whereas we had 2! I decided I needed to give them both their own lines ! That way Lola wouldn’t get in Fido’s way if he kicked off!

Fido’s line was the strip between the kitchen and hall. Lola the step.

My hubby and I both spent a couple of hours getting Fido to stay behind the line. Lola got it straight away. Fido took many attempts. My steps on my Fitbit certainly increased that day!

Every time he moved we put him back! Slowly I got nearer and nearer to the front door! And then it happened. I actually walked out of the house and Fido didn’t bark or kick off!

OMG I could have cried.

We then both did it together! It was working. With lots of praise and treats, leaving the house was no longer stressful.

Now, I’ve talked about Fido’s bad points but he does have some good ones too! One is that he won’t touch food or treats until you tell him too.

I started to leave a treat at his feet, not to be eaten until we left the house! Bingo it worked!

The true test was when our dog sitter tried it and got the same results! We are over the moon.

I am now looking at other episodes to see how we can tackle some of the other issues. Fido barking at any noises is a real problem, so I am trying to work on that now too.

The door bell is a real problem and I think that will be much harder for us to solve.

Lola isn’t exempt from this either! She has learnt to bark at anyone walking past the house. Graeme also dealt with that on one of his episodes, so I am trying to put that into practice!

We have a long way to go, and are only really working on things inside the house right now. It would be good if we could sort out Fido’s aggression with other dogs. Lola loves playing with other dogs, and by not being able to take them out over fields, I fear she is losing out. They both would love the extra exercise if we could solve it!

They same Rome wasn’t built in a day! I can’t believe what a difference it has made so far. Life is definitely less stressful when we leave the house. We will keep up with it. This programme has really made a difference to us.

So Graeme – thank you ! Oh, and if you need a dog for your next series you are welcome to sort Fido out in respect of his alpha male problem and trying to attack every dog he passes !!

So if like me you want help training your dog, check out this series on Channel 5.

Yey it’s pancake day!

So today is pancake day, or as it’s otherwise known – Shrove Tuesday!

Most of us will be enjoying making, tossing and eating our pancakes later, but how did it come about?

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent, which is on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter and was traditionally a time of fasting. Many Catholics especially, will give something up for Lent.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. This means it varies each year.

On Shrove Tuesday,  Anglo Saxon Christians went to confession and were shriven, which means ‘absolved from their sins’. A bell would be ring to call people to confession. This came to be called the ‘Pancake Bell’ and is still rung today.

Shrove Tuesday was the last chance to use up eggs and fats before starting the Lenten fast. Pancakes were the best way of using up these ingredients.

The pancake has been in cookery books as far back as 1439.

The ingredients for pancakes can be seen to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year:

Eggs – Creation

Flour  – The staff of life

Salt –  Wholesomeness

Milk – Purity

How to make a traditional pancake

To make 8 perfect pancakes

8oz plain flour,

2 large eggs,

1 pint milk,

quick pinch of salt.

Mix all together and whisk well. Leave to stand for 30 minutes. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, pour in enough batter to cover the base of the pan and let it cook until the base of the pancake has browned. Then shake the pan to loosen the pancake and flip the pancake over to brown the other side. Trying not to get it stuck to your ceiling!

Traditionally we used lemon or honey for our toppings, but nowadays we get me exotic. Toppings now include fresh fruit, chocolate or even savoury!

For me it has to he just lemon with a little bit of a sugar!

What ever your favourite topping, have a great day!