Feeling hot hot hot !

Wow, what great weather we had this weekend! So who has a Braai? Ok BBQ? Yep it has the be done.

We went the whole hog and had 2! First one Friday night and another last night. You have to love eating outside.

Last nights Braai was all about using the leftovers. It’s amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination.

Saturday temperatures reached over 34 degrees for us! Not that I sat out in it myself! Oh no! We had friends round on the evening so first things first I needed to catch up on the housework! It has to be done especially with 2 malting dogs!

Talking of malting dogs, they do struggle when it’s so warm! Fido thankfully knows how to cool down. He stands in the shower waiting for someone to turn the taps in for him!!

Anyway, back to the friends coming for dinner. As it was going to be such a lovely day I decided the menu needed to reflect that.

Hubby offered to make his prawn soup! It’s light but very tasty. Perfect for a hot summer evening.

For main, I opted for pineapple and salmon kebabs with Jerk seasoning, with home grown new potatoes and a pomegranate and feta salad. As a salad dressing I made a Dijon mustard dressing. So far all free on Slimming World, but still tasty.

Now, this is where it got interesting. For dessert, I decided on an ice cream cake. Well why wouldn’t you!

The cake requires 2 layers of ice cream and a raspberry coulis, topped with a ginger biscuit layer! Sounds fab doesn’t it! And it was apparently (I made a syn free version for me).

The problem I had was the weather! I mean, when it’s over 34 degrees outside, how are you supposed to stop the layers melting while constructing them!

It was a case of moving very quickly and having a hubby on hand to open freezer doors for you!

I published a video of it here!

I had to laugh when I watched it back. I looked quite fresh at the start of it! By the end I was definitely wilting !!

The main thing is the food went down a treat! Note to myself though! Don’t try it again unless it’s about 10 degrees cooler!

I’m not complaining though! I love it when it’s hot hot hot !

Have a good day.

When it’s not quite how you expected!

So today I’d planned the topic of my blog out! It was supposed to be titled ‘The Sun is out, the sky is blue!’. Well the sun is definitely not out and the sky is a grubby shade of grey!

The weather reports have been promising us a heatwave. Europe is steeped in temperatures in the 40’s. We were not going to get those type of temperatures, but in the 20’s is still good for me!

Yesterday was a horrible day. It did start off around 18 degrees and humid, but oh boy did it rain. I really considered not taking the dogs out, but then that wouldn’t be fair. Being Border Collies they have so much energy. If you don’t exercise them you know about it! Especially Lola who is currently going through the terrible 2’s!

So I popped on a pair of shorts and raincoat. Yes you heard right, shorts. I figured that wet legs would be more comfortable than wet trousers or jeans! And I was right!

By the time we got back the 3 of us were dripping wet. I was able to jump into the hot shower but the dogs had to settle for a rub-a-dub-dub! In normal speak, a towel dry!

The downside to wet dogs is that smell! Eek! Lots of Scentsy wax warmers were needed. I tried opening windows but the rain was just heavy!

Thankfully it finally stopped late afternoon, but not before it had dropped around 50mm of rain! I know that as I bought my hubby a weather station for Christmas. It’s great for keeping a check on what the weather really did in our area.

Working at home yesterday meant I had time to be creative in the kitchen last night. I do love having that extra hour our so. I’ve posted one of my videos from that session here:

Tomorrow I will publish my gorgeous breakfast cakes.

After an amazing dinner it was time to relax, in anticipation of the heatwave today!

I woke up all excited this morning. I dressed in shorts and a fleece!

As I stepped out of the house it dawned on me. Instead of sun it was raining. That was not forecast!

We had a drizzly walk. Quite cool too! I’m not loving this.

It’s nearly July and I can count on 1 hand the sunny days we have had this year! I’m so disappointed.

I’m praying now that this is just a blip! Tomorrow I’m going to be swamped in that heatwave.

Fingers crossed guys!

What a fab weekend

I can’t believe it’s back to work again so soon. This weekend has been amazing. There are 3 reasons why it was so special:

1) A 4 day weekend

2) The sun was out

3) It was hubbys birthday

The 3 combined meant we had a fun filled weekend.

As you know, we both have a very early start during the week. To be able to wake up when we wanted to, relax in bed with a couple of cups of tea, and getting up when we wanted was magical. The dogs loved it too. Especially Lola who isn’t a morning girl.

Friday we decided to go into Birmingham for the day. A bit odd you may think for people who travel there everyday for work! Whilst we work there, we never really go into the centre.

With the worlds biggest Primark, hubby was intrigued as to what it was like. I needed to get him a birthday present from my parents do this seemed like to perfect excuse to go.

I have to say, shopping for men’s clothes is a nightmare. He wanted a lightweights jacket. Do you think we could find one? It was so hard! It seems that men only get a limited amount of space in stores! Very frustrating!

As hubby isn’t a shopper, we agreed we would get his things together, then he would go off and do some photography around the city while I shopped for me!

Check out what we bought here !

After a few hours we met up and had lunch on the canal at Marco Pierre White Restaurant- Bardolinos! It was so lovely to chill out and enjoy a nice late lunch together!

Saturday was even more chilled which just a hair cut for me before heading out to Hubbys favourite Thai restaurant for Dinner.

Sunday was his actual birthday so after another lazy start, we went off for a nice long walk around Charlecote. With the warmth of the sun, it was a perfect day out!

In the evening we celebrated with friends at their house.

The last day of the weekend was equally as chilled! We visited a museum at our local airfield which was a training airfield for British, Canadian, American and Belgium RAF. Reading stories of bravery and lives lost, it was very humbling. A spot of brunch at the cafe followed by a bit of gardening and a braai, it certainly had been a magical weekend!

Now I’m back on the train and it will soon be a distant memory, but at least they will be good memories!

Have a great week.

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 !

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.

Thinking about those less fortunate!

Last week I got a text from a delivery company to say the wine I’d ordered from Slimline Wine was being delivered ! I was so excited ! As I left work I had a smile on my face.

As I started my walk to the train station, I passed my first homeless person!

I see many homeless everyday on my walk to and from the train station.  It is so sad to see so many of them.  Mostly men, but sometimes women too.

It goes through my mind every time I see them, why are they here?  Some, I know have mental health problems, other have fallen on hard times.  But what is the story for the others.

I’m going home to a lovely warm house, food on the table (well when I cook it there will be), and my latest wine order!  When did these people last have that?

As the temperature drops, I can’t believe they would choose this to a home indoors ? Who would, so why are they here?

I do try to support them as much as I can.  The odd £1 here, a sandwich or cup of tea there.  I do try to avoid giving money, as I know some would use it for drugs or alcohol, but not all.  If I am popping into a shop and I see one of them outside, I will add something extra to my shopping, to give them.

As I pass them each day, I wonder how many of them feel invisible?  How many people have walked past them that day and not even acknowledged them?

On this particular day, I’m rushing home to get my train.  Suddenly, I stop myself in my tracks.  I know, on my journey home, I am going to see some people who won’t have that luxury of a bottle of nice wine tonight.  They probably won’t even have a bed.  I feel very selfish.  I turn around and head to the local Tesco shop by where I work.

Inside I look around.  There are still a good amount of sandwiches available.  I decide to pick out a few packs.

On the way to the station, as I pass a homeless person I offer them a sandwich.  The first ones got a choice.  You can’t imagine the excitement of the first man, when he saw the tuna sandwich.  It made me feel so humble.

As I continued my journey, I passed out sandwiches.  As I reached the station I still had 1 pack left.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  Then I saw a pile in a door way which obviously belonged to a homeless person.  I gently placed the last sandwich down on an old sleeping back.  It should be a nice surprise for when they return.

I appreciate that not everyone is able to do what I did.  I certainly couldn’t afford to do it every day.  There are far too many homeless people around to make an impact on my own.  What is important though, is that we do what we can.  It doesn’t have to cost us anything.  A simple hello or smile is free.

We might not realise it, but that simple acknowledgement could mean everything for that person.

I also try and give them items of warm clothing, hats and gloves.  Rather than put in a charity bags, I like to know I’m making a direct difference to someone.

If you are trying to lose weight and have chocolate or biscuits you don’t want, why not pass it on to them?  They would appreciate anything.  Everyone I have spoken to, or helped has been so grateful and polite.

A couple of years ago I got to know a lovely young man and his dog, who were homeless. He never wanted money, but was always so grateful for a cup of tea or something to eat.

He was partially blind. He couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have an address !

One day, someone decided to set up a ‘Just Giving’ page for him. The aim was to get enough money together to get him a little place to live. People donated as much as they could afford . Others provided donations such as old plates etc. The smallest of donation all added up.

Very soon he was off the streets and safe!

Unfortunately, not everyone on the street is so lucky .

So the next time you see someone who is homeless, don’t put your head down and ignore them.  Say hello.  Give them a smile.

The small things in life can make a huge difference.

Fireworks stress out pets and animals

So this weekend will see many parts of the country, including mine, celebrating bonfire night!  I love fireworks, however for me, I now have to consider the welfare of my dogs during this time.

Animals have acute hearing, loud bangs can cause them pain in their ears.  There hearing is a lot more sensitive to sounds than us humans.

Fido is 4 years old, and has always been very sensitive to noises, so this time of year is even more stressful for him.  Lola sees him stressed, and feels the need to bark too!

This week is also the start of Diwali celebrations. Diwali is the five-day festival of lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.  It is celebrated also with fireworks.

This Tuesday was the start of the first firework display by us.  Fido was extremely stressed, pacing around, barking, crying and hiding.  It was a horrible couple of hours to watch and hear.  Even after they had stopped he couldn’t relax, because for pets, they don’t know if its going to start up again or not!

To help, we give both our dogs calming tablets, and are doing so right through to the middle of next week.  This doesn’t stop them getting stressed, but I hope in some way it does help them be a little calmer.  You can get them from your local vets or online.  I buy Magicalm from Healthspan, which I have shown to my vet to confirm it is safe for my dogs.  If you are giving them calming tablets, make sure you check the dosage, and follow the instructions carefully.  The link is here.

https://www.healthspan.co.uk/products/magicalm?sc_camp=A637DAE161C94D44A8EAF04FF8CA3979&gclid=CjwKCAjw6-_eBRBXEiwA-5zHaX00I4MnLUvay9jC2o8alTR4OQZaxL4uOYBWfrJjfgvvCJw_lspaJxoC3C0QAvD_BwE#/?pack%20size=60

So what else do we do to help them?  We make sure there are plenty of TV’s and radios on loudly around the house to block the noise out.  Curtains and blinds are closed.  I never shout at them as this stresses them out more.  Instead, I cuddle them, and stroke them, using soothing sounds.  They are even allowed to lie on the sofa with me for added comfort.

Fido likes sleeping under my hubby’s desk in his study.   Lola under the chaise lounge.   It is not uncommon for dogs to hide during times of stress.   I leave them both there, if that is where they have gone, as for them, this is their safe place.

Dogs will also potentially become destructive at this time.  Again, don’t get cross with them, it is their coping mechanism.

I make sure the dogs are walked well before the darkness falls.  That way, I can eliminate any possibility of them being outdoors when a firework goes off.  I never allow them in the garden until I know the fireworks are well and truly finished.  This might mean they have a little accident, but it’s a small price to pay.

If you are out when displays start, get your dog home as soon as possible.  Dogs will try and run and hide.  Never walk them this time of year without a lead. They are likely to dash off, and could potentially be hit by a car or become lost.  As soon as the first sound is heard, get them home to safety.

Other Animals

It isn’t just dogs that are effected by fireworks.  Cats, rabbits, birds and even wildlife.  More animals are killed on the roads this time of year, due to fireworks and they run around in panic.

If you have a cat, do the same as with my dogs.  As they are a law unto themselves, you may need to bring them in a lot earlier.  Make sure the catflap is closed or blocked, so they can’t get back out!

Small Pets

If your pets are in hutches/cages in the garden, bring them indoors.  If not into the house, the garage.  Make sure they have extra bedding and cover the hutch/cage.

If you can’t bring them in, cover them with think blankets or old duvets to block out some of the sound.  Obviously, make sure they can still breath!

Make sure you check on them later.

Wildlife

You may think there isn’t a lot you can do to protect wildlife this time of year, and in some ways that is true.

Sadly, many types of animals will be hit by cars, trying to flee fireworks, especially deer.  These can also cause damage to vehicles.

If you have bird baths or feeders in your garden, take them down early afternoon.  This will prevent them coming out of the safety of their nests or trees.  If you can’t remove them, cover them up.

After fireworks

We will all have seen fireworks lying on the ground after a display.  When it is safe to do so, make sure you discard of them.  The firework will still contain dangerous toxins, which if eaten by animals, could kill them.

I don’t want to spoil everyone’s fun.  As I said, I love fireworks, but with a bit of planning, we can make it relaxing for both humans and animals alike.

If you see an injured animal, please contact your local vet or RSPCA on  0300 1234 999

Kraków here we come!

Woo hoo, today we are off to Kraków.  Our flight leaves at 6.25 am, so the alarm is set for 2.50 am.The plan was to go to bed last night at 8pm so we could get plenty of sleep! Typically, I’m still wide awake at this time.  I know that going to bed when you are not tired is not good for you, so I decided to watch a bit of t.v, to see if that helps.  I eventually feel the need for bed about 9.30pm.

The dogs went to kennels yesterday.  The house is so quiet.  It’s strange not having to put them out for their final toilet break before bedtime.  I’m missing them already.

I always worry that I will oversleep when I have something important to wake up for, so I have set 2 alarms, and asked hubby to make sure his is on too.

I wake up just after 1am and force myself to go back to sleep, but I just can’t! By 2 am, I’m wide awake!  I’m going to be so tired later!

At 2.45 am, I decide to make tea for us both. I always have a pint of green tea every morning, which takes a while to cool down enough to drink, so I jump into the shower in the meantime.

The plan was to leave the house at 3.30 am, but just before then hubby realised he hadn’t notified his bank that he was going away.  Eek, neither had I! So we both have to quickly log into our computers to do it.  I’m now panicking a bit, as we are late leaving, and there is no guarantee either of our banks will update our accounts in time!

We are booked into a carpark at the airport that we haven’t used before, so we have to use the postcode!  The sat nav in my car is nearly 4 years old, it doesn’t recognise the address!  I was originally going to drive, but as my reading glasses were to hand, hubby and I swap places!  Thankfully the  Sat nav on my phone recognises it, so we find it easier than we expected.

We eventually get parked and to the airport, not as early as I would like, but we are here!

We have 40 minutes before we have to go to our gate, so we pop to Burger King for some breakfast.  Why is it so expensive to eat and drink at airports?

I’m also a bit worried about being able to draw currency when we get to Kraków, so I decide to buy some  currency at the airport.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

A quick trip to WH Smith for water and some sweets is all we have time for, before we have to board!


We have our usual seat positions!  Hubby with the window seat, and me in the middle.  For a long while the isle seat next to me was empty.  I don’t know about you, but I always hope it stays empty, so we can stretch out!  It rarely happens, and today is no exception.  It’s quite a full flight!

We are flying with Jet2.  They are not a bad company to fly with.  My only negative is, that there is nowhere for you to put your bottles of drinks.  There is a cup holder, but it’s too big  for hubby’s Fanta and too small for my water!  Sounds like something out of the 3 bears!

The just right was a green tea which I bought in the flight!  I tried to sleep, but as usual I can’t!

The flight is just over 2 hours, so not too long. We thankfully arrive ahead of schedule!  There is a short ride from the plane to passport control!  I’ve never been in such a long slow queue!  They only had 2 desks open to deal with a plane full of people!  They do eventually open 3 more desks, but jeez!

By the time we get through the carasel for baggage has stopped, and the flight no longer listed on the board, so I had to hunt round to find our bag!

We had pre booked a car to pick us up at the airport, to take us to our hotel.  We are staying at the Rembrandt Aparthotel in the old town.

We are joining 3 other couples  there.  As we have all come from different places in the uk, they arrived late last night.  The weather promises to be mid 20’s, so it should be a good weekend!

Our driver is lovely and friendly.  The trip only takes about half an hour!

Our room isn’t ready yet, so we drop our bags in a friends room and go off exploring.  As we are staying in the old town, it only takes minutes to hit the main square.


Tonight we are heading to the Jewish quarter for dinner!

The plan over the weekend is to visit the 2 concentration camps – Auschwitz and Berkenau, the salt mines, castle, and the old town.

Keep following my blog to see how the weekend goes!

I’ll upload photos to my YouTube channel when I’m home too, so don’t forget to subscribe to it too!

When you see your name in print!

Oh wow, how excited was I on 21st August , when I opened my emails?  There, in black and white, was an email from Countryfile Magazine, telling me a photo I had sent in of one of my dogs,  was selected as the winning entry, for the September edition of their magazine.  The competition was being sponsored by Halti, so I was also to receive a selection of their products!

I have been a fan of Countryfile ever since it started! Thankfully, my husband really enjoyed it too.  It has become a religion in our house now.  Every Sunday evening, we would have a roast dinner, then curl up on the sofa, to watch that weeks episode.

One day, I was sitting in a waiting room waiting for my medical.  On the table was a Countryfile magazine.  I had never seen it before, but was so absorbed in it, I was gutted when I had to go in for my appointment.

I immediately went out and subscribed to the magazine.  That was June 2012. And I’m still subscribing to it!

Every month, I have read the articles, looked at the walks and the competitions.  I have mentioned to my hubby many times that he should enter the competitions.  Both hubby and I love photography.  I have seen his photos, and I firmly believe he has some award winning pictures of his own.

I have never really thought any of mine would be good enough.  Then in July, after a trip to Isle of Skye, I saw the competition regarding pets on holiday.

I love taking photos of Fido and Lola, and had been pleased with how they had come out.  My hubby actually was the one who thought I should enter one of them into the competition.

I thought – why not!  What have I got to lose?  So on 16th July, I send off my photo.

When I received the email telling me I had won, I was absolutely shocked.  I didn’t care about the prize!  It was the fact that someone had thought my photo was good!  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Immediately, I started spreading the news!  I was now an award winning photographer!  Ok, it isn’t like I’m on TV or anything, but I was having my photo published in September’s edition of Countryfile Magazine.  I mean, Countryfile!

I have been waiting in excitement to see it in print.

Last night a friend received her copy of the magazine.  Mine hadn’t arrived, but she sent me a photo.  I was again in ‘smile’ mode!  She promised to bring me the magazine into work the next day.

When I saw it in print, it was like I had won the lottery!  Ok, most people won’t know me, but everyone who buys the magazine, will see the picture I took of Fido!

I was always into photography and competitions, just not both together!  This has given me a new motivation, to get out there and take more photos.  Learn more about my camera and  explore the countryside.

Sometimes, you just have to have confidence in your own ability.  If I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t have been disappointed, however now I have, I feel 10 feet tall.  I am very proud of myself, but more importantly, I am proud of my husbands word.  I know he takes some amazing photos too.  I will be pushing him more to get his work out there now!

Don’t ever doubt yourself.  Push yourself out there!  Sometimes, it turns into nothing, but other times, it fulfills your dreams and more!  I certainly will be doing more photographic competitions.  You never know, once day it may even get me on the TV with my photo in the Countryfile calendar!

You have to have a dream and ambition!

I have now started uploading some of my photos to YouTube.  If you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Can dogs make you a better person?

You may think this is a funny question to ask, but I think they can!  I’m not saying if you have dogs you won’t commit a crime,  but I do think dogs as pets do make a difference in your life!

Since I was born, my parents had dogs.   As a child, there are many options  we want as pets.  Some want fish, some cats, some even want snakes and spiders, but like me, it has to be a dog.  Whatever the pet, the one thing they all teach kids is responsibility.

If you own a pet, you have to make sure its given food, water, a nice home to live in, and depending on the pet, exercise.  What it also does is give you the feeling of love!

How many times have you seen homeless people with dogs?  I have seen many! You may wonder why they have them when they don’t have a home.  For someone who is homeless, they not only give them someone to protect them, but it also gives them someone to love, and love them back!

When I left home at 19, I decide to have 2 kittens, rather than a dog.  I loved my cats dearly, but they are very independent creatures. Yes they would be waiting for me when I got home, but they still wanted to be out exploring!

Dogs on the other hand want so much more from you, and give even more back!

As a child, my fondest memories were of walks at the weekend with my parents, siblings, and the family dog.

We lived near Warwick Racecourse, which is also public land. When the weather permitted, this was a great spot for walking the family dog.

I’ve always loved walking, which I think came from that experience. Even when I left home, I continued with my walks!

One day, I was walking on my own around the Malvern Hills! It struck me that something was missing in my life! I loved my walking, but I really missed that one true friend ! Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of friends socially, but just going for a walk needed a special friend. – a dog!

I worked full time so knew a puppy was out of the question! I decided a trip the the ‘Dogs Trust’ in Kenilworth was the answer !

If you have ever been to a dogs home, you will know what I mean when I say, you know ‘the one’!

I hadn’t really got anything in my head, except it has to like walking!

I looked up and down the kennels, I saw lots of cute dogs, but none said ‘take me home’! So I decided to give up and go home !

Later that day I spoke with my mum. She was disappointed that I hadn’t taken her with me! I felt bad, so even though my last trip was unsuccessful, I decided to return the same day with my mum.

As we walked around the kennels I saw the same dogs again.  My views on them hadn’t changed.  I felt sorry for them, they were cute and sad, but none still didn’t pull the right heart string!  Then I saw her.  She was a beautiful golden dog.  She was called Tilly.  They thought she was a german shepherd and greyhound cross.  She was 8 years old.  They didn’t know much about her except she was found in Ireland.  I fell in love with her immediately.

I registered my interest in her.  When you take a dog from a dogs home, they always make checks on you and where you live before they agree if you can take the dog home.  Thankfully, I passed the tests and Tilly came home with me a week later.

The dogs home had named her Tilly.  She hadn’t been in there long so didn’t really know her new name.  I decided to change it to Sophie!

She was a beautiful dog.  Very loyal.  In the 4 years I had her before she passed away, I never heard her bark.  She was frighten on newpapers though and bangs.  She had a bullet a few millimetres from her heart.  It was believed she may have been shot.  As it was so close to her heart, they couldn’t remove it.

Sophie and I became immediate friends.  She would love coming out for walks with me.

When you walk with your dog, something changes.  You become more sociable.  When its just you walking down the street, you wouldn’t often say anything to someone you pass!  When you have a dog at your side, you seem to have to be polite and make a gesture.  Good morning or afternoon become normal phrases.

You meet other dog walkers.  Funnily enough, you always get to know the dogs names but never the owners!  I was ‘Sophie’s mum’.

I have had 3 more dogs since Sophie.  Ember was next.  He was 2 years old and again from the dogs home.  He was my best friend and very beautiful.  Everyone would stop and talk to me, sparked by their love of my dog.  He was so well behaved.  It broke my heart when I lost him 10 years later.

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We had  a great time with him.  He was walked miles in the Lake District,  up and down Snowdonia as well as the Peak District.  He came down to Devon and Cornwall with us.  In fact where I went, he came too!

He helped me through my cancer treatment.  He didn’t need a lead, so I could walk him straight away.  The exercise helped me keep fit and prepared for my radiation treatment.

Dogs need walking.  You can’t just ‘veg out’ in your house!  You have to get up in the morning to walk them, and again in the evening.  Not only does it give you exercise, but it means you are always out and about meeting new people.  This was vital after my cancer operation.  it could have been so easy just to sit around at home, worrying.

It can be extremely lonely, if every night you just go home to an empty house.  I know some people who go home on a Friday night from work, and not see or speak to someone again until they return to work on the Monday morning.    That is when depression and loneliness can set in.

Having dogs mean you have to leave the house.  Even if you don’t speak to anyone, they will speak to you!  It forces you to be more sociable.

I actually met my ex husband from walking my dog.  He had seen me out and about and wanted to get to know me.  He didn’t have a dog, but he had noticed me.  Whilst he is now my ex, it does show that having a dog can bring new experiences in your life.

I now have 2 border collies. Fido and Lola. They are very beautiful and draw a lot of attention.  Even people without dogs stop to talk to me about them.

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One of my walking routes takes me around an estate where there is a lot of bungalows.  This means that there are a lot of elderly people there.  Every day I meet many of them, either looking out of their window, going to their cars, doing their gardens or putting out the bins.

As I pass them, I always give them a wave, or say hello to them.  I wonder how many other people they see or talk to in that day?  I feel that that little gesture to them, may make a lot of difference to them.

When we are not walking we are also missing out on our surroundings too.  We have recently come back from a week in the Lake District.  We had the 2 dogs with us too.   One of the walks we did was not far away from our cottage.  We had driven the same road every day when we were there.

As we started our walk, I spotted a river which I hadn’t seen before.  I had passed that route so many times, but I had never seen that river.  I then started to spot other things.  Feels with cows and sheep, views over the countryside.

During that week we did over 139,000 steps.  It took us to many places.  If we hadn’t had the dogs we might have just jumped onto a plane somewhere.  Instead we explored the countryside.  We did the same in June in Scotland.  We got to see some stunning views as well as get plenty of exercise.

Dogs help us see more of our surroundings, which we are blind to when we are just driving through!

So do dogs make you a better person?  Yes they do!  For so many reasons

Our walk from Pooley Bridge

So this morning we can’t blame the neighbours for the early start!  They seemed to have left yesterday!

5.24 am Lola lets off a half-hearted little bark.  I know that is a signal that she needs the loo, so I get up and take them both out.  We come back in and both of them jump straight back into their beds!  I’m ever hopeful of a few more hours sleep!

Ok, it was going quite well until just before 7 am, when Fido starts whining and howling. Only gently, but you know he isn’t going to stop until you go to him.  Lola has her attention seeking bark and he has this!

Hubby is awake, so offers to go down to him. He comes back with a cup of tea for me.  I say I’ll just have 20 minutes then I’ll get up and join him.  That turned into an hour!  Whoops!

This is our last full day in the Lakes.  We decide to go to Pooley Bridge.  There is a 7.2 km walk from the village, which takes about 2 hours!  From the walk you should get amazing views of Ullswater, see the Cockpit stone circle, and Cop Stone.

The route to Pooley Bridge is via the Wrynose Pass again.  This really isn’t a fun road, but we are now getting used to it.  Before hitting the village you also go over the Kirkstone Pass.  Nowhere near as bad as the Wrynose Pass that is for sure!

What we had forgotten until we arrived at the village, was that in 2015/2016 floods washed away the old bridge.  There is a temporary one in place at the moment, but it isn’t a photo opportunity!

We start the walk and head up the hill to the stone circles.  It’s a bit cold and damp.  Then it all goes a bit wrong.  We keep climbing, but can’t seem to find all the right paths!   The higher the climb the rougher the wind!

After 2 hours of some really steep climbs, we decide to turn around and go back to the car.  The forecast was for heavy rain around 3 pm.  It was now 2 pm.  It had been very windy and damp at the top so didn’t want to risk it any more.

The views from the top were stunning though, so I wasn’t complaining.  Ok, I wasn’t quite complaining, but one of the climbs was really really tough.  We had to stop a few times, before we got to the top.  I think even the dogs struggled!

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As is usual for us, the 7.2km walk turned out to be 12.67km.

As we head back down the weather feels likes it’s improving, so we think we must have missed the worst of it.  We could see heavy rain in the distance though!

While hubby takes the dogs to the car, I pop to a local shop called Chestnut House, to get a bottle of wine.  I was amazed at this shop.  It had so many Gins, Vodkas and whiskey’s in the one place that I have ever seen!  I ended buying a couple of miniatures as well as the wine to try when I get home!  I was hoping it might had some sweets or biscuits too to take home as gifts, but sadly not!

We picnic in the car before heading home.  The weather has now taken a turn for the worst.  Hubby rightly takes the decision that we shouldn’t go via the Wrynose Pass on the way back, as it would be too dangerous.  I was so thankful.  Visibility wasn’t good on the Kirkstone Pass, so the Wrynose would be worse!

I took a video of the Kirstone Pass and Wrynose Pass which I will put on Youtube shortly.

He sets the sat nav to detour us via Lake Windermere!  Although it was pouring with heavy rain, it was still nice to drive through that way.  I hadn’t been there for many years.  Although we didn’t stop, I was still surprised at how it had changed.  So many more shops. It felt very commercialised now.

We are now home safe and sound in our comfy  cottage!  Tonight is scrabble and curry!

Tomorrow we are heading back home.  We plan to take a detour via Morecombe.  It will break up the journey but also give the dogs a chance to stretch their legs.   We are in no rush to get home so we may as well make the day of it.

Its been a good week even if the weather wasn’t on our side.

Taking the Line to Latrigg!

Taking the Line to Latrigg is another walk from our AA walking book of the Lake District.

I was so happy this morning!  The first bark from the dogs next door wasn’t until 7.13 am!  An improvement on the previous days!  Even better, Lola only managed a weak bark, then went back to sleep!

Just after 7.30 am Lola then did her usual attention seeking bark, as she needed to loo!  Obviously, she must have been lying there wondering if she had the energy to get up or not!  Eventually, her bladder won!  I didn’t mind then as I was already awake.  I took them both out  and came back to make the usual cups of tea for hubby and I.

As he was still sleepy I returned the favour from yesterday, and let him sleep, while I came down and sorted dogs out.  I wanted to catch up on the news anyway so I didn’t mind.  I do miss that hour of the news in the morning.  It also gave me time to sort the picnic out for the day.

Today we were going to try and do a lighter walk.  After yesterday we felt we, and the dogs needed it.

We decided on a walk from Keswick, along a disused railway line.  The line was used regularly from 1864 until it was closed in 1972.

The walk according to our AA walking book would take around 2 hours,over 8 km!

To get to the starting point, we had to drive over Wrynose Pass again!  Thankfully hubby offered to drive today.  I wasn’t going to argue.  Although I’m not sure if being a passenger is worse.  At least when you are driving you are more in control! At least I got to take some photos and videos on the way!  Check out my Youtube channel to see them!

The walk starts at a car park outside what used to be the old railway station.  It’s now a hotel, but I’m pleased to say they haven’t changed the look of it from the outside.

As we started our walk we saw a few signs talking about a bridge being closed.  As we had walked over 2 bridges, which took you over the River Greta, we didn’t think they related to us.  In fact, we thought they were signs that hadn’t been taken down!  Well, that was until we reached the reached the bridge that was actually closed!

A flood in 2015 damaged a lot of the old railway track path, as well as taking out the bridge across the river!  We thought our walk had ended before it started!  Have no fear, we found a signpost just back down the path, and decided to take it!

As luck would happen, although this was quite uphill and with a few nervous drops to our right, on some thin paths, it actually took us back onto the path we wanted.

After a long climb, we eventually came to a view point at Latrigg, which gave spectacular views over Keswick.  It was extremely windy, but the sun did try and come out!  At the top, I remembered that I had been here a few years earlier.  We had been to the Lakes with my mother, brother and sister in law.  My mother and sister in law were over from South Africa for a holiday, so my hubby, stepdaughter and I had a week together with them in a log cabin in the Lakes, along with my brother in law who also lives in England now.

There was a carpark to the right of this view point, which we drove to, then walked up to the viewpoint. It was windy that day too!

Many years ago, hubby and I were up in the lakes with our old dog Ember.  We did a walk up Cat Bells.  It was such an exhausting walk which took us about 7 hours in total.  The views were stunning though.  From the viewpoint at Latrigg you can see the same mountain.  When you look at it, you can see why it was so tiring and long!

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We really wanted to do this walk again on this holiday, however the weather has been against us!

We then descended down a track.  The views on this trip were amazing.  Wherever you look, there is always something to photograph! Thankfully we missed the rain, which after yesterday was a great bonus!

So, the walk was supposed to be 8 km.  My app on the phone worked today!  Ok, we do stop a lot to take photos, so it was always going to take longer.  In fact for us, it was 2 hours 44 mins.  How far did we walk?  Over 11 km’s!  That detour must have really added on the km’s.  Not that I am complaining.

Another quiet night is required especially for 2 tired dogs!

Tomorrow is our last full day.  I have clocked up over 130,000 steps in the last 7 days!  Tomorrow, will no doubt be another good walk!

Yew Tree Tarn From Coniston – Lake District

Well today started a lot better than the last few days!  The dogs next door didn’t start barking until 6.30 am!  What was even better, Lola and Fido must have been so tired as Lola  gave out a little quick bark, but that was it!

I came down anyway just to check on them.  Lola was fast asleep on the sofa!  Yes the sofa!  She isn’t allowed on it, but had got herself comfortable with her head on the cushions!  Fido was in his bed.  I took them both out for a walk anyway, so they could do their business.

They both must have been very tired, as I hadn’t even put the leads away when Lola was back on the sofa asleep!

I went back to bed for a bit.  The dogs next door had quietened down very quickly today and we didn’t hear from them until 7.30 am.  I got up and made a drink to take back to bed.  I was so so tired.  I was so relieved when hubby told me to go back to sleep, and he would go down with the dogs!  Lola was quiet but Fido was crying for attention so we couldn’t really leave them on their own.

I slept right through to just after 9 am!  Heaven!

Today we decided on a 10 km walk from Coniston to Yew Tree Tarn.  It was absolutely pouring with rain when we arrived, but as we started to walk it eased off!

Just before we went around the Tarn we spotted an ice cream van.  Hubby can never resist an ice cream so while I had a diet coke, my  hubby and my stepdaughter both went for a 99!  Just what the doctor ordered!

The walk round the tarn was beautiful.   With the rain there was a lot of mist, but you could still see the beauty of the place!  We were doing so well up to this point, but then we just couldn’t work out the correct route.  We use a book called ’50 walks in The Lake District’ by AA. Most times it’s easy to follow, but today it certainly wasn’t clear!  We had to change our route a couple of times and were still not convinced if we were right.

At this point the heavens opened!  And it stayed heavy for the rest of our walk!  We really wasn’t sure our path was the right one and with the rain, our book was getting soaked and so it was hard to turn the pages!

In the end, we saw a path for Coniston.  Even though it wasn’t the books route, we knew we would be going in the right direction for the car.  We had been walking for 4.45 hours at this point,  we were soaking wet, and hungry.  I think all of us just wanted to head back to the car!

According to the signposts we were 1.5 miles from Coniston.

We start to see the village in the distance and my spirits lifted!  By this point, my shorts were so wet they were dripping!  I had a waterproof on, but I don’t think they are designed for this type of rain.

We finally reach the carpark.  When we arrived, I spotted a shop that sold lolly pops.  When I say lolly pops, I don’t just mean your ordinary ones.  Oh no, this one had probably about 30 different flavours if not more!  I just had to stop and get some for my stepdaughter.   I wish now I also got a couple for me too!  They smelt delicious. I just didn’t think at the time! Doh!  I have never seen a shop with so many.  Next time I’m definitely stocking up!

We got into the car and I think we could all agree that we were starving.  We were only 45 mins from home, but after walking what was actually nearly 16 km in 5.5 hours, we just needed fuel!  I’d done my usual picnic so we all sat in the car tucking in!

On the way home I had the heating on to try and dry us all out!

The hot shower when we got home was so so welcome!

The fire was put on to dry the book out and our bags.  Even though we were wet I think we all had a good day.  Even the dogs.

Sadly the app on my phone didn’t pick up all the walk, but my fit bit recorded 25,000 steps!  I think we will all have a few aches in the morning!

A quiet night in front of TV is definitely in order tonight!

Walk around Buttermere Lake

Ok, I’m quite a tolerant person, but enough is enough!  Once again not long after 5 am the dogs next door start barking!  Of course, that is going to wake up Fido and Lola, who have been fast asleep all night.

The problem is, with Lola and Fido, they are really good all night.  Once they have had their evening walk that is it until they wake up again.  Once they are awake both will need the toilet.   Even if I wanted to ignore them I can’t! So once again I am out walking them early!

They are both really good now at going in the new place, so I don’t spend as much time out in my pj’s with them!  Mind you I say that, but I’ve done over 3000 steps before we have left the cottage for the day so maybe more than I think!

Hubby and I both decide that once next doors dogs start barking,  there is no point in trying to lay in bed.  They don’t stop until the family obviously get up to them, which is not for another 2.5 hours!  I can’t believe they can sleep through it or even ignore it.  I don’t let my dogs bark for even a few minutes, for my own sanity, for their behaviour and also for anyone around who may hear them!

I was already cross with the owners last night.  I took Lola and Fido out about 11.30 for their last walk of the night.  It’s pitch black out the back, so I only had the torch off my phone for light!  They just opened their back door and let their two run out.  Both were barking and ran straight to Fido.  They were barking in his face.  He was on a long lead so he could have a bit of freedom.  I couldn’t see him very well and was desperately trying to pull him back to me.  I was calling to Fido so they opened the bedroom window to look.  They gave me the look that I was in the wrong.  My 2 dogs were on leads and behaving!  Their 2 dogs were barking and running riot!  I was not impressed.

The male owner is a big guy and hubby had advised I don’t say anything to him!  I fully agree, we are only here for a week so it’s not worth a fight,  but I am not a happy chappy!  Another night of only  5 hours sleep and I’m certainly not impressed.  I get up at this time every day for work.  I go to bed early to make up for this which is my choice.  I don’t expect to have to do the same on holiday, just because next door can’t control their dogs!

Anyway I’m not going to let it spoil my holiday!

Today we decide to do a walk around Buttermere Lake.  After yesterday, we decided something flatter might be better for all of us and the dogs.

The drive there is a nightmare! You have to go over Wrynose Pass again – we did that on Sunday too!  It’s so scary at times, sheer drops with thin single track roads.  There isn’t many passing places either, so not great on the nerves.

You then go through my favourite town in the Lakes, Ambleside then Grassmere!  Next you head to Keswick.  We needed to get something from the town, so had a quick stop off there.  I stayed in the car with the dogs.  It was a good excuse to try and get the first reception on my phone in over 2 days!  I got a little, but not enough to get all my emails and messages sadly!

The next stretch was over Honister Pass.  This is another steep climb before we got to Buttermere!   The journey should have taken us around 1.5 hours, however due to traffic and lots of lorries trying to pass on narrow roads, it ended up nearly 3 hours!

We are looking for National Trust parking but end up behind the Fish Inn.  Parking there is £6 for only 4 hours!  I don’t know about you, but I think that is expensive to park on what is effectively gravel!  What is worse, you have to pay 30p to spend a penny!!

The weather is a mixture of showers and sunshine.  We have waterproofs, so we are not going to let the weather stop us getting out!  We did over 25000 steps yesterday, so I don’t want today to be much less than that!

Lola broke her lead before we came away.  I thought I had repaired it!   We had swapped it onto Fido as he doesn’t pull as much.  Today of all days it decided to fail again.  Fido didn’t mind.  It is an extendable lead and now it was full length.  Yey, so he thought!   Not likely!  I had to use Lola’s figure of 8 lead which wasn’t ideal, but did the job!

The changing weather really transforms the landscape in the Lakes, and today is no exception.  The walk is quite relaxing but there still is a lot to see.

The walk takes just over 2 hours and is 8 km. We stop at the car again afterwards and have lunch.

My walking shoes have this holiday started to fail me.  I’m gutted as I love them.  They are 12 years old, so have done me well! I have a summer pair and winter pair, and these are my summer ones!  We decide to call back into Keswick on way back and get myself a new pair.  I saw a pet shop there on the way in this morning, so plan to call there too to get a new lead!

The route home started off easier!   We didn’t have to do the Honister Pass.  Woo hoo!  The sun was out when we left Buttermere so I had high hopes for the journey home!  In Keswick it was still warm, so yey!

I bought my boots and a bit random, but a pair of binoculars too!  I have a small pair, but they are not great for birds of prey at a distance!  Along with sheep and highland cows, I have a fascination for birds of prey!  Who knew that Millets give you 15% off if you are members of National Trust!  It would have been rude not to buy them!

I also managed to get a new lead for the dogs.  I love the extending leads, but I won’t have the cord ones, as I have seen and experienced too many friction burns from them.  I am sure they are great for small dogs but definitely not my size dogs!

I start the drive back to the cottage.  The road isn’t too bad, but then I remember I have to go through Wrynose Pass!  What is worse, it starts to rain really hard!  My heart is in my mouth!  There are so many steep drops and the roads are steep, twisting and very narrow!   I really don’t feel happy doing this drive.  Its only 10 miles, but believe me, it feels like 100!

I am so glad when I see our cottage.

We get out the car and guess what?  The neighbours have gone out and left their dogs again, and they are both barking!  Great!

I am so so tired today!  I prepare dinner and while its cooking have a quick shower!  Time for a nice glass of Slimline Wine!  I so deserve it!

Keep watching my Youtube channel for more photos of today, including some gorgeous scenery and cows.

 

 

Our first full day in the Lakes

So today was our first day here.  The cottage has beautiful views over the mountains.  I imagined waking up gently, to the view shrouded by sunshine!  Instead, I was woken just after 5 am by Lola with her attention seeking bark!  Believe it or not, Lola has 2 distinct types of barks.  There is a deep bark which means she is unhappy, and then there is this high-pitched bark which is solely to seek attention!

I know you should ignore her when she is seeking attention, but that time in the morning she knows she has got you! It rings through your ears!  She is such a little drama queen!

The cottage we are staying at is dog friendly, however there is a strict policy of no dogs upstairs!  The dogs are therefore downstairs whilst we sleep upstairs.  At home both dogs sleep in our room so this is a bit weird for them.

I sleepily come down stairs to find Lola by the door.  She obviously needs a toilet break!  I have to make a quick decision!  It’s absolutely pouring with rain outside!  I could find my car keys and run out to get my coat – which I stupidly left in there last night.  This would cause Lola to bark further!  We are in a semi-detached cottage, so I didn’t want to wake the neighbours!  The alternative was to take them out in my PJ’s (a vest top and shorts) and try and take shelter under a tree as quickly as possible!  I opted for the latter!

So just after 5 am I am stood under a tree in the pouring rain wishing Lola and Fido would hurry up!  Typically, as this is a new place for them, they both had to sniff around a lot before they could even think of doing anything!

Finally, I get back inside, completely soaked, but at least it was still warm outside!  I leave them both downstairs and go back to bed hoping to get another hour or so!  Oh, I wish!  Lola is now obviously awake!  I can hear her moving around and I just know she is up to no good!  I have to go down and check on her!  Thankfully I did, as I found the oven glove in her bed!

With a telling off I head back to bed!  She doesn’t want to be left so we get a few bouts of the high-pitched barking again!  By 6.30 am we could almost kill her if we didn’t love her!  She then goes quiet!  That is always dangerous!  I lay there not thanking my lucky stars for some peace and quiet, but wondering what she is up to!  I have to take a look!

What do I find?  Our walking book in her bed half chewed!!!  I was so cross at her!  She knew she was in trouble as she immediately hid in the kitchen!! And then she does the most un lady like thing! I think you can guess!  I can’t help but give out a little laugh.  She looked horrified !

I tried to tell her off for the book and barking again, in the hope that she will go back to sleep!  But oh no!  She really doesn’t want to go back to bed!  I end up making tea for hubby and I!  Even drinking that in bed is a no no!  More barking results in us both having to get up with her!  So much for a holiday lie in! I have to point out that Fido is being the perfect little boy!

So it’s not even 7.30 am and hubby and I are up having our second cup of tea!

When I’m at home I always love to watch BBC news in bed drinking my tea.  We don’t have one in our bedroom at the cottage so having to get up meant we could watch the TV in the lounge.

It sounds silly but I love mornings.   Once the dogs had chilled out it was relaxing just sitting on the sofa, drinking tea, watching the news and discussing with hubby plans for the day.

When we originally planned this holiday, we both wanted to do a specific walk.  It’s 15 km up Cat Bells.  Its quite a strenuous walk so we thought it should be one of the first walks we did of the week.  Now today looking at the weather outside, that really isn’t going to happen, so what was our plan B?

We have our waterproof clothes and walking boots, so the weather shouldn’t really stop us going out, but we do have to think about slippery paths and how muddy the dogs might get.

After a good bit of reading by hubby we make a decision!  A walk around Grassmere!  It is relatively flat and from memory the paths were really good!

The walks starts at Dove Cottage, the home of Wordsworth.  You then head towards some woods before you come to the Lake.  A lovely walk around the lake brings a changing landscape.  Whilst the heavy rain has gone, there is still the odd sprinkle!  Surprisingly though it’s really humid! The weather means the mood of the lake changes continuously.  It’s still very beautiful.

The walk takes just under 2 hours and 6 miles.

We return to the car to have lunch and plan on what to do for the rest of the day!  We decide that its probably not the weather to do a long walk so instead head to Lake Windermere!

En-route we stopped off at Ambleside.  There is the most amazing Apple Pie shop there.  It also does a great selection of cakes and breads.  My stepdaughter loves Soda bread and flapjacks which they have available.  In fact, the flapjacks are still warm as only just been made, so it would be rude not to buy them.  If you are ever in the area, you really have to stop at this bakery.

Just as we head off to Windermere, the heavens open!  We decide that it would probably be better to head back to the cottage!

The road to the cottage is a challenge!  Its single lane, very steep (1 in 3) with lots of shear drops. With a distance of 10 miles through these roads, it certainly tested your nerves!   I have a 4 x 4 but even my car was struggling at times.  It was no surprise then that we saw one family stuck halfway up a hill.  Their small car just didn’t have the capacity to go any further!  The family had to get out of the car to lighten the load, while the father reversed it down the road.  With other cars like ours on the single track, it was quite a difficult move for him!

We get back to the cottage.  I didn’t bring  my book with me, so knew that sitting doing nothing wouldn’t be my first choice.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m terrible at just sitting doing nothing!  In the morning when I was out with the dogs, I saw river just behind our cottage.  I suggested to hubby we try his camera lenses out there with the tripod.  He has some filters which he hasn’t yet had the chance to use properly.  This seemed an ideal time just to play around.

It does kill a bit of time but not much, so what to do?  I’ve now downloaded my photos onto my laptop.  We don’t have WIFI in the cottage or phone signal, so there isn’t much more I can do!  Then hubby suggests Monopoly!   We haven’t played it for a long time so a good idea.

So, the 3 of us spend the next couple of hours trying to out wit the other while I multitasked cooking a roast dinner!

I really thought I had come up with a great strategy of buying every property I could on the way round to stop others.  My stepdaughter tries some hard negotiation for a swap of some of our properties.  I think it will work for me so agree an exchange to give us both full sets!  Oh, what I fool I was!  Whilst she had plenty of cash to buy properties, I was very poor.  Mainly because every time I passed go I stopped on the tax square!  Grrrrr!

The first to fall was hubby!  I knew that my time was limited!  After a few more rounds, remortgaging and remortgaging, I can’t meet the £1250 bill for landing on her!  My stepdaughter is victorious!

After such an early start I’m now getting quite tired.  We have dinner and I’m struggling to stay awake.

We have basic TV in the cottage, so channels are limited.  We have found Pirates of the Caribbean.   Its great watching classics like this, and this is one of the funniest films.

There is obviously a storm somewhere as the signal keeps breaking!  Then there was the biggest clap of thunder I have ever heard!  The poor dogs (and me) jumped out of our skins!  That was the TV out for a while. We eventually get it back but I’m so tired!

After a hot bath, I decided to call it time!  I know I’m going to be up early again with the dogs tomorrow so its time to stop fighting it!

Tomorrow is another day!

Check out more photos of the walk on my YouTube Channel!

 

 

Staycation or Vacation?

When you have 6 weeks annual leave a year, it’s impossible to always use it to go away.

This year the travel pot is a bit depleted so we had to carefully think how we could recharge our batteries without breaking the bank.

Our first break in 6 months was as you know a little cottage on the Isle of Skye. It was out of school holidays so was cheap as chips. We also took the dogs which saves a fortune in kennel fees. They can sometimes be more expensive than our own holiday!

Whilst this holiday was cheap, I have to say It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had! I felt so relaxed the minute we arrived! Yes it was basic and self catering, but somehow it felt magical!  The cottage was in a really quiet location with amazing views.   Everyday there was something new to explore.  Hubby and I would be up early and out to make the most of the day.

We both love photography so took many pictures.  In the evening we would down load both cameras onto the laptop and talk about the day we have just had.  It was lovely sitting planning the next days route over a glass of wine.

This holiday certainly proved you don’t have to spend much money to have a great time.

I was then fortunate to win a trip to Italy to see where Slimline Wine was made. It was only for a few days but the scenery, food and of course Slimline Wine were amazing !  The company laid on everything for us.  We visited the factory and vineyards, as well as having time to relax around the hotel pool.  Thanks to the generosity of Slimline Wine, we only had to pay for the dogs to go into kennels so another cheap break away!

Last week we had a week off work but opted to have a staycation! Getting away from work is always nice, but I’m not good at doing nothing ! When you are at home everyday blends into the next .

When we were in Scotland there were so many new things to see and do. You don’t want to lie in, you want to be up and out to make the most of the day.

When you are at home there is nothing to rush around for. There is also the housework, food shopping, jobs round house that need doing ! You just can’t leave it .

It’s weird,staying self catering somewhere away from home doesn’t feel the same! Yes you still have to cook and clean but it’s not a chore then . I can’t tell you why!

For me I like to use my leave to do things.  Even though I’m at home, I like to think the break has been worthwhile.  Going on long walks and exploring new things.  When your at home, we seem to struggle to do that.  My stepdaughter was with us too last week.  Anyone with teenagers will know that they are not great at getting up early in the mornings, so our days started quite late.   Then it was what to do?

When you live somewhere you tend to go round with your eyes closed.  You struggle to think what you can do or where you can go?  We did manage a trip to the cinema on one day and a lovely walk in the Cotswolds another day.  It certainly wasn’t the tourist packed days of our trip to Scotland.

As Sunday came closer, I considered the return to work the next day.  When I came back from Scotland I was so relaxed, even though we had done so much.    After our staycation, I didn’t feel like that at all.   I felt like my usual weekend had just been extended.

So am I a fan of staycations?  Certainly not.  I know that you can’t always go away when you are off, and everyone needs time away from work to unwind.  For me though getting out and exploring new things is my way of doing that.  That is why, when I do get the chance to go away I appreciate it a million times more!  I never take anything for granted.  I don’t need expensive holidays to have fun.  I just need good company.

Top tips when planning a trip to the Isle of Skye

 

Are you planning a trip to this beautiful island?  Well if you are, you have made an amazing choice.  I cannot recommend the Island enough!

To help you enjoy your experience even more, here are a few top tips!

What to take with you?

Food and Drink

Are you self catering?   If you are, don’t expect to get to the Island and find lots of supermarkets.  We were there for a whole week, and the only supermarket we found was a Co-op, just as you come across the bridge.  Now for a small island that doesn’t sound bad, however there are a couple of things to consider here.

Firstly, choice.  From our point of view, when we went in there, it isn’t massive, its  a reasonable size, but I couldn’t see a lot of the things we would have liked to have bought.

Second, its location.  For us, it was 90 minutes away from where we were staying!

There is the odd shop across the island but they are small.  Also, if you are like us and going for the walking, there were days when we actually didn’t pass any shops.  When we wanted some fresh bread for instance, we had to go in the opposite direction to find somewhere to buy it.

I did try to get Tesco to do a delivery as I usually do when I go away in the UK, but unfortunately, they said as it was a commercial property they couldn’t deliver there.  We did see a lot of Asda vans around the island, so you could try asking them.  I will certainly be doing that next time.

There was a bakery in the next village, Dunvegan.  It is apparently, the oldest one on the island.  Sadly when we went there, it was either closed due to a family funeral, or had closed as sold out for the day!

Thankfully, a friend had warned me about the shop situation before we went, so we did take everything we needed.  We had a good sized fridge and freezer in our cottage, so apart from fresh bread mid week, we were fine.

Please don’t be put off by this, for me it is one of the things that makes the island so relaxing and beautiful.

Midge Repellent Spray

From the end of May to September, you are going to be bitten to death by the midges.  Especially early evening.  Make sure you go prepared.  You will see the locals wearing nets over their faces if they are outdoors.  You don’t need to go that far.  Take some repellent spray with you.  I bought Jungle Formula Maximum from Amazon which worked perfectly well!  (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R)

Guide Books

Skye has so much to see and do that you really want to make the most of your trip.  Get yourself a couple of good books.  A walking book and a guide book.  It will ensure you maximise the time you have there.

A lot of what we saw or did on the island were not signposted, so without the books, we would never had known about them.

The books we used were The Isle of Skye by Charles Tait (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R) and Walks Isle of Skye (https://amzn.to/2JJSxkx).  Both from Amazon

Each evening we would sit down and plan the next day.  It really helped us see the beauty of the island.

Walking Shoes

That might sound really obvious but you might be surprised to know, I actually saw a man trying to walk up the Old Man of Storr in sliders (flip flops!).

I’m going to make my own confession here too!  No I didn’t wear flip flogs, but I did wear my trainers!  You may think that sounds ok, but I struggled on some of the steep paths because I didn’t have great grip in them.  I was so cross as I had proper walking shoes in my car!

If you have ever worn proper walking shoes, you will know the difference they make.  You can buy some quite cheaply these days, if you just want them for this trip. You won’t regret it.  I walked over 110,000 steps in 7 days which included driving 1770 miles!

Drive Carefully

Skye is only small and very rural.  There is a couple of double lane roads, but most will be single lane.  There are a lot of passing places, but drive carefully as there are some tight bends, which reduces viability to see what is coming in the opposite direction.  I was initially a bit nervous about this, but you soon get into it.  Everyone is so polite and there are no problems getting around. It just take a bit longer!

You will also note that the quality of the roads is really poor, with lots of pot holes, so beware!

Sheep wander freely too.  They don’t seem to mind the traffic, but they don’t seem to mind where they lay either.  This could be in the middle of the road!  They do move but just take it slowly.  When we were there, they had their lambs with them.  Even these youngsters seem to realise they need to move out of the way of cars.

Look after your dogs!

As there are a lot of sheep about, dogs can get ticks!

People can catch Lyme disease from ticks, just as dogs can. Lyme disease is serious, so if you walk your dog in areas with deer or sheep, make sure you take precautions to avoid them and you being bitten.   Make sure your dogs are treated for ticks and remove them as soon as you can.  Lola and Fido both got them.

You can buy treatment from your vets or Amazon (https://amzn.to/2MmhTGH).  It is best to apply if before you go, but even if you apply it as soon as you get home it will still help.

Bob Martin Flea & Tick Clear Fipronil Spot-on for Large Dog, 3 TubesImage result for sheep ticks in dogs

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a circular rash, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

Fuel

As with supermarkets, there are not many petrol stations on the island that we saw.  Again, if you are not going via any of the bigger villages, you won’t pass these.   The rule we had was to fill up as soon as we passed one, when the tank got to half full!

Petrol prices on the island are in line with the mainland, so don’t worry that the lack of them will make it expensive!

Toilets

One of the things that makes Skye so beautiful is that it is unspoilt!  This means that they have not ruined any of the main sights with toilet blocks too!  If like me, you have a weak bladder, be warned!

My advice is to make sure that if you do see a toilet you use it!  Alternatively look for great spots in the bushes!  There isn’t many opportunities, so when you see them, take them!

Enjoy Skye

Don’t be put off by anything above.  It was one of the most magical places I have ever visited.  I’m currently vlogging on YouTube my trip to try and show people, why it has to be one of the places you visit.  Check out my journey as I publish them by subscribing to my channel.  (https://bit.ly/2MnaWFe).

If you like seafood too, don’t miss the Oyster Shed!  The best seafood platter ever!  It is literally a shed, but well worth it!  Head to Talisker whiskey distillery and you will see sign posts for it!

So get onto the internet and start booking your trip to Skye!

Travelling in a car with your dog

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It’s true that a dog is a mans best friend (and women!).  My two definitely are for me. It is therefore really important to me that I ensure they are safe, and well looked after at all times.   Taking them out in the car is no exception.

We all ensure our dogs are on leads when we take them out, have food and water at home, and go on regular walks, but what happens when we take them out in our cars?  Whether its a short or long journey we should still ensure they are well looked after.

The legal bit!

Did you know that if your dog isn’t secured in the car you could face a fine of up to £2,500, as well a getting 9 points on your licence?  Well you can.  Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: ‘When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.’  A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

If it is felt the dog caused or contributed to an accident, you car insurance can also refuse to pay out.

How to make travelling with your dog easier and safer?

Firstly, take them for good walk before you start their journey.  Make sure they have been to the toilet.  Which reminds me, keep plenty of poo bags in your car too!

Don’t have your dog on your lap or loose on the passenger seat.  You may think your dog is well behaved, but what if something distracts them?  What about if you have to do an emergency stop?  You could cause them significant injury or death as well as to yourself.

I have 2 dogs.  If I am going a short journey then they are both happy to be in the boot.  Fido is happy to lie down and just chill, but Lola likes to see what is going on around her.  She will spend the journey looking over the back seat or out of the window.  Whilst she is in the boot she is safe and can’t distract us.   If I break the back of the boot will stop her going too far.

For longer journeys though, I put Fido in the boot and Lola on the back seat.  To comply with the law and to make sure she and us are safe I use a dog seat belt.

Dog Seat Belt.jpg

These are relatively cheap to buy.  This is mine and only cost £4.95 from Amazon.  If using one of these, I would suggest you use it with a harness as it allows the dog to turn around more easily.  You attach the lead part to the harness which is usually in the centre of the back.  If you have to break the harness will give greater support.  Putting it on the collar not only restricts the dogs movement, there is more likely hood of them becoming tangled, which will distract you as they will no doubt get distressed.  I also feel it would damage their necks if I braked heavily so don’t like the idea.

By separating the two dogs, I feel helps them to be more comfortable.  Fido just wants to lie down and sleep, which makes the boot perfect, and Lola likes to be nosy, so can look out of the windows.

Some owners like to use crates.  This is also a good way of transporting your dogs, but please make sure they can stand up and move around in it.  They also should be able to see out so they don’t feel frightened.

I always cover my back seat with a travel rug, with the underside upwards.  This way the dog hair won’t stick to it, and I can use it if we want to have a picnic to lie on.  I then cover this with a towel or blanket for more comfort for the dogs.

As with us, dogs need food and drink.  I would suggest you don’t feed them for a couple of hours before the journey, especially if they get travel sick.  Thankfully both my dogs are fine, but my previous dog was terrible.  He loved the car, it just didn’t love him.  The vets gave me some great tablets that prevented travel sickness.  They are not cheap, but worth it for my dogs happiness.

I always make sure I have plenty of water in the car.  Stop regularly to give them the opportunity to stretch their legs, just like you will need to.  You don’t need any fancy water bottles, old squash bottles will do just the job.  I do have travel bowls though.  They fold up nicely in the car when not in use, but I can also put them into my bag if we go walking.

Dog bowl

Again you can get these quite cheaply from Amazon for around £5.00.  If you don’t want to buy one, an old takeaway pot works just as well.

Take a small pot of food with you.  Just a little treat to keep them going will help them.  There is nothing worse than your dog starving when you are sat in the front munching on your travel snacks.  Just limit it to avoid car sickness!

Never leave a dog in the car.  Many people think that if they park in the shade or leave a window open, then it’s ok to leave the dog.  It is absolutely not.  The car can warm up faster than you think.  A dog can die in the car in less than 20 minutes.  If you wouldn’t leave a child in the car why would you think its ok to leave your dog?

If you need to pop somewhere such as the toilets at a service station, and you are on your own, securely tie it up outside, in the shade!  Maybe ask someone to keep an eye on them for you.  Pop a bowl of water down for them too.  If you can, take them with you.  I have taken my dog into a public toilet with me before now.

It’s always good to plan your journey in advance if you are taking your dogs.  Find places on the map you can stop safely.   Is there somewhere you can walk them?

Keep cleaning clothes and black bags in the car too!  Your dog might not have shown signs of car sickness before but you never know!  On one journey one of my dogs got a little sick.   I was able to pull into a parking spot, clean her bed up and put her bedding into the black bag, tie it up so it didn’t smell the car out for the rest of the journey!

Dogs are such a joy to have around.  Don’t be afraid to take them away with you or for days out, but as you do with young children, plan what you need to take.    This can make your life and theirs more enjoyable and relaxing.