Sunday, 12 November 2017

November


Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t like this time of year. Perhaps it is because my dad died in November when I was 18 and I have always felt sad around this time. And of course there is so much sadness surrounding Armistice Day when we remember so many who lost their lives.

This photo was taken in Malta about ten years before I was born. I must have been that twinkle in his eye. It's a favourite of mine because I can see both my boys in him.

My Dad


This week it will be six years since Tilly died. My funny, special, loving little dog. The first and only girl dog I ever had. It still feels raw. Perhaps because of the hopelessness that surrounded her decline and death. The way we knew we were losing her, but there was nothing we could do. I still feel the shock of realising she’d gone blind – and I didn’t know then that it was a result of liver disease. She had such a poor start in life and we didn’t get her until she was 8 months old. I’ll never forget the bond I had with her. I won’t say from the start because she barked at me for 90 minutes solid, but when I brought her home, she climbed on my lap in the back of the car and that was it - bonded. She never left my side. If I was ill in bed, she stayed with me, not even going downstairs to go out in the garden. If I went out, she howled miserably (Dusty does that too!) even with other people in the house.

My Tilly


I’ve loved all my dogs and cats and none any more than any of the others, but there is a corner of my heart that will always be bruised by her loss. She used to make me smile too, so much. And she was so clever. Indy and Oakley used to stand back and let her open doors for them. Despite being the smallest of the gang, she used to rescue them from other dogs.

I remember once – at this time of year – a load of geese were gathered on the field. She ran round them in a wide arc and disappeared into the glaring sun so that she could emerge from the glare, startling them all into the air. She was so pleased with herself! She never caught anything, never wanted to, but she did like to have fun.

A good thing that happened this month was visiting my youngest son and his family. I don’t know why, but I decided to take a photo of the halfway point between there and here. I always feel when we get to Stansted that we are either nearly there or nearly home. And sometimes we get to see planes flying low which I love! Never seem to have any children in the car though when that happens – typical isn’t it.

M11


Several mornings running I’ve seen Mute swans flying from the marshes to the boating lakes. I haven’t yet been able to get a decent photo! So this will have to do I’m afraid. The only sound they make is that loud wing whooshing.

Another bird blur


Speaking of swans, I took a picture of these on the Dock River during one of my walks before school pick-up. You’d hardly know there was a busy road behind me carrying all the port traffic, an industrial estate to the left of the river and the big shops, Morrisons, B&M etc to the right – and the port straight ahead. It's quite a nice and surprisingly peaceful spot to stop and think for a while.

Dock River


I will be glad once November is over and the Christmas lights start to appear (some people have already started) and the evenings will be darker, but bright. In December we can look forward to getting the shortest day out of the way as the nights start to pull out and we head towards spring!


Saturday, 28 October 2017

Busy Sky

Every morning starting around 6 am I hear the geese (Brent geese I think) flying south towards the salt marshes. They come over in waves for about an hour, squawking and clacking. I love listening to them. They are always too early for me to get a decent photo, but I managed to get a couple at 7 am. Poor quality and the smudge in the sky isn’t very impressive, but I thought the sky was a pretty colour.


Flying South


I have seen some birds flying north. Not sure what they were, but they were smaller than geese and silent. Maybe they move out when the geese move in.



Flying North


As it is half term we’d planned a trip to the cinema on Wednesday, but a completely flat tyre put paid to that and as we had already booked the tickets, we lost the money. This is the third time we’ve had to cancel a pre-booked cinema trip in the last few years, but hey ho, I think sometimes these things happen for a reason.

Anyway, thank goodness for parks this week! We’ve spent hours in them! Hours and hours, making the most of the lovely weather.



We had our oak tree lopped back this week. It’s always sad to see it so heavily shorn, but it recovers quickly and we always wait until the birds have definitely finished nesting. I just hope most of the bugs and spiders managed to get away before it all went in the shredder.

Before


I always find it very worrying seeing the guy so high up the tree with his chainsaw.


Can you see him?


Harley was terrified and stayed behind the sofa until they had finished. It’s very noisy with the chainsaws going and the big shredder chewing up all the branches.

At one point you couldn’t see the garden because it was just full of lopped off branches.



Dusty wasn’t bothered at all. He just wanted to get out there and play in all the exciting new bushes that had suddenly appeared.

Why Can't I Go Out?


Tinks was pretty relaxed about it all.

Whatever...



They did such a good job of clearing up and raking when they’d finished, that the garden looked tidier than it did before they arrived!

After



Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Pup On My Pillow!



Got into bed the other night and thought my pillow felt a bit lumpy. Found this underneath it!



That was him looking as if he thought I hadn'tnoticed.



That was when he realised I had!

Saw this chap about to raid a neighbour’s pond! Very hastily taken as he was about to slither out of view. Not that herons tend to slither.



Almost didn't have any photos at all! Photoshop stopped working, the drop down menus were empty and it turned out to be something Windows 10 did on their last update - removing fonts that Photoshop uses. So it had to be reinstalled. Thankfully working okay now.

Last weekend I planned to go to the Sea Shanty Festival. I love it, walking round the old town listening to the music. Something incredibly cheery about a sea shanty and it’s a great atmosphere. It’s about 2.5 miles from my house to the quay and I set off on Saturday with good intentions, but ended up turning home within half a mile of my destination. It was hot and clammy and I was tired. It had been a busy week.

I could have gone on the second day of the Sea Shanty Festival, but I’d already planned to go to the Ipswich Vegan Festival at Portman Road. It’s years since I’ve been to the football stadium and it was kind of nice to be back there.

I’ve never been to a vegan festival before so it was good to do something different.

There was a small queue when we arrived, but it grew longer and longer and once we were in, people didn’t stop arriving. There were so many stalls, Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, Sea Shepherds UK, Animals Asia, Actions for Greyhounds, Animal Aid, The Humane Research Trust to name but a few.

And there were stalls selling vegan products and books.

I bought some things from the Hunt Sabs stall and Greek Animal Rescue.

You wouldn’t think we’d still need hunt sabs so many years after it was banned, but we need them now more than ever.

I am thrilled it was so popular but once the Sir Bobby Robson Suite started to fill up, I started to get nervy. I’m not good with crowds, I can’t think straight and I get panicky. I felt quite emotional too, seeing all those wonderful people there with their stalls and I would have bought from every one of them if I could. I would have liked to have spoken to more people too, but I go sort of numb once I get in panic mode and can’t think straight.

It looked quiet on the stairs so we went up to the Legends Suite where the vegan food was and it was much quieter. I calmed down pretty quickly and got into an interesting conversation with the Norwegian Bakers. Their stall was amazing! And so tempting! Too tempting.

But I’d run out of money. My other half came to my rescue and I (he) bought some cakes and pastries. It made me realise how far I have to go before I produce anything anywhere near as good as that.

I brought Dusty and Poppy back some vegan dog treats which they said were yummy!


Definitely somewhere I will go back to. I don’t always get like that in crowds, so perhaps next year I will do better and maybe stay longer to listen to some of the talks and music.


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Not Again!

I was there on Thursday.  I went down before the PS Waverley was due to sail. It was windy. I’d rushed the dogs round the field at double quick time so I could be there. No sign of her.

We saw LV18.

LV18



And a solar powered light vessel.



A young gull sitting on a small boat.



But no Waverley.




We waited, then got fed up being blown by the wind and went home. So maybe she nipped in and out again as we were walking away. I know she sailed to London that day.


I did see a rainbow Thursday evening though. It was a completely perfect one, but I couldn’t get the whole thing in shot. It really was beautiful and I took time to stand and stare and wonder at the marvels of nature. It rather made up for missing the boat.



There is something about ploughed fields that appeals to me. And if you look closely, you can see the sea in the distance and Walton-on-Naze.






Sunday, 1 October 2017

Missing the Boat

Oh, yes I did, I certainly did. My daughter let me know that the Waverley paddle steamer was in at the Ha’penny Pier the other evening when she was out for a walk with her family. So the next morning…

Well, the Waverley had gone up to Southwold and was sailing from there to London, so she must have just been overnighting here.

But I looked up the timetable and she was back on Saturday! Hooray! I’ll go down and take some photos, I said. Don’t let me forget, I said. I told everyone that was my plan and said I hoped the weather would be nice for taking photos.

Saturday evening I remembered.

But… she is back here on Thursday. I wouldn’t put money on me remembering to go down, but she’ll be here in the morning before heading down to London, then back in the evening so I have two more chances to miss seeing her.

I had hoped to post photos of the paddle steamer, but instead here’s a photo of what greeted me when I went up to bed last night.

Tinks


How a cat can manage to look dignified and disdainful sitting on the loo I don’t know – but I know exactly what that look says. “You missed the boat didn’t you – you stupid woman!”





Sunday, 24 September 2017

Warming to Autumn

Such a beautiful day today.

It started off with a red sky and you know how the saying goes, “Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” Or if you prefer, “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” The message is the same.

7 am


I decided to take it as a good omen and not a bad one. It just didn’t have the feel of a day with bad weather coming.

The day turned a little hazy, then the sun came out and this afternoon I decided to take a break from the writing and make the most of the good weather.

I walked to the edge of Little Oakley, then cut across to Ramsey and I stood for a few moments on the hill enjoying the view. Then I went to see the horses on the hill, before turning back for home.

The photos don’t do justice to the view from the hill. I should have taken them higher up than I did.  You can just about see the Ramsey windmill if you look hard enough (you might have to click on the picture to make it bigger).

Ramsey


The windmill was built sometime before 1819 in Woodbridge, Suffolk and was one of the four mills on the Mill Hills. It was moved to Ramsey in 1842.  In 1841, one of my several times great grandfathers lived on Mill Hill in Woodbridge and his occupation was miller. In the next census he was a jobbing labourer. I often look at that windmill and wonder…

There were some lovely autumn smells. Someone somewhere had a bonfire. There was the musky smell of ripe blackberries and the waft of horse manure. Moving on…



I paused in the shade of some horse chestnut trees and filled my pockets with… horse chestnuts. It was as I waddled down the road with my bulging pockets that I decided to call for a lift.

Now to find somewhere to put them where Dusty can’t get them and where the cats can’t knock them down to him, but where spiders will see them and scuttle off to live somewhere else (I live in hope and it has seemed to work in past years).

The oak tree has produced a bumper crop of acorns this year and Dusty thinks all his Christmases have come at once. He no longer has to dig around looking for stones to bring in to exchange for treats. We couldn’t understand how he kept appearing with acorns and oak apples when the back door was shut – then we found his secret stash hidden behind the chair! And they say springer spaniels are stupid.


The warmth of the sun, the slightly hazy feel to the day and the lightest of cool breezes made it feel like a spring day, but of course it wasn’t. It was an autumn day and I liked it.




Saturday, 16 September 2017

Quiet September Days

Seems to be September is often a quiet, mellow sort of month. Mind you it wasn’t quiet the other night when it sounded like the wind was trying its best to blow the roof off.

The children are all settled back at school and – mostly – enjoying it. They’re all excited about their topics for this term. Vikings, The War of the Roses and other such delights. I couldn’t believe it when three of them started on their homework the minute they got home from school – willingly and without anyone telling them to – while the fourth moaned because she hadn’t been given any yet.

Yes, I think they were ready to go back. 

Christmas has arrived in the shops and I bought a large red cake tin for £2.49 from Home Bargains – I do love a bargain. I am tempted to get more for storing all the Christmas cakes I make. 


I don't buy cake boards any more. The first thing we used to do on cutting the cake was to take it off the board and put it in a tin so now I put the cake on the upturned lid, decorate it, then use the bottom of the tin as a lid. Makes it easy to cut too. Just realised when I do that, the pattern will be upside down... oops.


I have to admit the sight of all the decorations and fripperies appearing in the shops has rather lifted my spirits. Christmas lights will brighten the darkest time of the year and that’s always good to look forward to.

What a lovely summer we had though even though the best of the weather seemed to be before the children broke up from school.

Before term ended, we went out for ice creams after school on a hot, sunny day.



Then at the start of the holiday, my two lovely granddaughters-from-away came to stay and oh boy did Dusty love that!




Dusty and Tinks have been getting closer. Not quite cuddling up yet…



Harley mostly spent the summer rolling about on the grass in the sun (or running round in the rain!).



And Harley comforted my eldest granddaughter after yet another mishap. Harley doesn’t “do” laps very often, but she seems to know when a cuddle is required.



We had a lot of fun, but we had some peaceful moments too.




It’s no secret I don’t look forward to autumn and winter, but I’m trying to look at the positives, the first one being roast dinners!


Is there anything you look forward to at this time of year?


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Suffolk Punch Trust - Last Days of Summer


It was the last full week off for the kidlets last week and we tried to wind it down a bit ready for getting back into the school routine.

Our last trip of the summer was to the Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley. It’s a wonderful place to visit for a peaceful day out and I highly recommend it.

To get there, you by-pass Woodbridge, one of my favourite places and drive past Sutton Hoo (kidlets declared they’d been there enough times thank you!) and Rendlesham Forest (famous for its aliens!). And onwards towards Hollesley following the signs to HM Hollesley Bay Colony otherwise known as Hollesley Bay Prison (where Jeffrey Archer lived for a while).

It was a beautiful day, warm and bright and the Suffolk countryside looked its best as we arrived at the Suffolk Punch Trust. If we’d carried on past the Suffolk Punch Trust, we would have ended up in Shingle Street, but decided to leave visiting there for another day as we spent the whole day at the Trust.

It takes an hour to drive there from here, but as the crow flies we’re only about 10 miles away. Some of my ancestors came from that area of Suffolk and I imagine they used boats to come down the coast and would probably laugh at the convoluted route we take today.

So, we petted horses and this one in particular seemed eager for attention. But they are all friendly and gentle.


So friendly, so gentle


There were also some ex-racehorses there as part of ROR (Retraining of Racehorses). As soon as they saw us, they rushed across the field to say hello. Once their rehabilitation is complete, they will go on to new homes.


Retraining of Racehorses


The youngest foal, Colony Dorothy, was born in April and they lost her mother, Colony Olive to a terrible colic in August. Dotty is now spending time with last year’s foal, Colony Calypso. So very sad.  You can see a picture of Dorothy and Olive in happier times here.

Dorothy and Calypso


This chap is the father of many and the resident stallion, Besthorpe Achilles. Magnificent isn’t he.

Besthorpe Achilles


We went on a tractor ride which was bumpy – but fun – and we learned a lot about the Trust and the horses thanks to our very informative guide. The kids were given worksheets when we went in. They look for different coloured flights (the ribbons used to decorate the manes) hidden in boxes around the stud and answer questions. When complete they choose a prize – a pencil or a badge. Not compulsory, but they enjoyed doing it and collecting their prizes as we left.

Tractor Ride


We sat on the grass to have a picnic, then the smaller kids played on the play equipment while I went back with my eldest grandson to revisit the horses in the stables. He was particularly taken with Colony Iris, aged 21, the oldest horse there. He also liked Colony Xing, the tallest (and still growing) horse. When we had our tractor tour we were told he will be bigger than Besthorpe Achilles (one and a half tons) and may reach a ton and three-quarters. That’s a lot of horse!

There are two sweet Shetland ponies, several Suffolk sheep (the oldest registered flock in the world), rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, Ixworth chickens (which almost died out and are still very rare today).

And pigs. New Zealand pigs.

New Zealand Pig


And rare Large Black Pigs – and some very young piglets! Another breed which was almost extinct not long ago.

Large Black Piglets


I wish I’d taken a photo of the Gypsy Cob. He was dumped needing emergency vet treatment as a foal, but my goodness you should see him now. There is a picture of him here – at the bottom of the page which also has information about the other horses.

My eldest granddaughter had a horrible fall at the swimming pool last week. She wasn’t running or messing about, just walking back to the changing rooms when she slipped at the edge of the pool and crashed down hurting her leg and elbow and falling back into the pool. She was very shaken up with a nasty bruise on her elbow. Poor little thing – I thought she’d had her share of accidents after gashing her leg at the beach.

There is definitely an autumnal feel to the air and the early morning shadows are growing longer. (Sorry about the poo bin in this one!) This small tree cast a long shadow across the playing fields and the pointy shadows are made by the beach huts.

7 o'clock September morning


Dusty’s been enjoying the occasional swim. He seems to have even more energy now the weather is getting cooler. Sadly the same can’t be said for me.

Dusty swimming



I’m sad the holidays are over. I hated school myself and I’ll miss the children being around, although I'll still see them every day. I can never understand people who complain about the holidays and can’t wait for them to go back. Childhood rushes past in the blink of an eye – we should make the most of every second.

I will certainly miss being accompanied by mini-Batman on my walks!

Batman!