Wednesday 12 June 2024

How to Lose Weight without Dieting

Lose weight without dieting?  
How is that possible?  
Get yourself a puppy!

Sweet, cuddly, adorable?   Absolutely!  

My little tyke is all of those things, but he is also hell-bent on trying to kill himself.  

He snatches at daisies, lavender, buttercups and, generally, any flowers he can reach.  He is also rather partial to munching on big chunks of moss, snatching up twigs, sticks, large pebbles, small pebbles,  pheasant droppings, hedgehog poop and tiny fallen apples, cat name but a few forbidden delights. 

The cats have been very clever.  They spent the first few days steering clear of him at all times, however, they simply observed.    Then they took action, deliberately taunting him, secure in the knowledge that they can simply turn around and hiss angrily at him, or jump out of reach.  This stops him in his tracks and he romps back to me.

Everything Winston does is done at pace, of course!  So I have spent much of the last couple of weeks charging around in hot pursuit, ready to scoop him up to remove him from danger.  

I have begun training him and he is very receptive, except when he is not!  

He takes several naps throughout the day - for which I am truly thankful, for young Winston has turned our peaceful lives upside down.  The gardens and the house have all been zoned into accessible/safe-ish areas.  Thank goodness we have internal stable doors for when the cats require feeding, but Winston is awake and on the prowl.  

'See it, eat it!' is his motto.

Organised chaos.  Long days and short nights.  My house and garden are constantly evolving as we strive to make them reasonably puppy-safe.     Luckily, he is easily distracted by a squeaky toy, or a thrown ball.  But, he doesn't forget, he goes back for more fun later.  

I adore the little chap, but I am worn out.  

Most of it is down to Winston, but there have been other things going on at the same time - our dear DiL, MingMing, was in hospital in Shanghai for a week.   Thankfully, all is well, but it was a worrying time.  At the same time, our oldest grandson has been/is doing his GCSE exams, which means that often a lift to/from school is necessary.   The school bus is generally pretty good, but it doesn't always arrive on time and no one needs the extra stress of that before an examination.

As for the title of this post - well, Winston has been with us a little under three weeks and I have shed half a stone.  An unexpected benefit, but I'll take that.

His latest bit of mischief?  The safest area of the garden (newly fenced, especially for him) also happens to contain the old hurdy-gurdy washing line, a horrible contraption, but useful.  This morning just after I had pegged out a wash load, young Mr Winston came along and pulled one or two of the longer articles off the line.

Another job to add to the 'To Do' list.  Buy a new washing line and site it in another area of the garden, out of Winston's reach.    Meanwhile, the vegetable beds have now all been enclosed in new fencing because Winston has show a great desire to get stuck into them.  The polytunnel has some old fly-screen doors pressed back into use to act like stable doors and prevent him from getting in and poisoning himself with the tomato plants, etc.

He keeps us on our toes!

I haven't had any time to read your blog posts or do any of my usual internet reading.  This post has been typed up over several days, so apologies if it is a complete mess.  No time to correct anything.  Winston is finally asleep and I need to get some food organised for when the school bus brings the grandchildren home.

Bye for now.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

There is a Very Good Reason why Old People Shoudn't Have Babies...

 ...or take on young puppies.  

They are exhausting!  Really exhausting.  Routine life goes out of the window.

Yes, they are adorable bundles of fun but they chew carpets, rugs, furniture, fingers and clothes.  All with great enthusiasm and affection, even when they accidently draw blood.  Then there is the over enthusiastic gardening.  Not digging, yet.  Just grabbing any foliage, flowers or moss, along with a side-serving of bird poo, if available.  The careering around the garden, oblivious to the danger of a drop onto the paving slabs, or the danger of squeezing into a narrow gap by the wall.  

They also get between, in front, just behind and to the side of your feet.  Every footstep has to be monitored.  One develops a kind of 'puppy walk' widely spaced feet and constant scanning!  It looks weird, but it does work.  Very necessary when one is older.  Last thing we need is a tumble, or an injured puppy.

Winston was due to move in here on Sunday morning, but in the event he came at around 5pm on Saturday.  He is an amazing ball of energy who keeps on going, until he suddenly stops.  Snooze time.  Luckily he has plenty of naps.  I couldn't cope otherwise! 

Once he gets to sleep I spend time working with the old cats.  They are coming round.  Millie is still not impressed, but she is back in her favourite high-level spots and demanding food, special food because she is so traumatised.  Nice try Millie!  

Sparky has assessed the little chap, decided that he is a bit of a nuisance, but not a threat.  She has taken over the porch and insists on being fed out there, luckily it is quite large and has a very long window sill.  Between that, and the bench seat at the end, she is quite happy.  She has her own entrance, fresh air, a great view of the bird activity in the garden and access to all her facilities.  If she and Winston happen to come face to face in the garden, she stands her ground and he leaves her alone.

It has gone better than expected.  The length of my day has expanded, my knees have callouses from crawling around the floor playing with Winston,   I am grubby and worn out, but all my animals are happy and my husband is still getting fed homemade food.  The house even gets an occasional hoover - mainly because I am determined that the puppy will become used to all the normal household appliances, doorbells, telephones, and so on.

He is crate trained now and sleeps in it from 10.30pm until around 4.30-4.45am, when I let him out to do the necessary in the garden.  So far, so good.    He also takes daytime naps in there. It is his special place.

It is early days, but he is a delight.  Yes he has slightly weak back legs, but the vet has checked him over and is not concerned.  Yes he is rather brighter than my usual boys, so bright that I should be putting his name down for a good school, were he human.  Luckily he is not. 

Yes, our nice peaceful life has been radically changed, our routine totally trashed.  That is a good thing.  It is too easy to become set in our ways.  A little shake-up now and then is probably good for us.

Friday 24 May 2024

Finished with Dogs Forever

 Parsonage Cottage had a visitor today, Winston.   

My first problem was trying to pick him out from the little gang of ten puppies.  He is a little smaller, but when you have ten very enthusiastic, almost identical, puppies standing on their back legs wagging their tails, it is really difficult.

I failed with my first pick, but got it right with the second.  His mother came over and gave me a jolly good sniff, demanded a little bit of attention and then walked off.  She seemed quite happy that I was borrowing one of her boys.

Winston toddled around the kitchen, boot room and conservatory sniffing everything before settling down and having a play with his new toys.  He may be a little smaller than the others, a little weaker, but he seems quite a bright little thing and quickly learnt the difference in my tone from gentle disapproval to happy approval with his choice of chewing material.

Millie, the ginger cat, spotted the little invader.  She didn't hiss, but she did fluff up to twice her normal size then kept peering at the little puppy who looks so much like herself.  She couldn't decide what to make of him so she took to her favourite bed up on top of a sideboard, where she could spy on him. 

Sparky was disgusted.  She simply stalked off, didn't even bother to fluff herself up.  No doubt she had thought we had finished with dogs forever.  She came home when she was hungry, so did Millie.  The signs are good. 

Winston tucked into his lunch with great appetite and would have eaten more, had there been any.   I took him back outside for a few minutes of exploration.   We have a daisy sprinkled lawn and I ended up singing "Don't, don't, don't eat the daisies..." as I moved him on to a section which is free from flowers.    Sorry, Winston, the sooner you learn that I have a song for most occasions...

Back inside and the need for another nap came upon him.   We had one more play session then it was time to take him home.  He had been with us for three and a half hours.  

When I put him back into the outdoor pen with his brothers and sisters they all romped over and gave him a good sniffing.   He took it well.     The short time he had been away from them seemed to have given him more confidence.   He simply snatched up a few blades of grass and trotted around with them hanging out of his mouth, with the others in hot pursuit, they wanted that grass!  

The runt had become the leader.  It was so funny.

This is a photograph of him tonight, back with his mum (not in the photograph) and having a nap away from his livelier family. 

Eight o'clock on Sunday morning is when he moves into this place.  He will be the first one to leave home.  Most of the others will be collected later that day.  

In other news, the bread oven is progressing very nicely.  It should be ready for action in a couple of weeks, so expect there to be either biblical rain, or a heatwave as I give it some trial firings.  😉

Thursday 23 May 2024

Capturing the Essence

 A few years ago I had great fun trying to recreate the covers of some of my cookery books.   You could say that I had too much time on my hands, all I know is that I had a lot of fun.  

I posted one or two here, a long time ago.   

I was trying to capture the essence of the cover, rather than slavishly recreating them.  Some are more successful than others.  They were all fun, some of the simplest ones were the most difficult to capture.

I quite liked the way this one turned out, just a preserving pan, a cloth, garlic cloves, an old tankard and the look was there.

I kept this one simple.

This one was photographed outside against a hedge because I couldn't magic up a house lookalike.

I used one of Frankie's dolls to do this little bit of fun.

I had to abandon the little wicker basket for this one, it was impossible to fit it in without obscuring the book cover.  I quite liked the result though.  It was inspired by some large plums in the fruit bowl.

I had a large quantity of red apples, padded my largest soup pan then put apples near the top, and the job was done, once I had found the right place to position it in order to capture the wooden surface.

I'm not quite sure where I was going with this one, but I quite like it.

Impossible to recreate this cover, so I gathered up all things mustard and hoped for the best.

Once again the cover was impossible to recreate, so I just threw in a few country elements.

The same with this one, just Mr Fox and a hunting horn.

I remember doing this one, it was ridiculously difficult trying to prop the book at the correct angle without anything else showing, then the lighthouse wouldn't sit correctly.  I was quite pleased in the end.

This one came about when I had been having fun with baking some fancy rolls.  Out came my picnic basket, pile in the rolls.  Job done!

Sparky decided to assist on this one.  I am not sure that I ever managed to finish this particular photo shoot.  

No, I haven't taken up the crazy suggestion of eating insects, but I did my best to extend the cover, using a silk scarf from my collection.  It does a reasonable job, I think.

I don't suppose I will do any more, that phase has passed.  It was fun while it lasted, and it has been fun for me to look back at the nonsense my brain comes up with.   My head is a restless place!

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Walkies with Winston

 This area is perfect for walking.  

Of course I have my favourite routes, but I also like to mix things up a bit.  Sometimes I stick to tracks through and around the local farms, at others I venture out to neighbouring villages and along the lanes.

A quick visit to the church reminded me that I still haven't been up there with my polish and dusters.  Add it to the to-do list.  Somehow I find the thought of dusting and polishing the pews and rails rather more appealing than doing my own housework.

Country lanes and country cottages.   Always beautiful, but a spot of sunshine and warmth makes them even more so.

I always stop and have a chat with any of the livestock which takes an interest.  This splendid new gate has only recently taken the place of a very old and decrepit railway gate strung with barbed wire.  Just as well, the bull is also in this field, and he is a beautiful and very powerful beast.  He was too far over the field for me to be able to photograph him.

Splendid walking, even on the cloudier days.  I can't wait to eventually be able to share these walks with Winston.  It will take quite a while, but in time he should be enjoying them as much as I do.

Meanwhile, this was him yesterday.

I love that serious little face but I really hope to be able to put a smile on it soon.  Those little legs need to grow and firm up before he is ready to tackle a real walk.  Owl Wood and the gardens will be fine for quite a while. 

He comes from a long line of gun dogs, that's not what lies ahead for Winston.  I think that is just as well, he really is the runt of the litter, a little less strong, etc.  Perfect for being my walking companion, rather than a working dog.

Sunday is the day he comes home.  

Tuesday 21 May 2024

A Cup of Parsonage Soup

 No, not a recipe.  Just listing some of the ingredients which have made me so busy for the last few days..

I have made several visits to see the puppy, of course.  Added to which, I have spent far too much time looking at the extraordinarily long list of puppies' requirements.  Goodness me.  If one were to follow those lists it would be almost as expensive as preparing to welcome a first baby.  

I have managed to mow all the lawns again, and done some seriously boring housework.  No more need be said about that.

Granddaughter, Frankie, had a stall at the annual plant sale of a local church, so we went along and made some purchases from her.  No family discount, apparently business is business!

I hasten to add that we didn't ask for any discount, she has been doing these plant sales, as well as having a plant table outside the house, as a way to raise money for when she is old enough to undertake a World Challenge.  She has done remarkably well so far.  

The local church is the one Frankie attended Sunday School for many years.    She is always very comfortable at events here.  I think she enjoyed it more than ever this year because she had just come home from a school trip to France.  She has discovered that travelling is wonderful, but home is a great place to come back to.

We all got the most enormous bear-hugs and a lengthy discourse on her time away.  France was fine but she didn't like all the school work they had to do, the food was okay, but home cooked is better.  Only five people were up for trying the snails and frogs legs, one of that number was Frankie, of course.  Mussels taste much nicer was her opinion, though whether she was referring to the snails or the frogs, I don't know.  

Frankie has never been short on confidence, but she seems even more self-assured and more mature.  Appreciative of even the little things we do.  How long will it last? 😇

I also visited an exhibition which looked at the animal myths in the religions of the First Nations and pre-Columbian culture of the Americas.  Fascinating stuff, but difficult to get any good photographs.

If memory serves me, this is a clay figure, possibly 9th Century, from the Honduras.  

A llama bone carving,

 900 bce, Chavin Culture Peru.

A Navajo Tree of Life Rug, 20th Century.

I have been working on my painting, when Sparky allows me access to my work table.  She has ignored it for weeks but as soon as I began putting out my paints and setting things up for painting, she decided that it was the place to be.  Not only that, it was imperative that she streeeeeeeeeeeeetch right out, almost the full length of the table...

She won.  I went away and got on with other jobs.  She got bored and went outside.  I got to do a little painting.  Honestly, cats!