Wednesday 31 August 2011

Bertie and the cat litter

Bertie is thinking. Earlier on he discovered the (clean) cat litter and decided to investigate it more thoroughly.
First he tried eating it but it wasn’t very tasty and he spat it out.
Then he sat in it and thought it quite warm and comfortable but a little noisy for sleeping; the granules made a crunchy noise when he moved, so he jumped out.
Finally, he hopped into it and peed. Now he’s a confused puppy – is he a dog or a cat?
Bertie thinks: Maybe if I have a little snooze the answer will come to me!

ABC Wednesday G in my Garden

In spring we have grape hyacinths (muscari) in the garden. This year we grew them in window boxes. 
This one was still developing its colour.
 We see Green woodpeckers (Picus viridis) occasionally in the garden but they are more often heard than seen
Greater spotted woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major) come frequently to the feeders and bring their young along, too.
Grey herons (Ardea cinerea) sometimes come to fish from our pond. They are very wary and we have never managed to photograph them in the garden. Barry took this photo at a local nature reserve.
We have perennial geraniums, often called cranesbill because the seed pods are said to resemble a crane's bill, in blue  . . .
 . . .and pink. 
Click here to see more Gs from around the world

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Designer Dogs

No doubt, dear readers, you’ve all seen pictures of pampered pooches being carried by public people who are famous for being famous – or even infamous. Those coddled canines 
are usually toy dogs – Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, Pomeranians among others.

Frequently they are dressed in what appear to be doll’s clothes but are garments manufactured specifically for the besotted proud owner to attire the chosen victim pet. Yes, there is a whole industry devoted to creating Designer Outfits for Discerning Dogs. The animals are primped and trimmed, sometimes coloured to match their outfits, decorated with bows and ribbons.

Sometimes, these parodies apologies dear little dogs are transported in specially designed prams so that their sweet paws never come into contact with the filthy outside world. Let me be clear – an elderly dog that has been active all its life but then needs help to walk in its twilight years does not come into the same category as the travesties tiny organisms that have been successively misbred to produce something so far removed from the wolf, the common ancestor of all dogs, that they are frequently incapable of breeding and reproducing without considerable human – usually veterinary – assistance.

Many of today’s breeds are afflicted with breathing and mobility difficulties. Much of the blame may be laid at the feet of the show dog fraternity and the governing bodies thereof. ‘Beauty’ follows a standard to which show dogs must conform.

Notwithstanding, a new breed of Designer Dog has emerged. Please be upstanding and welcome the Fox Red Working Labrador Designer Dog, first seen yesterday in Berkshire, UK.
Here we see Buster, comfortably ensconced in his young mistress’ shoulder bag.
Oh dear, he appears to be bored with his celebrity status already.
Now, what’s this? His brother Bertie has joined him in the capacious carrier.
It’s a little crowded in there and Buster is quite relieved when he is the sole occupant once more.

So, what do you think? Will this trend catch on? There is a problem, of course, and those of you who have remained awake long enough to read this far will have recognised it.

At present, Buster and Bertie are puppies, easily carried. When full-grown they will weigh about 25 kilograms (55 pounds) and will each require a much larger container as well as a very strong person to transport them. 

Suggestions on a postcard, please J

The Seventh Family Birthday of the Year

Kiri at 4
Kiri is my eldest daughter’s younger daughter and she is sixteen today. She should not have made her way into the world until September, 1995, but she was in a hurry. Consequently, she has always been among the very youngest in her year but has held her own.

This summer Kiri left school and intends to go on to sixth form studies at college. Her aim is to become a paediatric nurse and she certainly has the right attributes for that. She is kind and caring and gentle with her younger cousins and her friends’ smaller siblings without allowing them to take advantage of her. She enjoys all the family pets - hers and ours - and from an early age has never baulked at looking after them and clearing up when necessary.

Kiri is an excellent swimmer and a capable wind-surfer. She excels at any sport she attempts and although she is very slender and looks fragile she has an inner core of strength. 

She is not talkative with adults, except on a one-to-one basis, but much goes on behind her beautiful blue eyes and she is funny and blunt with her peers. Her friends value her loyalty and level-headedness. Her family appreciates her love and affection and sense of humour. She is a quiet beauty with a determination and character uniquely hers.

Happy Birthday, Kiri – stay as sweet as you areJ
Kiri sailing in August this year 

Monday 29 August 2011

Nine weeks old!

Buster and I (and our seven other siblings) are nine weeks old todayJ
Now he's gone home to Dorset but I know I'll see him again soonJ

Sunday 28 August 2011

Sunday puppies

This is Sunday 28th August and the puppies’ seventh day in their new homes.

They may be rather confused, particularly Buster, who has travelled from Shropshire to Berkshire to Dorset and back to Berkshire. They were delighted to see each other again on Friday and slept together in a pen in our bedroom last night while Buster’s family went to London. Buster slept until 08:00 and was undisturbed by Bertie wanting to go out at 02:45.
Don't tread on me, Frodo - I'm only little . . .
Buster picks up the water dish to indicate that it is empty!
They had a busy morning playing in the conservatory and the kitchen after breakfast.
Who's biting whom?
After lunch they settled down for a nap. The big dogs are all napping, too. The human adults are feeling quite sleepy!
When you're little there's nothing quite so comforting as sleeping close to another warm body, particularly when it's your sibling.
Peace, perfect peace!

Friday 26 August 2011


I’ve been busy lately. I’ll let the photos do most of the talking . . .
Day One: Monday 22nd August, Shropshire
Here are just four of the litter of nine fox red puppies
In their new home in Berkshire. Buster is looking at the camera. Bertie is asleep.

Day Two: Tuesday 23rd August
Playtime!  Bertie, right, executes a shoulder slam
Bertie practises pouncing on Buster
Time for a snooze

Day Three: Wednesday 24th August
Buster tries stamping on the toy to make it squeak
Buster in the ascendant
Wary Winston wonders whether to move to a higher point . . .
              . . . but decides against it
This is a pheasant. We know about pheasants
 Bertie wonders what's going on . . .
. . . and so does Buster
Later on, Bertie feels lonely because his brother's gone to Dorset to his proper home. Bertie misses his playmate

Day Four: Thursday 25th August
It's just not the same without him
I have been practising my retrieving
I wonder if Buster's done any retrieving. I'll ask him when I see him on Friday.

Thursday 25 August 2011

ABC Wednesday F is for . . .

Another traipse around the garden will lead you to a few things beginning with F.
We have Fish in our pond . . .
golden rudd
silver rudd
. . . Frogs.
In summer there are French marigolds (Tagetes patula) which would speak Spanish, or possibly Portuguese, if they could, rather than French as they are native to South America. Hoverflies love them. They are useful companion plants, the roots producing a substance that deters eelworms (form of nematodes) and repelling whitefly on tomatoes. Medicinally, a liquid concentrate from flowers and leaves is used in eastern cultures to treat nosebleeds.
Yellow dye from the flowers is used in food and textile colouring.

The flowers of Tagetes patula can also be harvested to extract the essential oil which is blended with sandalwood oil to produce ‘attar genda’, a perfume popular in India. In the west research is being conducted to determine the efficacy of the oil as an antifungal remedy, particularly for the treatment of candidiasis (thrush) and fungal diseases in plants.

French marigolds were brought to England by Huguenots (French Protestants) escaping from France after the massacre of St Bartholomew in 1572. Under the influence of the French queen, Catherine de Medici, Roman Catholic mobs killed tens of thousands of Huguenots.

Forget-me-nots (Myositis) bloom in the spring and early summer. They prefer moist growing conditions when they will self-seed readily.
You can find out more about them here.

Also flowering at the same time as Forget-me-nots is Firethorn (Pyracantha) With its strong, sharp thorns this plant can be grown as a very efficient barrier to intruders. In addition, it provides dense cover for roosting and nesting birds. 
The flowers are profuse, attracting myriads of bees, and are a valuable source of nectar in June when there is a dearth of nectar-producing plants. 
The berries are yellow, orange or red and provide a feast for birds during the colder months when there may not be much else for them to feed on.

The first Fuchsias were discovered in Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti) by a French monk and botanist called Charles Plumier. He gave them the name Fuchsia in honour of the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs. Fuchsias are an important source of nectar, particularly for bumble bees. 
We plant them in hanging baskets but they can be grown as small shrubs or used for hedging. 

Click here to see more Fabulous Fs.