Monday, 29 August 2011

K is for Kefalonia, L is for Lurcher SOS

I am now so far behind with the Alphabet in August, as I found it too much to have to do every day, so it will become Alphabet in Autumn in September. Hopefully I'll get to the end before the winter!

K is for Kefalonia, where we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary, several weeks ago. We met not on, but because of a Greek island, Symi and got engaged there. We wanted to stick with the Greek theme, but decided on Kefalonia, as we thought it would be perfect.
It was, and we had the most wonderful time staying in the gorgeous little fishing village of Assos, eating the best local food in the Platanos restaurant. I don't think I've ever had so much outstanding food - every meal there was consistently amazing.
Wandering down the peaceful little lane from the Architect's House that was our base, the short walk to the picture perfect little harbour was lovely, and the jaw-dropping views from the top of the coast road will never be forgotten. Our only neighbours were the goats and sheep that were brought down to the olive grove opposite our house, in the evenings.

L is for Lurcher SOS, in their words, "A Surrey based Lurcher and Greyhound Rescue, primarily covering  Southern England. We have a network of supporters, fundraisers and fosterers in Kent, Hampshire, Sussex and the Home Counties, but we have homed our dogs throughout England and Wales. As well as being a Lurcher and Greyhound Rescue, we also rescue Whippets and other Sighthounds.  We are all volunteers and our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and home abused, abandoned and neglected Lurchers and Greyhounds and other Sighthounds from both the UK and Ireland."
Missy, a sweet whippet lurcher in foster at LSOS
Lurcher SOS has the friendliest forum I have ever found, and I feel I have many wonderful friends there, even though I live a couple of hundred miles away in Derbyshire and have only met one or two. We are having our garage sale on the 10th September for LSOS, to raise money for two lurchers who have needed and will still need expensive treatment in order to find them a lovely home.
Polly, a lovely girl waiting for a new home.
Sighthounds make the loveliest pets, and contrary to most people's beliefs, they do not need to walk for miles, so if you have a dog-shaped hole in your life, why not give a home to a Lurcher SOS dog. Or if you are reading this from somewhere near New Mills in Derbyshire, where we live, come to our Garage Sale on the 10th September. We will have lots of homemade treats for humans and dogs, as well as the usual bric-a-brac.
Blackberry and Apple Jam, one of eight types of homemade preserves at the Garage Sale.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Ginger Ninjas are Here!

They may not look much like ninjas at the moment, but our three ex-battery hens were rescued from their horrid cages by Adele of the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) and her helpers this morning, and what an amazing job they do, in difficult and upsetting circumstances. We collected them this afternoon, and have actually got four, as I presume they had some people not turn up, and we said we'd have a couple of the ones in poorer condition. They are all in the Eglu, which isn't meant for four, but they just need to settle in a small space, as that is what they are used to, then we will move them into the coop. We had moved our Pedigree Chums, Dottie and Flo into the coop last week, and they have settled happily in it. They now free-range as much as possible.

This is the ex-bat that looks the worst, poor thing, with very few feathers....
...and this one looks the best.
The other two are somewhere in between, and over the next few days we will watch them and check for any major pecking at each other, and any health problems.
Amazingly, within ten minutes of being put in the run, two of them were lying with their wings out, sunbathing.
It is amazing to watch how soon they start to do real chicken things, although they have never had the opportunity to do them before. Another was eating grass within twenty minutes, and when we let Dottie and Flo out to free range, they were so interested in each other, especially Flo and one particular chicken.
I can't wait to see the difference in these girls in a few months time, when they have grown some feathers and started to live life. It is so rewarding to give ex-bats a second chance, they will repay your love and care with eggs and endless hours of entertainment, so if you are thinking of having chickens in the future, please consider a few Ginger Ninjas!

Friday, 19 August 2011

George's Harvest

We don't have a large veggie plot, and this year, with us being away at the wrong time, and then the weather and multiple pests attacking our plants, some of George's veggies haven't done so well, or in some cases even survived. However, today was a good day, and he has harvested Desiree and International Kidney potatoes, the last few broad beans, the first runner beans, onions, garlic and a pile of rhubarb. I adore broad beans with gammon, new potatoes and parsley sauce - gorgeous!
George's Veggies
The rhubarb is going to be turned into rhubarb and ginger jam, and most of the year's runner beans will be frozen. We're still eating last years, and I do love them. The garlic and onions will flavour most of our savoury dishes throughout the year, or at least till they're used up.

Our grandchildren usually come on a Friday, and today Lottie made a tiara - she's such a princess girl! Oliver, aged 4, was pretending to cook plastic veggies and said he was a chef, so if Lottie had a tiara, he could have a chef-arara! He was thrilled when Lottie and Grandpa made him a chef's hat to go home in.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I is for Islands, J is for Jam

I is for Islands, because I seem to be drawn to them. I once read that we Brits love the sea because we live on an island, and I think that makes sense. I have always loved the sea and still want to live near it, but I also love hills and dales, rivers, lakes and rolling fields. When I have planned holidays, I find myself going to islands far more than mainland places, as they seem to offer the perfect holiday - a microcosm of wondrousness in a neat parcel. We find that we can drive between the coast, mountains or hills, the main town, small villages and peaceful countryside in a day, and we love the variety. Mallorca is one of our favourites. We stay up in the mountains in Soller, and each day drive to somewhere completely different and amazing.
Beautiful Cuber Lake, Mallorca
We also love the Greek Islands, and nearer to home, the Isle of Wight and Anglesey. We honeymooned on Zanzibar, the island I had longed to visit, since reading a book as a teenager that was set there.
Compton Bay, Isle of Wight
I have a list of islands I still want to visit - Sicily, Corsica, Jersey and Guernsey, more Greek islands, Madeira etc etc.

J is for Jam, because George and I love making and eating it. So far this year, we have made raspberry, apricot and redcurrant, damson and orange from Nic at Nip it in the Bud's recipe, wild greengage and yesterday, lemon and lime marmalade. We can never wait to try it, and this morning we woke our tastebuds up with the marmalade - WOW! I can't imagine buying jam now- it's just not the same, and as George and I love tangy flavours, we always put a bit less sugar than the recipe states, so shop jam is just too sweet.
Lemon & Lime Marmalade
Jams in the pipeline are rhubarb and ginger, blackberry and apple and possibly strawberry. Some of each batch is earmarked for the Polly and Abbie Garage Sale for Lurcher SOS, as well as loads of yummy homemade dog treats.
Beefy Bears 'n' Bones

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

G is for George and H is for Home

G is mostly for my lovely husband, George. We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary a few weeks ago, having met on the cusp of the new millenium. He is my rock and my soulmate, and is always willing to help me, even in my grooming business. He created and maintains my beautiful, exactly-as-I-want-it Doggy Dazzlers website, I.T. being his lifelong profession, till now. He still designs websites, but is starting a new business, Diamond Sharp, sharpening scissors, knives, clipper blades etc.
Husband Extraordinaire!
H is for Home and I love the place we live in presently, and especially being in the garden with George. Our spare time is usually spent outdoors, gardening or walking with Ruby.
Our House
The High Peak, where we live is semi-rural and has lovely walks by the Rivers Goyt and Sett, and the Peak Forest and Macclesfield Canals. We have the Peak District within a short drive, and the area just feels safe and nice to live in.
Marple - Aqueduct over River Goyt

The River Goyt near our home

Monday, 15 August 2011

E is for Emma, F is for Flowers

E is for my elder daughter, Emma, the mother of my two gorgeous grandchildren and wife of Tom. Emma is trying to get her first novel published, whilst writing her second and being a full-time mum. She, like us has just got chickens, one of which, a Faverolle is so tame, she is already jumping on knees for a cuddle - after only a few days. I'm so jealous - I only need to walk near the eglu and my two run the other way!

I see Emma and the children lots, as she lives nearby, and we have a weekly coffee, cakes and shopping day.
F is for flowers, which I try to fill my garden with, in as many colours and shapes as possible. At the moment the Monardas and Heleniums are going for broke, and I have to admit to not having the time recently to deadhead them. I normally love deadheading to an obsessive degree, but having been ill for a couple of weeks, they have all been left to their own devices. 
Echinacea purpurea & Monarda Cambridge Scarlet
Helenium Wyndley
They still look lovely when photographed in groups, but the whole bed is looking very dishevelled! I had no idea the Monardas were going to be quite so tall, and in a raised bed, they are towering above us. We'll have to do a lot of plant re-location in the autumn, as there are shorter plants at the back, including a gorgeous Gaillardia we can't see!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

C and D - My Daughter, Chickens and Dogs!

C is most importantly for Claire, my younger daughter, aged 31 and living in London with James. They are both Landscape Architects and lead very busy lives, but at least now they have their own home at last, and are doing lots of work to it in the little spare time they have. They live in a lovely area, with lots of trees and heathland nearby.
C is also for chickens, which we have had for four weeks now, so they are fourteen weeks old. Dotty, the French Copper Black Maran will lay deep brown eggs, but we won't be getting any for several weeks yet, as she is too young. Flo's eggs will be small bantam eggs.
French Maran Eggs
In two weeks time, we are getting three ex-battery hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust. We had some a few years ago, and can't wait for the next trio of Ginger Ninjas! Below are pics of the first ex-batts we had.
The first day...

...and after lots of TLC!
D is definitely for Dogs. I have had dogs for most of my life, growing up with poodles, which were the only type of dog my mother would have. I loved them, and although I haven't owned one since, now I am dog grooming, I can cuddle poodles again, as well as make them look nice in my salon, Doggy Dazzlers.
Charlie After Grooming
Charlie Before Grooming

When I got my own first dog, I got a Border Collie, Dillon, who played with my babies as they grew, and tried to herd the potatoes by patrolling the veggie patch incessantly! He was followed by Honey, the golden Labrador, a lovely girl who adored cuddles and took herself off for walks, usually rolling in something disgusting, before she came home.

We got Ruby, our lovely retired Greyhound, three years ago from Tia Greyhound & Lurcher Rescue in Yorkshire. We told Bob at Tia what we needed in a dog, and Ruby was the one he chose for us. We took her for a walk in the rain, and knew she was the one. Thankyou Tia for giving us our perfect dog. She settled straight in, hogging the sofa and is definitely my heart dog. She is such a good girl with everything apart from (not surprisingly) chasing small animals, like rabbits, so we are trying to train her not to chase chickens now! 
 Ruby and Me!

She looks an angel, but this morning she rolled in some lovely fox poo on her walk, returned with attendant flies and had to be bathed before my customer came for its own bath!

Alfie the Shih Tzu has been adopted by a lovely new owner, lucky boy! He was very matted and smelly when she got him, needing a good bath and clipping short. He was scared, as he hadn't been before, but a DAP pheromone spray helped, along with Rescue Remedy, and he settled down in the end. Here he is...

...and After!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Alphabet in August

Susy at Chiot's Run challenged bloggers to use each letter of the alphabet to describe themselves, each day throughout August (with Sundays off) and I have just found it via Nip it in the Bud. I am starting very late, so will do two letters a day till I catch up. I am changing it slightly to things or people that are/have been important in my life, so here goes....

A is for Animals - I have always loved animals, and in my childhood used to live opposite a farm. My sister, Jenny and I used to go and pick up the new chicks and I seem to remember feeding a lamb with a bottle, but I was also guilty of disappearing from the garden when very small, and being discovered, walking over the bridge in the middle of Farmer Lawson's cows, bringing them back for milking! I also remember playing in the field with my sister, not knowing the bull was in there too, and having to beat a very hasty retreat over the gate as it ran towards us! Wonderful memories of a 1950's childhood.

The field we used to play in. Sadly, the farmhouse is now derelict, so I guess the field will be built on before too long. 

I wish farming had stayed small scale, with livestock still having names like Daisy and Clover, and farmers getting local children involved, so my own children and grandchildren could have had similar experiences.

B is for Babies - The scent of a small baby snuggled up against me is a memory most mothers will say 'Aah' to. I adored my two babies and enjoyed being their mummy so much, watching each tiny step in their development. Then, becoming a grandmother twice and feeling the wonder of these perfect tiny souls again, was and still is wonderful in a totally different way. I wish I could put their lovely pictures on here, but sadly in these times, it isn't a wise thing to do.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Garage Sale Plans

We are going to have a garage sale for Lurcher SOS, to help raise funds to pay for treatment for two lurchers called Polly and Abbie, who need to be made well before they can go to new homes.



 Besides the usual clearout, we are going to sell homemade preserves and cakes, plus homemade dog treats from the fab A La Bark Baking cookbook by Kris Owen. You can get it from Lurcher SOS or and some of your money will help dogs in rescue. The recipes are really easy and your dogs will go mad for them.

Anyway, I have just made some spiced damson chutney, using a recipe from Nip it in the Bud.  It smelt gorgeous whilst cooking, but I haven't tasted it yet, as I'm not a chutney lover, but here it is, bubbling away...

Thanks for the recipe, Nic! There are some seriously yummy recipes on Nip it in the Bud, and I am completely addicted to the Damson and Orange Jam. It's definitely not going to last long!

Monday, 8 August 2011


My very first post on my blog!

Today it has rained and I felt yuck - I've had a tummy bug for a couple of days - so what better time to start a blog! Feet up on the sofa, cups of tea provided by George and focusing on the future and good stuff.

The chickens are so funny. When it rains, they stand and look up at it in a bemused sort of way, and don't know what to do, but they are only 12 weeks old! And they did learn very quickly how to make a dustbath in the Eglu run. Dotty is a French Copper Black Maran and Flo is a Gold-laced Orpington bantam, from the lovely Nicola at Torkington Poultry. They are joined at the hip, so if one has a drink, the other has to. They are very lucky chucks as we have a wormery, so endless yummy treats to fight over. Here they are, though it's a couple of weeks ago. Must take some more piccies!