Friday, 30 November 2007

Fire Places and other stuff

Haven't had much time for blogging this past week so thought I'd do a big update.

I sound like a worn out record when I keep saying how busy we are, but it's true. We have a first phase plan of stuff we want to get done on the house and once we've achieved that we'll take a breather and chill for a bit before starting phase 2!

So, last week after Andy had built Dan and Mac's new fire place we started to discuss if it was feasible for him to re-build our own fire place before Christmas. Andy decided it was possible and so decided he would go for it. More mess to come ... and more on this subject later.

On Wednesday of last week my friend Jane came for lunch. Jane is one of my oldest and closest friends and we hadn't seen each other for a while so it was lovely to catch up. Jane is always very busy and had just got back from a trip abroad. She is always on the go and up for different projects. She and her husband Mark have just bought some apartments abroad (that will be let out) and she also announced that they've bought a pub in Scotland that Jay (Jane's son) will manage. As usual I was out of breath just listening to all the stuff they're up to! Jane had bought us a house warming pressie and she brought this with her. I've wanted these garden geese for ages and now I've got them but as it's not very nice outdoors so they're living in at the moment! Meet Bill and Ben ........... I was going to call them Hex and Zen but thought I might get in trouble!!

Bill and Ben

On Thursday I did a training session with a Ulla and her rescue collie 'Nina'. Ulla has had Nina for only two weeks and we didn't expect too much attention from her. However we were to be surprised. She was amazing and quickly picked up the different exercises we tried. We had thought she might manage half an hour but she kept going for a full hour and a tub full of tit bits! I suggested to Ulla that Nina would probably be very tired after the training session as it was probably the most she had ever used her brain. Ulla e-mailed the following day with this lovely photo of Nina who slept all the way home, when she got home and for the whole of the evening. She is a lovely little dog.

Nina after her training

Nina staying awake just long enough to pose for the camera!

Then on Friday Karen came over for lunch. We did a bit of training to work up an appetite! First of all Karen and I trained Naughty Niamh and Jess. They were good girls and did some nice stuff. We had a run of each others' dogs. I think Karen ran Niamh better than I ran Jess!
Then Andy and Karen had a session with Kizzle and Toddlet. They were brilliant and did some complex little jump combinations and some excellent dog walks with Karen and Andy layering the dogwalk with weaves between. Very impressive! Andy is trying to persuade Karen to have a fire place built, he will not give in and will irritate her about this until she agrees!

On Saturday Al continued with the outdoor wiring. We now have electricity right down to the summer house which is great as I'll be able to use it through the winter for clicker training and stuff.

My usual beginner group came for their agility session and had a really good time as they can now do almost all of the obstacles and the general foundation training is starting to pay off. Then Kate came along with her gorgeous little poodle Tickle. We thought we'd do twenty minutes or half an hour as it was the first training session we'd done together. An hour later she was still going strong having done ladder work, down plank of the dog walk, sendaways to her toy, left and right turn exercises. Kate and I were exhausted but Tickle was still up for more!

Anyway, part of my reason for rambling on about Saturday morning was that by the time I got back up to the house Andy had demolished the old fire place. There was thick dust everywhere but no more horrible white bricks in the sitting room! Sadly I haven't got a very good photo of the old fireplace but you can see a bit of it from the photo below. It was actually made from rather nice sand stone bricks but somebody had painted them white (yuk) and the mantle piece and hearth were made from left over granite from the kitchen work tops (more yuk). So these photos show the original fireplace (partial view) and after it was demolished!

The old fireplace with small pointed thing basking in front

There it was gone! Andy has opened up the fireplace so we have a much wider aperture for the wood burner to fit in.

On Sunday I went all the way to Ipswich for a training day. Well, training morning really. It was taken by Jill Spurr and was good fun. Niamh and I really enjoyed ourselves and got some good feedback on one of our main weaknesses ... the down dog walk! The training session was held inside a huge indoor school so we were in the dry. I was lucky with the weather for the journey. It had been forecast to be really bad but most of the foul weather was further to the west and we missed it. By the time I travelled home the worst of it had passed over. Niamh slept all the way home and fell in her basket when we got home. When we went through to the sitting room all she wanted to do was have a good suckle on her special Prongo toy however she kept being interrupted by a long pointed nose interfering where it wasn't wanted. No points for guessing who this might have been!

Poor Andy woke up on Sunday with a migraine. He got up to see me off to Ipswich but had lots of blank patches and couldn't see very well. This is the first one he's had for about a year. It was a bad one and he couldn't get on with the fire place so instead put together all the flat pack kitchen units ready for Dennis to fit in the new utility room.

On Monday evening we went to the Dartford Agility club to do a training evening for them, we're doing another one in two weeks' time. We always enjoy these as they're such a nice bunch of people.

Andy's headache has lasted a long time and last night (Tuesday) at training he was very sick which is hopefully the migraine coming to an end. He managed to train Kizzy and she did some great stuff. Andy's been working on her turns. She has a tendency to sweep wide out of tunnels and around wings (all that running in circles around the coffee table I reckon!). He's been training her the 'steady' command as he wants his left and right turns for a more general turn rather than wing wrapping. She is responding really well to the 'steady' and you can see her gather her stride and start to turn over the pole. It's most satisfying to watch!

The fireplace is now work in progress (hurrah as we have Bernadette and Dennis coming for supper on Saturday!) Andy decided to take a couple of days off work to carry on with the fire place. This is a good idea as drawing isn't what he needs to be doing with a migraine attack.

Here is a picture of the work in progress. I'll post a picture of the final product in due course (soon I hope!!)

The new fireplace in progress

We're having an oak mantle piece for the top and the wood burner rather than an open fire. I love open fires but the wood burner is far more efficient and Poppy likes it because it's quiet and doesn't hiss and spit like an open fire. Poppy hates loud bangs and I hate the fact that she won't come into the sitting room when the fire is alight. The sad thing is that she loves the heat but is too scared to bask (unlike Kizzle and Niamh who queue up to get in front of the fire). Once the wood burner is up and running then little Pops will be back in the basking queue!

Well think that's enough for now!

Monday, 26 November 2007

All sort of things

On Saturday I got up really early (yes it's true) and took the dogs out while it was still frosty. I had several muddy walks during the week where the tractor had been trimming along the riverbank. I can't believe they picked the wettest time in the month to do this and it churned up the footpaths so I got home with six very muddy dogs. It took me ages to clean them up. But on Saturday it was wonderful, it was freezing cold with a gorgeous blue sky and most importantly after nearly two hours out six clean doglets!

Al continued to work on various electrical bits and pieces during Saturday and then Kate and Paul came along so that Paul could check out all the electrical work in our new extension and sign it off for the Local Authority Building Control Department. While Paul was busy doing this Kate came and helped me with my beginners lesson. It was very nice having some help to place toys and tit bits etc so thank you Kate! The beginners are doing really well and it's fun taking such a nice bunch of people and dogs (ooops still no photos of them!)

After the beginners class I went down to Dan & Mac's and collected their four dogs. We looked after them for the day whilst Dan and Mac visited Terry and Jackie in Suffolk. Ten dogs in the house! Still, they were all really good and got along fine! I cannot moan as Dan and Mac had our dogs last year whilst we were at Olympia for almost a week! Payback time!

On Sunday Andy went off to Dan & Mac's as he'd promised to build them a new fireplace. Their old one wasn't very nice and they've been talking about doing this for ages. Dan had been to the reclaim yard and got some nice (but very mishapen) bricks and a railway sleeper for the mantle. It took Andy all day long but Dan and Mac were very pleased with the result and provided us with a very nice veggie roast dinner!

Man at work

The finished job. The bricks and mortar were still very wet at this point; when they dry out it will be full of lovely colours.

Here are some piccies of the new fireplace. It has inspired Andy to get on with ours. We have a not very nice white brick thing which has to go. So, Andy is going to start on ours next weekend and make it quite a bit bigger so that we (Al) can install our wood burning stove. Yippee, that means I'll get Poppy back into the sitting room. She vacates when we have an open fire as she hates the spitting logs.

Al did a load more wiring for us on Sunday mainly outside, running power down to the shed and log store so we can have lights down there. Next weekend he's going to light up the way to the summer house. Eventually we're going to have power down there and some flood lights!

As Andy was away bricklaying I decided to keep Al company outside so the dogs had a day off walking and instead came out into the garden with me for three hours. They played while I slogged shifting yet more leaves down to the end and onto the bonfire. It was hard work and I could hardly walk today. I am getting so old. Mind you the task was made harder by that bad little sheltie. We have a huge Jewson crane bag which we fill with leaves and then drag down to the bonfire. I wondered why it was harder work than normal and soon discovered why ..... a pesky little sheltie was riding on the back and digging through the leaves. She insists on 'helping' in whatever task you're trying to complete!

It was dark by the time Al finished and I was clearing the last of the leaves in the front yard. Still, I slept well that night.

Tonight I am really tired, Andy has gone out to badminton and now I have to clear up, load the dishwasher, take the dogs out and do everything .... it's just so unfair. I have to wake the sheltie up too, she is very sleepy as she had a long walk; we didn't get back until 4.30 pm and then she has rampaged all evening. Now that I want to go to bed this is what I find:

Lazy sheltie

That's about it for now!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Evidence that this really does happen

This is a very rare sighting so I felt it deserved a post of its own. In case anyone can't recognise what's going on here ........ it is a MAN grooming his dog. I would like to assure readers of this blog that no man was injured during the taking of this photograph.

The result of the man effort is shown below.

Which is bigger, the pile of hair or the little Kizlet? We couldn't believe how much hair came out of Kizzy the other evening, she was already almost bald and after this grooming session, well ..... the result speaks for itself!

Sleepy Heads

Our lot tend to hibernate when the weather is horrible - which it certainly is at the moment. Here are some pictures of them doing their third favourite thing. It comes third only to eating and going for walks and in Kizzy's case it comes fifth after training and playing! When it gets cold at night Abbey and Poppy like to be tucked up as you can see. Frequently we wake up in the morning and they're still tucked up under their little blankets. They are a right little pair of spoiled brats Andy likes to tell me. I've no idea why?

Mummy's little angels tucked up for the night!

Becky snuggled in her squidgy bed (well actually it's Abbey's bed, Andy doesn't buy his dogs nice beds so they have to borrow mine)

Kizzle pretending to be asleep just so she gets in on the act!

Pops in her squidgy bed

Niamh in her favourite armchair after the wicked little termite has worn her out!

Murphy in Kizzy's little bed. He's a twit!

I love seeing my dogs all cosy in their comfy beds, especially after a nice long walk!

This and that

We had a very busy weekend. I did a couple of training days; one for Tenterden DTC and one for Polly. I don't normally do both days but had got a little muddled with my dates. I always find training days very tiring so wouldn't choose to do one straight after another. Anyway, they seemed to go well. On Saturday we were indoors which was nice as there was a bit of rain. On Sunday at Polly's we had a nice morning but sadly the rain started at lunch time and the whole afternoon session was done in the pouring rain. It was also very cold and I took a long time to warm up. I had my heated car seat on the maximum setting on the journey home which helped. The journey home was horrible as it was sleeting when I left Polly's and by the time I got to J8 on the M25 it had turned to huge snow flakes.

Unfortunately for a variety of reasons Andy couldn't come to the training session at Polly's, he was supposed to run Murphy and Kizzy. It was a shame as both classes were good fun. Instead Andy had a real bash at emptying more of the boxes in our attic room and having a massive tidy up. It was well worth the effort as we now have a nice spare room to use. We'll keep it like this until we summon the energy to do the upgrade to this room. We're going to almost double it in size and add an ensuite shower room. Right now we've both had enough building work!
Poppy is a very happy little bunny as she always used to sneak upstairs at our old house to snooze on our bed. She has been looking longingly at the stairs in the new house but because it was just a junk hole full of boxes we kept a gate across so she couldn't get up there. Now she sneaks off as you can see.

Bad Poppy on the bed!

Over the last few days we have had a first - Kizzy and Niamh have started to play together. Kizzy has always been keen but Niamh hasn't wanted to get involved. All of a sudden they are interacting and playing every evening. This is good as once Kizzy has worn Murphy out she turns to Niamh. They are actually playing really nicely. Here are some pictures of them together.

We're so pleased that they've started to play together. They are lovely to watch as it doesn't get rough, just really nice interaction. Some ugly faces from Niamh! Kizzy never bares her teeth she just sticks her pointed little nose into everything instead!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Popdate and other bits

Can't believe another week has flown by. I have no idea where the time goes.


On Monday I took Poppy back to Sara for a follow up treatment. She had some deeper manipulations on her back as she was not as sore as the previous week. Overall Sara was pleased with her progress and she's now on a get fit exercise regime. This week she's been on the lead for her walks and is coming back absolutely sound after long walks on lead. Next week she'll come off lead but only with Abbey on a quiet walk. Then we'll just gently ramp up the exercise level on a weekly basis. I won't bring her back into full agility training this year as I want to make sure the toe heals properly. I will start doing some simple low height jumping (at home) in about three weeks and take it from there.


We had a good training session on Tuesday with the puppies. We did a cross behind exercise which Kizzy did really well. We also did some box combinations and lots of contacts with Andy crossing behind the dog walk, stopping half way along it and some run bys.

I didn't have a dog to train with Poppy being out and I decided not to train Niamh as she had a bad tummy. I think she probably ate something horrible but she was passing blood so I decided to keep her home in the warm. I was going to take her to see Jim if it didn't clear by the following day. I put her on a course of Canikur and that did the trick as she seems to be fine now. She was not impressed being left behind on Tuesday evening - I think it's the first time she's had to miss training and she wasn't a happy bunny!

Lunch with an old friend

On Wednesday Sara Davies came for lunch. We haven't seen Sara for a while and she wanted to have a look at the new house. She'd been keeping up to date with our news via the blog and wanted to meet Kizzy in person. Sara currently has three dogs: Becky her lovely little collie who's 15.5 now (gosh it seems like a life time ago that Andy and Sara used to pack their little jumps and weave poles and trek up to the park to train Becky and Tina together each week!); Jazz her GSD and Poppy the boxer.

Sara was very impressed with Kizzy's elephant trick and wanted to see how we trained it. She watched Kizzy doing it and then watched Niamh who is still learning the trick so that was very helpful for her to see. She wants to teach Poppy to do the trick. Sara does clicker training and had taught Poppy to stand on a box as a puppy. We have set her a challenge; to train Poppy to do the Circus Elephant trick and be the first boxer on Johanna's "Be an Elephant" blog!

I did get an email from Sara saying she started training as soon as she got home from lunch! Watch this space!

Sara has decided that she wants a sheltie as she's fallen in love with the Kizzle!

Other bits

For some reason we've both been really tired this week and we slobbed out in front of the t.v. last night to catch up with some programmes we'd taped. I had taken the dogs on quite a late walk (we didn't get back until dark) and I was frozen, just couldn't get warm. The upside, I thought, would be be that they would crash for the evening. Well, they did ... except for one. The small pointed thing was quite tired after her walk (1.5 hours) and had a small sleep in her bed. Then I made the big mistake of giving her some dinner. The re-fuelling was very welcome and the ensuing energy surge took place as usual. Whilst the collies + Murf slobbed out in their beds the small and pointed one rampaged. Here she is while Andy is trying very hard to watch Top Gear.

Andy: "please can I watch Top Gear!" Kizzy: "yes but only through me!"

"Yes, I know I'm beautiful, even when I'm irritating people" (that's Kizzy, not Andy - well the bit about beautiful, not irritating as that applies to them both!!!)

Andy: "Oh, I give up, I'll stop watching Top Gear and kiss you instead"
Kizzy: "I should think so too, about time I got some proper attention around here"

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Nedlo Training

Yesterday morning we got up really early to pack Andy and Kizzy off to Hampshire. They were booked on a sheltie pup training session with Lesley.

They had a two hour session and Andy really enjoyed it. He said it gave him a real confidence boost both in terms of what he could do with Kizzy and the fact that she did her stuff in a new environment. Kizzy learned to use the wobble board (a large piece of ply which sits on a ball and moves about). It was easy to teach her using the clicker. She has never seen one before but very quickly was standing on it and then performing left and right turns. The idea of this is to teach them to have confidence in their balance ability. I think Andy, Karen and a few others are going to book another lesson together which they're looking forward to.

Andy reckons Lesley probably had a headache by the end of the session but that the experience would stand her in good stead for today when she has a total of sixteen shelties to train in two sessions! Ha ha, I think ear muffs might be required!

I took the others for a good long walk and then got back to some more leaf clearing. Oh joy!
Andy and Kizzy got home at about 3.00 pm. Kizzy was pretty tired although she still had her mad turn in the evening. Murphy is so good with her. He was stretched out on the sofa and Kizzy was just running over him, right across his head and body and he just lays there. She is a bad sheltie.

She is a little fire bug. Here are some pictures of her once she'd calmed down from her evening hysteria. She loves to bask.

"I'm so tired after all that training and running around on top of Murphy!"

"That's it, I'm rested; time to get up and look for more mischief ....."

"Maybe not; there's always tomorrow!"

Circus Elephant (work in progress)

I have started to teach Naughty Niamh the circus elephant trick. I haven't had a lot of time to spend on this but she is learning. Once she's perfected the trick I will post another video and request to be added to the Circus Elephant blog, we're not ready for that just yet!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

We want to come out to play

Whilst I was working outside or should that be outside fighting a losing battle with the leaves I had four little people taking it in turns to watch!

Murphy: please can I come out to play!

Becks: I'm a bit shy but please could I come out too!

Naughty Niamh: I am not shy, I'm coming out just one more ear to squeeze through!

Kizzy: Don't forget the little one!

Abbey and Poppy refuse to play this stupid game. The others line up and take it in turns. The cat flap is never empty if we're outside and they've been left indoors. I can't have Kizzy outside when I'm raking as she just digs up the leaves and chases the rake ........ oh and barks! Bad Sheltie!

Leaf Pile

Leaves, leaves and more leaves

Before coming into the office this morning I thought I'd do a bit of leaf management. It's quite a big task in this place. I collected some using the rake and then used the outdoor vacuum. I took three massive loads down to the bonfire. By the time I'd finished there were loads more where I'd left off as the trees across the road decided to offload a few more. At the weekend we'll have to get up the ladder to clear out the gutters as they're absolutely full. We have leaf guards but the leaves are just laying on top of these in places up to 3 inches deep!

Agility in the leaves, there are loads more to come off the oaks trees yet. Now that the colours are becoming duller I just wish they'd hurry up and fall then we can have one good clear up!

The weeping willow is sobbing never mind weeping!

Still some nice colours in the back garden and plenty more leaves to fall!

By the time I'd cleared the alley way at one end it was filling up with more leaves, I think I'll wait until the oak tree opposite has finished shedding before I do any more clearing up!

To be fair the people we bought the house from told us we would have quite a bit of work come the Autumn so we were sort of prepared but even so ...... this is just amazing!

Raking Leaves