Thursday, 24 November 2011

2011 is slowly on its way out

Well, 2011 is nearing its end and it's a year I shall be glad to say goodbye to for one reason or another. Of course not everything has been bad but it is a year which I wish to move on from.

In September we had to say goodbye to my step-father Eddie.  I think when my mum died back in January he simply lost the will to live without her.  Even though she had been in the nursing home for such a long time she was still here with us.  After the funeral a few of us went for a drink in the Crown which was Eddie's watering hole and we saw him off in a style which he would have liked.  There was only one thing missing and that of course was Eddie.

Eddie was a huge part of my life for thirty years.  He did a lot for me and built the extension on my first cottage out of love.  I will never forget that because at the time I had no money to pay for the labour.  He was a first class brick layer and was respected by many in the trade. He was a very proud man and his work-ethic was second to none.  He adored all my dogs and right to the end could remember the name of every one of them.   I am sure he will be laying bricks wherever he is now with Tina by his side.

Eddie - my step-father. Sleep peacefully, now out of pain.

Seeing him off in style at his favourite haunt, The Crown.   My step sisters Cindy and Angie below with myself and sister Sally and in the middle John Kenward who worked with Eddie.  I hadn't seen John in many years and it was so lovely that he attended the funerals of both my Mum (who he loved and who used to make his sandwiches every day!) and of course Eddie.  Thank you John, it meant a great deal.

Bit weird to post pictures of flowers for a funeral but the picture below shows the flowers from Eddie's brother, Brian and and his wife Barbara.  How lovely that they had the florist make them into a brick and trowel.  Very fitting and a lovely tribute.  Below are my own flowers which I just wanted a photo of as a reminder of the day we said goodbye.

Agility shows have just about finished although we have North Downs indoor show on Saturday. I'm not a great lover of indoor agility shows but this one I do quite like as the venue is very nice and the show is well organised. It's good to catch up with friends in person, for possibly the last time until the new year. It's nice to be able to stay in touch with friends via Facebook but it's still not the same as chatting in person.

Our last few agility shows were fun and Zeki and I got into the champ final of our last championship class of 2011. We ran clear in all three parts and ended up in 3rd place in the final beaten by two great runs, one by Christine and Zev (Zeki's litter brother) getting the reserve CC and the other by Amanda Hampson and Rogue winning the CC. We travelled all the way to Southdowns for one run at the end of September (KC Qualifier for Olympia 2012) but unfortunately picked up 5 faults. It was a nice day out despite the fact that we got caught up in a massive motorcyle protest on the M27 on the way down. It wasn't very nice and at times quite scary as some of the bikers were behaving in a very intimidating fashion. It certainly didn't make me sympathetic to their cause and I speak as someone married to a motorcyle fanatic.

In October Zeki and I travelled to Gloucestershire to try out for the WAO 2012. The day was well organised and the tests were well thought out and extremely challenging. I could only fault one test which was the jumping course at the very end of the day. It was too hard and too biased to one's ability to run at great speed. The course was a borrowed one from one of our own UK judges but for some reason the organisers decided to send us to the opposite end of the tunnel at the start of the course and also added in an extra jump. These two changes made a difficult course too hard. Of course that's just my opinion but I don't think I'm being unfair. In fact I managed to scrape round that course in a very ugly fashion. Overall we didn't do too badly, made some silly mistakes but had a go at the challenges set. We ended up in 3rd position in our height category. Now we have to wait until some time in December to find out if we have qualified. The finals are in Belgium in May next year. Zeki thoroughly enjoyed the day being an 'only' dog. I left my others at home with Andy as I knew it would be a busy day and they wouldn't get much attention.

Zeki was invited to Discover Dogs for the medium ABC competition.  I really enjoyed this experience.  I kind of expected Zeki to take things in her stride and she did.  She was completely at ease with the atmosphere and ran really well.  She came 4th in the jumping and 6th in the agility with the second fastest time but with 5 faults.  I was thrilled with how she ran on the carpet.   She hasn't competed at an event like this before so it was a really nice warm up for her Crufts debut in March 2012.   Leah came for the day as my groom and was really helpful in keeping Zeki nice and calm before she ran.  I didn't want her screaming and barking prior to her run so it was nice to have that help.

Leah suggested I bring Tidey for the day.  I wasn't looking forward to that as I thought it would spoil my nice relaxing day with Zeki but I am so glad I did take her.  I was worried she would be a bit spooky with all the dogs and crowds but she was fantastic.  She was totally chilled walking along the streets of London with big buses whizzing past and she loved the crowded stalls inside the venue.  She was fine with all the dogs and absolutely loved the people and children.  She must have had a hundred cuddles during the day.  She got to pose with the vet from the Dogs Trust for one of their promotional leaflets so hopefully I might get to see that some time.

Here are both my lovely girls playing crate games at Discover Dogs!

Here is the video of Zeki's jumping round (thanks to Bernadette for filming.)  Pop back later to see the agility run which is still slowly uploading onto YouTube and I've lost patience!

Recently I have done a couple of extra training sessions with both Niamh and Zeki at Leah's. As always they have been very challenging but also very enjoyable. I love to do these training days with my girls once the show season has wound down.

During October our old friends Chris and Dave Hurst came to stay for the weekend along with their younger daughter Ellie and their two dogs Ruby and Spider.  It's was so lovely to see them and catch up with everything.   I can't believe where the years have gone as it seems only yesterday that Ellie was a tiny baby at Burridge Agility show.  It is also scary that Ellie's elder sister, Casz, is now studying to be a doctor and we knew her as a tiny tot!   I love this picture of Casz with Poppy when she was about ten weeks or so.  Poppy will be fifteen in April so it shows you how long ago this was taken.

Here are some pictures from their visit with us.  I notice now that Chris and Andy managed to avoid the camera!

Above is Poppy and her litter sister Ruby with myself and Dave.  These two little dogs hadn't seen each other for best part of five years and yet they greeted each other so sweetly.  I do believe they remember.  They are both doing so well for their age.

Tidey 'Tidal Wave' with Ellie

Above Ellie with Spider (who is also a Woodsorrel like Poppy and Ruby) and a gorgeous dog; below with Poppy and Spider 

Below is Ellie with Kizzy being typically stand offish but eventually unable to resist Ellie's charms!

Our visitor Spider making himself at home!

As usual once the season winds down I tend to do longer walks as Autumn progresses. I like to lengthen their daily walks during the off season in order to keep them as fit as possible. Plus I rather like Autumn/Winter walks despite the fact that the dogs get dirty sometimes. Either you have a gorgeous day without the searing heat when it's just a joy to be outside or it's cold, wet and depressing and when you get the dogs back indoors it's a lovely sense of satisfaction that they've had a nice walk but are now tucked up in the warm again. Either way I love walking at this time of year!

Just love these pictures of the sunflower field on part of our walk.  This field used to be for hay but this year, for the first time I can recall, they ploughed it which looked horrible to start with but then these came up and it looked beautiful.  This photo was taken a few weeks back and they have all gone now.  The field has just been deep ploughed so back to being ugly for a while!

Tidey is growing up fast. I have lots to update on her as I haven't been blogging of late. In the meantime, here's a current picture of her together with Niamh and Zeki on our walk yesterday.

If I could choose how a border collie turned out in terms of confirmation, colour and of course most importantly ears then Tidey would be my perfect dog.  That is not to say Niamh isn't perfect also because she is.  She is a much bigger, rangier type and I have come to love that look even though it probably isn't my preference.  I wouldn't change a single thing about my beautiful Niamh.    Tidey has the look of my previous collies, Bess, Abbey and Poppy.  She is quite petite, sharp featured and very intense.  The only thing I would change about Tidey is the naughty spots on her legs.  I'm not a lover of naughty spots and in Tidey's case every single one of them has proved to the purveyor of extreme naughtiness.

More of Tidey in another post, but meantime here is a little video of her instant downs which we work on every day during our walks.

Lastly, a couple of garden photos.  The long border is now just about finished for the season but we are lucky to still have a little bit of colour here and there.   I can't wait for spring as Julie has planted loads of new bulbs.  It will be exciting to see them emerge.

Absolutely lastly for this post, the new addition to our family.  Andy's 'new' BMW which he loves.  We have sold the big VW Transporter as it was really surplus to requirements.  My little Caddy will tow our tiny caravan next season.

 Kizzy, Becky, Murphy and Poppy are very happy cruising round in this motor car.

Back soon with Tidey and Becky updates!