Category Archives: Pandering to Poodles

A Somerset Jaunt

One day last week the sky turned to blue and the birds tweeted and the household was very restless so it got into the car and headed off in the direction of Somerset which isn’t really very far away. We have walked the beach at Burnham a lot recently so thought we would go somewhere else.

We decided to have lunch at the Swan in Wedmore, who had tweeted us that they were dog-friendly ‘downstairs’ and go for a short walk at Ham Wall, which allows dogs on leads in parts, though not in the hides.

As we were driving down, admiring the spring lambs, we changed our minds and thought we had better walk the dogs before going for lunch as that way they would be more likely to be calm and well behaved.

JauntinSomerset.7We went across to Cheddar Reservoir, a huge high reservoir near where Brian lived as a boy and where we have been in the past to do bird watching. People walk around the huge circular reservoir, and admire the sky mostly. It is a big place and the birds are nearly always on the other side to where you are. Big rafts of bald-headed coot, groups of seagulls, overwintering tufted ducks, mallards, pairs of courting grebes, little grebes,  the occasional Northern Diver, all sorts of waterfowl can be seen here, though it is advisable to take binoculars if you are serious. There is also a sailing club that use the Reservoir but on the morning we went no one was out on the water.

JauntinSomerset.3There were two students doing a project, one of whom was dressed in a sheet, no idea why but I thought they were very sweet.

And the sky was blue and the clouds were glorious! I have spent a little time trying to figure out why the clouds looked like this, because although not that unusual, it wasn’t typical and I am not very good at clouds. I think, and do correct me if I am wrong, that the exuberant many -fingered whispy cloud reaching out in a loving embrace to the world (and I must admit that I threw my arms wide and high and tried to hug it back) is a cirrus formation. Cirrus are high clouds that form around minerals, so I guess in this case this was sand. That week the UK had been visited by Saharan sand bearing winds, which had been combining with our local pollution to create noticeable smog in the south-east of the country; we in the West had fog two days later and fine sand deposited by night rain on our car windows.

JauntinSomerset.11The cirrus clouds were moving in one direction and the lower clouds, which I can’t figure out what they should be classified as, were moving in another direction. The whole experience of being there was joyful, expansive and light. I am addicted to big skies and watching the movement of clouds and light, they lift my soul from the gloom that I find myself in all too often.

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If you can find a place to look at the sky and the clouds and have a walk, well it doesn’t make your unconstructive thoughts go away, but it allows some simpler thoughts to find a place in your mind and maybe balance out some of the others. As they say in all the mindfulness books, pay attention to the here and now, and allow your thoughts to come and go, like clouds they are real but they don’t have to last forever.

Lunch at the Swan in Wedmore was lovely, we had a fine Ploughman’s lunch and two desserts, a rhubarb fool, which the chef customized for Brian so it didn’t have cream in it, and I had their malt chocolate cake with salted caramel icecream. The dogs behaved fairly well, though Mme L decided to bark at a pushchair on its way through the bar. We took dog biscuits with us so we rewarded them for being ‘good’.

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We then headed off to Ham Wall , down the bumpy road between the drains, the green pastures full of grazing swans, and wandered down the lane to the big viewing platform. We heard various bittern booming away to each other, but didn’t see any flying. From the platform we could see swans and cormorants hanging out their wings to dry, the hedgerows were jumping with great tits and dunnock. Wild plants beginning to flower..

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A glimpse of Glastonbury Tor from Ham Wall

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It has become quite a busy place and I miss the way it used to be, when I first went there with Brian all those years ago and it felt like we had it to ourselves but I guess that is the way of the world. Everything changes. It was a lovely outing!

 

At times like these

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17th March 2013

Attempting to post via the clunky wordpress app on the ipad… so if it looks odd that is why…

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Good Morning! We drove up to Cumbria last night and disgorged the contents of the car into Dad’s house plus two poodles, who are good travellers but very bad at sleeping first night in unfamiliar places.

Consequently one fell off the bed at 3.45 am with a loud thump. That is the same one who was in and out of vet most of last week, having eaten all the leather straps, tags and bobs on the manbag.

There was restless padding about, snuffling, grumbling, it went on and on, so in the interests of everyone I came down, stood by the backdoor while they hurtled out in the sleet, snorting and huffing, trampling snowdrops and so on. Then they came back in, presumably having scared up any resident shrew or hedgehog picking up the remains of the bird seed. They then expected to be rewarded for this appalling behaviour with food. I thought not. Sleep has eluded me and I am so not amused.

So here I am several hours later, pretending to take revenge by leaving the dog outside for all of five minutes.

She is back indoors now, carrying her squeaky toy around and asking for a game.

Dad has been profiled in local glossy magazine, Cumbria Life, quite surreal to imagine people staring at this while they sit in the dentist’s waiting room.

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Roll on Sunday morning – what are you all up to today?

The case of the disappearing Norwegian Spruce cones…

A Sunday ramble in Gloucestershire

Worcester Lodge, Badminton through trees

Last weekend I hopped out of the car on the way over to Westonbirt to take a shot of the Badminton back door for you.  Seen first through the trees, it makes a serious statement of wealth and power as you sweep round the corner on the A433 through the Cotswolds heading into the heart of hunting country towards Tetbury. Continue reading

Feed the birds, tuppence a cake

These silicone moulds are pretty good for making your own bird cake.

Melt fat and pour over a mixture of the things your local birds like eating. Mine have sunflower seeds and hearts, niger seed for the goldfinches, chopped peanuts, and an assortment of seeds and bits and pieces. Fill your silicon mould up. Leave in a cold place. Outside the back door in our case. They froze so fast they have got this cute snowflake edge!

Pop the cakes out and serve on your raised veg bed, or punch a hole through and string them up somewhere and keep putting out water, the birds will really appreciate it.

The dog food company where we order the dried dog food decided to send Zeb a free advent calendar. This is a new one on me!  He of course, thinks it is a great idea! What will the pet food industry think of next?

 

On the first day of Christmas there was tripe for me!

Chicken Giblet Breadsticks

Chicken Giblet Bread Sticks or Motivational Aids

Just a quickie from she who panders to poodles…..

  1. Simmer chicken giblets, (the ones you weren’t expecting to find tucked inside your organic chicken) in half a pint of water while poaching your chicken in big pan for soup. Reserve the stock for a gravy and another meal.
  2. Find saucepan with giblets on stove the following day. Whoops! Strip meat from neck, puree liver, heart and neck meat in useful small kitchen gadget thing
  3. Add one egg
  4. Mix in 4 tablespoons of runny yoghurt
  5. a pinch of salt
  6. enough bread flour to make a dough suitable for rolling out, about the consistency of pizza dough.
  7. Roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness in a rectangle
  8. Cut into very thin strips with a pizza wheel
  9. Place on a baking sheet
  10. Bake at 170 C for about 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the trays in the oven for another 15 minutes

and there you have chicken giblet bread sticks

Preparation time : 10 minutes (not including the original giblet cooking time)
Cooking time : 20 minutes  (plus 15 minutes oven off time cooling)

Cost per dog treat: less than a penny a stick, maybe two a penny. Compare that to the rubbish they sell for completely outrageous prices in the doggy superstores.

And the dogs love them and will do almost anything for them, apart from clean the house, pick up their toys, answer the door, draft blog posts…

See also Sourdough dog biscuits – they don’t get homebaked treats that often!

And a random and unconnected extra – thanks to my sister and Claude who found it on YouTube! Well loosely connected in that it has animals and stuff being used up in it…