Monday, 30 January 2012

Somerset time

On Saturday, I waited for the joiner to turn up to build me a corner wardrobe for my bedroom. At present there is an orange pine-effect laminated chipboard affair that doesn't fit under the sloping ceiling, allowing Hamish to hide in the space behind it whenever he hears me coming up the stairs. Good camouflage for him, he being orange and all that, but visually intrusive in a way that Hamish wouldn't be. If he were visible. If you know what I mean.

There's a lot of orange fake knotty pine in my bedroom; I shall paint it soon. The wardrobe might have been painted too, except for it not fitting under the ceiling, and it won't go down the stairs either, to be given away, and being chipboard, is unlikely to dismantle without some damage. (I know this because its twin, which stood very orangily next to it, couldn't turn the staircase, was dismantled, wouldn't go back together again, and, when I dropped one of the doors on my ankle, causing great pain and dramatic swelling, was taken away in rage very decisively - to the tip.)

So..... a plain joiner-built cupboard will be replacing it. Tongue and groove, like the one in the dining room. I love T & G.

After waiting a long while, dogs becoming restive, I rang the missing joiner, and asked tentatively if it was today he was coming, wasn't it?

No, he said; next Saturday. Now, this sort of thing happens regularly to me, and I tend to assume that it's my error, my failing memory, my inability to write things down on the right section of the calendar - the right month, even. But I didn't think next Saturday sounded like what we'd arranged at all.

We chatted amicably for a little, and then, in horror-stricken tones, he suddenly blurted "No, it's me! I told you the 27th!" That rang a bell. And it would have worked out well, had the 27th been a Saturday, not a Friday, and anyway, was now past....

So next Saturday it is. Except that he's coming tomorrow. Tuesday.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Running for the hills

I have reached an agreement with Tosca - a walk to suit her, not very far, and not very fast, before I go out with Flossie. She can then settle down on the windowsill or her bed, knowing that I'm going somewhere without her. She, ever the reluctant walker, seems happy with this arrangement.

Yesterday Flossie and I went out with Lizzie and her dogs to the highest point on Exmoor.

The view unfolded as we climbed.

A slow climb, stony but not strenuous, up Dunkery Hill, to this:

 The renowned Dunkery Beacon.

It was difficult to get a picture that didn't have anorak-clad walkers standing on the beacon itself or slowly eating sandwiches at its base, surrounded by our hopeful dogs.

Despite Lizzie's efforts ("Stay! Stay!") it wasn't easy to get a picture of the dogs all together either - too much to explore, too much racing around to be done.

There seemed to be no thorny gorse to halt a bounding dog in its tracks, so there was much joyously-free galloping, wheeling, tumbling, stopping to drink from hidden pools. Those three dogs must have run miles for about an hour, non-stop, ears, tongues and tails flying.

From the top, there is a breathtaking panoramic view, captured by Lizzie on her own blog.

Other than the sound of panting dogs, there were moments of utter silence.

Although I'm slowly getting a grasp of the geography of this area, I had only a limited idea of what we were looking at, or which county it was in, but it was all beautiful; there in the distance was Selworthy church, and Periwinkle Cottage.

On the way down, we startled a small herd of deer, too fast to take decent pictures of  - I have to admit that I'm finding hard to get used to the long lens.

And then home, via Wootton Courtenay. More wonderful views, hastily snatched from the car window.

Home again. Time for me to light the stove, make a cup of tea, read the paper, and for Flossie to have a long and well-earned sleep. Tosca was just glad that she didn't have to come with us.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

With and without

Our walks took place between vicious showers of rain and hail today, in an episode of brilliant sunshine. Dog walking falls into two categories in this household: Small Dog walks - reluctant, slow, dragging behind on a long leash, trying to turn for home at the first hint of a breeze or a raindrop.

Just the kind of walk that Millie likes.

Sometimes we meet other dogs. Today, Millie taught young Rascal that cats can face down even the yappiest dog. Only her flared ears and stiff whiskers betrayed any degree of concern.

Yip, yip, yip! Yip, yip, yip! YIP!

Eventually, faced with a seemingly-calm response and a refusal to play or run, Rascal shut up, and just gazed at Millie in wide-eyed wonder.

Protective Flossie was less tolerant; a sharp bark and a low growl told Rascal that his interest in her cat was sufficient for today, thank you. Rascal's owner, who had been careful to keep him on a tight leash, thanked Millie for the opportunity to teach him something new, and went off up the hill.

We, meantime, toddled back home again.

Flossie and I let the short-legged ones into the house, then went off for a Big Dog walk.

Or, rather, a gallop. We galloped this way.

And that way. An empty bottle was found, to help in the galloping.

We got home before the wet and windy weather started up again.

Millie would have loved it.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

That's better

Today it rained and rained, and rained some more.

Tosca hates rain most of all, and on this morning's walk was the picture of misery, trailing behind me, hoping we could go home after only twenty yards. Short legs don't help - she gets wet from underneath as well as being rained on from above. In pity, I cut her walk short, popped her back indoors, and the ever-cheerful waterproof dog and I went out again.

And then, suddenly, in the late afternoon, the rain stopped.

We all went out for a walk along the muddy track through the trees.

The birds sang loudly, sweetly; heart-gladdening songs announcing the departure of the rain. Tosca the little mop collected prodigious quantities of muck as she went along, and came home black with mud. Flossie bounced in and out of the brook.

Once home, the little mop was put in the sink and bathed.

Time for a haircut soon, I think, little mop.

Monday, 23 January 2012


It's Monday, and Jane would like us all to post a picture of our Flowers in the House. So here's two. I mean, here are two.

Daffs and Neighbourhood Watch. The catnip mouse? No idea.  Oh... wait....

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday sweep-up

It's been an odds-and-ends sort of day, the kind I like best, with nothing planned, just doing what I feel like at any one time.

I phoned friends, and had a good catch-up. They spoke of trips to London, to Paris, to Scotland, to North Wales; I realised that I haven't actually been further than about 20 miles from home since last July. Must get out more.

I tidied the hall. This means picking up all of Flossie's toys, for her to get them all out again half an hour later. Like having a toddler around, really. She is utterly besotted with her newest toy, the teddy that Scooter and Millie have outgrown.

I fetched logs, chopped sticks, swept the hearth, laid the fire. All that was missing was drawing water from the well and milking the goat. I often have a sneaking, mocking little feeling that I am still 'playing cottages' when I do this sort of thing.

I walked the dogs, with uninvited Millie in tow. Millie adores coming for walks with us. The noisy little terrier who guards the top of our road burst through the hedge and tried to chase her, but met her match - a small silent sitting cat, holding its ground while giving a fearless-and-fearsome look, is clearly too daunting. Little terrier backed down and trotted off, and Millie resumed her walk, which consists of loping runs and zig-zagging dashes, occasional wild leaps up trees, and acrobatic moves trying to trip the dogs up. Joy on four paws.

Back home, I tidied a heap of recipes torn from magazines, found one for Quick Walnut Bread, and, on impulse, made a loaf. First loaf I've made since I moved here. It looked ok, but should be renamed Quick Walnut Brick. It may have to go to the birds.

While it was setting like concrete baking, I made maple syrup and pecan scones, using a new recipe, my previous dry crumbly ones having failed to impress. As I weighed and measured, I began to be alarmed - surely, with that amount of butter and maple syrup, these should be termed Luxury Maple Syrup & Pecan Scones? Millionaire's Maple Syrup & Pecan Scones? The recipe was really for walnuts, not pecans, but I prefer the latter, as they combine so blissfully with maple syrup, so on I went, thinking that this might be the last time I blow the grocery budget on a humble scone. (Actually, I used up most of my precious, hoarded, gift-from-Canadian-friend and quite superb maple syrup.)

"Makes about 12 good-sized scones" the recipe stated. So I used my good-sized cutter, and got 17 from that mixture. 17! But I'm not surprised: the recipe came from the Hairy Bakers, and you know that they are... well, substantially built men. Who have a blithe disregard for the cost of maple syrup in this country.

But oh, the difference! Those scones were divine.

Reader, I ate three. With butter. Luxury Obese Millionaire's Maple Syrup & Pecan Scones.

The rest are in the freezer, for when you come to visit. Bring sensible shoes for walking with Millie.

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