Monday, September 25, 2006

Happy Birthday Harry!!!

Harry has been part of the family for 2 weeks now and I have to say, it feels like he has always been around. There are times when he makes Keith and I laugh until tears role down our faces and slowly but surely his training is turning him into an angel, even if it is an angel with a dirty face.

The biggest progress he has made is with his recall, which has come on in leaps and bounds. We took him off the lead for the first time last week and it was a very scary moment for me as I was on my own that first day.

Imagine, if you will, a wide path between two metal kissing gates running alongside a river and a high chain link fence. Safe ground I thought, how wrong I was. If Harry were a whippet I could say he went off like a whippet out of a gate, as he isn’t, you will just have to imagine him flying through the air with carefree abandon straight into the river. Now imagine (and I’m being generous here) that the poor little mite got water in his ears, thereby rendering him deaf to my calls as he crossed the river and went up the opposite bank. Back into the river he went, still unable to hear my calls and started swimming up and down while I was trying desperately to think how I was going to explain to Keith how I had lost the dog. I was about a second away from jumping into the river after him when I decided that it was too cold and I would never catch him and decided to walk away and think of a plan of action. Miracle of miracles – Harry followed!!! So, should any of you see me abandon Harry in a particularly deep hedge or cold looking river, please don’t think badly of me, it’s just the easiest way to make him follow.

Since then Harry has spent many hours off lead and is now overcoming his selective hearing to the point where we are getting really confident in letting him roam around the local fields.

He’s also made a few new discoveries this week –

1. There are sheep around these here parts, and sheep make scarier noises than cows.

2. There is a cat down the road which does a fantastic slow motion walk if he barks at him

3. Topiary hedges are NOT too dense to get into if he tries long and hard enough. There is now a Harry sized hole in someone’s perfectly manicured border which I sincerely hope they will never notice.

4. Baths are not scary, it is not necessary to attempt SAS style escape techniques and a non whiffy coat means more cuddles

This week he also met the grandparents and I have to say, I think he is going to get spoiled rotten over Christmas. He was very excited about his birthday gifts – a jangly ball on a string (which is no longer on its string) and a hide ‘bone’ which is down to a stump – but more importantly we’re going to need to make sure we still have a dog come the new year, as things stand I can see him being dognapped!! It’s the basset eyes, I swear he could get away with murder after a flash of those.

So Happy 1st Birthday Harry, fingers crossed the next year is even better than the last 2 weeks!!!

The best laid plans of mice and men …..

In the past I have always lived by the rule that if you want a job done right, you do it yourself, especially where houses are concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are a very talented group of craftsmen out there who do a grand job of supplying and fitting the fixtures and fittings that any house needs, it’s just that being a bit of a control freak when large sums of money and a “vision” are concerned, I prefer to organise these things myself.

So, can somebody please explain to me why, in view of what I have just said, I was tempted to err from this path to the seduction of the “we organise everything” promises of a large company? Convenience I hear you say? I think not baby puppy!!

There is one irrefutable rule of life, if you get a large company involved, things go wrong. The kitchen was no exception:

The first delivery went back to the depot undelivered because they didn’t tell us when they were going to arrive.

The second delivery comprised half the kitchen because the rest had vanished

Said vanished cabinets were tracked down to Sidcup and returned 2 days later

The cabinets, now returned with a stern warning about wanderings, included the wrong cooker housing

Manager of store delivers the correct housing himself and inform us that the centrepiece of the kitchen is out of stock until October.

I lose my will to live.

The week itself was a fairly enjoyable one, although I have to admit I got very little of my “To Do” list done as I spent most of the week looking after Harry. This wasn’t my initial plan but after he snuck into the kitchen and stole one of the fitter’s sandwiches on the first day I decided the supervision was the order of the day to prevent him being nailed to the nearest wall.

What we DID manage to do, however, was install the old kitchen in the barn. As you can see, the old workshop is now looking a lot more, well, workshoppy. You can’t fault the facilities, there’s not a lot workshops that have solid oak cabinets to hold the oil and spare parts. There are currently plans for many, many power tools and, no doubt, enough gadgetry for Keith to fabricate his own space shuttle if the mood took him. I, on the other hand, am just glad of the temporary peace and quiet.

If any of you are still wondering what the outcome of the week was, see below.

The cabinets are now in, the appliances work, the manky old strip light has been replaced with some lush spotlights, the electrics are now legal and the granite is due to be fitted on Friday. I have to say I’m in love with the kitchen, it has so far turned out exactly as I imagined it and all the hours spent sourcing parts was more than worth it.

Still left to do: tiles and paint and a few accessories here and there - more photos to follow when these are finished and time is going to be tight, there will be 6 hungry mouthes to feed come the end of October when we sit down to a lovely meal to celebrate Sal's 29th!!!

We cooked our first “proper” meal there this weekend though and I couldn’t have wished for more, stood in front of the stove with the dog curled up on the floor and Keith pottering around and being affectionate. Humble dream I know, but it had been my dream for a long time and at that moment I couldn’t have been happier if I had won the lottery.

Of course the peace was soon shattered by the dog jumping up to steal some dinner, sending my into his water bowl while Keith hollered from the general direction of the sofa – but you can’t win them all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Harry Diaries – Week 1

Every day, Keith takes Harry for his morning walk and to keep me happy while I sit in the office, he sends me a little paragraph on how the walk has gone. Keith, a relatively inexperienced dog owner, is taking to his new fatherly duties like a duck to water and as you can see from the following entries, Harry is proving to be a typical hound, and we love him for it, ever last stubborn, gross little habit lol


We went for a walk this morning pretty much bang on 6-7. He was good as gold, I rarely had the lead tensioned and he walked close to me pretty much the whole way. He nearly always came when I called him. I think I maybe had to pull him away from a smell only 3 times or so.

Then we got home and I fed him. He didn’t show much interest when I was preparing it, but he trotted outside when I put it there. I went in the shower, and when I came out he had been sick around outside the bathroom. He had eaten the wet food, but not had much of the dry. Poor fella looked so apologetic. Im not intending on feeding him till this eve now.


Harry and I had a pleasant walk this morning. Certainly made him hungry which went down fast and hasnt come back up yet lol. He appears to not like postmen, and tried to chase one. Maybe its just the bike. Likewise, lorries! He played up a bit on the walk along the path back to the house, but was pretty good other than that. We went through the long grass to keep our distance from the cows in the field and although he was suspicious he was ok with them.


He was quite a good boy this morning, a few to many wet and fresh cow pats around which took his fancy and needed a watchful eye but other than that he was well behaved, especially on the walk by the path where he played up yesterday. He is definitely getting there I think. He was so funny last night, he was asleep on the couch next to me and as he was breathing it was just lifting the corner of him mouth, and would then drop back down. Dead cute bless him.


Well it’s been interesting. What is the little monster like!? I put him outside for being bad and instead of thinking about what he’s done he’s having the time of his life chasing a frog around!!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting ...

I’m so excited about this post!! I’m afraid that Keith and I have been keeping a little secret of late and the time has now come to introduce you to the newest member of the family. A while ago we decided that once we were settled in FTC that we would look at extending the family. After a lot of finger crossing and frantic work around the garden, the time finally came to welcome that new addition this weekend. So, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I would like to present Harry.

Harry is a 10 month old Basset x Beagle who has been a complete joy since he arrived on Saturday. Kat, who has had him since a puppy, has done the most amazing job of him and he is affectionate, placid, completely bomb proof (except for cows but we’ll get to that in a second) and a total lummox when it comes to coordinating his back legs and front legs.
Anyway, he arrived with us on Saturday and after chatting to Kat for a while we were left to get to know the little fella. We took him for a walk along the river and soon learned a few things about young Harry:

1. He loves eating cow pats (bleugh)
2. He loves water, especially muddy, smelly water
3. He loves children, even if they’re not too sure of him
4. He is ultimately bribable with a stick
5. He loves to chew anything knitted

He also has a whole range of gorgeous mannerisms which I am trying very hard not to go on about for fear of being a bore. I will say that I am constantly amused by his facial expressions (very basset), mannerisms (very chilled as long as he gets to lie over/in the middle of/ behind anyone on the sofa and drape his head over your nearest body part), his run (I can’t describe it, you’ll just have to see it for yourself), his big ole dinner plate feet and his sighs (I have never known an animal with such a wide range of them!!!)

Anyway, yesterday was the real challenge and I have to say I was SO proud of Harry. We went on a really, really long walk during which we managed to meet several other dogs without a second of fuss (the other owners commented on how good he was!!), meet herds of cows (actually the same 2 herds many times) and go from “no change guv!!” to “hmmm, I still think you’re funny looking but I’m going to ignore you just this once” and best of all, we discovered the river. As you can see Harry is not entirely active when it comes to rivers, preferring to sit and contemplate life. I was happy to sit on the bank and do the same.

Harry has had a few moments since coming to us, most notably his sudden “modus ballisticus” each evening after dinner when he either decides human squeak much better than chew toys (cue time out in the garden), or else does a very cool four legged dig in my herb bed covering everything in a 4m radius in soil (result of time out in the garden). The digging would have been fine except for the fact that when he did it last night, he was still wet from the river *sigh* … and he likes fighting towels. In the end I let him do the work for me, threw the towel over him and let him fight his way out, thereby cleaning himself in the process – genius!!

So, this blog will now include regular updates on the life and times of Harry as well as news of FTC and I would like to say a massive, enormous thank you to Kat, you did a fantastic job with him and he’s an absolute joy, thank you a million times for letting Keith and I take him :-D

No Longer a Jungle!!!!

It's been quiet on the house front, mainly because Keith and I have been busy doing other things. A little poor I know but when you have an endless sea of jobs to do, it's sometimes nice to remind yourself there's a world out there so that the house doesn't start to feel like too much of a chore.

The house itself as seen relatively little action because I'm building up a nice long list ready for my week off when the kitchen is fitted. Currently I'm planning on:

Boarding out the house loft (once I've cleared it out that is)
Laying the new floor in the downstairs hallway
Taking up the carpet on the stairs
Painting the upstairs landing

I think you'll agree that it's a list with the potential for huge amounts of storytelling, mostly of the horror variety and no doubt ispiralingpiralling costs.

Unlike the house, however, the garden has seen quite a lot of action. The garden has now been properly cleared and there is also now a fence separating the two ends of the garden - and when I say fence I mean work of art, hand crafted with no shortage of blood, sweat or tears by us both over the past few weekends.

The plan for the back of the garden has also changed a little and the 6' fence with 12' gates has now been replaced with 4' fencing and no gate. This is largely due to the fact that those gates take 6-8 weeks to make and we needed a fencing solution a little quicker, for reasons that will become apparent very shortly.

I have to say, I'm pretty proud of how the garden is looking at the moment - you can stop sniggering back there - because the groundwork is really coming together. It's not going to win Britain in Bloom any time soon, I grant you, but it is under control, and by the time spring comes around and we are ready to plant, we're going to have some fantastic soil and comparatively weed free beds. Believe me, that is no mean feat!!!