Saturday, 26 June 2010

Willis has been plucked

Our puppy Willis has been plucked. Ouch ! I said at the thought of it – but he looks very smart.

Our first dog was a lovely springer spaniel called Ben – mad of course, but with a lovely temperament apart from his passion for postmen (and women). But the hair that came off of him was horrendous. It was like tumble weed blowing around the kitchen floor. We then inherited a lovely little toy poodle called Nina, which our daughter adored and played with endlessly. Dressing her up in baby clothes and pushing her around in a pram. Whist Nina was highly strung and a bit yappy she was a sweet little thing who didn’t know she was small and gave Ben a run for his money. She was always top dog. But the best thing about Nina was that she didn’t shed at all. She was taken to the ‘hairdresser’ every 6 weeks or so for a cut and blow dry and always came back smelling sweet with a ribbon on her collar. So when the time came to think about another dog as our lovely Ben was getting old, and still wanting a bigger dog we decided to get Sam our Standard Poodle. We found Nina to be such an intelligent dog that coupled with the whole ‘no shedding and no more tumble weed thing’ we felt it would be a perfect choice. Sam has proved to be a really wonderful companion and friend and my husband swears he understands every word you say to him.
Well sadly we lost Ben some years ago and then 4 years ago our little Nina died.
Since then we have (sorry in case my husband reads this I have) been looking for another small dog.
I have to admit to being one of those people who love animals of any shape and size. Even spiders don’t frighten me. Over the years we have had three cats, two rabbits, lots of hamsters, guinea pigs, cockatiels and fish but dogs are my favourite.
So when I took Sam for a hair cut in January and I was treated to the sight of two little puppies – well of course I melted. Two of the sweetest little Border Terrier pups were calling to me – ‘take me home’,’ take me home’. Cathy the breeder said they were lovely dogs, very friendly who love children and they don’t moult. They have to be plucked every 4 to 5 months. I did a bit of research about the breed on the internet, we met the mother who was a real little character and we were persuaded to get one of the little chaps.

Hence my little Willis had been plucked and doesn’t he look smart.

Although I must say he looked cute scruffy.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Beautiful Brecon

I have been absent from my computer for nearly two weeks - although checking and responding to the most urgent emails via my phone (isn’t technology wonderful) - I haven’t surfed, blogged, face booked, looked up information that I don’t need on Wikipedia or checked out the latest gaff on YouTube. How have I managed to do this most amazing and liberating thing – a short break in our well loved caravan in the Brecon Beacons with no wifi access.

Les and I decided that we needed to get away for a few well earned days of rest before the start of a (hopefully) busy summer in our B&B. Guilty like many of rushing off to exotic locations or different parts of this great British island of ours – we decided it was about time (24 years of living in North Wales which we know extremely well) that we discovered another part of Wales.
We plumped for the Brecon Beacons and were not disappointed – coupled with extremely lovely warm sunny weather for all but one of our days – Brecon is a truly breathtaking area with wonderful undulating green hills and valleys. We recently had some Australians stay with us and they described the green in Wales as ‘it’s so green it hurts your eyes’. Well we knew exactly what they meant; travelling from our home in Carmel down to Brecon took around 4 hours (3 stops for the dogs and towing a caravan) and the country side en-route was never disappointing.
Arriving at our caravan site we were welcomed with a much needed cup of tea by our friends who had travelled from Milton Keynes. We tried the local pub that night (a late birthday celebration for two of us) and the food was fantastic – and it was in walking distance. Could things get any better?

Our dog Sam who is a Standard Poodle and nearly 11 years old is a seasoned caravan traveller and quickly settled down – but how would our 7 month old Border Terrier Willis behave. Unbelievably he was great – quickly getting used to a new routine (that’s’ of course no routine when you’re on your holidays) and we are now proud to call him a real Caravan Dog too.

Brecon is a lovely little town with many small independent shops and on our first Saturday there was a Farmers Market. They still boast an indoor market place where it was held and the number of stalls, quality of produce and variety was impressive. We feasted on local pies, pates and salads for lunch – enjoyed so much more outside in the lovely sunshine.
We managed to walk every day and visited three of the national parks centres – one of which was called Craig-y-nos and had been the home of the Opera Singer Adelina Patti until her death in 1919. The house became a hospital but closed in the 1980’s and is now a hotel but the grounds were taken over by Brecon Beacons National Park Authority in 1976. The grounds are vast and we spent a couple of hours getting quite lost. The rhododendrons were amazing and I have never seen the formation of branches and trunks like it before.

Another lovely walk was around the Reservoir at Talybont.

Our few days away quickly came to an end like they always do but we realised what a great and relaxing time we had had. Driving back into North Wales we also re-discovered how beautiful it also is. Sometimes we are all guilty of not appreciating our immediate surroundings – its lovely to go away but so nice to come home when you are lucky enough to live in such a picturesque spot.

Needless to say I hadn’t been in very long before the computer went on and I started dealing with emails, calls and of yes here I am blogging again. Happy Holidays everyone.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Swedish Smorgasbord Birthday

June 5th every year is a rather special day for me - some years I have welcomed it with open arms - well any age from around 3 to 29 - post 30 and the numbers seems to have come much too quickly and needless to say it was of course my birthday. But this year it was celebrated Swedish style.

After a week full of harrowing news and sadness from the dreadful shootings in Cumbria, two of our Welsh soldiers killed in Afghanistan and other world and local events that fill us all, I am sure, full of dread - I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful day with friends.

Very good friends of ours celebrated their joint birthdays and around 50 of their friends and family including 15 or so who flew in from Sweden for a very special '150'th. Apparently 75 is an age to really mark in Sweden whether it’s for what you have achieved or just for the fact that you have managed to get there, I’m not sure.

For me it was a readymade party – spending the day helping at first getting the Smorgasbord type buffet sorted and then enjoying it. They love to make speeches in Sweden and it was an informal and relaxed atmosphere where anyone who felt the urge got up and waxed lyrical. I managed to utter a few lines pointing out that coincidentally I was 57 (75 backwards!) and had happy birthday sung to me in English, Welsh and Swedish – which was slightly embarrassing but enjoyable.

We stayed in our friend’s lovely garden watching the children playing innocent games with each other whist sipping a chilled glass of bubbles. Skipping, running, hide and seek and the obligatory football - only coming indoors after 9pm when it turned slightly chilly. Not a game boy or mobile phone in sight.

It was a lovely day – one to cherish – friends and family are so important and how lucky we are those of us who can spend these special times together. The weather was perfect and the Smorgasbord – well simply delicious and the fact you can go back as many times as you like seemed to make it all the more enjoyable.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The healing waters of St Winifred ?

One of the Seven Wonders of Wales ' St Winifred’s Well' here in Holywell has long been known for its 'miracles'. However apart from my verruca incident - which frankly is best left forgotten (see Dixi Wills article in the Guardian March 1st if you want to read about it) - I have only heard in general terms about the miraculous cures. That is until this morning. We had a guest staying with us en route to Ireland – our B&B perfect for an overnighter for the Holyhead ferry – and after our usual post breakfast chat he mentioned that he was off to the Well to load up on holy water before heading for the ferry. He then recounted the following story.

In about 1992 he was with an Irish couple who had visited the Well several times before, but on this occasion the lady decided to go for full immersion. She had been suffering with bad knees for years having already had keyhole surgery on one knee, and was told there was now nothing to be done expect replacements for both knees. She went in the water (luckily prepared by wearing her swimming costume under her clothes) and because she believed you had to have three goes – she ducked in and out three times. She then changed and left with her husband and our guest and got into his car. After only 50 or so yards she started to scream in pain and say ‘my knees are burning’. They stopped the car and tried to help offering to take her to hospital but she was convinced that it was the holy water working. After sometime the pain eased and they continued their journey. Our guest finished he story "That was nearly 20 years ago and she has had no problems with her knees since. She does now need a stick but that is to do with her sciatic nerve and at more than 80 she is entitled to I think".

Well my husband Les and I were quite opened mouth about the story and I may well be off to the Well myself. But as our guest said ‘is it because she believed it would work – or it in fact a miracle? ‘