Saturday, 23 September 2017

Four and a half Kg slimmer !

What a lovely surprise after Benji was trimmed, shampoo'ed and weighed today - since he came to me in April, he has lost four and a half Kg and his latest trim shows a much slimmer shape. 
I was so excited to take his photo that I had my camera on the wrong setting - hence the black & white photo.

As a reward for being such a star, we went for a lovely long walk on Bodmin Moor - and he actually managed to stay clean!

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Wild camping on the north coast.

Guess who went camping in a tent during Storm Aileen? If I had seen the Storm warnings, I would have stayed at home, but the most recent weather forecast I'd heard was for strong winds on Sunday evening, dying out by Monday lunchtime. 
So I arrived at this site on the north coast of Cornwall at 1pm on Monday, then took Benji for a walk while waiting for the wind to calm down.  However, a walk along the coastal path had to be aborted because the strength of the wind was enough to pluck us off the cliff edge.

By 6pm I had set up the tent and transferred all the gear from the car in slightly calmer conditions, but that first night was horrendous with the tent material flapping and banging as gusts of 60mph pounded in straight from the sea. It was impossible to sleep because of the noise and because I was unsure if the tent would stand up to such a ferocious wind.
However, Benji had no such concerns - he slept soundly in his bed at the side of mine all night!
Next day I was admiring the lovely colours of the heather which covers the cliff tops and the song of skylarks as they soared high above.

 From the coves at the foot of the cliffs, the roar of the sea as big waves crashed onshore

 Overlooking Mawgan Porth beach. That morning, warnings were broadcast about the danger of Portuguese Men'O'War that had been washed up on the beach; their stings are extremely painful and can actually cause death.  Later the beach was closed, as was Perranporth Beach further along the coast until the danger was past.

I'd seen reports of Crantock Beach being threatened by the River Gannel changing course and washing away the sand, so I had to go and see for myself. I was there just a few weeks ago and it had certainly changed; the river had switched sides and washed away a huge area of the beach, making access to the beach difficult (or even impossible) for the lifeguards' vehicles or of the regular ice cream van. Below the lifeguards' hut, rocks that had previously been under the sand were now exposed. 

 Bedruthan Steps  

 Benji leading the way along the clifftop coast path

 This section of the coastal path was a work of art - and a labour of love by National Trust volunteers.

 The cosy cafe at Bedruthan Steps which serves the most wonderful Bacon Baps - hot, seeded rolls with 3 - THREE - rashers of very tasty bacon inside it. Mmmmm.  
That's my niece waiting at the counter; we were able to spend a couple of days together while she was down on holiday from her home in Leicestershire.
Funnily enough, we turned up for another bacon bap the next day as well.

And after stretching our legs along the coastal path again, we also had our tea, this time at an outdoor table in the sunshine.
 On Wednesday I took advantage of yet another National Trust car park (free to me because I'm a member) and followed this footpath.  

Beautiful stone walling 

 One tired little dog

 Despite the fierce winds at night we had a couple of lovely sunny days together, but after a third stormy night I'd had enough.  I decided to pack up the tent the next day while it was dry and head home again.
I hope you've enjoyed the photos.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Today's Benji photos - a comparison

Five months ago - this stuffed pillow look-alike arrived in my life, weighing more than double his recommended healthy weight.

 Today, he is slimmer and much of his fat has been replaced by muscle; still some way to go but he is very much livelier and energetic.
He is also very stubborn and no amount of calling his name, clucking, whistling, whining or whispering would persuade him to lift his head and smile for the camera!

 Plodding along in a sedate fashion, back in May 2017.

 Yesterday, looking for his doggy mates up on the Moor - note the bigger clearance between belly and ground!

 Happy boy, loving his walks.

Flying along, ears flapping and a big grin on his face. 
Apologies for the out-of-focus photo - he was really racing along.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Naughty Boy!

It rained during the night but has now brightened - and it's windy, so things are drying nicely.  Sunshine . . cloud . . sun . . . cloud . . sun . . . 
Unbelievably, my lawns have grown a good 2" in the 4 days since I mowed them, so I guess I'll be doing them all over again this afternoon.
And that Benji Dog - his daily teatime walk on the Moor covers about 3 miles, mostly off lead, so with his trotting about all over the place, he covers quite a lot more than that. But his energy is boundless: yesterday he suddenly took an interest in the sheep again after ignoring them since his last 'chase' a couple of weeks ago.  He was happily galloping down a wide cropped area in front of me, ears flapping , tongue lolling and a big smile on his face (I should have known!) when he spotted a small bunch of sheep trotting into the bracken, heading to the pond - so he turned and galloped after them.  I'm shouting his name, shouting "NO!" and "COME HERE!" and he totally ignored me until he saw the last one disappear into the bracken, then he steered back to his original course down the hill as though he'd done nothing wrong.  When he stopped, he gave me that 'butter wouldn't melt' look of pure innocence.  
"Who?  Me? Chasing sheep?  No way!"
Innocent he is NOT - more like WICKED!
I'm sure it adds to his enjoyment when he sees the sheep moving faster because of him.  They never do more than trot and I'm pretty sure they aren't scared by him, but it has to stop before they get 'with lamb' again.  AND - there are 2 sturdy rams in that area, both with great big horns, so if he mistakes one of them for a slightly foolish ewe, he will be in big trouble.
Ah, the joys of having a little dog who thinks he is Very Big. I must take some more photos of him, showing his decreasing waistline. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Siblyback Lake Walk

Today it is wet, wet, wet - chucking it down with rain all last night and most of today and our walk up on Bodmin Moor this afternoon was in thick fog; it would have been very easy to get lost so Benji and I stuck to well-known routes.  He was THE most reluctant dog - he hates wet weather, wet grass and having to cross water so remained firmly behind me, at the very end of his extending lead.  I knew that if I unclipped his lead he would run straight back to the car!
However, it was a bright, sunny day last Friday when I decided on a walk around Siblyback Lake, our local reservoir. I had the idea that it was a 3.5 Km walk but later found it was 3.5 MILES - quite a step for my short-legged little friend and his rather unfit owner.

But the scenery was gorgeous - the lake covers 140 acres and is surrounded by pasture land: cattle and sheep grazed there; buzzards were mewing overhead as they glided between the stands of conifers and there was birdsong all around - including a small group of squabbling terns at the water's edge.

 Siblyback provides a variety of activities including wind-surfing, canoeing, kayaking, wake-boarding (where the wake-boarder is towed around a course by a rope hanging from motors on overhead cables) as well as cycling, walking and Segway riding.  Handily, there are seats dotted around the walking trail so it's possible to sit and watch everyone else enjoying their choice of activities. 

 There's also a camp site overlooking the lake complete with good showering facilities, etc. and a field for dog-exercise adjoining.

 I wonder if I could train Benji . . . ?  No, I think he's a bit small for that - and he keeps stopping to sniff!

As for the high ropes - I decided they weren't for me .. . .

My one regret is that I had gone without my camera, so all the photos here are from online images of Siblyback Lake and Activity Centre. 
And there isn't a single photo of Benji on this walk, trotting along beside me and thoroughly enjoying himself.  Didn't he do well?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A river walk in Forder.

Forder is a small hamlet near to Saltash in Cornwall with only 44 houses and no shop. Many of the cottages are situated along the banks of the River Forder with the footpath running between their frontages and the river. It's a peaceful little place, with boats moored down the shoreline with only birdsong and the soft clinking of halyards against masts to break the silence.
Recently on a warm but overcast day I walked there with my two youngest grandchildren and the dog.

 The path turned away from the river and climbed up through wooded slopes.

 We paused to look into the remains of Wearde Quarry then entered the high-sided and fern-covered enclosure, long since filled in.  Nature has taken over and the information boards showed which plants thrived in the cool, damp conditions.
Could we find 'Fox Tail Feather Grass' ?  

 Eleanor found it!

 And then the Arum maculatum, commonly known as Cuckoopint.  It's bright orange berries are a warning that it is poisonous and not to be touched.

Another information board shows that all the fields at the top of the slope have names.  Fascinating stuff!

By the time we returned to our starting point the tidal river was fast emptying and many of the boats were now listing to one side as they settled on the mud.
We headed for Seaton to have some lunch and a drink.  But that's another post!