Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Pup On My Pillow!

Got into bed the other night and thought my pillow felt a bit lumpy. Found this underneath it!

That was him looking as if he thought I hadn'tnoticed.

That was when he realised I had!

Saw this chap about to raid a neighbour’s pond! Very hastily taken as he was about to slither out of view. Not that herons tend to slither.

Almost didn't have any photos at all! Photoshop stopped working, the drop down menus were empty and it turned out to be something Windows 10 did on their last update - removing fonts that Photoshop uses. So it had to be reinstalled. Thankfully working okay now.

Last weekend I planned to go to the Sea Shanty Festival. I love it, walking round the old town listening to the music. Something incredibly cheery about a sea shanty and it’s a great atmosphere. It’s about 2.5 miles from my house to the quay and I set off on Saturday with good intentions, but ended up turning home within half a mile of my destination. It was hot and clammy and I was tired. It had been a busy week.

I could have gone on the second day of the Sea Shanty Festival, but I’d already planned to go to the Ipswich Vegan Festival at Portman Road. It’s years since I’ve been to the football stadium and it was kind of nice to be back there.

I’ve never been to a vegan festival before so it was good to do something different.

There was a small queue when we arrived, but it grew longer and longer and once we were in, people didn’t stop arriving. There were so many stalls, Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary, Sea Shepherds UK, Animals Asia, Actions for Greyhounds, Animal Aid, The Humane Research Trust to name but a few.

And there were stalls selling vegan products and books.

I bought some things from the Hunt Sabs stall and Greek Animal Rescue.

You wouldn’t think we’d still need hunt sabs so many years after it was banned, but we need them now more than ever.

I am thrilled it was so popular but once the Sir Bobby Robson Suite started to fill up, I started to get nervy. I’m not good with crowds, I can’t think straight and I get panicky. I felt quite emotional too, seeing all those wonderful people there with their stalls and I would have bought from every one of them if I could. I would have liked to have spoken to more people too, but I go sort of numb once I get in panic mode and can’t think straight.

It looked quiet on the stairs so we went up to the Legends Suite where the vegan food was and it was much quieter. I calmed down pretty quickly and got into an interesting conversation with the Norwegian Bakers. Their stall was amazing! And so tempting! Too tempting.

But I’d run out of money. My other half came to my rescue and I (he) bought some cakes and pastries. It made me realise how far I have to go before I produce anything anywhere near as good as that.

I brought Dusty and Poppy back some vegan dog treats which they said were yummy!

Definitely somewhere I will go back to. I don’t always get like that in crowds, so perhaps next year I will do better and maybe stay longer to listen to some of the talks and music.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Not Again!

I was there on Thursday.  I went down before the PS Waverley was due to sail. It was windy. I’d rushed the dogs round the field at double quick time so I could be there. No sign of her.

We saw LV18.


And a solar powered light vessel.

A young gull sitting on a small boat.

But no Waverley.

We waited, then got fed up being blown by the wind and went home. So maybe she nipped in and out again as we were walking away. I know she sailed to London that day.

I did see a rainbow Thursday evening though. It was a completely perfect one, but I couldn’t get the whole thing in shot. It really was beautiful and I took time to stand and stare and wonder at the marvels of nature. It rather made up for missing the boat.

There is something about ploughed fields that appeals to me. And if you look closely, you can see the sea in the distance and Walton-on-Naze.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Missing the Boat

Oh, yes I did, I certainly did. My daughter let me know that the Waverley paddle steamer was in at the Ha’penny Pier the other evening when she was out for a walk with her family. So the next morning…

Well, the Waverley had gone up to Southwold and was sailing from there to London, so she must have just been overnighting here.

But I looked up the timetable and she was back on Saturday! Hooray! I’ll go down and take some photos, I said. Don’t let me forget, I said. I told everyone that was my plan and said I hoped the weather would be nice for taking photos.

Saturday evening I remembered.

But… she is back here on Thursday. I wouldn’t put money on me remembering to go down, but she’ll be here in the morning before heading down to London, then back in the evening so I have two more chances to miss seeing her.

I had hoped to post photos of the paddle steamer, but instead here’s a photo of what greeted me when I went up to bed last night.


How a cat can manage to look dignified and disdainful sitting on the loo I don’t know – but I know exactly what that look says. “You missed the boat didn’t you – you stupid woman!”

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Warming to Autumn

Such a beautiful day today.

It started off with a red sky and you know how the saying goes, “Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” Or if you prefer, “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” The message is the same.

7 am

I decided to take it as a good omen and not a bad one. It just didn’t have the feel of a day with bad weather coming.

The day turned a little hazy, then the sun came out and this afternoon I decided to take a break from the writing and make the most of the good weather.

I walked to the edge of Little Oakley, then cut across to Ramsey and I stood for a few moments on the hill enjoying the view. Then I went to see the horses on the hill, before turning back for home.

The photos don’t do justice to the view from the hill. I should have taken them higher up than I did.  You can just about see the Ramsey windmill if you look hard enough (you might have to click on the picture to make it bigger).


The windmill was built sometime before 1819 in Woodbridge, Suffolk and was one of the four mills on the Mill Hills. It was moved to Ramsey in 1842.  In 1841, one of my several times great grandfathers lived on Mill Hill in Woodbridge and his occupation was miller. In the next census he was a jobbing labourer. I often look at that windmill and wonder…

There were some lovely autumn smells. Someone somewhere had a bonfire. There was the musky smell of ripe blackberries and the waft of horse manure. Moving on…

I paused in the shade of some horse chestnut trees and filled my pockets with… horse chestnuts. It was as I waddled down the road with my bulging pockets that I decided to call for a lift.

Now to find somewhere to put them where Dusty can’t get them and where the cats can’t knock them down to him, but where spiders will see them and scuttle off to live somewhere else (I live in hope and it has seemed to work in past years).

The oak tree has produced a bumper crop of acorns this year and Dusty thinks all his Christmases have come at once. He no longer has to dig around looking for stones to bring in to exchange for treats. We couldn’t understand how he kept appearing with acorns and oak apples when the back door was shut – then we found his secret stash hidden behind the chair! And they say springer spaniels are stupid.

The warmth of the sun, the slightly hazy feel to the day and the lightest of cool breezes made it feel like a spring day, but of course it wasn’t. It was an autumn day and I liked it.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Quiet September Days

Seems to be September is often a quiet, mellow sort of month. Mind you it wasn’t quiet the other night when it sounded like the wind was trying its best to blow the roof off.

The children are all settled back at school and – mostly – enjoying it. They’re all excited about their topics for this term. Vikings, The War of the Roses and other such delights. I couldn’t believe it when three of them started on their homework the minute they got home from school – willingly and without anyone telling them to – while the fourth moaned because she hadn’t been given any yet.

Yes, I think they were ready to go back. 

Christmas has arrived in the shops and I bought a large red cake tin for £2.49 from Home Bargains – I do love a bargain. I am tempted to get more for storing all the Christmas cakes I make. 

I don't buy cake boards any more. The first thing we used to do on cutting the cake was to take it off the board and put it in a tin so now I put the cake on the upturned lid, decorate it, then use the bottom of the tin as a lid. Makes it easy to cut too. Just realised when I do that, the pattern will be upside down... oops.

I have to admit the sight of all the decorations and fripperies appearing in the shops has rather lifted my spirits. Christmas lights will brighten the darkest time of the year and that’s always good to look forward to.

What a lovely summer we had though even though the best of the weather seemed to be before the children broke up from school.

Before term ended, we went out for ice creams after school on a hot, sunny day.

Then at the start of the holiday, my two lovely granddaughters-from-away came to stay and oh boy did Dusty love that!

Dusty and Tinks have been getting closer. Not quite cuddling up yet…

Harley mostly spent the summer rolling about on the grass in the sun (or running round in the rain!).

And Harley comforted my eldest granddaughter after yet another mishap. Harley doesn’t “do” laps very often, but she seems to know when a cuddle is required.

We had a lot of fun, but we had some peaceful moments too.

It’s no secret I don’t look forward to autumn and winter, but I’m trying to look at the positives, the first one being roast dinners!

Is there anything you look forward to at this time of year?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Suffolk Punch Trust - Last Days of Summer

It was the last full week off for the kidlets last week and we tried to wind it down a bit ready for getting back into the school routine.

Our last trip of the summer was to the Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley. It’s a wonderful place to visit for a peaceful day out and I highly recommend it.

To get there, you by-pass Woodbridge, one of my favourite places and drive past Sutton Hoo (kidlets declared they’d been there enough times thank you!) and Rendlesham Forest (famous for its aliens!). And onwards towards Hollesley following the signs to HM Hollesley Bay Colony otherwise known as Hollesley Bay Prison (where Jeffrey Archer lived for a while).

It was a beautiful day, warm and bright and the Suffolk countryside looked its best as we arrived at the Suffolk Punch Trust. If we’d carried on past the Suffolk Punch Trust, we would have ended up in Shingle Street, but decided to leave visiting there for another day as we spent the whole day at the Trust.

It takes an hour to drive there from here, but as the crow flies we’re only about 10 miles away. Some of my ancestors came from that area of Suffolk and I imagine they used boats to come down the coast and would probably laugh at the convoluted route we take today.

So, we petted horses and this one in particular seemed eager for attention. But they are all friendly and gentle.

So friendly, so gentle

There were also some ex-racehorses there as part of ROR (Retraining of Racehorses). As soon as they saw us, they rushed across the field to say hello. Once their rehabilitation is complete, they will go on to new homes.

Retraining of Racehorses

The youngest foal, Colony Dorothy, was born in April and they lost her mother, Colony Olive to a terrible colic in August. Dotty is now spending time with last year’s foal, Colony Calypso. So very sad.  You can see a picture of Dorothy and Olive in happier times here.

Dorothy and Calypso

This chap is the father of many and the resident stallion, Besthorpe Achilles. Magnificent isn’t he.

Besthorpe Achilles

We went on a tractor ride which was bumpy – but fun – and we learned a lot about the Trust and the horses thanks to our very informative guide. The kids were given worksheets when we went in. They look for different coloured flights (the ribbons used to decorate the manes) hidden in boxes around the stud and answer questions. When complete they choose a prize – a pencil or a badge. Not compulsory, but they enjoyed doing it and collecting their prizes as we left.

Tractor Ride

We sat on the grass to have a picnic, then the smaller kids played on the play equipment while I went back with my eldest grandson to revisit the horses in the stables. He was particularly taken with Colony Iris, aged 21, the oldest horse there. He also liked Colony Xing, the tallest (and still growing) horse. When we had our tractor tour we were told he will be bigger than Besthorpe Achilles (one and a half tons) and may reach a ton and three-quarters. That’s a lot of horse!

There are two sweet Shetland ponies, several Suffolk sheep (the oldest registered flock in the world), rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, Ixworth chickens (which almost died out and are still very rare today).

And pigs. New Zealand pigs.

New Zealand Pig

And rare Large Black Pigs – and some very young piglets! Another breed which was almost extinct not long ago.

Large Black Piglets

I wish I’d taken a photo of the Gypsy Cob. He was dumped needing emergency vet treatment as a foal, but my goodness you should see him now. There is a picture of him here – at the bottom of the page which also has information about the other horses.

My eldest granddaughter had a horrible fall at the swimming pool last week. She wasn’t running or messing about, just walking back to the changing rooms when she slipped at the edge of the pool and crashed down hurting her leg and elbow and falling back into the pool. She was very shaken up with a nasty bruise on her elbow. Poor little thing – I thought she’d had her share of accidents after gashing her leg at the beach.

There is definitely an autumnal feel to the air and the early morning shadows are growing longer. (Sorry about the poo bin in this one!) This small tree cast a long shadow across the playing fields and the pointy shadows are made by the beach huts.

7 o'clock September morning

Dusty’s been enjoying the occasional swim. He seems to have even more energy now the weather is getting cooler. Sadly the same can’t be said for me.

Dusty swimming

I’m sad the holidays are over. I hated school myself and I’ll miss the children being around, although I'll still see them every day. I can never understand people who complain about the holidays and can’t wait for them to go back. Childhood rushes past in the blink of an eye – we should make the most of every second.

I will certainly miss being accompanied by mini-Batman on my walks!


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Jimmy's Farm - The Return

Earlier in the holiday I took my two grandchildren-from-away to Jimmy’s Farm and I wanted to go back with the other four.

So last week I packed a picnic and off we went.

As soon as we entered the farm park, we were greeted by a young woman holding two ferrets. One she said might nibble fingers, the other would only lick. Needless to say they had a huge fuss made of them. Gorgeous little things.

My eldest grandson somehow got into conversation with her about being a vegetarian (possibly because of his badge saying, “Don’t panic and be a vegetarian”). She said, “I am too. And I work on a farm!” And she looked a little rueful.

Friendly little pony

Some of the animals there have been rescued. The female ring tailed coati was kept as a "pet" for two years in a bird cage and had pulled out most of her fur and engaged in classic pacing behaviour. She is learning how to be a coati with the help of her family and rarely paces now. We learned a lot from the keeper and he told us about how one of the meerkats was a former "pet" and had been rescued too from a very unhappy existence.

A better life

The kids did the den-building and bouncy pillow bouncing and we went into the butterfly house which was amazing and very hot and humid. It felt chilly when we stepped back outside into the sunshine.

This time we saw a sow with her piglets. My eldest granddaughter begged and pleaded with me to let her take one home. She was sure if she jumped over the electric fence and grabbed one no one would notice. I thought she was joking, then she got quite upset. “I just want to save one from being eaten,” she said. But the pigs were within the zoo side of the farm park, so I crossed my fingers and said they weren't being raised for meat.

But even if they are, I'm sure they have a better life than most pigs and at least get to live outdoors with freedom to move around. I have always loved pigs and I just don't like to think of eating them, but realistically I know it happens and if it has to, then I would wish the best life possible for them - if that makes sense.

Then the two girls declared that they would become vegetarians. Tomorrow. Which by the next day had become next week, but by the following day my little would-be piglet kidnapper had stopped eating meat. So there are three of us now and our family is very supportive and have vegetarian days too.

On Friday night they stayed for a sleepover. Not much sleep was had. They all like to be in the same room – with me – and there is chatting and whispering and giggling into the early hours. 

I was going to take a photo of the aftermath – the piles of pillows, airbed, fold out bed, sleeping bags, duvets and essential soft toys, but I was busy making pancakes for breakfast while that was all cleared away. It would have been a bit of a horror picture anyway!