Monday, 7 September 2015

Weekend in the Cotswolds

This trip was not entirely for recreation purposes.  My photographer husband had a wedding to photograph on the Saturday but we thought that we would make a long weekend out of it as neither of us are familiar with this part of the country.

The wedding was a late booking for my husband so by the time we had full confirmation I found we were a bit limited in our choice of room.  I had dreams of an old Inn and an antique four poster bed.  I did get the old Inn but had to make do with a room in the new extension part of the building.  We stayed in The Noel Arms Hotel in Chipping Campden and I was very pleased with this choice.  Our room was spacious and comfortable.

Our very comfortable bed

Noel Arms Hotel, Chipping Campden
After a cup of tea in our room we headed to the restaurant where I had Spinach & Ricotta Tortellini, a delicious combination of  spinach, wild mushroom, parmesan, smoked almonds shallot & thyme cream sauce.  I usually skip the starters as I want enough room for dessert -  Strawberry Pavlova which consisted of home made meringue, strawberry compote strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and Chantilly cream. Very delicious and filling.  This restaurant is also open to the public as well as guests.  There is also a coffee shop at the front entrance of the hotel with some delicious looking cakes.

Our first day was a work day.  My husband was photographing a wedding and I was basically the equipment carrier and general dogs body.  I did have one embarrassing moment though.  I was wearing a brand new dress, so I was feeling very smart.  During the morning preparations with the bridal family I suddenly noticed that one of my hold-up stockings had slipped right down my leg on full view to everyone.  How long it had been like it I have no idea.  I managed to discretely pull it up again when no one was looking and at the earliest opportunity they were discarded.  The rest of the day went perfectly and the very kind bride and groom even fed us at the wedding breakfast with the same meal as the guests. The weather was glorious and everyone had a wonderful day. We were with them until about ten at night which left us with enough time to get back to our hotel for a drink at the bar.

The breakfasts were delicious with a choice of several cooked dishes or a self serve Continental breakfast.  There was also toast, fruit juices and tea or coffee.The second day was for us to go out sight seeing but sadly the weather was very different to the previous day.  It rained nearly all day and we were not prepared for bad weather having neither coats or umbrellas.   I love Tudor history and it had not escaped my notice that an important historical house was nearby - Sudeley Castle.

Sudeley Castle is an ideal visit for Tudor lovers since it was once the home of HenryVIII last wife, Katherine Parr and she is buried in St. Mary's Church which is in the grounds of the castle.  For me this was a historical pilgrimage.  Queen Elizabeth I, Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn and Richard III have all played a part in its history.  There is not as much to see here as other similar sites but it is still worth a visit if you have a spare afternoon and are nearby.  I would have liked more time to explore the gardens but the weather was not kind to us.

The Knot Garden

St Mary's Church, Sudeley

Katherine Parr's Tomb

Our weekend trip came to an end all too soon.  I think I will return again one day as we had little time to appreciate the lovely rolling hills or to see the many pretty villages.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Leaving your dog at the Kennels

Having to leave your dog at the kennels is probably traumatic for most owners.  I certainly felt very guilty but sometimes it just has to be done.  I chose a kennel that had been recommended to me and I did go for a visit to check it out before hand.  I recommend that you should visit the kennel before leaving your dog and ask plenty of questions about food and exercise etc.

Dodger the beagle had to have two visits this summer.  The first was just for a weekend but it pained me to leave him.  His tail was down between his legs as he was taken through the gate.  We could hear lots of barking from the other dog guests.

When we returned to collect him we were taken to the office first.  The owner looked at us and said, "Dodger is a lovely dog but......", and there was a pause, "he has completely destroyed his bed."  At this news we burst out laughing as Dodger has a history of bed destruction.  The owner looked relieved but then told us that she had replaced it with some vet bed which he had also ripped to shreds.  I guess the poor dog was stressed or maybe just punishing us for leaving him.  He was over joyed to see us again and obviously heard us approaching as his tail was frantically wagging as soon as we saw him.

A few weeks later we had to leave him there again but this time for a week.  Again we felt extremely guilty about doing this.  We bought a new hard plastic bed with a lovely soft cushion inside.  At least the outer plastic part would not be destroyed this time.  The poor dog knew exactly where he was so the tail was down between his legs.  I felt sad about leaving him.  If I could stop him from suffering from travel sickness then he would come with us.

When we returned to collect him we were informed that his cushion lasted about four hours before it was in pieces.  The replacement vet bed didn't last much longer but Dodger left all the bits in his plastic bed so they were left their and he slept on them.  Once again there was frantic tail wagging and licking.  When we got him home he was exhausted and slept all day.

Now to work on the travel sickness.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Dodger the Beagle. The 20 months update.

It has been a while since I last posted about my young beagle Dodger. One of the reasons for that is because he has calmed down quite a bit and is not quite so naughty.  Don't get me wrong - he's not transformed over night but he is a calmer dog.  Being a beagle he is still a dreadful food thief. Nothing can be left within his reach for even a second.

Dodger the Beagle enjoying a leap

Christmas time with cats and dogs can usually be interesting.  Dodger liked removing the baubles from the tree and running about with them with one us chasing him.  Very annoying when this started to take place about 15 times a day.  The Christmas tree ended up looking ridiculous with most of the decorations all at the top where he couldn't reach them.

Dodger at Christmas

He still has many naughty dog moments.  This week he dug up a plant in the garden and brought in the roots complete with all the soil which left a brown trail all down the hallway and into the lounge.
Despite this I would say that he has calmed down considerably and we all adore him.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Future Learn - on-line courses from UK Universities

During a lunch break at work, I was reading the BBC News website and found an article about Universities in the USA and on-line learning.  Some people believe that this could be the future of education as so many people can be reached via the internet.  I was very excited to discover that there are on-line courses from UK universities now available.

Future Learn is a private company owned by the Open University and all the courses on offer are free.  I quickly scrolled the list and found one that is right up my street - England in the time of Richard III.  I only have to put in two hours a week of study for a period of six weeks and you fit it around your life.  Other courses require a longer amount of study time.

I'm not going to get a qualification at the end of it but I will get a shareable page to show as evidence. I must admit that I am a bit nervous since it has been such a long time since I was in the education system and I'm worried that I will make myself look stupid and answer all the questions wrong!  I love history and this is a great opportunity to learn something new. My course does not start until the summer and I am really looking forward to it.

Useful Link

Future Learn

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is it time for stricter dog controls?

Over the last week there have been two publicised incidents where babies have tragically been killed by dogs.  The latest is a six day old baby killed by an Alaskan Malamute. Both incidents involved large powerful dogs.

Once again many people are thinking that it is time to have stricter controls on large powerful dogs.  Those against further controls will often proclaim that there is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad owners.  This statement is to a certain extent true as a dog is not capable of an act of evil but instead acts purely on its instinct.  Sadly these instincts can make a dog potentially very dangerous when around very young children that they may feel are a threat to the stability of the pack (family members).  I believe that dogs (especially large powerful breeds) can never be trusted around young children unsupervised and should not be able to get access to an unattended child. I also believe that when you own a dog that has never shown any signs of aggression it is easy to become too trustworthy.  We can also feel great love and affection towards our pets and can forget the potential dangers.

The Alaskan Malamute is a very beautiful breed of dog and was originally bred as a working dog to pull sledges and is therefore very powerfully built.  I think it is time to consider whether such powerful breeds should be kept as family pets.  No one needs to keep a large powerful dog as a pet when there are so many smaller breeds to choose from.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Effects of School Bullying Continued

This is my second post about this on going issue affecting our family.  My daughter appeared to be making progress and was actually discharged by the child and adolescent mental health services as she was doing so well and they believed that she had learnt the skills to enable her to deal with her anxiety and would continue to progress.  Unfortunately, at the end of last year, her anxiety levels increased and she started to withdraw from the other children at her education centre and she became very depressed.

She is being seen again by councillors and has been prescribed anti-depressants by a psychiatrist. she has been on them for about three weeks now and we are starting to see some improvements.  She has started smiling and laughing again and we feel that we are getting our daughter back again. I am worried about her taking this medication.

Going out is still quite difficult for her as she sometimes has panic attacks.  The further away from home (her safe place) the more difficult it is for her.  With hindsight I think she was discharged from the councillors too soon.  She finds it difficult to trust people her own age and often tells me that she would prefer her friends to be older.

Hopefully she will continue to get better.

My other blog post about the effects of school bullying

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Why are Waitrose customers annoyed about the free daily tea/coffee?

There has been some negative publicity recently about the free daily tea/coffee for people with the My Waitrose Card.  The regular shoppers are apparently annoyed about it attracting the wrong sort of people.  Several newspapers have had reports about it and last week there was a phone-in on Radio Two concerning this issue.

I have mentioned this offer already in this blog in my Tea for Two section. I am lucky enough to work near one Waitrose and live near another.  I finish work early on a Friday so I nearly always go to Waitrose for my free tea and I usually buy a cake to go with it.  On other days I have occasionally got myself a free tea to takeaway.

I have noticed a change in Waitrose since this offer began.  The main change is that the cafeteria is now busy.  Most of the customers seem to be old aged pensioners and mums meeting up with other mums.  According to some reports, long term Waitrose customers are unhappy that the wrong sort of people are now using the store.  By this I assume they mean the social class of the  new customers to the store.  This is a disgraceful example of snobbery.  There have also been complaints about people walking around the store doing their shopping while holding a takeaway drink.  I have never seen this happen in the two stores that I shop in.

Local tea rooms have also been complaining due to a loss of custom and I do have some sympathy for them as they have lost my custom on a Friday afternoon, but they might get me back again with deals such as a free refill of tea/coffee or maybe a free tea if you buy a cake.  They could try to offer something a little different to Waitrose even if that is down to the general experience rather than price. There is always competition in business.

 I love this new idea of the free tea/coffee everyday, and long may it continue. I much prefer this loyalty card to the ones on offer from the other supermarkets. I think I must own all of them.