Tag: featured

A Whiff of Summer

Could it be true?  Could summer really be near?

The clocks moved forward last Saturday and it definitely felt like we are not that far from everyone’s most favourite season – summer.  Well obviously, coming from a tropical country, it is my favourite, although I do love the golden colours in autumn too.

I love summer here in England, especially when the weather cooperates.  I love the long summer days especially, sitting out in the garden at 9 pm and it is still light.  We like to sit around in the fire-pit waiting for the dark, the barbecue long gone and drinks have been passed around and little T ready for bed, but refusing to go.  What’s not to love?

Obviously it isn’t summer yet but Spring has definitely sprung. We found something in the small outbuilding we have, down in the garden.  It was a hammock we bought on sale last year.  I think we got in the end-of-season sale in our favourite garden centre.  I remember thinking we must be mad to purchase it, especially since it was the beginning of winter, but I’m so glad we did.

T was delighted when we called her over.  And being a kid, she insisted that we used it right away.  After searching for a piece of rope and two trees that would be strong enough to hold the hammock, we set it up.

And as soon as it was up, little T plunked herself down with a book while her dad mowed the lawn and Doc was busy chewing on a stick and I went on with my chores.  I looked back as I walked back to the house to do my chores, and right that very moment, that instant, it felt like we’ve fast forwarded to summer.  Funny how a hammock can magically transport you into time.

Sadly, as I type this and look out the window, a different scene unfolds before me.  It’s rather a dreary one actually.  T has been wearing her summer dresses to school two days in a row now, even though yesterday, it was hardly sunny.  But as I helped her get ready today, I suggested maybe it would be best if she went back to wearing her grey skirt and tights instead.  She agreed and said “It’s like winter again, isn’t it mum?”  I sighed and said yes.  Her father grumpily added “Yes, that was it.  We’ve now gone back to winter!”

I’m in need of something more magical than a hammock, one so strong it will somehow bring the sunshine back and will it to stay.  Know of any?  Do share.

Dentastix: Dental Care for Dogs

Admittedly, we haven’t done much about Doc’s dental care.  Not because we don’t care about it, I guess it’s because we assume that his teeth are alright.  As far as we are aware, he doesn’t have any problems.  How do we know? Here’s our checklist.

  • His breath doesn’t smell.  Granted it doesn’t smell like toothpaste or that you wouldn’t want to lock lips with him, but if you did, but I’m happy to share that he doesn’t have dragon’s breath.  Knock on wood.
  • His teeth appear to look healthy with no broken teeth.
  • Gums also appear good.  They don’t look swollen or inflamed.
  • And most importantly, he doesn’t have trouble chewing at all.  His most favourite thing to chew is sticks.  As soon as he’s off that, then I’ll start to worry.

And thanks to Dentastix, Doc has been getting excellent dog dental care.  What makes Dentastix perfect for dogs?

Pedigree Dentastix has a unique X-shape and when fed daily has been scientifically proven to help reduce the build-up of tartar by up to 80%.

It also contains two active ingredients (sodium tripolyphosphate and zinc zulphate), which bond with the calcium in saliva and slow down the build-up of tartar. This helps plaque stays softer and makes it easier to remove with Pedigree Dentastix.

As for us, we like it because it’s a treat and at the same it, it’s caring for Doc’s teeth.  And Doc? He likes it because it tastes yummy!  He’s been happily chewing on Dentastix for more than five days now and absolutely loves it.

What about you? Have you tried Dentastix?

Do you have tips on how to care for your dog’s teeth?  Do share.

“This post is a collaboration with Pedigree, but all thoughts are my own. For additional dental care information you can read the following Pedigree Reviews article for tips and advice.”

ANIMALTALES

You know You’re a Pet Owner When …

I’ve been seeing a lot of “you know you’re a mum” posts lately whether on a blog, a photo on  Instagram or Facebook that I’ve decided to make one for pet owners/parents.

You know You’re a Pet Owner when …

…  your front-door is dirty, especially when it’s been raining outside.  Our door is filthy almost all the time.  I hope our postie doesn’t think we’re slobs.  Our regular one will know, because he’s met Doc.  But not the others, especially couriers.  For the record, we are not slobs, we just have a Doc who likes to clamber all over our front door and kitchen window when he wants to come in and no one is there to let him right away.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You find patches of black fur on your white throw.  I know what you’re thinking, why have a white throw when you have a young kid and pets right?  And I say right back at you, why on earth not?  And yes, I’ll whinge all I want.  If you’ve been reading my little blog for some time now, you might have read somewhere that I like white furniture/furnishings and I refuse to give them up just because I have a small child and pets.  Not to mention finding fur on your clothes!

You know you’re a pet owner when…

Your car is disgustingly dirty and we’re not just talking about the food T and her friends sometimes leave behind especially when we’ve just done a road trip.  I’m talking again of muddy paws all over, especially since the beach is less than a ten-minute drive away, yes, the inside of the car is always covered in sand, mud, muck and all that.  I really ought to give up trying to clean our car.  But at least, I try right?

You know you’re a pet owner when …

The kitchen floor slate floor is always dirty, no matter how you clean it everyday.  Don’t even let me mention the carpet in the rooms or else I’ll never stop.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You find doggie pooh bags or stale treats in your coat pockets along with your daughter’s small toys.  How long has it been there?  How long have we had Doc or T?

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You talk to your pets.  I know people do talk to their pets, but I’m talking about actual conversations.  You say something, pet answers, and yes, it doesn’t matter that you don’t really understand what they’re saying.  Actually you do, with Doc and my husband, they actually have actual conversations with their eyes and eyebrows only.  No words used.  As for Boots and I, you’ll actually hear lots of words, especially from me.  She answers either with her meows or her purring.

But I just fed you!

That was five minutes ago, feed me again now!

You know you’re a pet owner when ….

You have lots of photos of your dog and cat almost as much as your daughter’s.  And your pets and daughter gives you the same exasperated look every time they see you pick up your phone or camera.  Well except Doc.  He gets all excited especially when he sees me pick up my big camera, he knows we’re headed outside to take photos.  He loves that.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You can’t bring yourself to move even though you’ve just decided to get up from the couch, only because your fat cat has decided that she needs your belly for a nap.  That’s it human, stop moving!  I need my beauty sleep.

You know you’re a pet owner when …

You have a love-hate relationship with them.  One moment you can’t imagine life without them, the next you’re screaming your head off and threatening to leave them in the middle of nowhere, strangle them, or swap them for a new puppy/kitten.

Life with pets eh?

Anyone looking for a cat or dog?

Email me.

Just kidding.

Am I?

What’s the one thing your pet does that makes you want to throttle them?

ANIMALTALES

A Visit to Wrest Park

It’s been a while since we’ve used our English Heritage membership, but when we visited my in-laws over the half-term break, we finally had the chance to use it.

Wrest Park is a lovely Grade II listed country home in Silsoe Bedfordshire.  The facade actually reminded me a bit of Napoleon’s ostentatious Château de Compiègne in France which we visited a couple of years ago, although of course, not as grand and garish, the gardens though is equally beautiful.

Since it was half-term break, we took little T’s cousin K with us so they could spend more time together.

The girls were not as impressed with the staircase as they were with the painting on the ceiling.

The sitting room, although they really should’ve called this the cherubim room, since you could find them in every corner.  I’m not a big fan of these chubby little angels, so I zoned out when the guide started pointing them out to the girls.  Surprisingly, T turned out to be disinterested in them too.

I found the Victorian conservatory really interesting though, too bad it wasn’t open to the public.

During World War II, Wrest Park was used as a convalescent home for injured soldiers.  I can imagine this was one of the rooms used for their patients.  Can you imagine recuperating in a room with such big windows and lovely views from outside?

The girls of course were itching to go outside.  It was a lovely day and almost felt like Spring has come and so we decided that the day was too beautiful to spend it indoors.

The grounds did not disappoint …

So much to see and do.

After walking for at least an hour, we decided it was time for some lunch at the cafe via the orangery.

The girls went wild inside the empty orangery, running around and shrieking like loonies …

I laughed when I saw these two statues on the facade of building.  They look like they were actually holding their heads as if they have a headache.  I don’t blame them, the girls shrill voices must have done that to them.

It was fun though.

Do visit Wrest Park if you’re in the area.

It’s so worth it.

Country Kids

It’s all Quiet Here

Shh.

The crowd has left, leaving their small-talk and whisperings with them.  It’s all quiet here.  The silence is deafening but comforting too.  I’d like to say I’ve stripped off my mask but there isn’t any thing to remove.  I’m still the same.  I’ve always been the same.  Like I keep saying, if you find it boring here, I’m afraid that’s what it really is like.  I’m not going to feign excitement, or controversy just to be noticed.  It’s too taxing.

I’ve noticed cobwebs forming in corners, I keep meaning to clean them, but keep forgetting, until this afternoon, I finally picked up that duster and dusted away.

Do cobwebs make noise?

It’s amazing how spiders can do such intricate work in silence.  Even the most celebrated author makes noise while typing away their masterpieces, even if they scribbled, in the silence, you would hear the jotting down of a pen or pencil on paper.  With an artist, I can imagine them making noises too as they go about painting their masterpieces, but spiders?  They are quiet creatures aren’t they?  Weaving their circuitous obra maestras in complete silence and then the humans come and ruin them in one swish of their dusters.

Life is brutal.

•••

It’s my daughter’s half-term break next week.  I better not forget to switch off the school-run alarm.  Here’s to lie-ins!  I forget, we are visiting my in-laws.  There goes my lie-ins.  Sigh.

Life is indeed brutal.

Evidence of Spring

I’m cold as soon as I get up in the morning.  I’m missing our warm-terraced house in Bos.  This 400-year-old detached house surrounded by farmland, although lovely, is bloody too cold!  As soon as T is eating breakfast, I dive back into the duvet before jumping out again and helping her get ready for school.  I’ve had enough of this cold weather.  I’m desperate for the warmth and the sun, while summer is far off, I’ll settle for spring.

We had a burst of good weather last Sunday and the husband took this opportunity to chop off the tree that fell a few days ago because of really strong winds last week, although it was cold, I decided to join him and T out for some fresh air.   I also took my camera out to take some photos:

T had fun jumping in her trampoline.  She hasn’t played out here in awhile.

Wearing her current favourite jumper in the world.

I was so pleased to see so much green coming around, a cheery contrast to the drabness of the winter trees.  It made me happy to find spring flowers finally sprouting out in our garden.

And who doesn’t love snowdrops?

As you can see, there’s a snowdrop reunion happening on the side of our house.  Aren’t they the loveliest?

I think spring is slowly creeping in in spite the cold weather.

What’s your favourite spring flower?

I love snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils.

What about you?

Spring: Is it here yet?

I don’t know about other people, but winter, especially after the Christmas madness, I tend to fold-in and turn introspective (Although I’m sure if my husband gets to read this he’ll say “but you’re always introspective Dean!)

Can you blame me?  Coming from a tropical country where it’s warm and sunny everyday, of course, we do get the grey clouds too, especially when it rains, but it never lasts unlike here in England.

The the changing of seasons, while it is beautiful, always has an affect on me.  I try to ride it and just go with the flow, mindful that the greyness and drabness isn’t permanent, that it’s only temporary.  You would think that after almost a decade of living here, I’d be an expert now.  I think though, I’m getting better, my skin is thicker.

And it isn’t really that bad really, while January is awful, here in Cornwall, even though it’s only the first day of February, I can see evidence of spring coming already.  The bulbs are slowly coming up and the days are getting longer.  We no longer drive T to her gymnastics class at 5pm in the dark.

The bright days are coming and the thought of it makes me feel giddy!  The flowers will bloom soon.  The trees will get their leaves in abundance back.  All the colours, different hues will spring everywhere.  What’s not to like?  Are you excited too?

Did Christmas Really Happen?

I know it’s only the second week of the new year and already the Christmas season seems like a thing of the past already – that is so 2016!  Already I have tulips on my mantelpiece already which really makes me happy.  In spite the dreary days and cold weather, dare I say it? I think spring might just be on its way.

Of course, I see evidence that it did happen.  I still have a Christmas tapestry given to me by my in-laws which we put in the landing upstairs, still lying on the floor, waiting to be put away in the box.  I keep forgetting!  And since the weather has been really bad lately, I’ve kept a couple of fairy lights and strung them over our bookcase in the living room.  In the late-afternoon, when it’s really depressing and I’m sitting in our lounge glaring at our fire that won’t work again, I switch the fairy lights on and it cheers me up instantly.  It’s all about the small joys people 😉

And we actually still have what T calls a “chocolate” corner, which really should be a “sweets” corner since we also have candy cane left-overs which we used to decorate the tree with and the chocolate!  There are only  a  few left now, but I sometimes wonder if it’s somehow a “magic” corner, because no matter how little there are left, and no matter how much T and the Historian eats them (they both love sweets), there’s always some left over!

January here in England is not for the faint-hearted.  I think you have to be made of sterner stuff to let it not get to you.  But my skin is getting thicker now, calloused even.  I won’t lie and say it’s not affecting me or my mood, but I’m getting better at this dealing-with-awful-winter-days.  I get on with it, or as my dear mother-in-law once told me “You just plod on”.  So here I am plodding on… get on with January!

What about you?

Are you ready for spring too?

The Story Behind some of our Christmas Decorations

I got this idea of buying a special Christmas tree decoration each year and allowing T to choose it from one of my oldest blogger friend Kate of Did That Just Happen Blog.  She did it with her son who is all grown up now and is in University.  Today she has a Christmas tree filled with wonderful memories!  I love that idea.

We started when T was three-years-old, I wish I had started when she was one.  But better late than never.

This was her first ever special decoration, we got it in a National Trust property where she also met her first Tudor Father Christmas, you can read all about it here.

In 2014, we spent Christmas with my in-laws at Woburn Sands.  While there we visited Frosts Garden centre to specifically choose a special Christmas tree ornament, luckily they were on sale.  T choose a vintage Father Christmas and Christmas Reindeer:

This is made of glass and is very delicate.  I used to decorate our kitchen in the old house, so of course, I also did it this year, especially since it’s the first room you’ll see once you step in our front-door.

I’ve decorated it with a garland and hang some of my glass baubles including the vintage Father Christmas.  Not clear on the photo is the vintage Christmas reindeer seen on the left side.

And of course, also decorated the mantel shelf above the kitchen fire.

Yes, I also have Christmas crockery, some of them were given to me by my lovely in-laws.  They know how much I love anything to do with Christmas.

And this was last year’s special choice:  Mr. and Mrs. Clause kissing.

And this year’s choice was a very sparkly penguin.  T said her Christmas rabbit needed a friend.  She bought that when we picked up our tree from the tree farm and that is why, when you have a small child, it’s impossible to have a “theme” going on in your Christmas tree.  I think all parents with young children have the “everything-and-anything-goes-theme”.

Now for my favourite Christmas tree ornaments:

I have a thing for glass Christmas ornaments, especially baubles.  I blame my mother for this, yes, she loves them too.  I couldn’t sleep last night, so I had the iPad in bed and was browsing through M&S’ website and was drooling over their Christmas decors which were on sale.  I told my husband about it this morning and he laughed and teased me and called it “Dean’s Christmas Porn” and then told me to just buy the blimming baubles, so I went online to purchase them and of course, they’re all gone.  Story of my life.

And I adore this little breakable Father Christmas, also vintage-looking.

I also love this angel ornament which I bought when we visited St. Michael’s mount in Penzance more than a few years ago.  I have this feeling though that it isn’t really a Christmas decoration, but is actually the Archangel Michael who supposedly appeared before local fishermen on the mount in the 5th century.  I don’t really care, I love seeing it up there on our tree.

And then there’s this tacky Christmas fire-guard my husband bought in Trelawney, a garden centre nearby.  There’s a little story attached to this one.  The Historian bought this fireguard not for this house, but for another house which had an open-fire and two wood-burning stoves.  We were supposed to move into it early this year.  We were all packed and about to exchange when the house-sale fell through.  If you’ve been following me for some time now, you  may have just read about the whole fiasco in past posts.

When we moved in our present home, my husband looked at our gas-fire and said, I’m still using that blimming Christmas fire guard  even if you all point and laugh.  To be fair, nobody is pointing and laughing, but yep it’s out and is staying there all through out the Christmas season, whether I have a say or not.

What about you?

Do you do this tradition?  Or have one of your own?

A Country Kid’s Post: Searching for that Special Christmas Tree

For the past five years or so, we’ve been going to one particular Christmas tree farm that’s a bit of a drive away from where we live.  When T wasn’t in school yet, it was easy to go to, since we had all the time in the world to drive to it.  But it’s not so easy now that she’s in school, so when close friends of ours (whom we always go with when picking out a tree) suggested that we go to one that’s within easy drive to us, we readily said yes of course, although admittedly a small part of me was a bit saddened that we weren’t going to our usual place.  When you’re pressed for time, you don’t have much choice do you?

Last Thursday, after picking-up T and her friend from school, two families went to a Christmas tree farm in search of that special Christmas tree.

 It was getting dark, so we had very little time to choose.  In the end though, we chose a slimmer and tall tree.  I wanted something more fuller, but we were losing light, so we had to decide fast.

While this Christmas tree farm was conveniently closer to where we lived, it wasn’t as big as the other one and they also didn’t label their trees.  It was easier to find the kind of Christmas tree you wanted in the old one, where they purposely planted the same kind whether you wanted a Blue Spruce, or a Nordman Fir.  They also had information about each tree up in signs.  As the Cornish would say “a proper job!”.

We couldn’t wait of course and started decorating as soon as we got in.

And here it is, standing tall in our conservatory.  I’m not that pleased with the shape of this tree, I think our most perfect shaped Christmas tree was the one we had last year.

It’s definitely Christmas in our house!  Is it in yours?