vendredi 19 août 2016

The conversion of Ste Laika.

     I have spoken before of the entirely false air of innocence on the face of this deceptive hound. Though very lovable and affectionate, she is strong-willed and disobedient while being walked. Her chief delight is in hunting, she sets up a desperate howling and will chase anything that runs over the horizon. She will then depart on its trail and not return for hours, causing great worry. To avoid the anxiety of the wait, plus the questions over what she might be up to in the interim, we had the custom of only walking her on a long lead.
  We had thought of buying a remote-control training device, but they are quite expensive. However, while at the Hope shop at Lezay, we saw one on sale for a fiver or so, so we snapped it up. This consists of a collar with a couple of electrical contacts to strap on the dog's neck, plus the remote unit to be carried. This allows you to choose between an electric shock, a buzzer or a bleep and has a range of about 200 yards. The idea is that if  Laika bolts and fails to respond to a recall shout, she can be given a reminder of the appropriate intensity.
  However, we had a pleasant surprise, when we got around to trying it out. As soon as the collar was buckled on, Laika's behaviour changed miraculously for the better! She walked quietly to heel, came back instantly when called and in fact behaved so perfectly that I had very little opportunity of trying out our hi-tech purchase. We can only suppose that this is not her first experience of a training collar. Be that as it may, I can now take her out without the bulky long lead reel with confidence in retaining control. It's far less stressful and I think even Laika can enjoy her sniff about, without being tied by the neck. At worst, a bleep on the collar brings her trotting straight back. A most worth-while purchase!

    Bye for now, feeding time for the animals...

jeudi 11 août 2016

Have you got the bottle for it?

   For some time now we have been considering reroofing one of our row of outbuildings on the far side of our courtyard. This building was described as the sheep shed on its meticulously labelled keys, when we bought the house and did contain a manger and two stalls. The roof was insulated by the ingenious method of an extra layer of planks,the gap between filled with straw. However, this held any leaks, and rot has established itself in the beams, causing partial collapse.
  We asked our neighbour, Ian, to help us with the roof, but he was understandably reluctant until the bottles were removed. Shelves had been added by previous owners and filled with an assortment of wine and champagne bottles! its not that they were great drinkers, you understand, but they did collect the grapes from the vine growing along the building and ferment and bottle their own wine, and a few hundred bottles might come in handy... the bottles were empty, or they would never have been left behind after the house sale, of course!
   We have already taken a trailer-load of empties to the tip, but I have half filled the trailer again and there are plenty left, as you can see. Never mind, they will be shifted, bit by bit.

 Bye for now, going to load some bottles...

lundi 8 août 2016

Chase the Wind

  Yesterday, we decided to visit the Wind Fair near Villefagnan. We had done so several years ago and enjoyed it. It celebrates the restored windmill, which is set going for the day, you can take a tour of the tower and see grain being ground and sieved ready to bake bread.
  Besides the usual stalls, there was a
 demonstration of horse-pulled ploughing,several single and double teams pulling the old-fashioned ploughshares, besides the horses there was a pair of Poitou donkeys, though these seemed to be living up to their reputation for obstinacy.
  It was extremely hot in the sun and after a look round, we bought a couple of cans of drink and sat in the marquee, watching the world going round enjoying the fun. Thre was a smartly-dressed man on high stilts and he and his ground-based friend were showing off their juggling skills. Once we had cooled off, we were glad to return home to a cool, thick-walled house for the evening. Still, it was an interesting and entertaining day.
    Bye for now, nearly time to feed the animals.

jeudi 4 août 2016

The water of Life

It's a strange quirk of human nature that you don't appreciate something until it's in short supply, look at diamonds, for example, if they were as common as glass no one would pay vast sums for relatively small stones. I was reminded of  this rather banal thought this morning, when, after a misty start, it came on to rain in earnest and has been tipping down ever since. Kim and I have been looking at the downpour with great approval, as it's the first rain for several weeks and the countryside and garden are absolutely parched . Normally, we would have been disapproving, even feeling hard-done-by if it rained all morning in high summer. Now we approve heartily of this good watering. Mind you, if it carries on more than a few hours we may well revert to our former dislike of rainy weather...
Bye for now, going to check where I've put my raincoat!

dimanche 10 juillet 2016

There is nothing like a Dane

Its true, as the movie South Pacific almost says, that there is nothing like a Dane. We have been finding out the truth of this adage over the last few weeks.
  Kim has had the ambition to own a Dane for many years but we never had the funds or the space to offer one of these impressive dogs a home. I must admit that I had major doubts over whether we could manage such a large hound but as Kim had promised that she would be responsible for walking him together I agreed we could give it a try.
    I must admit that our Great Dane, Rufus, has been far less trouble than I thought, in fact, taking his enormous size into account, he is a very easy dog to manage, even though Kim's broken arm problems prevented her from helping as much as she would have liked at first. He is very affectionate, loves to be made a fuss of, and is devoted to Kim. We acquired an old sofa-bed for him to lie on but he prefers to be nearer us, preferably in between us on our sofa, where he curls up small to fit in. He doesn't chase the cats, gets on well with Laika, doesn't stray if walked off lead, in fact is far less trouble than Laika! People meeting him for the first time are naturally apprehensive of him, but ten minutes with him converts even persons nervous of dogs,he's just so aimiable.
     There are differences between Danes and ordinary dogs however. We were warned by the Dane Rescue association where we found him, that Danes are subject to 'bloat', their digestion is so slow that they mustn't be allowed to bolt their food .
Rufus has a special feed bowl with sort of nubbins incorporated, which force him to eat slowly. The bowl has to be at chest night, we have converted an old metal chair frame for this. He must wait an hour or so after eating before exercising, too. We have done all this and have not had any problems. He is also infected with Leichmaniosis(don't know how to spell this!) as are many dogs from the south, it's a disease spread by sand flies. He takes a pill prescribed for humans for gout and shows no symptoms.
  He does have another habit which I have never known in a dog-- he purrs! It`s true, when he is in his favourite spot on the sofa, curled up between us, he purrs like an enormous cat! His purring is not quite like a cat`s, he makes a sort of low moaning or sighing of contentment that expresses the same emotion as a cat on a lap.So sweet!

   Bye for now, going to sit with our dog.


vendredi 8 juillet 2016

Return from the mountains.

   Well, here we are back home again after our annual trip to the Pyrrenees. It's good to be home, even though we both enjoy our time at Aucun at the Camp des Aines. However, this year things were a little difficult for several reasons.
The first was an unavoidable delay in arrival, as I had a specialist`s appointment at Niort on the day we should have travelled down. We decided to pack the car and go straight on after the appointment . As we had the three dogs and their kit in the van, we had to take the bare minimum of clothes. We would stop for the night just south  of Bordeaux .

   The second difficulty concerned poor Jilly. She had been illa short time before, panting a lot and seeming short of breath. Our vet diagnosed a serious illness, a lymphoma, which was likely to prove fatal in the future but he prescribed some pills to make her more comfortable so we hoped she could enjoy one last trip to the mountains,which she had always enjoyed .
  Sadly, it was not to be. The day was very hot, and Jilly became distressed. We stopped at a rest area where there was some shade so she could rest but she collapsed beside the van and died after a few minutes.....
   We decided to carry her on wth us into the mountains, where we could lay her to rest in peace.
   After this unhappy start, things could only get better and in fact we were able to enjoy our stay as we always do, meeting old friends and making some new ones, too. The weather was a little misty at first, but improved later and we were able to enjoy some notable outings in the dramatic mountain scenery, notable one afternoon at the Col d'Aubique. Of course, neither Kim with her broken arm, nor myself still lacking stamina after my stroke last October, could walk as far as in previous years but we did manage some strolls.
   At the end of Camp, we went on to stay with our friends Arlette and Laurent at Orthez, who lent us a caravan in their garden, where we were most comfortable, besides feeding us like kings!
  Now, we have returned home to the plain, happy to be back and feeling more relaxed after our holiday. I'll post a few more photos when I log back onto the mainframe.
Rufus at the Col d`Aubique.

   Bye for now.
Our home from home at Orthez

lundi 13 juin 2016

An ill fated trip to Lille

On the 26th May, we set out to visit our friends at Lille to celebrate a 90th birthday with a barbecue. We had hesitated to undertake the trip due to the fuel blockade, but had filled the van's tank to the utmost and Patrick had assured us that, even if  there was a problem in reprovisioning in Lille, we could get fuel in Belgium, only a few kilometres away.
  However, things did not go smoothly from the start. Even to reach Poitiers took ages, as the forains were en colere over some grievance and were blocking the motorway. The Police wouldn't let us join the A10 and advised us to go to Chatelleraut by the N10 and take the motorway after that.

 Arrived there, and decided to have some lunch at the service area before taking the motorway. As we made our way to the restaurant, Kim tripped on a curb and fell heavily, landing on her right arm. She couldn't get up for a few moments, then we were assisted by the very kind people from the services, who helped us into the restaurant area. They wanted to send for the Pompiers and get us sent to Tours hospital but Kim felt she would be OK after a rest and we ate a snack. But it was clear to her that she had damaged the wrist, but we decided to continue to Lille and ask Cecile to take her to hospital there for an X-ray and treatment, as Cecile is a Nurse and would know the routine. So that was what we did, although C took her to Roubaix hospital, where her contacts smuggled her in the back door for VIP treatment!
  After a very pleasant weekend and a barbecue neatly fitted in between the rain showers, we returned  home with Kim's arm plastered and in a sling, so it's just as well I can drive again...after a couple of weeks, the plaster has been changed for a lighter resin one, but Kim's arm is still very painful needing lots of painkillers, which make her sleepy. You can see, therefore, why at first she couldn't walk her Dane as promised but lately she has been able to accompany me as we walk the dogs off to the leash on quiet paths.

Papy Julien lights his candles
Bye for now, phone's ringing!
The barbecue is lit