Showing posts with label Dogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dogs. Show all posts

Saturday 29 September 2018

Dog Mattress

Gosh I've been away a long time. I've been crazy busy on a non-crafting project, which has slowed down progress on absolutely everything else in my life. But it's finished. Hurrah! It's over, and I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. It's a long story, but it's finally done and dusted, and I'm really excited about moving on to other things.

One super-quick sew that I have managed to knock out was this little mattress for the dog's bed. I measured the exact size that would fit inside his basket, added a 3 cm seam allowance all round, as I was planning on sewing in a very thick wadding, and quickly cut up some fleece that I'd bought in ages ago.

Friday 2 June 2017

Just chilling in sunny Sant Feliu ...

This past couple of days I've been chilling, enjoying the (unusual for me) sensation of having nothing much to do. All my deadlines have passed. All my work is done - for now, and it's been a real treat to head out on my bike, to enjoy the wind in my hair and the open road rising up before me.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

Of course I've had the WonderDog strung over my handlebars. There's no leaving him behind. Mr B recently bought me an amazing handbag contraption that allows him to sit on the front of my bike. I was a bit worried about how him freaking out, but he's taken to our new mode of transport with real aplomb. Anything is better than being left behind, and in this hot weather I think he enjoys the sensation of the wind in his fur as we bomb along.

Max the WonderDog

My bike is an ancient bone-shaker, and I'm usually the one bringing up the rear of the cycle party, but that's just fine with the WonderDog who doesn't like going too fast over the bumpy bits. I'm not going to win the yellow jersey if the Tour de France veers south, but I can say, hand on heart, that I really couldn't care less about winning the speed trials. I'm just there for the fun of it.

Bonny Bonafilla, Costa Brava Knitting
Bonny & Max

Young Emi is busy with sailing, windsurfing and tennis, so I've got loads of time to wander around and take random photos of things that catch my eye.  And, as is always the case in this beautiful part of God's good earth, there are lots of things catching my eye - like this amazing cactus flower:

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
The perfect orange of a cactus flower, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

I'm not mad about cactuses ... until they flower. And then their flowers never fail to delight.

Or how about this weirdly monochromatic butterfly? He's probably a moth.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
Hanging out with the wildlife, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

Although this chap below is the real deal. There were dozens of these little guys enjoying the wild sedum flowers growing on the sea cliffs as we chuffed past.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
Hanging out with the wildlife, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

And the contorted shapes of the Costa Brava pine trees are always guaranteed to catch my eye. 

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
Cami de Ronda, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

And then there's our sensational village beach, where windsurfers and sailors swish past, and old men meet on the benches to gossip and play petanca in the shade of the plane trees.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
The village beach, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

The herring gulls are everywhere, and they never seem to stop chattering to one another. There's a constant barrage of noise from them. We've got a mother and chick team nesting in our garden, who take great exception to anyone trying to use their swimming pool. They dive bomb us every time we venture out, and we are all in terror of their vicious beaks.

Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava
Herring gull, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Costa Brava

Anyway that's it for me for now. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend.

Bonny x

Sunday 7 August 2016

Costa Brava sunflowers ...

We've made it! We're finally here on the Costa Brava! And it's hot. Very hot!

Emi goes to sailing school down on the beach every morning. He's made stacks of new friends and totally L-O-V-E-S being on the water. He's only had a week of instruction so far, but has taken to having a critical opinion of the wind every time we venture out. His great grandfather was in the Spanish Merchant Navy, so Mr B has been encouraging him to believe that he comes from a long and illustrious line of seafaring folk. The big joke is that their home village down in Murcia, a place called Águilas, has a big sign just outside of town announcing that it was once home to a notorious band of Barbary pirates ... enough said, Mr B!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Before and after ...

Maxi, the WonderDog, has been sporting uncharacteristically long hair recently. Given his Easter trip up to the snowy mountains of Andorra I didn't have the heart to trim his furry pyjamas in case he caught a chill, so he's been looking like a bit of a hippy.

Monday 4 April 2016

Spring is springing ...

Here, on the sunny Costa Brava, Spring arrives a little earlier than it does back in London. And there are already lots of signs that things are heading in the right direction. In the evenings, after the day's work is done, there are more and more people taking a stroll across the sand on the village beach.

The South Wind, the Migjorn, has been blowing in from the sea bringing us foggy mornings and sunny afternoons, and carrying with it the promise of warmer summer days to come. Hurrah!

Friday 1 April 2016

April Fool ...

Happy April Fool's Day!

Has anyone caught you yet?

I played a joke on Emi and Mr B yesterday afternoon. The WonderDog and I had gone off on a little saunter over the cliff so that he could attend to his afternoon toilet business. Such jaunts are commonly referred to here in Talk-a-Lot-Towers as Pooh Patrol, and we've even got a ridiculous little song we sing about going on Po-o-o-oh Patrol. The WonderDog, who is clearly a connoisseur of fine music, always recognises the opening bars of the song (as distinct from all the other silly songs we've made up) and gets himself ready at the door for the off.

Anyway, I digress. After our jaunt over the cliffs I came in clutching one of the WonderDog's pooh bags, that was bursting, absolutely full to capacity. It looked as though I'd been picking up after a bull elephant who'd spent the last fortnight with an intestinal blockage that had only been released that very afternoon.

Look what Maxi did! I said, holding my trophy aloft.

They looked at me ashen-faced. How could such a small dog produce such a huge quantity of poop?

And then Emi asked me to show him the contents ...

Well, the game was up. I'd filled it full of pine cones for lighting the fire. When it gets cold of an evening we like to have a fire in the sitting room, and the dried pine cones from those lovely Costa Brava pine trees, are the prefect things to get the flames started. And then, once it's going, they give out a lovely fresh pine fragrance that's become the very smell of home.

Still, my ruse was good while it lasted.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Thursday 31 March 2016

The joy of reading ... when you're 10

We're having some very strange weather here in (usually) sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols. Our early mornings are foggy with strange, dense mists blowing in from the sea. They burn off as the day goes on, but every morning when I open my shutters I find myself staring out into a real pea souper. It appeals to my inner sense of drama, and makes me wonder what mysteries might be concealed behind that wall of white ...

And during those foggy mornings, when he can't go out exploring with his faithful hound, young Emi has been spending his time reading this wonderful book, One dog and his boy, by Eva Ibbotson. It's a great tale of derring do, about one boy's battle with his over-bearing parents to keep a little dog called Fleck.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Think invisible ... be invisible ...

When the Wonderdog doesn’t want to do something, he’s got a sneaky habit of disappearing. Sometimes it works, but other times it doesn't ...

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Bonny x

Monday 21 December 2015

Home for the holidays ...

We've made it back home to beautiful County Tyrone for the Christmas holidays. And we're so grateful to have arrived safely. We had an epic ferry crossing from Holyhead to Dublin in really rough seas, which made us feel relieved to disembark and stand on terra firma without the horizon moving around chaotically with the rise and fall of the waves.

This morning the sun shone, and we rounded up the dogs for a walk around White Ness. It's actually called the White Lough, but Emi always refers to it as White Ness in the hope that one day it'll have its very own resident monster - just like Lough Ness in Scotland. Hope springs eternal  when you're ten years old.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Osterley Park's 7 swans a-swimming ...

I'm almost there ... I've almost got everything sorted for Christmas. It's been busy, but I feel as though I'm finally cantering up the home straight. Emi's been off on his Christmas holidays for a week now, and together we've got everything sorted from last-minute presents and Christmas cards, to hair-cuts and dental appointments.

And, powered-on by this new and relaxed sense of completion, we took the Wonder Dog for a gallop round Osterley Park this morning, where we met this lovely chap:

Thursday 1 October 2015

Hello October ...

We've been cooped up for far too long, the Wonderdog and I. I've been crazy busy with work for several days now, tied to my computer and unable to go outside and enjoy this lovely late summer/ early autumn weather. Sadly the weathermen are telling us that after today we're in for a change, so we seized the initiative this morning and headed out into the elements to embrace the season.

Wednesday 26 August 2015

First thing in the morning/ last thing at night dog walks ...

The Wonder Dog is always sitting with his paws crossed first thing in the morning and last thing at night, so my day tends to start and finish with a stroll to give him a chance to do what all well trained dogs wait to do outside ... .

Here in sunny Sant Feliu de Guixols on Spain's Costa Brava we live just above the harbour, which is where I usually take him on these outings. I'm a lousy sailor, but I love the idea of messing around on boats, so the harbour always draws me in. Added to which there's something very special about how the sunlight plays across the water in the early morning and late in the evening. It gives me a real sense of a beginning and an ending, which neatly bookends my day.

Our village fishing fleet includes some pretty big boats, and some not-quite-so-much-to-boast-about boats.  I'd really rather not put to sea in this little barcito. To my landlubber's eye it looks like a floating bathtub.

Yesterday I had to go to Figueres, where I stopped off to see my old friend Dalí. Did you know that he's actually buried in his museum up there? Weird! Anyway, I digress. All this Dali-in-the-sun stuff and these boats in dry dock (below) were starting to remind me of his long-legged elephants. Does anyone else see it? No, just me, eh? Ahem, I think I can hear the men in plimsols and white coats pulling up outside ... .

On our way we pass a bank covered with the most wonderful purple Morning Glory, which is strictly off limits to the Wonder Dog for any leg-lifting type activities. 

Yesterday in the late afternoon there was scarcely a breath of wind. The sea was like a mirror and, as the shadows lengthened, the reflections were perfect.

Emi came along and did a lot of talking about how he'd really like to learn how to fish. This was his Spanish side talking. When you go to the beach out here with a bucket and spade none of the other children are very interested, but should you chance to bring a half-decent fishing net you'll be the toast of the shoreline and everyone will want to take a turn at trying to catch something. 

We walked past some children who were armed with rods, nets and a catering size mayonnaise tub in which they were keeping this little chap. He doesn't look like he'd be much of a dinner for anyone. Emi was full of admiration. I just hoped they'd gently toss him in again. 

On warm, balmy evenings like this it's hard to believe that September is just around the corner, bringing with it a return to school and all our usual routines. I so don't want summer to end. 

But already this place is emptying out a little. There's a gentle, but perceptible drift back to work and the city. It's getting easier to find a space to park in town, and there aren't quite so many people stretched out enjoying the rays on the beach during the heat of the day.

We still have a healthy population of seagulls for company. They're a raucous bunch. They all congregate on certain blocks of the breakwater, leaving other blocks totally empty. I think they're having a bit of a gossip, catching up on each other's news and just generally chewing the fat.

And then, on our way home, we walk past the scary chap below.  I know it's not a good thing to draw on other people's walls, and I really shouldn't encourage that type of behaviour - especially if young Emi is anywhere within earshot, or reading over my shoulder. But you have to admit this little guy is rather charming in all his naive simplicity, and the wall that he adorns did look a bit cheerless before he showed up.

Anyway, look who's trashed the sofa and is demanding another walk ... and he's a very hard chap to say no to. 

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Sunday 26 July 2015

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon ...

The other day we were keen to go exploring, but the weather didn't look great and, having got a good soaking on our supposedly rain-proof trip to the Levant Mine in Cornwall, we wanted to play things safe and not stray too far from home. So we decided to mosey on down the road to the pretty little village of Sticklepath, not far from Okehampton in Devon.

My father's grandfather (my great grandfather) was a blacksmith back in Ireland, so my father was interested to see the last working water-powered forge in England. And it proved to be a thing of wonder, which was way above and beyond anything that my ancestor ever operated.

Finch Foundry, Sticklepath, Devon

Thursday 4 September 2014

Stowe House Gardens

 A couple of weeks' ago, Emi and I had a big day out with my very, very dear friend Jenny who was celebrating her birthday. We decided to head out of the Big Smoke to somewhere that none of us had ever been to before. As we had Maxi-the-wonder-dog in tow, we needed a canine-friendly destination. In the end we hit upon the idea of going to Stowe House Gardens in Buckinghamshire, one time home of the Dukes of Buckingham.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

And there we took a trip back in time to the days when the sun never set on the British Empire and every wannabe aristo had to go on the Grand Tour to have their tastes and ideas refined and polished to shine in polite society. Stowe was built on a truly imperial scale, and has over the years played host to many movers and shakers who lived their lives in an imperial fashion.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Tsar Alexander I came here for a visit in 1810. Then in 1814 the Grand Duke Michael, his brother came and had a look around. They both liked it so much that in 1818 the Grand Duke Nicholas, who later became Tsar Nicholas I came for a look-see as well.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Can you imagine what it must have been like in those days at Stow, hosting the Imperial family of All the Russians? I imagine the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, as he became in 1820 when the title was created, went to quite some lengths to make sure that no one (or at least no one imperial) was allowed to get bored. 

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

The Duke's name, when he started out in life had been a breath-taking Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, which was a bit fancy-pants even by the standards of his day. What had happened you see was that the male heirs in the family had developed a strong penchant for marrying wealthy, titled heiresses. Each son then wanted to honour (or show off) his impeccable maternal lineage by adopting his mother's surname along with those of his father. And all those hyphens soon added up to an imperial ship-load of money in the family coffers.

Today I'd find it difficult to take someone seriously who insisted on using such a multi-hyphenated moniker, but old Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville didn't seem to reckon on encountering such cynicism as mine. In fact he himself added the -Brydges-Chandos- bit by royal warrant in 1799. Maybe it gave him something to talk about ... I say, old chap, do you know that I've got more surnames than anyone else in England ...  . Although he was commonly known as Lord Grenville's fat nephew, and Ph D, which was said to stand for phat duke and the gros Marquis, which would suggest that he may not have been the most svelte, dynamic man in England at the time.

Perhaps it was his amazing garden that did it, because the Great and the Good came in their droves to visit old Dickie Whatshisname.

Of all the follies and temples in the gardens my personal favourite is this gothic temple, reflecting my own strong preference for the irregularity and chaos of the gothic over the perfect symmetry and order of the classical. Jenny agreed. In fact it was the thing that both of us were most strongly drawn to when we first looked around the park. We spotted it in the distance and agreed that we'd have to bend our steps towards the church, but of course, silly us, it wasn't anything so prosaic and everyday as a simple church: it was a folly dressed up as a gothic temple.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Isn't it amazing? We thought it would make a great venue for a stonking Halloween party. 

But anyway, back to old Dickie Whatshisname: he followed in the family tradition and hooked himself Lady Anne Brydges, a very grand heiress, as his wife. Lady Anne could trace her bloodline back to the Plantagenet Kings of England. As a consequence, when they had a son and heir, he added the surname Plantagenet to his list of monikers, even though none of his Plantagenet relations seemed to have done so since they were Kings of England.  And he was known as ... wait for it ... <drum roll> ... Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Young Richard thingy-thingy-whathisname made quite a splash in society for two not-so-great reasons. He bagged himself the requisite grand heiress (Lady Mary Campbell - and there are strictly no prizes for guessing which extra surname his child and heir added to the ever-increasing list of family names) but then he decided that he'd made a terrible mistake and - shock, horror - he divorced her. So? No big deal, you may well say and today, by the standards of our age, I'd have to agree with you. People get divorced all the time these days and it's really not a biggie, but way back then, believe me, it was a huge biggie. No one got divorced - unless they were Henry VIII. And if you weren't Henry VIII, but were still hell-bent on being the exception to the rule, you'd need nothing less than an Act of Parliament to pull it off. And that's exactly what young Richard thingy-thingy-whatshisname did. He got himself an Act of Parliament divorce from Lady Mary in 1850. 

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

Financial difficulties may have added to his marriage problems. You see, despite having inherited riches that would have made even Croesus feel a little light in the bank-account department, young Richard thingy-thingy-whathisname was declared bankrupt in 1847 with debts totalling over £1 million. Now wait up: in today's money that would add up to well over a staggering £100 million. In addition to all the other names he'd accumulated he was known thereafter as the greatest debtor in the world. Embarrassed by all the attention from his not-so-friendly creditors he wisely took himself off to live abroad in August 1847.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

His bankruptcy prompted the most prominent English country house auction of the century when Christies set up shop in the State Dining room at Stowe and sold off all the family silver, art, fine furniture, assorted knick-knacks, over 21,000 bottles of wine and 500 bottles of spirits. The auction started on 15th August 1848 and lasted until 7th October 1848. Unfortunately it only raised £75,400, which was a drop in the ocean given how much was owed. So they also had to sell off the family's London home, a little place on the other side of Pall Mall that went by the name of Buckingham House. And some 36,000 acres of land that the family owned on their estates in Ireland, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Cornwall, Hampshire and Somerset also had to go under the hammer.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

But they did manage to hold onto Stowe and its magnificent gardens. 

The second duke died a broken man in the Great Western Hotel, Paddington in 1861 and his son, Richard Plantagenet Cambell Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville inherited what was left of his estate and became the third (and last) Duke of Buckingham. Sensibly, in order to save ink, he usually operated under the name Richard Temple-Grenville. He didn't have a male heir, so the title became extinct on his death.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

By the Third Duke's time the estate had contracted dramatically and the glory days of the family were over. The grounds, which had previously been attended to by a staff of 40, were now managed by a staff of 4, and I'm guessing that those 4 gardeners lived hectic busy lives trying to keep this place in order. 

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

The gardens are amazing, truly amazing. But for me, personally, they're just a bit too grand, rather like all those surplus surnames hanging on a chain of hyphens. 

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

It's true that around every corner there is a stunning view as though the eighteenth century gardeners who laid them out had the modern-day obsession with landscape photography in mind when they went to work.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

There's a Temple of British Worthies, designed by William Kent, which celebrates the very best that these isles have produced in terms of human achievement. On the left are the men of contemplation and learning: writers, scholars and scientists, and on the right are the men of action: monarchs, warriors and statesmen. Above them all, in the alcove at the top, is Mercury.

Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England

And here they are, the selected British worthies: 
Stowe House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, England
The worthies: top row left to right: Sir Thomas Gresham, Alexander Pope, Ignatius Jones and John Milton.
Second row from the top, left to right: William Shakespeare, John Locke,  Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Francis Bacon.
Third row from the top, left to right: King Alfred, Edward, Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth I and King William III.
Bottom row, left to right: Sir Francis Drake,  John Hampden, John Barnard and Sir Walter Raleigh.

I suppose if you were the Duke of Buckingham, wandering around your rolling acres with a different, perfect vista to look at in every direction and the very best of British Worthies for company, you might well become complacent and introverted to the point where you obsessed on names and honours rather than the changing world around you. Whatever the way of it, there's a salutary lesson there for everyone, even us lesser mortals who don't have so many rolling acres or surnames to count.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

(As shared on Friday Finds and Image-in-ing)

And if you're looking for inspiration for a day out of London how about:

or Tresco Abbey

or a quiet stroll on Dartmoor