Thursday, 25 February 2016

A house feels like a home with a dog

terrier dog
My terrier rescue dog

My first friend growing up was a dog - Spud. A collie that looked more like a fox with his burnt orange coat and bushy tail, I must share some pictures of him one day and he deserves a post of his own for there is so much to say about my childhood dog. We have always had dogs as a family, I've grown up with daily walks to the park, learning how to care for them and been through many sad times too.  

Suffice to say that as an adult I've had pet dogs too, with the first being an unexpected 17 year old collie that came into my life through the sad circumstances of her elderly owner passing away. Fen was an energetic dog for her grand age in dog years and for a couple of years she enjoyed her walks until she got older and a bit confused. Her last year was spent truly retiring and I was devastated when it all got too much for her.

dogs on the sofa
sofa snoozing
We carried on rescuing older dogs and for their shorter stay with us relatively speaking they become our world and complete the home. My son adores them and with his communication difficulties he gets a lot of joy from spending time with them where words do not matter and he laughs at their antics of which there are plenty. When he is upset, a nuzzle and a snuggle with a wag of the tail can often cheer him up.

My older dog, my lady, had a growth on her paw a few years back that turned out to be malignant but luckily we had dog insurance and she had an operation to remove a toe. The veterinary care was amazing but of course expensive so we were glad she had cover for all the tests for the pre-op and for testing the growth afterwards. A few weeks with a pink bandage, some hobbling and she was well recovered. Today she is as nimble as ever despite missing a digit, especially when our terrier starts barking and she joins in too, it's like she is the 7 year old I took home from Cheshire Dogs Home. These days she likes a lot of sleep and her face is really greying, so she has extra special cuddles and gets wrapped up in blankets at night to keep her warm. 

Our terrier has had a couple of minor problems like sickness and spraining his leg from his jumping in and out of the window, barking at the post lady and certain dogs that pass by the house. Some days he gets so wired that I find myself telling him to shush all day long, he's a terrier through and through - persistent, feisty and a naughty run away

Argos Pet Insurance contacted me to discuss their insurance for dogs which covers older dogs too and as they say help when they're paw-ly which was particularly appropriate in my girl's case. 
dog in the garden
My girl enjoying the spring garden
I absolutely can't wait for spring again as both dogs love spending time in the garden, especially my lady (above) who likes to warm herself on the patio and watch the bees buzz by and listen to the sounds of the neighbourhood. It's very comforting having dogs around the house, you never feel alone and their pitter pattering of paws is a noise that means home to me. Plus there is no welcome home like that of a dogs, even if you've only popped out for half an hour! 

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Signs of spring: Blue tit in the garden

blue tit Happily chinking the china in the sink as I washed the morning's dishes, I was accompanied by the sound of a melodic chirping from beyond the open back door. With blue skies and a sun with impending spring warmth I saw the neighbour starting the gardening again after the winter's break, the gentle rays encouraging folk out to clear away the brash from borders and prune overgrown shrubbery. Could he hear it too?

Up in the budding rowan tree is a small bird with a powder blue cap and a breast like the yellow daffodils starting to bloom already. The Blue Tit, an urban garden favourite and famous for its nostalgic cheeky piercing of the foil on milk bottles.

Nimbly its head bobs about and agile feet perch on branches with upside down acrobatic antics to match squirrels on the peanut bird feeders. This is the start of the breeding year for Tom Titmouse as he is colloquially known, an old Norse derivative for diminutive creatures. 

It's time to give the birds a little help, keeping the food and fresh water supply and also this week is time to put up nest boxes for the future generations of garden birds. It's worth a little research into this as quite often ones you see for sale are unsuitable and more decorative rather than practical or birds. Hardwood is best for insulation, 19mm thick and make sure it's located out of the way of predators and that the entrance hole is not facing the prevailing wind or strong sunlight. Lots of information can be found with the BTO and you can register to take part in the Nest Box Challenge, something we will do as part of our home education nature learning.
blue tit spring bird feeder blue tit on branch Cyanistes caeruleus garden blue tit


Monday, 15 February 2016

It may be cold outside.....

happy home in winter...and the weather was indeed bracing today but inside we are cosy and enjoying the comfort of being at home. With spring on the horizon I have been looking at the winter so far and how I've enjoyed the season. As part of my winter fun I had a super Fujifilm Instant camera from Ocean Loans to capture the homeliness of the cold season. 

There has been a lack of snow but that hasn't stopped me thinking of sledging and snowball throwing and we've had a lot of wintry books on show to look at over a cuppa. I put some on the mantelpiece as part of a little seasonal display.
cosy by the fireplace The wood-burner has kept us all, dogs included, very snug over winter. In fact the dogs do hog the sofa and the fluffy throws a bit too much as you can see. A typical scene from our home with the logs piled up and stacks of kindling, ready to roar away and mesmerise us into afternoon naps. I have my books here too, so it is a perfect nook to hide away in.

As it has been a little bit spring-like for January and February I've been buying early bunches of daffodils for the mantelpiece to mix in with the snowflake decorations and glitter twigs - I've even kept my Swedish star Christmas decoration up for the rest of winter.....well you need a bit of glow until the lighter evenings return!

So that's my little bit of winter home and now I am welcoming the return of spring with planting up window boxes full of daffodils and sowing seeds. It's been another strange mild winter and I've missed frosty mornings and their photo opportunities. We had one snowy day and we had to go up into the Derbyshire hills for that so maybe that's it for snow this year but never mind I am ready for some sunshine now.
winter mantlepiece
I received a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 from Ocean Loans for the purposes of this blog post.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Mow Cop Castle

Mow Cop Castle

So the start of February has been just as inspiring weather-wise as January with rainy, blustery days that change plans and put a frown on my face. Saturday was no exception with a blanket of grey boring rain cloud casting a bleak look on our snowdrop walk and changing plans that involved the leisure centre instead.

On the way home I felt we must go and see something since 1970's council architecture hadn't quite fulfilled the need of some weekend interest, so we took a detour from Congleton up the low gear climb of the Killer Mile to the top of Mow Cop.

Your prize for reaching the gritstone outcrop is a look at the curious folly of Mow Cop Castle, built in the mid 18th century as a summer house for Randle Wilbraham I of nearby Rode Hall.

Of course this wasn't the day for closer inspection and as much as the romantic ruin enticed us, we weren't going to get soaked. Instead I hung one arm out of the car with the camera and we stopped in the car park to admire this mock creation.

One for sunnier days to soak up the 360 degree view across Staffordshire and Cheshire, followed by walk across the heathland and quarried rocks that have many stories to tell of Primitive Methodist camp meetings and Georgian picnics. 

Sunday Snap

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Cheshire boat marina

Cheshire boat marina We have driven past the entrance to the boat marina so many times but never ventured in but on a cloudy, wet day just ambling around the area, we thought we would take a look. LB loves boats so it was worth stopping off at to see the rows of pretty canal boats.

There's a cafe/restaurant here that is useful to know for the future as it seems a nice relaxed location just off the Shropshire Union Canal for us to come for lunch one day in the spring/summer when we can sit on the terrace and enjoy the view. 

I love finding these little secret places in my local area when we have our quick trips out, we get so used to travelling further afield that we often forget what's on our doorstep.
The Gallery Aqueduct Cheshire Church Minshull boat marina Aqueduct Marina Church Minshull Cheshire canal boats at the marina

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Snowy church

Christ Church Burbage Twilight softly descending on a snowy landscape and finding a church equals an instant solemn atmosphere. A silent place made all the more still and whispering by the blanket of snow. Heaped against tombstones and cloaking angels against the chill, making pathways through tree arched holloways that seemed a shame to disturb with my footprints. How those stark branches reached both for me and the tops of memorials, a scene of contrasts - all of us black ink on crisp white paper.

Christ Church, Burbage up near Buxton and certainly no stranger to a cold blast during the winter and early spring. A Victorian build and one I'll be back to in August for their Clypping Ceremony custom where the congregation link hands around the church. The village of Burbage has a brass band that regularly plays here and it looks to be a friendly place with great community spirit. The snowy view and the feeling of solitude is a beautiful feeling. A canvas for deep thoughts and to feel as spirited as the eddying snowflakes.
view from Christ Church, Burbage snow angel churchyard snow snowy churchyard path

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Home improvements that really add value

According to a recent survey, 40 per cent of people undertake renovations to improve the look of their home, while 33 per cent do it to add value*.

As house prices continue to rise, home improvements are a top choice for British families. The research revealed that aesthetic alterations (47%) and redecorating rooms (46%) were two top priorities for home owners looking to add value to their home.

So, if you’re looking to refresh your home with a new look that will add value to your home, there is one very effective solution that will make a real difference…upgrading your stairs.

hallway ideas
The hallway is one area where simple changes can have a big impact. Replacing the stairparts can create a stylish centrepiece and that all important ‘wow’ factor when you walk through the door… and better still it’s easier and more cost effective than you might think.

When selecting the type of wood for your staircase, consider the materials that have been used elsewhere in your home. For example, white oak is a popular choice for flooring, doors and kitchens, so if this is used in other other areas of your home, continue the theme throughout, by selecting the same wood for the stairparts. Such attention to detail creates consistency, resulting in a unified look and feel.

When it comes to fitting pre-drilled handrail and baserail systems with pre-cut spindles make installation easy, while ready to finish stairparts mean there is no need to wait for paint or varnish to dry, saving time, while minimising mess and disruption.

Classy stair handrail
The Elements with Glass range from Richard Burbidge features striking glass infill panels reflect light and will make your hallway appear more spacious and light. Exuding luxury, the Elements range offers an affordable way to make a real style statement, creating a stunning centrepiece in your home.

Available in white oak it is supplied with gun-metal connectors or fittings, and is also available with a choice of solid metal spindles.

Upgrading stairparts is one of the easiest ways to add perceived value, and will make a big difference to the look and feel of your home. For more DIY inspiration and to see the wide range of stairpart styles available from Richard Burbidge, please visit

*Lloyds Bank
Images from Richard Burbidge