The New Dog

New Dog

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will recognise some of these photos. The photo above is of our New Dog.

We have a new dog because we lost our 4.5 year old Lurcher a couple of months ago. Her story is here and I still get upset when I think about it. Our other dog, still referred to on this blog as The Puppy, even though he’s now almost three, became very depressed without any doggy company. The Lurcher had been there for him when he came home with us at 9 weeks of age and he missed her.

She wasn’t a great role model for him. She made sure he knew she was the Boss and beat him up on occasion. But they would lie quietly together after a walk, race around the garden every morning and play bitey face when The Puppy fancied a game but the The Lurcher couldn’t be arsed getting off the sofa. Sadly, he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her, and it kills me to think that on some level he is still waiting for her to come back.

But anyhow, once she’d died we knew we needed to get The Puppy a new companion sooner than later. He didn’t want to walk, he didn’t want to play and he was off his food. I started taking him around to visit some rescue dogs, mainly bitches, as we’d always had a boy and a girl.  We didn’t really want a puppy as they are such hard work, but did look at a couple. Some dogs he ignored, some he played with for a bit, but we didn’t meet anything he really gelled with. Then one day I was making plans to go and see a few dogs fostered by Heathlands Animal Sanctuary when the lady I was speaking to said I should come and see her foster dog.

She had had him for three months; he was from the Irish Pounds and they had no history on him. He was cat and child friendly and she adored him and would have kept him herself if her circumstances had been different. He was on the way to one of the other dogs, so we agreed to stop and see him. The Puppy and The New Dog hit it off straight away and played together for over an hour. The Puppy obviously prefers boys! This makes sense as most of the dogs he has a really good play with on his walks are males.

Once we’d reserved the New Dog, we had to wait a few days before we collect him, but a month ago today he came home to us. That night he was very busy and didn’t lie down until 11pm. I wondered if I had done the wrong thing!

He’s very different from The Lurcher. He comes back when you call him, for one thing. He’s very busy and is always up for a game or a walk. We have started agility with him and our neighbour borrows him a few times a week to play with their young chocolate lab which tires both of them out a bit. We’ve had no toilet training accidents and he goes into his crate at 10-11pm and comes back out at 7-8am, so that’s perfect for us.

The Puppy is much happier with another dog around. He’s more relaxed and they both go off bounding into the woods together on our walks. They don’t play 24/7 but there is more interaction between them than there was between The Puppy and The Lurcher. In fact The Puppy seems to be much calmer in and out of the house with The New Dog around.

The New Dog has got a big bark on him, and the neighbours have ‘commented’ that they have heard barking, but that has settled down a lot. Now the kids are back at school, we can get into a better routine, which I think will settle him even more. And he’s becoming a lot more affectionate with us; the last couple of nights he’s come over for a snuggle before putting himself to bed.

We have no idea what breed he is, but there is a Doggy DNA test being done to find out. My bet is on a Beagle cross- maybe with a Collie or German Shepherd. Other people have said they think he might be part Husky but we’ll have to wait and see. Have a guess if you want to. He’s Labrador sized with a similar type of coat, has hound like bark and likes to put his nose down, if that helps any.

The New Dog has fit in very well with our family and we are glad we adopted him. No matter what his breed is, he’s been a good choice for us and we hope he’s happy with us as his family too.

Holding paws

The Gallery: Spring

In our house, spring usually means two things. Cherry tree blossoms and opening our swimming pool.

Sadly, neither of these things has happened this year. Yet.

There are blossoms on some of the trees down our street, but the trees with the really big flowers that rain down petals on you when you shake the branches, are not yet at the blossom snow stage.

Blossom snow

We walked past the tree in the photo above today and found only buds. But give it a week or two and it’ll be ripe for shaking.

If this current spell of niceish weather persists we’ll also have our pool open at about the same time.

Swimming Pool

Yes, we live in the UK and have an outdoor pool in our garden. It’s quite old and we’ve had to replace and repair quite a few bits since we bought it along with the house. We have an automatic safety cover on it so we don’t have to worry about anyone falling in accidentally, and the cover keeps the water clean as well.

We keep the water temperature quite warm and usually swim from Easter to October. We keep saying that one winter we are going to heat it up for Christmas Day and take a dip.

This Easter, we’ve been waiting for some work to be done on the boiler. It turns out that it’s more complicated than the pool boiler repair guys initially thought but it’s almost sorted now.

And once it’s done, there will be no keeping the kids out.

Spring will have really arrived.

This post was written in response to this week’s Gallery theme over at Sticky Fingers.



Royal Parks Treasure Trail Review

We discovered Treasure Trails last November and I’ve been hanging out for the weather to improve enough to do another one. It’s been such a long, gloomy winter that I’d forgotten all about them.

But on Easter Monday, I was thoroughly sick of chocolate and sitting around indoors and was racking my brain for something to do with four kids aged 7-13 when I remembered how much fun we’d had doing a Treasure Trail last year. The beauty of them is that they are engaging for a wide variety of ages.

I spent 10 minutes perusing the list of trails in Greater London and the Royal Parks of London Trail caught my eye. We all love Hyde and Kensington Parks but tend to always go to the same places; this trail looked a great way of showing us some different parts of these parks.

Planning in front of the Albert Memorial

Standard Treasure Trails are all £6.99 to download and you can print out multiple copies of instructions so everyone can have their own. I suggest you print out one extra as someone always loses or defaces theirs.

Our kids are going through a bit of a sluggish stage and they weren’t that thrilled with the idea of going into London and walking around the Parks, so I made sure I blanked out the bit at the front that stated the length of the trail ( 5 miles) and expected duration ( 3 hours). When they asked, I lied and halved the time but I’d failed to black out this information further inside the booklet and there was a small revolution from my offspring on the Metropolitan Line. In the end I promised them ice cream if they completed the trail. I know it’s not a great way to parent but I needed to get these kids out of the house.

Anyhow, my children’s lack of enthusiasm wasn’t the Treasure Trail’s teams fault. The Royal Parks Trail  is presented as a murder mystery with a number of different suspects and murder weapons. Each location you find gives you clues which help you eliminate someone or something and at the end of the trail you are left with one suspect and one murder weapon.

The kids may have been slow to warm up but thanks to the sometimes tricky, often amusing clues that drew us from one part of the park to the next, they were soon running ahead and scouting the horizon for the next clue.

It did take us 7 hours in the end but that was because  every location had to be run around, climbed over and explored. We spent almost an hour by the Diana memorial and the two little kids sat down in it.

wet clothes after Diana memorial

I had to strip off their soaking trousers and they spent a couple of hours running around Kensington Park with bare legs which earned us some very odd looks.

We also stopped for lunch, then ice creams half way around and then I had to thwart a sit down protest with 8 clues to go. We had to text for one clue as we overshot the location and the kids refused to go back. And we found the last clue before the second to last one but it didn’t matter in the end.

What mattered was that we pulled it together and finished the trail. This is the moment that we found the last clue and DD1 solved the mystery.

Australian memorial hyde park

She had to be reminded it was Not A Competition.

Despite it taking us the entire day, we’d recommend  this Treasure Trail. It’s good value for money and you’ll get to discover some interesting bits of  London’s Royal Parks. It’s a good opportunity to take the kids for a long walk while having toilets and food stalls to hand and will pretty much guarantee they will sleep well that night.

I’m already planning our next Treasure Trail but may look for something a little shorter next time.

The Curse Of The Three Week Long Easter Holiday

We have two child in primary school and two in secondary school at the moment. The two schools are in different counties but usually this doesn’t cause a problem when it comes to holidays.

However this year, and next, our schools’ Easter holidays overlap. So DD3 and DS finished school a week ago and the older two finished school on this Thursday just gone.

This means that this year ( and next) I have three weeks of school holidays to contend with.

At first, this may sound like a good thing. It’s tricky trying to find activities that will suit a teen, a tween and a couple of under tens. So surely it’s a positive thing to only have one week to take all the different ages into account. And surely  fewer children means less squabbling?

Hmm, not in this house, no. I find the house is calmest with all four children around, as they can go and bother someone else if things get fraught between two individuals. If there are only two at home, there is no chance of a change of sibling to quieten things down.

We’ve also found that the children off school still get up at the same time as the ones that need to go to school. This has made for some very long days, and because the school run to both schools requires some input from me, I only get a week where I’m not having to drive/escort kids too/from school.

In the two weeks either end of our three week Easter break, I can’t even take the kids out for a long day anywhere as I have to be back in time to do the school pick up.

I’ll concede that there is a small advantage in only having two children to wrangle though, and it’s cheaper if I want to take them anywhere that charges a fee.

But despite this, I prefer it when the school holidays are in sync. Thank goodness it’s only the Easter holidays that overlap.



The Gallery: Girls

4 girls on a climbing frame

Here are my kids, dressed as ‘fairies and dancers’ about 6 years ago.

In this photo my eldest is 7, the same age as my youngest is now. My youngest is only about 18 months old, and yes, he’s a boy. This is what happens when you are too young to know any better and you have three older sisters who regard you as a life sized doll.

They all loved these outfits and spent hours running around the garden in them. Sometimes I even took them out of the house like this, when I couldn’t be bothered getting them to change. Yes, even DS. People used to tell me how cute they were and he used to dimple happily at them.

These days you couldn’t pay DS to get dressed up as a fairy, and you’d have a hard job persuading any of the girls to do so either. DD1 quite likes skirts and dresses but doesn’t do flounces, and DD2 and DD3 much prefer trousers. DS  just wants to wear shorts. None of them like pink.

Having three girls  and a boy has been interesting but I really haven’t seen that much difference between them as they are growing up. I’m told the teenage years will be the definitive ones as girls are stroppy and boys just withdraw and grunt. We’ve had plenty of the former already and it makes for a very noisy house, so I await the latter  state of affairs with eager anticipation.