Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cornish Christmas

I have been rather remiss in posting on my blog of late.  I sense a New Year's Resolution coming on...
Since my last post in November (!), life has been rather manic with work and then the run down to Christmas.  The days before Christmas are my all time favourite time of the year - fairy lights twinkle in windows.  Mulled wine flows.  Baked biscuits and cranberry muffins make an appearance.

I made the annual pilgrimage to my mum's cottage in Cornwall for the festive season.  This year was somewhat different as my sister, with kids on tow, was coming to Cornwall too - a full family Christmas!  Horatio and I jumped in the car and embarked on the massive journey (450 miles or so) a week before the big day, stopping off in Coventry on the way to overnight at my sister's and to collect a couple of eager nephews.  Due to the welcome addition of my sister this year we hired a holiday house in Fowey to accommodate the aunties... ie me, my twin sis and oldest sis.  Horatio rather took to sitting / sleeping in the window.
Days were swallowed up entertaining little people, walking Horatio and drinking coffee (ok, and wine too).  In addition to daily walks up, over the fields and along the cliffs at Fowey, Horatio rather took to the Hall Walk.  This involved a short boat trip to Polruan followed by a four-mile trek along the Fowey Estuary before another ferry trip from Bodinnick back to Fowey.
The highlight of Christmas however came in the form of Scott, who surprised us all with an unannounced visit on Christmas Eve!  On a whim, he decided that a Christmas in Edinburgh without me and Horatio was not desired.  He hired a car that afternoon and drove the 450 miles to join us, staying hardly 36 hours before heading back to work in Edinburgh.  Talk about making an entrance!  I think he trumped even Father Christmas, making my Christmas (and that of two nephews and a niece), perfect.

Yesterday, Scott arrived as per the original plan by plane in Exeter to celebrate Hogmanay.  We took the opportunity to explore Okehampton on our way home from the airport.  Not only is it located on the northern fringes of Dartmoor (which we ventured onto for an atmospheric trudge through mud), it boasts an old-fashioned railway station / museum.  Of course we had to test out the old buffet on the platform.
And so the old year will pass this evening and 2012 will dawn tomorrow.  Hopefully it will deliver lots of running, dog walks and adventures.  We plan to hit Cardinham woods by Bodmin with the mutts.  Have a good Hogmanay and prosperous new year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Autumnal Walk in the Park

I've been feeling really under par the last few weeks, despite the iron tablets that I'm taking like there's no tomorrow.  Running has had to go on the back burner and walks with Horatio are my main form of exercise, entertainment and stress buster.  Luckily we've been having a fabulous autumn - really mild and dry, which means the autumn colours are still out there to be enjoyed.

Today Horatio had a play date and sleepover with Kipper (owned by Lucy, the ultra-runner).  We all piled into the car (gone are the days when I walk/run the mile to the park...), and hit Dalkeith Country Park.  The colours were just amazing.  A very gentle day but sometimes you got to take what you are given.  Homemade fish chowder for tea and a night in front of the new wood burner (not cold enough to be really needed but it's soooo comforting!).  Scott is living in shorts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How much do you love your dog?

Work has been rather busy of late.  The Autumn and Spring tend to be dominated by lots of events, workshops, press trips and exhibitions.  This week I've been traveling round Scotland with a group of journalists from North America, Germany and France, inspiring them to write about Scotland.  It's a tough life having to stay in places like this:
It's not all fun.  We were forced to do land yachting on the West Strand in St Andrews, which is perhaps more famous for featuring in Chariots of Fire.
Then we inducted the group into the art of caber tossing at GOSFORD House in East Lothian.  I don't think Horatio will be chasing after sticks this size any time soon.
I digress however.  This post is pondering the depths to which love for your canine friend can go.  My travels have meant that Horatio has had to come to terms with a few changes.  I hasten to add these aren't monumental.  Essentially I have been away the last two weeks and unable to do our usual routine of walks at 6pm.  Luckily though HHH's favourite dog walkers, Fran and Ellen have treated him to a second walk each day in my absence.  What a lucky chap he is.

Now, this is a tricky situation.  How does a WFT express such gratitude for the love I have bestowed on him? A massive welcome on my return?  Much jumping, licking and general happiness at seeing me?  Eh no.  I'm afraid to report some serious damage.  I had to return a hire car through work, so popped Horatio in the boot of said car, carefully placing the parcel shelf in the boot with him.  It's the same set up in our car and the way in which he is accustomed to traveling.  We were in the car barely 40 minutes.
Words fail me.  They didn't at the time.  The air was blue.  The excess on the brand new hire car is £500.  I'm still not speaking to him and am concerned our relationship might not get past this.  How far can love go?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fairy Mushrooms

In a post earlier this month I inserted a rather lovely photo of a toadstool, which to me epitomises autumn.  Since then I've seen nothing but colourful mushrooms, fungus and toadstools wherever I go.  Not once have I stopped to consider the potential danger at large.  It's not as if I will take leave of my senses and suddenly take a nibble.  However, I forget that I have a new life companion, to whom these things are all new and interesting.  And the best way to explore this world inevitably involves his mouth.

And so I'm afraid to report that HHH appears to have consumed something he shouldn't have.  Last week on our daily foray around the university campus near our house, Horatio was seen munching something in the grass.  Nothing new there, except there were mushrooms growing directly adjacent.  By the time we got home, he was not himself.  Lethargic.  Sleepy.  And most definitely not the little devil he usually is at that time of day.

Over the course of the evening things didn't improve and by bedtime we were sure something was definitely amiss.  We carried him into his bed and hoped he'd be better by the morning.  Not so.  I now know where the saying 'sick as a dog' comes from.  Boy did he look rough the next morning... see photo below.

I made the mistake of googling 'I think my dog has eaten mushrooms' and gave myself a real fright.  We hot footed it down to the vets trying not to display the real horror we were feeling.  The vet gave him a good examination, checked all his vitals and concluded that he may have eaten something but at this stage we'd just have to wait it out.  He had a slightly elevated temperature for which he got an injection and I was to observe him for the next 24 hours.

No fear though, there is a happy ending.  HHH has recovered and is back to tormenting / loving us.  I'm still not 100% sure what he ate and if it was the cause but it has served as a timely warning.  This time of year is lovely but four-legged friends should be watched carefully!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Jumping through hoops

And so the dreaded day of the party trick arrived.... Many thanks to Bouncing Bertie for raising awareness of our plight and to all who provided suggestions.  After much deliberation we went for the old jump through hoop trick.  Quite ironic I thought given that HHH normally has me jumping through them.

The evening didn't have the most auspicious start.  I got home from work late so we didn't have time for our full normal walk which aims to tire someone out.  This is generally a prerequisite for a quieter puppy class.  Well, at least for the first 20 minutes.  There must be 15 dogs or more attending the class from Mac the mad boxer to fiesty Daisy the collie/chihauhau.  Lynn the Dog Lady and her trust team of assistants have, over the past two months, done a tremendous job training the unruly mob, advising us owners and providing some much needed encouragement, when all hope had been lost.  Becky, our particular trainer has been brilliant in the face of much adversary from Horatio.

I digress.  The trick.  Well, dog number one performed a dance.  And I mean a real dance, like you see at Crufts.  All that was missing was the top hat and tails.  Classic case of the class swot.  Thankfully we didn't have to follow directly in those paw prints.  Our turn did however finally come.  Now, I admit we could have prepared more but my theory was, that if we practised too much, Horatio would get bored.  In short we winged it.  Boldly we marched out into the middle of the hall.  I produced the world's tastiest treat and had Horatio sit for me.  He can do this, however the world's tastiest treat was a mistake.  He didn't want to wait for the treat.  In short, we did finally sit long enough for me to shuffle backwards, holding the hoop and the treat, and Horatio came jumping though it!!  Much applause and great relief.   We have done better but could have been a lot worse.  Puppy class is an unforgiving environment and I think we got extra points for inventiveness and bringing in a prop.

To my amazement we passed the course and even received a congratulatory rosette!  Tony, the shih tzu won the class cup for most improvement - what a dark horse he was, keeping good behaviour up his sleeve til the last night.  We've been invited back for the level 2 course, which aims to consolidate the learning from level 1 and introduce some agility.  We're off to the Isle of Arran first for a week's holiday and then we'll consider our options...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Autumn's a coming

Horatio and I went for a walk/run in the Pentlands today (it's my new sport since full running is proving too tiring). The upside of this new sport is that you notice much more around you. We discovered a fairy toadstool. Maybe one day we'll catch a glimpse of the fairy....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Woof for help!

Horatio and I have been attending dog behaviour classes for the last month with mixed success. Compared to all the other pups he has the attention span of a gnat but on the plus side, everyone knows him because of his sparkling personality!

Classes draw to a close next week. Sniff. We may never master 'leave it!' or 'wait!' but on occasion can be relied on for starting a round of barking. However we have a problem. To our collective horror last night, Lynn the Dog Lady informed us that all pupils would be required to perform a party trick on the last night. OMG!!! All suggestions will be considered, including the wild and wacky, as this may distract from the fact we aren't actually being very obedient.... Am considering sending Scott that night.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why the radio silence?

What with returning to work, celebrating my birthday with my twin, DIYing and taking HRH to dog classes, life has been a little hectic of late. Hence the lack of updates on Horatio. He's become a proper wee dog with attitude. This makes dog classes interesting to say the least. We've mastered 'sit', 'stay' (for varying amounts of time) and 'muzzle' (that's another story). I don't imagine many manufacturers of dog treats will go out of business anytime soon.

Horatio continues to develop his hobbies. Digging and burying things have always been a favourite, however he has recently branched out into gardening.... shame Scott didn't see this as a positive development.

Now, Horatio has requested some feedback from his fellow WHFTs. With autumn almost upon us (yikes, I know it's only August but there's a wiff of it in the air), Horatio was considering his options.... this smart cape was designed with him in mind by Walker Slater in Victoria Street, Edinburgh. Is this dashing enough for him?
Given his newly-discovered love of lochs.... perhaps we should consider a more practical gore-tex coat...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Puppy Class

Horatio and I attended our first puppy class last night. Wednesdays are usually reserved for PRC training but given my sick note from the doctor for the next two weeks I figured we should make the most of it. Also Horatio continues to exhibit naughty behaviour - see entry below.
Now, those of you who have met HHH know he's extremely friendly and outgoing. He meets and greets everybody/dog without exception when we are out walking. Not last night though. Nope, he turned all timid and nervous. All the other pups were having a whale of a time 'socialising' whilst Horatio cowered under my seat barking at any dog that looked at him. Most peculiar. I think we will be returning... and returning until this improves.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Appendectomy Americana

My recent business trip to Baltimore and New York took in an interesting attraction not typically listed in tourist guide books to NYC - Lenox Hill Hospital off Lexington Avenue. Whilst at a trade show in Baltimore two weeks ago, I developed a sore tumbly, which didn't shift. I figured it would pass in a few days. After a few days, I figured I just needed to run. Conveniently there was Central Park and my physio had given me a green light to try out my new running shoes, so off I hopped to lap this famous park. The groin injury seemed to be gone but the old tum still wasn't right. The following day (Saturday), it was even worse so I called the insurance guys back in the UK for some advice. Long story short, Dr Weinberg visited my hotel, diagnosed appendicitis, prescribed surgery, ruled out flying home the next day and charged me $300 for my troubles.
So, instead of sipping cocktails atop a skyscraper as we had done the previous night, I found myself in a live episode of ER/Scrubs/House... for five days. I'll give them their dues, they sure don't mess about in American hospitals. Forget three-month waiting lists for CT scans. I had one within hours and was under the knife by midnight. Recovery didn't quite go to plan. Or maybe Dr Dolgopovo had given me false expectations. As it was key hole surgery I had a fly-ban for seven days. It also meant they had messed around with my insides loads trying to find the angry appendix (or at least that is what I imagine happened). Understandably my family were out of their heads with worry - I was on the phone, high as a kite on drugs and not getting better. So my twin sister flew in to kick ass and rescue me (Have I mentioned before in this blog how lucky I am to have a twin?)

I was eventually discharged on Thursday having had my fill off trip-inducing drugs, surly nurses (ok, some were brilliant but others less so) and truly awful hospital food - who wants mac & cheese when you've had abdominal surgery?? Fifi and I then killed time in the Big Apple for a few days until I was allowed to fly again.
Poor Scott has been worried sick and had to look after His Highness Horatio for two weeks. I hardly recognised HHH he's grown so much. Thankfully I think he still remembers me, or at least he remembers how much he likes to chew my shoes and ankles. Some things never change. To celebrate my return we hung out at the beach yesterday.
Very happy to be home and promise to try not to get into anymore trouble - this year at least!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not always cute

This week didn't start off too hot for Horatio. His dog walkers seemed to think he was settling into the routine. I, however, have a different experience of the week. Chaos ruled in the house on Monday when the old table cloth trick didn't quite work for him.
Then he decided that biting was the best way of communicating with me and Scott. Walks have disintegrated into barking / biting games which saw Horatio tied up to a post for five minutes to calm down... I can't tell you how embarassing it is to be seen out walking for an evening with an apparently rabid dog.
I'm convinced he has been possessed by some evil spirit, which is apparent in this evil-looking photo of him. Look at the eyes!
Despite all this naughty behaviour I took him to the Lakes yesterday as my mum and brother are on holiday there this week with the dogs - Sophie, the cairn terrier and Tilly the mad spaniel. I was certain Tilly (1 1/2 year old) would be good companionship / a welcome distraction for H and give him a run for his money. However he proved me wrong again and took a strong liking to Stately Sophie who's 12 and not into playing. Thankfully Sophie has little patience for such trifles and snapped and snarled back at him!
We are signed up for some intensive puppy classes for the next month. Here's hoping the evil streak can be tamed. Irritatingly he still melts hearts and almost brought the Keswick Saturday market to a stand still with his charm and good looks. Grrrrrr.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Typical weekend

Unfortunately you can't have an adventure every weekend. Sometimes they are just 'run of the mill' - house chores, lunch with a chum and hang out with the boys on the street on Saturday night.
The weather was so foul on Saturday that Horatio and I could hardly pull ourselves out of bed. With my hip injury persisting, there's no need to go running and with the rain humming off the road, we decided it was preferable to read Country Living and drink coffee in bed. I managed to make my physio appointment with Guy van Herp AKA the Belgian miracle worker at Meadowbank and was feeling so chipper after this I dragged Horatio up his first mountain - a mini-hillock by Arthur's Seat. He wasn't too impressed with the wet conditions but soon came round when he discovered the rabbit poo. How considerate of someone to scatter puppy-sized treats liberally around the park.

Mountain dog

Next we were off to meet Bong for lunch. He's injured too so not climbing and hadn't met H yet. Shame H was too sleepy to make much impact. Not to be putoff we scooted out to Gullane to meet our favourite dog-lover, Lucy and Kipper, the friendly spaniel. Our beach walk turned into a drench-fest leaving us with wrinkled finger tips and smelly dogs. There was only one thing for it. The central heating was turned up and the kettle went on.
Lucy is an excellent cook and hostess with the mostess. Scott soon turned up with vino followed by Lucy's friend Matt and Malin (mad giant spaniel - it must be crossed with a newfoundlander!). I'm a huge fan of Gullane, however, I must say, some of the residents leave a lot to be desired. Some mad man lives next door to Lucy who is driving an awful hate campaign against Kipper (and all other four legged friends). He was hosting a community meating (sic) to discuss the matter of dog fouling in the communal garden. I hasten to add this is after he's involved the dog warden and put down poison..... right weirdo. Anyway, his meating (sic) was canceled (sic) and this combined with his poor spelling resulted in much amusement for us.
Having consumed too much of the grape juice I'm afraid Scott, Horatio and I had no option but to jump on the night bus home... hardcore Saturday!

Yobs loitering by the bus stop

Fun on the night bus

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A walk in the woods

Who lives here? I believe it's the hard to spot tootflits...
Horatio went to investigate..
No one was home.

Today we headed out to Pressmennan Wood in East Lothian with Horatio for a 'fairy walk'. I was more than a little sceptical but pleasantly surprised by the evidence of wee folk living in the forest. Horatio thought it was none too bad either

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fear of Cape Wrath...

Storm brewing in Durness..
Onboard the 'marathon bus'
Fewer smiles at the half way point...
Horatio's grown quickly! Hahaha, only kidding. We made friends with Oscar in Durness. Apparently his mum came from Granddach.
THIS is Horatio at Yellow Craigs! A little more growing to go..

Just back from a week's racing in the far North West of Scotland. A whole team of Portobello runners hired a house in Durness for the Challenge, participating in five running races over the week. The whole point of the trip was to compete in the Cape Wrath Marathon. Unfortunately it was re-routed off the cape due to gales and horizontal rain. Hence we ended up running uphill and into a 20mph wind for the first 13miles. I managed a record breaking negative split of 12minutes.. oh and by some miracle another 3:12 marathon and this time a PB by 1 second!!
The worst bit about the week, was having to abandon Horatio. We'd booked the holiday house back in January, long before we thought we'd have a dog and it was strictly no pooches. So he headed off to Scott's parents for his own holiday / boot camp. They were raving about having trained him to sleep through the night.... no sign of that. Or maybe that is his payback for not taking him. Any how, to make it up to him, we headed out to Yellow Craigs this morning for a sneeky first beach visit.... le gusto mucho!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

From Russia with love....

Although a mere pup at only nine weeks Horatio has already succeeded in forging international relations. Not only has he made friends with Bertie in Aberdeen, Lacie & co in the US, he's also looking east to Moscow. Meet Zigi, the fox terrier of Dimitry and Natalya in Russia.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Popular demand...

... is a powerful thing. As is the cuteness of Horatio. Here's some more photos of him during his first couple of weeks with us. He continues to chew, bite, piddle and melt hearts :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Horatio Nelson

After 15 years of wanting a wire haired fox terrier, dreaming of owning one, buying joe-dog ornaments and postcards, I finally have the REAL McCoy. Horatio Nelson arrived with us Friday 22 April 2011.

Vital stats:

DOB: 11/03/11

Weight: 1.6kg

Cuteness grade: off the scale

Cost: who can put a cost on love?
You can expect more photos in the coming weeks :)