Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Well ‘normal’ didn’t last long!

Jackie being taken for a walk by Ruby dog
Monday we walked the dog, as ever, I finished my book and Brian sorted out a walk for us and Ruby dog for Tuesday!

Tuesday didn’t go as planned, we made sandwiches. Got Ruby’s harness on to get her safely in the car and set off, Ruby dog, good as gold. 40 minute drive he says. Got as far as Ashbourne, 30 minutes in, and the car was making some very strange noises. “Did I run over and catch up some cardboard?” He mused. No the water reservoir is boiling and bubbling. Hmm, not good. 
Stranded with Ruby dog but without a car
The joys of the Internet, found a local garage and limped there. Lovely man, Martin, looked at it, sucked his teeth, put water in which came out, sucked his teeth, said “it’s the cylinder head gasket”. B had been warned when the car was serviced that said ‘cylinder head gasket’ had a slight leak but in a car of it’s age, just live with it, it’s not worth the £1000 to repair it. Now Martin couldn’t do it, nor could the garage over the road, or the one they sent him walking to. (Not that Martin rated them) Then nor could the half dozen people Martin rang, nor could our insurance find anyone within the 10 miles they would take us for free. So, there we are, stranded half an hour away from ‘home’ with no transport, no one to repair it, and the dog. Having ascertained that a hire car for three weeks would be £300+ on top of the £1000 to repair, it’s not really viable! Martin, who was on his own, and up to his eyes in it was a dream. On top of ringing umpteen people, he’s going to get rid of the car for us, passing on any money he manages to get for it, he offered us tea and couldn’t have been more helpful.
At the nice Thrifty car hire in Derby

So moving on, or not, as the case maybe. Ring Enterprise car rental, they’ll collect, fab. Took our booking only to call back and say actually the local place didn’t have a car. OK, move on to Thrifty, they don’t collect you, so need to find a cab that will take us, all the stuff that happened to be in the boot (three jigsaws, walking gear, 11kg gas cylinder for Ted....) and of course Ruby dog. Martin provided taxi number, man arrived, loaded car, took us into Derby to get a car. Thankfully the staff at the Thrifty branch in Derby were nicer than the call centre staff. “Best day ever” he said when having offered to help load the car, I gave him Rudy to hang onto and fuss!
Jackie venting to the car hire man and our 'wheels' for 3 days

Right opposite was a big car supermarket. Better get on with it then. Come on Ruby, quick walk round, yes we can go over that grass. I did get a look when I walked in asking if they had anything in our price range, carrying a full poobag! Our price range was below theirs, but there’s another one over there. A gaggle of salesmen fussed Ruby before sending us to the backstreets.... In that short space of time we had decided that our price range was low, less than £3k, for three reasons, we’ve spent a fortune recently, we hadn’t had time to think about or research what we wanted, and we aren’t going to treat it very well! It’s not good for any car to be left alone and unloved for six months at a time! Three small garages, more fussing, before we’d had enough. Once home onto the web. This is going to be horrendous. I was just getting dinner (yummy butternut and chickpea curry) out of the aga, when B rang a man just up the road. Off we toddle. Could be persuaded, very low mileage, and only £1100. But they’ve only had it three months, and the son works in the garage business and has replaced this that and the other.... all sounds a bit dodgy, but still, at that money it’s almost a disposable item!
And Jackie still managed a fabulous dinner

Back to try and relax for the rest of the evening with Ruby dog who despite not having had a long walk, was absolutely exhausted. She had been alert all day, had loads of fuss, and had done sterling work as a therapy dog. Thank goodness I’d managed to get her booked into Doggy Daycare for today, she’ll be just as exhausted when she gets home, but won’t have had to be on her best behaviour all day.

Our new (old) wheels
We planned a route of garages of southern Derby that all had a car or two we might be interested in. Starting at the furthest first to work our way back we slotted in about three more as we passed them. We found another couple of options, but then we were back home, ready for lunch, out of ideas and not convinced we’d found anything. Back on the web, I hunted round Burton-on-Trent, fruitlessly, when suddenly B was on the phone making a viewing appointment, for half an hours time, 25 minutes away! Turns out we had passed this office twice this morning, at our furthest away point! But it was only an office with a huge web presence, but no forecourt! Ho hum! 
Jackie getting the keys to our new (old) car
Anyway a Nissan Primera, actually older than the old Vectra, but with a really good spec. Lots of technology, sat nav and reversing camera and service history. B had a test drive, I didn’t bother, it’s a car, you drive it, and with that we bought it! £1495 on the road! With technology as it is, you can change the insurance, buy your tax and do a bank transfer wherever you are! Of course that meant I had to drive it back as I wasn’t insured for the hire car. Just waiting for Ruby dog to get home, with a G&T (us, not the dog) before going to the pub for “two burgers for £10.00” think we’ve earned it! Keep everything crossed we haven’t bought a lemon!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

At last, a ‘normal’ blog.

Ruby dog in the big chair outside the local pub in Hilton
We are very pleased to be sitting for Ruby dog and Stimpy cat in Tim and Jill’s beautiful house, somewhere we’ve been before, know the routine and can relax. The only new thing is the alarm which I did manage to trigger the other night. I’d forgotten to get the prawns out of the freezer to defrost, so nipped to the freezer..... this was shortly followed by a message from Tim, in Antigua, asking whether it was us or Stimpy.... you can’t get away with anything nowadays!

It would have been rude not to call in as we were passing
A brief rest on one of our longer walks
The ‘enforced exercise’ of Ruby is probably a good thing, it would be really easy just to sit and vegetate, and we have been enjoying a certain amount of that. We did a 2000 piece jigsaw Alex lent us in 4 days...! Easy walking for Ruby is three times round the field where we try and coincide with Johanna and Ebony dog in a morning. They play very well together and vanish in the hugely long grass snuffing for mice. It’s a bit like man overboard drill on a boat as they dash off. If you don’t watch them go it would be impossible to find them. Ruby expends huge amounts of energy leaping up to look over the grass to see where we are, until she gets the scent of a mouse when that’s it, all her focus, till eventually one of us has to go in to bring her out!
An inquisitive Ruby dog
Stimpy cats usual day bed

There have been many trips to Aldi where we both have to go, one to shop and one to field the admiring glances and comments. Walks both ways down the cycle track give walks of different lengths at different times of day. Fortunately it hasn’t been too hot as 17.00 seems to be a time we need to do something. It’s a couple of hours till her dinner, but she’s beginning to get hungry, and I think that James usually gets home from school 16.30/17.00 as she starts looking and fussing....
And she's used this a couple of times as her night bed - our clothes bag in our bedroom
Sunset from our bedroom window

Stimpy has grown more tolerant of Ruby, though I don’t think they will ever actually be friends, but at least we don’t have to have the child gate into one of the lounges as we had to have last year. She has also been spending some of most nights on the bed with us which is lovely. She’s a funny cat, on stroking there is nearly always a miaow and a little jump to the hand, not necessarily what you want in the middle of the night, but really very cute.
This amused me on one of our walks: 'Restored Pine Furnishings' on the left and, on the right, but pointing to the same building 'Firewood for sale'. Presumably for the restorations that didn't go quite to plan!
Paella with Fiona (Brian's daughter) and James

Yesterday we had Fiona and James over for lunch. They wanted a repeat of last years paella which we were very happy to do as we really enjoy it too. Followed by tiramisu made with caramel vodka, and then tapas, in case anyone was still hungry and to get our own back for not being able to leave theirs till we’d eaten turkey sandwiches...! Lots of chat, drinking and eating we had a lovely day.

Left overs for dinner, so that’s easy, just have to decide whether to start another jigsaw, get in the car to buy a Sunday paper as the local Tesco was fresh out of Telegraphs, or read, or crossword, or..... an easy, chilling Sunday

Look at that! It was as good as it looks
This is why we love housesitting, how can we not relax when we see our charges taking it easy. Ruby dog in one room...
And Stimpy cat relaxing in another
And we've won an award for it 'Super Sitter'! Well, Jackie has, I'm just the helper!
Sometimes, when you're trying to do something, they make it quite hard work
But how can you not lover her to bits!