Apparently it’s my turn again, how did that happen? ('Cause she's better at animal stories than me!)
|Brian with (L to R) Flora, Oscar, Muffin and Max|
The few days in Redmarley have passed in a blur of wagging, woofing and walking. The weather got hotter and hotter as forecast, which made for some very hot dogs, more ruled by routine than by the weather. I’m not sure we’d get a very good house sitters review from them as we kept going out late for their afternoon walk, once to avoid the sauna, once to avoid the downpour and once because we were a few minutes late from shopping!
|A typical view as we walked behind them through the woods|
All walks passed off uneventfully, though we did end up slightly hoarse on a couple of occasions as pheasants or squirrels were spotted and Oscar, Max and Muffin all went haring off. Flora was always under control, never even having a lead with her, Muffin never went as far as the boys, though sometimes instigated the haring off for no other reason than she was at the back and saw a chance to rush past both boys out into the front. Oscar, Top Dog, and Max, his son, were a little more wilful however. “Oscar is going through an arrogant phase” the notes from Judith read, this meant that once the pheasant had flown away he would come back and would saunter up but took a lot of persuasion to then sit for treat and praise. Not being very food driven praise seemed more important than treats, and we knew that once we’d started on a course of “Oscar Come” and “Oscar Sit” we had to follow through to the bitter end.
|Moth carnage in the insect killer. This is what happens when it is left on all night with the windows open!|
|The fabulous view of poppies in corn field from R&J's conservatory|
On the whole we decided that Oscar was Brian’s dog and Max and Muffin were mine as I’d bonded very quickly on first meeting with Max, much to Judith’s surprise and pleasure. Max responded better and quicker to the commands, but apparently doesn’t like joggers, and may try to nip them, it was for this reason he was a bit of a worry. Fortunately for us we were jogger free, horse free and mostly stranger free for the whole time.
|See the temperature? 34 C at 17:45!|
We kept them on their toes by varying the route we went on every walk so they knew they had to wait for us at every junction which worked very well as a regrouping technique. On one walk in the woods we weren’t sure where the path went, so sent Flora out in front, trusting her to know where the path was and not to get distracted by squirrels. Sure enough we were back on the main path in no time! The only other time it sort of back fired on us was on the very hot afternoon when we found the one remaining mud pool in the woods, which they all took turns lying in to cool off. They looked so happy we couldn’t help but laugh and decided it was worth the chore of having to wash them down on our return which they don’t like apparently, except for today, when it was so hot, they all seemed to quite enjoy a cool hosepipe being played about their undersides and legs.
|Baby swallows ready to fledge|
On our return after the last afternoon walk Oscar was fidgeting with his eye, on closer examination it appeared to have a green something in it, so, on with the glasses and out with the tweezers! While Brian stroked his head I had to approach his eye with a steady hand to remove a huge (over 1cm long) grass seed from his eye, shortly followed by another! Such a good boy, he just lay there while I ‘operated’ On checking the others we found an even longer bit of stalk and seed in one of Flora’s eyes. She too just lay there, trusting me to take it out. I deserved the large glass of wine with dinner after that I have to say!
|And the one that fell out, but seemed to survive|
After our last walk once back at the house I almost stood on Oscar’s foot. Not wanting to put all my weight and walking boot down on him I went to lean on the table which was further away than I realised so down I went to the floor. Me lying flat on my back was obviously worrying for Oscar who went into full ‘Top Dog’ mode, guarding me by keeping all the others away, while looking concerned till I could get up and show him I was ok. Firmly accepted into his pack then! We were both at times jealously guarded by Muffin if she was having some fuss, growling gently if another dog or cat came too close, so we think we did all right!
|Charlie cat tries to make Flora dog a bit more comfy|
It was a strange dynamic for the cats with the dogs there, having to ask for food which couldn’t just be left down as dogs would eat it, I did see little grey Lottie, but only on one occasion, but not to worry, that is normal! Fred wanted lots of fuss if you went into the playroom which the dogs don’t go into and he seemed to have adopted for his own, Molly came to sit in the lounge of an evening with the dogs, as did Charley, but only because she thinks she is a dog – kneading Flora’s tummy before curling up next to her on one occasion and just sitting on her head as she lay on the floor on another.
|That's better! Flora dog hasn't moved!|
The only other bit of excitement was the early departure from the nest of one of the swallows, nesting outside the living room window. It found itself alone on the balcony overnight, safe from cats etc but unable to return to the nest. The following morning as we ate breakfast we were aware of a young swallow being fed on the roof before taking off, bouncing off a parent and flying away. I had checked it was still alive before dog walking, and on checking again it was gone so hopefully they were one and the same and it will be ok, despite its siblings still all being in the nest three days later when we left.
|'Top Dog' Oscar with Jackie. Brian thinks he looks a bit like Scooby Doo|
Richard and Judith returned and seemed very pleased with the condition of the animals and house, after a very pleasant lunch of Brian’s first ever quiche we left them to it. Only after a cunning plan has been hatched for another visit in September when they again take the dogs to France, we look after the cats before handing over to their friend Sue and following them to France where we are introduced to the house there which we can use on our way to and from Spain, to break our journey, leave the skis in and use to explore a new bit of France before the next ski season.
|Mooching about in the woods|
Back to Sooty in Hall Green then only to get a text from Abi saying she hoped we didn’t have plans for the evening, as her favourite band was playing in Worcester, she’d drive and we could have a pint or two. This we duly did, the band were very good despite only being three quarters there – the lead guitarist and singer of 1/3 of the songs being ill in bed. What was more entertaining were the characters in the pub. If a sitcom had been made of them all it would be completely unbelievable, from the transvestite, atrociously dressed, in there with his/her wife to the glass collector who could barely stand he was so drunk but appeared with a trombone which he proceeded to play along with the band, actually not that badly! There aren’t words to describe all the characters there but we all had a good evening though not sure it could ever be repeated!
|And fun in the cornfield. Can you see Muffins head on the left in the field?|
We didn’t expect all these sort of things when we signed up to the house sitters website, but not knocking it!
Today – chilling, no dogs to walk but a late saunter to a craft fair at Sarehole mill, the Sunday paper in the garden in the sunshine and now a thunderstorm. But we didn’t want to go out anyway!
|Go Flora! Running as fast as she can through tall grass|
|Thats dinner for four prepared then. Raw mince, chopped chicken pieces, dog biscuits, a bit of dog food and plenty of gravy!|