|Jackie with Max|
They were both there to meet us, caravan hitched and ready to go on their three day trip and we had a fantastic greeting from four dogs, Oscar, Max, Muffin and Flora and five cats, Fred, Ginger, Lottie, Mollie and Charlie, Fred recognising Jackie’s voice from his bed in the garage and miaowing very loudly for her to go and see him.
|Jackie with Flora, Oscar, Muffin and Max|
It was the familiar walking tracks through the woods mornings and afternoons, varied on each walk just to keep the dogs on their toes and stopping them to check which way we were going, followed by dog food preparation of raw chicken portions, minced beef and dog biscuits on our return and, in between miaowing pussy cats who act as though they haven’t been fed for weeks.
|Watching the squirrel up a tree|
|Chopping chicken for the dogs|
So after three days of days like that and evenings of TV with dogs and cats lying across us fast asleep, Richard and Judith returned. Yes, they had bought a new caravan, yes, it was bigger and more expensive than they had planned, yes, they were very excited, but it won’t be ready until next February and Judith wants in now! They are already planning next years trips to France and in the UK and want to book us for housesitting whenever we’re available, which is fine by us. On this three day stay they insisted on providing all the food we could eat, so we felt very spoilt and, having cooked then lunch for their return and Judith being very appreciative, we had to remind her that all we did was cook it, it was all their food!
|Ian washing up in their temporary kitchen (builders port-a-loo outside)|
The weekend was originally planned to be at Iain and Bev’s house in Bristol, but had to be changed after the recent death of Bev’s stepdad (hugs to her), leaving her feeling unable to cope with the boisterousness of us all, so Ian and Helen stepped in and offered to have it at theirs. It was even more impressive of them since they are in the middle of having their kitchen extended, so currently have no useable kitchen and only a camping cooker and all kitchen stuff in their dining room, carrying water for the kettle and dish washing down from the upstairs bathroom. Unfazed they still managed to serve us a cold buffet breakfast and hot drinks on Saturday morning, so well done to them and thank you!
|Their house so far. Looks good from the outside, just needs finishing off inside|
|In Diwan Balti. Ian, Helen, Jackie, Phil, Sue and Brian|
|A heron on our canal walk into Birmingham city centre|
|So we practised in the centre. Here's Ian jumping 8 feet. No-one else was close. We couldn't persuade him to try the canal for real though|
|Ian, Phil, Helen, Jackie, Sue and Monty dog|
|Birminghams new library. Iconic building|
|Saturday evening in the pub with Manu and Crystal|
|In the Chinese resaurant. Phil, Sue, Crystal, Manu, Jackie, Ian and Helen|
|Crystal writing out her food order|
On the way, on Tuesday morning, is a visit for me, Brian, to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham to have a bit of skin cancer removed from my top lip. The biopsy they took in mid-August turned out to be nasty so, although the lip healed beautifully and looks completely normal, there’s something lurking beneath that needs removing so, it’ll be more stitches and no laughing for a few days. Let’s hope I don’t drip any blood on the pillows at Sooty’s house! As soon as I get the all clear we’ll pack the car and head off to see Jackie’s dad in Spain, then back to France for another ski season in the Alps. We’re hoping for a cold winter with lots of snow!!
|In the pub afterwards for yet another beer. Phil, Sue, Helen, Jackie, Brian, Crystal and Ian|
|Trying out our winter woolies with Pauline|