Toby Week 5: The trouble with kibbles

On Monday we had a couple of kibbling problems.  At breakfast time, Toby is encouraged to sit and wait while his bowl is lowered to him.  But he does get excited at the prospect of food, and this time he jumped up and knocked the bowl out of Roger’s hand.  Of course the little bits of kibble flew all over the kitchen floor!  I had to shoo bog dogs out of the room while I got down on hands and knees to pick up every last bit.  Any stray piece would no doubt be scented by one or other, and much scratching and scrabbling would ensue.

Later that day, we took both dogs in the back of Roger’s car.  I sat in the middle with a dog on each side, to keep them calm.  Toby seemed unusally calm, subdued almost.  And indeed, a few miles down the road he was car sick, and a blob of semi -digested kibble reappeared.  Thankfully, my coat is washable!  (I hope you are not having your tea while reading this…..)

Travel sickness is not uncommon with puppies, as their balance regulating mechanisms in their ears is still forming.  we will try in different cars and different placements.

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Tuesday was a big day for a little pup – first day at school!  (Compulsory photo by the front door).

Well, Paws Doggy Day Care.  They were most impressed at his confidence and quickness to settle in, and at how well Minnie looks after him, making sure that no-one is giving him a hard time.  Paws has webcams, and I enjoyed checking up on him at various points to make sure he was having fun.  He certainly was, and seemed to particularly like playing with the other beagles, as well as the other youngsters.  He even managed to photobomb a picture of the bigger dogs.

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He’d been OK in the back of my car on Tuesday, but on Wednesday morning our route was diverted, and after a more twisty windy road the car sickness was back.  We will have to time any journies to allow for at least a few hours between feeding and travel.

He seems to love his schooldays, and is knackered when he gets home.

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Farewell Peppa Pig toy, and also squeaky zebra, but hello new chewy ring!

And new bigger collar as well.

 

parkrun tourism: Poolbeg

parkrun #255 event #62

Reason for visit: Dublin Scottish Dance groups’s annual dance.

I’ve attended this dance every year for the past 4 years, and each time I’ve managed to tick off another Dublin parkrun.  This year I was staying at the Uni halls of residence, Trinity Hall, in Rathmines and the closest event not yet done was Poolbeg.

Access:

I knew there wasn’t much parking nearby, and wanted to be considerate of residents, but I set my Sat Nav for Seaforth Avenue (since it reminded me of Ser Davos Seaworth in GOT), and found a pay and display car park with plenty of spaces.  It was 1 euro per hour, so I popped in a 2 euro coin.

I’d passed a few other car parks on the sea front, which would give you a nice little warm up jog before the start.  As I walked towards the start (doing the ususal lookout for other parkrunners), a taxi was letting out a group of about 6 obvious runner types.  And I met some others who had walked from the city centre.  So it’s good one to aim for if you are staying centrally.

Course:

From the start point, it’s back towards the city centre, a lap of Sean Moore Park, and when you pass the start point again that’s 1.5 km done.  From there, it’s 1km out through the Nature Reserve, one sneaky wee hill at the turn point,

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back to the start/finish point and another lap of Sean Moore.  There are a few parts where runners are going in both directions, so keep left, and the surface is largely packed gravel or tarmac. All the pinch points are well marshalled, and how fab is the view enjoyed by the person at the turnaround point!

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I absolutely loved the scenery, the sights and smells of the various flora, and the sounds of birds. And of course being by the sea always makes my heart sing.

Gear:

I’m still loving the cheers I get when wearing my 250 shirt.  My Garmin and headphones all behaved impeccably, and my cow cowl allowed me to identify other tourists.

Strangely-appropriate-song-on-shuffle:

Most of my playlist is Eurovision songs, but there is the odd Scottish Dance tune, and I love the music to Red House.

Crowd:

I was enormously struck by the diversity and community spirit. I met Alison, another northern lass who’d come down to see The Spice Girls, and we discovered a number of friends in common.  The crowd getting out of the taxi were cast and crew from “The King and I”, in town for 2 weeks, and I chatted to them about how my son, on another touring show, enjoys getting out with a few colleagues to get their Saturdays off to the best possible good start.  There must be potential for a “theatre touring parkrunners” group surely!  Doing the “Top Trumps” of number of events, furtherest travelled etc, I was doing quite well on my 62nd event, until Colin revealed he’d done over 200!  Mucho impressedo.

 

But what struck a real chord with me was the   Sanctuary Runners.  For people receiving Direct Assistance, who may have little access to physical exercise, this group makes sure they have the opportunity to take part in a parkrun each week.  What a fabulous way to embody the community “for everyone” ethos of parkrun.  And I’m going to explore if such a thing exists or could happen here in Norn Irn.

Facilities:

The start and finish are at the same point, so you can leave coats and stuff by the bench.  There are no nearby loos.  Post-run coffees are at the very lovely Dunne and Crescenzi, which serendiptously turned out to be right beside where I’d parked!  I thoroughly enjoyed my avo and poached egg on toasted sourdough with pistachio crumb – yum!  And I made myself useful by helping with the token sorting, one of my favourite jobs.

All my parkruns:

NI (and other) parkruns: summary list

 

Toby Week 4: Meeting and greeting

This week we’ve really started to get a daily routine.  If we get up around 5.30 we can usually catch him before he needs to pee/poo, which is a big plus in toilet training.  Minnie usually gets a bit of a lie in before she gets up around 7, and which point we have mad half-hour, fighting over toys, growling and tumbling.  Out for pees, breakfast, out for pees, bit of play, out for pees, sleep bye-byes, out for pees……and repeat.

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Friday was a big day – second injection! I was away, but Rog took him in the back of my car, where he squeaked and squawked all the way to the vets.  He has put on a whole 2 kilos in 2 weeks!  (previous weight was 5.4 kilos, so that’s a 37% increase). The vet was very impressed with how he is doing, and he was very well behaved getting jabs and flea treatment.  But he does need constant supervision, otherwise a bed may be destroyed….

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On Sunday he got to come with us to junior parkrun.  Minnie was coming too, and having them both in the back of the car seemed to calm and reassure him, and there was no squeaking or complaining.  Once there, he was very happy to be met and petted by his adoring public.  I was tail-walking with Mnnie, so Rog took Toby into the centre of the park, and did some off-lead recall work, which he excelled at.

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So now that he’s had his jabs, he’ll be able to go to doggy daycare, which will make working life a bit simpler for us both.

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parkrun tourism: pont y bala

parkrun# 254 event #61

Reason for visit: climbing Snowden with my son

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Harry is a keen climber/ hill-walker, and had already done Ben Nevis, Scafell and even been to base camp at Everest.  We had together climbed Slieve Donard and Carrauntoohil, the highest peaks in northern and southern Ireland, so I was delighted when he suggested we do Snowden together, to complete his set.

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Access:

We  stayed in ffestiniog, a tiny village in Snowdonia, a vast and rugged national park.  The tourist tool showed that the closest run was 15 miles away at pont y bala, which had just recently started.   I’d flown in to Liverpool John Lennon airport, which is 2 hours drive away. IMG_1142

The sat nav details on the course page took us via some tiny winding and gloriously empty roads to the large car park beside the fire station, which is now £3 for the required stay.

Facilities:

There are clean loos on site, start and finish are at the same spot right by the car park, so you can leave coats or bags there.  Coffee and chat post-run are in the Hub cafe nearby, and Bala has many other shops and restaurants should you wish to tarry a while.

Course:

Out and back, twice.  It’s a narrow path, and so no dogs are allowed (but a beautiful golden retreiver was inviting tummy rubs at the start). The surface is packed gravel, and all the turn points are well marshalled.

Crowd:

Numbers have been small to date, around 50-70, which gives a friendly welcoming feel.  I saw a few other cow cowls, and tourists were invited to sign the pb board.  A couple of buggies, and a few young people at arms length.  Visitors were encouraged to sign the pb board.

Gear:

I was debut-ing my 250 shirt, which is a very good quality technical fabric, and was lovely to run in.  My contra leggings – I’d had to send them back as the stitching was unravelling, so this replacement pair are performing better.  My Garmin found a signal easily, and my headphones were fine. I always travel in my second best trainers, and the Karrimors were perfect for this surface.

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Strangely-appropriate-song-on-shuffle:

It was Eurovision day, and I love running to some of my favourite songs from years gone by.  One of the most undermarked and overlooked UK entries is Joe and Jake with “You’re not alone”, which sums up parkrun to me.  My daughter had reminded me of Sheryl Crow “Every Day is a Winding Road” which was very much the soundtrack to driving around north Wales!  And I also reworked the lyrics to Alannis Morisset’s “Ironic” as follows….

It’s the post being late, with your milestone T

And your Garmin watch has a flat battery

The results are late, when you’ve got a PB

And do not forget your barcode

Isn’t it parkrun-ic….

Time:

I’d run 34 mins last week so was keen to replicate that.  Out and back twice meant divide target time by 4 and hit 8 to 9 minutes for each section.  Which I did.  Even with stopping for photos, I still made 34 something.  The first runner came home in 17 minutes, and was way ahead of the rest of the pack -much applause!

All My parkruns:

all my parkruns

And the rest:

Well, here’s a whole blog about  Climbing Snowden

But I loved my first visit to Liverpool, was really impressed by the friendliness of the people, and I got to sit next to Sir Ian McKellen!

 

Climbing Snowden

Note:  Never “Mount” Snowden – just the name, or the Welsh Yr Wyddfa.

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At 1,085 m, it’s the highest point on the British Isles outside of Scotland.  My son Harry is a keen climber, and had already done Ben Nevis, Scafell and Carrauntoohil, so he was keen to add this one to complete the set.  And I was delighted to tag along.

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I flew into Liverpool, and then we drove to Ffestiniog, a little village in stunningly beautiful Snowdonia National Park.  We stayed at Y Pengwern, which I would love to believe is Welsh for penguin, despite any evidence to support this.

IMG_1169 It’s a community run pub/ restaurant/ accommodation, and is very good value.  The staff were friendly and helpful, rooms comfortable, and the food and drinks tasty and well priced.  It’s the only facility in the village apart from a well stocked store, but nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog 3 miles away has a greater selection of restaurants and shops.

 

There are a number of tried and tested routes up the mountain, and we had originally planned to use the most popular and easiest Llanberis route.  But when we checked our location, it was on the other side of the mountain, about 40 miles away, and so we looked at closer trail heads.  Watkin’s Path was only 15 miles away, and appeared to be within our capabilities.

 

Car parking is available across the road from the start – the machine didn’t seem to be working, though.  And there are loos here too.

 

 

The route starts up some stone steps before opening out into lovely old woodland.  The birdsong was wonderful, and I even heard my first spring cuckoo!  I shall write to The Times forthwith.

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Coming out of the woodland the hillside was a hazy carpet of bluebells, with some pretty waterfalls to the right.  We passed Gladstone Rock, and remarked on the Welsh singing tradition (insert Bill Bailey cheese-on-toast gag here).

There was a ruined bulding, formerly used to house copper miners.  The copper gives the lakes their greenish tinge.  The path continues in slate steps and packed stone, and is very well maintained.

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Are there any fish in the clear pools, I wondered.  How would they get there, asked H.  Well, see, when a Mummy fish and a Daddy fish love each other very much….I explained.

After a brief stop for one of Harry’s sweet potato muffins, where a very enterprising seagull edged closer and closer to me, we reached the final and trickiest section, which was very steep and required some scrambling and hand holding.

I saw some slugs en route.  How did they get here?  Ans: very slowly.

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After having had the path mostly to oursleves, the busy cafe at the top, Hafod Eryri,  was a bit of a contrast.  It was very blowy, but there was a decent enough view despite the clouds.  The Llanberis path runs alongside a narrow guage and pinion railway, which does make the summit accessible for many people.  I was amazed at the number of dogs who had made the climb, and enjoyed reading all the information boards about the history, geology, and legends associated with the mountain.

My fingers had become red and swollen during the climb, and so I was alternating holding each hand up to my shoulder.  Occasionally I had both hands up, and I must have looked like a surrendering prisoner trotting along behind H.  On the descent I was tiring, and I stumbled now and again, but the only serious injury I sustained was a paper cut from the lid of my hot chocolate in the cafe.

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It took us 3 hours to get to the summit, and 2 1/2 to come back down.  Having been sunny all week, it was rainy when we got up, but the rain soon passed.  It was overcast, but clear, which was good climbing conditions.  And we felt very proud of ourselves once we’d finished.

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Toby Week 3: All The Things

It’s been a week of buying stuff for the littlest member of the household.

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As he is sleeping in the “futility room”, we bought a blackout roller blind to keep it nice and dark at night, as well as a bit warmer.  This necessitated looking for a doorstop to prevent the blind crashing into the wall should the wind catch the back door.  But I was worried that a sticky out springy one would be a chewing temptation – as he’s already had an operation to remove something he chewed I didn’t want to take any chances.  I did consider positioning such a doorstop up high, though!

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We cleaned out the outdoor run, and lifted the old wooden kennel, only to be horrified by the crud that had gathered underneath.  So a new kennel was required.

We chose one from Ecoflex, which is made from reclaimed and recycled materials, and is much cosier than the old wooden one.

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At the minute they are on 2 different dog foods, so we upgraded the food storage boxes, and also treated Minnie to a new dog bowl, again an environmentally friendly one.  Toby is fed 3 times a day, and Miinnie gets fed at the same times.

Crate training has begun – just small sessions, like 10 minutes while I have a shower, or nip to the shops.  It’s absolutely charming when a puppy crawls into your arms to go sleepy bye-byes, but I don’t want that to become the only way he will go to sleep.  So whenever he makes that grizzly “I want to sleep now” noise, I pop hin into the crate without any great fussing.

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He loves the sun, likes nothing better than getting into the garden, finding the sunniest spot, and just sitting.  Or exploring new things like cobwebs.

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I can’t believe how fast he is growing!  tobypurple - Copy

His little purple fleece now won’t fit over his head, and as he fills out I can see more of the pale gold markings coming through – technically he’s what they call “lemon and white”.

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Fighting over toys continues, poor Peppa Pig has no ears left!  But they do snuggle up together at times.

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Jamie’s 5 ingredients: Harissa Squash Salad

I’d been very impressed with the telly version of Jamie’s latest book, 5 ingredients.  The premise is that healthy, tasty food does not have to be complicated, so he has devised a range of recipes using only 5 ingredients (and a decent stocked larder).  So impressed, in fact, that I bought the book.  So pepare yourselves for an onslaught of recipe trial blog entries while I work my way through them.

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Harissa Squash Salad.

I’m a big fan of salads, especially ones that don’t go soggy before lunch.  I had half a butternut squash in the fridge, already had a jar of harissa, a ball of mozzarella and an avocado in the fridge, so the only ingredient I needed to buy specially was salad leaves.  I chose rocket, as the most versatile.

I was intrigued at the instructions to chop up the squash without bothering to peel, in fact add in the seeds as well.  I’m all in favour of using up as much as possible without waste!  I tossed the chunks of squash in a good blob of harissa paste, glug of oil, and salt and pepper.

Roast at 180 for 50 minutes – I gave them a bit of a stir around half way through.

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Serve on a bed of leaves and chopped avo, dresed in some olive oil and vinegar (I used sherry), with some mozzarella strewn over the top.

Verdict:

This was seriously tasty stuff!  I was perhaps over generous with the harissa, but once paired with the creamy avocado and cool cheese it was a lovely combination.  I found it a little on the soft and squishy texture wise, so I sprinkled some mixed seeds for added crunch and protein.

Half a squash was loads!  Even after my salad, there is still a generous amount left in the roasting pan.  It will be nice in another salad, or a wrap, or even in a “clear the fridge out” soup.  And not bothering to peel is a revelation.

Vegetarian friendly, could be made vegan by relacing the cheese with tofu.

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9 out of 10.