Sunday 01 June 2014

Yesterday was the Southern Counties Canine Association Championship show, so what else could be there to do but slog up the M-ways and present our dogs for inspection by the appointed judge for our breed? As it happened, it all worked out swimmingly. English Toy Terriers were not in the show ring until afternoon so it was a leisrely breakfast at home before leaving at a more civilised time than is very often the case. Our judge was a gentleman from Finland, Mr Johan Juslin, and what a good job he made of it! Well I would say that wouldn't I with Ch.Carry On Amalek winning the Bitch CC and Sharon's dog Tillarn The Dragonslayer getting the dog CC and going BOB. Dragonslayer although bred by Sharon is all from our breeding stock so we are just as pleased as if we had shown him ourselves! It was a late start to get back home of course, but then you can't have it both ways - a late start with an early return - so it was good excuse for a stop at the Fox & Grapes on the way back!

 

 

Wednesday 21 May 2014

With the Spanish holiday now fading into just a distant memory, and how the time flies by these days; it has been all systems at go since our return as we have had "the builders in" – not an experience to be undertaken lightly – and while they have achieved the object of the exercise (an en-suite loo and demolition of the old plastic & glass conservatory to be replaced by a proper utility room)  the grass area (note I don't flatter it with the tile of 'lawn') has been reduced to a rutted patch of clay and stone. Unfortunately, the arrival of a mini digger and a heavy wheeled dump truck which needed to be got round the back of the house coincided with several days of torrential showers with intervals of rain. Perhaps a comparison with the battle field of the Somme is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the drift. Nothing less than several weeks of repair work is going to be my lot, I guess. What to do with anyway? Re-seed it? Put down fresh turf, concrete over the bally lot, or what? Well, for now, just sit back and wait for the rain to stop. Only get the wellies stogged down in it until dries, so let's hope we have a good spell of weathercoming up soon. The forecasters tell of a good Summer to come - but we've heard these 'barbecue Summers' tales before so whilst remaining hopeful are also somewhat of a sceptic. Prove me wrong Weather Fairy!

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Our hotel at Toledo was outside the actual city on high ground that overlooked the walled city itself so gave some wonderful views of it. Old defended towns like this still stand, unspoiled, much as they were back in medieval times and little has changed within the walls themselves, as any development has had to take place outside, so making them very interesting places for visitors to explore. One of the fascinations of Spain. Not that these towns are museum pieces, far from it, they have vibrant living communities.

Picture: Toledo 

 

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Our hotel room at 'Los Usia' in the little town of Dos Torres had a balcony overlooking the town square which had its usual complement of pavement cafes which even in a seemingly quiet town like this, although deserted during the daytime, comes to life in late afternoon and bursts into activity and noise as the locals appear out of nowhere to begin their evening entertainment of snacking, drinking and talking in their loud Extremadurean voices. 'Los Usia' itself was a more upmarket type of hotel and boasted a decent restaurant and quite a good wine list, so steaks and a bottle of the local vintage was the order of the day - none of which broke the bank. High up on the tower of the church which formed part of the square a family of cranes perched precariously in a nest adjacent to the church bell which chimed out regularly and must have been deafening. Not the most comfortable home in the world I would have thought; but it must have had some overriding attraction for them obviously.

Pic: The Plaza Major, Dos Torres.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The best value eating to be found in Spain is at one of the bar/cafes that abound and that cater to the locals. Needing a stop on our journey the next day we came across a roadside cafe, out in the sticks and all on its own with not very much else in sight, and decided to pull in for refreshments. Sitting outside at a table, under the shelter of a large sunshade, we studied the 'menu del dia' - chalked up on a wall board, continental style, and decided on the 8 euro option. This comprised a 1st course, a  Main with a salad, followed by Dessert, and included a basket of fresh crisp bread, a glass of wine, and concluded with a cup of coffee. All that for approx £6.60 each! The courses were delicious and generously proportioned! Needless to say that we ate very well for the rest of our stay in Spain - good nosh at at a price to dream about. The 'cafe culture' comes naturally to the continentals. They will sit and eat and drink and socialise into the early hours perfectly behaved. Perhaps this was the culture that  Tony Blair misguidedly hoped would come about when pub closing times were abolished here. Never once in Spain (or any other country we have visited) did we witness the shameful and disgusting drunken rowdiness of 'partying' that has ensued in Britain as a result of that policy. Perhaps they have more self-control and perhaps they have been brought up better by their parents and elders. So much for that soapbox ..... moving on to another topic:  it was the week of the run-up to Easter - which is taken as a very religious event by the Spanish - (not just the hot cross buns and Easter Easter eggs ideology) and preparations were being made in the run-up week with processions and services, which were especially noticeable in the smaller towns which had celebrations of their own individual Saints taking place. I happened to have booked an hotel in the middle of Avila, right opposite an entrance to the old walled city. On this particular day the roads were closed for processions (had to wait a couple of hours before we could get to the hotel) and in the evening another big procession was made, and I must say that I have never seen anything like before. Those who are Catholic may have some clue as to what it was all about. Personally, I found it rather 'scary'. The whole thing must have taken a good half-hour to pass by. Unfortunately, being taken by surprise and ill prepared for it, I didn't have the camera. The procession was headed by a large Cross accompanied by men wearing black 'Ku Klux Klan' type dress & hoods, at a slow walk, accompanied just by beats from a single hooded drummer (was this the Inquisition I wondered? Am I safe?). Following on were tableux depicting various Saints and Virgins each one accompanied by its own group of masked followers some with their own bands, and all at the slow walk and drumbeat. The procession entered in to the 'Muralla' through the narrrow portal. An unforgettable experience. However: "Come back Henry VIII, all is forgiven", I say.

Pic: Portal to the Muralla, the old walled city of Avilla

 

 

Sunday 20 April 2014

Been away for a few days R&R ....... so here we are back home again after our break in jolly old España (all right then; Spain – only showing off my mastery of the language!) and an interesting run-around we had too. The flight into Madrid was by courtesy of Easy Jet and took a little over 2 hours; a doddle compared with transatlantic flights. The downside was our late arrival at Madrid's Barajas Airport. By the time we had convinced Spanish passport control that we really were not terrorists posing as two old codgers; and customs that our baggage contained anything neither illicit nor dangerous, it was well past 10 pm before we found the car rental firm and got on the road to find our first night hotel. That was another story. Being, by now, quite dark, and road names seemingly posted for wimps only, it took a couple of circuits of Madrid (is that the Real Madrid football stadium, again? ... as we passed it for the 2rd time) and the help of a Spanish taxi driver for us to locate it, even though it was only a mile or so from said airport. At least we got there in the end – despite the looming possibility of having to kip in the car becoming a distinct possibility. Perhaps I should have paid extra for a SatNav after all.......!

Talking about speaking the Spanish (Castillian) language – I do have a smattering of Spanish mostly culled, in years gone by, from the BBC's Get By In Spanish course. However, it ain't what you say it's the way that you say it, and what sounded to me like a perfectly pronounced Spanish phrase merely drew, at best, a blank and rather puzzled expression from our hosts: did I really sound to them like the English Policeman in 'Allo, 'Allo, I wondered? Probably. The Regional accents and dialects in Spain don't help either. Rather like a foreigner learning correct English and then talking to a Glaswegian, I guess! Anyway, joking aside, we did get by without too much of a problem.

Our first day found us on the way to Extremadura, a part of Spain that I have for long wanted to visit: right off the tourist track and 'real Spain'.  The cunning plan was to avoid main roads like the plague, whenever possible, and with the aid of a detailed map my navigator (Mary) proved generally successful. I had booked a series of hotels online and our second was in the little town of Berzacona tucked away, all on its own, in the mountains of the Sierra De Guadalupe: lovely scenery and some hair raising hairpin bends along the way. The highlight of our stay here must have been breakfast on the terrace overlooking the town square: freshly baked crispy rolls from the local panaderia  and fresh coffee in a warm sunshine with the sounds of the locals going about their business. I did wonder what sort of 'business' they could all be employed in as there did not seem to be much going on - even the nearest petrol service station was 20 km away. 

The local Church housed a big bell which sounded off the hours of the day and the clock was powered by an enormous weight which dangled down in a high slot in the Church front. When it reached the bottom it would obviously have to be hauled up again manually. That's a job for someone anyway, but rather him than me!

pic: The Church at Berzacona 

Sunday 30 March 2014

The show that follows CRUFTS after a short interval is the United Kingdom Toy Dog Society event, this year, as usual, held at New Bingley Hall at Stafford this last friday – a breeze for getting to – up the M5/6; through Stafford Town and there you are, about 220 miles and as luck would have it we were 2nd in the ring following Maltese Terriers. So it was a comparatively late (6 a.m.) start from home for us which is most welcome these days. Neither Carrie nor Monkee found a lot of favour in the judge's eyes – well you can't win 'em all and there's no accounting for individual's fancies – but we were highly delighted that the Bitch ticket and BOB went to Amalek Making Magic for Sulasky owned now by Judi Cross & Sally O'Brien. She had always been one of my favourites as a puppy and bears the name of 'Squeak'. It was a bonus too when she was awarded 4th place in the Best In Show lineup and know it gave a great boost to Judi.

 

Sunday 09 March 2014

Well, that's Crufts come and gone for another year. Good thing too I say - once a year is quite enough without wanting to repeat the experience for a second time! I lthink I'm on record already for saying that this is my least favourite of shows. The 'dog show' bit is OK (after all, when all is said and done, it IS just another dog show) my main gripe is the actual  getting in and out of the National Exhibition Centre: being bussed in from the car parks; loading your trolley of dogs in their boxes, and all the other acroutrements needed for the day, and crammed on to a coach along with other people seemingly determined to also do it at the same time as you, is not the most stressless activity. Add to it the long yomp hauling said trolley through crowds of people thronging the Trade Stands, seemingly unaware of the presence of exhibitors and their dogs. And that's just the good bit! No, I jest, to be fair it must be a heck of a job to get everything organised for all the doggy activities that are now staged in addition to the 'real' dog showing. If I was a cynic I would say that they keep increasing the scope of the show just to keep it bigger than the FCI's 'World Dog Show' - but of course I'm not.

There is also the social aspect: we and our next benched neighbouring exhibitors, usually have a bit of a bench party, apres showing, and this year was no exception with friends from USA, Germany, Norway and Holland coming along for a chinwag about English Toy Terriers and a glass of wompo and snacks. All in all, win or not, a jolly time is had by all!

I must admit that we came away from the show somewhat pleased (despite the repeat performance of the bussing saga) as Carrie won the Bitch Challenge Certificate which made a good start to the show year for us. It wass of course a late return to home for us last night as a stop for dinner was most necessary. Man cannot live on sandwiches alone. Not this one anyway.

 

 

Friday 28 February 2014

continued The 'pit' as it is called consists of a small circus some 6' in diameter. It is about as large as a centre flower bed and is fitted with a high wooden rim that reaches to elbow height. Over it the branches of a gas lamp are arranged which light up the white painted floor and every part of the little arena ... All the little dogs which the visitors had brought with them were now squalling and yelling and barking , and struggling in their masters' arms as if they were thoroughly acquainted with the uses of the pit. And when a rusty wire cage of rats, filled with the dark moving mass, was brought forward, the noise of the dogs was so great that the proprietor was obliged to shout out 'now those of you that has dogs do make 'em shut up' ... Preparations now began for the grand match of the evening in which 50 rats were to be killed. The floor was swept and another lot of rats was brought forward. This time it was a big flat basket like that in which chickens are brought to market and under whose iron wire top could be seen small mounds of closely packed rats. This match seemed to be between the proprietor and his son, and the stake to be gained was only a bottle of lemonade   ...   when the 50 animals had been flung into the pit they gathered themselves into a mound which reached one third up the sides, and which reminded one of a heap of hair-sweepings in a barber's shop after a heavy day's cutting. These were all sewer and water ditch rats, and the smell that rose from them was like that from a hot drain. Soon we heard a wheezing and screaming in the passage without as if some strong winded animal were being strangled, and presently a boy entered carrying in his arms a Terrier in a perfect state of excitement, foaming at the mouth and stretching its neck forward so the collar which held it back seemed to be cutting its neck in two. The animal was nearly mad with rage – scratching and struggling to get loose ... the moment the dog was free he became quiet in a most business-like manner and rushed at the rats burying his head in the mound until he brought out one in his mouth. In a short time a dozen rats with wetted necks were lying bleeding on the floor, and the white paint became grained with blood ... in a little while the Terrier had a rat hanging to his nose, which despite his tossing still held on. He dashed it up against the sided, leaving a patch of blood as if a strawberry had been smashed there. 'He doesn't squeal, that's a good thing' said one of the onlookers. As the rats fell on their sides after a bite they were collected into the centre where they lay quivering in their death gasps ... 'Time' said the proprietor after 4 of the 8 minutes had passed and the dog was caught up and held panting his neck stretched out like a serpent's, staring intently at the rats which still kept crawling about ... The dog lost the match and the proprietor, we presume, honourably paid the bottle of lemonade to his son.   But he was evidently displeased with the dog's behaviour for he said 'He won't do for me – he's not my sort! Here, Jim, tell Mr G. He may have him if he likes: I won't give him house room.'"   end.        pic: Rat Pit Dog


Friday 14 February 2014

Our breed has a justifiable reputation of being fearsome ratting terriers, a fact to which can be testified by some owners today whose English Toy Terriers have had opportunities to show their mettle. Prospective owners, and casual enquirers about their temperament, can be recounted tales of their prowess in the ratting pits of C18 England. Would some of us owners, I wonder, relish an opportunity to match our English Toy Terriers in similar circumstances in these pits? Looking at a painting of a meeting with elegant 'sportsmen' in top hats lounging over the rail of a rat pit does perhaps give the impression of a gentlemanly pastime.

The truth was far from that. In London alone there were well over 100 places given over to this sport and an account given in the 'London Labour and The London Poor' of around 1864, by Henry Mayhew, of the proceedings he noted at one of the these establishments, does give an insight into the squalor of those times:

"I arrived at about 8 o'c at the tavern where the performances were to take place. I was too early but there was plenty to occupy my leisure in looking at the curious scene around me and taking notes of the habits and conversations of the customers who were flocking in. The front of the long bar was crowded with men of every grade of society, all smoking, drinking and talking about dogs. Many of them had brought with them their 'fancy' animals, so that a kind of 'canine exhibition' was going on: some carried under their arms small bull-dogs whose flat, pink noses rubbed against my arm as I passed; others had Skye-terriers, curled up like balls of hair and sleeping like children as they were nursed by their owners. The only animals that seemed awake, and under continual excitement, were the little brown English Terriers, who, despite the neat black leathern collars by which they were held, struggled to get loose, as if they smelt rats in the room above and were impatient to begin the fray. There is a business-like look about this tavern which at once lets you into the character of the person who owns it. The drinking seems to have been a secondary notion in its formation, for it is a low roofed room without any of those adornments which are now generally considered to be so necessary to render a public house attractive. The tubs where the spirits are kept are blistered with the heat of the gas, and so dirty that the once brilliant gilt hoops are now quite black. Sleeping on an old hall chair lay an enormous white bull dog – 'a great beauty' I was informed with a head as round and smooth as a clenched boxing glove and seemingly too large for the body. Its forehead seemed to protrude in a manner significant of water on the brain and almost overhung the short nose through which the animal breathed heavily. When this dog, which was the admiration of all beholders, rose up, its legs its legs were as bowed as a tailor's , leaving a peculiar pear shaped opening between them, which, I was informed, was one of its points of beauty. It was a white dog with a sore look, from its being peculiarly pink round the eyes, nose and indeed all the edges of its body.

On the other side of the fireplace was a white bull terrier dog with a patch over the eye, which gave him rather a disreputable look.  This animal was watching the movements of the customers in front, and occasionally, when the entrance door swung back, would give a growl of enquiry as to what the fresh-comer wanted. The proprietor was kind enough to inform me, as he patted this animals ribs, which showed like the hoops on a butter firkin, he considered that there had been 'a little of the greyhound in some of his back generations'.

Some French gentlemen who had evidently witnessed nothing of the kind before, while they endeavoured to drink their hot gin and water, made their interpreter translate to them the contents of a large placard  hung upon a hat peg and headed: EVERY MAN HAS HIS FANCY – RATTING SPORTS IN REALITY.

At about 9 o'c the proprietor took the chair in the parlour at the same time giving the order to 'shut up the shutters in the room above and light up the pit'.

To be continued ..... 

Thursday 31 January 2014

So another month has floated by - literally for some poor unfortunates with the unceasing rain storms and gales that have battered us. Apart from losing part of the garage roof in a particularly high gusting gale that whoomped in at heaven knows how many mph it has only been unpleasant for us at Amalek and the English Toy Terriers have remained seemingly nonplussed by it all. There have been a couple of mild days interspersed here and there, and that has given them a short respite and a chance to scamper in the garden which has been just as much welcomed by us as them.   This time last year we had in mind to move house and were seriously looking around for suitable houses and had in mind, at that time, somewhere in Somerset. One property we did get rather excited about (going by the Estate Agents blurb - we should have known better) was a property with existing kennels smack in the middle of the Somerset Levels, and were assured that the Levels had a 'controlled flooding system'. Hah! Fortunately for us now, the house accommodation was not suitable so it did not even come up to our short-list standard. We count ourselves fortunate that it did not!                         Pic: Would this have been our fate?



Wednesday 01 January 2014

So here we are, another year has flashed by with an almost unbelievable speed. I must say that it has been a satisfactory year for us at Amalek kennels. Most importantly there have been no nasty bugs or illnesses to distress either dogs or humans and despite the floods that have afflicted many poor souls in other parts of the country we have remained lucky in as much as we live halfway up an incline and not at the bottom of one. In fact if we did flood then it would probably signify that 'the end is nigh!' and a good 80% of the rest of the country would be underwater, if we had to abandon house! I had some of the coniferous cut down during the summer so would have enough timber on hand to construct a raft if needs be; or even an ark should the final trumpet start to sound. But no, that scenario being highly unlikely it has been sawn up and, rather like good King Wenceslas on the Feast of Stephen taking pine logs to the poor, handed them out to friends and neighbours who have carted them off by the trailer load. 
It has also been a satisfactory year from the doggy angle: a recent lovely litter from my girl Monkee (as seen on our home page) and also successes in the show ring including Carry On Amalek making her Champion  for Mary. She was bred by Sally O'Brien and Judi Cross who started their breeding programme with a couple of our girls and using our stud dogs - no wonder they are so successful! - so of course we were only too pleased to take on Carry and show her to her title. 
I do hope that 2014 will prove to be a good year for all of us in whatever enterprise we may pursue.
We have the Olympics and the footie World Cup to look forward to, if nothing else!
For 2014 - Pax Vobiscum!
Pic: getting the New Year off with a bang.

Sunday 29 December 2013

I like Christmas well enough; the 'Christ' and the 'Mass' part at any rate; not that I'm overly religious, just that I think that it does (or should) have some meaning other than the jingle-jangly Xmas commercial music belted by out by the retailers in an effort to spur on a frenzy of late credit card spending and all the phony glitz that appears this time of the year. The influx of begging letters that appear in the post, everything from 'save a dog' to some poor kids starving in Africa, certainly brings the twinge of conscience that they are designed to promote, that we can't contribute to all of them (and a suspicion that amongst them are possibly some scams). Christmas is a family time and again this year son Stephen with daughter in law Lesley and the now teenaged Alexander & Christian joined us from Sussex for the festivities. It had been decided that although our traditional home cooked Christmas Day dinner is always of course a high spot, that we would nevertheless take ourselves off to the nearby Fox & Hounds for one of their 7 course Christmas Day dinners and save the distaff side the chore of all the preparation & cooking, etc. What an excellent decision it turned out to be! Frank & Sue, 'Mine Hosts', and staff really do pull out all the stops to ensure that everyone has a great day. It is refreshing, in these days of cynical money grubbing, to find people who don't just regard it as a cash cow and who obviously enjoyed entertaining as much as we all did. If you are ever down this way and heading towards Tavistock on the A386 stop there for some honest food and a real ale or even an overnight stop; they are open all day too.
It's my birthday today or so I'm reminded by scads of birthday messages sent through facebook (mostly auto sent I suspect). Rotten planning by my parents I always have reckoned as who needs another celebration this time of year? Far better to have it lighten up a gloomy March or November day surely? Well whatever, its another year notched up in the grim reaper's scythe handle: so enjoy it now, who knows what the future may bring?
Pic: The Fox & Hounds roadhouse.

Sunday 15 December 2013

It was my pleasure, and also honour, to be asked to judge the Ladies Kennel Association's Championship Show, yesterday, at the National Exhibition Centre just outside, and east of, Birmingham. I travelled up on Friday (together with trusted spouse) and other than some vicious heavy showers there were no M-way problems and we arrived at our hotel without any problem - apart from the last little bit of actually locating the hotel which seemed to be tucked away obscurely; this did lead me to rather regret having binned my SatNav in a frustrated rage after it had misdirected me on a previous occasion. Hotel was fair enough and included dinner (all compliments of the Show) and being 2nd in the ring on the show day, enabled time for a leisurely breakfast prior to the short motor to the venue. NEC has never been a favourite venue of mine. The car parks are not handy enough for the Halls and usually involves using the bus shuttle service or a longish yomp if setting off on foot. It was well past midday before I was called on to judge the English Toy Terriers. I was well pleased with my entry of some very nice ones, and more than pleased when my Best Of Breed, a beautiful bitch youngster, was pulled out in the Group and placed 3rd under a highly respected International Judge - no mean achievement for an English Toy Terrier and which I thought did justify my choice. Having missed lunch due to the late timing it just a sandwich and coffee (just as well I had tucked into a hearty brekky!) before setting off in the lunatic Friday evening traffic. Once again the trusty Fox & Goose came to the rescue with a welcome break at Brent Knoll to restore my diabetic system from the point of collapse. Of course, on our return home the English Toy Terriers did expect their usual settee and television time, and who was I to deny them that? So it was rather late again before we hit the zzz button.
Pic: Dog CC winner

Thursday 05 December 2013

A time for rejoicing in the Amalek English Toy Terrier kennel .... a happy new Mum with a shiny litter of 5 pups has made Fraser a proud Dad once again! Not that the whelping was completely straightforward. There were a lot of bodies tucked up in her little womb and they did emerge in a very orderly manner, but all coming out with a rear presentation. This did involve an extra bit of heaving and straining on her part and they eventually emerged without the need for any human intervention - and that's just how it should be for a healthy breed with a sensible conformation. Her grandmother, Champion Amalek High Society, was an effortless whelper. No messing about with her. Without hardly a strain a puppy would appear and then be expelled like a express train coming our of a tunnel. She was a great bitch and a credit to the breed. And a reply to those who condemn inbreeding. She lived to the age of 14; died of natural causes; and only saw a vet for routine visits. she whelped 17 pups, 7 of them becoming Champions including our multiple CC winners, Champion Amalek You Has Jazz with 24, and Champion Amalek I Got Rhythm (16) and my beloved old C'est Si Bon, who will be 13 this year, and is her mother. Of course inbreeding can be overdone, and not to be advocated for the careless. You have to know what you are doing, why you are doing it, and know the background of the two you are putting together ensuring that there are no nasty little hereditary skeletons in the background. 
Anyway, back to the current litter: with 2 two dogs and 3 girls we are well pleased with the night's 'work' and hope to catch up on some sleep tonight.
Pic: One of the pups 'weighing in'.
 

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Looking back over this past month I can certainly say that it has kept us burning up rubber to the Midlands for doggy events: English Toy Terrier events of course -is there any other breed? The English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) Club staged a seminar for up and coming judges, and others interested in our breed, and it was my job, as usual, to give a talk on some of its history and background. It went down fairly well I think; not too onerous a job for me as basically I just quoted chunks from the history chapters of my book (still on sale and available from me personally). As usual it meant an early morning start for us culminating in a late return home; one of the penalties of living in this delightful corner of England - so what's new?
The Kennel Club had also organised its own  seminar for judges of other breeds who wished to go on their approved list of English Toy Terrier judges and Mary & I felt privileged to be selected by the organiser to act as assessors of their breed knowledge. Once again it was a drive up the M-ways for us but as the KC were paying all expenses including overnight hotel accommodation it certainly took the edge off an irksome journey!
The Midland Counties Championship Show was, unsurprisingly perhaps, another visit to the Midlands, this time near Coventry. Not a too early morning start for us as English Toy Terrier were scheduled 2nd in the ring after a bigger breed (bigger in entries that is) and we were pleased to have the Bitch CC awarded to our Champion Carry On Amalek - and equally pleased not to have gone BOB so we didn't have to wait for the Group judging. A stop for a celebration drink & dinner on the way at our usual watering hole at Brent Knoll finished the day off nicely, and we were back in good time for "Match Of The Day".
Pic: 'Yours Truly' imparting words of wisdom to an enthralled audience.

Tuesday 09 October 2013

Now at the end of our visit to the USA, and to our friends at St. Louis, all that was left was to make our way back to Chicago airport, surrender the rental car to the hire company and consign ourselves to the tender mercies of BA flight crew for the return journey to UK, or as it once used to be known 'England' ....... what did happen to 'England' I sometimes wonder? Whilst other countries are bursting with National pride we (the English natives) seem to be content to lose our national identity and to be absorbed into some sort of glutinous pot so that even the once significant title of 'Great Britain' seems to be lost - probably so as not to offend some lofty liberal multi-national viewpoint.  If the Scots do decide to go it on their own then surely the title of 'United Kingdom' must become redundant? Now there's an interesting thought. We are the ''United Kingdom of  Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. The 1707 Act of Union was between England & Scotland, so if the Scots declare independence it would be logical to assume that the Union ceases to exist. In that case will the Monarchy of England, the Principality of Wales and the Province of Northern Ireland (Ulster) be known just as Gt. Britain in future? Will our passports, for instance, have in future to show our country as Gt. Britain instead of United Kingdom? Hmmmm ...... anyway, enough of that. The flight back was fair enough, the on flight catering no worse than the average M-way services, and we did land at the scheduled time. So no complaints (now there's a change) about that. We leave the car with the 'Purple' parking people (that has a good onomatapoiac ring about it) who shuttle us off to their establishment situated in the wilds of Hayes to collect said vehicle. Happily, between there and the dreaded M4 there is a Tesco, and they do a very nice freshly cooked breakfast at a price a heck of a sight more reasonable than the Services - and you get points too!
Home again, and the English Toy Terriers were delighted to see us even though Beryl & Cindy, doing split-weeks, had both done an excellent job of seeing to their needs.
Now to sit down and weed out genuine e-mails from the hundred or so spams - and back to reality!
 

Monday 08 October 2013

Two days of shows followed the Manchester Specialties - same dogs (almost), same people (almost) just different judges. If everybody took the same viewpoint on the Breed Standard and applied it in the same manner then, of course, it would be the same dogs that were the winners show after show. Would there then be any encouragement for those who were in the "also ran" category continuing to enter show after show? No of course not; dog shows  entries would soon fade away and Dog Shows would die off due to lack of support. No, it's the uncertainty of the dog show game and trying to figure out where a judge is going to place the dogs that come before him/her that are part of the show scene's lure. Of course there are those who don't have a clue what they are doing, and they soon become obvious. There are also those, usually in the higher echelons of the game, who are corrupted by the 'glamour' of the big rings and use their judging appointments to advance their own interests or settle scores with an exhibitor who had not awarded them a high place when judging in their turn. The judges at the three St. Louis shows were neither of those: ignorant nor corrupt; but they had their own opinions of what they were looking for and showed some agreement in some classes and disagreed in others, and no doubt could give perfectly logical (to them) explanations for their placing. This gets back to the point I was making that variety is the spice of dog shows. Not that top dogs should be put down the line for the sake of it, perish the thought, but even top dogs do have their off-days and get jaded so should not automatically be put up just because of their reputation; and this is the opportunity for a dog that is bang on form to benefit.

Thursday 03 October 2013

The main show day for Manchesters  was on the Thursday with the Club National Specialty (sic). The Toys, our main interest of course, were in the ring following the Standards so it gave plenty of time for us to get around and press the flesh, etc., with some of the old friends and acquaintances we have made over the past few years. We had already met up with Chas. & Debbie Williams, and Don & Pat Reid at their motor homes the previous day. They were telling what a heck of a drive it had been for them coming up from Texas with roadworks, traffic and accidents blocking the road, all adding to the already long journey (so we are not the only ones to be afflicted in the UK!). Wendy & Amanda Kelly had flown in from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and arrived totally done in after being shunted around and re-routed due to an aircraft failure; as they were also travelling with their dogs it must have doubled up on the stress.
The showground was at the dedicated dog show arena constructed specifically for dog show by the Purina food company at a site on their spacious Purina Farms. What an ace centre it is too. The lighting and flooring were both ideal as were all the other facilities making this a very popular venue for many of the breed clubs.
It was interesting to see the changes to the breed that had taken place since we had judged them in New Jersey a couple of years back. Changes for the better we (as English Toy Terrier specialists) thought. Many heads were losing that overlong and over narrow shape and returning to what we considered more acceptable for our breed. Saw a couple that we would like to have brought back with us and whose parentage linked back to exports of ours to the USA. 
This evening was the annual 'banquet' of the American Manchester Terrier Club which was well attended by most of the show exhibitors and held at the Holiday Inn in Eureka, which was the host hotel for the club. A good evening it was too: the dinner itself was excellent and after presentation of the annual awards to winners the usual auction of goodies brought in by members was done and raised some extra funds for the club's coffers.
Pic: Purina Events Centre.   

Tuesday 01 October

Due to having totally ignored the detailed directions to Pacific (our destination) that I had printed out from Google maps before we left, I missed the right hand turnoff to the I-44 and was forced to stop at a service station and seek directions as to how the heck to get back on it. Now, it had been broadcast on the 7-day advance weather forecast that thunderstorms were due that day. And it was right. As I pulled into the aforesaid services with the w-wipers going double speed and hardly unable to keep up with rain, I opened the car door and got out into what seemed a hot shower cabinet. I hadn't realised, with the car ac blowing cold, how high the daytime temperature was and also the high humidity. Steam was coming up from the forecourt concrete as the rain hit it. Anyway, a couple of large sized coloured gentlemen were kind enough to set me on the correct route once again for our destination and by the time we arrived at the Comfort Inn, not quite as early as planned, the storm had passed over and all was bone dry.
Time for a meal - so plumping for the easy option headed for a spaghetti joint only a couple of miles away. Dino's Italian Diner. If you ever in the area - avoid it. The waitress was obviously a school kid earning a few bucks with an evening job so I will excuse her lack of even basic waitressing skills. The food I did expect to be of a higher standard but my expectations, once again, were not to be fulfilled. And so to bed.
Pic: Comfort Inn at Pacific.

Monday 30 September 2013

It's not just petrol that is cheaper in America but everything generally. I reckon that what we pay a £ for here is a $ there, at least a third, if not less. Here's one for-instance: on the first evening after our arrival I drove a couple of hours down the I-55 and as it was now getting late, decided to pull off at a small town called Dwight and went for a meal to a local restaurant. We had soup or salad; onion rings as an appetizer; a main course; dessert; coffee. The price? Amazingly, the equivalent of £17.85 for the 2 meals. Would we get away with less than £40 here? I doubt it. The Motel room was £45 against £60 or so in a Travelodge or equivalent.
In search of breakfast before continuing on our way the next morning we found part of the old Trans American Route 66, which no longer exists in its entirety, and on it the Old 66 Family Restaurant in Dwight itself. Although obviously tricked up to attract the tourist it did seem to be packed with locals, so we gave it a shot. Again, reasonably priced and quite a decent bacon, sausage, eggs, & pancake, meal.
The passenger in the next seat to me on the 'plane over told me it had long been a dream of his to follow the Route 66 to its end on the West Coast, so he was hiring a car and fulfilling his ambition. I wondered how he was finding it. I did come across a couple of other sections of highway that boasted to be part of the Heritage Route 66 but it all seemed pretty scrappy and probably difficult to follow with all the improvements that had been made to the road. I wondered, anyway, whether he would be stopping there for a meal too?
Pic: 66 Restaurant, Dwight.

Saturday 28 September 2013

So here we are, back from the 'good ole USA' a couple of days ago and getting all the little jobs done that do pile up whilst you're away. Plus of course scads of emails, some genuine, but mostly junk, to sieve through and reply to or bin. I elected not to take the laptop or access the hotel's no doubt splendid p.c. on the grounds of being on holiday, and whatever it was would have to wait.
It all went off well enough, according to schedule, and without major mishaps (the minor ones were pretty minor anyway). Picked up the rental car at O'Hare airport.  I told the rental guy not to give me some old banger and he trotted off and came back with, what seemed, a new Toyota Yaris. Not a bad little car but I wouldn't buy one. Tiny boot space. We took a couple of larger wheelie bags and only one would fit in it.
It was heavy on juice too. The fuel gauge needle dropped alarmingly. Maybe it was the automatic gearbox that didn't help but I certainly did not seem to give the mpg that bigger cars that I've had over there have done. Not that it was any great problem with USA petrol price about half of ours (even allowing for the small US gallon) but meant an eye had to be kept on the fuel level. I did nearly get caught out on the I-55 driving down to St Louis. The fuel gauge had a gadget that showed how many miles to 'empty'. I passed a service area with '20' showing. Shucks, I thought, plenty of gas to make it to the next one (always the optimist, me). Up comes the next road sign: 28 miles to next gas .... at 8 miles still to go, '0' on the gadget and the fuel needle jammed down hard on empty .... we made it but those last 8 miles were driven with very sweaty palms believe me!

Saturday 14 September 2013

The Darlington show on today was another that we have not entered but would have done, despite the long drive and an overnight stopover being required, as we are off on holiday to the USA on Monday and it would just create too much of a scramble to get all those last minute details seen to before the house/dog sitters arrive for the duration. Besides, with the 200 mile hack up to Heathrow the extra long drives were not something that I wanted to undertake.
We are flying into Chicago, picking up a car and heading down to St.Louis, MO, where the AMTC Speciality shows are being staged this year. We missed out on these shows last year as they were right over on the west in Spokane so it'll be good to meet up with some of our American & Canadian friends again this year.
The weather here now changing back to cold and wet is something I am quite happy to see the back of. 

Saturday 01 September 2013

Today is our wedding anniversary - 51st to be exact. My, how the time flies and what a different world it is now from the '60's. You know, in 1962 we drove up to London from Worthing to buy a wedding dress (for Mary - in those days it wasn't the done thing for blokes to get married in dresses) and were actually able to park in Oxford Street right outside Selfridges store while we did the business. Seems incredible now that I think back on it. Now we can't even drive in the West End without paying a congestion charge - let alone park in the street. Of course then there were only about 48 million of us living on these islands with plenty of breathing space but we didn't appreciate it - well you don't do you? Probably today's generation will be saying 'I remember when there was only 65 million here'. Hm. Were they good old days? Certainly life went at a slower pace, nowadays the years flash past ever quicker and the days seem to hardly have enough hours in them. Technology has certainly speeded life up and we seem to live for the gadgets rather than the other way around. I don't think we missed out on much in earlier days and we certainly had more contact with people face to face. All these techy things are only money making devices for businesses, and we get conned into believing the latest thing is a gotta have. Which reminds me that I must look into getting one of those new tablets packed with all those useful apps that I can spend hours playing with .....

Friday 30 August 2013

Birmingham City show today, but had decided not to enter this year and save the long haul up to the Midlands - which suited me fine as I've been working flat out this week and the prospect of an early start would not have filled me with joy. The long dry spells of weather we have had this summer has meant a good opportunity to get the tree surgeons cracking on felling a few trees and topping off all the others that were getting far too high. What a difference it has made and there is now a lot more light and air around the garden, as well as opening up the views. The downside to all the felling activity is all the piles of logs that are looking for good homes and also the mountains of residual branches and cuttings that just have to be burned on site. Hence my workload of this week and a bonfire that has been burning day and night, with me as chief stoker. One huge mound has now been reduced to a heap of ashes, another awaits, and in the meantime the felling lads have started piling up another for my attention. But that's it for now, it can wait, I've had my fill of heat and smoke for the time being. The ashes, when cooled, get scattered over the grassed areas as it is just good potash and I find a good way of disposing of them before they get rained on which makes a mucky mess that's difficult to dispose of.
The English Toy Terriers have, and are still, thoroughly enjoying this exceptional dry summer with plenty of opportunities to get out and scamper without getting a soaking. I must say that we have been especially lucky down here in the south-west this year and even when other areas have had occasional heavy rain we have escaped the worst; the odd day here and there admittedly but not enough to grumble about. Long may it last.

Friday 23 August 2013

Clean forgot to make an entry after the Welsh Kennel Club show on the 14th. Nothing very remarkable to talk about today so might as well tell about it now. It should have stuck in my mind as Carrie won her 4th CC and went BOB under Albert Wight who is a judge with loads of experience judging English Toy Terriers. Not only that, it was a really beautiful day and ideal for showing our breed. The outside rings were dry underfoot and English Toy Terriers revel in showing outside with the sun on their backs and look extra lovely with their gleaming coats ..... hold on a minute ..... we weren't outside; we were in one of the gloomy, echoing sheds! Why? That is a Q that can only be answered with a shrug of the shoulders, a sigh, and a "Don't ask me!" As it happened Carrie showed her socks off inside, on the day, so it didn't make any difference to the result from our angle. Would have been nice though ....... saw they were mowing the grass in the outside rings ready for the next day, so left feeling rather puzzled as to the why's and wherefore's. Ours is not to question the motives of show managers, just to pay up for our entries and humbly accept what it meted out to us.
Found a jolly nice little Welsh roadside caff for breakfast on the way to Builth Wells so that was another 'plus' for the day - and alone worth the trouble of making the journey to the Welsh interior with its stomach churning bends and narrow, hilly roads. Many a dog has had sickness bouts on that route!

Thursday 22 August 2013

Although having nearly exhausted the subject, here's a bit more about the visit to Oslo and the show: Following the judging of the Best In Show the barbies were stoked up, the wine bottles uncorked and we all sat down for a sociable après show meal. A slight shower failed to even water down the glasses of wine, but even so our hosts were obviously prepared for such an eventuality as one-off plastic macs were produced for everyone but were not really necessary as the rain cloud soon passed over.
We had been warned that Norway was an expensive country so we were prepared for some of the wallet shrinking prices. Admittedly, Oslo is the capital but compared to normal London prices - away from the tourist traps - prices are steep. Compared with Spain, another country I have visited this year and where prices bring a smile to the face, it makes me wonder how two countries that are both members of the EU can be so diverse. Either that was not the plan in the first place or else it has all gone pear-shaped. Well, it has hasn't it?

Wednesday 21 August 2013

An odd thing about the Norwegian weekend was the weather: when we arrived at Gardermoen airport on Friday, about 1/4 hour or so train ride from Oslo, it was tipping down with rain ('Welcome to Norway!' I thought), and the same at our return there on Sunday; yet in the City itself it was rainless and we were even sitting out enjoying sunshine, which was probably just as well as the showground was in the open and devoid of any wet weather tenting! The classes and method of judging is somewhat different to that which we are used to here in the UK. The Scandinavians love (and require) their judges to give individual critiques on each entry which are handed to the exhibitors immediately after judging. These can be dictated to a 'scribe' either while the dog is being examined on the table and moving in the ring and they do like a 'warts and all' assessment with the less favourable points being mentioned in addition to the good. As the critique is for the exhibitor's eyes only and not published in newspapers as ours are, that's fair enough I suppose. Following all the dogs being seen and gone over and before they are placed in order each one is given a separate assessment of Excellent, Very Good, Good, etc., which might seem rather rum to us, but there you are, that's FICA rules. Would we like that here? Handing out individual critiques on the day does put the judge under pressure and is probably fairer than our system. How many judges write critiques influenced by the catalogue entries they read when they get home I wonder?  Reading some critiques I do sometimes wonder if we have been looking at the same dogs! 
Photo: Mary with her BOB at the show.   

Monday 19 August 2013

Arrived back home from the Oslo trip early this morning - 2 am to be exact - thanks to the late afternoon flight back to Gatwick being delayed for an hour by the carriers, Norwegian Airlines, (no reason given). This had a knock on effect as we were planning dinner at a pub near Gatwick that we had used previously, before driving back, but now found it closed for food. As others would doubtlessly be in the same situation a rethink was now required. 'I am reviewing the situation' as Fagin sang in 'Oliver!' but only one option was now open - it was starve, or reluctantly re-route to the Cobham Services on the M25! So be it: any port in a storm! I must say, though, that the Colonel's Kentucky Fried Chicken went down a treat and MacDonald's coffee is not bad either - both of them fair value for money. So no grumbles this time; although we did not investigate the possible delights of the Services own hot food counter!
So, what of the rest of the weekend? Exceptional and thoroughly enjoyed thanks to the organisation and hospitality of our Norwegian hosts who showed their appreciation of our visit in a very generous way. Mick Oxley had also been invited over to judge the Manchesters so we were able to chew the fat with him for the couple of evening prior to and following the show and exchange views and information about our respective breeds (and some of the people!), always a useful exercise.
As to the rest, perhaps more about that another day.
Pic: The enormous celebration iced cake, ETT decorated, après show.

Wednesday 07 August 2013

It's an especially busy week for us as Mary has judging appointment in Norway and we fly over to Oslo on Friday from Gatwick. We are overnighting tomorrow near the airport as we can't risk any delay which is  all too likely on the roads especially as part of it is M-way. All the i's have to be dotted and t's crossed dog and house-wise for Beryl who is kindly sitting for us. The judging invitation, which is also extended to myself, came from the Norwegian Terrier Club (ETT's are classed as Terriers in FCI controlled countries) who are taking care of all the expenses. I booked a flight with Norwegian Airlines as it seemed only right and proper to use the County's national airline. I've had a notification that the flight aircraft has been changed to Boeing's latest, the 'Dreamliner' so it will be interesting to see how it compares and what new features it has that others don't. Allowing for the time difference its only a 2 hour flight - hardly time to get the seat warm really. Although Norway is an EC member they had the sense to stay out of the Eurozone and still trade in Kronas, there being about 9 to the £. I always use CC abroad but changed up a few quid in case I get caught short somewhere there is no terminal, or may have to tip someone.  'Sorry old chap only got a credit card' doesn't go down too well with taxi drivers or hotel porters.

Tuesday 06 August 2013

Paignton Championship show, which, in days of yore, used to actually be held in Paignton, in a Park in Clennon Valley, is, and has been for some years now, located at the Westpoint exhibition centre on the outskirts of Exeter. Whilst now being that much more convenient to get to and park, I seem to remember that neither was that easy at the former site, the actual exhibition hall is a bit of a nightmare at least from the showing of dogs angle. Some breeds are lucky enough to have covered outside rings, peaceful and quiet, but the toys are always stuck in the noisy, echoing and badly lit hall. Our English Toy Terriers hate it. So do I, but there you go; it's our nearest Champ show and about 35 miles away so I really shouldn't grumble I suppose, it beats getting up at hours that before I started dog showing I thought was only the province of milkmen and posties, and flogging up the M5 to partake of indigestible breakfasts at the dubious establishments that punctuate the M-ways like zits on a teenagers face.  No CC's on offer at this show. In fact it is only recently that ETT's have even had their own classes. Fortunately we now have an enthusiastic and growing band of ETT owners and breeders here in the south-west and there were 18 entered this year. That's better than some of the shows with CC's have managed. So how about it KC? What do we want TICKETS! When do we want them NOW! LOL! That's being silly....but why change the habit of a lifetime? Actually the day hasn't turned out be unfavourable, we went BOS with Carrie and also sat out in the sunshine eating ice cream - and that's a combination that doesn't happen often enough.
Pic: Ch.Carry On Amalek
photo by Dewerstone

Sunday 28 July 2013

Despite my well laid (so I thought) plans the journey up was fraught with some traffic congestion but by the time we got to the dreaded M5/M6 intersection it had cleared and we sailed through just making a stop at Stafford's Catch Corner for a meal at the Fayre & Square pub/restaurant. It's a regular watering hole of ours when up that way and it does serve some decent nosh at reasonable prices and also stocks the Cornish Sharps brewery 'Doombar' bitter - not to be missed - and what a saviour this place is being the only easily accessible hostelry on this M-way route other than the respected Fox & Goose at Brent Knoll. 
Being just a half hour drive to Harewood from the motel we had quite a leisurely start to the day. It was certainly a very pleasant day weather-wise which was made even more pleasant when Carrie was awarded the bitch CC, her third, to finish her to her Champion title. Fortunately, she did not go BOB so did not have to wait until late afternoon for the Group. With a 330 mile drive back home it was not a prospect I would have relished as it about 9 pm before we got home anyway. We drove through a rain storm and were surprised to find it dry here. Cindy, our dog sitter, had kindly done some tidy up in the garden so it must have been a reasonable day here after all despite the ominous weather forecast to the contrary.
Today will be spent recuperating and catching up with those little jobs that accumulate after a couple of days away.
Pic by Leanne Wild: Mary with judge Anthony Oakden.   

Friday 26 July 2013

It's a real bummer: can't take Monkee to Leeds with us today. Only four months since her last season and she has come right in. Was hoping that perhaps she would not be too bad and I might get away with showing her, but no, right bang in! Ah well, that's the hazard of showing bitches they can be so unpredictable. I have heard that some bitches of other breeds are having a similar sort of problem, coming in early this year. Perhaps it's the unexpected climate change we are having that causing hormonal changes. Whatever, it is a pest. So off we go with just one dog to show.......

Thursday 25 July 2013

With the school Summer holidays now in full swing and all and sundry taking to the roads for holidays, and tomorrow being Friday it does not bode well for our journey up to Leeds Ch. Show, which is on Saturday; but I elected for us to drive most of the way and overnight at a Days Inn half an hour or so away from Harewood House for the final leg on Sat. morning. Days Inns are rather of the cheap and cheerful variety of motel but they do accept dogs for a reasonable supplement, and its not too easy to find those these days. Travelodge now charge £20 a night for each dog which is a bit of a tuck-up in my opinion. T'lodge used not to charge at all (mind you that was several years ago) but as usual the facility got taken advantage of by people with big hairy dogs who used to leave a hell of a mess behind them. Then the management retaliated by making a charge which has increased over the years to its present level. Can't say I blame them really but it hits up owners like ourselves with small short haired dogs who sleep in boxes and behave themselves. Some of them now won't take any dogs even at a charge which further complicates the problem of finding accommodation. Anyhow, I'm planning to leave mid afternoon and miss the worst of the West Midlands M6 snarl up and arrive at the M62 Services about 10 pm. That's the theory anyway. We've been up to this show previously but I'll set the Satnav to work this time as previously I have gone up using the M1, up the east side. Not too sure of this route and It's such a hassle if you make a wrong turn on the M'ways.  I bought this Satnav in the USA on our last visit when the GPS (same thing) in the hire car went belly up. It was a cheapie Tom Tom from Walmart with just an American road map so I had to buy and install a UK map and store that one on the pc hard disc. Hopefully I can reinstate the American for our visit later this year as long as the technology doesn't baffle me.  

Monday 22 July 2013

Looking back at the date of this last 'rambling' I wonder what happened to the past two months? Have they passed me by in a sort of Paul Gascoigne alcoholic haze or have I dozed off into a geriatric type dream world to be awoken by nursie shouting down the ear trumpet? No, neither of those. To tell the truth: just couldn't be bothered. Don't suppose anyone reads this load of old codswallop, or cares anyway whether they do or don't - but just to prove that the old codger's grey matter is still functioning I'll give a resume of the successes and failures during the past few weeks. If I leave out further complaints about Motorway food and the English weather what else is left? Not a lot .......  well yes, there was the Southern Counties Championship Show at the Newbury showground. That was a good day for us and one when I didn't do the driving as we went up with Malcolm & Sharon. Monkee took the Reserve Bitch CC again, so that was something. That show was followed by Windsor, which is a lovely showground and one of our favourites. Windsor Castle in the background; and if you like 'plane spotting a stream of jets heading off to far flung places having just taken off from Heathrow airport. Lucky people - that's if you like flying. Monkee was not entered for this one, so Carrie was left to fly the Amalek flag, with no little success as she won the Bitch CC & BOB. It did mean a long wait for the Toy Group and by that time the wind had got quite gusty and was rattling the big marquee where it was held. Got a bit worrying at one time Shockedbut it being of a sound aluminium structure there wasn't very much of a problem, just a bit noisy with the tenting flapping, sounded worse than it was. 
What a swelterer this month has turned out to be. A heat wave like this is something we Brits dream about - mind you that doesn't stop the complaints' like 'it's too hot! I can't stand this heat!' (come on, it's only high f80's c29 hardly hot enough to break into a sweat, so try wearing loose clothing and moving slower!) 'my garden could do with some rain' (the next person that says that gets a bunch of fives in the boat - my grass is shrivelling into a gentle shade of brown and I love not having to cut it every few days even if I am now questioning the purchase of that expensive state-of-the-art mowing machine).  Why not just sit in the shade with a cooling bevy (good Pimms if you can get it) and watch the Aussies taking a drubbing in the 2nd Ashes Test (I won't mention the 1st as that was too much of a close run thing, enough to make any England follower break into a sweat even if the heat didn't! But what the heck we won it (just) didn't we?).
Mary had a judging appointment with the Wiveliscombe CS, it was a Limited show and we had a lovely day with them. Outdoor rings, with a cooling breeze which saved the dogs from overheating. Some gazebos had been thoughtfully erected by the show committee and ensured that I could nod off after a very nice lunch without getting my scalp burned, being somewhat follicularly challenged, as I had forgotten that essential item, the sun hat. Thanks to Rod & Committee for putting on such a professional show, only their second one.
Pic: Mary with Group Winner & Reserve.

Friday 24 May 2013

What a difference a week makes! After kidding myself at last week's Devon County show that Summer had arrived, and better stock up on a high level sun-blocker, we were plunged back into the reality of the fickle British weather and stood around shivering as an icy blast gusted in over the Bath Champ Show ground - back to winter again! 
Here's a tip for anyone heading either north or south on the M5 and needing to stop for breakfast: avoid the Gordano Services like the plague. Unless of course you do enjoy bacon with consistency of a leather belt; sausages that even our English Toy Terriers were loathe to eat (they did eventually), fried bread that really needed a hammer to break it and baked beans that seemed to have been super glued together - and this was the first of the morning's servings, just after 7 am. I must admit that the eggs were freshly cooked but by the time coffee had been collected, and the whole insult to the intestinal organs paid for, they were stone cold. Why did I not refuse it and go elsewhere, pray? Simply because there were no other eating establishments between there and the Bannerdown showground. Why cook all that food and have it shrivelling up under heat lamps ages before they can serve it is, no doubt, a secret, rather like the Colonel's fried chicken recipe, that will go to the grave unanswered with the owners that run these wretched establishments. Before they do so perhaps they would do us all a favour and nip over the Channel to France and take a lesson or two from their French counterparts 
As to the show itself, apart from the freezer compartment type temperatures it went very well for the Amalek kennel. Mary with Carrie took the Bitch CC and Monkee and I Bitch Reserve ticket to her, then she went on to BOB so we went home cheerful at least, with a stop off for a celebratory dinner at the esteemed Fox & Goose watering hole.
Pic: Bath catalogue logo. 

Friday 17 May 2013

Decided not to support the Scottish K.C. Show in Edinburgh this year, for reasons which I will not expand on, and decided to have a jolly day at the Devon County Show's dog show, which also gave an opportunity to get around the rest of the showground as an entry in the dog show also included admittance to it.
What a gorgeous day it turned out to be. Brilliant sunshine, and a friendly atmosphere amongst the dog people. Carrie won her class but fortunately did not go BOB, which would have spoiled plans for a look around the show stands and then back home for some time with the English Toy Terriers to have a good scamper around the garden on a rain free day.
Camilla was at the show today, which was the first day, although I was not aware of it until nearly being run down by her chauffeured car (the Duchess of Cornwall wasn't in it) and police m/c escort.
A display of garden machinery seemed to draw me to it like a magnet and, mesmerised by the array of shiny grass mowers, I had soon convinced myself that I really did need, and deserve, that sexy looking brute with the mulcher and six speed gearbox. So coming away near on 700 quid less in the bank balance I now await, petrol can in hand, the arrival of said machine with the thought of the thrashing those clumps of grass and weeds are going to get. I'll learn 'em.
Pic: The machine itself.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Yes, another show, this time up to Stafford's Bingley Hall at the Staffordshire County Showground for the Birmingham National. This is England's 'National' show - the reason why it is so called - and for that reason should command as much respect as Crufts does. However, that's not the way of things. I never mind travelling up to this one and although it is a bit further to get to than some of the others and provided the West Midlands section of the M6 isn't choked up it seems quite reasonable. Came away feeling rather pleased that our breed judge had awarded Monkee with the Reserve Bitch CC; and also that Carrie won her class as she is starting to show herself off much better now.
Pic: Monkee's show rosette.

Friday 26 April 2013

What a lovely day it was at the WELKS Championship show today; and what a contrast to last year's paddling party with its waterlogged grass areas, puddles on the footpaths and howling gale. What a relief to be able to get out showing on dry grass. Mind you, there was a stiffish cold breeze blowing down from the Malvern Hills, but it was bearable at least, so no complaints. It did mean an early start this morning - nothing unusual about that - but not quite so early as this is one of our slightly nearer show. But English Toy Terriers being first in our ring did mean that getting to the showground in good time was of the essence. Carry On Amalek won her class but me and Monkee were relegated to a Reserve place in our class, much to mutterings of discontent from yours truly! Another day, another show.
Pic: Catalogue cover.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

The sad part of keeping a dog, or it applies to any other pet animal of course, is when the inevitable time comes when one must say goodbye to an old friend. Just such a time came this week when we had to face the fact that it was kinder to have our old pet and stud dog Ch.Amalek Mac The Knife put to sleep. 'Donald' or 'Mac' (he answered to both names) was born in November 1999 in a litter of 5 sired by Ch.Juleko Henry James at Amalek (Imp NZ) out of our Ch.Amalek High Society. He came into the world weighing only 2½ oz. He was neither weak nor runty, just small and a fighter so rather than let him get pushed out by the other 4 and deprived of food with the subsequent consequences we made the decision to supplement by bottle feeding every 2 hours throughout the day and night for about 3 weeks until he was able to fend for himself.  The result justified the decision. He gained his title and 7 CC's in 2001/2 and sired 54 offspring for ourselves and other kennels; he had a brilliant temperament, really placid, and was never known to have a cross word with any of the others. A real little corker.
Pic: the lad himself.

Friday 19 April 2013

Arrived back in Plymouth yesterday afternoon, fresh from our jaunt to 'foreign parts'. A refreshing break but, as always, could have done with a few more days of the sunshine and reasonable prices. Something has really gone badly wrong here in the UK. It must be a dozen or so years ago that I was in Spain last - could be longer as pesetas was their currency then, pre euro - so I was quite expecting prices there now to  be on a par with ours. But no, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find time after time when it came to paying a bill how much lower it was than the ridiculous prices we have to pay here. Just around the corner from our hotel there was a little restaurant, usual thing with outside tables, everyone sitting in the sun and enjoying themselves. And no wonder with coffee - Costa Coffee or Starbucks quality - at 1 Euro (about 85p); pint of beer also 1 Euro; snacks also at 1 Euro, or if you wanted a big plate of some sort of mixed salad it was 2 Euro. Dinner in an Italian restaurant of 3 courses, a bottle of Chianti, 2 coffees and a cognac - 50 Euros!. An ice cream cone bought from a specialist ice cream shop under £1. How do they do it? Perhaps their politicians are smarter than the bunch of numpties that we vote into office, and get their priorities right and look after their own people. VAT is 10% for instance - that has to be a good starting point. Perhaps, unlike us, the Spaniards are not taxed out of their skulls and they have more money in their pockets to spend; therefore the shops sell their goods and make a living, pay their taxes, and round it goes. Didn't see any empty shops or one after another of charity shops. Neither did I see any scruffy 'erberts kipping in doorways. They must be doing something right!

Saturday 13 April 2013

After a good week of dry and warmer weather, which has given a good opportunity to get a lot of needed spring-cleaning done outside, it has turned wet and windy today. Usually that would be a source of annoyance but today, au contraire, it has been somewhat welcomed. Tomorrow we are away for a few days and there has been the inevitable scramble to get everything in order and all the loose ends tied up ready for Beryl to come and take over as combined house & dog sitter during our absence. Yes, we are looking forward  to a mini-cruise to Santander in Spain, leaving from Plymouth tomorrow afternoon on the Brittany Ferries flagship 'Pont Avon'.  Just going as foot passengers, no car, and as we will spend only a couple of nights in Santander and the Bahia Hotel is just across the road from the ferryport, who needs one anyway? We've taken this cruise to Spain on a couple of occasions previously. It's a 24 hour journey and being French the food in the onboard restaurants is merely marvellous of course, and a delight. One time we took the car over with us, drove across Northern Spain to Lloret de Mar in Catalonia and back up across the Pyrenees, through France, to cross the Channel from Roscoff in Brittany back to Plymouth. Great fun. This was before the time of poofy sat navs and mobiles so quite a challenge in its own way. 
Pic: the 'Pont Avon'

Sunday 07 April 2013

It was another long hike for us up the M-Ways yesterday for the English Toy Terrier Club Open show at Baginton, nr.Coventry, about 220 miles of so. Not quite such an early start needed today, but early enough for my liking! Why do we do these things to ourselves? I ask myself increasingly frequently these days, but as usual cannot give myself a satisfactory answer ......!  With a Club AGM following on after the show and a committee meeting after that, again it got to be on the wrong side of the evening before we got back home. Once again it was the trusted 'Fox & Goose' that provided our dinner and a good pint of the local brew that made a good end to the day; and seemed to make it all almost worthwhile!
Pic: The highly favoured 'Fox & Goose' hostelry.

Saturday 30 March 2013

Although I wasn't doing the driving this time up to Stafford on Friday I must say that I felt just as knackered today as if I had been! Could be that the 4 a.m. alarm clock going off in my ear had something to do with it ... also, we were not back home until about 10 p.m. having stopped at the renowned Fox & Grapes for dinner; also the English Toy Terriers have to have their settee & TV time before we all go off to bed, so I guess it was about midnight before the lights were finally extinguished. That makes a lonnng day!
I often complain about the poor (sometimes rank bad) quality of what is served up in the M-Service Areas in the name of food and our experience on Friday really takes some beating. We had got a couple of hours driving under our belt, it was 6.30 a.m. and time for some breakfast. Franklin Services on the M6 were coming up, so we pulled off and in we went. The Food Area looked all ready: bacon, suasages, fried bread, etc., were simmering gently under the heat lamps and the bacon was beginning to curl gently around the edges ... but never mind we were hungry! Stood there for a couple of minutes awaiting service only to be told by a lady at the Costa Coffee franchise that the cafe didn't open until 7! Now, somebody must have been in to cook the stuff (unless it was done last night before they went off, which wouldn't surprise me!) - so why cook all that amount if they didn't intend serving it until later? By the looks of it it had been there for a while so what's it going to be like in another 1/2 hour or so? These places really are a disgrace. 
 

Thursday 28 March 2013

With the Easter celebrations coming up - it's Good Friday tomorrow - and a journey up to Stafford on Saturday for the UKTDS Championship show it looks like being a busy weekend at the Amalek English Toy Terriers home. One bright spot is that although we are scheduled to leave the house at 4am on Sat, I'm not in the driving seat for about the first time ever! Travelling with friends this time in their car, so perhaps there will be an opportunity to nod off on the way up! Carry On Amalek has to stay at home - another wasted entry - due to not finishing her season in time. Well, these girls take their own good time and won't be rushed will they. That's always my gripe about having bitches for show, so many entries get missed due to seasons, false pregnacies and so on.
What a contrast, weatherwise, to last Eastertide when we were sweltering in an early heatwave and drought conditions threatened for the Country. Although we are into a good dry spell with clear skies, it ain't 'arf cold Mum! The north wind is blasting and the temp is rarely above 0 celcius in the mornings. Still, far preferable to rain dripping down your neck and the English Toy Terriers can get out for a good long scamper. Mind you, they are agitating soon enough to get back in to their breakfasts and warm beds, and I must admit that I wish I could do the same after depressing myself by checking the gas tank level and 'phoning in for a fresh delivery. Price per litre of LPG has been bumped up 3 times over the last year. Odd thing I find is that a tanker only arrives to fill up the bulk tank a day or two after a letter arrives from MacGas telling that the price has just been increased. Crafty lot.
Not much alternative though to keeping the heating going in this sort of climate as Mary gripes about going around in the house wearing a balaclava, greatcoat and boots to keep warm. That's women for you, expect to be pampered all the time.
Pic: 'The weather's lovely here!'

Tuesday 26 March 2012

It's that time of the year: time to cheer ourselves up planning the summer holiday, checking prices and making bookings. So where do we go this time?
Why, to the AMTC Speciality Show in St.Louis, Mo. of course! Looks like the nearest intercontinental airport is Chicago. Only a couple of hundred miles drive south to St.Louis. Would be a lot cheaper to fly into NY Newark and make a pleasant 900 mile drive over a couple of days, but there really isn't time for a long drive both ways. So the Windy City's O'Hare Airport it is to be.

Pic: 'toon 4 (last)

Saturday 16 March 2013

Being 'English Toy Terrier duty kennel man' today I was exempt from stewarding duties at the Okehampton DCS show, as Mary needed to be there all day and I gladly relinquished that somewhat dubious honour (in my view anyway), in preference to cleaning up poop after the delightful little rascals had deposited it wherever they thought fit. The morning has been bright and sunny so it gave a good opportunity for them to have a scamper around the garden, two at a time. Fortunately there could not have been any foxes trespassing onto our property, in recent days at any rate, as they all came back from their various expeditions into the trees and bushes without diving into a deposit of fox poo - a delight of theirs given the opportunity. A threatening sky with a subsequent shower of hail stones stopped play about midday and turned into a miserable afternoon - which was made no more cheerful by the TV broadcast of the final England v Wales game in this Six Nations Rugby Cup series.
The flag of St. George should be really flying at half mast and all Brits wearing sackcloth & ashes. A wheel must have come off the 'the sweet chariot' for England who had been dodgy against Italyin the last game, winning narrowly, took a right drubbing from the Welsh who thoroghly deserved their resounding win and took home the competition winners cup. Well done Welsh lads! Although it chokes me to say it!
Pic: 'toon 3

Thursday 14 March 2013

Something to be cheerful about today was a prospective purchaser coming to view the house. The weather had perked up too and following yesterday's snow fall it's been a lovely day with clear blue skies an sunshine nearly all day. Very nice for this chap to see the stately pile basking in the sun. He seemed impressed enough and said he would come back with his wife, who had been unable to travel today, so she could have a butchers. So we never know. Wait and see if she does indeed come and have a look and whether they will want to take it any further. It was a good day for the Enghlish Toy Terriers to have a good scamper around the garden - followed by me with bucket & shovel - and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. If it could only be like this every day .........
Pic: 'toon 2

Tuesday 12 March

A message, from the Estate Agents selling our house, that our buyers had pulled out at the twelfth hour and left us in the lurch did not, as you can probably appreciate, come as the most welcome news that I have recieved recently. To be frank, the air was blue for several minutes following the 'phone call, with all sorts of ill wishes such as a biblical type plague of boils, and anything else unpleasant I could think of, being brought on the head of these perfidious people. The only small staisfaction I was left with was the knowledge that they had paid for a full building survey which was wasted. So it's back to the drawing board for us. Pity it had to go squat as the property we have found is 100% suitable for noisy English Toy Terriers and there are no neighbour on any sides of the property. Rarely found. The housing market is picking up quite a bit of late so it's possible that we may have some viewings and get a quick sale.
Pic: 'toon 1

Saturday 09 March 2013

So, how was Crufts yesterday? As expected English Toy Terriers were late in the ring following the Pekes.We had allowed for not needing to arrive at the NEC quite so early so there seemed  to be just not enough time to get round the sales stands - which to me was partly good news as I'm the one who has to hump the stuff back to the car via the packed out 'buses. Somehow, I just did not even make it to our Club's  Discover dogs booth either, which I always make a point of doing. After the judging was finished there was just time for a small gathering at the benches for a wee drink and nibbles with overseas friends before packing up and setting off back.  
Anyway, as to the showing: Monkee (Ch.Amalek Cant Buy Me Love) decided to have an off day and be grumpy.  Thought it was signs of her about to come into season. But just female hormones at work no doubt as she hasn't. So of course she did not show at her best. The Open Bitch was enormous, 15 in all, and I was pleased under the circumstances to survive Vanessa's cut and finish up with a Reserve. The Limit Bitch was also well entered - 9 in all - and our Carrie (Carry On Amalek) won the class. Nice one.
I know everyone gets excited about Crufts, to outsiders it seems to be the only show they know. I suppose it's the TV coverage that stokes up interest but it is - let's face it - just another show; same dogs, same people, same judges that you see at all the others during the year. But, hey ,is that just me being cynical?
Pictured: Carry On Amalek (Pic by Dewerstone Photo)  

Thursday 07 March 2013

With our Toy day at Crufts being tomorrow it's been a rather hectic day here getting everything in hand for the big event; converting the car to something more resembling a van by removing a couple of the back seat and getting it packed up with dog carrying boxes and the other accroutrements required for a day out. This is something that needs doing for most 'away' shows of course but there always seems to be something extra that needs to be packed on for this show and not forgotten. As we are also taking another passenger/exhibitor with us all the space has to be carefully alloted as we are going to be pretty well loaded . This year the English Toy Terriers are second in the ring after Pekes - 94 of them - so it's not going to need a particularly early start for us tomorrow morning. Even so, can't be too nonchalent about it - it will be Friday traffic and one never knows what to expect on the M-ways. I'm told that today the M6 was blocked by accidents in both the north and south carriageways, so everybody was screwed. Anything can happen and very often does!

Saturday 02 March 2012

It's been another 'show day' today; yes, back at the Exeter Livestock Centre for a pre Crufts 'tune-up' for Carrie our young English Toy Terrier who should stand as good a chance as anyone, provided she's up on her toes and rarin' to go. She does tend to be rather too laid back sometimes and not show herself at her best. As we were scheduled a later time in the ring it meant a leisurely start to the day for us; show the dogs, lunch, and home without waiting not having gone best in breed. Quite satisfactory really. Didn't even mind that the judge didn't think our exhibit worthy of a first, but who cares - we know better anyway! Back home in time to do some dog walking as the evening are drawing out nicely. Devon County Council have done a lot of work metalling a bridle path which is now all hardcore. The entrance is about a 1/4 mile down the road from us and it makes a very pleasant walking surface  compared to previous when horses uses to chop up the surface and turn it into a mudbath. OK when you are sitting up on a horse, but not so good when you are on foot - impossible actually. Nice to see our community tax spent on something that benefits me! Laugh!

Saturday 23 February 2013

Faced with a choice of "Shall I take advantage of this continuing dry spell of weather, get out with hedge trimmer and chain saw and do some serious damage to the winter growth in the hedgerows (and possibly to myself!)?"  or: "Shall I settle down on the settee, get the English Toy Terriers in and, armed with a bottle of one of England's finest ales, watch England knock seven bells out of the French in the Six Nations Rugby Competition on the telly?" A small voice inside of me said "Baby it's cold outside! Why risk pneumonia?" Thus was it settled. Rugby it was to be. Now, anyone with a lifetime of watching England's national teams know not to feel too confident of the team's chances especially when the sporting pundits have forecast that all they have to do, more or less, is turn up and walk over their opponents. The French, although having been walked all over in their last two games and were expected to be thus treated by England put up a damn good fight and it was somewhat due to a stroke of luck that England eventually came out winners. A close run thing but a good nail biting match. Can the team carry on its winning ways and secure a Grand Slam? I wouldn't put my money on it!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

If you had told me only a couple of days ago that I would be sitting out on the verandah today sunning myself, I would not have believed you. Well, the truth is that I was. Not that the temperature was particularly high today, and to be sure the sunshine did not last for very long, but what a welcome break it was. This spell of dry and above average temperature days has given an opportunity to get a 1st cut of grass under way as well as getting the English Toy Terriers out from under blankets for a welcome scamper together in the garden, rushing around in circles and ducking and diving from each other. Plenty of energy there to be expended! What a lovely sight it is to see them out enjoying themselves. There really has been a beastly cold cutting wind which recently has been blowing up our road like a wind tunnel. They hate being rugged up so it's far too unpleasant for them, and how they hate too the wind blowing in their ears. Far better to hibernate and wait for a day like this they will think.  

Saturday 16 February 2013

Although there was a show today at the usual Exeter venue we did decide that, in view of the scheduled judging start time of 9 am for English Toy Terriers, this one would be given a miss, despite entries having been made. Just not enough time to see to the dogs and get us off to the show without getting up a couple of hours earlier. Not worth it for an open show; certainly not this time of the year. There has to be a very good incentive to quit a warm bed in mid-winter - and this certainly was not a convincing reason! Had we realised that we were to be 1st in the ring at the time of sending off the entries, of course we would have saved wasting a few quid. 'First read your schedule' .... seems to be the order of the day here! However, I was highly delighted to be thus reprieved as weatherwise it turned out to be a gorgeous day. So grasping this unexpected opportunity to do summat outdoors I duly gave young Will a call and got him down to assist with an afternoon's gardening work. Having a sizeable heap of branches and cuttings from a previous tree cutting exercise, a good size bonfire was got underway. Despite being a bright sunny day there was a bit of a chilly wind blowing over from Dartmoor, which emanated from Scaninavia in the first instance, I'm told, so a good roasting from a raging wood fire was more than welcomed. If this dry spell of weather continues for a few days I may even get a good winter clear up done and all ready for the fresh spring growth. It'll be a 'first' if I do manage it this year!  

Sunday 10 February 2013

It's been one of those days when I could really have missed getting up early, having a hasty breakfast in place of one of those Sunday morning fry-ups, enjoyed whilst listening to 'The Archers Omnibus', and driving up the M5 in pouring rain to attend an ETT Club Committee meeting in the Midlands scheduled to start at 10.30 am. Did I say 'pouring rain'? More like a deluge and it didn't stop all day, both ways! Never seen anything like it, wipers going at double time were hardly enough to keep the 'screen clear. On the plus side (if there was one) was that being a Sunday there were hardly any HGV's on the road. thus sparing some of the usual additional spray from their dozen or more wheels. A stop at the Fox & Goose at Brent Knoll on the homeward drive, for some dinner and a pint, was well deserved I reckon! Anyway, home to a comfortable settee, get the English Toy Terriers in and settle down to watch Match Of The Day - can't be all bad can it? 

Saturday 09 February 2013

A high point of the Plymouth C.S. show today- at the Exeter Livestock Mart - was, to mind at least, not going BOB and having to wait for the Group before we could head off for home! As it happens we didn't even win our English Toy Terrier class which came as a relief to yours truly as I was very pleased to just pack up and get back into the car with the heater blasting. Sometimes I wonder why we bother at all with these Open Shows, but with Crufts coming up shortly these do have a use in that it gets the dogs 'tuned up' and reminds them that their sole purpose in life isn't just sleeping and eating at their owners' expense - get out there and do some work! LOL. Have to put that silly 'LOL' acronym in so that the dim witted don't think I'm being serious.
We had a house to go and view too, so that was another reason for not wanting to hang around waiting. Unfortunately the house proved to be a no no, so that was another wasted journey. However, you don't know that until you go and view. Odd how the House Agents glowing accounts and craftily cropped pics of properties rarely match up with the reality that faces one on arrival! There are, it would seem, 'lies, damn lies and Estate Agents' who do seem to live in a fantasy world of optimism and inflated house valuations.

Thursday 07 February 2013

It's been a quiet few days here at the Devon coalface with all going well and nothing remarkable happening in our English Toy Terrier world. They have all been quite content in their quarters with no ethusiasm being shown for getting out and about in the wintry conditions which have been sort of fluctuating between an uncomfortable damp cold and just plain cold cold. Definitely not the time of year when one feels enthusistic about anything. Some good sports results for England teams have been cheering us up though: first the retaining of the Calcutta Cup against the 'Auld Enemy' in the Six Nations rugger competition and then beating Brazil 2-1 in the footie at Wembley. Yes, I know it was 'just' a friendly game but we have lost plenty of those in the past to teams of a theoretically lesser talent, so we take some comfort from that.
 A problem on the house purchase front means that we may not be moving on quite as soon as we had hoped. The people we were arranging to buy from have hit some complications which have brought all negotiations to a shuddering halt.

Saturday 26 January 2013

Today's show at the Exeter Livestock Market (aka the cattle market) was put on by Torquay CS (I think, but it may have been another), anyway, it is not the warmest of venues even in summertime (when we have one), so knowing what it can be like there I had been inspired to dust off the venerated sheep skin jacket (many thanks to the animal that provided it). Carry On Amalek was very pleased about it too as she spent most of the day inside it with me, coming out only to go into her class; in which she showed her appreciation by winning and going on to BOB. I must say that we could have done without the BOB as the wait for the Group seemed interminable. The show societies are not very generous with heating in that place - and who can blame them as the overhead heaters are expensive to run and they have to keep an eye on costs - so the slow creep of cold up the legs from the concrete floors is something that just has to be endured - with our customary Brit stoicism of course! 
These Exeter shows are a good central meeting place for the English Toy Terriers here in the South West); a good opportunity to socialise our ETT's as, there are usually 7 or 8, and a get together with lunch in the Stockmans restaurant usually de rigueur for the owners. Some you win and some you lose, and no one seems to mind very much, and that's just the way it should be!
pic: the Phantom Texan 'gator strikes again!  

Thursday 24 January 2013

What a glorious day it's been today! The sun peeping through and a milder air melting what was left of the snow. Still a bit of white left on the high tors of Dartmoor though. Reports of bad weather conditions in other parts of the south west and the remainder of the country, make us grateful for our good fortune today. Time to get collars & leads on the English Toy Terriers and out for some roadwork now that the icy blasts of wind have dropped. They do not like being rugged up for walks and always seem miserable in unaccustomed clothing. Far better to be in the comfort of their quarters where they can keep up their muscle tone in the concreted yard. A peculiar breed is the ETT for when other breeds are growing a good thick protective coat our ETT's are dropping theirs and looking like moth eaten rugs. Just with Crufts coming up and when we need them all looking at their best!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Woke up this morning to find a thin layer of snow over everything outside, which was no great surprise as it had been forecast. However, it was really just a light scattering and we were amazed to find out that there had been heavy falls in other parts of Devon and over the rest of Britain in general. One plus point of living where we are is that usually we do escape fairly lightly from snow falls apart from exceptional years when the blizzards are really blowing. I can only recall probably 3 or 4 years when it was too bad to get out onto the roads down here. I bought a set of wheel chains for my vans some years back and in over 20 years they never came out of the bag they were bought in, and that's when I used to get out over most of the Duchy of Devon & Cornwall visiting my customers. I wish I could say the same about rain - that is our main affliction - they say in Devon you grow web-feet and they aren't far from wrong! Our particular area is particularly a wet spot due to the close proximity of Dartmoor, a big cold lump of granite and bogs of about 400 square miles. There is an army training camp up above Okehampton and I hear that the Marines train up there only in string vests for tops - LOL - believe that if you will! Big Grin

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Mentioning, yesterday, about Americans & Canadians shifting whole houses  on the backs of lorries to new locations, made me find a pic of 'Beau Reve'. Just a typical American deep-south plantation house you might think and of course you would be right, it is.  But what makes this one so remarkable is that it was shifted, whole kit & caboodle, from it's original site, down the Neches River on a barge to where it is now in Port Arthur, Texas! It has had some reconstruction & refurb over the years, painstakingly undertaken by its owners, who have turned it into a lovely restaurant. We did have lunch there and its menu, decor and furnishings takes you back to the good old days of southern hospitality and comfort. Quite a contrast to Burger King!
Pictured: The Beau Reve.

Monday 14 January 2013

What a lovely day it has been! One of those rare winter days when the grey skies have cleared, a watery sun is in the sky, and one is inspired to get out and do something useful outside, like clearing out the garage ready for the expected house moving. Well, not the house itself of course, not like America where it is not unusual for people to do exactly that and move their house to a new location on a flat lorry. Being mostly of wood construction it is quite a feasible thing to do. Anyhow, after 30 years in the same residence the garage, which ceased to be used for that purpose since our arrival here, has accumulated a vast amount of items which I have carefully stored over the years for what I was convinced would be useful at some indeterminate time in the future - and which Mary rather rudely, to my mind, refers to as 'junk' - and which now definitely does need my attention. I never use a garage for cars; well I did once years back, but found that the car sweated unless the garage was heated (what a waste) never dried off and caused rusting. Since then I have been convinced that cars are outside animals and are much better off parked in the driveway where the wind can circulate underneath. What a painstaking job sorting through the junk turned out to be. Could I really throw out that piece of wood that had been standing in the corner and was bound to be needed for a job one day? And that old screwdriver that had been used for stirring a pot of paint 10 years ago and never got cleaned off, would that ever be of use again? Meanwhile Tilly the office ETT had been inspecting a bundle of newspapers that had been scratched to shreds - a rat perhaps? More like Thomas Cat, the official family rodent catcher, had been exercising his claws, as cats like to do, sorry Tilly. So after loading the car with all sorts of tutt, and with some of the garage floor space now visible to the naked eye, it was off to the Council rubbish dump - sorry, Re-cycling Centre - with the first of several loads. What interesting lives we do lead.




Tuesday 08 January 2013

Today was another good news day. Colin, our ever conscientious Postie dropped a letter through our post box this morning from the Kennel Club (nothing surprising in that) - that's not the good news itself, but what was contained in the letter was - it informed us that the General Committee of the Kennel Club had approved a proposal from their Assured Breeders Scheme organiser, which had been initiated by the ETT(B&T) Club's committee, that our Amalek Kennel be awarded an Accolade of Excellence. This accolade is awarded to members of the scheme with a record of outstanding achievement in their breed they say. As there have been only a handful of breeders who have been awarded this accolade so far we do feel highly honoured by this prestigious award. It seems we must have been doing something right much of the time! The K.C's Assured Breeders' Scheme does give people looking for a puppy a reassurance that they are not dealing with a 'back street' or irresponsible breeder as a source.  The kennels and dogs on their list have been inspected, breeders have been questioned, and comply with the K.C's recommendations for responsible breeding and care of their dogs.

Friday 04 January 2012

It's Good News day! Big Grin Negotiations for the sale of our property and purchase of another seem to be going ahead as prices have been agreed and solicitors for all the parties concerned have been instructed. There is no 'chain' involved so it should all be straightforward - but let us not forget that there is 'many a slip between cup and lip' and until everthing is signed, sealed and delivered on the final day nothing is 100% certain. Anyway, we are looking forward to a change of residence; been here just on 30 years now, and the same view, although lovely, does tend to pall over time. What is a daunting thought though, is the actual logistics of a move (one reason why we have stayed put for so many is we couldn't face the stress of a move!). However it is now time to grit the teeth and take the bull be the horns, to mix metaphors  Confused. Finding a property in a location suitable for ourselves and our 'tribe' has not been easy, and many which on paper seemed to be a prospect turned out on inspection to be completely the opposite! Nowhere is perfect and there has to be a certain amount of trade off however.  

Wednesday 02 January 2013

Here we are in another New Year - doesn't all the fuss that was made over the 'Millenium' seem a long long way away now? The past 12 years have certainly seemed to fly by and I'm sure that a year used to last a lot longer when I was younger, now they seem to whizz past at an ever accelerating speed. The Christmas and New Year holidays passed off well enough with our family visiting over the period and bringing 'Charlie' (the Russell) with them. He is a very independent little dog and a great character. All the family love outdoor activities and spend a lot of their leisure time either walking or climbing mountains, skiing and horse riding, and 'Charlie' loves to join in with them - within reason of course; although he does 7km walks all through the mud and muck we have been having recently on the rural footpaths, and climbing rocky paths with them, he does have his limits! Anyway, for when they go camping he has his own little igloo tent in which he is quite happy to spend the night! I can't see our English Toy Terriers being so accommodating! 
English Toy Terriers do have a peculiar tendency to do a moult as soon as the winter starts - just when you would think they need a good thick coat - which usually means that they often turn up at Crufts looking much like threadbare rugs, just at the very time you want them to look their best - and it always seems to be the show dogs that are most affected. Sod's law of course!
Pic: Charlie, snug as a bug in his igloo.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Yesterday's LKA Championship show found a late return for us and the English Toy Terriers as we were 2nd in the ring at about 12.30 pm - which of course had meant a later start from home for us, which was welcomed, and you can't have it both ways - so after a stop for an evening meal at a wayside hostelry - it was about 10.30 before the driveway gates were closed behind us. It had been quite a satisfactory day, show-wise, with our Carry on Amalek taking a 1st and Best Puppy Bitch; Ch.Amalek Cant Buy Me Luck winning the Open Bitch; Neerodan Naughty Nancy who was sired by our Merlin x Champion Echo Of Jazz for Neerodan took the Bitch Reserve CC and a first time out for puppy Tillarn Kilgarrah saw him take the Best Puppy In Breed and also the Reserve Dog CC as he was sired by our Fraser x Amalek Maggical Spells we were as equally delighted at his success as his new owner.

Monday 10 December 2012

A change of routine today, for us if not the English Toy Terriers as it was the humans turn to party at the Okehampton Canine Society's annual dinner for the committee and other assorted trainers and helpers (that included me). A very enjoyable evening it was too at Betty Cottle's hotel & restaurant (there's a good old fashioned west-country name for you!). A good pint of bitter - 'Doombar' was my preference, a local brew, to wash down a roast beef dinner; silly hats out of the crackers, a good party spirit and an opportunity to socialise out of our doggy kit and into something a bit smarter. This annual event has been going on for more years than I care to remember, at least 40 or so and back in the days when people used to dress up for an evening out instead of dressing down as we do now. We used to have a more formal dinner & dance with tickets on sale to club members and some of us blokes used to wear a DJ and the ladies ball gowns. What a change there has been to the English way of life since those times. Were we being stuffy by being so formal? I don't think so, I do think that there was a pride in our appearance and, talking generally, I do find it rather sad that some people have little respect for more formal occasions and consider it acceptable to turn up dressed in the jeans and pullover they've been wearing all that day. Perhaps they can't afford to buy some decent clobber but I'll lay money that they can find the cash to fund their monthly mobile phone bill.
You don't have to go over the top, some smart casuals is adequate and cheap enough at outlets like Tesco or Peacocks. But then, doubtlessly, I'm just a relic of a bygone age - however, what goes round comes round, so perhaps I should be patient, keep the DJ mothballed and not send it off to a Sally-Ann recycle bin after all!

Monday 03 December 2012

A good reminder for us locals down here in Okey that Yuletide is fast approaching (for anyone who has not noticed the bombardment of jingles and displays in the shops, and the promise of all sorts of junk to be screened on the TV)  is the Okehampton & District  Canine Society's Dogs' Christmas Party. A jolly good evening it is too with games for the dogs which the handlers enjoy as much if not more than them. 'Pass The Parcel' reveals Bonios for the lucky ones opening a layer of the paper, and racing to see who can eat a sausage the quickest is a definite Top Game for the four legged ones. The English Toy Terriers present held their own in that game! A potent Punch concocted by Peter, the Club's Secretary, was well received and trestle tables loaded with snacks brought by members were supposedly for the humans but I did see some sneaky handouts being made to eager canine recipients; my Carrie too demanding her tribute of the evenings goodies!. Well, it is Christmas isn't it? 

Friday 23 November 2012

Don't ever complain about paying a TV licence. American TV is 95% rubbish. Our Freeview channels may only broadcast repeats ad infinitum - or should I say ads infinitum interspersed with repeat broadcasts - but believe me they are far more preferable to the dross churned out on their channels. Mind you I did find one (that's the other 5%) that just played old films (TCM - Turner Classic Movies) without any commercial ads, and which was a good way of dropping off to sleep at night, bored stiff perhaps by an old 1930's 'classic', instead of counting sheep. Lawrence Of Arabia was eminently watchable again, even though it has been shown twice in quick succession on UK Freeview. There was also an hour's interview with Peter O'Toole which preceded the film, talking about his life and beginning as an actor, and also about the making of the film. His musical version of 'Goodbye Mr Chips' co-starring Petula Clard was also screened. Unfortunately I didn't see the end of it as I did fall asleep. Ah well.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

The overnight flight back from Houston passed off slowly but surely and an hour of so shorter than the flight to it - due to flying against the earth's east to west movement so they tell me - and although I did manage to blag an extra scotch out of the flight attendant (and what a come down they are from the 'air hostesses' of days gone by! Our first visit to the USA around 1966/7 was in a BOAC Comet and although we were only flying economy there were spacious seats, a dinner menu, china plates, crisp linen napkins and the stewardesses wore smart company livery, little hats and a broad smile (also had to be fluent in French I believe!). it was also a short walk from the terminals to the aircraft; now it's a train ride plus a long hike to the Gates. Mary played the old soldier by flourishing her walking stick and conning a ride in a wheelchair pushed by a nice (no, that sort of nice) young man, leaving your truly to canter alongside humping our flight bags. The so called 'breakfast box' thumped down on the seat table (I'm surprised they didn't stand up front and lob them out to each passenger, or customer as we are now called) contained three or four items that I didn't fancy putting in my mouth, and I settled for a small box of raisins which seemed harmless enough.......
Decanting ourselves at Heathrow we collected the car from Purple Parking and set off down the M4 to hit a rainstorm that even w/wipers at double speed had a problem clearing from the screen - welcome back to England!

Monday 19 November 2012

Our penultimate day here is being spent with the inevitable packing of bags for the return flight from Houston tomorrow. No doubt the English Toy Terriers will be delighted by our return and we wish we could bring back to them some of the blue sky and sunshine which continues to delight and is being taken full advantage of in the knowledge that it may be last we shall see for some time after returning to GB! We've done a final tour of the local shopping mall for a couple of last minute purchases, despite bulging suitcases which already seem to have more in them than when we arrived. A final meal out with our friends at an Italian restaurant this evening reminded us how sad we shall be not to have their company on a regular basis. Perhaps next year we shall meet again but in the meantime we shall have fond memories of them and our stay here in Texas, the Lone Star State.

Saturday 17 November 2012

It's years ago since I shot off any firearms (when I was in the RAF on a shooting range with rifles and M/guns some 60 years ago to be exact) so I welcomed Charles's invitation to join him at a local range and knock off a few rounds with his 9mm shooter. As he also has a lighter pistol for Mary to use she was also delighted to have the opportunity. I'm pleased to say that we kept the English 'end up' and completed the day with some neatly drilled bulls on the targets to show our American hosts. The weather and food here continues to delight, now with cloudless blue skies daily and continual hot sunshine from morning to eve, so we are not exactly wishing the time away for the return journey next tuesday and would like to postpone the inevitable for a few more days at least if it were possible. 

Wednesday November 14 2012

Despite some clouding over and a few spots of rain over the weekend - or was it just a flock of passing birds? - if so thank heavens cows don't fly - we have now reverted to a cloudless blue sky and beautiful sunshine, despite a rather chilly wind which is a delight for us pair of soggy Brits who are now drying out from the good ole English summer. See on the web that England lost 4-2 to Sweden: well, it was only a friendly and we we were playing a young experimental team so think it was a shame the Swedes insisted on playing a top notch like Ibhramovitch and spoil it all for us by scoring the 4. Rather unsporting, what?
 

Saturday 10 November 2012

An enjoyable first day at the show. No English Toy Terriers here of course, just their cousins the Manchester Terrier (Toy Variety). The same breed with a different name? Well, although they both stem from the common ancestry the Toy Manchesters have developed (or rather deliberately had developed) some different characterists to the ETT, enough differences at any rate, to make them identifiably, at least to a trained eye. Fortunately both have sufficient common genes for 'crosses' to be made successfully, although some of the 'purists' on both sides of the Atlantic decry these mixtures.
The show scene here is somewhat different to that with which we have have in the UK; all shows are what we would regard as Open shows as Challenge Certificates are not needed to make up Champions, just an accumulation of points for wins. With a numerically small breed like the Toy Manchester spread over the vast USA it is rare to have classes comprised of more than 4 entries which is considered a 'major'. 

Friday 09 November 2012

I always like driving in the USA, the roads are so driver friendly, wide, well laid out and usually well sign posted. It's always a joy too to drive an automatic. Petrol at the moment is priced at a little over $3 a gallon which brings the motoring costs down considerably; but this is somewhat cancelled out by the longer distances Americans have to be prepared to travel as this is a vast country.
As usual this is turning out to be another of those 'busman's holidays' as we are leaving tomorrow for 2 days of back-to-back dog shows, just as spectators, so that will make for a change - laugh.  

Wednesday 07 September 2012

It's a lovely warm, sunny day here on the Gulf of Mexico; other parts of the USA are having heavy snow storms but here it's a pleasnt 76% F, and with a mild breeze keeping the temperature steady, so no complaints about the weather today, forecast is good for the rest of this week too! The flight over to Houston was long and boring, 10 hours in all, but worth it all after we arrived. Our good friends Charlie & Debbie were at the arrivals section to greet us and take us into Port Arthur, an hour or so's drive away, so we didn't have to go hunting for the car hire depot and get onto the road in the dark with a completely unfamiliar car to get accustomed to, as well as the usual hassle of finding the way out of airport roads and onto the Interstate,which was a relief in itself as it had been a long day already. Charlie had us booked into the Super8 Motel which is one of a big chain and offers an enormous room - by UK standards - en suite and with fridge & micro wave (don't intend to be using those much!) and also a continental breakfast included in for the price of thirty quid or so a night. Well that's it for the moment; time to get out and roast in that sunshine!

Sunday 04 November 2012

A busy day today (tell me a day that isn't!) getting packed up and everything ready to leave tomorrow for a bit of a break in the USA. Well 2 weeks anyway. Beryl, one of our 2 faithful house/dog sitters in moving in complete with her pet English Toy Terrier ' Busby' and we are heading off to overnight to the smoke before departing this country (and hopefully not this life too!  Wild  ) on Tuesday for the 10 hr flight to Houston to visit some of our good ole Texan buddies. British Airways will no doubt do us proud with  plastic trays of plastic food en-route, plus hopefully a brain numbing scotch & dry ginger (I usually ask for a 'large one' - sometimes it works and I get a double; usually just a pitying and withering look that says 'no chance you poor fool'). Mary usually has a gin and settles back for a snooze while I fiddle with the in-flight-entertainment, usually a sad collection of old dvd's (thinks: didn't I see that one on the flight over last year?) or the selection of audio programmes, there's got to be a jazz channel somewhere......
One of our last puppies is heading off to Sweden tomorrow too and we are dropping her off at Ryslip Shipping which is just a small detour for us from the M4 to Heathrow. So she is in for an exciting time too - her new owners speak pretty good English so she shouldn't have too much in the way of communication problems until she picks up the new lingo. Bon voyage 'Star'.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

That's another month gone by. Where do they all go? Mind you, we've been waiting and waiting for summer to actually arrive that before we realised we were in autumn and now winter, and Christmas is almost on us again and another year has almost gone down the drain.  Perhaps the English Toy Terriers are lucky in that they don't rely on calendars and are content to let the days slip by, and as long as they are kept fed, watered, exercised and kept warm, they don't let it get to them. Old Ceci is 11 y.o., and it seems incredible and only yesterday that I whelped her. She was one of our top English Toy Terriers but never achieved her Champion title, due in part to circumstances and partly to judges who failed to appreciate her finer points. Mind you she her fair share of winning with 2 CC's and 4 Reserve CC. Well that's life, there are plenty who deserve their title and those who don't deserve it that have it, and that's the way it will always be.
Pictured: Amalek C'est Si Bon - not sure when this was taken but it was after she retired from showing and why she's looking a bit portly.

Saturday 26 October 2012

Yesterday was a 'big day' in more than one sense - 'big' in as far as it was lonnnng, with a 5.30 am on the road start for the drive up to Stafford for the Midland Counties Championship Show; and terminating when we got back home at 10.30 pm. So today I am feeling somewhat fragile and looking forward to an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back tonight to GMT. How did the show go? Well, that was another 'big' day. Our Champion Amalek Cant Buy Me Love won the Bitch Challenge Certificate, went Best Of Breed, and to cap it all managed to bag Toy Group 4 place judged by one of the world's top judges, Ann Ingram from Ireland. Winning BOB is always 'good news, bad news' - good news to have an opportunity to show in the Group ring; bad news because it means staying on for it with a late start to drive back home. Being pulled out for one of the 4 top places does compensate of course! Also Carry On Amalek went Best Puppy In Breed to add to the one she had taken at the Club Championship Show. So no complaints about that!
Pictured: Carry On Amalek

Thursday 24 October 2012

Exeter bound for the 2nd time this week, on this occasion to meet a very nice lady at St.David's railway station who is coming to collect her puppy. As she lives in south east London it was far more convenient for her to train it, and as it would probably take her as long to get from Exeter to our place by bus and probably cost as much as her train fare down from London for a taxi, what else could I do but the chivalrous thing and offer to collect her? No problem. She arrived with her adult son, a nice chap, and returned with him plus the puppy. The non-stop train journey only takes a little over 2 hours which is pretty good and well worth it, avoiding the M4/M5, or even more horrendous the A303 which does have some dodgy bits as they can't dual all of it. Pretty scenery you see. There was a heck of a rumpus with the tree lovers a few years back now over dualling one stretch of it. The Dept. of Transport won of course, needless to say. So what did they do? Surfaced it on the cheap with brushed concrete which makes a horrendous noise. Bad enough inside the car but hellish for the poor people anywhere within half a mile or so of it. They protested to Tony Blair (Prime Minister at the time for anyone who is trying to forget him) when he came to Devon on a visit. He promised he'd see it was rectified. No prizes for guessing it is still the same. That's politicians for you, true to form.  

Tuesday 22 October 2012

A visit to the fleshpots of Exeter for that so exciting monthly grocery replenishment at Tesco just about sums up the highlight of the week so far. Tilly, the office English Toy Terrier, always enjoys a trip out in the car and manages to flake out on the back seat and firmly ignore any later invitations for 'walkies' nose firmly buried in a rug and pretending to be sound asleep, even if she isn't actually so. A rude awkening for her often comes on the way home when part of the load of comestibles purchased at the said Tesco is liable to shift, due to a sharp bit of emergency braking, or some fancy cornering, thus decanting a tin of baked beans or somesuch thing on her personage, much to her disgruntlement.  This time she also had to endure a visit to B&Q and share the back seat with D-I-Y items which thus decreased the amount of space to stretch out in - or, in which to stretch out, to be strictly grammatical, all rather undignified, but she did ask to come in the first place.

Saturday 13 October 2012

I was not sorry to miss the South Wales show today, which we had decided not to enteron the grounds that it was a show too far at present, as the weather turned out to be so favourable which gave me a chance to clear up some of the mess left behind by the tree surgeons. Not that they did too bad a job but there still remained a fair amount of small branches scattered around which will soon have grass growing up around them, better cleared up now rather than left to double the job later on. A quick phone call to an occasional helper, in the form of a willing schoolboy keen on earning a few quid, brought him down (he lives up the hill!) for a couple of hours and the remains were soon gathered into a nice neat heap - which just leaves the question of what to do with the heap! Ah well, solve one problem and create another. Young Will is a very willing (no pun) little chap and always earns his cash (he wouldn't get the work if he didn't!) and showed a true entrepreneurial spirit by leafleting all the old codgers in the neighbourhood some time ago saying he could help out with any sort of job - in return for hard cash of course - so he could buy himself the sort of stuff his dad couldn't afford to give him, i-pods and such like. He should go a long way in life, good luck to the lad.
I don't think the English Toy Terriers were sorry not to be away today either as the sunshine came as a very welcome interlude to the previous days of grey skies, and they showed their appreciation with a good scamper around the garden, a couple of them coming back with the remains of a pigeon which had probably been caught napping by a fox while feeding on the ground; not that there was much of it left, just feathers and a few bones. They looked most offended when their undoubtedly delicious morsels were snatched from them.  

Tuesday 16 October 2012

With the arrival of a team of Electricity Company maintenance men to carry out some needed surgery on some of our trees that were growing up into their power cables, I was expecting a day of vocalising by our choir of English Toy Terriers who are usually in good voice when given a target at whom to direct themselves. However, not a bit of it. Although the slightest click of a gate latch, or the clip clop of a passing horse is enough to put them into guard mode and sound off a warning, half a dozen blokes armed with chain saws and a fearsome looking log crunching  mobile chipping machine was taken all in their stride. The men departed some 6 hours later leaving behind a a couple of 5 foot high cones of  conifer chippings. If anybody wants any mulch for weed suppression etc., you know where to come. No charge but bring your own bags.

Thursday 11 October 2012

You are never without friends when there is a litter of English Toy Terriers pups on hand, and more of our friends, well two to be precise, arrived to admire the little darlings and take many pics. A great way to waste time? Well, no, not exactly as there is a method to our madness in encouraging folk to come and see and handle them. Puppies do need a heck of a lot of socialising to ensure that they get used to seeing and hearing different people and treating it as quite a natural event and begin to take it all in their stride. A healthy mental attitude as well as a strong healthy puppy is what we aim for.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Having put the word out through the Club Welfare Officer, Doreen Dicker, that we were looking for a really good pet home for our young lad Ozzy who we were reluctantly seeking to rehome. Consequently, we were delighted when she told us that Peggy Burton who lives in North Devon, had contacted her and was looking for a companion English Toy Terrier. She had had an English Toy Terrier previously and was quite experienced with awkward dogs that just needed an understanding home. When she arrived it turned out that together with her late husband Captain Burton she had indeed not only owned English Toy Terriers but also shown and bred a litter under their Sulhamwood prefix. Just the sort of home we were hoping for, someone completely au fait with English Toy Terriers, as he would not be going to just anyone. He is a lovely dog and it was more than unfortunate that he had suffered a trauma in the ring at his first show and is very wary of being handled by strangers - not the best attribute for a show dog, hence our decision!
After a couple of hours together and taking him for a country walk the two of them went off very happily for a week's trial homing, so we await a further report from Peggy.
Pictured: Ozzy

Sunday 07 October 2012

I must say that I felt somewhat creamed on getting home yesterday evening after a long day at the English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) Club Championship show, missing Inspector Montalbano on TV but in time to get some supper and settle down to watch Match of The Day so did not feel like booting up the laptop. However, from our point of view it was a satisfying day with a good atmosphere at the show and also for our 10 m.o. Carry On Amalek to go Best Puppy In Show under no less a judge than Frank Kane who also awarded his Bitch CC and then Best Of Breed to Amalek Making Magic for Sulasky - who is Carry's grandmother on her father's side. So a good result there, to be followed by Sharon Adams judging the 'Specials' who gave that BOB to Amalek Honky Tonk Woman who is jointly owned by us and Peter & Dawn Saunders and usually shown by Pete.  As usual my 'Presidential' duties obliged me open & close the show. Mary & I were somewhat surprised and overcome to be called back into the ring by the Chairman to be toasted by all the exhibitors on the achievement of our 50 year golden wedding year. Very touched we were, and what a nice thought. It was a lovely clear sunny day up in Birmingham too, really too rare this year to be spent indoors. Remarkably, probably because it was a saturday with fewer HGV's and other assorted idiots on the roads there weren't and holdups or RTA's to hold us up. Having allowed extra journey time for that which is now expected we were able to stop for an extended breakfast on the way up, even if it was at a disgusting Service Area! 
Pictured: Carry On Amalek

Friday 05 Octobe 2012

Inga arrived from Holland (or Netherlands if you prefer) to get her English Toy Terrier puppy which she has been waiting a good 18 months for, and is to be a companion to her Luna (Amalek Magical Dream) that she has done so well at in Eurpean shows. She especially wanted a puppy of Claudia's who missed last time, so was delighted that we had a bitch for her from her new litter, so you can guess that most of the morning and afternoon were spent watching her playing and also catching up with all the continental news. Despite our foul weather Inga is a true anglophile and loves England; in fact she seems to know more about what goes on here in Devon than I do!
After she left it was a scramble to get the week's groceries shopped for in Okehampton and get the car and everything ready to set off tomorrow morning for the ETT Club Champ show - so another early start coming up!
This evening was very pleasantly spent as we took Inga out for dinner in Bridestowe's White Hart - a very typical Devon pub/restaurant which we thought she wouyld enjoy - and which also pleased Mary as she didn't have to cook a meal! So now it's alarm clocks set for 5am tomorrow.

Monday 01 October

Here's a cautionary tale - nothing to do with English Toy Terriers - of how easy it is to slip up with these website purchases. I needed to apply for an ESTA, visa waiver for USA, diddled up what I thought was the correct site on google and proceeded to answer the questions, finishing off with CC details for payment of the requested £44.99 (x2 with Mary's of course). Last time I got an ESTA it was free, I knew the US Govt. had brought in a charge but thought 100 quid was a bit steep as I had an idea it was about £15 each - US govt are bigger sharks than the UK I thought- anyway got to have it so better pay up and just grumble about it. of  Hit the send key and up came the signal that payment had been rejected and someone would contact me on my mobile. Odd, I thought as I knew my a/c was well in the black. The mobile rings and its some bird with a funny accent, not american, explained that my payment had been rejected but that she could process it all over the phone and started to ask me to verify all the Qs I'd done online. Alarm bells started to ring - hang on, I said, who am I talking to, are you the American Dept. of Immigration? I can process this for you was her reply. So you're not the American Embassy or Offices? No. Goodbye I said as politely as I could and terminated the call. Going back to google I discovered the offical US site for ESTA applications, answered all the Qs again and paid a total of about £18 for the two - they were actually $15 each - thus saving an overpayment of near on £82! What a mug I felt for nearly being suckered into that one! Live and learn all the time don't we?

Saturday 29 September 2012

What a 'puppy' day it's been! Friends called this morning, staying a couple of hours to have a look at the litter while they played with their selection of toys and of course had several scraps when two or more had to have the same chicken, duck, or whatever. That's  English Toy Terriers puppies for you, they just love to get stuck in and go on the rampage! And what a contrast between their waking hours and when they are all curled up together sleeping peacefully in their bed looking so cute. The afternoon brought another puppy session when new owners arrived for a second visit to choose their new pet. Inbetween all this fun I did manage to get an overgrown hedge trimmed as it was such a lovely sunny autumn day. With all the alternate wet and humid warm days we have had this year everything has almost been growing as you watch it, well not quite but you know what I mean, so it's been difficult keeping up with the outside jobs and any opportunity has had to be taken. Ah, the joys of country living!

Saturday 23 September 2012

After a rather uneventful week it's showtime today at Exeter & County show! As I was "volunteered" to do the puppy watch, Mary left for an early start with Carrie (Carry On Amalek). There was a good showing of English Toy Terriers, 10 in all, and she came home with BOB & BP and also a Toy Group 3 and Puppy Group 2. It must have pleased her because I was treated to a dinner at the White Hart this evening. LOL!  

Monday 17 September 2012

English Toy Terrier puppies are amazing little animals. It seems in the matter of a day or so they turn from being docile little babies to rampaging teenagers on the lookout for anything interesting to investigate, trying out their new teeth on anything they find and on each other. One grabs a toy and another wants it too, and away they go scrapping with other for possession.  Seems they can't wait to grow up and get out into the world.

Sunday 16 September 2012

In the evenings the English Toy Terriers like to come in and have some time with us on the settee - it does get a bit crowded sometimes - after they have burned off some energy having a tug-of-war etc and throwing the toys around, before settling down and watching the TV. In the absence of anything worth watching on the main channels I like to surf the freeview channels and tonight came across a replay of an X-factor. I don't normally watch this even when its a fresh broadcast, but went against my normal instincts and let it run. Now admittedly the panel make themselves a lot of money by egging on some of these hopefuls but how they can sit there and tell some of these adenoidal bawling young women that they have a great voice and should go far is beyond me. The more decibels they produce the more the audience shout and applaud. Thinking back over the songstresses of the not so far past I do think it's sad that the youngsters of today have been duped into accepting these brash noises as musical. Ah well, each to his own I have to admit, at least I can seek solace in my Ella Fitzgerald collection!

Saturday 15 September 2012

With our dog-sitter unable to make it today I elected to stay home and watch over the puppies, who couldn't possibly be left at present, and also get on with a couple of jobs from the ubiquitous list of maintenance 'to-do's' while Mary went off to the Plymouth show. A very pleasant warm day was just what the English Toy Terriers enjoy and they were soon lounging on their rugs snoozing with the sunshine  Cool on their backs. Mary returned with the news going around the English Toy Terrier exhibitors that a litter of English Toy Terrier/ Chihuaua  was being advertised for sale in the Western Morning News pets section. This story had been passed on by someone outside the breed and the exact date of the paper was unknown, searches are being made to track it down. What philistine would do such a mating? Who allowed their English Toy Terrier stud dog to be used? Punishments like being flogged through 5 villages come to mind as being appropriate (I jest of course - or maybe not!). This so called 'designer dog' fad is getting ridiculous but there are plenty of punters around it seems, stupid enough to buy a mongrel for a fancy price to be different and own a Heinz.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Pictured: one of the pups ... looks innocent enough at the moment!

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Pictured: Bonnecca 'What the heck, I'll help myself."

Monday 10 September 2012

Received this amusing anecdote from Susan Vesey who had one of our English Toy Terriers 'Bonnecca' (Amalek Pretty Woman) from us about 5 years ago, she said:
"Bonnecca has just given me such a huge laugh that I have to share it with you. We were in the garden and had been playing “fetch” for about ten minutes when she returned with the ball in her mouth as usual, but then flung it back over her shoulder so it rolled off down the garden. She fixed me with those lovely eyes and gave a bark that sounded suspiciously like “fetch”. I laughed so much I nearly fell off the garden bench, for there was no mistaking her intent. It was obviously my turn to do all the running backwards and forwards.
She is such a great dog, although her penchant for rolling in badger poo is getting a bit wearing – it seems to be that time of year."
Pictured: Bonnecca waiting for dinnertime  ...

Saturday 10 September 2012

Mis-estimating the time we needed to arrive at the Torquay Canine Society's show at Exeter today meant that we nearly missed our classes and it was only thanks to the judge holding up the class for us that we made it at all! However, the rush had a negative effect on our English Toy Terriers, who of course hadn't had a chance to settle down, and we paid the penalty in the ring. Got in the Stockmans for an early lunch though!
I hear that there was some brilliant news for English Toy Terriers in the Group rings but having left earlier to get back to the puppies missed seeing it so don't know the exact outcome - will find out tomorrow.

Thursday 07 September 2012

Don't be under any illusion other than that English Toy Terriers are just that - terriers! Afraid the image is not too clear but I just caught these two testing themselves out by having a friendly scrap in their bedroom - and at just 4 weeks old!

Wednesday 06 September 2012

Oh, the joys of keeping English Toy Terriers! We were just about to leave the house for a quick trip into Okehampton for some routine shopping, Tilly, the office English Toy Terrier had been let out to do her business as she was being left in charge of the place in our absence, and reappeared at the front door looking very pleased with herself. She was also accompanied by the obnoxious smell of fox poo as she had obviously found a gurt big dollop to roll in! Why foxes have to choose our garden to crap in when there are acres of perfectly good farmland surrounding us, I know not. But there we were, no choice but to rush her into the bathroom and hose the mess off with the help of a good doggy shampoo before we could get on our way. Actually, that does beg the question: if dogs love to roll in it, get themselves stinking and be so pleased about it, it must come natural to them, (but for what reason I couldn't say) are we being unkind to them by washing it off with the pleasant smelling stuff we put on them to suit ourselves?  

Monday, 03 September 2012

Monday night is training night again at Okehampton & District Canine Society as there are no meetings during August, the traditional holiday month, and there is usually a good turnout of English Toy Terriers, this week was no exception with new puppies in for socialising and getting a taste of being handled on the table by strangers and by the looks of them there should be some healthy competition in the puppy classes at shows soon.
Our own litter is very advanced for their 4 weeks of age and although still with Mum are well on the way to being weaned off. We use Royal Canin's puppy weaner and they love it. What a mess though! If you can imagine 7 active English Toy Terrier puppies not only getting it all over their faces eating but also excitedly jumping in it and getting everyone and everything else plastered in the porridge, you'll have some idea of the mess there is to clean up afterwards.
I'm trying to find time to take some pics but there just does not seem to be enough hours in the day especially now as the evenings are getting noticeable shorter, and we have prospective owners waiting for pics. Still a couple of them to find homes for though.

Sunday 02 September 2012

This weekend has certainly been a long celebration of our wedding anniversary.  Yesterday evening most of the owners, old and new, of English Toy Terriers here in the South West held a celebratory dinner at the Post House in Whiddon Down in our honour and we had a really great evening. Doreen Dicker organised getting everyone together for this surprise party; so thanks to everyone - we never knew you cared!
Today we held a luncheon party at the White Hart in Bridestowe with twenty or so of our local friends, so all in all we can't say we went hungry this weekend and it has been a memorable one. Thanks to everyone who have sent us congratulatory cards, gifts and best wishes for the future. I doubt if we will make another 50 years though - LOL - but stick around for the Diamond!
The English Toy Terriers always make sure that noses are kept to the grindstone as the never ending daily chores of feeding, exercising and cleaning out are always there, which is just as well as it is only too easy to let things slip and become a couch potato - mind you the English Toy Terriers would love that as their idea of bliss is to crash out with us on the settee eveningtimes in front of the TV! 

Saturday 01 September 2012

Yesterday certainly turned out to be a looong day! Left the house at 4 am as scheduled and arrived back about 10 pm with 210 miles driving each way and the Show in between. Is it all worth it I'm constantly asking myself. Actually yesterday was a very pleasant and relaxing day. Our dog show ring was set up in one of the National Agriculture Centre's open sided buildings. It was a glorious day, not too hot for the English Toy Terriers, and we were able to sit and enjoy a view of our ring and and also benefit from a nice warm sunshine without getting  overheated. We had a good day inside the ring as well as outside for champion Amalek Cant Buy Me Love was awarded the Bitch CC and also Best Of Breed, which sent her into the Toy Group. The judge there smiled at her and shortlisted her into the final 8 - however, she was not destined to take one of the four Group places but being pulled out against that hot competition was satisfying anyway and getting unusual at the present time for English Toy Terriers. Unfortunately, some judges seem not to appreciate the English Toy Terrier as a breed, which may well be because they don't have enough experience juding the breed and are unsure of themselves and decide to leave it out in favour of ones they do know. I must say that 'Monkee' really shone yesterday and did deserve a place (unsolicited opinions of outsiders) so what else one needs to do I know not! Well, that's life I suppose!
Today is our Golden Wedding Anniversary; it's another glorious late summer day and there is plenty to do ourside without wasting a good day writing this stuff! 

Thursday 30 August 2012

Everything this week has been geared around the weather conditions and trying to maximise outdoor work for the dry (not very many) spells and indoor jobs for those that were not: like off to Exeter Tesco on Monday for a month's groceries; I could do without that quite easily (!) but while there it does also give a chance to visit PC World which is a shade more interesting than trolley pushing. Did manage to get some grass cut inbetween the showers and the dogs walked whenever possible. Some new quarters for the English Toy Terriers have been on order for the past few days so the main outside job has been clearing the site ready for the kennelling. Decided it was time to replace the old housing, even though we are up for sale (the house that is) which may seem a strange decision but if we don't sell for some time, and with the state of the housing market it's what I'm expecting, it will be put to good use and if we do find a punter it's portable and can go with us. Of course, much depends anyway whether or not we can find a residence suitable for ourselves. Somewhere without close neighbours on a big enough plot and not too far from the convenience of a town is required but not easy to find.
Tomorrow is the City of Birmingham show with its showground in the Coventry area. Judging starts at 9 am and English Toy Terriers are the 1st in at that time so its a 4 am start for us and I'm off to bed any moment now!

Saturday 25 August 2012

What a good day for English ToyTerriers - well, here at the Newton Abbott Open Show at any rate! there was quite a good entry of English Toy Terriers and Carol Snell's dog, Moretonia Summer Breeze went BOB with our Carry On Amalek as Reserve to him and Best Puppy: with the best news being that 'Breeze' went Toy Group winner and 'Carry' was pulled out as 3rd in the Toy Puppy Group.  'Breeze' was sired by our Merlin and his dam is Carol's Moretonia Gypsy Charm who has Champion Amalek Mac The Knife as her dad and Amalek Gypsy for her Mum - so we naturally feel pleased and proud to see the results of our breeding programme doing well in the show ring.
English Toy Terriers were on later in the day so it was a leisurely start to the morning and time for lunch in the Stockman's cafe prior to our turn in the ring  which does make such a difference to my humour! 'Fraser' had been entered for an outing at this show but someone didn't who had actually been entered So he got left behind in favour of 'Monkee' who hadn't been entered at all. I didn't say a word ..... LOL!  

Friday 24 August 2012

Despite a predeliction for salted peanuts and crisps my blood pressure usually remains fairly constant but there are occasions when it can reach danger levels - and today was one of them! Everything fine until I opened a message in the email inbox from a person at the KC Registrations Dept saying that our application to register the 7 English Toy Terriers had arrived but: "Kennel Club records show that over the past four years, the average litter size for this breed is 3.5, therefore making the number of puppies in this litter somewhat unusual. So as to ensure that the Kennel Club has the correct information on our records, and has not misunderstood your application, would you please confirm that the above is correct. It would be appreciated if you could send corroboration of the numbers of puppies whelped, such as a letter from your veterinary surgeon or photographic evidence." 
Misunderstood my application?!! Well, what an insult. In other words we had submitted a false registration document until we proved otherwise.A 2nd email from another person said that the litter wouldn't be registered until the the first person got a reply from us. So I gave her one.  I certainly had no intention of taking our nursing bitch and her 7 little kids along to our vet to be counted to satisfy her curiosity and  neither was I going to send a pic although they could look on this website if they wished. I suggested that if the young (I presumed) lady sat down with a pile of Breed Record Supplements for previous years she would see that a litter of 7 had been registered in 2011 and also in 2007 and in 2006; that averages were just that 'averages' , a mean of the biggest to smallest numbers. They went ahead and registered the litter - so they should for the £105 it cost us!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Beryl, our friend and occasional house/dog sitter called in today with 'Busby' - our Amalek Aint Misbehavin whom she has as her companion dog - and to give us some home photo's that she has taken of him (that's him pictured). He is maturing quite well  but it could be another few months or so before he reaches his prime as he was a slow starter. I always reckon that bitches reach their peak at about 2 y.o. and dogs about 3. He has proved himself as a stud dog siring a litter of 5 to a bitch of our breeding and is now standing at stud to outside approved bitches. There is no Toy Manchester in his line, a mating we did deliberately to keep a line clear of the American influence, and he has Mungo & Jazz as G-parents on the father's side and doubles up on Henry James & High Society (their parents) on his dam's side. I'll put his pedigree in the pedigree pages (when I get time!).  There has been enough Toy Manchester introduced and its now time to get some of our old bloodlines back into our breeding. Our Toy Manchester has done wonders for size and quality coats but we are breeding ETT's not TMT's. There comes a point when enough is enough.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Good news, bad news day today. Well, to be honest the good news is not that noteworthy and the bad news isn't all that bad, just disappointing.
It's been a dry warm today here (that's the good news!) and in the bright sunshine everything looks so tatty doesn't it?  Decided a necessity was to have a bit of a sping clean, or summer clean if you prefer, so hitched up the pressure washer to hose out all the muck that's been chucked down by the rainstorms and blown in by the gale winds. Mother nature sure knows how to find work for us and a good couple of hours scrubbing and blasting has only made a small impression on the concreted yard, although revealing a clean grey surface that was lost under the tinge of greeny slime that has built up over the past weeks. The English Toy Terriers although inquisitive initially, and peeing on the pressure washer, soon lost interest and made themselves scarce when the water started jetting around. Stage two tomorrow, that's something to look forward to! LOL!
Puppies continue to thrive and Claudia is being a brilliant Mum.
Oh yes, the disappointment - which should have come as no great surprise to myself - was the final day of the Lords Test Match in which England failed to overcome the strong SA team and consequently lost the series to the visitors. So what's new.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Having  somewhat recovered from yesterday's jaunt into the depths of Wales I can now say that we had a very pleasant day in the land of the dragon banner and the drive both ways was without any problems.
'Croeso i Gymru' is the welcome sign on crossing the border into Wales and from where we come the shortest route to Builth Wells, in the heart of Wales,  is across the river via the Severn Bridge. As English Toy Terriers were not likely to be judged before lunch and with time in hand we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe which is a regular watering hole for those in the know heading for the show - a full breakfast including toast & coffee for just £4.40 a head - how's that for value - which made a good start to the day.
Unfortunately, and all too often these days the outside rings at the Royal Welsh Showground were waterlogged so it was into another noisy hall day for us. The judge criticised some of the English Toy Terriers for seeming nervous and backing off, which he judged to be a fault but anyone who knows English Toy Terriers well enough would make an allowance for the fact that with their upright open ears they are very sensitive to sound and there was a lot of echoing din in that hall. Our Champion Amalek Cant Buy Me Love hated it and just wanted to dive into her dog box and get away from it; consequently she did not show at her best although coming first in her class, but later when the hall was emptying and quieter she came out of her shell and strutted around as if she owned the place. Also English Toy Terriers unlike some breeds, are rather reserved and do stand back from strangers so no wonder then that they are sometimes inclined to back off when stared at and poked around by a strange person. The Standard says English Toy Terriers are 'Never unduly nervous.' which seems to suggest that some allowance should be made. Individual temperaments vary so much of course and the noise factor did not seem to affect our Carry On Amalek who was declared Best Puppy, so something was salvaged from the day!  Mary showed her as she is getting around so much better now.
Being a Friday and with all the crockles heading down the M5 towards the fleshpots of Devon & Cornwall we decided a late start back would be judicious and duly stopped for a very fine dinner just outside Abergavenny which, once again, was very satisfying and certainly not overpriced. By the time we got onto the M-way it was still busy but not causing any delays, although the roadside matrix boards were still displaying congestion signs.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Sandwiched between Mary's ?? (ask her yourself!) birthday celebrations of yesterday and tomorrow's WKC show we have had a day probably best described as "heavy showers with rainy intervals" plus an intermittent gale force wind that has kept all hatches well and truly battened down here. Not so in London it would seem for, as a highlight of an otherwise boring week, the 3rd Test started at Lord's and I don't think there was even one interruption to play by rain. 
Car's all loaded up and ready for an early start tomorrow morning for the journey to Builth Wells, so a little earlier to bed for me tonight methinks!

Tuesday 14 August 2012

A nice dry day today with even the odd patch or two of blue sky has served the dual purposes of getting some sorely needed work done in a neglected part of the garden where only the bravest (or foolhardy) souls normally tread: our own version of a rainforest inhabited by sundry wildlife and where the sun rarely shines, even on a good day. But it's surprising what can be achieved in a short time with the aid of a chainsaw, hedgetrimmer and a couple of power mowers to bring rampant nature under control and some semblance of order back to a former wilderness. The other target also achieved being a jolly exercise time for the English Toy Terriers and some good walks without the fear of being caught in a shower or two for a change.

Sunday 12 August 2012

We were process of separating out the two slightly small pups for a feed on their own to ensure that they didn't get left behind and pushed out at 'Claudias Milk Bar' when there was a sudden flash of lightning, the lights dimmed momentarily, and immediately there followed a helluva thunder clap right overhead  Wild  odd thing was, on looking out of the window and quite expecting to see one of the trees struck or something like that, the sun was out, in the distance anyway - this was early evening - and all was calm after that. A strange experience. However, Claudia hardly twitched an ear and none of the English Toy Terriers seemed at all upset. One result of the lighting strike, wherever it was, is that it sent a spike down the telephone line and burned out the ADSL filter losing the 'phone which wasn't discovered until sometime later when a call was needed to be made. The internet connection was unaffected though and fortunately I had a spare filter so the inconvenience was minimised.
Anyhow the litter is doing fine and Mum is doing sterling work; they are all as shiny as new pins with thick glossy coats. Coats were usually the weak point with English Toy Terriers, thin, and demodectic mange was very often present. Don't like to talk too soon of course, touch wood, but both Merlin and Fraser have brought in good coats for us.  Coats in general have improved remarkably over the past few years obviously due to the influence of the imports.
Pictured: Claudia - before the mating! - Amalek Time After Time

Friday, 10 August 2012

What a day - and night - this has been. Claudia decided to start her whelping process about 8pm yesterday evening. Around 3pm this afternoon the final puppy arrived; that's a marathon totalling 17 hours and a night without sleep for us both. The result? An astounding 7 puppies in all! I must say that she was amazing and managed it all without any fuss, so laid back. In fact, after number 6 which we thought was surely the last, and she seemed to have finished, she ate a bowl of food, drunk a bowl of watered down evaporated milk, went outside to clear out her system and settled down contentedly with her litter. An hour or so later Mary went in to check that all was OK, counted heads and they totalled 7 - she had had a final one all by herself and everything was spotless, not a sign that she had had it all herself! What a brilliant little bitch! Dad, Fraser our New Zealander has now sired 3 litters here with a total of 17 puppies, how that for proven fertility? Big Grin

Wednesday 08 August 2012

Claudia is still a lady in waiting, so we were able to make it to the Paignton Champ show today. Our judge, Robin Searle, although a Hound man himself, is an old hand judging English Toy Terriers, and in fact was an English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) Club Committee member and Chaired it during one of its more difficult times, quite a few years back now. There was a good entry of English Toy Terriers considering there were no CC's on offer, 14 in all. I was very pleased to be announced BOB with our Ch.Amalek Cant Buy Me Love with Carol Snell's Ch.Moretonia Summer Thyme as Best Opposite Sex. Big GrinThese two were sired by our American Ch.A Sorcerer's Tale of Maggical Paws and were out of  Amalek C'est Si Bon and Amalek the Gypsy (C'est Si's daughter) respectively, so that was a good piece of judging to type from him. 
Our puppy, Carry On Amalek, coming out for her first show following her season, went Best Puppy, so, all in all, a pleasing result for us.
One irritation to our day was to get the Chevvy Tacuma loaded up, dogs aboard and all ready to go, and then find the battery had gone as flat as a pint of stale beer! Wild So it was a quick change of vehicles into Mary's Kia and away with little loss of time. Not that that would have been a disaster, for we were 2nd in the ring after Chi's anyway and even then had to wait for Robin to do his stuff judging 2 different hound breeds in another ring so it was about 2.30 before he got round to us.

Tuesday 07 August 2012

I'm sure nobody is particularly interested in the result of the Headingly Test Match but I'm going to tell you anyway - it was a draw. So much for that.

Monday 06 August 2012

Apart from Brit Olympic successes today has been somewhat unmemorable; the good news of yesterday about the Test match faded quite early on when Pietersen got himself out to the 2nd ball of the day without adding to his overnight score and the rest managed to just about pass the SA score by 6 runs - so little joy there; any hopes for tomorrow? Probably not, we'll wait and see.
Claudia continues to expand alarmingly and is as tight as a drum, whether she will last out until the due date of Thursday is a moot point and a question mark now hangs over whether or not we will be able to make it to the Paignton show on Wednesday, which is not of primary importance, but as we have tried to promote entries and got classes there we would like to support it with our presence. Don't really like the indoor venue, it's always a bit noisy and gloomy so the English Toy Terrier tans don't show up too well, but with the dodgy weather this year spoiling so many of the outdoor shows it's a case of 'any port in a storm' I guess.

Saturday 04 August 2012

What a lovely day it's been! Apart from an early morning shower there's been plenty of dry weather and sun, enough to have them all out for exercise and take 'em out along the bridle path. Big excitement! A vole spotted scurrying alongside the grass verge - so now's the time to test out an English Toy Terrier and perhaps get one trained up for ratting (start off small and work our way up I reckoned) - point Carrie towards it and stand back waiting for the expected bloodbath! She saunters off towards it, pokes it with her nose, and saunters back again rather disdainfully. Hmmm. Too insignificant for her to bother with obviously. Will wait for something bigger next time. LOL.
What a great day it has been too for the Olympic Brit Team! I suspect though that the 'gold' medals are really bits of gold coloured plastic or whatever, they'd cost a fortune for each one at current gold prices. I could be wrong of course, but they don't give much away, flogging off their old torches at £200 a time. England knocked up a good reply to South Africa's first innings at Headingly in the 2nd test today, too, and were only 80 odd behind at close of play. If Pietersen doesn't throw his wicket away tomorrow and the rest of the batters collapse we may stand a chance in this one. More laughter.

Friday 03 August 2012

An uneventful week - at least there was no bad news in it - draws to a close with another day of heavy showers interspersed with sunny intervals; and therein lies the trap for the unwary: thinks "Ah, sun's out, looks good for a while, time to give thoroughly bored ETT's a good walk to stretch my legs at the same time!" Off we go, then 1/2 a mile into it a sudden squall blows up Madand there we are hurrying back soaked to the skin with the English Toy Terriers flapping their ears as they hate the rain blowing into them - come to that so do I - and we are back home towelling them off. "Hello, what's this?" The sun is out again and it looks lovely ...... oh no, not again we don't!  Trouble is, from the garden point of view, these constant rain/sun cycles combined with relatively warm temperatures do make the jolly old grass and hedges grow like billy-o and there's no keeping up with it as it's too wet to get out and cut. An acre or so of concrete with a few flower pots (not too many) is my ideal garden, at least the dogs would be able to get out on it without getting soaking wet. One thing about living on a slope though is that we don't get flooded, all the water drains down to our neighbours fields, so I suppose that is something to be thankful for! 

Monday, 30 July 2012

This evening was a Match night at ODCS training so Peter & Dawn Saunders brought along their 4 m.o. puppy for an airing together with Mum (Amalek Magic And Mystery).  She did well for a first time out to get through to the second round against a more mature puppy of a different breed! She was sired by our young dog Amalek Aint Misbehavin. She is a brilliant young girl with such elegance and balance for her age so should go on to do well at the shows so good luck to Peter & Dawn's Appletor Kennel; but, with the deplorable judging so often seen I wouldn't make any predictions! Do some of the people who accept these judging appointments actually read the breed standard? Or, having read it do they apply it to the specimens they see in front of them? I have me doubts. The K.C's. judges' advancement schemes seem to be about as effective as a chocolate teapot. Ah well, no good going on about it but it is shameful what some of these people get away with. 

Sunday 29 July 2012

Had a call from Norway today, from Marianne Hanson. She had brought her 'Lucy' (Nor.Ch.Amalek Lucy In The Sky - pictured) over to us to mate with our Fraser (N.Z.Ch.Frasers Off The Grid at Jura to Amalek), whom we had brought in from New Zealand earlier in the year, and she had now just whelped delivering 3 bitches and 2 dog puppies. Mum is doing well and the pups are all a nice size and weight so she is very pleased that her decision to drive over all the way, with the possible hazards to face en route, concluded so successfully. The main concern of course was that she would arrive at the right time for the mating to be done on the right day or else all would have been in vain; so as soon as she got the OK from her vet testing for the ovulation time, it was drop everything and drive like hell for England and Devon!

Friday 27 July 2012

Our early start for the drive up to Leeds was well advised for it was only 80 miles before a section of the M5 was closed due to an RTA. There was a fatality, so heaven alone knows what could have happened on a sunny day with good visibility and dry surfaces. One should not too perjorative in the event of a death but someone must have done something stupid, unless there had been a tyre blowout or something like that. Anyway, moving on, there was little improvement in the traffic conditions and all the M-ways were choked up, so it took 7 hours to arrive at our overnight stop. To think at one time I used drive up and back in the same day to that show. Never again it would seem! The weather at the show which is held in the park at Harewood House was glorious, not a cloud in the sky and also not too hot and definitely a short sleeve shirt day. Not too hot for the dogs and all in all very enjoyable. Disappointingly, our judge did not favour us and although we came away with a card it wasn't the colour we had hoped for! Ah, well, another show another day. We had fun and a break from normal routine. I abandoned any thought of attempting the return journey home via the M1 and took to orienteering, abandoned the satnav (a useless device I usually find) and Mary, a good old old-fashioned map in hand, navigated our way back via A roads. We might not have got back any quicker but you know it was quite refreshing not to endure the frustrations of M-way driving. Must try it again sometime.

Thursday 26 July 2012

Leeds show tomorrow so we are leaving midday today, allowing plenty of time for the journey with our recent M-way experiences in mind. We plan to overnight at a motel then head off early Friday morning for the show ground at Harewood House. Have been there a couple of times before and with the hot dry spell we are now having it should be quite a pleasant venue. As previously mentioned Carry On Amalek is out of action being in season, so its just Ch.Cant Buy Me Love who is coming along with us.  It makes for an expensive show with travel & accommodation, etc., but what the heck, it will make a break and we haven't had a holiday since April 2011. Beryl will be sitting in for us and keeping an eye on Claudia who is well in whelp and due shortly, so fingers crossed that there won't be any problem whilst we are away!
PHOTO: Claudia, Lady In Waiting.

Monday, 24 July 2012

The grass mowing machines came out of their rain enforced temporary retirement to tackle the knee high acre of so of grass in the wilderness of what passes for our garden. So it was a hard day's work getting it down to a manageable height and which will continue on tomorrow by the looks of it.
Monday evenings are usually Okehampton DCS club nights and my turn to take the ringcraft training. Peter & Dawn Saunders had brought along 'Ella' - Appletor one of their new pups got by 'Buzz' (Amalek Aint Misbehavin) and 'Misty' (Amalek Magic And Mystery) and, co-incidentally Sharon Adams brought a dog and a bitch puppy from her latest litter, this one got by 'Fraser' our NZ import; this made for interesting comparisons of course and we will enjoy watching their progress of these two English Toy Terriers.  

Saturday 22 July 2012

This morning's journey, the final leg to the Club show, from Stafford to Middlewich was not without its problems - yes, another accident on the M6 causing a 40 minute delay as 2 lanes had been shut down due to an HGV catching fire and burning out the surface of the road. It looked as if the front of the lorry had run into a car and probably fractured the fuel tank which caught alight. Anyway, as it happened our delay proved to be comparatively trivial, for as the traffic volume built up a little later in the morning so the tail back got longer and latecomers arrived exhausted after spending up to 4 hours in the queue on one of the hottest days of the year so far. 
So .... I was no little delighted to have a clear run back home to Devon today! Cindy, our dog & house sitter had made sure the fans were all working efficiently, they had been fed and watered by the time we got back, so it was off the White Hart for us for a well deserved 'pie and a pint'  .

Friday, 20 July 2012

Yes, I think the weathermen (and girls - sorry ladies, didn't intend to be sexist) have got it right and Summer is now at last here; at least it isn't raining again today! Just as well really are we are about to drive up to the Stafford Holiday Inn, overnighting there for Saturday's ETT Club show, and nothing is more unpleasant than constact spray from vehicles on the Motorways especially from the HGV's, so it should be a fairly pleasant trip. Unfortunately, Carrie (Carry On Amalek) has decided to come into season so she is definitely not coming with us which is a shame as we now won't have an entry to go under Leanne Wild and we would have liked to hear her opinion of our pup. Oh well, can't be helped it's just one of the hazards of showing bitches. Means that she will  probably not make it to Leeds either next week. I'd like to be able to recoup all the entry monies that have gone down the drain during the past years  from bitches either in season or having false pregancies!
LATER ....
Arrived in Stafford after a very frustrating drive and and hour later than our expected e.t.a. Nearly every time we drive up the M-ways these days there is a delay caused by an accident and today was no exception due to a multi car shunt on the M5 south of Bristol. Looking on the bright side: we weren't involved in it!Smile

Thursday 19 July 2012

Did I see a chink of blue sky and what could have been some actual sunshine today? Are the weathermen right and Summer is coming at last? We'll wait and see........! It was the first time for ages that the English Toy Terriers were able to venture out without their umbrellas and stretch themselves out on their rugs. How this breed loves the Sun and hates the rain - and I know how they feel! Just one downside though is that July augers the appearance of pestilential flies which certainly make country walks unpleasant. We live down a narrow country lane with grassy overgrown verges which the council now never cut and with the humidity these make an ideal breeding ground for our winged friends, especially when given droppings from overloaded muck spreaders to congregate on. Farmers don't seem to grasp the physics of loading a trailer: that if the load exceeds the capacity of the container it will be shed along the way. Simple chk! Anyway, flies or not, walkies must be done! Must keep up that muscle tone and give English Toy Terriers the opportunity to pee on every clump of grass all the way out and all the way back! Where it all comes from I don't know.
At the risk of being labelled a relic from a past age (which is probably true) I have to say that I regret the day that facebook was invented. I really do feel that it is just a gossips' dream come true; write what you like with impugnity to a worldwide audience, sling the mud first and sit back and watch its effects. 
That's enough moans for today!
We had a visit from Dave, Angie and Laura Vint who are holidaying here down in Devon. They called in to show us their new puppy bought from Pete & Dawn Saunders that Dave is training up for agility, she's only 4 months old but is already doing 'sits' and 'downs' and is showing a lot of promise. She is one of Pete & Dawn's first litter from their Amalek Magic And Mystery and sired by our stud dog 'Buzz' (Amalek Aint Misbehavin) so of course we were very interested in seeing her. They also brought along 'Nemo' that Laura is having a lot of success with in the agility rings.
PHOTO: Tilly The Office Dog - alert and ready to leap into action.