Worth celebrating

A perfect day, that is.

They’re few and far between in this time of coronavirus. Today was one such. Despite the frightening things happening in the south of the country, we had the sensation of being a million miles away from the trouble. The day was pleasantly warm and beautifully sunny. We had nothing pressing to do apart from loading the dishwasher to deal with last night’s family barbecue. So we decided that the Husband and I and doggo would go and do something we hadn’t done for a while.

Have brunch at the beach.

Doggo lay on his quilt under the table, peacefully digesting his puppacino while we demolished our Eggs Benedict, the Husband’s with excellent locally-cured bacon, and mine with garlicky mushrooms and extra hollandaise (they never give you enough). After we’d topped it off with coffee, Mouse made it known that he wished to visit the beach across the road. (In case you’re wondering, he starts hopping on the spot and dancing with impatience, with his ears pricked.)

Righto, Mouse, your wish is our command. He loves walking on the beach, the sand is a pleasant surface for him – softer than the road, less impeding than grass. He’s always straining slightly to run, but we’ve never let him off leash because he could be out of earshot in a few seconds. A colleague of the Husband’s had suggested that a sandbar surrounded by incoming or ebbing tide might be a good place to let him run, because he’d have nowhere to go. We tried that, wading out knee-deep to a good-sized sandbar surrounded by water.

Oops.

A delighted doggo took four steps on the sandbar, then leapt into the water, bounded up to the main beach and started to run. Before we could expire of a heart attack, we saw that he was doing a figure 8 around other people there instead of heading into the sunset. When I called him, he came, after one more lightning-fast loop, splashing back to us and bounding up with a huge grin on his pointy face. We made a big fuss of him and told him he was a Very Good Boy.

That was fun, Mum, can I do it again?

Of course after that he needed to shake off all over us a couple of times, submit to having his paws de-sanded, shake off again and leap into the car, still with the huge grin on his chops. Clearly an isolated sandbar is no impediment. We’d imagined he might be deterred, having previously indicated he was not keen on actual waves. Obviously that was all forgotten, and he is now Sea Dog. Luckily he doesn’t smell of wet dog in the car. And also luckily, he doesn’t mind being hosed down at home to get rid of the salt.

Our blood pressure has returned to normal, doggo has napped all afternoon, the Husband has fixed the scooter lights and I have done my chores. I can’t forget the sheer delight on that pointy black face, and the gift of speed he enjoyed so much. What a pleasure it is to make your dog happy…

Today, all is well in our world.

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #6

Well, it rained off and on all day yesterday. I can’t imagine what the Staff were thinking.

I mean, the point of the holiday was winter sunshine, so rain was very inconvenient and not well arranged. Still, we did manage some enjoyment. I got a few walkies in, although no big runs in a dog park on account of “not getting himself completely muddied up”. I was a Very Good Boy and held still while Mum got an ouchie out of my eye, which was all mucky. And as a reward, we went back to Vines and I got another puppaccino – and it wasn’t even my birthday!

The Staff made a huge sacrifice and forced down some coffee and cake whilst we sat in the shade area outside, surrounded by enormous tropical stuff. It’s all leaves to me, but Mum made a big song and dance about the flowers, ooh, aaah. The little trickling fountain was nice, though, even if I wasn’t allowed to have a drink there…

I did a lot of snoozing. Dad stuck on some headphones and pawed at his black plank thing. Mum messed about with fabric and took me for walkies. And then the final outrage: she baked and there was None For Me. Apparently, she’d been inspired by the cake she had at Vines. She made cupcakes with pineapple and banana and chocolate chips. I offered to help lick the bowl and the spoons – you know, the Mouse Pre-Wash Cycle – but my helpful offer was refused. I also didn’t get any bits once they were baked. I just don’t understand… They had banana in them. Obviously they were for Me!

(Note from Mum: I had to make do with what I have in the caravan pantry: 2 cup self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1 small very ripe mashed banana, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 1 x 445g/15 or 16oz can crushed pineapple with the juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips. Mix it all just enough so there’s no visible flour left, dollop into a well-greased muffin pan – I use silicone in the caravan because you can roll it up to fit in a small space – and bake for 20 minutes at 160°C/325°C)

Mum says she’s assembled the two rows of hexies she committed to at the start of the trip, and now just has to sew them onto the main piece. Whatever. It all sounds like blah blah blah to me. OK, that’s mean, but sewing is time she could have spent stroking me… Anyway, she’s bustling about now opening and closing lockers, which can only mean one thing.

We’re on the move again.

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #5

Hello again. Today, the report is about the day off I gave the Staff yesterday. I’ll let Mum do the talking…

Mum: We knew at the start of the holiday that there would be a few things where our lord and master would not be able to join us, sadly. Ahem. I have joined an organisation called Mad Paws, which brings together pet sitters and pet, er, owners. This enabled us to find a lovely lady called Vivien in Cairns, one of several people who offer doggy daycare. She has a large and exceptionally dog-friendly house, a big back yard and several doggos in residence, either her own or on long term visits. We booked a day for Mouse and brought along his medical records, his lead, quilt, snacks and some tightly crossed fingers. This is the first visit he’s made without us along, so we hoped he’d be OK. He was, of course. After demonstrating his running skills and seeing off another dog who wanted to boss him about, he settled right down, to the point where she was texting us photos showing him asleep, all through the day.

So, what did we do on our Staff Outing? We wanted to have coffee and cake, to buy cheese and chocolate, to have a good lunch, and to revisit the 900m/3,000ft high Atherton Tableland, one of our favourite areas when in Far North Queensland.

On our upward journey, we travelled south out of Cairns and turning inland at Walsh’s Pyramid, taking the Gillies Range road, 19km of 263 bends offering spectacular views of the valley below. It passes from sea level through dry to wet rainforest on the upward climb and it’s amazing how suddenly the type of vegetation changes. First stop was Lake Eacham, one of the Tablelands’ Crater Lakes. The area is volcanic, and there are several deep, deep lakes in the area. Local legends say they’re bottomless; of course, they aren’t, but being so high up and deep they’re always cold and refreshing for swimming, and blessedly free of crocodiles, unlike the sea-level waterways in the area.

Mungalli Creek biodynamic dairy has been a very enjoyable pitstop on previous journeys. They have a viewing area for the dairy at work, and serve coffee, cakes and light lunches. We had very fond recollections of memorable Devonshire Teas with clotted cream and a particularly squidgy chocolate torte. Sadly, we were disappointed, so much so that we won’t be going back, and I’m not bothering to provide a link. There was no torte, and despite the fact that they make a range of lactose free milk, yoghurt, etc, they didn’t offer lactose free cream so I could have the scones, jam and cream instead. It was perhaps just as well, as the Husband’s scones were dry and hard in the middle and the cream was a bit scanty and aerated to stretch it further. I had a soggy cheesecake of which the less said the better. The one I make myself is distinctly superior. Our coffees were terrible; his was bitter and far too strong, and mine was so weak it was like drinking hot milk. And there was no cheese for sale. We were offered Covid-19 as the reason, but couldn’t see why that would affect cheesemaking. Oh well….

Moving swiftly on, we headed for Gallo Dairyland, another cheese destination. We arrived to find it closed; at present it’s only open for half the week and of course I hadn’t checked, being used to seeing it open every day. I was beginning to feel rather despondent; I’d hoped to buy some of their hand made chocolates as well as cheese, to make up for the cake disappointment. The chocolates are reliably fabulous, and I’ll know to ring and check next time we’re up here.

And then it was time for lunch. Our favourite is the Gateway Hotel in Mareeba; I’ve posted about it before, and despite being much less busy than usual (all the tables are much further spaced, there was no crowd at the bar, etc), the staff are still warm, welcoming and attentive, and the food was, as always, magnificent pub grub.

The beef is locally produced and the steak in front of the Husband was tender and perfectly cooked. I wanted something a bit different, and had a salad of pearl couscous, roasted red capsicum and pumpkin, toasted macadamias and grilled halloumi, dressed with grilled garlicky prawns and a honey mustard dressing. I scoffed the lot, and it was a big plateful!

We took the scenic route home, descending the Kuranda Range, 11.5km of more wiggly road, coming into Cairns from the north this time. After laying in vital supplies (a hot roast chicken, chocolate, etc), we went to fetch His Majesty. He was pleased to see us, but slightly grumpy at having been left out of the fun. However, walkies, belly tickles and rather a lot of chicken scraps later he recovered his normally sunny disposition…

And that will be quite enough of that, thank you, Mum. A little respect if you don’t mind!

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #4

First things first: Happy Birthday to Me!

Mum says it’s my 4th birthday today. She has the papers to prove it, so she must be right. I must say, I don’t feel 4, although I’m not sure how it’s supposed to feel… The Staff are putting in extra effort to make the day special for me. I got treats at breakfast, which never happens, and Mum let me dawdle around a bit instead of the usual brisk walkies.

Then they took me to another two dog parks. The first was, well, nice, but not terribly interesting. It’s very large, not a lot of shade for the humans, and unfortunately I made Mum walk the entire length of the field to pick up after me. I didn’t do it on purpose, honestly… The other was lovely! There were two wolfhounds, a small white fluff of some description, a beautiful ginger and white collie, and an old and rather blind cattle dog. I raced the collie for her frisbee – she was great at retrieving, which doesn’t interest me at all, I just love to race!

Mum and Dad had lovely talks with the other dogs’ Staffs while we all ran around and socialised. I must say, the dog parks in Cairns are rather superior, very well supplied with poo bags, very clean and well fenced and there are lots of them. We’ve bookmarked them all on the satnav. When I say we, I mean Dad. I can’t be doing with all that poking about with my paws… Mum says she is also reviewing all the dog parks we visit on Google, to help other dog families choose somewhere nice for their doggo to run and play.

After the dog parks it was brunchtime. We went to a place in Freshwater which is a garden centre called Limberlost. It has a very nice café there, with tables outside in the gardens, and doggos are welcome and humans are allowed too.

Now normally I don’t have anything in the middle of the day, but today, there was a lovely big warm puppaccino to enjoy. Mum tried to take a photo of me with a white milk moustache, but I have to maintain a bit of dignity and managed to lick it off before she could take a photo. The Staff both had really delicious Eggs Benedict with a salad of baby leaves grown on the premises and lashings of hollandaise. I managed to cadge bits of very tasty ham off the bone from both of them – not a lot, just enough for a taste. Mum says she should have taken a photo, but she was hungry and halfway through by the time she thought of it.

Back home then, for a snooze, followed by a walk around the park and then more snoozing. Mum and Dad are passing the time in their usual strange way. Dad is pawing at his black plank (I think he means laptop – Mum), and Mum is messing about with bits of fabric.

I was shocked and offended to be told not to walk on the attractive multi-coloured rug she had laid out on the concrete. Surely this was for me to lie on? But no, it seems it is too precious for My Paws. I ask you… So I retired in a snit righteous indignation and went to lie on her bunk instead of my own bed. She says she’ll try to get two more rows added by the end of the trip, in case you speak Quilt. Whatever.

It’s Sunday evening, and new people are beginning to arrive at the caravan park. I wonder if there will be any nice doggos to say hello to… So far it has all been either the strong silent types or noisy white fluffballs with delusions of adequacy. Never mind, there’s always my own reliable Staff to provide cuddles and affection.

More soon,

Mouse

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #3

Hello, peeps, Mouse here again.

Yesterday’s visit to Miss Nikki at GAP Queensland was lovely. I remembered her, and Miss Gail, and rushed up to say hello and dance about a bit, wagging my tail. Since I’m normally rather reserved, Mum was very pleased to see how happy I was. We stayed for quite a while, then headed back to the campsite because the Staffs’ friend Uncle Spanner was coming for a visit. I like Uncle Spanner, he knows exactly how to scratch behind my ears and rub my face. He can come again any time. Mum made cookies for the visit, human ones with chocolate and raisins, which I’m not allowed, and others made with peanut butter, almond meal and an egg, which I am! So that was another reason to be happy 🙂

Supervisory duties…

Well, Mum and Dad packed up this morning while I napped. Mum took me for a last circuit of the campsite, and then we were off, on our way north to Cairns.

The Staff are pretty good at trip logistics, but sometimes you just need to keep an eye on them to make sure that they have their priorities right. I take my supervisory role very seriously on these trips…

It wasn’t long before we were heading into Ingham, and time to fill up the coffee travel mugs. Mum and Dad aren’t precisely coffee snobs, but they do like good coffee, and it can be a bit varied on the road. We turned off the main drag and into Cartwright Street, where we found Fiori with Love, a combined café and florist. Mum took me for a quick walk while Dad ordered the coffees, and we got back to find he’d scored a slab of lumberjack cake too! For some reason it appears this is unsuitable for dogs, but Mum really appreciated the crispy caramel edges on the topping, to the point where she’d eaten the lot before she thought to take a photo.

Hinchinbrook Island beyond the Channel

On then to Cardwell, on the Hinchinbrook Channel, and the Staff’s traditional pie-stop at Jesse’s Pie Van in the park.

Mum says they’re still the second-best pies she’s eaten in Australia…

And yes, I did score some bits of the filling this time!

Correct social distancing was maintained….

We managed to get ours just before the lunchtime rush. Lunch out of the way, it was wagons roll again, and we got to Cairns mid-afternoon. It’s my first time here, and so far, it looks nice!

We are staying at a really lovely caravan park, filled with huge old shade trees, lush vegetation, birds and green, green grass. There are lots of people here, but it doesn’t feel crowded, and I have already been admired by lots of passers-by as I stretched out comfortably on my bed, in my roomy enclosure. This is definitely camping in style (it always helps to have Staff to wait on you – Mum).

The Staff say they’ll take more photos tomorrow so you can see what it’s like in Cairns. They have also promised to take me to the dog parks in the area so I can stretch my legs properly. I love going on holiday, but the only thing I miss about home is doing zoomies in the back yard. If we go to fenced dog parks I can go off-leash and really run!

More tomorrow. Right now, I have a lot of napping to catch up on.

Mouse

 

The Travels of Mouse, north to the sun #2

Hello, readers, Mouse here again.

Well, yesterday was a bit dull from my point of view. After an initial bustle about, the Staff pulled out of the drive yesterday at about 9.45, a very late start compared with the usual 8am, but we weren’t in a hurry. I settled down to snooze in the back, my usual occupation on long trips. By lunchtime, we’d reached Bowen. Mum says it’s where they shot the movie Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. From our point of view, it’s where Jochheim’s Bakery is, source of (so far), the best meat pies in Queensland and northern New South Wales. And meat pie there was. And a sausage roll. Even I got a bit and I’m normally not allowed pie because of what pastry does to my insides, but we’re on holiday.

We had lunch sitting at the beachfront, overlooking the harbour. Nice memories for me, because it’s where Mum and Dad stopped when they’d just adopted me in Townsville, to let me stretch my legs and, ahem, see to other needs.

We got to Townsville mid-afternoon and got set up. Dad likes the caravan park here, the showers in the en-suite sites are good and hot and strong, and there is plenty of room to walk me without needing to leave the park.

They have set up my private enclosure so I can move around outside the caravan without needing to be tied up (a barbarous requirement as far as I’m concerned, but there are some very noisy, yappy, grumpy small dogs here, so I suppose it makes sense).

Today, we are going to go and find a fenced dog park or two where I can stretch my legs. After a day in the car and no long (ie, over 2km) walks with Mum, I’m feeling the need to do some zooming! After lunch, we’ll visit Miss Nikki, and perhaps a motorbike friend of Mum and Dad if he’s free.

It was cold last night, and was a bit fresh this morning when Mum took me for my constitutional at 7am, but it has warmed up considerably now. The sun is warm, the sky is clear and blue, and it’s going to be a good day.

More tomorrow. Mouse

The Travels of Mouse: north to the sun #1

It’s happening again.

The Staff are taking liberties with my possessions and schedule. It’s an Outrage. For the past day, they have been bustling about with stuff in their paws, scarcely taking a moment to give me strokies or a treat. I grant you that meals and walkies arrived on time and up to standard, but it’s upsetting to have this stuff going on behind my back.

Later: Well, all is explained. They are loading my fence into the back of the car, my travel water bowl and a large bag of kibble are sitting on the bench, the Quartermaster (Mum) has put all my stuff into either the car or the caravan, and only my bed (currently occupied by Me) has not been whipped out from under my nose and taken away. Dad says he has bought extra fencing so my yard is now twice the size, which will be nice.

A solitary lead still hangs from the hook, so I expect there’ll be walkies before we go… Mum says we’re going north, even further north than Townsville, where I was adopted, but that we’ll be taking time out to visit friends at GAP Queensland in Townsville so I can say hello to Miss Nikki and the other greyhounds at the kennels. After that, we’ll go up to Cairns for just over a week, then home again.

I like Miz Lizzie the caravan. My bed is comfy, meals arrive at the usual time, Dad’s bunk is perfectly placed beside my bed for strokies whenever I want them, and there are fascinating new walks and smells to enjoy when we go out. Mum and Dad find fun places for me to run around like a maniac and stretch my legs along the way, and we all enjoy trying out all the dog-friendly things to do when we get there. Mum has printed out a list of cafés in Cairns where dogs are welcome and people can come along too. She says there will be beaches too, in case I should feel like a spot of cautious paddling (well, jellyfish, saltwater crocodiles and sharks permitting, of course, this is Far North Queensland, after all). I’ll have to think about that one…

Now, if only the Staff would hurry up and finish packing stuff, we can be on our way.

Anemone: Facing Finally Finished!

Yeah, yeah, I know.

It has taken an age. But that’s what happens when you decide to face the edge of your hexie quilt using the angled edges instead of straightening it all up and doing a nice normal binding. Mind you, it looks fabulous.

It’s a fiddly old process. You have to trim the batting and backing so that they sit ¼ inch inside the edge of the outer hexies. Then you have to make and stitch together 4 long chains of hexies to go on the back as facing. You have to stitch together – as invisibly as possible – all the outer edges. Then you have to remove the basting and the papers and pin down the facing onto the backing, keeping everything smooth. Then you have to go all the way round again, stitching down the inside edge onto the backing. It’s a tad mind-numbing. You can’t watch TV while you do it (although you can, and I do, listen to an audiobook. Or two, or even three).

But it’s done, and I’m really pleased with the effect. Now for the hand quilting. That’s going to have to wait till I get back from next week’s forthcoming trip north for a quick break in Cairns.

Next on the agenda is piecing together scrap batting for the second scrappy Sugar Sprinkle pillowcase, sandwiching and quilting. This is the first one, quilted with some moderately wonky-directional lines. I think I’ll do wavy lines on the other one…

I have another milestone to celebrate too, but not quite so decorative. Mouse and I have been gradually building up the length of our morning walks. It has been difficult because of my back pain, but the Husband solved that problem by buying me what’s know as a shooting stick, or spectator seat. When my back starts to hurt, I can stop and sit for a few minutes wherever I am, rest it till the pain eases, and then carry on walking. It has been a total game changer, and doggo and I are now powering through 3 or 4 km a day, something unheard of in earlier times. I’m working up to the 5km mark, and that’ll deserve a proper celebration, don’t  you agree?

Whether we’ll still manage it when the hot weather comes is another question; I might have to get up at 5 to walk him, feed him at the usual 6am and then we can both collapse for a bit, rather than feeding at 6 and walking at 7am. But for now, we have cool, fresh mornings, some with a mild nip in the air. The Crush is in full swing, and cane fields all around us are slowly being harvested. The landscape is reappearing from behind its 2m curtain of green sugarcane, and on these winter mornings there is a mist lying over the earth on cold mornings. It’s lovely, and makes walking a real pleasure.

Excuse me now. Mouse is demanding to go out and do zoomies in the back yard, preferable with his rope toy.

Your wish is my command, O Master…

 

A Message from Mouse

Hello blog people, Mouse here again.

I’ve had to have words with the Staff. I noticed that Mum isn’t adhering to her usual regular posting schedule and I felt she was Slacking Off. I know you’ll be concerned that the same slackness might be carrying through to My care and feeding, but luckily, all that is still happening on schedule and up to standard.

It appears that Mum (aka Chief of Staff and Quartermaster) is having a spot of bother with her back and hasn’t been able to adhere to her proper schedule (except for looking after Me, naturally). She says there’s a fair bit of pain and some very unpleasant clunking and grinding sensations, and that as soon as Dad finishes his last day of night shift, she’s going to have a day on her back in bed to let it all settle down.

To be honest, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Her back’s not nearly as long for her size as mine, but I suppose as she insists on walking around on just her hind paws it’s not surprising she’s having a spot of bother. And she doesn’t spend enough time snoozing, in my opinion. Catch me ever having back trouble… On the other hand, too much time spent snoozing might impact on service quality, so I’m going to keep my opinion to myself on that subject!

To be fair, she has sorted out a couple of piles of scraps and has ironed them. She says it’s for F2F and ScrapHappy and is going to be a cushion cover.

I wonder if it’s for Me… My bed could do with a a bit of smartening up.

Best forgotten

It has not been a good couple of days.

I definitely don’t need a knot in my hankie to help me remember…

My father, recently turned 97 and in a nursing home on lockdown in the UK, had the latest in a series of TIAs (Transient Ischaemic Attack, or mini-stroke). The nursing home, which has been wonderful throughout his stay there, picked up on it very quickly, and he was put on aspirin and monitored closely. Thankfully, it never developed into a full stroke, and he is now back to normal. But it was distressing, since visitors were not allowed (with the proviso that if things took a turn for the worse, my brother could visit in full PPE). A worrying time for everyone.

After tearing the ligaments in my ankle several days ago, now on the mend, I forgot my anti-migraine medication again and this time went into full-blown Creature of the Night mode. I get very, very light sensitive, the pain is relentless and nowhere is dark or quiet enough. All I lack is the long fingernails and fangs… The ‘migraine hangover’ is no great picnic either. The arthritis in my hands and hips has flared. The car battery won’t hold a charge, The poor old doggo has a stiff leg and hobbles around like a geriatric unless there’s a walkies or bone in the offing (in which case, the limp is forgotten and he bounds around like Zebedee). I could go on.

On the upside, the weather is cooler, our restrictions are slowly being lifted and it looks as if our July holiday up north is on again, the sun is shining, I managed to get a haircut, and Mouse has a new friend, a pretty greyhound girl called Lottie who lives a few streets away.

I can never feel miserable for too long 🙂