Stink Eye

No one can stink eye like a dog.

Having got up at 6am to feed his Majesty, two carefully prepared bowls of rather tasty food, I poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed a banana cupcake and retired back to bed. Normally at this point, there is a session of dog worship. He’s allowed on the bed this one time, after I’ve put a cotton bedspread over my precious heirloom quilt. He gets admiration and intensive strokies.

So I settle into bed with coffee and banana cupcake beside me. I call him. He comes bounding in and does a standing leap onto the bed. And then he freezes. The nose swivels. The nose wiffles… and then swings inexorably towards my banana cupcake. He begins to reach for it. I tell him No in a very decided voice. He lies down, reluctantly, still sniffing. I pick up my cupcake and he thrashes upright. Well, OK then. He’s not going to give up. He gets more NO!

He leaps off the bed and hunkers down into his best sphinx position. I dig in. I glance down and I am getting stink eye unto the seventh generation, straight down the barrel of his aristocratic needle nose. Clearly, in his mind banana cupcakes are ALL the property of Mouse Dog, I am now eating his food, and it is beyond the pale. I hold his eyes while I bite into them, asserting my dominance over this tasty, crumbly, bananan-y morsel. He stalks off in outrage, and is currently sulking on his bed. Note to self: do not eat banana cupcakes in front of dog, it is mental cruelty.

Mum 1, Mouse 0.  Mwahahah!

The strange case of the banana cupcakes

It was a complete mystery.

To begin with, we’d smugly imagined we had the only greyhound in existence who didn’t steal food carelessly left within reach for more than 10 seconds. Biscuits, toast, chicken soup and full meals had all survived the ‘needle-nose test’. Foolishly, we congratulated ourselves on having a most unusually angelic hound…

Until today.

As previously mentioned, we have a lot of small, sweet bananas ripening in the garage, and I wanted to use some of them up. So it was a banana bread and cupcake baking session this morning, using my favourite recipe:

Banana bread
2½ cups self-raising flour
3 mashed bananas (or 5 of the small sugar bananas)
¾ cup of soft dark brown sugar
3 tblsp crunchy peanut butter
½ cup sultanas
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F
Mix everything together with a wooden spoon in a large bowl till there is no visible dry flour left. Dollop the batter into cupcake cases or loaf tin(s) and put in the oven – 25 mins for cupcakes, 40 mins or so for loaves. Check with a skewer after 30 mins, and cover loaves with foil after 30 mins if necessary.

We did half and half: one smallish loaf, and a batch of 9 cupcakes. Half a dozen of the latter disappeared with cups of coffee for lunch. I left the remaining three on a plate beside my chair while I did something else for a couple of hours. It didn’t even occur to me to move them… When I came back and thought about photographing them for a post, they were gone. Plate empty. Initially, I suspected the Husband, but he disclaimed all knowledge. I looked at the dog. Innocent expression… lack of dismembered cupcake remains… no bits of paper case…

Eventually, I tracked down the scene of the crime.

A few random crumbs. No other signs, not a shred of paper. Clearly, they were excellent cupcakes!

Of course, he had to eat them on my beautiful rug….

 

In case you’re concerned, I’m not worried about the quantity of chocolate or sultanas he’s ingested. There was only half a cupful of each in one loaf and 9 cupcakes, and while he had three cupcakes and may have an upset tummy for the next day or so, I don’t think the amount is going to be very harmful.

Mouse’s holiday, part 4: this smells familiar…

Not that we’re home yet, but we’re getting there.

Our last day in Nambucca Heads was Friday, and we left on Saturday morning. We gave Mouse a final long walk on the beautiful Swimming Creek beach, which he greatly enjoyed. Just as we were turning off the beach, what should we see but another greyhound! He was a big boy called Bennett, a tan brindle, and at least 3 inches taller and a good bit older than Mouse, and had a thicker coat, probably due to living in a cooler climate. There was a lot of dancing about and sniffing and big greyhound grins. The greyhound parents exchanged notes…. and agreed that greys are the best doggos in the world.

We had planned an extra day and overnight stay in Tweed Heads; I thought it might be possible to catch up with a friend nearby, but she was involved in a big family weekend. I’d also hoped to pay a visit to Fifi’s Fabricology, a wondrous quilt fabric emporium just up the coast road in Burleigh Heads, but I’d failed to factor in the fact that we were staying in a different time zone, across the border, and it was Saturday afternoon, and the store closed at 4pm… never mind. I really, really don’t need more fabric. And there will be other times, and other trips. But next time, it’s fair to say that we will never, ever stay in that caravan park again. It’s directly under the take-off flight path from Gold Coast airport, it’s run down, the bathrooms are horrendous, and despite the claim of being dog-friendly, they don’t allow you to walk your dog around the park, you have to tie them up very short, failure to comply or allowing your dog to bark will get you thrown out, etc.

From Tweed Heads, we stopped en route in Beerwah to let his lordship out in the local dog park (which is lovely, by the way, lots of long grass and shade and water and seats). We were thrilled to see a group of really old cars draw up beside the people park next door, and unload a lavish picnic. There were two Model T Fords, a De Dion Bouton and a couple of really lovely old cabriolets which weren’t badged. All were sparkling, with perfect paintwork and highly polished brass and chrome.

Our route passed the Glasshouse Mountains, the main peaks of which are a group of three volcanic plugs set in an otherwise fairly flat landscape. One is slightly domed with a pointed top,  one is a sharply pointed cone, and one is a wonky pyramid. I only managed a shot of the first, which I think you’ll agree looks a bit strange all by itself.

Next stop was back to Landsborough Pines, and this time, we asked for the spot next to the one we had before. This time, there was no gentle rain of gumnuts onto the roof, but we did have a real life thunderstorm and rain, which the poor Mouse did not enjoy one bit, to the point where he wouldn’t eat. Gasp! Thankfully it passed over in half an hour, after which he remembered his tummy was empty. In the morning we discovered that a Purple Swamp Hen had her nest in a clump of lomandra right beside our caravan. She sat on it like a rock all through the storm and our comings and goings. You can’t really see her in the photo, but she’s that patch of darkness in the centre of the leaves. We also had a visit from friends and from the Husband’s brother and other half. We sat in the barbecue hut overlooking the duck pond, drank wine and ate cheese and crackers. It was surprisingly civilised and lots of fun 🙂

On to Tannum Sands again. This time we have a spot backing onto woodland, and a joyful doggo spent a long time revisiting all the interesting smells.  Forewarned by our previous stay, we lashed on the mozzie repellent and appear to have escaped becoming dinner for the sandflies. Another rainshower here, but no thunder or lightning, so there was no missing dinner this time.

Tomorrow is our longest leg of the journey, and the last. We’ll be home tomorrow night and can all relax. We were afraid at the start that we’d miss out on lots of things because we had Mouse with us. It hasn’t been the case. We were also afraid he wouldn’t enjoy travelling, and again, we needn’t have worried. He hops into the car without any encouragement, settles down and goes to sleep. We’re delighted to have him along as our furry companion and he’s enjoyed the adventure (but I suspect will enjoy getting home to his usual routine even more). We’ll be back this way in February/March next year, and next time, I promise to remember my camera.

Roll on, 470km home. 

Mouse’s Holiday part 2: Dolce far niente

Or, ’tis sweet to be idle.

So far, it’s been a pretty restful holiday.

We’ve sat and enjoyed the sun going down over the lagoon, along with many others who bring chairs and an early evening drink along to take what pleasure they can from the spectacular colour that distant bushfire smoke lends to the sunset.

The dog beach has been wildly popular – with me as much as with Mouse. I do love to watch all the happy doggos madly dashing about and playing with the brisk surf you get on this coast.

I also like the mini spa treatment for my feet; all the rough skin polished off by the silica-rich sand, the massage of the salty water reducing swollen ankles and cooling hot feet, all that ozone-dense air…

The V-Wall walk is an enduring pleasure. It runs between the lagoon and the sea. The water is deep teal shading to bright turquoise as it runs over a sandbank and past a small bird-inhabited island. I can’t tell you why it’s called the V-Wall, but you can see from the photo that the rocks from which it’s constructed are the site of numerous decorations, memorials, paintings and “I was here” daubs. These are permitted and even encouraged, so long as you don’t deface anyone else’s work.  It makes a colourful effect and an interesting read; there are contributions from locals and distant travellers alike.

Mouse is having a great holiday. He gets his first run of the morning just before his 6am breakfast, another longer walk mid morning and several shorter walks throughout the day. We are planning a folding wire dog enclosure for under the caravan awning so he can sit outside with us without needing to be tied up – he’s so fast that if he took off after a doggy friend we’d never catch him, so his 8ft lead is vital. But it would be much nicer if he could move around freely. Having said that, he spends a lot of quality time on his bed in the caravan “tolly zorsted”.

We visited my sister and BIL in Dorrigo the other day; I haven’t been down this way for well over a year and it was past time. I absolutely love the road inland from the coastal highway, and the point at which I can start to see my dearly missed mountains is always a favourite. Up there is my chiefest happy place… And of course, family and friends I don’t get to see often.

And then home again to Miz Lizzie. We debated having dinner at the V-Wall Tavern, just outside the gates of the caravan park, and overlooking the bay. Its outdoor seating area is dog-friendly and the menu is very tasty.

But then Mouse made it clear he wanted his dinner first, and we realised the setting sun would be in our eyes. Perhaps lunch today, instead?

We had a lazy day yesterday. By which I mean I cleaned up the caravan, did the laundry, made meals, etc, but I also sat outside for several hours and stitched hexies for my ScrapHappy piece, and finished one book and started another. Another day like that today, I think, and then on Thursday we have a social day, seeing friends in both morning and evening.

It’s good to slow down and take it easy sometimes….

Mouse’s Holiday, part 1: 1400km on the road

Hello!  Still here, still reading your blogs, just busy travelling…

This is the first big trip we’ve taken with Mouse. The first one was a shake-down, and highlighted some of the issues, but a longer trip is a whole other story. Not quite like having a toddler along, but there are similarities. Regular meals and bathroom breaks, can’t be left alone, especially in cars on hot days…. But it’s a joy watching his incredulous delight at the dog beach, with all those other doggos playing, swimming, fetching and sniffing. And even more delight at the 3 acre fenced off-leash dog park, where he was allowed off the lead and to do zoomies, which he’s missed. He hasn’t quite got the idea of coming when called yet, but I can now see I have to give some serious priority to it when we get home; 3 acres is a large area to have to pursue him in should he decide to play Catch Me.

So, the trip. It didn’t start well; our car is nearly as old as the caravan, and it chose packing day to give up on the air conditioning, without which one doesn’t undertake a journey of any distance in Queensland. Net result was the Husband spending 6 hours in town getting it sorted, while I tried to pack as much as I could. Normally, I make a list, we split the task and the job is done smoothly and efficiently. This time, we forgot a few things…. Like the cordless drill which winds down the caravan stabiliser legs much faster than the old hand crank. And my camera. And a second pair of pyjamas. And the guy ropes for the awning. Never mind, we have work-rounds for everything, and it’s good to test our ingenuity! Miz Lizzie has had her undercarriage and suspension rebuilt since you last saw a photo of her, and now rides a good deal higher on larger wheels, which makes her stronger, stops things bouncing around inside and saves wear and tear on her frame.

Mouse was a model passenger. The back seat is wide enough that he could stretch out full length, and he took full advantage. We stopped every couple of hours to let everyone walk about a bit and get the blood circulating again, which meant the journeys took a little longer than usual, but we arrived in better shape as a result.

First stop was Tannum Sands, a pretty beachside suburb just south of Gladstone. The caravan park is just lovely: spacious, in beautiful surroundings directly opposite the beach, well landscaped and cared for. Just one tiny downside: the bitey insect life at night. Mosquitos and sandflies. During the day, not so much, but venture outside at night and the little devils are feasting on you in short order. We’ll be staying there on our return journey as well, so I have dug the tropical strength insect repellent out of the first aid kit to make walking Mouse less of a blood-letting exercise. He loved it there; foxes in the woods behind and possums up the trees made for excellent smellyvision for him.

The second night was at Landsborough Pines, a caravan park 3km from Australia Zoo of Steve Irwin (“Crikey, crocodiles!”) fame. It’s small, and really lovely. Many of the cabins are permanent residences, a few are holiday accommodation, and there’s a separate section for caravans and tents. Between the two is a really gorgeous duck pond/mini lake, complete with ducks, geese, wildfowl, turtles and fish. The water is aerated daily with large jets which make a lovely sound and look spectacular. The amenities were rather up-market for a caravan park, there was a very posh barbecue pavilion overlooking the duck pond, and the only downsides were that one tree housed a colony of rather smelly and noise fruit bats, and we were situated under a gum tree that dropped gum nuts on the roof all night. Once we’d worked out what the noise was, it stopped waking us up!

Day 3 was the longest leg of the trip. We also crossed south into New South Wales, which meant a change of time zone, an hour ahead. It made for a long and tiring day, but our destination was worth it. The White Albatross holiday park at Nambucca Heads is arranged in a crescent around a sea-fed lagoon behind a rock wall breakwater. On the other side is the ocean, and at night you can hear the surf, but you are protected from bad weather. Once again, there’s a mix of permanent and holiday accommodation and sites for tents and caravans. The place is immaculate, beautifully landscaped, well managed and incredibly clean and tidy. The sites are all flat, making set-up easy, and we have an en suite bathroom block for our exclusive use with brand new fixtures and fittings. Mouse is delighted with our stay here, as just around the headland is the dog beach, filled with new furry friends and their parents. If we weren’t fairly sure he’d disappear into the dim blue distance in short order, we’d let him off the lead, but we have at least switched to the 8 metre lead for walks here. The sand is pale vanilla-coloured and very high in silica, so it squeaks underfoot with every step. There’s surf here, as it’s not protected by a reef, which is a novel experience for Mouse, and there are quite a few dogs who have learned to coast in to shore on a wave.

We’re staying here for a week, heading north again on 26th. Tomorrow I’ll tell about the things we’ve done over the past couple of days

The News from Mouseland

Good morning, my adoring fans, Mouse here.

There’s something rather strange going on around here this morning. The parents have spent very little time on my customary early morning dog-worship session on the bed, and I’m feeling a distinct lack of strokies and tummy tickles. Instead, they are putting things into bags I have not inspected, and are piling them up beside the front door. Dad had sausages for breakfast instead of toast and I was not allowed to do a quality-check. Mum wanted to play with her laptop instead of fussing with my ears so I showed her who was boss by drooling on it. Lapdogs before laptops, I say, although I’m definitely not a lap-sitting dog. Mum says I’m the Chris Hemsworth of the dog world. Tall, elegant, athletic (all good so far), and not annoyingly brainy-looking (I’m paraphrasing here, what she actually said was “not over-endowed with brains”).

I digress. I’m good at that… They have Miz Lizzie drawn up beside the front door, and while I have not inspected the inside, I could smell that my bed was ready and waiting. We’re off on another trip! I hope we’re going somewhere good, with either a nice dog park or a beach I can run on and smell things and paddle just a little bit (I don’t really like wet paws). Mum’s put together a big bag of my stuff, and I made sure there were treats in there too (“Get your nose out of there, Mouse”). Normally I don’t like it when things change, but if I’m going in the car with Mum and Dad, and Miz Lizzie has my bed, we’ll all be together and I know what to expect.

I wonder where we’re going. (“Watch this space, Mouse. All will be revealed”) 🐾

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Boyne River and Miriam Vale

This is going to work.

By which I mean bringing doggo along on Adventures in Miz Lizzie. Friday was a day of high stress for all of us, but Saturday went like a dream. He’s getting used to living in the caravan and back of the car, and we’re getting used to the need for one of us to be with him at all times. It takes a bit more planning, but it’s not hard.

Anyway, back to the story. We’re staying at the Boyne River Tourist Park. I’m not giving it a recommendation, because to be honest it’s a bit tired and run-down. However, it’s cheap, and perfectly placed for today’s meet up. Plus, and this is a big plus, the view is brilliant. Our site was at the top of a steep grassed bank which led down to the river bank. The Boyne is tidal, so the water level changed at different times of day. It was quiet, the scene was tranquil and apart from distant traffic sounds all you could hear was the lap of water and birdsong.

Into the car at a civilised hour on Saturday morning after a few domestic chores, and his lordship promptly went to sleep in his back seat hammock. Down the road an hour, Miriam Vale is a pretty little town which on this particular day was full of people on motorbikes, either out in the sunshine for a ride, or recent participants in the Far Ride which terminated nearby. It turns out that our friends Peter and Marion actually lived and met here many moons ago, so it had fond memories for them. In any case, it was a fun get-together in the courtyard of the Miriam Vale Café, where dogs are cherished customers and there’s a stack of water bowls waiting for them. Mouse was wearing the bespoke OzSTOC club bandanna I’d made for him, and you can see how well colour co-ordinated he is! Unfortunately, Peter was wearing his famous ‘hair’ hat, perhaps to compensate for the solar panel he wears underneath!

When we’d waved goodbye to the two of them, we were thrilled to see another familiar face (or perhaps that should be familiar motorbike – he was wearing his crash helmet) at the side of the road. Bill (aka Biggles) had been participating in the Far Ride and had just pulled over to let his missus know all was well.

Back at base, Mouse insisted on a nice long walk along the riverbank before settling down to some serious snoozing. I must admit, I wasn’t averse to a tiny toes-up either, I’d had a rather poor night due to a painful back, despite the comfiness of the bed. Still, it was steak for dinner and an early night so we could leave in good order in the morning and be home mid afternoon.

It’s been a good learning experience for all three of us. Lesson 1) do not tie Mouse up to anything. If he gets spooked, he’s very strong and will break out of harness, lead and collar and disappear into the distance, causing heart attacks all round. Leave him in the car if you can’t hang onto him. Lesson 2) Take no nonsense from him about the caravan steps or height of the car seat being too high for him. If he does it, give him lots of praise and a treat. If he won’t and has to be manhandled, no praise and no treat. Lesson 3) The caravan door is not opened unless he’s wearing harness and lead and/or someone has hold of him. Lesson 4) The caravan steps are the perfect height for his food dishes. Lesson 5) Make sure he drinks throughout the day, not just when he gets home, or you’ll be up and down all night taking him out for a pee. Lesson 6) Do NOT allow him on your bunk. It’s the thin end of the wedge, he will take over, you’ll have nowhere to sleep, and he has a perfectly good one of his own. Lesson 7) All edibles locked away.

So now we can look forward to October’s much longer trip with a degree of optimism. Mouse is a gentle, (mostly) calm and pretty accommodating dog. Given enough food, water and comfy places to sleep he’ll do fine. Just no nasty noisy surprises, please.

Oh, and keep those treats coming…

After-note: Mouse would like to tell the Husband “Happy Father’s Day, dad”…