A week of wanderings and weather

A week off! Not just any week off, but one that I booked at short notice. My original plan was to catch up with a mate visiting from New Zealand, but the arrangements fell through and I was left with a whole week with no plans. I like that.

In actual fact, there were several planned activities but plenty of time to fit in leisure time too. On Monday, the side window of my car was fixed swiftly by Autoglass. The rain cleared just in time for the chap to get the work done while leaving us time for a visit to Cefn Bryn. Keen eyed readers will remember that this was where the young gentleman broke in to my car. Part of dealing with the break in was to get over leaving it for the first time since Thursday. I watched my car like a hawk as we walked away from it before suddenly realising that I couldn’t let it dictate the things I would do. It disappeared as we dropped down the other side of the hill and I only allowed myself the occasional worry as we walked.

On Tuesday, Rufus went for his regular hair cut. He gets very hot in any warm weather as he’s always running around, and I try to keep his fur short. I’d noticed that he was scratching and restless and that’s normally a sign he’s too hot. Following his trim and when the day had cooled, we headed off to the hills and had a leisurely stroll around the base of Moel Feity, once again surrounded by sheep. Rufus charged around with his new found coolness while I snapped away in the gorgeous evening light.

Wednesday dawned clear and sunny and we were off at the crack of dawn to climb Moel Feity and enjoy the fantastic views from the summit. It warmed up quickly and there was a haze in the air as the approaching humid weather announced itself, but the clouds didn’t start to build until we were heading back down, when it became very warm. I spent a little time tidying up the memorial to the crashed Liberator bomber and then, as a treat for Rufus, we stopped off at the river where he paddled and swam and caught stones while cooling down.

Later, I sat outside in the night air watching the Perseid meteors light up the sky. The forecast thick cloud held off for longer than I’d expected and the weather was warm for that time of night. Rufus kept coming out to have a look, but for the most part stayed inside. He’s not keen on astronomy. I saw some bright and spectacular meteors as well as the International Space Station, several satellites and one airliner. I didn’t manage to get many good photos, though, and the following morning I regretted not staying up longer.

After a wander over the common in the morning, we watched the rain come in and I decided Thursday was Great British Bake-off day. I made apple and blackberry pies. More apple than blackberry as the crop of berries wasn’t as bountiful as I’d hoped. I ended up making 11 small pies as I didn’t quite have enough pastry for the 12th. They are rather nice, though.

That night, it was clear that Rufus was still scratching and I decided that in the morning a visit to the vets was in order to find out what was causing this and to get it sorted. The waiting room was packed out with hounds of various makes and models, most of which were quite bouncy and vocal. Rufus is always well behaved in these circumstances and I was proud of his lack of reaction when other dogs barked at him or lunged at him.

The vet had a good look over and decided that he had an ‘environmental allergy’. I asked what that could be and he described the same allergies as I have – dust and pollen. Apparently, these allergens can cause animals to have skin rashes and this is what Rufus has got. In short, Rufus has hayfever! I left the vet with several potions and the biggest tablets I have ever seen. I did wonder whether I’d have to cut them up but Rufus downed one (wrapped in chicken) with no concern. He has some eye drops, which are always a test of my patience and his escapologist skills. Every time I try to apply them, Rufus imitates a snake and wriggles out of my grasp. I went on the Internet last night and found a suggested technique which involved kneeling behind him and bringing the dropper down from above so he doesn’t see it. I managed to get one drop in his eye but he learns quickly so he won’t be so easy to fool again.

Today we went back to Whiteford, a familiar beach to those having read my blogs before. It wasn’t too warm as we set out and it always amazes me how few people go there – there were three cars in the car park, and several horses, foals and some sheep. Walking on the beach was lovely and we went out more than half a mile to the receding tide. Rufus had a paddle and chased after the Oystercatchers while I tried out a new lens I’d received that morning. By the time we got back to the car, the cool of the morning had given way to the heat of midday and we were both glad to get the air conditioner working.

Sunday is always a non-day for me and it will be tomorrow as I have to leave the freedom of a week off behind and try and get myself back into the work frame of mind. It will probably consist of cleaning, ironing and other household chores although I understand from Rufus that he is expecting another walk on the hills if the weather is ok.

<sigh> I suppose I’ll have to do what he says!

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One of those days

It was going to be one of those days. A ‘day after’ day. I’d had a busy Saturday – and early start followed by a late finish. In addition, today’s weather was forecast to be stormy with lots of wind and rain. A fine recipe for a day in watching TV with my feet up and ultimately achieving nothing. It started off on course – I had a lie in until 8.30am – very rare for me as I feel guilty if I’m in bed after 7! When I got up I was feeling quite awake and the predicted storm hadn’t arrived. Judging by the clouds, it wasn’t far off but at least I hadn’t woken to rain lashing against the windows.

Feeling suitably inspired, I decided to try my hand at some baking. I recently harvested a lot of apples from my tree, and some blackberries from the hedge line in the garden. So apple and blackberry pie was on the cards. I followed this recipe which was straight forward enough. but never having done anything like this before, I was glued to the iPad (which was displaying the instructions). In no time, the apples were simmering, the blackberries washed and my hands were covered in pastry mix. Persevering, I managed to come up with a reasonable pie in about an hour. By the time I’d got everything in the oven, the storm had found it’s way to Wales and I was watching the tress in the garden taking a battering as I did the washing up.

I left the pie to cool and headed off into the loft to continue laying the insulation. It’s going well, and today I was able to get rid of some of the rubbish up there (there was an old TV aerial we used to use for a second TV upstairs) and some odd bits of cardboard. The last roll of insulation I had went down, and some off-cuts filled in the gaps in the corners. By my estimation, another four rolls will complete the job. I then have to fix some more wood to the floor to make a walk way, and some raised platforms to store things on so the insulation isn’t compressed. It’s another two or three evening’s work.

Then, for fun, I took some self portraits using the infra red camera. It’s kinder to the skin as the infra red light penetrates the top layer slightly, hiding blemishes. Suddenly, it was 4pm and I wondered, as I always do on a Sunday, where the time had gone. It was clear outside – the storm had disappeared off to the north – and I popped outside to see what there was to see. I managed to gather a few more blackberries and was pleased to see that some of the spiders in the hedge had survived the wind and rain.

All in all, a day of trivia and little of any consequence, but no less enjoyable for that.

PS – just had the first few mouthfuls of my pie and it is delicious!

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