Thursday, 17 August 2017

A river walk in Forder.

Forder is a small hamlet near to Saltash in Cornwall with only 44 houses and no shop. Many of the cottages are situated along the banks of the River Forder with the footpath running between their frontages and the river. It's a peaceful little place, with boats moored down the shoreline with only birdsong and the soft clinking of halyards against masts to break the silence.
Recently on a warm but overcast day I walked there with my two youngest grandchildren and the dog.

 The path turned away from the river and climbed up through wooded slopes.

 We paused to look into the remains of Wearde Quarry then entered the high-sided and fern-covered enclosure, long since filled in.  Nature has taken over and the information boards showed which plants thrived in the cool, damp conditions.
Could we find 'Fox Tail Feather Grass' ?  

 Eleanor found it!

 And then the Arum maculatum, commonly known as Cuckoopint.  It's bright orange berries are a warning that it is poisonous and not to be touched.

Another information board shows that all the fields at the top of the slope have names.  Fascinating stuff!

By the time we returned to our starting point the tidal river was fast emptying and many of the boats were now listing to one side as they settled on the mud.
We headed for Seaton to have some lunch and a drink.  But that's another post!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Benji the Bichon Frise - an Update.

Sorry to be so tardy with my posts; I feel that when I go to the same places regularly there's a limit to the number of times I can describe it or take photographs.  And the weather has been so miserable with the constant rain - Cornwall seems to be the area where any bad weather arrives and STAYS! 
Anyway, a catch-up on Benji and I hope the difference in his physique and manner will be obvious.

It's so good to see the change in Benji from the timid, nervous and very obese animal (weighing 17.15 Kgs) that arrived here on the 12th of April, stinking of cigarette smoke, looking and feeling dirty, scratching and constantly licking his paws. 

He had been confined to a small dog crate, never exercised, fed on a bad diet (and lots of it) untrained and un-socialised. He flinched whenever a hand came near him and was frightened of a brush . .
But he soon settled and became attached to me and now 4 months later, Benji is essentially a very happy dog, always up for a long walk especially when it can be off-lead. His training is going reasonably well, but he tends to have a short attention span unless food is involved; however the house training was accomplished within a few days of arriving here. Learning to 'sit' and 'wait' took a little longer, but thankfully he has learned NEVER to jump out of the car until his lead is attached.
He is now well-socialised with other dogs of all shapes and sizes and happily joins in with group hugs with the gang of dogs we regularly meet up on Bodmin Moor, only retreating behind me when a nippy dog pesters him (little black Sukie is his nemesis!)
Initially fascinated by the new lambs, back in April, he learned not to mess with ewes when they protected their young when one stamped its foot at him (which was ignored) then charged him, head down, bowling him over as he scuttled back to me. Since then, he has kept a wary eye on the sheep but steered clear of them. **more on this to follow . . **
Similarly, he has a healthy respect for the cattle and ponies that live on the Moor.  a confident, mischievous, stubborn and highly inquisitive little lad, escape artiste extraordinaire, and lord of his manor (his home and his car!) 

The sofa (covered) is his preferred bed, though he does have a bed in the car and one in the study next to my bedroom where he sleeps at night. He is regularly shampoo'ed by me and occasionally trimmed by an expert, so he smells sweet (if you disregard the occasional roll in fox- or badger-poo) and looks clean. He has an (expensive!!) Hypoallergenic diet that is specially mixed for him to counteract his many allergies and to reduce his weight. The weight loss is a slow process averaging just half a pound per week. 
He has 2 hates - rain and cats!!!  He rather fancies himself in his new Barbour jacket and trots around like Lord Muck in it - but refuses to 'perform' while he's wearing it.  As for the cats - he tried hard to chew through the chain link fence in order to reach my neighbours' cat, but it is now being kept indoors!
He regularly patrols my garden looking for a way to escape - it was previously assessed as 'dog-safe' before he arrived, but since then I have purchased more chain link fencing, 6ft high gates at either side of my property and various pieces of wire and wood to block weaknesses in the original boundaries. 
He is now banned from the front garden as he twice disappeared over the Cornish hedge between my garden and my neighbour's then was unable to get back after dropping down the other side.
He tops up his meals with a regular intake of sheep poo and pointedly ignores my shouts of "LEAVE IT!!! LEAVE IT!!!"

 A handy seat right there for a rest.

 He no longer follows closely behind my feet as I walk along.

And on our late afternoon walk yesterday, after exploring some of the ruins of engine houses, mine-shafts and chimneys and heading back towards the car, a small group of sheep crossed our path and ran into the waist high bracken when they spotted Benji - who then decided, "Fair game!" and chased after them. And kept on chasing, all the way up the steep slope of the old mine tips where the sheep stopped, turned and stared at him. He then wisely decided to call it a day and slithered his way down a shale track to get back to me. I cannot repeat what I said to him . . . .but he was firmly attached to his lead and made to walk at heel all the way back.
Home for dinner and a long, long sleep until it was time for bed.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Cotehele - National Trust Estate

" The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and, I believe, the sight of sky and of things growing, seem human needs, common to all . . ."

so said Octavia Hill, National Trust founder in 1888.

I so agree with her and that is why I am a member of this organisation that looks after our national treasures, our heritage, nature and wildlife, land and landscape including our coastal paths.

One such place is Cotehele (pronounced  coat-eel)
which is only a few miles from my home and a favourite place over the years for walking with dogs, children and grandchildren and I was there again yesterday with Benji.
The car park charge of £3 per car per visit is free to National Trust members, so at £5.40 per month for my membership fee, just 2 visits covers that cost. 
We took the woodland path . . . . 

 A very welcome seat to rest from the climb, listen to the birdsong all around and admire all the fresh greenery as well as a first few Foxgloves.

 "C'mon, then - let's carry on!"

 A small, very simple chapel . . 

In his survey of Cornwall, Richard Carew notes the interesting reason why Sir Richard chose to build a chapel on this particular spot on Cotehele land.

‘Sir Richard Edgcumbe was driven to hide himself in those his thicke woods, which overlook the river, what time being suspected of favouring the Earl of Richmond’s party against King Richard the Third, hee was hotely pursued, and narrowly searched for; which extremity taught him a sudden policy, to put a stone in his cap, and tumble the same into the water, while these rangers were close at his heels, who, looking down after the noyse, and seeing his cap swimming thereon, gave over their farther hunting, and left him liberty to shift away, and ship over into Brittaine; for a grateful remembrance of which delivery, hee afterward builded in the place of his lurking, a chapell.’

 Benji and I climbed a little higher and came to a viewing point with views across the Tamar, far below, to the little village of Calstock and the Calstock viaduct, part of the Great Western Railway.

 How about that house for a beautiful spot to live, on the bend of the River Tamar, facing south and surrounded by beauty?
Of course, you would have to own a boat, too . . . 

 Maybe something a bit smaller, then?

 On the way back down to Cotehele Quay, we passed a huge stand of Gunnera.

I was looking forward to reaching the Quay, partly to see again the Tamar sailing barge, "Shamrock", built in 1899 and now permanently kept here. But I confess I was looking forward even more to a very welcome cup of tea and hoping there would be a table free in the tiny secluded garden at the side of The Edgcumbe Tearooms. My luck was in - only one table was occupied/

 Here comes my pot of tea - and a slice of Apricot Sponge! Well, it looked so good it would have been rude to leave it, wouldn't it? (I had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a photograph - sorry!)

 It's such a pretty little garden with rambling roses almost hiding the entrance gate; I did wonder if many of the customers who were either inside or sitting on benches out the front were even aware of it.

 The perfect place to sit awhile after our walk, in the dappled shade of an overhanging tree.
Benji hasn't been to a beach yet - a surprising omission by me, so maybe our next jaunt will be to Seaton beach, Cornwall. 
"The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and, I believe, the sight of sky and of things growing, seem human needs, common to all..."
- Octavia Hill, National Trust founder, 1888
"The need of quiet, the need of air, the need of exercise, and, I believe, the sight of sky and of things growing, seem human needs, common to all..."
- Octavia Hill, National Trust founder, 1888

Saturday, 20 May 2017

On Bodmin Moor; at Lanhydrock Estate and on the coastal path at Hannafore.

My two youngest grandchildren were full of energy as usual, so along with Benji we walked and explored on Bodmin Moor. The children enjoyed climbing and jumping on the grassy slopes and the rocks, while Benji was fascinated by all the small white, furry animals that were so like him! 

A long disused Engine house.

 An opening that had to be explored by children and dog alike.

 Of course, we had to make the usual hooting noises as we passed through this tunnel!

I do believe he's a little bit slimmer than he was a month ago. It must be all the walking he's doing.

Last Saturday, I met with a fellow blogger - Mary of 'Trundling Through Life'. 
She was down in Cornwall for a short time and we arranged to meet at the dog-friendly Visitors' cafe near the main car park at  Lanhydrock, as I would have Benji with me. 
Hmmmm . not quite as dog-friendly as we'd hoped. Mary left her trundle truck outside and using a walking stick she accompanied me into the cafe and sat at a table, but then we were told that dogs can't enter the cafe. So out we had to go, to the verandah.  Luckily the sun was shining but there was quite a cold breeze blowing around while we ate our Cream Tea and drank our coffee. I realised that I won't be able to go again as if I have Benji with me, I can't even buy a coffee.
However, we enjoyed all the beautiful colours of Lanhydrock Estate, especially the Rhododendrons and the Bluebells, masses of them. 

 Two days later, Benji and I were walking the coastal path at Hannafore, which overlooks Looe and St. George's Island, just off the coast.
Lots of photos, for which I make no apology - they are especially for one of my sons who works in Afghanistan and so misses his beloved Cornwall.  I'm sure he'll recognise all these areas and he can picture himself walking there again. 
He hasn't met Benji yet either, so enjoy, David! 

 A Benji tail just disappearing around the next bend; this exploring lark is exciting!

 So - where to next?  Watch this space!