Saturday, 23 January 2016

Some of the local Cornish standing stones

This is basically an addition to yesterday's post, featuring just a few of the local standing stones, monoliths, quoits, etc.
Firstly a view of The Hurlers, dating from the early Bronze Age; three large circles plus two standing stones to one side.  According to legend, the stones represent people who were playing a Hurling game on the Sabbath and were turned to stone.  The pair of stones to one side are known as The Pipers, who were playing the musical accompaniment.

The ground plan of the three circles and The Pipers:

More information here:  (with acknowledgements to Historic Cornwall)

Just a few miles away from The Hurlers is King Doniert's Stone, two pieces of a decorated 9th century cross, situated in an enclosure at the side of the road near to St. Cleer.
This is the entrance:

 The carved inscription is believed to commemorate Dungarth, King of Cornwall, who died around 875 AD.

Finally, for now, this is Trethevy Quoit; this well-preserved and impressive Neolithic dolmen burial chamber stands 2.7 metres high.  There are five standing stones surmounted by a huge capstone weighing 20 tonnes and needing a feat of engineering to hoist it into place.  Originally, this burial chamber would have been covered by a mound of earth or stones.

(acknowledgements to the Cornwall Heritage Trust for photos and information.)

Friday, 22 January 2016

A long-awaited sunny day outing.

After 24 hours of non-stop rain, it actually DID stop at 10am this morning.  Phew.  I had arranged to meet up with my friends at The Cheesewring Pub (the highest pub in Cornwall) in Minions, and I took Zac along for a little outing.  He loves going there because he knows that a handful of Spillers Shapes comes his way every time!  Sure enough, he showed an unusual turn of speed once he was out of the car and was waiting at the door for us to catch up and let him in. He then sat in 'his' corner by our usual table and stared at the barman - and stared - and stared.  So when our drinks were brought to us, a handful of dog-biscuits were placed on the table. Yessssss!  
Are you getting the impression that Zac's mobility has improved?  He had his 1st injection last Tuesday and he has shown small improvements each day since then.  It looks as though this treatment could be the one to help him long-term. 

When we came out of the pub after our very good lunch, we found ourselves face to face with this rather impressive pair of horns! Actually she was several yards away (thank goodness) and I used the camera zoom to get this portrait. 

The sound of many hooves trotting down the road made me turn to get this next photo; all the Banded Galloways were being moved from a very sodden part of the Moor to fresh grazing on higher ground.

Instead of returning home, I decided to take Zac for a little wander to make up for all the days when he was unable to get out and about.  The ground was like a sponge so I stuck to the gravelled track that eventually leads to The Cheesewring rock formation high on Bodmin Moor.  As Zac is on restricted exercise we didn't go very far, but far enough to take a few photos of The Hurlers standing stones, an old engine house, now an Exhibition and Information Centre and a very long shot of the Cheesewring Rock formation.

Even the hard surfaced track held plenty of water. 

The wild-eyed look because there were 2 collies running free behind us and I had told him to stay by me. He was so tempted to join them.

It felt so good to get out in the fresh air and sunshine after our enforced confinement.
I'm ready for a few more days like that! So is Zac! 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Looking forward to . . . .

 . . . the arrival of Spring, sunshine, warmth and longer days.  Also hoping that Zac will be fit and able to enjoy our walks again.  Just a few more weeks . . .
He did very well once he was back on the Miracle Drug (Metacam) but because it had already caused problems previously, I had been researching what else was available, including something that was recommended by one of my nieces who had used it on one of her dogs.  There were several other medicines but all were NSAIDs so had the same gastric or renal side effects as Metacam. But there was also Cartrophen, given as an injection (weekly for 4 weeks, then needing a top-up session as and when necessary.)  The important thing about Cartrophen is that it not only fights the inflammation and pain but also helps to heal the damage already done by the arthritis. So I am pinning my hopes on this to get my boy back to a good standard of health and activity.
He has to be without the Metacam for a week; that time will be up on Tuesday when he will be having his first injection of the 4 weekly ones. He has to have restricted exercise for 6 weeks, in order  not to impede the healing process; I'm thinking that this won't go down too well for a dog who enjoys being free-running.

I drove him up to a parking area on the edge of Bodmin Moor a few days ago, where he thoroughly enjoyed a little stroll and lots of sniffing!  However, after a few minutes a black cloud came our way, as you can see from the few photos I took. The waterlogged track we were following -

It's raining!

Dozing in the rain - and standing in the muddiest corner of their field.

This one, on the Moor, doesn't need a coat.

And so back home where I find just a little bit of colour in my very wet garden.

Not a hybrid - it's a budding Buddleia with flowering Hellebores underneath.

And these are doing quite well in my unheated greenhouse

I look forward to bringing very good news about Zac next time, after he has had his first injection.
I also look forward to better weather - but I suspect it will take a downward turn before any improvement. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

He Killed a COW!!!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Zac has been poorly since before Christmas when his body rebelled against the medication he was taking.  It had been a Miracle Drug since he was first prescribed it almost a year ago and had given him a year of happy, pain-free exercise and enjoyment, roaming on the Moor and beaches, loving every minute.
But a visit to the vet confirmed that the Miracle Drug was now causing even more problems internally and he could no longer take it. In its place, the vet prescribed a very strong painkiller (human type and addictive) and we waited to see how he would be.
Well, the first few days were not good.  He was definitely pain-free, but 'spaced-out' and very confused; he varied from being hyper to suddenly dropping into a deep sleep - several times, I felt his body because he was so deeply asleep that I thought he had died.
But after those few days, he seemed to adjust to these chemicals racing round his system and became calmer and still pain-free, with bright eyes once again.
But I noticed that he was getting stiffer in his hindquarters; getting up and down the garden steps was becoming a problem and as time went on, he became unable to get up from the floor without help.
I gave him Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM in liquid form, to get into his system faster; he had a slow wander along the beach and thoroughly enjoyed it.
But last week, I saw that he was walking even more awkwardly - his front legs were stiffening as well.  The arthritis had spread to his shoulders as well as his hips.
Another vet appointment, when I was told to try him on the previous medication again (the one that had made him poorly) once he had gone a month without it.  It sounded bleak.
He has got progressively worse, so much that I daren't take him out because if he went down, I couldn't possibly lift him and get him back home.
So yesterday morning (Friday) I gave him a measured dose of the Miracle Drug; by teatime, he was effortlessly hopping down the garden steps to chase the squabbling starlings away from the bird feeder and resumed his 'on guard' position so that they wouldn't return.

This morning he had a second dose and is a different dog - no problems with getting up from the floor and blatantly asking to go for 'Walkies'.  However, I am restricting what he does, to give those joints a chance to recover; on-lead walking only and limited, gentle play sessions.
I am watching him like a hawk for any signs of side-effects from the Miracle Drug and next week we shall see the vet again so that an alternative medication can be used to do the same job, but without such bad effects on his system.
In the meantime . . . . he has recovered his playfulness, naughtiness and sense of humour.
This morning he went and found his toy from Father Christmas - a rope-legged, fabric Cow with an obligatory squeak inside.  This photo was taken when it was lightly played with and cuddled by Zac.

He dumped it on my lap, looking at me with that "Throw it!!!  Throw it!!!" look on his face. But mindful of his delicate legs, I merely played a gentle game of Tug'O'War with him, letting him win it from me with very little effort, so as not to strain himself.
After a few minutes of this rather tame game, he took it off into the hall and lay quietly.
I really should have known better!  The Cow is now decidedly DEAD! It has no legs, no ears and although there was a strangled 'squeak' still coming from its nether regions, I had to remove it, along with the rest of the debris, for fear of choking hazards.
So, on our way to the vet, I think I need to call into the petshop for a tougher version of a squeaky toy.
*** Woooo; just as I typed that, the Pet Shop Boys came on the radio singing, "It's a Sin".  Weird or what? ***

Finally, how do you like these two presents I received (I'm very lucky!)
The cushion with Zac's photo on it was from a friend 'oop north' as my Secret Santa gift.

and this gorgeous print was my Christmas present from my best friends, B & L, who live in the village; we all walk our dogs together then go on for a nice lunch. B mounted and framed the print himself - isn't it lovely? It's a watercolour by Scottish artist Julie Poole.

I couldn't resist adding this photo of Zac, taken 2 years ago, in his 'Bah Humbug!' pose!!! He had ripped the wrapping off his present but then found it didn't squeak - not impressed at all.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Catching up after Christmas.

Crisis at Christmas!  There always has to be one, doesn't there? I had one of my sons and his family staying here and another son and his family due on Boxing Day, plus all the usual last-minute shopping for food and gifts - and then the house struck with a bit of a setback! The hot-water tap in the bathroom sink seized up.  Plumber needed and it's the 22nd of December!
However, I rang the feller who installed my shower and - yes!  he agreed to be here at 11'ish the next morning.  And he was - phew! One hour later, new circlip fitted for a temporary repair, a warning to me and my visitors not to be too violent when turning the tap on and off and one cup of tea consumed - crisis averted.
Then on the 27th I went down with 'flu! Just what you need at this time of year, sneezing, coughing, feeling rough, rough, rough.
And rumbling along in the background was the concern about my companion dog, Zac. The medication he had been taking for almost 12 months suddenly upset his internal workings; a swift visit to the vet and a change of medication meant that he was once more out of pain, but very inflamed and stiff in his hind legs. I am presently trying him on a Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM combination which is just starting to ease the stiffness.
On a good day, I drove to the beach where he was very happy to meet up with some old friends and enjoy a gentle stroll  with me (well wrapped up) along the firm sand. It was mid-afternoon with a low sun, quite windy and rather grey, but so good to be outside.

As a relief from the grey, wet & windy days we have been suffering for so long in this region, I've been looking back to the photos I was taking a year ago.
A late afternoon stroll over the clifftops near to Rame Head:

The Hellebores in my garden were flowering beautifully:

 and the Snowdrops;

 and the Heathers:

and the pink shrub above the Heathers: (anyone know its name?) 

Today, there are no Hellebore buds to be seen; the Snowdrops are just peeping above the earth, no sign of the Heathers (or the pink things!) and the whole garden is water-logged.
Living high up, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, I am well used to fog, rain and winds, but even I am fed up with the constancy of it; I'm longing for dry days, pretty flowers, bees droning, butterflies fluttering and the chance to sit outside in the sunshine.
Oh and I'd rather like to get my camping gear back into use again!