Monday, 18 April 2011

Caravanning......a beginner's guide.....

Pictorial evidence of our first towing/caravanning experience.......

 In brief...... hitching and unhitching are a bit of a challenge.  So much to check, double-check and remember to do in a specific order.  Towing was remarkably easy, although breathing in when going through narrow gaps was the order of the day.  By contrast, erecting the awning was a 2 1/2 hour marathon, mainly due to our complete inability to work out which poles were which.  Hopefully next time we will be closer to the advised 20 minute assembly time.

Small Dog was in her element, and returned to the camping life as if she'd never been away.  We'd neglected to take her camping chair so she promptly requisitioned one of ours and whenever anyone stood up she immediately took possession and settled down with a distinct "Don't 'sturb me" stance to her ears.

Getting the van back on our front garden was also a challenge and it looks enormous!  Might have to rethink that one when we get home from our next trip.

Up bright and early this morning and thankfully none the worse for the mental, physical and emotional wear and tear of the past week.  I've discovered some lurid bruises on my knees though, probably due to kneeling to peer under the caravan looking for various switches etc.

All in all it's been given a firm 'paw's up' by all three of us.....looking forward to our next expedition now.....


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

International translator required.......

Sincere apologies to international readers whose first language isn't English for Small Dog's contribution to yesterday's post.

She has a complete blind spot when it comes to spelling and punctuation, although her grammar is really rather good.

Apologies also if anyone tried to use Google Translate..... apparently Yorkshire Terrior isn't a supported language.  I suggest that you simply say the words out loud, just as they're printed..... she's a phonetic dog and writes the words as they sound.

If all else fails I can provide a translation on request.

In response to all the emails and texts asking for an update on Small Dog's condition, I can report that she had a restful night and is much perkier this morning.  I have passed on everyone's good wishes.

Well, after the worry and stress of yesterday, today is set to be a whirlwind of activity as we attempt to clear the decks of work etc before Friday.

However before I ensconce myself in the workroom, I must highlight a wonderful workshop session being organised by two of our artisan friends.

Celia of KT Miniatures and Robin of Coombe Crafts are running a half-day workshop in Thame, Oxfordshire on Sunday 21 June.  Entitled 'Over the Little Garden Fence' workshop, students will make a stunningly realistic miniature garden setting in either 1/12th or 1/24th scale.  Full details and downloadable booking form available HEREPlaces are limited so book early!

Right, back to work. No rest for the moderately badly behaved and all that......

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Woozy hound.........

Small Dog is currently curled up in her basket, sleeping off the after-effects of her anaesthetic.
Apparently the reversible sedation planned for her hip manipulation and X-ray wasn't enough and she had to have anaesthetic as well.  She's still quite groggy and keeps looking at us with her ears down in her most pathetic "what did I do to deserve THAT?" pose.

We had a long consultation with the vet, who explained that her mobility problem is because the patella on her left hind leg is luxating, ie slipping out of the groove in which it should be held securely by four ligaments.  In fact it's spending more time out than in, which accounts for her discomfort in walking, and often hobbling around on three legs.

In the long run, she will probably have to have surgery, for which she would have to be referred to a specialist orthopaedic vet.  However in the short term we're going to treat it conservatively, with pain-killer/anti-inflammatory medicine, and a form of doggy physiotherapy which aims to tighten the ligaments and strengthen the surrounding muscle.  

She's having a special dinner tonight to make up for her traumatic experience and hopefully she'll feel more like her normal self again tomorrow.


Small Dog's version of events:

i got kwite ecksited this mornin becos mi mumz sed i wos goen in the kar.  howevr instedd of goen sumwhair gude i wos taiken too the vett.  

i doant liek the vett.  it smels funi becos lotts of uthr dogs hav weed on the floar in teror. as sune as i am throo the doar i go ol trembli.

eniwai, i had too wate till i wos arsked to go intoo the vetts torchure chaimbr. i kood hardli knot beleev it when mi mumz lefft me ther!

butt then it gott wurs.

i had to hav a enjeckshun witch maid mee sleepi.  

butt knot sleepi enuf.  

befour i nuw it, thay werr trien too pool mi legz of.  natchurali i went a bitt growli so then thay poot a masc on mi fais and strainj gas kaim owt.  i mussed hav gon too sleap then becos the neckst thing i knu i wos in a kenl.

i doant reeli kno whot a kenl is butt it is jusst liek a kaij. it smelt funi two, evun tho mi mumz had left mi blanki. 

aparentli thay tuke speshul piktoors ov mi boans witch maid mee luke liek a skelington and  i hav lucksaten patelars.  i hav kno ideea wot thay ar.

iventewali, mi mumz sekured mi releese and i kaim hoam. i think i mite bee haven haloosinashuns becos i saw a tryseratops in the gardin erlier.  or itt mite hav bean a reinoserus.

itt is knot two badd now thow. i hadd a delishus dinr and mi mumz hav bean colin mee gorjus wun and saien ar yoo olrite, and wood yoo liek a littel dish of milc, and lett me maik yoo a kumfourtabel bedd and doo yoo knead a cari.

i suspekt thai mite hav poot sum speshul medisin in mi dinr butt i wil lett them of with it.

thank yoo to evriwun whoo has sent mee gude wishes.  i reeli apreshiait it

yores grogili

Monday, 11 April 2011

Countdown to chaos.........

Arghh..... only 4 more sleeps till our inaugural tow and still so much to organise.  

Going away for a caravanning holiday is supposed to be calming and relaxing and I'm looking forward to the point, which currently feels way, way ahead in the distant future, when we are no longer complete novices and can feel calm and relaxed.

For the moment however we resemble nothing so much as headless chickens, doing random stuff and achieving next to nothing.

Thank goodness we unpacked the full awning which came with the caravan at the weekend.  It took us well over an hour just to get it out, check it over and repack it.  At the end we were so exhausted we could hardly stand.


There is absolutely no way we could erect it ourselves in less than a fortnight.  For weekend trips it is completely unfeasible, and even if we were away for a week we'd think twice before putting it up.

So, we will be selling it and have ordered a smaller, lightweight porch awning, which, we are reliably informed by a seasoned caravanning friend, takes no more than 15 minutes to erect. Granted it is smaller, but it could probably seat 6 for dinner, and if the diners weren't intimate friends at the start of the evening they would definitely be by the end!  I prefer to call it cosy rather than cramped. 

Of course for just Perfectionist Partner, Small Dog and I, it is perfect and so we have bitten the financial bullet and thrown yet more money at the caravan experiment and ordered one, which hopefully will arrive before our 'test run' at the weekend.

Small Dog, understandably, is very keen to get away for the first time in her new 'van.  We haven't been camping since last August, which is the longest time we've abstained since we bought the previous motorhome 6 years ago.  It's been so long I've forgotten the joys of waking up to the sound of the birds singing, sometimes even while they're sitting on the rooflight peering in at us.  Ducks especially, make a real racket on the roof when they're tap dancing.

Predictably, after days and days of almost tropical, balmy weather, it's set to get Siberian towards the weekend.  Must look out my thermal undies and polar fleece..........

In other news, Small Dog has her X-rays tomorrow.  Fingers crossed please.......

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Silver lining.........?

There is not a cloud in the sky today, but even if there were I would be hard pressed to find a silver lining.

We had to take Small Dog to the vet today.  Her back leg has been playing up and she's been having difficulty walking.... poor wee soul.  It's heartbreaking to see her limping around the garden and trying to negotiate the stairs.

She's been put on bed rest and anti-inflammatory drops, and has to have an X-Ray next week, for which she will be sedated.  The most likely culprit is Luxating Patella, but it could be arthritis or even something more sinister.  I'm relieved that she's to have further tests but I'm worried that there could be something badly wrong, as she's clearly in pain a lot of the time.  It's possible that she may have to have surgery, depending on what they find.  In that case the cost of treatment could run into thousands of pounds... thank goodness she's been insured since she was a puppy.  We've never had to claim before and we really, really hope there won't be any problem if we have to claim now.

However, mostly we're worried about what's wrong and whether it can be put right.  She's normally such a live-wire.... it's strange for her not to be bouncing around like Tigger although she's enjoying all the TLC.

Here's hoping she's soon back to her normal self.........

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Time's winged chariot...........

It's a well known fact that our stress response follows a predictable pattern, in direct correlation to the demands placed upon us.


I am fighting a losing battle, trying to clear any number of decks before our Easter break.  No matter how many hours I spend in the workroom or at the computer, I never seem to get to the end of all that's to be done.  Hence I am hovering around the indecisive/irritable end of the spectrum.

I did manage to finish one large order yesterday, which will be winging its way Stateside tomorrow, which still leaves several others, plus a commission I wish I'd turned down and which is becoming bogged down in detail.

There is also the small matter (literally) of designing and executing my showcase display for the Kensington Dollshouse Festival next month, which will have to be done and dusted by the end of next week, so no pressure there either then.

So chasing my tail is the order of the day and I'll be glad when everything is done and I can heave a sigh of relief.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Happy Birthday Small Dog.....!

Small Dog celebrated her 5th birthday today!

Aside from a delishus dinner, she had several presents to unwrap, which she attacked with gusto.

Ah the simple pleasure of watching (and hearing)  Small Dog revel in the joy of a squeaky toy.......

The perfect glue.............

As a craft artisan, I am always on the lookout for the perfect glue.  In days of yore, I would have been boiling animal hooves like a good'un but these days there is a bewildering array of synthetic glues, all of which promise the earth.

Aside from Aleene's Tacky Glue which is the holy grail of PVA glues, it is difficult to find a 'glue for all reasons'..... which is why yesterday morning, when we recklessly decided to view 10 minutes of Sunday morning TV, we were drawn into watching a whole hour of an apparently MIRACLE GLUE, which works on anaerobic rather than contact principles.  It wouldn't stick until pressure was applied to the joint, squeezing out the air, at which point the glue transmogrified at a molecular level and became stronger than the material it was glued to.  Not only that (there MORE?!) the glue remained flexible, rather than going hard and brittle.

I was AMAZED and EXCITED at the same time!

The bloke who was demonstrating, was glueing all manner of unlikely objects to other equally unlikely objects.  For example, a glass door knob onto a brick, or a metal coin onto a bit of concrete, in order to prove that the glue really did work.  Even more amazing is that it worked on stuff that is notoriously difficult to glue to anything, or even to itself.  Rubber for example, or certain plastics.

By the time we'd finished watching a whole hour of extreme glueing, I'd have sold my children to get my hands on a bottle of the stuff.  Fortunately this was unnecessary as they had a great BOGOF offer.... Two bottles of the miracle glue, plus one bottle of the glass glue, plus a bottle of de-bonding agent. 

Times two.

PLUS a refillable glue pen.

Bargain of the century or what?!

I can't wait for it to arrive so that I can begin a whole new glueing odyssey.  I'll be able to dispense with all those myriad bottles/tubes/tins of glue currently cluttering up my 'glue cupboard' and sail through life with just one.

This is obviously what I've been waiting for all my life!

Glue nirvana.............

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Without a hitch..........

We are inching ever closer to being finally able to tow our caravan.  Having had the tow pack fitted to the car on Thursday, today we tackled the task of changing the tow hitch on the caravan for a new Al-Ko stabiliser and security lock.

I had contacted our local mobile caravan servicing chap to find out how much it would cost to have him fit it and after learning it would be £100(!) we decided to have a go ourselves.  After all, there were only two pages of arcane instructions and technical diagrams so we were reasonably confident that we'd be fine.


There were, inevitably, a few teeny weeny hitches (no pun intended) but after only an hour we'd changed the tow hitch then buoyed with our success, fitted a new vehicle registration plate on the back of the caravan to match the car's.

Job done.

So, just two weeks till our first mini outing *tremble, tremble, quake, quake* just before PP goes on a Caravan Club Manoevring Course, then it's off into the wide blue yonder........