Work, work, work

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Well, they say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but in this case it’s certainly made him an unproductive blogger. And I guess it doesn’t help that not much seems to happen at this time of year, especially if winter has been and almost gone with something resembling no more than a whimper. Anyway, if nothing else we’ve had several obligatory beautiful sunsets like the one above to fall in love with of late.

What we haven’t fallen in love with, however, is something called downy mildew, which has absolutely devastated our laurel saplings at the bottom of the garden.

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Caused by a fungus-like (Oomycete) organism, downy mildew apparently spreads from plant to plant by airborne spores and is a disease of wet weather as infection is favoured by prolonged leaf wetness. (Can you tell I copy and pasted most of that from somewhere else?) Now, all this might look like a bit of a disaster, but the proprietors of our wonderful local garden centre in Wooler really have pulled out all the stops, going to great efforts to identify the cause of the problem on our behalf. As a result they have assured us that treating the infection once the growing season gets under way at the back end of March should put things right. We live in hope. And speaking of hope, hopefully things around here will get a bit more newsworthy soon. As they say, stay tuned – you just never know!

Oh, blow!

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Ah well, at least now we know what that strange noise coming from the pick-up was all about. And when it finally went it certainly went with a bang! A big thank-you to our friend Sid for sorting it all out after the AA man had given up on trying to free the spare.

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And if the pick-up was looking rather sorry for itself, at least the wintry sunset over the Cheviot Hills was looking just stunning.

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Early morning magic

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This weekend we were delighted to welcome our old friend Carl back to Beanley Wood Cottage. And while it was ostensibly a working visit we still had time to get out on a walk and enjoy the surrounding countryside. The only slight drawback being (from my point of view at least) that the walk started at 6.45 am. Why? Well, in recent months Carl has been on a mission to get healthy and lose weight, which to his eternal credit he has done big time. So these days he apparently hikes many, many miles each week and wasn’t going to let a solid day of work here get in the way of his regime. Which is why the three of us got up early, got the dogs ready and set off up the lane to Hedgeley as the sun came up. It was then on to Beanley before heading home for breakfast with Kim’s mum, who is also staying with us at the moment.

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I have to confess, the early start was a bit of a shock to the system, but we were certainly rewarded with some fantastic scenes. Who knows, I could actually get into this.

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The mystery that is Kickie Kickster

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Ever since he was a puppy Hitch has been obsessed with chasing balls. Generally speaking, tearing off after those thrown as far as possible into the undergrowth or along the beach is the preferred method of play. However, there is one particular variation that has had us both baffled and entertained from day one. It’s called Kickie Kickster. And how it actually works is a complete enigma to us, but seemingly not to Hitch himself.

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We named the game after the fact that every so often while out on a walk Hitch will refuse to push the ball into your hand as he usually does, but instead drops it at your feet, hunkers down before you, stares intently at it, and then waits for you to kick it at him. As soon as the ball has been given a good toe-poking, the object of the exercise seems to be for Hitch to either smother it goalkeeper-like with his body, or catch it in mid-air.

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In either case the ball is then rolled back gently to you while Hitch prepares for a repeat performance by hunkering back down ever closer to your feet. This process is then repeated until his nose is literally right at the end of your wellies.

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Quite why this happens, and why Hitch sometimes chooses to try and nick the ball away just as your taking a good old swing at it is mystifying, but in his head there are clearly rules to the game as it ends as suddenly as it starts. Who’s actually won the contest is unclear to anybody other than Hitch himself – we aren’t sure if we’ve scored points by getting the ball past him, or conversely he’s notched them up by stopping or catching it. But without warning that’s the end of another session and it’s time to go tearing off into the woods in search of adventure once again.

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So while we aren’t at all sure how Kickie Kickster works, we do know Hitch loves it. Even if that poor old nose of his does get an accidental hoofing every once in a while. Happy New Year everybody.

Quietly does it

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Well, that’s another Christmas over in the blink of an eye. And for all here at Beanley Wood Cottage it’s been a very quiet yet most enjoyable affair with lots of walks in some really lovely weather.

First things first, however, truth is we don’t really do all that Christmas hype stuff. So for us the 25th of December is pretty much just like any other day. Pretty much, but not entirely. So the morning began with a few presents being opened, first by Kim who looks just fabulous in the snuggly new dressing gown that J&B had sent for her.

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Following that there was, apparently, something under the tree for Dexter and Hitch.

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An observation which was soon followed by much ripping of paper to reveal two new toys. Like they need more!

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Then to work up an appetite for breakfast, it was out for a really lovely walk and play around the woods at the back of the house.

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And the views across to the Cheviot Hills on the horizon were, as they always seem to be at this time of year, just wonderful. All we need to make it perfect now is some snow.

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Today we decided to head off to one of our favourite walks, over at St Cuthbert’s cave. It’s a trail we haven’t done for ages, but we were rewarded with some gorgeous scenery and a wealth of photo opportunities, including the fabulous view across to Lindisfarne below, as well as the shot of Kim, Dexter and Hitch posing by the trig point at the top of this post.

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So a quiet Christmas indeed. But a most enjoyable one nonetheless.