Thanksgiving and the joy of having a dog

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In the week that our Northern American friends celebrated Thanksgiving I pondered on all the things I have to give thanks for. There are all the obvious ones of course – good health, a wonderful family, great friends and an amazing new life in the country but please indulge me folks as I espouse the wonders of owning my little chocolate drop. She will be 2 in January, which is equivalent to 14 in human years, and you would think she may therefore be starting to be a bit grouchy and moody, only wanting me for food and generally starting to take me for granted for the next 10 years, however instead she is just the best company – taking as little or as much of my attention as I am prepared to give her at any given time with no sulking or revenge planned if I don’t come up to scratch.

Sometimes when I have loads of other things I want or need to do or it’s hot as blazes and the last thing I want to do is go for a walk I look at her little face and realise she is 100% dependent on me for EVERYTHING and I just have to put her first – just as you do with your kids. Her excitement is palpable as I put on my Nikes and she hears the jingle of the car keys, not knowing the exact location of what lies ahead for the next hour but knowing it will involve walking/running/swimming/smelling of all sorts of interesting things and generally having a darn good time. She runs ahead of me chasing flies, birds, ducks or whatever lies in her path. She leaps across ditches, immerses herself in any river or puddle she can find and 9 times out of 10 she will do her ‘happy dance’ when she runs in a tight figure of 8 at top speed until she is panting and happily exhausted. She will chase balls or sticks right into the middle of the river or into the breaking waves at the beach and bring them back to my feet over and over and over again just full of joy and love of life. You cannot help but feel happy when you see her enjoying herself like this and all thoughts of the chores waiting at home just disappear in a puff of smoke!

At home she is never happier than when she has at least 2 balls – one in her mouth and one on the floor that she plays ‘soccer ‘ with, patting it with her feet to me and me kicking it back to her and so it goes on back and forth until one of us gets fed up ( Ok that would be me ). I don’t need to look at the clock to know it’s between 5 and 5.30pm every day as she comes up to me and puts her head on my lap looking up at me with those puppy dog eyes not so subtly reminding me that it’s dinner time thank you very much. We taught her to carry the mail, a task she learned very quickly and loved so much that she now has to ‘help’ you carry things all the time but especially when you get out of the car with shopping. She takes the task very seriously and even endured the very enticing waft of bacon as she carried in the brown paper butchers bag containing the weekend breakfast the other day – a form of torture for any dog but especially for a permanently hungry labrador……

2016-11-05-07-59-03 She looks decidedly unimpressed here…..

This weekend she had some little friends to stay. Our old neighbours made the trip south with their two fur babies Gin and Tonic. Being Jack Russells we were all a little concerned they may get on the scent of a rabbit or lizard and be off through the fences and into the paddocks but they were perfect guests, exploring the grounds very systematically and honing in on the exact 2 places that our blue tongue lizards hang out!! Smart little guys…

I have been buying up big in hosiery. Too much information I hear you say? It’s not because I have a penchant for lingerie, well no more than any other girl , but more because I want to save my apples. Last year we had no apples because we pruned the trees back hard to get them back into shape and especially those trees espaliered against my fence. What few apples we did get were enjoyed mostly by parrots and bugs leaving about a handful for us. This year I have gazillions of baby apples about 2cm big and if I want them to grow up and be proper apples I have to take action now before the little borers get into them, happily chomping away on them from the inside out. Hence the hosiery. Turns out that those little foot or anklet stockings are just perfect for wrapping around the little apple buds and keeping those pests out whilst letting the sunshine and warmth in! So I’m like a woman possessed zooming from supermarket to supermarket and just like a kid in the lolly aisle I’m ogling the various options looking for the correct ‘dernier’ for the apples at the right price as I need about 100 of them! Luckily there are those self checkouts everywhere now as in the old days I’m sure the checkout chick would have raised an eyebrow at my trolley load of foot stockings – most probably coming to the conclusion I may have a foot odour problem…..

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It is a busy time of year, the garden is demanding, with a need for feeding and mulching as well as the interminable weeding. The produce from the garden needs attention, pickling, bottling, grating and using in cakes (a wonderful way to use your zucchinis and carrots ) and constant vigilance against the bugs and caterpillars that will come and undo all your work in a very short space of time. Then of course we have Christmas just one month away and all that entails although now it’s more about food and wine with our nearest and dearest than loads of gifts but there are still some to be bought – not so easy now we are so far away from big shopping centres. My overseas family have to be done first of course to allow for the post and then my favourite part is planning the menus for those 3 days over Xmas. Tradition dictates the majority of our dishes but now we have embraced the European idea of the hot dinner on Xmas Eve and the Aussie seafood on Xmas Day it has allowed a little room for the odd new dish to be embraced and enjoyed. It will be a quiet one this year but with visitors trickling in before and after the Big Day – plenty of prawns, oysters and champagne will be consumed and less of the cake, shortbreads and chocolates that we used to have in the UK.

The weather dictates that lighter fresher food is more palatable than roasts and gravy and pudding but the downside to it being warm at Xmas is that it is  also swimwear season. Bad mix. Therefore as well as all the other things on my to do list I also am trying to be a bit ‘good’ and stay a bit ‘fit’ in the eye of the storm of mince pies and cheese plates galore. I did find a great cake recipe the other day involving avocado and pistachios which sounds weird but tastes great and avocadoes are veggies and veggies are good for you so therefore  this cake MUST be good for you – it’s almost salad for goodness sake!! (you can find the recipe in the kitchen section). For fitness I basically put on my runners and head out for a walk, lug barrow loads of heavy mulch across our 2 acres or dig the veggie beds over but for the outside world fitness has definitely changed a bit in the past few years with the arrival of the fitbit and the digital world and exercise seems to be done a little differently nowadays……..

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