Friday, 31 December 2010

Rounding up 2010

It is finally the end of 2010. Looking positively has been a big year for lessons about myself, the world I live in and the way other people behave. It has been a year of huge changes and challenges and, to be frank, I'm glad to see the back of it!
The support that my family and friends have given me these last twelve months has been just incredible. You really learn who you can rely on at times like this.
Entering 2011, I'm very happy to be home with my lovely family, my Chris and of course Fox and Whisper.

I have managed to hold onto the flock despite the moves and logistical difficulties and I must say that they are looking fab!
 The latest addition to our herd is Danny of course who is settling well into life with us and is beginning to show his wonderful sense of humour; no doubt we will have plenty of tales to tell as the year progresses.
To all of you who are kind enough to stop by and read this little blog and leave such lovely comments, I'd like to thank you all too: many of you have come to feel like true friends and I hope that you'll forgive the lack of posts in the recent past. I shall seek to be a better Blogger in the new year.

All the best,
Jenny xxx

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Dog Panniers

Fox is such a big strong dog that I've decided that I ought to be able to put all of that muscle to good use.

 So from now on he can carry his own water, ball and food on camping trips. Our first trials with an empty pack don't seem to have bothered him one bit. He stood still to have it put on and didn't pay any attention to it at all as he ran about as usual.
I'm told that once a dog gets used to carrying a load, they can take up to 15% of their bodyweight, which means that Fox can carry up to 4.3 kilos of gear! That's quite a lot and will be a big help on multi day walks.
So far Whisper has escaped having to carry anything,

This is mostly because she is a total minger who spends half her life wallowing in mud and the other half rolling in puddles!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Introducing Danny

 It has been a while coming, (or should that be threatening?) but it looks as though I've gone and gotten myself a horse! What am I thinking?

So this is Danny, a 15.2hh thoroughbred cross.

He's a 16 year old ex-showjumper. He has arthritis in one of his fetlocks so can't compete any more but is supremely fit and able to do what I have planned for him.

We've done a couple of long afternoon rides out together and he's a really comfy ride; lovely paces, plenty of go but also a reliable stop and lots of character.
I can't wait to get him home and start going out having adventures together. Welcome to the family Danny x

Friday, 15 October 2010

North Pennines Wool Event

Chris and I took a trip into the wild lands of the North Pennines this Tuesday to join fellow wool enthusiasts, including our esteemed Chairman of the Shetland Sheep Society, in celebrating all things woolly.
North Pennines Wool ran an event featuring many different types of fibre craft including weaving, spinning and felting, as well as showing different types of fleece and demonstrating how to sort them.
 I was very happy to catch up with some old friends and update them on how the flock was getting on. It was particularly good to see Jean who sold me five of my original flock members.
The real highlight however was when Chris, being eagle eyed, spotted a bargain.
A beautiful second hand spinning wheel.
So now there's no excuse. I've been spinning away in the evenings and have signed up for a knitting course so that soon I might really be able to go all the way from sheep to jumper... or perhaps just to scarf for starters! I've got an awful lot of lovely fleece just waiting to be turned into something exciting.
Coming soon on this blog...
A very important horse!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Bare feet and mobile bones

Life can't be bad when you can walk three miles barefoot along a beautiful sandy beach...
But that's exactly what Chris and I did with my parents a week or so ago when we took a long stroll around North Walney Nature Reserve and beaches.
It was a simply beautiful day as we strolled through the yellow sand dunes, across the salt marsh with it's fascinating flora, and out to the end of the island where turnstone foraged along the shingle and where we found the perfect place for a sit down and a brew.
Chris is getting used to the fact that my family are impulsive foragers. I was brought up to know many sources of free food and uses and appreciation for things that you find lying around.
September is prime time for finding one of my very favourite mushrooms, the Parasol. These are big and we only needed to take a couple for Chris to make into a fabulous soup when we got home.
Mam and I found a very useful length of rope littering the beach which we tidied off the sand to use in the garden and I found this amazing bone...
I think that it must be a dolphin or whale bone, but am happy to be corrected. It looks like the bone at the base of a flipper; so perhaps it is a large seal.
The concerning thing about it is that it has clearly been neatly cut through by some implement. I wonder what the poor animal's fate was.
When I insisted that it was coming home with me Chris nicknamed it my "mobile bone".
With these and various other useful things and bits of fishing gear that ought not to be left on the beach, where they are a hazard to birds and other wildlife, we had rather a lot to carry. Luckily, the beach provided the answer in the form of an old fish box washed up on the shore.
It's good to see that Fox appreciates the gravity of such a find!
 My bonkers family and I carried that box for over three miles across the sands of Walney Island.
But it was a wonderful stretch out and the dogs were delighted.
Not to mention absolutely knackered and just a tad sandy!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Settling in nicely

The sheep don't seem to know what to do with themselves in their new pasture.
There is SO much to eat

They don't have to scale cliffs to find their dinner as they did in the good old days of Scotland...

Nor march for miles.
In fact Tolly seems concerned that the poor shepherdess will be getting fat now that his flock are not providing her with exercise every day! Maybe if he tickles her she'll giggle the calories off...
Just stand there Tolly and look pretty. I'll be getting plenty of exercise on Mondays...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Big Update

Hello Bloggers! It has been a while, but I've been going through a lot of changes in life and these have taken a great deal of sorting out. However, here I sit at my computer in my new job in my new office in my old town!
I'm back in sometimes sunny Ulverston, Cumbria which is where I went to school and where my parents have now lived for around ten years (we lived in a village near by when I was younger). Still working on Beavers, still for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, but now investigating how reintroductions have worked in other European countries and producing reports and articles about the ecological, social and economic aspects.
I'm looking forward to visiting some of the sites and meeting the scientists in charge of the projects.

Chris and I have moved in with my parents for a while so that we can get some money together (conservation is not the best field if you ever plan on living in anything bigger than a tin can!) and, as much as we're going to miss folk in Argyll, we're happy to be back amongst our family and friends.

Fox and Whisper are overjoyed to have huge long sandy beaches and dunes to explore as well as the Lakeland Fells and will soon be back to working sheep again so the move is better for them.
The sheep think that they have gone to sheep heaven. They are on fabulous grazing sharing with a friend's pony. Hopefully before too long we'll have fields of our own for them.
So it's all change for us but I think that it will be for the best in the long run. There will be lots of things to tell you all but bear with me while I find my feet again and get sorted. Then I'll have all of your blogs to catch up with too!!
Thanks for following my little tales,
Jenny xx

Monday, 9 August 2010

Purple Fingers Again!

I popped home briefly the other day and spent some quality time with my parents.
We did what the Holden family do best...
 got out on one of the local fells, stretched our legs, had a good laugh and collected ingredients for our dinner.
The bilberries on Kirkby Moor were rather bigger than those here in Argyll, on fact they were more like blueberries!
Whisper did a good job of ensuring that we didn't stray too far from each other while distracted by delicious fruit.
Oh there's no place like home no matter how beautiful the places we visit are.


Chris and I like exploring. As soon as we knew that we were moving to Knapdale we bought the OS Maps and would spend hours with them laid out across the floor examining the terrain and picking out interesting looking habitats, walks and camping spots.
We've covered a fair amount of ground with our faithful canine friends since moving here 19 months ago.
I was therefore quite surprised when Chris told me that he had found a previously unconquered gully just ten minutes walk from our door.
To be fair, this magical little fairy land has been closed off to visitors since we moved up here as the Forestry Commission were putting in a new path and bridges to allow folk who prefer to walk on safe ground access to its beauty.
They've done a lovely job of it with platforms to allow lovely views of the waterfalls,
places to sit and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees,
and taking in interesting natural features like this gnarled old tree. It does make one think that a lifetime is never enough to properly explore what it on ones own doorstep, let alone wider world!