Archive for May, 2007

Adventures with Scotch

It’s the weekend again! My sister Scotch came to stay with me. Her dad dropped her off at mum’s office, it was so nice to see her again, but then she went straight up to mum’s room and made a beeline for my toys. Arrrghhhhh! She decided to eat poor Tigger!

scotch and tigger

I never ever take my toys back off my sister, so like a proper gent I waited patiently for mum to give Tigger back to me. I sat in my bed to make sure she didn’t nab my bed as well. It’s in a great spot, just by the window for the cool breeze and also by the radiator which is toasty warm in the winter. Scotch got told off by mum’s boss though. She had only taken a ball down to his office and had been chucking it at him, hehehe.

scotch and smudge in office

Scotch is more ball-crazy than me, she played with it all weekend. Mum had to hide it when she wanted a rest from playing with the ball. It flies around the room like a boomerang, and at one point it got stuck in a chair.

scotch and her ball

It started raining on Saturday. Erggghhhh! Everything was wet. I kept looking back at the door, trying to tell mum that I’d really much rather be inside where it’s warm. But …. mum said we still had to go out for a walk. *sulks*

At least we got a towel rub when we got back in. That’s my favourite bit about getting wet. It’s almost a cuddle and I love those almost more than anything.

smudge is dried

Then we got our dinner. My favourite thing! My favourite thing!

dinner time

On Sunday we went to a big place which was really interesting. Mum said it was called a garden centre. We were really good and didn’t pee once. We didn’t know what these were though. Most puzzling!

garden ctr

Then we hit the farmer’s market. Lots of yummy smells. Scotch just sat and gave mum the evil eye when she got the camera out…. yet again. She’s always got that blooming thing in her pocket! I don’t think Scotch likes having her photo taken as much as I do.

farmers market

We stopped for coffee and had a rest. Then the best bit of all. The pet shop. We both liked the Kong the best, I’ve already got one. We were really interested in the soft toys, but mum explained to her friend that most toys have squeakers inside them, and Hearing Dogs aren’t allowed these, as the squeaker is the first sound that a Hearing Dog is trained to.

pet shop

On Monday, Rob came to pick up Scotch and they showed us her ball skills. She will jump for the ball when it’s held in the air. Here’s how to do it…

I made sure I got another cuddle before he went. It was a jolly good weekend! Hope your bank holiday weekend was good too, even though it rained!

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I’m so sad today.

The 19th century tea clipper ‘Cutty Sark’ in Greenwich was destroyed by fire this morning. It seems that vandals had set it alight and the whole ship is destroyed. Lots of people in the area were evacuated and police are hunting the vandals. See my earlier post about my visit to the Cutty Sark. Luckily all the historic artefacts had been removed from the ship for conservation work, prior to the start of the £25 million renovation.

Yesterday, Jane had her expensive new bag stolen at her sample sale in Brick Lane, along with her keys and cards. She is so upset.

(No, it wasn’t that bag. Jane’s was a lovely bright red leather one. Hope they catch them and chop their hands off.)

Right mummy. We need to go for coffee and cake. Chop, chop. Hehe

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Mum took me to East London where we spent 2 days with her friend Jane, a fashion designer. Jane was selling her fashions at a sample sale in Brick Lane. Nice area, there were lots of lovely curry smells but not a lot of parks.

Jane’s the one who always has organic carrot cake in her bag!! Yummy! So obviously I was roped in to help clean up all the crumbs. When she was trying on some of her clothes for mum, I spotted ….

Smudge has spotted ....

a pair of bare feet!

a pair of bare feet!

So I got to work…

Smudge gets to work

Jane – Eeehhh not sure I like this!

Eeehhhh not sure I like this!

Job’s done!

Job's done!

There were lots and lots of people there, I found a nice place to crash out though, out of the way – under all of Jane’s clothes!

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Wow mum, it’s huge, it’s Hampstead Heath! I’m so excited to have a walk here! Mum told me there are almost 800 acres. It’s very popular as there are fabulous views across London from Parliament Hill and Kenwood, and lots of trails so we can get lost. Lots of people fly kites here at the weekends. We started our walk from Hampstead Ponds.

There’s lots to see. Forests, fields, bogs, huge oak trees, owls, and kingfishers. There are 28 ponds for swimming, boating and fishing. We walked past Parliament Hill and stopped for a bit. Mum was impressed with the view.

At the centre of the heath is an area called Boudicca’s Mound, where Queen Boudica is supposedly buried. Of course, I thought I would have a look – mum collapsed with laughter when she saw me …..

On the northern edge of the heath is a place called Kenwood House, where the poet John Keats lived and wrote many of his best-known works. This house is amazing, and hung with paintings including a Rembrandt and a Vermeer.

We then went for lunch in the village. So many famous people have lived or still live in Hampstead Heath – George Orwell, William Blake, Agatha Christie, AA Milne, Piet Mondrian, Jeremy Irons, Jamie Oliver, Bjork, Boy George. The village is busy and full of upmarket boutiques and cafes. Guess what, mum and I much preferred the heath!

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This is the new exhibition centre which has opened next to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, South London, inspired by the masts, sails and rigging of the ship. The Cutty Sark is the last existing tea-clipper in the world, 138 years old. The name Cutty Sark is Scottish for ‘short shirt,’ a shift worn by Nannie, the heroine of Robert Burns’ poem ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ and the ship’s figurehead. The tea-clipper is now closed to visitors while it undergoes restoration work to the tune of £25 million, and should be completed by October 2008.

Be warned, the exhibition centre is absolutely tiny and crammed with tourists. If you can get near, you can watch the conservation work being carried out via interactive CCTV, although you can’t gain access to the ship itself. The ship is being restored because sea salt has accelerated corrosion of the iron framework. In it’s day, the Cutty Sark would have carried fine teas, and visitors are able to taste the different teas she would have carried.

You can walk under the Thames to the Isle of Dogs through the Greenwich foot tunnel, which opened in 1902. The photo below shows the entrance on the Greenwich side, next to the Cutty Sark. The tunnel is 1,217 feet long and runs about 50 feet under the River Thames. There are 200,000 tiles lining the tunnel walls and just think, it cost £127,000 to build – doesn’t sound much these days, does it?! There are 100 steps at each end, but sometimes the lift is in operation. You do get a nice view of Greenwich from the other side though.

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If you are an assistance dog, you’re bound to have experienced discrimination when you’re out and about. I’ve been refused entry to a number of shops and restaurants, things that lots of people take for granted, because they object to an assistance dog being on their premises. Now, mum doesn’t mind explaining about Hearing Dogs, if she is approached and asked nicely. But when the assistant is downright rude and won’t listen, it’s another thing entirely.

Quite an effective response, mum finds, is to say to them bluntly, if their fire alarm goes off, she can’t hear it, so what is she supposed to do if I have been left outside? You can practically see the light bulb go on.

It is usually against the law to discriminate in this way. The DDA says that anyone who provides services, goods or facilities to the public cannot refuse to provide their service to a disabled person for a reason relating to that person’s disability. Nor can a business use a person’s disability as a reason to give them a lower standard of service than it offers to other people, or a service on worse terms.

For advice and more information, check out the DRC’s publication Know your rights guide – Assistance dog owners

Information is also available from Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

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Dog friendly beaches

It’s not easy to find a beach that welcomes mum and me. Mum takes me anyway (sshhhh!) and I’m very well behaved. Sometimes I can get a special concession from the local council, as I’m a Hearing Dog. This means I can go onto the beach when other dogs can’t, as long as I wear my working coat and have obtained special permission.

Mum grumbles a bit as I never come out of the water when she calls me. She always has to wade in and drag me out by my collar, tee hee!

Over a long coffee break, mum was looking for dog friendly beaches, she found these useful links …

The Dogs Trust

Dog Friendly Britain

Beach Guide for Dogs – Cornwall and Fowey

Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland

Lleyn Peninsula, Wales

Swansea Bay, Wales

AND….. dog friendly pubs (hooray!)

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