Back to the subject of dogs, I was really impressed with the cute Aran pullover that my Dutch sister-in-law knitted for my niece’s pit bull terrier Ziggy. The pattern is very similar to my Aran jacket, so I just had to get a photo of us together – we’re well matched!
Ziggy has very short hair, he feels like velvet but it means that he feels the cold easily so he really needs his Aran in chilly weather. He also has wee short legs as well as a very thick, dense body and although he loves the water he isn’t able to paddle his legs fast enough to stay up. So a dog life-jacket was purchased and that means he can swim around as much as he wants.
We went quite a long walk to reach this popular pond and unfortunately on the way Ziggy was attacked by another pit bull which made its way over a large ditch to reach us. Ziggy is such a sweetie and very gentle, but the other dog had a terrible owner who must have trained his dog up to be aggressive. Its ears had been cut off, leaving just small bits on his head, apparently that is what people do when they use dogs for fighting, it means there’s less for the other dog to get a hold of, it’s horrific, and illegal in Holland, they have to go to Slovakia to get dogs like that. Anyway, no damage was done to Ziggy, although that dog had three goes at attacking him, being dragged off by its owner each time.
It was Fleur the border collie/spaniel cross who was barking back more at the attacking dog, but as you can see – it didn’t stop her from being completely laid back later on in the day.
Wandering further afield from the town centre in Ypres, Belgium, we were amused to see a dog sitting in the window of a shoe shop.
That was our cue to start singing How much is that doggie in the window? of course. Well, we thought it was funny but the dog was not amused and took to pacing the length of the window, we were obviously dodgy customers as far as that dog was concerned.
Did you know that when Margaret Thatcher ‘did’ Desert Island Discs she said that that song was her favourite piece of music. It says a lot about her!
If you want a blast from the past have a look at Patti Page singing it.
We had a really enjoyable week in Orkney although two of the days we were there were pretty horrendous weather wise, but it turned out that those days were very wet and windy in lots of parts of the UK, although probably just not as bad as Orkney. Although it was June I felt that we were definitely novices as the people who had thought to bring woolly hats and gloves with them were at an advantage, it did feel more like November.
We got the ferry from Gills Bay – right up in the north-west Scottish mainland and I have to admit that when we got off the ferry at St Margaret’s Hope I wasn’t at all sure what I thought of the treeless Orkney landscape. I love trees and I really missed them, the weather is too fierce there for anything but the toughest of trees to survive, and it turns out that field maples are the only ones that seem to be able to withstand the cold and wild winds, but even they are sparse. After a few days though I began to love the scenery, it’s just a different sort of beauty.
Not many people seem to bother with gardening there, maybe it’s just too disappointing when plants die, but I did see a fuchsia hedge and oriental poppies seem to do well there, and I spotted one wee laburnum tree sheltering beneath a field maple.
Loads of photos were taken of course, but I haven’t looked through them all yet – and in any case, I still have to do some blogposts about our recent visit to Holland. I’ll catch up with Orkney soon though I hope.
We stayed at the hotel in Ypres for a couple of nights and during the day we mainly travelled around visiting World War 1 cemeteries. This one is Perth Cemetery near Ypres (Ieper) so called because most of the soldiers around this area came from Perth in Scotland.
They’re well looked after by the War Graves Commission and most of the time the smaller ones are very peaceful places, they’re mainly surrounded by farmland.
In this one we disturbed a beautiful hare who was sunning himself amongst the flowers, far too fast to photograph of course, but I had to admire the choice of place to relax as the plants were particularly lovely here.
As you can see these cemeteries are very much part of the scenery with roads and people’s houses right next to them.
For most of May I was wondering what had happened to the weather as it seemed very reluctant to warm up and the swifts/swallows were nowhere to be seen. They were obviously hanging back and not flying to the UK until it heated up a bit. They arrived at last but I’m sure that they were up to two months later than in previous years. We happened to be in Holland when they arrived there and by the time we got back home they were here too, although not in great numbers.
When we got back – the garden had exploded into growth! and this week the first rose appeared. It’s a climber called Golden Showers – can you believe? and I’m growing it in a large pot. I had it growing up the front of the old house that we moved from three years ago and when I saw one for sale at the Scottish Garden Show in Edinburgh last summer I decided to buy it again as it has a lovely scent too, something that seems to be difficult to come by nowadays.
This dwarf acer dissectum atropurpurea is a great colour and I like it even better combined with this Euphorbia Fireglow. I never worry about colours clashing in the garden as in general the various shades of green always save the day and tone it all down.
Yet more red in the shape of planta genista or in other words broom, as they used to tie bits of it to a stick and use it for sweeping purposes back in the year dot. It’s the plant that was the emblem of the Plantagenets.
Yes I know it’s only three weeks since we got back from our holiday in Belgium and Holland, and I still have a lot of blogposts to write about that trip, but we’re off to Orkney tomorrow, a place neither of us have been to before.
We have to drive north up to John O’Groats to get a ferry over to Orkney, I’ve been told that it’s usually a fairly rough passage – I live in hope!
We decided to go to Orkney when a friend recommended it, he had had a great time and was going back for more. Apparently a week isn’t long enough to see everything of interest, there are loads of neolithic sites to visit, standing stones, burial chambers and remains of settlements.
I have no idea what the internet connection is going to be like, but I’m going to try to schedule some blogposts before we leave anyway. The weather forecast doesn’t look too wonderful for the beginning of the week, fingers crossed it isn’t too bad!
Like many towns in Belgium and Holland Bruges is ringed by water, it’s part of the charm of their towns. Bruges is in west Flanders and is known as the Venice of the north. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mind you, I don’t think I would like to be living in one of the houses that have water lapping at their walls, they must be terribly damp. There have been settlements in this area since the Bronze Age.
Anyway, we decided that a trip on the canal was a must although as the boat filled up with fellow tourists I was looking over the edge and wondering if it was safe, they don’t half pack people in! I think it is partly the boat trip that made me think that Bruges was so busy with tourists because when I look at the other photos it doesn’t look too crowded.
The name Bruges actually means bridges – obviously because there are so many small bridges all over the town, they’re all quite low but there’s only one that you have to duck your head to get under it though, when you’re in the boat.
This is definitely the best way to get a view of the many ancient buildings around the town. It must be quite annoying though for the people living in the houses with constant tourist filled boats going past – with a guide talking through a microphone.
The swans mainly seem to congregate in this area, probably they take to the water when the boats retire for the evening.
We noticed what seemed to be two Swaene Hotels, a bit confusing.
A lovely lilac tree overhung the canal.
More photos of Bruges will be forthcoming, eventually!
In fact I’ve been back home for a couple of days now, but I’ve been busy getting back to ‘normal’ and doing the garden, it looked very lush when we got back – and I had been worrying that it would all be frazzled up as I knew the weather had been dry while we were away. It’s amazing how much everything had grown in the two weeks we were away in Belgium and Holland.
We got the car ferry from Hull in the north of England, sailing to Zeebrugge in Belgium. You might know that I enjoy a good rough sea, I keep saying that but for all I know I might suffer from sea-sickness now as every time we sail anywhere it’s always a flat calm, even when we were in the notorious Bay of Biscay. Luckily I don’t seem to suffer from claustrophobia as the cabins on the car ferries are teeny, definitely not even space to swing a cat – if you were that way inclined.
We sailed into Zeebrugge at 9.30 am and in no time Jack was driving towards Bruges which is just ten or so miles away from the port. There’s always that slightly hairy few minutes before you get used to driving/being driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
Neither of us had ever been to Bruges before but had heard from loads of people that it is well worth visiting, and they were correct. It’s actually much bigger than I had imagined it would be – lots of tourists of course, but also plenty of locals around. Bikes are almost as popular in Belgium as in Holland and I saw a tandem that was for hire amongst a pile of bikes, I was tempted by it, but J isn’t a cyclist so we explored by foot. Well the horse drawn carriage trip cost 50 euros, so I settled for taking a photo of them, but loads of people did hire them.
Between us we took over 500 photos, but I won’t inflict them all on you – honestly, these are just a few of them for now.
Everything here looks slightly misty. I didn’t think it really was even if the sky was a bit overcast.
We’re off to Belgium and Holland again soon so blogposts will probably be a bit thin on the ground for the next couple of weeks although I intend to try to do a few – particularly bookish ones – in case I forget what I wanted to say about them!