Sunday, 22 July 2012

Fun in the sun and the beach

Sun shining, weekend, diesel in the car, we decided to head for the South Coast.

As Milford on Sea is a dog friendly place it is popular for dog walkers, and all their needs are catered for.

When you go to the West car parks you have a few choices where you walk your dog.
  • Back to the centre, where most families go
  • Along the beach heading West
  • Along the cliff top also heading West
Blue has done all three, but today we voted for the walk along the shoreline heading West'

Fortunately for us the bright sunshine was left behind in Reading, the clouds were bubbling up quite nicely. Blue has medium length fur, and does not really enjoy full sun in the middle of the day.

The tide was in so the main of our walk would be along the stony beach, it was not long before we left behind the bathers and sun seekers.

For as far as could be seen ahead we were on our own. It was safe enough to allow Blue to go off lead.

Out come his favourite tennis ball, which I had neglected to take on his morning walk, play time.

Blue did not play too long with his ball, merely carried and dropped it, not that interested.

Along the beach we found various bits of driftwood, Blue would be interested until they were thrown into the sea, then was disinterested.

The tide had ebbed enough to reveal a bed of sand, but Blue was having none of it, would not even dip a claw. Time for drastic action, off came my socks and shoes, trouser legs rolled up to the knees in I went, assuming Blue would follow, not a chance, he stood looking at me as if I was a deranged fool.

But with a treat as a reward, Blue braved the icy waters of the sea, and come in to join me.

Now it is not Hawaii and you could not say "surfs up" but when those massive waves came rolling in my normally faithful companion abandoned me all at sea.  Once the tide had ebbed he would return until such time as it flowed in again. Mind you walking on that stony beach with bare feet was hard and painful, so while I put my shoes and socks back on Blue did a bit of digging.

Fully attired we walked further along to a point which would lead up to the cliff top, we had a problem. This part of the coast suffers from landslides, and our expected exit point was nowhere near to be found.

A sea angler noticed the concern look on our faces, and he confirmed this was the location we would normally ascend, but over recent months there had been a significant slide of clay and soil. He indicated that a path still remained, once you had traversed across the recent slippage.

Earlier in the walk Blue had stepped in some of this soft clay, straight up to his knees, so we knew to be careful. Although he weighs in at 45 kilo, Blue is still better equipped than us to find a safe passage. Our hero delivered us safely across and up to the cliff top, a glance at the watch confirmed we had now been walking one hour and fifty minutes, leaving just ten to return to the car before our Pay and display ticket expired.

So we set off along the cliff top heading East, if we were going to be fined for over running in the car park there was nothing we could do, especially as Sue recently underwent major corrective surgery on her foot, so restricting her abilities to "trot on" as they say.

We actually arrived only 10 minutes over, as it is far easier to walk along the track than on a gravel beach.

We celebrated our return to the car with a 99 ice cream, while Blue layed under the car resting, We did buy another parking ticket to cover the time we went over and for us to sit and enjoy the wonderful walk we had just completed.

Time to head off home.

Enjoy the clip of some moments captured and put together as a movie for You Tube


Hello to the paraglider who waved to us as he sailed along the cliff tops.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Blue, birds and ducks.

Saturday morning the sun is shining, staying in bed is for wimps, Blues motto not mine.

Well it was six o'clock on Saturday morning, time to head out the door, although some days you would wish Blue would have a lie in, today was not going to be that day. To be honest after a good nights sleep I was quite looking forward to a walk, where time was not an issue.

So off we set, walking up the road to the park, that is just a stones throw from our house, once again as with most mornings we have the park to ourselves.

Business done bagged and binned, we have only been out of the house five minutes. If there is one thing you can say about Blue is that he is regular and will go early doors, as they say.

I had forgotten to take his favourite tennis ball, so his off lead activities today were not going to be spent playing fetch. Blue did not seem bothered that I had forgotten his ball and shrugged his huge shoulders and toddled off to explore the bushes in the park perimeter.

Blue spotted some birds having breakfast, and like a true hero he chased the birds to save the defenceless worms which they were feasting on, no harm done a glance back and they had merely moved to another breakfast outlet.

Park done, time to go back on his lead for some road walking.

As it was such a nice day we extended our walk to take in the lovely grounds of the University of Reading, just over a mile away.

Along the way we met one of Blues arch enemies, the Milk float, but we were chilled today and passed each other with no more than a glance.

On entering the gate adjacent to the large man made lake, there was a group of ducks, gathering suspiciously at the corner of the lake. Suspecting that this group of ducks were up to no good Blue dispersed the gathering, and broke up the party.

Not good behaviour, so he was given a stern "No, leave it", and all settled down. To make amends we couldn't break bread with the ducks, so we did the next best thing, and shared one of Blues doggy treats, ensuring it landed in the water to moisten before the ducks could feast.

All good friends we parted and Blue and I went off to see what else was in store, the rest of walk was spent exploring all the smells and sounds of the wildlife around the lake.

Time to head off home for breakfast, seventy minutes walking and exploring was a fair return for such a loyal and lovely companion.

Perhaps later today we will head off out somewhere nice in the car.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Beware Cyclists

There are times when you do have to question the actions of others. 

Today it is the turn of cyclists. While walking along the main road this morning Blue and I were happily minding our own business, when it happended. A cyclist on the path, which they are allowed to do so as it is also for the use of cyclists, appeared out of nowhere without any warning.

The first I was aware that he was there was when Blue lunged at him.

Thankfully Blue went across my path in front of me, which alerted me that there was a problem. I managed to grasp his colour and prevent him connecting with the cylcist. If Blue had gone behind me, it would have been a different story. As Blue is a German Shepherd, and a large one at that, the likely hood is that he could have injured the cyclist, or forced him into the road into the path of traffic. Because of his breed he would then have been reported for attacking a passer by.

No one was injured, and no apologies exchanged, Blue has the traits of a guard dog and he will do what he thinks necessary to approaching danger. We can all move around in harmony, we will gladly step aside to allow you safe passage if that is what is required, all we ask from cyclists and joggers. If you are approaching people from behind them, you need to either make sure they are aware of your presence or give them a wide birth. For the record as well as dog walker I also cycle on occassions, and have a bell on my bike to alert people that I am approaching, simple and polite. So if you are in the Reading area and cycle on the path, if you see me and Blue walking along ahead of you minding our own business,

 give us a ring on your Bell 

 We will gladly step aside and let you pass

Monday, 16 July 2012

Blues Mum returns

Following a long lay off after her foot operation, Blue is about about to be taken out by his Mum.

I know Sue has really missed taking her little soldier out for his walks, and I am sure that all will be well.

We both have our different styles and I am sure Blue will get the most out of going for the extended walks that Sue enjoys.

We will still be going out for the morning walks me and Blue, while Sue completes her return to full fitness.

Today Blue passed with flying colours a new test, it was like the perfect storm.

1st Ingredient


2nd Ingredient


3rd and final ingredient

Milk Float

And the result was.

Blue took it all in his stride, accepted the praise and the treat for being such a good boy.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Trip to the seaside in the car

Today we had a trip to Milford on Sea in Hampshire.

Being as the weather has been so wet recently it has not been too much fun getting down to the coast.

Blue enjoys a trip along the shore, but is a bit of a whimp when it comes to getting in the sea, strange when he goes swimming in a pool every week.

We parked the car, which we got yesterday, and when we first thought about getting it, we took Blue along to try it out for size. Now he has either grown in a week, the car has shrunk or he just didnt look this big in it when we put him in it last week.

To be fair the trip was just over one and half hours, most of it he was laying down, except when the indicator went on, a case of "are with there" with expectation in his eyes.

Now although the car is Blue, I am not Dr Who.

Blue makes the car seem like the tardis, it must be bigger on the inside.

The view across the solent confirmed the Needles are still standing proud on the Western tip of the Isle of Wight. But we were not there to take in the view Blue was keen to walk along the cliff top path and the shoreline.

Blue is much more tolerent of other dogs. Today they were there in all shapes and sizes, some on leads some off lead. One lady approached with a small dog to greet Blue, but changed her mind at the last moment, Blue does not mean any harm but has this habit of wanting to stand over smaller dogs, in his eagerness has trod on one or two, it is bad enough when he stands on your bare foot let alone being a quater of his size.

Still that was a good exercise both mentally and physically for Blue, time to get back in the car and head back to Reading.

Blue approved of the new car, especially the climate control, but I think he would still prefer to have his head out of the back like he could with our other Freelander.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Thursday Swim

Blue has a change of night for swimming, the session last night was cancelled due to technical problems, so tonight he made up for lost time.


I think we are gonna need a bigger boat!!

Saturday, 7 July 2012


in April this year, we stayed at a lovely loch side cottage in Annat, Upper Loch Torridon, in the Scottish highlands.

The cottage is a two bedroom property, with views and surroundings others may only dream of.

Blue has stayed here four times now, different seasons, but this time it is Spring. Winter months are difficult to get around and even harder to go walking, unless you have four legged drive like Blue, his feet are great in the snow because of the size of his pads.

As you can see from the expression below, he is a happy bunny being on another adventure.

Two weeks in Scotland is never going to be enough, that is why we go out walking every day, and being as Blue successfully summits Skiddaw, last year, we were able to be more adventurous than previous years.

For those that followed the series Monty Hall's Great escapes, Blue enjoyed following in the footsteps of Reuben. We got to take Blue into the crofters cottage, now bare inside, but Blue most enjoyed the free running on the soft beech, Sand, the location is a few miles north of Applecross.

Monty Hall's Crofters cottage.

Blue playing with his favourite ball, where Reuben once played

Holidays can be great fun but there needs to be some rules, and as Blue has not enjoyed a lot of free running previously, we need to be a bit careful, due to the livestock, and wild life.

Staying mainly on an extended lead does not limit his fun, and he does still remember some of the commands some of the time, a human version is called selective hearing.

Sit! Good boy

Best of all for Blue he wakes to the view below, and is able to go and walk the shore of Upper Loch Torridon, normally as the door opens the sheep casually move back along the shore line.

Beinn Alligin, as viewed from the cottage

Every day Blue was able to get out and about, the beauty of the location is that journeys in the car are normally very limited, as so much is within walking distance.

Blue gets to enjoy holidays like this because he is so well behaved, and is an excellent traveller in the car. From door to door our journey takes about 14 hours to complete the 650 miles from Reading, Berkshire to the cottage in Annat. Some dogs could not endure such an epic trip, Blue takes it all in his stride.

For us all at the end of a days walking we get to enjoy the lovely picturesque sunsets across the loch.

Sunset across Upper Loch Torridon

Normally by this time of the day, it is time to reflect on the day, and marvel at the stunning scenery that Scotland has to offer. Evenings are sometimes disrupted by the sound of hooves walking along the road at night when the deer descend from the hills, Blue would like to say hello, but they are timid creatures, his greeting will need to change, barking hello is not the quickest way to forge relationships across species.


After a nights sleep, mainly through exhaustion, the day begins with stunning views and a walk along the shoreline, and sometimes in the evening as well

Liatach looks on as Blue goes for a paddle.

It's a dog's life, but Blue bears the strain and takes it all in his stride.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Dog goes to mountain

In September 2011 an ambition was achieved, following numerous visits to the Lake District, reaching the peak of a mountain had always been a step too far.

Blue, a German Shepherd aged 3 1/2 years old completed an unbelievable feat, given the fact a little under three years ago had become lame. Spinal surgery was required for a disc problem in his lower spine, a long slow recovery was still in progress.

Blue had managed long walks, nine miles in one go was his longest to date, but this day was to be his biggest yet.

We were setting out to conquer Skiddaw in the Lake District, England's 4th highest mountain, Blue had previously successfully ascended Latrig, Dodd, Barrow, Lords Seat and some lesser hills.

Standing at an impressive 3,054 feet above sea level, this was also higher than my wife, Sue, and I had ascended also.

Lower path ascending Skiddaw from Latrig car park

Blue ready for the walk

Not the greatest of starts, it was mid morning when we arrived at the car park, it was chocker, in an attempt to turn around, our all terrain 4x4 Freelander was beached, soft ground had given way below the front nearside wheel, with the opposite corner at the rear now two feet off the road service.

Now this was a sample of fellow walkers helping out. With no hesitation three guys came over, while standing on the bumper at the rear, given the necessary counter balance, I was able to reverse back onto the road, where was Blue, just sat waiting patiently in the back of the car watching these lads jumping up and down on the bumper, not a murmur.

Finding a suitable parking space further back down the road, our ascent on the mighty Skiddaw began.

We ascended from Latrigg car park, following the broad path, there is no need to navigate, Blue knows the way, or so you would think the way he was pulling on his lead.

Passing sheep along the lower path, past the memorial, Blue gives them a cursory glance, but no more than that, he has got better things to do rather than a few Herdies (Herdwick Sheep).

Along the Blue lapped up the admiring glances, also taking the opportunity to eye up the local four legged talent.

As the aim was to ascend Skiddaw, we bypassed Little Man, we were going for the summit of Skiddaw. Although we gave Blue plenty of opportunities to rest, he did not seemed phased, he even enjoyed watching the para gliders passing overhead.

Para glider over Skiddaw with Derwent Water beyond

Blue watching the world go by

Our walk was about 2-3 hours, and we achieved a goal, we never thought possible, we reached the shingly surface that covered the top slopes of Skiddaw. Further along the summit towards the North ridge was the trig  point, to reach this was going to be astounding, it was at this point I have to admit my throat was feeling narrow and dry.

We made it, Blue had ascended England's fourth highest mountain.

Blue and Sue arrive at the summit of Skiddaw

Blue and I on Skiddaw, with Scotland in the background.

After the customary photo shoot and admiration of the fantastic scenery, we began our return.

This is when it had hit me that dryness of the throat, was pure emotion, Blue had achieved a remarkable feat, I now knew he was going to have many more days like today, free from restrictions, he had recovered, his back was no longer an obstacle for him.

I can honestly say at that time I was not able to speak, merely reflect on what it had taken to get Blue from the operating table to here. Both my wife Sue and I had given this beautiful dog the opportunity he deserved, and together our patience and determination was rewarded.

Blue will never be a mountain rescue dog, but given his size, 45 kilogrammes, he will not face many more demanding walks, because now he has proved, he can do it.

Love is......sharing your apple on the way home

With future holidays planned, a return to the Lake District in September 2012 is much awaited, our plan is to ascend Helvellyn, the next highest Mountain

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Relaxing and posing for the camera

After a hard weeks work, it was time to spend some quality time with Blue.

Our usual morning walk was once again a lovely time to carry on our new found bond, it is becoming a bit of a routine, but if it works for us both where is the harm.

As we have discovered more and more what our Nikon D90 can do, Blue agreed to do some posing.


 (Black & White)

Look into my eye's

Shh I'm in the moment now!

This posing is thirsty work

Time for a play break

There, this is your last one I'm off for a lie down to chill

Time to leave Blue in peace, and download or upload our photos onto the computor.