A really sucky start to Easter

Maxi the dog out for a casual stroll on the beach

Easter has not started well for us, what was going to be a weekend of gardening and family has now turned into a waiting game. Our dear old Maxi girl has a pain in the tummy, not the normal gastro bug she gets from a change in diet or swimming in dubious water but the kind that requires strong pain relief, ultrasounds, a night (or two) in hospital and possibly x-rays. Needless to say we’re very worried and so is the vet. It isn’t pancreatitis and nor does she have growths or tumour, but her intestines, bladder and bowel are full and there isn’t a poo in sight. Maxi isn’t the type of dog to eat just any old thing, however we’ve had some disturbing incidents of late whereby the dogs have discovered both cooked and raw bones in the yard. Our dogs aren’t allowed bones because Bundy guards them ferociously so someone we don’t know is either throwing bones over the fence deliberately or our neighbours are putting too much oomph into their throws when they give their dogs bones. I prefer to think that it is the latter, whatever the cause, we remove them as soon as we find them.

At 13 years of age, surgery to remove an obstruction is not something we want to put Maxi through. Apart from this incident she is in such good health that to consider the alternative breaks my heart, it is not somewhere I want to go.

As you can guess, I’m not the happiest of campers at the moment so please forgive the melancholic nature of my blogging of late and thank you for the love and support you’ve shown me so far.

I wish you all a Happy Easter xo

Easter by candlelight

Easter by candlelight

On this day…

On this day 3 years ago the hubby and I were celebrating my birthday in Paris, starting early at the Palace of Versailles and ending with a view of Paris lit up like a birthday cake. One of my most spectacular and memorable birthdays, browsing through my photos makes me smile and surprisingly I can still remember much of the detail.

Today was a quiet celebration at home with hubby and the two black dogs before heading off to work where my wonderful colleagues had organised a morning tea. A lovely day :-)

Little black dog goes to Yamba

Bundy the dog in the water

Bundy likes the shallow water

Early Autumn is a great time for spending a day at the beach, it is still quite hot with temperatures between 28-34 degrees celsius and we’ve had a couple of mini-heatwaves this March. Yamba is a beach town in Northern New South Wales on Australia’s east coast, a pretty spot and extremely popular during the holiday period. We had never been to Yamba, with time to spare and the weather in our favour we packed up the car and the smallest of our black dogs and headed south.

Hubby likes an early start so we were in Yamba in time for breakfast, a tasty meal of bacon and eggs on turkish bread overlooking the beach and headlands. The surf was what my husband calls messy, it didn’t stop the surfers from heading out into the water and there were plenty of people out walking their dogs and having an early morning swim. In search of a dog friendly beach we drove to the southern end of Yamba and came across Pippi Beach, a long stretch of sand and seemingly very popular with dog lovers. Dogs of all shapes and sizes were coming to and from the beach, Bundy would have loved to have said hello to all of them but not everyone loves an exuberant Staffy.

Once on the beach Bundy found stinky stuff to roll in, wet sand to dig up and he had a ball running in and out of the small waves. Bundy’s recall isn’t 100% especially when he sees children and other dogs, thankfully with hubby in the surf Bundy was more interested in keeping close by so he could watch for his Dad. There was one little dog, a honey coloured staffy cross, he looked as though he was still quite young and he was full of energy. That little dog ran up and down the beach chasing seagulls, his two legged siblings had a difficult time keeping up and every now and then his Dad would let out a big whistle to stop him from disappearing further down the beach. Bundy ran in circles with the honey coloured staffy, in and out of the water, stopping occasionally to check on us and possibly to have a bit of a rest.

All the activity wore Bundy out, the ride home was a good opportunity for him to have a snooze and snooze he did, I swear I even heard him snore.

Not an apple strudel in sight

The Apple and Grape Harvest Festival in Stanthorpe is a fabulous way to indulge in delicious fresh produce, local wines and other tasty treats. An annual event complete with a street parade, the festival attracts thousands of visitors to the area. Accompanied by good friends and Woolloomooloo the bear I drove the three hours to Stanthorpe to experience the festival and hopefully track down freshly made apple strudel, as a day trip it makes for a long day of driving but there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way.

We stopped for a caffeine fix and a stroll in the town of Warwick, a regional town west Brisbane and known for its annual Rodeo which is in its 77th year. Some of the buildings are from the early 1900s and provide a pleasant change to the concrete and glass architecture of the Brisbane CBD (Central Business District) and the Gold Coast, I particularly liked the way the light moved across the sandstone church opposite the coffee shop. From Warwick it is only a short trip to the town of Stanthorpe, the landscape changes dramatically from coast to the country and there is livestock aplenty. It has been a dry couple of years, the cows, horses, kangaroos and a few sheep are spotted in dusty paddocks, any splashes of green are vegetable crops or an irrigated field.

Stanthorpe is a small regional town, if you want to experience good, local produce and try some Queensland wines then Stanthorpe is an ideal location. Being the designated driver I opted out of the wine tasting although I did try a little peach cider later in the day at Castle Glen and found it to be quite pleasant. Going to Stanthorpe for me was really about the sweet, crunchy Gala apples, they’re great as a healthy snack and I also enjoy cooking them up and making apple crumble for  dessert. One of my friends was desperately searching for apple strudel, you would think that it would be easy to find during the Apple and Grape Harvest festival in a town with several bakeries and cafes, but no. We settled for grape and berry strudel which was nice and could have been exceptional had they not destroyed the pasty by heating it up in a microwave.

Despite the strudel disappointment we did manage to find a tasty treat in the form of a potato swirly or slinky, a potato sliced to look like a spring, coated in a light batter and deep fried – YUM! The market stalls at the festival sold all sorts of local arts and crafts in addition to local produce, lollies, hats, childrens clothes and anything that could be deep fried or coated in sugar. With only a couple of hours to spare we decided not to find a spot near the wine and food tents and instead chose to explore the countryside and see what we could find, first stop was a local fruit shop where we bought several kilos of apples and other fruit and vegetables, the sweet aroma of the apples on a warm autumn day filled the car. Castle Glen sells wine, liqueurs, beer and ciders that are all made on the premises, the range of colours and bottles are amazing and the owner is only too happy to chat and hand over beverages to taste. They also make a very delicious caramel fudge with a hint of cinnamon that is hard to resist and as my friends try the different varieties of cider I get busy with my iPhone and snap photos of the funky looking bottles.

Not far from Castle Glen is Granite Belt Dairy, home of the Jersey Girls Cafe and producers of good cheese such as Thulimbah, Pepato and Brass Monkey Blue (for those who like blue cheese – I’m not one of them). The cafe has a wonderful menu, we are there for the trio of ice cream and I have the hugest vanilla malt milkshake, all made from rich and creamy Jersey cow milk. Being there is like being back on the farms of my childhood, the cows can only be seen in the distance and a Maremma sheepdog (I think) wanders around and halfheartedly barks at arriving visitors, we could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon recovering from a milk coma but it was soon time to hit the road.

The drive home was uneventful, but enjoyable. We watched as the sun set over the mountains, stopping to take a few photos and feel the rush of air as a truck zoomed by on the highway. One of my friends took on the role of driver and I was able to sit back and watch the light change as well as keep an eye open for kangaroos or wallabies, they have a tendency to leap out in front of traffic causing major damage to vehicles and fatally wounding themselves. The night sky in the country is the best place for looking at stars, the absence of street lights enables you to see them in all their glory, a beautiful ending to a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Princess Maxi turns 13 today

Maxi the dog

A young and happy Maxi

Today Maxi, the number one black dog, turns 13 which is roughly 83 years of age in dog years for a dog of her size and weight. Princess, as we like to call her, was our first dog and she was purchased on impulse from a pet store – everything I am now vehemently opposed to. We were living in an apartment near the beach, no dogs allowed and Maxi spent her first few days hiding out in our bathroom and avoiding the so-called wee wee pads that are supposed to help with toilet training. Early of a morning and late in the afternoon we would sneak her outside for a walk and a play in the park, she was frightened of everything and absolutely hated stairs. Thankfully my sister in-law was able to look after Maxi for a few weeks while we went house hunting for a pet friendly rental. They had a border collie pup called Murray and she was a few weeks older so the pair of them played and slept together, Maxi still gets excited when we visit my sister in-law even though Murray passed away long ago.

We made alot of mistakes with Maxi, walking isn’t always fun and she is frightened of so many things yet will take on anything or anyone that dares come to our front gate and as Maxi has gotten older she has become less tolerant of other dogs. With her greying fur, wobbly legs and poor hearing Maxi still retains the most beautiful nature and is loved by all our friends and family. She is great with kids of all shapes and sizes, occasionally bounding across the yard with them until it all gets too exhausting or unless someone offers her a cuddle and a treat.

Maxi loves a walk, her favourite places are the beach and the local park where there is plenty of smell duck poo to roll in. Her happy face is contagious and we always have a good laugh when she hits the ground for a roll on the grass (minus the poo), the look on her face is goofy and yet delightful. For her birthday she will have a yummy chicken dinner and a walk around the duck pond, there will also be lots of cuddles and kisses.

Happy Birthday my beautiful Princess Maxi and thank you for 13 years of unconditional love and loyalty.