Sunday 14 August 2016

Sheepdog Trials, Country Show

I recently had a yen to go to see some sheepdog trials, something we have not done for many years so after checking the International Sheepdog Society website, I was pleased to find that trials are held almost every week somewhere in Wales, many of them within our locality. They are not widely advertised and are often part of a local village show as was the one we went to in a tiny place called Cwmsychpant. We took small grand-daughter with us and had a lovely time watching a number of dogs of varying ages and abilities being put through their paces. It was fascinating. The Farmer, who is a life member of the International Sheepdog Society & used to trial his wonderful dog Sam a long time ago, was able to explain about the run out and the course the dog has to manoeuvre the three or five sheep through to the ultimate goal of penning the sheep within the time given. The shepherd stands at start of the course and directs the dog around the course with whistles & shouts until the sheep are within range of the pen when they can be guided in and the gate shut on them...job done, as they say.
The Farmer has two sheep dogs here at the moment, eight year old Molly who is very good and useful and two year old Judy is very keen and sometimes useful, but still learning.
AS well as the sheepdog trialling there was the show which was great. It was very small but well attended by the locals and the entries in the craft tent were astounding. There was such enthusiasm for the event as shown by the number of entries in each class whether it be for runner beans, beautiful flower arrangements, photographs of country life, hand-writing, knitting, patchwork, exquisite embroidery, children's artwork, baking or jams, chutneys & wines.
There was a great display of vintage tractors & a collection of old tractor seats, which may sound bizarre but was actually rather beautiful.
We also met some acquaintances who were busy with their very small children and ponies, the Best Young Handler class where the youngest handlers were only 3yrs old and needed to be guided around the ring, all very sweet and very Thelwell!
It was very enjoyable way to spend a rare free Saturday (no cottage changeover as my current guests are in for a fortnight) and the show field was on the top of a hill with panoramic views across to the Brecon Beacons, stunning!

Sunday 7 August 2016

Strumble Head Lighthouse, Labrador Puppies

This past week we had one of the Farmer's old college friends & his wife come to stay for a couple of days and as always when we have house-guests we take them out for the day. This time we headed off down to Pembrokeshire and ended up at Strumble Head with its wonderful Edwardian lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1908 on the tiny island of Ynys Meical to give it its Welsh name, and is accessed by a short bridge that is now closed to the public, though the Farmer remembers going there as a child and being able to cross to the island itself and go up to the lighthouse. Nowadays it can only be viewed from a distance. The lighthouse is one of several along the Pembrokeshire coast marking this dangerous stretch of coastline between Ireland and Wales and is spectacular. We were there on a very windy day but despite odd flurries of drizzle it was fine and clear and the sea was being whipped up into 'white horses' and looked very dramatic with sprays of seafoam being flung up on the rocks and cliffs of the island.

Younger Son's lovely black labrador Jess produced 9 beautiful black puppies 10 days ago and they are doing very well. We had thought that as the father of the litter was yellow we might have had a multi-coloured litter as we have done in the past, but not this time, they are all satiny-black and very sweet. They do not photograph well at this stage and they just a black mass of twitching sleepers. Once their eyes open they become much more photogenic.