Coping at University Without Your Dog

Wow, it’s been a really long time since I’ve written on here!

Dogs can be really important in our lives. They often sleep in the same bed as us, are there to cuddle when we’re feeling down and they scare off cold callers for you. Much like your family, to go from seeing them every day to only seeing them every month or so can be very difficult, especially when you have got used to having them around.

If you follow Oscar on Instagram, you probably know that in term time I am at University in Bath, while Oscar is at my home in Kent.

To some non-dog-owners it may not seem like a big deal to be away from your dog but when you have a bond, it can be a real challenge living away from them for such long periods of time.

Travelling home at weekends

This can be a good option. Going home at weekends gives you a chance to see your dog (and your family of course). Also, if you have an insta dog, it gives you a chance to take some all important photos for Instagram posts.

MDE-GWR-Logo-e1521040659722

Unfortunately, travelling home at weekends has not really been an option for me this year, due to my commitment to a society at my uni. When I do finally have a weekend free,  it is usually only 1-2 weeks before the end of term, so seems a little pointless.

Getting home can also be expensive. Depending on how far you are from home and how early you book, the price of train tickets can be very variable and very high. Therefore, it is not always a viable option.

Sweet talk somebody into bringing your dog to you!

This is one I have shamelessly used on occasion: If you can’t get to your dog, get someone to bring your dog to you, works like a dream!

DSC_0286.jpg

The field on campus is huge, perfect for a good run around

Of course, this is not always possible but when it is, it makes for a lovely day and gives you an often-welcome break from the stresses of university.

There is a National Trust walk that runs alongside my campus and we are lucky enough to have a lovely huge field too, so whenever my parents visit with Oscar, we take him there for a nice walk.

Another place we have found in Bath is a lovely canal. It’s really nice to walk along the water’s edge and watch the boats coming through the lock (there were also some lovely photo opportunities).

DSC_0195

Just having a little sit on the lock. I can’t believe how young Oscar looks here, taken in October 2016 when he was nearly 2.

Throwing in a dog-friendly pub for lunch is a great way to break up dog walks and general exploring too.

Essentially, what I’m trying to say here is that if somebody is able to do this for you, it is lovely to be able to spend the day with your dog and it gives you the chance to explore your local area and perhaps discover some great new places. It also gives you the opportunity to fill up your dog buffer again to keep you going until next time.

Photos

untitled 2-2

Ordered from Photobox around February, I was very impressed at the quality!

I doubt it needs to be said but I’d always recommend having photos of your pooch up in your room. Photos just make a room feel so much cosier and make you feel closer to home, whether you have one cute picture of them or a whole wall plastered with their adorable face (I lean more towards the latter).

I even went one step further and made an Oscar calendar to add to my wall. You can do this online on websites such as Photobox and if you wait until January/February you’re likely to find them much cheaper. Realistically, who wouldn’t want a calendar of their dog? It’s the equivalent of putting up a photo but you get the added feature of seeing a new photo each month, such fun!

Keep yourself busy!

I know it’s always recommended that you join a society or find a hobby when you’re at university but it really can help to keep you busy and help you overcome homesickness. I have found this myself.

I joined the musical theatre society (aka. BUSMS) at my uni at the beginning of this year and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It kept me so busy that I didn’t really even have time to dwell on how much I missed Oscar. When we have a show upcoming (which is most of the time), it’s possible that I will have rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings as well as the whole day on Saturday and Sunday.

While not all societies will keep you quite as busy as this one, they can really give you something else to think about and something else to do in your free time and I personally found this very helpful.

 

I hope this may have helped if you have found yourself in a similar position to me. Realistically, we can never not miss our lovely pups, but it is possible to find ways to cope with being separated.

Thank you for reading!

Lucy x

Advertisements

One for the Dog: 6 Key Steps for your trip to the Beach (includes Zoomies)

It was a hot day on Friday 25th June, too hot to go for a normal walk really, so the only option was to take Oscar to the beach.

We love going here because while the children are still at school, it’s usually quiet and it is generally a lot cooler by the coast. Also, it gives us the opportunity to let Oscar off the lead for a good run around. We don’t do this too often because Oscar’s recall isn’t the best and our usual walk is in a deer park. While lovely, it is not ideal for fetch, especially in bright sunlight on a hot day!

Below, I have put together some key steps for your dog when he/she visits the beach and remember, it’s very important to follow them exactly!

1. Zoomies

Zoomies are very important when you first arrive on the beach, you need to really express your joy at being there so the humans know to take you more often.

DSC_0240.jpg

2. Fetch

One of the best games ever, this is always a favourite on the beach, even better when the ball goes in the water! From previous experience, I would recommend bringing 2 balls for when the first one decides to swim upshore, which is not, repeat not, your dog’s fault for leaving it in the sea!

3. Seagull Chasing

A vital part of any trip to the beach is a good seagull chase, make sure they know who’s boss now you’ve arrived. Oscar loves this game, one time on holiday he chased a seagull all the way from one beach to another!

DSC_0083.jpg

4. Time For a Little Cool Off

All that running around makes for a hot dog (not the kind you eat), so it’s time to have a lie down in the sea to cool down. This way, you manage to get completely soaking so all the sand sticks to you even better, doggy parents really love this as it’s a great way to redecorate the car or the house!

5. More Fetch

No words needed here.

DSC_0048

6. And pose

When you’re too worn out to keep playing, it’s worth getting some easy treats by looking cute for the camera, be sure to do the eyes! If you’re really lucky they’ll have even brought the good treats for extra bribery.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post, the beach can be so much fun and it’s great to get there if possible!

Thank you for reading,

Lucy x

A Holiday in the Cambrian Mountains, Wales, Summer 2017

Welcome to the story of our summer holiday. I decided to write this, much like last year, to give a behind-the-scenes look at our holiday and the places we visited as there is only so much information you are able to give in an Instagram post.

For this summer’s holiday we visited Wales. We were originally looking for a place in Pembrokeshire as this is our usual Welsh holiday-location-choice but we were unable to find one that fitted with time off work, therefore we decided to try staying elsewhere in Wales and found a lovely place in Mid-Wales.

The Holiday Home

DSC_0169edit

For our 2 week holiday in the Cambrian Mountains, we stayed in a lovely farmhouse near Devil’s Bridge. The view from the house was amazing and the inside was just as lovely. Our favourite part was the conservatory which allowed us to look out over the mountains and watch the variety of birds on the feeder (incl. blue tits, coal tits and a woodpecker) in the garden, all while sitting comfortably inside. The only downside was that the garden was not enclosed so Oscar had to be on his long line at all times when outside, although, this was bearable. Also, much to his horror, he wasn’t allowed in the pond!

The View

Stupidly, I never took a wide angle photo of the view to give an idea of just how good it was, but I did take this photo with my 50mm lens while the sun was beginning to set and it gives a good look at the gorgeous landscape.

dsc_0195.jpg

Our Favourite Walks

Dinas Reservoir

We were able to see this reservoir from our house and on our first full day we walked down to the water through some lovely, very green woods, complete with sheep. It wasn’t that much of a walk but was beautiful all the same.

DSC_0387

Bwlch Nant Yr Arian

We visited the lovely Bwlch Nant Yr Arian on our second day and it immediately became our favourite place. This park is part of ‘National Resources Wales’ and is described as their “most popular woodland in mid Wales”. There are a few walks available, the purple ‘Barcud Trail’ is the easiest and takes you around the lake where the Red Kites are fed daily at 3pm, an amazing sight.

DSC_0038

The walk takes about half an hour and is particularly beautiful in the evening. We never tried the yellow route but this is the ‘Miners Trail’ and is the middle difficulty walk. It follows an aqueduct that used to carry water to lead mines.

DSC_0086Finally, the red ‘Ridgetop Trail’ was our favourite of the walks. It takes you along the mountains, providing amazing views all the way and the chance to climb up to amazing viewpoints for great photo opportunities. The mountains were covered in heather which was particularly lovely for photos as we don’t have a lot of heather back home. We also liked that there was a café as it was nice to be able to get a hot drink after a walk and to watch the red kites if they were still around. It was also a great opportunity for Oscar to practise sitting still while we’re eating/drinking as he doesn’t get a lot ofDSC_0170edit.jpg practice at this (he’s usually a bit too excitable to take to restaurants and this was good as we were able to sit outside). Bwlch Nant Yr Arian is a great place and I cannot recommend it enough if ever you’re in the area, even just for a little walk around the lake. Also if you can make it at 3pm, you’ll be able to see the Red Kites swooping down to collect their food and you’re able to get nice and close up!

Nant-y-moch Reservoir and Dam

DSC_0289adjust

Just a short scenic drive from where we were staying (featuring highland cattle), we visited this beautiful reservoir and dam during our first week. The expanse of water and the landscape is just breathtaking and it’s lovely to be able to walk/drive over the dam to fully appreciate the view. The reservoir is used to produce a large amount of hydroelectric power and the water used drains into Dinas Reservoir (mentioned above).

Elan Valley

DSC_0427.JPGThe Elan Valley is an area full of reservoirs, dams and rivers and was about an hour’s drive from the house. To get there, we (of course) took the scenic route through the mountains. Seeing the natural beauty of this place never gets old. As soon as you get into the Elan Valley, you start seeing the dams which, despite being large concrete structures, have a certain beauty to them, particularly in amongst the mountains and reservoirs and I enjoyed photographing them. We arrived at the visitor centre and checked out the shop and exhibition. We then took Oscar for a nice woodland walk from the visitor centre which takes you across a bridge opposite the Caban Coch dam and back down the other side of the river.

On our way home, we stopped off in a small car park next to a stream so Oscar could have a nice paddle and refreshing drink of mountain water. He had a lovely time (he’s easily pleased!)

Food

Just wanted to add in a couple of food recommendations.

Hafod Hotel

Featured in the BBC drama ‘Hinterland’, the Hafod Hotel, Devil’s Bridge, has a lovely restaurant attached. The menu features burgers, ribs and steak as well as fish and pasta, so there is a wide range and the restaurant prides itself on using locally sourced produce, I must say the food is delicious! We must have visited Haford about 4 times as it became a reliable place for a meal out. The restaurant is dog friendly but Oscar stayed in his crate as he can be a bit of a handful with a lot of people and a lot going on but he likes his crate so this is okay. There are also tables outside.

Bwlch Nant Yr Arian Café

This is not a place for a big meal but we loved having a drink and snack in this café after a fairly long walk. We can particularly recommend the scones with cream/butter and jam or the carrot cake. The café has a nice decking area outside with tables that are well spaced so if you have a slightly nervous dog or a dog you’re trying to train (or one that wants to say hello to every dog he sees), this can be a lot less stressful.

Red Kite Café

We popped in to the Red Kite Café on our last day for a delicious breakfast before our journey home-home. It was a real shame we only ended up going once, the food was lovely, and the sausages which are produced by a local butcher were gorgeous, it was a pity we weren’t able to bring any home! 😂

I hope you enjoyed reading all about our adventures and I hope my recommendations are helpful if ever you plan a trip to Ceredigion

Thank you for reading!

Lucy x

Our Top Collar Box

35788465151_d9d424493f_oA short while ago, I received a message from TopCollar Box asking if we’d be interested in receiving some trial treats for a small delivery cost of just £1. I thought it would be nice to try them out so ordered a box.

A few days later, Postman Leighton brought the package, much to Oscar’s horror (he doesn’t like the postman).  The treats were nicely packaged and the label had a photo of Oscar that I had selected while ordering, giving the box a more personal feel.

On opening up the parcel, Oscar was very interested in the DSC_0092.jpgpacket of biscuits which, I might add, are also packaged beautifully, the label looks lovely, nice and bright and the packet has a seal for easier storage and longer lasting crunchy biscuits.

We received the treats of the fortnight which were heart-shaped and pork-pie-flavoured biscuits (yum!). Also, on looking at the ingredients on the back, we found they contain only gluten-free flour, pork liver, eggs (free-range to be precise), milk and butter, with a promise that this small company only uses ‘fresh and natural ingredients’, which is DSC_0161always good to hear!

The taste test was very successful. Oscar was very impressed and soon set to work figuring out how he could eat the whole packet. Even before I managed to take any photos of him, he was trying to open them up himself and got some nice muddy marks on the bag.

We love that the treats are takes on human foods as it gives a healthier, but still tasty, alternative to the food us humans like to eat.

Finally, we’d like to add that should you wish to cancel your subscription at any point, it is nice and easy to do on the website, once you’ve received your first box.

In Conclusion…

  • Fun and tasty little treats
  • Nice packaging with quality feel
  • Personal touch with dog’s photo
  • Natural, fresh ingredients only
  • Gluten free
  • Fun for playing catch
  • Box every fortnight (although can change to once a month if preferred)

Lucy x

DSC_0306

KONG Wobbler Review

‘The ultimate solution for dogs who hoover their food’DSC_0027.jpg

Oscar, like many dogs, gets so excited about food that he very much struggles to pace himself while eating his dinner and often races himself to see who can finish first. (Strangely, he always wins!)

Having tried slow feeding bowls and the like and finding they weren’t really helping, we came across a wonderful contraption, a large KONG Wobbler, online and decided to try it out. We immediately saw results.

At first, Oscar struggled to figure out how he was supposed DSC_0007.jpgto get the food out of the little hole on the side but soon got to work rolling it around with his nose and finding, with excitement, the little bits of food that had fallen out on the floor. After about 6 months of use, he still loves having his dinner in his Kong Wobbler and it has really solved the manic-eating issue, making it the ultimate solution for dogs who hoover their food.  It also makes his dinner-times a lot more interesting, fun and stimulating.DSC_0619

Before the KONG arrived, we had worried that Osc’s food (Guru cold-pressed) would not fit through the hole, however we were happy to find that the food was in fact the perfect size and comes out infrequently enough that dinner lasts a reasonable time (about 15 minutes)

The KONG Wobbler comes in two parts that screw together. The bottom part is made heavy so that it supposedly stays standing. This is where we put the food in, then the top part (dishwasher-friendly) screws onto the bottom. The parts join together tightly so there is no risk of the Wobbler unscrewing while pup is rolling it around.

Needless to say the condition of the KONG has deteriorated over time and it is now covered in scratches as a result of it getting stuck in small spaces and being in-delicately fished out with dog claws, however, it is still in good working order, just slightly less shiny and aesthetically pleasing.

I would very much recommend this product for hoover dogs and have found that it works very well.

Pros:

  • Really slows down speedy-eaters, decreasing health risks associated with eating food too quickly
  • Fun and stimulating – good for doggy brains
  • Gives the humans 15 minutes of peace
  • Lasting well
  • Top part dishwasher-friendly
  • High quality
  • Seemingly long-lasting

Cons:

  • Bottom part has to be washed by hand
  • Can make a fair bit of noise when being smashed about (usually used in the garden instead of indoors)

Click here to view on Amazon UK

Lucy x

 

Animology: White Wash Shampoo review

In September we received the Animology White Wash shampoo as a free sample to try out on Oscar.

Initial thoughts

The design of the bottle is simple yet effective with all the relevant information such as the ingredients list and key words like ‘deodorising’ and ‘pH balanced’. The shampoo smells lovely, with a nice, mild citrus-y smell (hard to describe).

dsc_0026

Bathtime

Using the shampoo:

The shampoo is quite runny which, on the one hand, is nice as this makes it easier to lather, however, it would be better if the bottle had a ‘no-drip seal’ within the opening to keep the shampoo in, so that you wouldn’t end up using more than you need. The smell is lovely and the shampoo washes out very easily, making for a more hassle-free bath.

DSC_0076.jpg

Results:

dsc_0103

Am I pretty?

This shampoo is great, it really does what it says on the bottle! While washing Oscar I noticed that it really brightened the fur on his legs in particular. It’s quite hard to tell how much brighter he is as he has a lot of little tan patches in his fur but I would definitely say he is whiter. It also got rid of those nasty yellow stains around his tummy so he looks brand new and his ruff looks lovely! The shampoo contains a conditioner as well so he’s now beautifully soft and did I mention how lovely he smells?

Another bonus is that the shampoo is gentle, so for dogs with skin problems, such as sensitive skin (often a problem with white dogs), this shampoo is a great option. It contains pro-vitamin B5, used in a lot of human toiletry products, which moisturises and hydrates the skin.

Conclusion

Pros:

  •  Really does whiten the coat
  • Good for dogs with sensitive skin
  • Smells lovely but not too overpowering
  • Makes dog beautifully soft as contains conditioner
  • Lathers very well
  • Rinses easily
  • Makes human hands smell lovely too 😊

 Cons:

  • Bottle opening could do with a seal – runs out quickly
  • Quite expensive at £4.99 per 250ml bottle but worth it!

 

Note: I received this product as a free sample but this has had no impact on my review, which is honest and fair

Oscar’s Holiday in Scotland

DSC_0105This year we decided to have our summer holiday in Scotland. It took a long time to find a cottage that suited our needs, in the place we wanted – dog friendly, in the countryside, reasonably close to family. Eventually we found ‘Tarabuckle’, a beautiful cottage in Glen Clova, Angus, slightly more in-the-middle-of-nowhere than we would have liked, with a 15 minute drive to civilisation but it was beautiful so we booked it for 2 weeks from the 9th July to 23rd July!

Early Saturday morning on the 9th, we got up and ready, taking Oscar for a quick walk before starting our 12 hour car journey to the beautiful Tarabuckle. It was quite a hike and we stopped plenty of times for a well needed break but we finally arrived at 8pmDSC_0304 (3)-01

The cottage was gorgeous, inside and out and very cosy. One lucky Oscar was very excited to be able to sleep in my bedroom and, by the third night, in my bed!

We had a lazy weekend, just staying around the cottage on the Sunday and on Monday we had a little walk around Glen Clova then visited family. Oscar got to meet my cousin’s two cockers which was nice for him.

The ‘Blue Door Walk’, Edzell

Tuesday was another lazy day but on the Wednesday we went on the ‘Blue Door Walk’, Edzell, where we’ve stayed previously, it’s a beautiful walk alongside the river in the woods and Oscar had the opportunity to have a paddle in the water – very exciting. 😂

Loch Lee, Glenesk

On Thursday we visited Loch Lee, Glenesk, a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains, it was so beautiful and was a lovely walk, Oscar loved it! Again, Oscar got to go in the water so it had to be a great day!

St. Cyrus Beach and Nature Reserve

Friday was a rainy day but we packed our macs and headed to the beach so that Oscar could have a nice big run-around. There was nobody else there (!!!) so he was allowed off the lead (an uncommon occurrence) and we played fetch while walking up the beach in the pouring rain, he loved it! Unfortunately we came to some jellyfish that had been washed up, so Osc had to go back on the lead and we headed back to the car, our coats dripping and our trousers soaked through! We then put Oscar in his Equafleece and went to visit family. He fell asleep almost as soon as we got there and loved all the attention he was getting from my Aunty and cousin 😂

Corrie Fee, Glen Clova

On Saturday we drove a short way to Glen Doll and walked up the mountain to a wonderful viewpoint over Corrie Fee, about a 4.5 mile walk (there and back), beside the River Esk. This was a lovely walk, it was a good loose gravel path all the way and there is the opportunity to continue on through Corrie Fee at the top. Unfortunately it was getting quite late when we got there due to a late start so we decided to head back rather than continue.

Lunan Bay

Sunday was rainy and we headed to Lunan Bay (apparently we just go to the beach when it rains 😂) There weren’t many people when we first got there so Oscar got a good game of fetch off the lead and when more people began turning up, Oscar had a play with some other dogs, so was in his idea of heaven! Another lovely day!

Pitlochry

On Monday we travelled to Pitlochry (~1 hr 30 mins) to look at the salmon run, it was a little early to see the salmon but it was great to see and there were beautiful views over the river. Oscar had a nice little walk around and he liked looking at the view too!

Afterwards we drove to Montrose and Oscar had a nice sleep in the car while we went to have dinner in Roo’s Leap restaurant (very good!) and we then had a very quick trip to the seafront in the gorgeous golden hour. Then it was back home to have a cosy evening watching a film.

Crathes Castle via Cairn O’Mount Viewpoint and Bridge of Feugh, Banchory

Tuesday began with rather a long drive, we visited Crathes castle via the Fettercairn-Banchory road which takes you to an amazing viewpoint (of course Oscar had to pose for a photo) and then on to Banchory to watch the salmon leaping at the Bridge of Feugh, amazing to see! We had our picnic and got Oscar an ice cream from the ice cream van – yummy!

We carried on from Banchory to Crathes Castle for a nice forest walk as it was hot. We went to the café first for a nice cold drink and a snack and Oscar got some free biscuits. Then we started the forest trail. We got a little lost but a friendly local lady soon pointed us in the right direction.

On Wednesday it was pouring with rain so we mostly stayed in apart from a couple of little walks when the rain stopped

Glen Doll then a Birthday Party

On Thursday we went to Glen Doll in the morning for a lovely walk beside the river (and a nice swim for Oscar) before going to my cousin’s 5th birthday barbecue, a bit boring for Oscar who stayed in his crate most of the time but he still got lots of attention so he was happy.

Stonehaven

It was Friday, our last full day of the holiday and we started the day once again with a walk beside the river at Glen Doll, gorgeous! We then went to a lovely little coastal town called ‘Stonehaven’. We’d been meaning to visit so on the last day we invited my Aunty and cousin along for a day out. We had an amazing ice cream from ‘Aunty Betty’s’ (Oscar shared one with my mum) and we walked along the seafront. Afterwards, we went back to my Aunty’s house for a cup of tea and Oscar had a nice play and some dinner. We then left Oscar there while we went out for dinner. He had a lovely time and didn’t want to leave (apparently he was a very good boy too!) After collecting Oscar we said our goodbyes and went home to finish packing ready for the next day.

Saturday morning we packed up the car and said goodbye to the lovely Tarabuckle! The journey home seemed a lot quicker despite numerous stops and we were home sweet home in just over 10 hours. All in all, a lovely holiday with gorgeous sights and Oscar had a lovely time, which was the main thing!

Lucy x