Little Grace and the rest ~ In praise of rescue pets

This morning’s “Facebook memory” transported me back to a day I remember so very well, and I felt the same wave of excitement and happiness I did at the time – six years ago today we adopted our very first rescue pet, our beautiful little hamster Grace.

I’d grown up with rescue dogs and cats in my childhood and knew how rewarding the journey with a pet given a second chance at life could be; but we’d never adopted or rehomed in our adulthood pets journey – and in fact I didn’t really know there was the opportunity for it in the small animal sphere.

I heard about Grace through a fellow rat owner, who had seen her advertised for free online and been worried about her fate so decided to take her on and find a good home for her. When she went to collect her, she found her being kept in a small plastic tub with air holes cut in, no way of seeing out, and an old injury had left her with only one ear. She was also extremely small for a Syrian hamster, but, no doubt due to what we would come to know was her irrepressible character, she didn’t let anything that might have happened in the first few months of her life dampen her spirits; and within hours of her “rescuer” getting her home she was racing around a new temporary cage, and had commandeered a 12″ rat wheel put in with other odds and ends “just in case” to give her some enrichment. She was so tiny on it but made it go effortlessly and absolutely loved it – in fact when she came to live with us we got her one the same size and she loved it all her days.

We brought Grace home on Valentines Day 2012, and she was the most wonderful addition to our little family and brought so much joy in her time with us.

She also began for us a habit of seeking to rescue our pets whenever we could – I had already decided to avoid pet shops for any new additions after learning about the rodent farming practices that can often be used by them; and as this left us with independent breeders or rehoming as our main options, we were always so happy if we found the chance to give a pet a second chance at life come up.

Just as I know it is with larger pets – and in many cases more so as time with the little ones is so much shorter and more precious – it’s so very rewarding to see rats and hamsters find their feet in a second home, and I have always found it such a wonderful thing to be able to do. There are often challenges of course – Lizzie, our first rescue rat, who came from the SSPCA in 2012, and Pipkin, our very troubled but so wonderfully special boy, adopted in 2014, had significant behavioural issues, but seeing them gradually overcome their fear of the world around them was the best feeling in the world.

Lizzie and Pipkin ❤

Healthwise too, the little ones’ starts in life often compromised them – Chae, Winnie and Pipkin were part of a large-scale rescue that made the news in our area, where 300 rats were found being kept in one house in terrible conditions – they were actually kittens born in the SSPCA centre to one of the many pregnant does rescued, so never lived in the house, but the in-breeding that had happened over so long left them all with very poor health and they all suffered from respiratory issues most of their lives. Still though, in spite of the odd jaunt to the vets and medication hidden in fruit juice every evening, they got so much out of their lives, and gave us so much too in return; really appreciating everything we did for them.

Winston Rat loving old age despite his ailments ❤

Of all the lovely animals we’ve owned, the rescues have often been those we’ve grown closest to, and the length of time they’ve had to spend with us has had no correlation to how much they’ve meant to us – Darcy the bustling hamster only lived with us the last six months of his life but I loved him so very much and he was a wonderful character.

Darcy

There are so many wonderful aspects to a life with rescue pets, big or small, and I’d recommend it to anyone considering taking on a new addition.

Grace, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winnie, Pipkin, Darcy, Rosie, Jasper and Jet all in their second home with us. ❤

Enjoying looking back on little Grace’s arrival and all the others’ time with us too.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend. X

Advertisements

Happy New Year ✨2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣8️⃣✨

2017 has drawn to its close and we woke yesterday morning to the dawn of 2018, excited to greet a brand new year. I always love the fresh-start feel to New Year’s morning and this year was as new and different as any we’ve ever had, waking with our 2-week-old baby to an era we move into all together, ready for so many adventures we can’t even begin to imagine yet.

We got ourselves up and ready – more of a mission now than a couple of weeks previously! – and, all wrapped up, headed along to the farm in the morning, where the pony was standing happily in his stable, all the horses en masse having a little longer a lie than normal as everyone sleepily arrived mid-morning to the yard with new-year greetings and chatter. I got him breakfasted and sorted, and we took our first 2018 amble over to the gate with the rest in the tumultuous rain-wrestling-with-sunshine morning light.

Once he was out and sorted I rejoined my husband and the wee one, who were taking an extra five minutes cosy in the car, and we got transitioned to the pram and headed out for a lovely walk along the coastal path we’re so lucky to have right at the farm.

It was a beautiful morning and we had a lovely ramble before we bundled ourselves home for a bit of quiet as the daylight faded and the January super moon rose outside.

Just wanted to wish you all, wherever you are and however you saw it in, the happiest new year, and all the very very best for 2018. Xxx

2017 Reflections ~ Holed up in the snow

We are in the midst of the usual in-between period between Christmas and new year – that beautifully still time where the days stretch ahead and blur into one another (“Romjul” as I was charmed to learn is its romantic Scandinavian name); a few days of quiet contemplation and true unwinding. Every year I look forward to this, and every year it arrives with a familiarity that makes it so easy to sink into – before long the continual passing round of Quality Streets and the sticking on of an afternoon film without a second thought becoming second nature once more.

This year, we are enjoying that period as much as always and more so; but its familiarity has been shaken up by the new dimension added to all our days and every aspect of our little world since our daughter arrived to join us. ♥️

Born exactly a week before Christmas, our little girl has transformed our life unrecognisably, in the best possible way. The last couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, and we have lived and learned so much as a little family already. She is settling so well, taking everything in her stride – and although it’s been a busy period full of new routines and challenges, visits from family and friends and Christmas coming along too; we’ve had a little bit of time now to start to enjoy settling into our new roles and getting to know each other.

Today, we are all cosied up inside as the snow falls steadily outside the window, and are taking the day at an easy pace from under our blankets here.

 

I always find myself reflecting so much on the year that’s been as we hibernate in these last few days of it; and this year has been one full of change and new horizons as we’ve transitioned in so many ways – moving home, all the journeying on we’ve done in different ways in our living and working, and having been blessed with expanding our family.

The pets (usually the main focus of any blog post but currently being sidelined in every way, poor souls!) are doing well too – or Jasper and Jet will be as soon as they get used to the sound of the wee one’s cry! Getting there slowly already though I think…

 

The pony headed off out to play in the snow this morning quite happily, on my brief foray out into the world of the farm and the wintry outdoors before getting home to the others once more.

Our world here at the moment is all new and all so exciting; but is strung together too by the constancy of the season – the twinkle of the lights, chill in the air and warmth of home – as we adapt to all our changes and find our feet together.

Hope you are all finding time to enjoy this cosy in-between time, and have a really lovely week from all of us. X

♥️

Camper van adventures – the memories we take with us as we trundle on… 💙

This winter, we are preparing to say a last goodbye to our much-loved 26-year-old Bedford Rascal camper van – bought on impulse, on eBay, from a pick-up location 500 miles away, just under half a decade ago.

This is, just to be clear, absolutely not the kind of thing it would ever have occurred to me to do, once upon a time – but is very much the kind of thing that was first introduced to my life (and repeated with what seems to have been increasing regularity over time) ten years ago when I first got together with my husband; for whom concepts like buying vehicles older than us from Brighton (and taking possession of them and driving them home in one long, Red Bull-fuelled day) have always seemed entirely feasible and achievable.

The Rascal wasn’t by any means the first – two 1980s Fiat Pandas had preceded it as his surprisingly reliable runarounds, one of which was also his partner in crime in a 10-country rally across Europe; and more recently we got three years worth of day-to-day life out of a bright turquoise ’96 Toyota Starlet he picked up very cheap one night in 2014 as a second car to see us through a couple of months of winter – going on to outlive everyone’s expectations until just this summer (when we finally gave it up for a “safe and reliable family car” which has, as it happens, caused us more trouble than all our older cars combined in the six months since… such is life!).

The van was, however, unique in that it was the first vehicle we could full-on holiday in – and suddenly the world (or, maybe more fairly, the parts of Scotland closest to us mainly, with the odd longer trip thrown in!) was our oyster; a night away requiring no more planning than slinging a bag in the back, beginning the (admittedly not always challenge-free) process of getting the engine started (tending to take slightly longer in the cold or when the choke was playing up!) and heading off.

Our first camp is one I’ll always remember – setting off on a beautiful sunny February day in 2013, we pitched up in Auchterarder at a lovely little campsite overnight, thankfully bringing plenty of layers and keeping every one of them on all night, as we woke the next morning to -10 degrees and a thick layer of ice on the windows inside and out. Our coffee that morning, brewed on the tiny two-ring hob, might have been the most warming I’ve ever tasted!

From those frosty beginnings on, we’ve had years of chugging up hills and waking up to the stillness of the world around us as we’ve got the van out and about and made so many memories I’ll hang onto forever.

The summer we got engaged, the autumn we got married, New Years being seen in on a cold, deserted but beautiful beach… They are all with us now wherever we go, moving on to all the next phases of our life together, and I’ll always be so very grateful for them. ♥️

Happy Advent ♥️❄️✨🕯

December has arrived at last, tumbled towards through the beauty and transition of autumn and early winter; and is now fully settled in, bringing with it all its usual cosiness and warmth.

I love the first morning of advent so much, calendars being opened and the countdown to Christmas truly beginning. Jasper and Jet got stuck in to opening their first door this morning, and were delighted with the dandelion treats they found inside!

I look forward every day to my early-morning routine of breakfast treats and a few minutes with them while the kettle boils, getting ready for the day to begin; but it was lovelier than ever today letting them explore the very beginnings of their first Christmas.

At the farm, too, I love to bring a bit of festivity early to Charmer’s stable with the same, and during the breakfast-and-muck-out routine we’ve hit the ground running with this week, the old boy was happy enough to take the first of his extra treats and do his best to help with the opening…

Arrived to the loveliest extra surprise too from our yard owners of an advent calendar for every horse outside our stable doors – we have in the past discovered stockings of treats for them at Christmas, or chocolate eggs and urns of coffee out on a table for us all on Easter morning, and it’s just such a nice reminder of the kindness and camaraderie of the livery yard, and of what a blessing it really is – especially when it can be such a big responsibility and such a challenge to find – to have a place for the pony to live that suits him and me so perfectly.

This has been the first week of my maternity leave, and, with work finished up now for a while, I have had some extra time for organising and pottering inside the house and out, getting the last things ready both for our new arrival and for Christmas time (our two new seasons ahead!) so have started on some gift-wrapping and preparing a little earlier than usual. Still, this morning, with the arrival of Advent itself, I feel the usual excitement I do every year at the idea of the preparations picking up pace, darkness falling earlier and earlier each day while lights begin to twinkle more and more in the homes around us as we head towards Christmas time.

At night, the togetherness and cosiness of this time of year really comes in to its own, and I love to get in to the warmth for the evening and light our advent candle for the first time, starting a month-long tradition that will count us down to Christmas morning and bring a peaceful and lovely hour to our every evening while we wait.

A very happy Advent / winter to all, wishing you all the loveliest December. ❄️✨ x

Weekend fun with the furry babies… ♥️

This weekend has been one gratefully got to after a busy week, and one I’ve enjoyed so much, spending time with family, friends and of course the furry family we’re blessed to have in our lives too.

It’s been cold but sunny, thick frosts lingering til mid-day but the sun as high in the sky as it ever tends to reach at this time of year and the days beautiful – last leaves falling and everything glinting with winter’s arrival.

My very fluffy Charmer was especially enjoying his afternoon in the field yesterday when we arrived to visit, lying curled up (and, later – once he had some treats and got even lazier and more relaxed – completely flat out!) in the sun.

Back at home, the rats are doing great. They have been having more time out in the mornings than evenings just the way our routines are working out at the moment, and I’ve taken to a wee stand on the doorstep with them sniffing at the dawn air while I wait for the kettle to boil and us all to start the day, which they really seem to enjoy for something new and interesting – before the usual scampering on the sofa and cuddling in blankets they love so much.

This morning brought another jaunt to the farm to see the pony, who amused himself rolling his treat ball around and making short work of his favourite Likit while I alternated between coffee-drinking and engaging in the endless winter battle, armed with brushes of all shapes and sizes, to keep him resembling something akin to mud-free.. or at least marginally neater than he’d be left to his own devices!

We’ve also happily welcomed a house guest for the week this afternoon, my mum and dad’s beautiful black cat Phoebe who’s here to stay with us for her holidays – very excited to have a taster of life with a cat in our wee house, something we’d love one day, and have Phoebe’s lovely company for the week.

A very happy Sunday to all, hope you’re all having a really lovely weekend. X