Wasps & a near death experience

For the last week or so Beanie’s become increasingly obsessed with catching insects, or more specifically, wasps. Sooner or later she was going to get stung, so we kept trying to shoo her away from her favorite wasp hunting location on our deck. Then it dawned on us that there did seem to be a lot of wasp activity around the house – far more than in the garden as a whole. Susan sat and watched the wasps for a few minutes and saw them disappearing into, then re-emerging from, the ventilation holes in our walls and our patio doors. The area around the patio doors was covered in tiny white PVC shavings, and on closer examination it became apparent that the wasps were actually going inside the door frames. A quick google session indicated that they were probably establishing nests inside our walls and the doors, and for the sake of our dogs we had to do something about it. The most commonly suggested course of action was to get some ant powder and cover the wasp’s preferred entry/exit points with it. The idea is that the workers get covered in the stuff as they go about their nest-building activities and eventually transfer some of the powder to the queen. Once she dies, it’s all over.

We gave it a go, and it worked astonishingly well. We kept the pups away from the treated areas for 24 hours or so; the powder is supposed to be child/pet safe but what’s betting Beanie would’ve been snorting it like cocaine if we’d let her near it! By the end of that period all visible wasp activity had stopped – problem solved!

So much for the wasps, now for the Near Death Experience. After this morning’s walk we put the pups in their beds and headed out on our bikes. We had intended to just go up one of the nearby cycle tracks for half an hour then head back, but we ended up up doing pretty much the whole “New Town Trail” around Irvine, stopping off at Eglinton Park for a coffee.

We’d had a break from cycling over the winter months but my recently acquired riding ability hadn’t deteriorated at all – in fact on today’s ride I accomplished a number of highly demanding manoeuvers:

  • wiping the sweat from my brow
  • prolonged nose scratching with either hand
  • extracting a Kleenex from my pocket and blowing my nose whilst still turning the pedals

I was especially proud of the nose blowing. I’ve occasionally watched footage of the Tour de France and I’ve never once seen any of those so-called expert cyclists whipping a snot rag from their shorts and purging their nasal orifices. Admittedly they do go a bit faster than me but still…

Anyway, it turns out the old adage about pride coming before a fall is true. My fall happened as we approached an uphill bit in Eglinton Park and I tried to switch gear. Somehow I messed it up and parted company with my bike. My life didn’t exactly flash before me but during the fall everything slowed down – just like “bullet time” in The Matrix. When I recovered my wits I realized that I had severed my left arm at the shoulder, but being such a hardy mountain biker I just pulled the laces out of my trainers and sewed it back on. OK, that last part is a slight exaggeration, but my injuries were truly horrific – just look:



That graze on my little finger is the worst. It could cause me considerable discomfort if I try to access the lower 30% of a packet of salt & vinegar crisps (“potato chips” to our US friends). It’s going to be hard going, but I figure I’ll make a full recovery eventually.

Baying Beagles, Bikes and Mud

We went up to the Wind Farm again today and this time we took one of the bikes with us. It dwarfed our little car but it coped very well with the extra load.

As we approached the moors a very thick fog descended. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, let alone the windmills! It was really quite eerie – first you’d hear the funny swishing noise then a giant blade would come swooping out of the sky, apparently from nowhere.

We started out with Beanie and Biggles on very long training lines so they could have a good sniff about – we didn’t want them tiring themselves out too much. Paul and Biggles took one route and Beanie and I another – we met up in the middle an hour later and headed back to the car for the bike. Then the fun and ‘aaarfing’ really began. Paul attached Beanie and Biggles to the canni-cross belt and I jumped on the bike. We all headed off at speed with Paul practically flying along behind his warp-drive beagles! I thought I’d need to ride slowly to let them keep up, but no way were Beanie and Biggles letting me lead the pack. Thay “aaaaroooh’d”, “aaarfff’d”, grunted and bayed the whole way and put on an extra spurt of speed and noise every time I tried to take the lead. Poor Paul just huffed and puffed and did his best to stay on his feet.

We finally headed home about 3 hours later with half a ton of mud weighing us down. The pampered little beaglets had a hot bath then crashed out in a nice cozy bed.

Biker Beagles

Where to start – it’s been a hectic few weeks!

We’ve been looking to buy a field for our Beaglets for quite some time now. Two or three weeks ago we found a 9 acre field for sale that looked perfect. It was double fenced with secure sheep fencing with thick beech hedgerows between the fences. The current owners are keen conservationists and had planted little woodlands in the middle of the field. There’s a burn filled with otters, king fishers and brown trout running most of the way around the field and they had created a lovely walkway amongst the trees along its banks. It was perfect and they led us to believe it was ours if we wanted it. Needless to say pretty much everything else went out the window. In the excitement we even missed The Big Fun Run and a flyball comp in Redcar! Unfortunately it all fell through so it’s back to the drawing board….and the normal routine.

The mountain bikes have been a huge success (Thanks for the suggestion Sam and Chigley!). It’s amazing how much you find on your doorstep when you’ve got a bike. It turns out that National Cycling Route 7 is just minutes from our front door. Just 10 minutes along it is Pollock park which has lovely forest paths and a number of purpose built mountain biking courses graded from ‘Beginner’ to ‘Advanced’. We find we can easily manage 15 miles or so while the Beaglets nap after their morning walk.

We’re not really competent enough bike riders to go out with Beanie and Biggles yet but the other day we decided to take one bike along to the park and see how they reacted to it. We started out just pushing the bike with the dogs attached before progressing to sitting on the bike and free-wheeling a bit.

Next we decided that Paul should ride ahead a little then I’d unclip the dogs one at a time to see if they’d chase the bike. First time it worked great – Beanie and Biggles tore along behind him baying their heads off. They were rewarded with a tasty lump of cheese when they caught him. Second time we tried it they tore along behind him, caught him, then ran straight past him – still baying their heads off. Paul caught up with them a few minutes later having a sniff in the woods. Beanie re-joined him but Biggles wasn’t ready to give up his freedom quite so quickly. We could hear his “aarff, aarff, aarrf” in the woods not far from us and waited patiently for a couple of minutes. A couple of walkers emerged from the woodland paths giggling about the funny little white dog that was tearing round and round the trees barking his head off! Moments later our little boy emerged from the woods with his tongue hanging out and his tail wagging.

Finally Paul attached them onto the canni-cross kit and I took off on the bike while the three of them ran along behind me:

Still a way to go until it’s safe to attach the dogs to the bikes, but they’ll soon get used to running free with us. We just need to find somewhere nice and safe…..