I Can Has Shamrock Shake?

Happy St Patrick’s Day from all of us here at Fluffy Tufts!

I can has shamrock shake? - Pogo the Poodle

My Day at Crufts

Breed Ring at Crufts 2013It was a very early start for me, with the alarm clock going off at 4.30am! The plane was packed with other dog lovers heading to Birmingham to spend the day at the the world’s greatest dog show, Crufts!

Having lived in Birmingham for several years, I knew exactly how to get to the NEC and in no time at all, I had collected my pass and was queuing to enter. I chatted to a lady who’d travelled with her Heelwork to Music Club, all the way from South Africa. They had a member competing in the International HTM Freestyle, so they’d come to cheer her on. Now that’s a supportive team!

Shopping at Crufts - Hall 5The KCAI stand was in Hall 5, so I was sent in that entrance. I actually couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the size of the place. Stalls selling everything you could possibly ever need for your dogs. I spent an hour or two wandering around, picking up goodies for the lads. I will do a post over the next few days reviewing my purchases!

I watched a little bit of the breed judging in the rings in Hall 5 also. Then I headed off to explore the other four halls!

The International Agility was taking place in the Main Arena and one of the members of my training club, Declan Dolan, was representing Ireland with his collie, Bonnie.  I made my way to the Arena in plenty of time and caught the end of the Agility Teams Small Semi-finals. It was exhilarating to view such brilliant dog/handlers teams. The Beacon Smalls went on to win in the Finals. Click here to view their winning run!

Next in the Arena, the International Agility Jumping Round. The competitors had to do a jumping round in the morning and an agility round in the afternoon. Only the top sixteen would make it through to the Finals in the evening. I was really rooting for Declan and Bonnie.

I met Declan at my first ever agility competition. I had had a terrible round with Pogo. He was so excited about the show that he wasn’t focused on me at all. He even tried to climb the judge! As I left the ring feeling humiliated, Declan approached me and very kindly gave me some great training tips and advice. He made me feel a lot better about everything. It was some time later before I realised that this man was Declan Dolan, top agility handler and Crufts winner!

Declan and Bonnie went on to come 2nd in the Finals that evening and I was there in the arena cheering them on. Their round is at 12 minutes if you would like to watch it.

I could ramble on for hours about all the things that I did and saw at Crufts. I had a brilliant day and really hope to go again next year!

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s off to Crufts I go!

Just a very quick post as I am busy packing up to go to Crufts! I was very lucky to have been given a free pass from the Kennel Club as part of their new KCAI (Kennel Club Accreditation Scheme for Instructors). My plane leaves at 6.30am, so want to get an early night so I can enjoy the day tomorrow.

This will be my first time attending Crufts and I am bursting with excitement. My plan is to go to the agility ring in the morning to support Irish competitor Declan Dolan and his dog Bonnie who will be competing in International Agility. Then I will go and pet dogs at the Discover Dogs exhibition. Finally, I plan to shop till I drop and hopefully get lots of goodies for The Lads!

My camera battery is charging and I will try to get lots of great pictures so that I can share the day with you all! Look out for a Crufts update over the next few days. If any of you have any Crufts advice or tips, please let me know in a comment. Thanks!

Crufts 2013

Powerscourt Waterfall – Staycation Ireland

Recently, we went for a drive in the Wicklow Mountains and ended up at Powerscourt Waterfall.  It is Ireland’s tallest waterfall at a height of 121m.

The waterfall and surrounding lands are part of a large country estate called Powerscourt. There is a large country house and extensive landscaped gardens. We had the Lads with us so unfortunately we couldn’t visit the house and gardens. We will have to go back and see those another time!

We had a very enjoyable afternoon walking with the Lads through this magnificent glacial valley. The waterfall itself was breathtaking and is so much taller than it appears in the photograph.  The Lads got into the river at the bottom of the fall and had a paddle. Jimmy actually properly swam for the first time, though I don’t think he was as impressed by his feat as we were!

Should you ever find yourself driving in the Wicklow Mountains, I would thouroughly recommend that you pay a visit to Powerscourt!

Powerscourt Waterfall

Photo Credit: Mr Fluffytufts – August 2012

A Tourist in My Own City – Blessington Street Basin

Blessington Street Basin is a secret garden right in the heart of Dublin City.  Despite having been born and raised in the city, I did not discover this hidden gem until we rented a house in the area.

Blessington Street Basin

This park is unusual as it is almost entirely made of water!  There is a path around the basin dotted with benches and lined with beautiful raised flower beds. It was renovated throughout 93/94, and officially opened to the public in November 1994.

There is a man-made island in the centre of the reservoir, and this has become an unofficial bird sanctuary.  In the summer months, you may be greeted with the peculiar sight of large hay bales floating in the water.  According to the park warden, they prevent the water from stagnating and keep the environment fresh and clean for the wildlife.

The basin has had a diverse history. It was built in 1803 and served as a reservoir for the city of Dublin.  When the Vartry Reservoir system was completed in the 1860’s, the water from the Blessington Street Basin was no longer needed for the city.  Instead, the water was used to supply the distilleries of Jameson and Powers.

Blessington Basin is an oasis of calm in the centre of a bustling metropolitan city.  It is situated just ten minutes walk from the Spire of Dublin.  It connects to the Royal Canal Linear Park, which in turn connects to walkway along the Grand Canal.  While in the area, you could also visit St Michan’s Church (which is famous for it’s mummies) and King’s Inn.

View of St Peter's Church from Blessington Basin

View the rest of the “A Tourist in my Own City” series:

A Tourist in My Own City – The Mummies of St Michan’s Church

St Michan's Church by ValbyDKSt Michan’s Church was founded in 1095 by Dutch colonists.  For 500 years, it was the only parish in Dublin that was north of the River Liffey. The present building dates from around 1685 and was designed by Sir William Robinson (Ireland’s Surveyor General 1670-1700).

Inside the church is a magnificent organ dating from 1724.  It is one of the oldest working organs in Ireland.  It is also believed to have been the organ that Handel used whilst he was composing his ‘Messiah’.

The most interesting feature of St Michan’s Church lies beneath the ground in the crypt.  The vaults are accessed by narrow stone stairway.  These stairways are steep and there are no handrails, so unfortunately the tour is not suitable for people with limited mobility. The vault tunnels are lined with limestone and mortar. There are large rooms off the tunnels that contain the coffins of many of Ireland’s historical figures.  These coffins are stacked on top of each other, and over time a number of the coffins have burst open to reveal that the bodies inside have been naturally mummified!

The Crypt at St Michan's by Chris Halton

Experts are unsure as to what exactly caused the bodies in these particular vaults to mummify.  Our tour guide explained that it was likely to be a combination of a number of factors:

  • high concentration of lime
  • dry atmosphere
  • high methane levels
  • the vaults lie low and are near to the bed of the River Liffey

There are a number of mummies on display including a 400 year-old nun, a reformed thief and ‘The Crusader’ – a giant of a man whose legs had to be broken in order to fit him in to the coffin.  Legend has it, that “shaking the hand of The Crusader” will bring you good fortune and luck. I have done this tour a number of times and only recently finally plucked up the courage to shake his hand.  It was a very macabre experience as The Crusader’s spine and internal organs are partially visible. The hand itself felt wooden and was dry and dusty. I can’t say that I noticed any change in my fortunes, but I am glad that I had the courage to do it!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, so these photos are not my own.

View the rest of the “A Tourist in my Own City” series:

St Patrick’s Day Festivities 2012 – Music and Marching!

I’m a bit behind on my blog posts, so only getting to the Paddy’s Day photos now. Still, better late than never!

We are lucky to live very close to the staging area for some of the acts taking part in the parade.  It was such a lovely morning here on the 17th, that I thought I would head down to watch the performers setting up.

I brought Pogo with me as he is very friendly and really loves meeting people.  He dressed up in an orange jumper and a green shamrock necklace.  I have heard that in some countries it is considered bad luck to wear orange on Paddy’s Day. Here in Ireland, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear orange as it is one of the colours of our country’s flag.

People have often asked me what Paddy’s Day is like in Ireland, and I guess the only thing I can think of to compare it to would be Mardi Gras.  There are such festivities all around the country and these last for two or three days.

The staging area near us took up three roads and that was only a small amount of the acts due to be performing in the parade.  Pogo made so many new friends and I was lucky to be able to get some really good photos.

Pogo going to the Parade

Getting ready for the parade

Pogo meeting the performers

Bandoleras

Last-minute Practice