Emma goes to the vet

Another day of frenetic activity in the house and puppy antics in the garden. But first, the house…

Mark the Tiler laid some more tiles on the terrace. One of the things we were worried about was how ‘grippy’ the tiles would be in the wet. The showers we’ve had so far this week have proven that they are very grippy. There’s very little chance of slipping over. The tile place told us they would be but you never know until they receive a jolly good drenching.

Gradually getting there

As well as laying the tiles, Mark and Tim the Electrical Engineer put down and tested the underfloor heating pad in the bathroom. After passing the test, the floor was then coated with a strange grey, almost plasticine substance. This protects the heating pad for when the tiles go on top. It looks a bit odd but feels even stranger. Sort of like walking on slightly damp clay that’s not slippery.

Karl and Callum were busy putting down the last of the skirting boards (in the extension) as well as making some oak shelves for the two inset wall display cabinets. It looks a bit bare at the moment but the future plan is to decorate it with oak edging with a vague Arts and Crafts feel. Mirinda calls it ‘cut outs’.

Wood glue on display

Using a beautiful bit of oak board, Karl also covered the small gap between the hall parquetry and the tiles of the extension. There’s something absolutely beautiful about oak.

The piece of pine that reads “Don’t step on it” was sitting on top of the new board. It was initially there to protect the board while the adhesive dried but is also protecting it against scuffing from workboots. Clearly Emma is too young to read but Day-z understands it.

And, finally, the decorators ploughed on with the undercoating upstairs. Doors, picture rails, skirting boards, poor Matt slaved away all day. Tatt-Man had to look after the baby today so couldn’t be with him. He’ll be back tomorrow.

But it wasn’t just the excitement of seeing things (slowly) coming together, Emma also had her first visit to our local vet. She’d already had her initial shots before we collected her but I had to register her and book in for the second shots so I took her down today.

It was the busiest I’ve ever seen the waiting room. And all of the dogs were manic. Skidding around on the floors, yapping, tails going to fast their heads shook with delight. Of course, Emma was in my hands and Day-z say obediently next to us on the seat provided for humans and well behaved poodles.

Day-z always puts on her most imperious face when we visit the vet. She sees herself as a bit above all the doggy riff raff. She tends to peer down at other dogs, giving them a brief flick of notice in rare moments of querulousness. They, meanwhile, just crave her attention. It’s always very funny.

Naturally, Emma elicited all manner of “Isn’t she cuuuuuute!” type remarks from all dog owners, receptionists and vets. A woman, waiting with her cat, said Emma looked just like a little teddy bear. When I said I thought she looked like an Ewok, I was taken to task. Not so much because I called her an Ewok but because Emma the Ewok doesn’t really work. She would be called Paploo, Treenk, Logray or something more Ewokian, if she was from Endor.

The Ewok -v- Teddy Bear debate was left in the waiting room as Emma’s name was called. The vet was very pleased with our new addition. She gave her a once over and we made a date to come back next week for her second round of shots.

Day-z, meanwhile was very good, standing beside me, waiting while Emma was on the vet’s examination table. I think this is probably because last time she was up there, the vet shoved his finger up her butt, an experience she did not enjoy.

Back at home, after the tradesmen had finished for the day, Emma helped me take a few photos upstairs. I can’t let her loose upstairs yet because there’s too many dangers laying about. Fortunately, she’s too small to climb the stairs, a fact that Day-z takes great delight in rubbing in her face.

Who you lookin’ at?

I also took a short film of Day-z and Emma playing in the garden. To be fair, it’s mostly Emma playing and Day-z putting up with it. I uploaded it to Flickr.

All trades

Well, the house was very full today, both with tradesmen AND dogs.

First up it was the decorators. Kevin and Matt made the right sounds around Emma then went to work upstairs.

Next Mark the Tiler turned up and immediately started laying tiles on the terrace (after meeting and fussing over Emma, of course). He bought Callum with him who worked as his broom and rubbish removal boy all day.

Karl then turned up with another carpenter and started putting the plastic trim around the inside of the roof lantern, hiding the little metal tags and making it look a whole lot better. Karl brought his dog with him and he also made the right noises around Emma. Callum also helped him with measuring and cutting the trim.

Jem and Matt the plumbers were quickly joined by Tim the Electrical Engineer and they all went to work on the bathroom and various electrical bits and pieces downstairs. Oh, and they made a big fuss over Emma. Matt bought his dog too (he seems to go everywhere with him). Day-z was getting very confused with all the canine activity and had a tough time convincing them all that she was the top dog in the house.

Finally, Dave the Builder turned up (with his two dogs – it started to feel like a delightful Battersea Dogs Home) to inspect what was happening. He introduced himself to Emma very formally.

It was all very frenetic, all day. Day-z and Emma spent most of it in the office with me, though Emma did have a bit of a play in her new playpen which arrived from Amazon today. A very handy contraption which folds up so you can take it with you and made of easy to clean material.

I spent most of the day sorting photos for Flickr. I couldn’t really fit in the house.

By the end of the day, a lot had been done. The skirting boards upstairs had all been filled, sanded and primed, ready for glossing tomorrow.

The Green Room, primed

The outside windows had finally been glossed. Tim had fitted the Tiffany lights and connected up the CAT5 cable for the Internet.

Art deco lights

Tim also wired up the extraction fan which is now working beautifully. The touch controls are particularly impressive though I’m not sure how they’ll go with greasy cooking fingers.

The plumbers worked on piping and stuff that can’t be seen but was essential. Karl and Callum almost finished the plastic strips on both skylights.

But best of all was the progress that Mark the Tiler made on the terrace. The tiles are going to look so good when they’re finished.


And what would a post be without a photo of Emma. She’s taken to biting my fingers with her little needle teeth.


I was very impressed with Emma today. At one stage, she went confidently trotting out to the terrace. I grabbed her to bring her back but she just went back out. I watched her. She actually went to toilet then marched happily back in. This is one clever puppy. And she really knows her name now.

Putting paid to the lie that old dogs have three weeks to get used to a new puppy has been Day-z’s attitude. While she might growl if Emma’s attentions go n for too long, she has started playing with Emma. Obviously, I have to watch them carefully but I think they’re going to be great chums. I’ve even caught Emma trotting around after Day-z in the garden.

Even so, most of the time Day-z just isn’t bothered and wonders why we need a puppy at all.

Not bovvered

Big park, little puppy

Emma had her first taste of the park today. Naturally, she’s far to young to manage a walk much further than ten feet but, in between being carried by either Mirinda or me, she suddenly discovered the real world.

Back on the Isle of Sheppey, her entire world was a kitchen and a small courtyard. We’re pretty certain she’d never seen grass before. Actually, she was quite astounded by the grass in the back garden. It didn’t take her long to realise that it’s there for going to the toilet on. Mind you, she thinks everything is there to go to the toilet on. The tiles are very good for this.

When it comes to bodily evacuations, she really goes mad at about 5:30 in the morning. I know this because she woke us up just before 5:30 this morning and, as soon as I put her outside, she seemed to lose most of her body weight in poo. Even so, she managed to lose a bit more inside when I’d mistakenly assumed she’d finished.

It’s all right for her, getting up at 5:30 because she has the amazing capacity to fall asleep, almost instantly following any burst of energy. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way with me. I don’t remember much about Carmen and Day-z and their early mornings (knowing them as I do, I’d venture to suggest they slept in most of the time).

Emma seems to already know her name and she comes when you tap your hands against your legs. When she wants some attention she just squeaks. It works surprisingly well. Particularly when she wants to get onto the lounge.

As far as bonding is concerned, Mirinda is pleased to admit they have made an instant connection. They were inseparable all day. Mirinda went back to the flat at about 5 (there being no shower here and with the builders turning up early, we thought it the most comfortable plan) and I think Emma was a bit confused. Still, she fell asleep on me quite easily.

But back to the park…

Day-z, of course, can walk herself and she trotted along confidently (I think she was showing off her independence to the new arrival). Well, that was until we came across a huge gang of dogs and their owners. They all ignored little Emma, cuddled safely in Mirinda’s hand, but they annoyed Day-z. Given the park actually belongs to Day-z, other dogs always annoy her.

A couple of times, we let Emma run around in the Avenue of Trees.

Little Miss Confident

She tired very quickly (as you’d expect) but the big world outside the house was full of adventures to come.

Of course, she elicited numerous coo-ing and ahh-ing from passers-by – everyone loves a puppy. Particularly one that looks like an Ewok.

Back at home, the bonding with Day-z continued. At one stage Day-z snapped at Emma but otherwise she’s been very tolerant although she refuses to play. Now she knows what it feels like. There were plenty of times that she wanted to play with Carmen who would tease her into believing she would and then just stop. Pity dogs don’t remember that sort of stuff.

By the end of the night, the two of them were getting on quite well. That may be a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to Day-z’s opinion as she just seemed to tolerate Emma. Fortunately, Emma’s survival instinct is unimpaired as she knows when to give Day-z a wide berth.

Emma loves to cuddle up as close to your face as possible so, as I lay in bed waiting for Mirinda to call, she fell fast asleep on my shoulder, her little face buried in my neck.

Return to Sheppey

Sandi, the dog breeder from whom we bought Emma, was very sad to see her little Dora leave today. In honour of Sandi and her woe, we have decided that Emma’s full name will be Emmadora. Sandi called her Dora because she was so adorable – Dora the Adorable.

The trip to Sheppey was much easier this time. We didn’t make any wrong turns and the traffic was easy and flowing. Day-z, once she realised it was going to be a long drive, curled up on the back seat (next to Emma’s carry case) and went to sleep. She was in for a bit of a surprise.

When we arrived, Mirinda went in to pay for and collect Emma while I wandered up and down the street with Day-z. She was a bit concerned that Mirinda had vanished into a strange house but I reassured her that all was well. When Mirinda came out, holding the golden little bundle of love that is Emma, Day-z turned her nose up and refused to look at either of them.

I think she saw this intrusion as a betrayal. She’s pretty selfish. I tried to explain that the addition of Emma will, eventually, give me more freedom. Day-z wasn’t the least bit interested. She just sulked.

We popped into Pets At Home (it’s just round the road from us) and bought some special puppy food, a couple of chewy things and a treat for Day-z. Mirinda was holding Emma while Day-z was on her lead. Day-z once more loved being in the shop. So much excitement; so many interesting smells. I think she actually forgot about Emma for a bit.

Heading back to the car, Mirinda was intercepted by a woman and her son. The sight of Emma had stopped them in their tracks. They just had to have a pat and a fuss.

They’d recently lost a dog (called Daisy) and, I think, the vision of Emma may just have convinced them to buy another one.

Finally at home, we gave Emma the tour while Day-z just eyed her with suspicion, wondering where she could bury her, given half the chance.

We spent a bit of time on the unfinished terrace, taking copious photos. Emma is ridiculously photogenic but doesn’t quite understand the need to stay in one place for the camera. She’ll learn quick enough.

And so the day passed with Emma’s sudden bursts of energy punctuated with long, sleepy moments of recovery.

Thinking it would make her feel better, I gave Day-z her treat. She put it down on the tiles and laid herself at striking distance from it, just waiting for Emma to try and get it. She lay with her back to Emma, turning her head every now and then to see where the pesky new puppy was cavorting.

C’mon! I dare ya!

Fortunately, Emma didn’t come over and try for the treat so Day-z’s fiendish little plan failed, miserably. Eventually she took the treat outside and spent a good half an hour eating it.

The other great historical moment on this Emma Day was my inaugural use of one of my new ovens. I made my avocado crusted salmon. Given I didn’t have a hob, I had to use the microwave for the rice, peas and spinach. It will take a bit of practice but I reckon I’ll get used to it. Though, in saying that, I don’t think I’ll bother making rice in it again. The peas, though, complete with knob of butter, were very nice. And the spinach didn’t collapse as much as it normally does when I steam it.

And, for the first time in my life, I have a cooker that I don’t have to bend down to use. What a revelation! I’m seriously going to love cooking in my new kitchen.

The rest of the night was spent watching a very silly Adam Sandler movie (with a brilliant cameo performance by Al Pacino and appearance by Johnny Depp) and cuddling Emma.

Day-z discovers that Emma is a dog

Our new addition is going to fit in just fine.


No-one turned up this morning. It was all a bit quiet. I guess they were all busy somewhere else.

By lunchtime, I’d had enough with waiting for someone to come and fix the extractor fan so I rang Optiplan. Tracey the Installation Manager, told me that Lee was on another job but would be with me in about three quarters of an hour.

While this was very welcome news, I wondered why they hadn’t told me, roughly when he’d be coming. Like, the day, at least. Still, I didn’t moan too much, simply because I want it moved ASAP.

Lee turned up an hour later and we examined the instructions. To be fair to Lee, the installation instructions for the extractor fan do state that it should be 320mm above a gas hob (lower for electric). The drawing for the hob shows a normal extractor fan and states it should be 650mm above it. Lee explained that the Leaf is completely fireproof and he’d installed a few at the lower height. I told him that the plumber refuses to go by anything other than the hob requirements. Lee shrugged and got to work.

It took him about two hours but, eventually, the Leaf was raised to new heights. Apart from any safety issues, I think it looks better being higher.

And that was basically it for any work around the house. I busied myself, readying the house for Mirinda’s arrival. I was going to christen one of the cookers tonight but we both fancied fish and chips so the christening will have to wait for tomorrow.

In the afternoon, Day-z and I went down to Pets For Us and bought Emma a carry case. The thing about Pets For Us is they allow dogs in. Day-z was a bit mad for the smells and sounds. She didn’t know where to point her nose. It was all very exciting.

I also had to get a tester pot of paint for the bathroom. for reasons unknown, Homebase doesn’t allow dogs in the store. It’s not like they serve food. Very irritating, particularly for Day-z who has to sit outside tied to a plant stand.

Mirinda wasn’t too certain about coming home this weekend but I insisted. I was being a bit selfish since I hadn’t seen her for two weeks. I’d like to think she was happy she decided to.


It was all about the doors today as Mark the Carpenter finished the skirting boards upstairs and moved into the extension.

We had a flying visit from Dave the Builder who reported that his daughter was well but miserable – as you’d expect. Apparently having a cast on one arm is great for about ten minutes then you realise that you can’t go swimming for the rest of the summer.

While Mark the Carpenter slaved away downstairs, I made a start on cleaning the furniture upstairs, with an end result of being able to access the two chests of drawers. It was a pain but it had to be done. The rooms still look a bit full of junk but at least a few bits of furniture are clean and usable.

I couldn’t go too far with moving stuff because the decorators will be returning on Monday and will need to be able to get to the skirting boards in order to paint them.

And that was about it for today. At the finish, Mark had hung our new Mexican oak door on the laundry – there’s no bolt or handle yet as Dave has to buy one.

Laundry door

He’d also fixed the trim around, what used to be the dining room doorway and rehung the door. This is now, apparently, a coat cupboard, though I reckon it might work well for cleaning stuff and shoes as well.

Coat cupboard

Having access to the stuff upstairs also meant I could fish out the TV, which is now sitting at the end of the dining table. I’ve hooked up Mirinda’s laptop to it so we can at least watch Netflix on it. It’s a lot better than the highly reflective screen on my tablet.

Better viewing option

As Mark was leaving, he said he’d not be in tomorrow as he’s off to a Lotus festival at Brands Hatch. When Mirinda queried this I had to assure her he was a racing car enthusiast rather than a bit mad for horticulture. I know this because when he told me what he was doing I said “I assume you mean cars and not the flowers…” He assured me he did.

On a slightly sad note…I finished Season 4 of Game of Thrones tonight. They haven’t started making Season 5 yet. At least I’ve caught up but now I’ll have to wait a year like everyone else. Sad, sad day.

Not defying gravity

Yesterday I woke up to the news that Robin Williams had died. This morning it was Lauren Bacall. I’m thinking that waking up and listening to the radio is not the most joyful thing I could do each day.

And just as yesterday when we had numerous, wonderful radio interviews with Robin, today it was all about Ms Bacall. What an amazing woman she was. And so drily funny. A true inspiration for not taking life too seriously but living life to the full.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, work progressed throughout the day with Mark the Tiler putting down the final tiles in the extension (as Mirinda remarked “That’s one thing we can tick off as complete.”) and Mark the Carpenter trimmed and hung the final doors upstairs after attaching all but one of the kickboards. The Green Room just needs the long wall and have finished the rooms upstairs. Tomorrow should see him moving into the extension.

Mark the Tiler also finished as much of the bathroom wall as he could. The plumbers need to come in and fill a big hole in the wall where the taps are and tomorrow Mark will be starting on the floor. Because of the under floor heating, there’s a lot of testing and layering before it’s finished. At least all the hand painted tiles have been safely stuck on the walls.

Late in the day I had an email from Dave the Builder explaining why he hadn’t been around. His daughter had fallen 20 feet out of a tree. She was unconscious for a bit and suffered cuts and abrasions as well as a broken wrist (I know how that feels) but otherwise she’s fine. However, it had meant that he’d spent most of the day at the hospital and couldn’t do his rounds of jobs.

I also had an unexpected, pleasant email from Nicktor. He has a dentist’s appointment in Guildford next Tuesday and was wanting to call in for a cup of tea. That’ll be lovely. And, speaking of Cansfields, Dawn is in training for an 80 mile bike ride. Crazy woman, she is.