Puppies, toddlers and knot gardens

This is a funny time to have a week away from home.  The garden is overflowing with things to do and having done a lot of freelance work in March I have been snatching time in the garden in April.  But sometimes other parts of my life call.

Younger daughter has got herself a puppy, a golden labrador straight out of the Andrex ad.  She is a thorough, forward planning, think things through kind of girl and had been planning and sorting out for this puppy for months.  In fact I suspect she has been wanting this puppy for most of her life and having a dog was part of her reason for making the big move from London to living in the country.  She took three weeks off work and I had arranged to come down for the first week she went back to be part of the transitional puppy care arrangements.
The sign is a warning for children about llamas.  Possibly the puppy should have a sign on her too as she is still at the puppy bitey and nipping stage.  M has read all the stuff about teaching bite inhibition, and lots else besides, and is doing fantastically well at teaching her that, along with sitting and waiting for her food and coming when she is called.  This is not to say that the days are not spent removing her from all sorts of great chewing opportunities and teaching her what is ok to play with - squeaky duck - and what is not - my laptop bag and my shoes, my everything really.

She is so utterly beautiful that she is pounced on by dog lovers wherever we go.  Having just removed her from the catflap,stopped her taking a book off the table and prevented her from chewing the hem of my jeans, I feel this blog should accompany the impossibly cute pictures with a big warning about the time and responsibility which attaches to having a puppy.  It's not all big eyes and cute tail waving!  I think even M who was as well prepared as you can imagine being, has found it harder than she expected although I am sure she wouldn't have it undone.

If you can't have your adult children living near you, one of the sad results of changing lives and changing work patterns over the last sixty years or so, then it is quite a good thing if they have the courtesy and organisational skills to live near each other so that you can visit more than one at a time!  Older and younger daughters live about half an hour's easy drive from each other and see each other quite frequently.  So I have managed to fit in visits to my older daughter and her family and some precious time with her toddler, who is also at the impossibly cute stage, all big blue eyes and curly fair hair and with a great tendency to find life hilarious.

He has learnt to climb the stairs and was keen to wave to me at every step to make sure I was paying attention.  He has a real liking for bubbles.

And sometimes even catches them.  He is a total delight although I have rather got out of the habit of looking after small children.  When did I ever read a thing when mine were small?  In fact, looking back, I think I just didn't.  That time was probably to blame for my continuing magazine habit, bite sized pieces to be fitted in when children slept or became temporarily transfixed.

And in some of the downtime where I was supposed to be leaving the puppy to get used to being by itself, I went to Waterperry and coveted this fabulous knot garden.

Quite funny really with puppies, toddlers and even gardens.  Everything worthwhile is a commitment.  Everything wonderful comes wrapped up in its own necessity for hard work, at least some of the time.  I think I may be on the point of coming up with a philosophy, if only I could spare the time to think about it.


  1. That Lab' pup is the spitting image of ours! Our Monty is now 4 months old, and wonderful.

  2. When you wrote about the children being temporarily transfixed I had this image of an irate parent simply picking up the toddler and putting him or her on a hook. Not a nasty pointy hook but maybe a coat hook, as they did in silent movies. That is something I feel like doing with Theo quite often, just to get him out of harms way while I clear up another mess he's made. The dog (no name or did I miss it?) looks adorable. Our beautiful yellow lab, Tiger, was like that once circa 1976. How time flies. Come to think of it our children looked like your grandchildren then too.

  3. Gorgeous looking puppy, but I am very glad not to be responsible for him or his training! We dog-sat for a lovely dog for a fortnight a few years ago, and I loved it,but a fortnight was enough! I think you are right, everything worthwhile is indeed a commitment, often more than you realise at the time. That knot garden, for instance, looks lovely but I fear I would never look after it properly, I need a floppier, more informal look more forgiving of the times work and health conspire to keep me away from the tidying and primping in the garden. Sounds as if you had a lovely time away with family - hope you are now getting a little time to enjoy your garden.

  4. My favourite type of blog - puppies and toddlers especially. They are both gorgeous!

  5. I'm rather fond of labradors and bubbles. Our family are clearly at the lower end of bad manners because we are inconveniently dispersed. My eyes popped out of my head when I saw the knot garden photo. I suppose I'd rather have a labrador or a relation than a plant . . . but I wish I could have made a garden like that too.


  6. Don't know which to coo over first.

    Feel I could probably cope best with a knot garden on a day to day basis.

  7. I am with Felicity here - puppies and being a grandma are things I hope are some way off for me, although Robyn threatens me with a Dalmation called 'Wendy' every time she sees on, so I expect at some point, I will be puppy sitting too! The Puppy is very cute, and your Grandson is adorable, just hoping to have some dependence free time!

    Interesting use of colour in the knot garden, not seen berberis used like that before, I wonder how often they clip it, and do they stop it flowering? (cant abide the yellowy flowers on the red berberis).

    Waterperry is probably doeable for me, so I will have to have an adventure over the summer.

  8. Very cute infants, both. Will I be thought unnatural if I say that I prefer puppies? Just as well as I don't think I'm likely to have grandchildren, neither son is disposed to relationships, let alone children. A while ago I said something to OH about having had our last puppy and he said "Oh, have we?". I suggested that all that going out at night and waiting hours for a puppy to remember about peeing was going to be *entirely* his responsibility if we ever have another.

  9. What a lovely week away! Beautiful blonde tots, daughters, gardens.... so nice.

  10. That young puppy is adorable; though, as you say, a huge amount of work and responsibility. I would love a dog, but my work life would be totally unfair on one.

  11. What a beautiful boy!
    I'm spending the week in the east with my wee grandsons, so am right in the swing of looking after a 2 year old and a three year old and loving it!
    Last fall my husband trimmed every one of our box plants and turned the trimmings into to starts. He also turned the earth in a sunny patch and heaved a large pillar-like stone to the centre of what will be the start of a knot garden. All the little box starts need to be planted in the ground when I get home.

  12. Beautiful grandson, cute puppy and a fabulous garden.
    Sounds like a great trip.
    Those jobs at home will wait.
    Have a great weekend.

  13. Always love reading your blog and reading about your garden - here in the American Southwest, everything has to be very tough and prickly just to survive, so tender herbaceous things are a rarity and a true joy, even long distance...also loved your puppy photos and fair warning about their deceptive sweetness... we are moving soon to Seoul, S. Korea, and are having to leave our beloved Shiner behind. I wrote at length about his very demanding puppyhood in my blog as part of our farewell(http://asiavufullcircle.blogspot.com/2011/04/moving-chronicles-goodbye-yellow-dog.html). He is our 3rd Labrador, so you'd have thought we'd know what we were getting ourselves into by now...

  14. You sound to me to have had a joyous few days. I remember when my Tess was a pup and she chewed everything - including one pair of my shoes.

    I live within a mile of my son and I do appreciate the face. Alas the grandchildren are grown up and away from home - all branching out on their own. Love the bubble photo.

  15. Lovely. You've clearly been having a happy time!

  16. There's no better place to philosophise than in a garden. What a fabulous knot garden tat was.

  17. Your header photo is lovely, Elizabeth - green and full of promise.

    Just this afternoon I was thinking about the puppy/child similarities, going to the window for the umpteenth time to check on the 18-month-old Malamute that my son felt was a necessary addition to his life. Sigh. One should have children first, in order to be prepared for dogs, or maybe it's the other way around.

    Both of your grand-loves are quite adorable. Lucky you to have the chance to visit both!
    The knot garden is fascinating - I have never seen such a thing. Beautiful.

  18. I would love a dog and I know the boys would too but I just cant bring myself to get one when I will have to leave it at home while we are at work. I suppose I could ask M&D to have it during the day but I never got my last dog back from them when they had it for a couple of weeks when I was pregnant with my 2nd!!!

  19. I think you're in to something there...

    and a change is as good as a rest - so they say ;-)


  20. "Everything worthwhile is a commitment. Everything wonderful comes wrapped up in its own necessity for hard work, at least some of the time."

    Yep, I definitely think you're onto something! That is so true. Yet I never noticed it before, so thank you for pointing it out. I'm going to remember that the next time my wee lad's driving me mad! Or I traipse out to the compost bin in the rain with the kitchen scraps rather than just chucking them in the rubbish.

  21. Now I have to dig my entire garden up and start over.

  22. I have heard the adage: Anything worth having is worth working for.

  23. Your philosophy, or the kernal of it is ringing bells with me. More please, it sounds interesting and wise!


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