Friday, 24 August 2018

Barney the Cockapoo Super Model

Obviously every dog owner thinks their dog is the best looking hound that has ever existed, but I really do think my cockapoo Barney is a super cute canine.

He was invited by a photographer I know to take part in a shoot she was doing for PitPat, the dog activity monitor and I also applied for him to do some modelling for Berkeley Cole, who make luxury dog beds. I was so proud of how he did in both shoots, luckily he's spent plenty of time at dog school so I can generally get him to behave and do what he needs to do so that the photographer can get the best out of him. He's got excellent recall, and does a reliable sit and lie down, accompanied with a good stay. He's got a good nature too, so he's happy to be around other people and dogs (apologies to the photographer whose bald head he licked when he lay on the floor to get the perfect shot, he only wanted to say hello!)

I thought I'd nip to the PitPat and Berkeley Cole websites today, and I'm delighted to have found Barney's face on both websites, as I thought his photos would only be used on social media. Here he is on the two home pages:

As well as these websites, he's also had his image used on multiple occasions on social media, here are a few examples:

I'm hoping to find more opportunities for Barney to do modelling in the future, but in the meantime you can keep up with what he's up to on his Instagram page (@acockapoocalledbarney) or mine (@rachel_2407).

Alternatively, if you're ever looking for a compliant and cute cockapoo model, drop me a message.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Orkney travel blog - March 2018

I helped set up our office in Orkney a couple of years ago and have been looking for an excuse to visit ever since. I finally found a free few days in March, but work has been so busy since that I've not had a chance to share how much I enjoyed my time there until now.
The journey there was easier than I expected, we flew out of Heathrow to Aberdeen with BA, and then flew from Aberdeen to Kirkwall with Loganair. As the two airlines are partnered our luggage went straight through. We flew out of Heathrow at 3.50pm and landed in Kirkwall, 700 miles away at 7.25pm. The flight into Kirkwall was the noisiest plane I've ever been on though, we were in the back seat and the engines were incredibly loud. We also had an exciting landing, landing first on one wheel and then the other before zigzagging and straightening up. The pilots fly when even the ferries won't venture out, so they're used to bad weather. By the time we landed the rain was horizontal, the wind gale force and we could hardly see through the rain to find our hire car. Nothing like a warm welcome!!

The next morning we got up and the storm had passed so we headed out to the Italian Chapel, a Catholic chapel built by World War II prisoners of war in two Nissen huts. The workmanship is stunning given the restrictions they'd have been working under.

Afterwards we drove over to Maeshowe, a 5,000 year old burial chamber, made all the more unique by the graffiti left by Viking who broke in 4,000 years later. I wasn't really looking forward to it, but it was very interesting and possibly one of the highlights of the trip due to the tour guide who really brought it alive. We finished the day with a stroll around Stromness.
The next day we took a trip into our office to catch up with the team and have a guided tour of the building. They've got a great space and its super eco-friendly, powered by the enormous wind turbine next to the building. 

Afterwards we headed into the centre of Kirkwall to have a look around the cathedral.
One of my colleagues had booked us tours at a couple of distilleries whilst we were in the office so we headed out there afterwards. We started at Scapa, we were a little early so took a trip down to the beach to see it from below. I'm no fan of whisky, but the tour was interesting.
Our next stop was Highland Park, one of my husband's favourite whiskies, and luckily the tour was very different. Definitely my favourite of the two.
The weather was pretty appalling the next day, so we wrapped up in waterproofs and headed out for our final day of sightseeing. The Standing Stones of Stenness was a must see, but a brief see as the sleet was coming in sideways by the time we got there!
We headed to Skara Brae afterwards, a prehistoric settlement. The weather was still absolutely appalling which meant we had a private tour, including behind the scenes access, so the weather was completely forgiven. Again, it was a site which I wasn't that interested in beforehand, but the tour guide brought it to life. 
By the time we'd driven away from Skara Brae, the weather had finally started to improve, just in time for our final stop, at the Ring of Brodgar. It was the most stunning set of standing stones I've seen and almost made the trip worth it just for them.
The next day we got up to head home after a wonderful, whistle-stop trip. I loved Orkney, there is history everywhere, the place has a relaxed feel to it, and the people are friendly. I'm looking forward to returning, but perhaps in the Autumn next time.

Our flight home took just over three hours. You are always offered a Tunnock's caramel on the Loganair flight, but as it was Easter weekend we also had a tiny Lindt bunny. That alone will mean I'll always fly Loganair, despite the engine noise!

Friday, 23 March 2018

A (dog) walk in the park - Savernake Forest

Savernake Forest, just south of Marlborough, covers approximately 2750 acres, most of which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Its history goes back over a thousand years and as a result it has a collection of notable trees. Its tranquillity and unspoiled nature are its main draw and as a result there are few facilities, other than a parking area and a few picnic tables.

We visited to do a geocaching circuit and, as a result, used that as a route. We had Barney with us and he had a great time exploring off lead. As it's such a large area we encountered relatively few other people. 

Although we went primarily to do geocaching we had a great walk and will definitely be back with Barney in the future to explore it further.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

A (dog) walk on the beach - Sand Bay

Barney loved the beach when we were on holiday in Dorset so I'd been keen to take him back for some time. Unfortunately living in Wiltshire, any beach is a good car journey away. I'd done some research and found a few about an hour away, but one that kept coming up was Sand Bay.

Sand Bay is a long, wide, flat strip of sand and shingle, a couple of miles north of Weston-Super-Mare. Dogs are permitted all year around so it's a perfect spot for a dog walk. The only down-side is the mud flats which you need to be aware of, but they're clearly signposted. 

Facilities are few and far between, but there are car parks and a tea room. If you want more choice, Weston isn't far away. Part of the appeal is that it isn't as touristy as its close neighbour, so the lack of facilities is a compromise worth making.

Barney had a great time, there were plenty of other dogs for him to meet and he got to run, and run, and run. There was one incident where he stole another dog's tennis ball but then karma kicked in and he had his stolen in return. He's not a fan of the sea, so we went when the tide was out to give him the largest expanse to explore. 

We had such a great time there, we'll definitely be back.