Thursday, 30 December 2010


We were all snuggled up in our lovely new blanket that Santa brought us for Christmas, on a warm snuggly bed at The Swan in Stoford.  All ready for a nice day spent snoozing.  So you can imagine that we were a little bit surprised when our GrandHumans started talking about the possibility of heading to Christchurch for a quick look around and perhaps a bite for lunch. Not that we had any objection to going to Christchurch.  We have heard people speak very well of it.  Though we have also heard that there have been earthquakes and ongoing earth tremors which don't sound ideal for a relaxed day's outing.  We also thought that was perhaps just a tiny bit far, given that we all had a dinner engagement in the evening.  But we're up for most things so said we'd go along for the ride.

We were a bit disconcerted to find we were going by car.  Not sure that you can actually get from Wiltshire to New Zealand by car.  And then it turned out that we weren't going to New Zealand!  (Probably just as well for we didn't have our passports with us!!!).  It seems there is another Christchurch, in Dorset, near Bournemouth.

And it's beautiful, even in the fog.  There is an amazing priory, and some beautiful old buildings.  There are many pretty bridges. There was a river, and a quayside, although we couldn't see much of the quay because of the fog. We had a lovely wander around, and met some nice French people who wanted us to take their photo - we got one of the GrandHumans to do that. She's better with the camera than we are. We went shopping and had chocolate and really enjoyed ourselves.

Then we headed off for lunch.

And were easily back in time for our dinner engagement.

But we're quite keen now on the idea of collecting the Christchurch in New Zealand as well.  Who's heading to the antipodes in the near future?
We met lots of furry friends in the pub in which we lunched.
Our Human would have love it

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Our winter holiday in Norfolk

Here is our holiday cottage

Holiday Supplies
We had a lovely winter holiday in Norfolk at the beginning of December.  We went to Hoveton near Wroxham with Frannie, The Builder and Lindsey, together with our new friend Rupert Hippo.  We had a bit of snow and a lot of sunshine and even more lots of food and wine and many fun things to do.
There were lots of excitements, like when the canopy of our boat collapsed under the weight of the snow.  Fortunately, we weren't in it at the time!

We had some nice walks in the snow, although the snow never got very deep.  It was very deep indeed when we got back to Tupton. We saw lots of birds and some beautiful country scenes. And now, refreshed and invigorated, we are getting ready for Christmas.  Here are some more of our pictures:

Shall we eat them on our holiday patio?
Maybe it would be better to eat them inside!

The view looks like a Christmas card :-)
Is this our boat?

Fortunately this was our boat

Warming jugs of hot chocolate after our snowy boat ride
Engaged in traditional winter holiday pursuits
It was quite a difficult puzzle - but we did it in the end
Off for a walk
This is where we went, looking for lunch
We've found a lunch venue :-)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Our humans are hopeless

They really are.

They're excellent at organising fun, adventurous and interesting things for us to do.  Generally things run to plan.  The occasional hiccup, yes, but mostly their organisational skills are fine.

We head off and have a super time somewhere, come home, dictate our adventures to them and ....

As amanuensises - erm, amanuenses - ummmm amanuens...  -- As scribes they are HOPELESS!!!!!

Days and days and days ago we went with the Senior Humans and with Taffa and Gaz to Matlock to look at the pretty lights.  And there were pretty lights.  Lots of them.  There were lots and lots of people milling about in the shops, particularly around the fish and chip shops and burger bars.  There were lots and lots of cars on the roads.  This meant that we got to drive nice and slowly up through town and back through town, giving us plenty of time to admire the pretty lights.

It appears that they were looking for somewhere to park the car so we could go and admire the lights more closely and, indeed, see some fireworks.  But parking spots there were none, so we admired what we could see from the road and went to Bakewell for a small spot of dinner.

It was quite a cold night, but we were well rugged up in our lovely new winter coats.

On the Sunday we accompanied the Senior Humans to the Norfolk coast for the serious and sombre task of helping to place their Uncle's ashes into the sea.  But it was also a merry day.  There were lots of cousins there.  We played with the children and snuggled the adults.  And we saw lots and lots of seals.  We dispatched the uncle with all due ceremony ...

... and then repaired to another pub for a magnificent feast :-)

And now we are preparing for a visit to Valencia.  We believe it has been quite warm in Valencia.  We are not sure that we need to take our snuggly new winter coats.  Sun hats, maybe?

You will find our photos here:

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Our human's brother came for the weekend

He did.  All the way from Melbourne.  Just for the weekend.  It was all very exciting.

So, of course, we had to have a party.  Lots of people came.  Big people and little people.  And we were there, so there were hippos.  Plus various other animal, creatures and beings.

There was lots of food.  Lots and lots of food.

There was wine and fizzy drink and fruit juice.

And the sun shone and shone and shone.

And we played Hungry Hippos.

And we chased the children (well, Sleepy and Bernard did)

And everyone talked to the chickens.

It was a lovely day.

And now the uncle has gone.  He's been to Winchester and the New Forest and London.  And then he went to Prague.  We hope he had fun - we like all those places.  And now he is heading back to Melbourne.

And we are heading into cold, wintry weather.  We are sorting out our wardrobe and getting nice new snuggly clothes.  There will be pictures shortly :-)

In the meantime we are snuggled down in the sunn =y and warm lounge room of our country estate.  But we ought to think about going back to our YOung Human's house soon.  We're supposed to be escorting her to Spain in a couple of weeks.  But her mother keeps enticing us to stay at the country estate with the blandishments of warm and comforting food.  Steamed pudding and custard, anyone?

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

More Food :-)

We've been having a merry, foodie time for the past week or two.

We've been to pubs and to restaurants.  We've had riverside picnics and delicious home cooked food.  We've had cakes and biscuits and pies.  It's all been extremely yumdelicious!  And there have been many, many cups of tea.

And then, after family feasting and celebrations, we went with our older humans down to Salisbury for the weekend.  We stayed in one of our favourite pubs, where the beds are soft and fluffy and cosy and warm, and the pillows are down-filled and floaty, and the breakfasts are hearty and toothsome.

And then we went off to visit many animal friends at the Longleat Safari Park, where you drive around and the animals gaze upon you and come to say hello.  We didn't see any hippos, but we did see some rhinos.  We are not hornist.  Rhinos definitely count as family!  We had our friend Frank Lyon with us.  He was very excited to call upon some of his lion friends.  He was quite excited by his tiger friends too.  It was a mighty day.  And the sun shone and it was lovely and warm.  And there was a lovely Sunday lunch in a country pub.

And now the weather has turned foggy and autumnal and chilly.  We are at our country home in the warm and cosy living room, snuggling up with Marlo the cat.  We were going back to our city home this weekend - but the older humans are going to another food fair on Saturday.  We have found that visits to food fairs always result in extra tasty treats for us!

But cups of tea and lovely sleeps for us before then.

Oh - our photos are here

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Bath time

It's bath day.  Lots of bubbles in nice hot water
Bernard!!!  Don't forget the towels
Washing my face.  Mustn't forget behind my ears
Time to get out
Enjoying the steam room after our bath


We've been to York.  Our humans decided that they were going to explore the food festival markets to see what delicious things they could forage.  We decided to go too. You need a hippo's guiding hand when making food choices!

Beautiful York

We had a lovely time.  There were lots and lots and LOTS of delicious food things to sniff and gaze at and admire.  It was all very delicious.  We had a lovely time sampling.  And all the humans bought lots of food to take back to our houses.

While we were in York, we dropped into the Christmas Angel shop and had a quick word with St Nicholas.  We need to make sure he gets our Christmas wishes in nice and early.  Our needs and wants are modest, but we do feel that, being such a busy man, St Nicholas needs to be alerted in good time

Then, having had a very busy day, we had a lovely sleep in the car on the way home.

And now it's Sunday, and we hear tell of ambitious Sunday lunch plans.  Must Stay Awake!!
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...
Whispering secret wishes to St Nicholas

Roasting potatoes for Sunday lunch.  Such pretty colours

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Stretch.  Yawn.  Snurfffff.  Sleepy?  What time is it?

Wrffffff?  Erm.  I'm not sure, Bernard.  Hand on.  I'll find out ...

Um - it seems to be about half past September

Half past SEPTEMBER?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  Get up!  Hurry!  We seem to have slept in.  We've missed one birthday party, several Sunday lunches and a bundle of cake.  Much as I love my warm, snuggly bed - I love FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD just as much

I certainly think we should get up, Bernard.  I can hear the humans talking about going to a food market in York.  Food.  York. YUM!!

Hang on people.  Wait for us.  We're coming too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Monday, 9 August 2010


A year ago this weekend we were the ring bearers at Frannie and The Builder's wedding celebration.  It was, of course, a very great responsibility looking after the rings.  We were a bit scared we might lose them.  Fortunately, The Builder's granddaughter Rebecca was there to help and the rings made their appearance at the ceremony at the right time and in the right place :-)

We were very surprised when we realised that this weekend had been the one year anniversary.  That year surely went very fast.  Mind you - we've done lots of exciting things. so it was bound to go quite quickly.

Frannie and The Builder decided to celebrate with lots of foodie fun.  Fair enough.  The wedding weekend last year was marked by a very great deal of foodie fun!

So there was a pub for lunch on the anniversary itself, followed by a delicious "Sunday" meal in the evening.  Vegetables and potatoes from the garden and allotment. They had roast meat from the local farm. And there was, of course, an ample supply of nice wine.

On Sunday itself we all trundled down to Cambridge to take Taffa, Gareth and Auntie Joan out for a celebratory Sunday lunch on a Sunday in The Green Man in Trumpingdon.

Then we brought Taffa back with us ready to start her new job back in Sheffield bright and early on Monday morning.  Much too early if you ask us.  We all had to leave at HALF PAST SIX IN THE MORNING to get her there for her 07:00 start.  Much, much too early for sleep-a-beds like us!  We have now gone back to our cosy bed at Freyja's house to recover.

We will miss our holiday base in Cambridge very much.  But it will be good to have Taffa, Gaz and Frank Lyon closer at hand. Their new house isn't all that far from Freyja's house and is a delightful bus ride away from Frannie and The Builder's place

So, gentle readers.  Raise your glasses to Frannie and The Builder, who have marked a year of wedded bliss.  And to Taffa who has successfully started her new job.  And to our human, Freyja who, on Sunday, roller skated 26.6 miles at the Goodwood Park circuit with the Sheffield Steel Roller Derby girls to raise a whole lot of money for the Sheffield Children's hospital

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

We've been to Scotland for the weekend

... And to Durham and to Berwick and to Bamburgh

And along the way:

* We had wine

In the Fox and Pheasant, Durham for lunch

In the Goblin Ha', Gifford for dinner

   and there was food

Cheesy garlic bread.  Nom!

Hooooooooge big chips

And a home grown Sunday dinner

* We caught up with family

Cousin Ruth

And Cousin Jo

   and made new friends

Not-quite Cousin Richard sharing his champagne

Our new horsey friend

* We found a hill fort

It was just there, alongside the road heading towards Dunbar

* There were bridges

The old road bridge, Berwick upon Tweed

The railway viaduct, Berwick

   and castles

Bamburgh Castle
Taking pot shots at the Farne Islands :-)

   and mementi mori

Scottish graveyards are remarkably morbid!

* And there was a beautiful wedding:

Cousin James and his beautiful bride, Kimberley
This is our kind of Rolls - it was dispensing ice cream and chocolate!
Nom!  Cake

Congratulations to James and Kimberley

It was a fabulous time.

We're a bit tired now, though.  We might have to have a good long nap before we do anything else.  But first - a cup of tea and a biscuit perhaps

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

We've met Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall!!!

We have, we have.  Look:

He gave us some of his cider and everything.

It was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo exciting!!!

It all came about because Frannie, our human's mother, likes food very nearly as much as we do so she took out membership on the River Cottage website so she could improve and develop her growing, making and cooking skills - we assume to indulge us.  One of the advantages of this membership is that you get invited to things at the River Cottage headquarters on the Dorset/Devon border.

Alas - we don't live anywhere near Dorset.  Or Devon.

But when Frannie got an invitation to the members' summer party she declared that we would all go.  And so we did.  We made a whole weekend of it.

A food weekend.

We had dinner on Friday night in a 16th century pub

The Bottle Inn

There was lots of delicious food and wine. And some very nice people in the pub.  It was a lovely evening.

But we were tired, for we had travelled a long way to get here.  And there was an exciting day in prospect on Saturday.  So we went back to our B&B out in the Devon countryside and had a nice early night with lots and lots of sleeping.

There were deer in the fields.  And rabbits.

Saturday saw us out exploring in Devon.  We had lunch here:

The Thatched Tavern

And then it was time for the main excitement.  Dinner at Park Farm, near Lyme Regis.  The River Cottage HQ!!

It was lovely.  We went down onto the farm in a trailer, pulled by a tractor.

And there were lots of gardens and terraces and a beautiful farmhouse.

Dinner was in a marquee decorated with butterflies.

We met those very nice people from the pub again.  Spookily - they were sat right next to us at dinner.  In pre-assigned seats. We think they might be some new friends.  The food gods must surely want us to get to know each other?

And the delightful Hugh FW was - well, just delightful.

(But trust Sleepy to get the cider!!!!)

And the foodie things didn't stop there.  Because on Sunday we went to Lyme Regis for Sunday lunch in a pub with the Lovely Farishta.

And then we came home.  For a nice long doze in Frannie's spare armchair.  It was a wonderful and very exciting weekend.  But all that food and delightfulness (and EXERCISE) has left us extremely tired

The photos are all here .  There are LOTS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 23 May 2010


So the train was definitely our style – hours and hours of delicious first class.  We shared a little cabin room with a lovely retired Australian couple.  They were visiting their daughter and also rail passing around Europe.  I was very jealous.

The trains were absolutely amazing – living in the UK where you never know if a train will be on time or what platform it will stop at – to getting on a train to find a little leaflet that explained to the minute when it would stop, how many minutes it would be there and what other trains you could get from there and at what time and at what platform was amazing!

We did have a little difficulty with the train tickets.  The tickets had been bought on credit card, which had since expired.  The German ticket company said you definitely needed the card with the ticket, but the card had been destroyed and the new card had a different number.  The humans had tried to update it online but to no avail and no one in customer services had been able to help except to say “Hopefully the ticket man will accept your new card as proof, or you may have to pay full fare”.  Well… there were a few tense moments, let me tell you, when the ticket inspector looked at the ticket and the card and then went outside for a few moments. *sharp intake of breath* luckily, however, he handed the tickets (and the card) back and let us on our way.

Then we arrived in Amsterdam – hurrah!  We have been quite a few times with the human and the human’s mother, but always enjoy it – there are so many things to see and do and it really is a lovely place just to wander around.  And that is mostly what we did.

We found our hostel – which was in the middle of the red light district! Of course, in my old business hippo days, there were rumours of clients being entertained by similar places elsewhere, but I… obviously… know nothing about that.  The hostel was basic but nice – the rooms were all “themed” and painted by artists.  Ours mostly seemed like a cell!  There was a bar downstairs that also did food, an area to sit outside, drink tea and use the wifi and apparently a club underneath but we never ventured down that far.

We arrived quite late but had a gooooood long wander around and had dinner in a lovely Japanese place.  The human spoke very basic Dutch to the restaurant owner who promptly apologised and exchanged the English menu for the Dutch one!  The human sheepishly asked for the English one back.

On the second day, the weather was absolutely beautiful, so we ventured out for breakfast, to somewhere we had had recommended for profitjes, but unfortunately they didn’t sell them.  Then we wandered down and looked at lots of markets and then spent the afternoon in the Vondelpark.  It was lovely and sunny… we did give the human a stern talking to when she got sunburnt.

The third day arrived quickly and we tried the free breakfast the hostel provided.  It was rather plain, unexciting but free.  We then checked out and moved to our second hostel, the Passenger Avanti – a boat! A BOAT!  

Our room was a teeeeny tiny cabin, but there was a big kitchen, dining and lounge area at the top of the boat and there was a beautiful outdoor area for sitting and rocking on.  The human was excited by the large quantity of DVDs to watch (and by the dog that was occasionally around).

We then had lunch in a vegetarian café – the food was very hearty and very delicious.  Quite expensive though.

The humans visited the Amsterdam Dungeon, which was ridiculously expensive and delivered in about a third English and two thirds Dutch – but they didn’t explain what was said in either language, so those that weren’t fluent in both seemed a bit confused!  Now, you might think “Duh, of course it wasn’t just in English!” but the people stood outside enticing you in, definitely implied it was!  Stick to the York Dungeon, I suggest – much cheaper!

The human had been wanting to go skating in the Vondelpark but unfortunately ran out of time – next time, eh?

After a bit more wandering and looking around, we returned to the boat and made a delicious dinner and ate it on deck.

Then Sleepy and I retired to bed, whilst the humans went to the cinema.  They saw The Ghost (or The Ghost Writer).  The human said there were two French people next to her who blatantly didn’t understand much English or Dutch, but one did find the use of a particular swear word quite funny, especially when he had to translate it for his girlfriend.  Eventually he said that he thought Price of Persia was more his type of film and then they both left.

There wasn’t much time on our final day.  The Canadian woman running the boat suggested visiting the library.  So off we went.  And what can I say, but it was absolutely the library of the future.  It was white and airy and windowy and lovely.  There were computers everywhere that you could just jump on to – no logging on or timing or anything, there were cafes and all the newspapers you could wish for and a piano.  A piano! In a library!  The piano did have a sign saying “Advance Players Only.  Please play for no longer that 30 minutes at a time” but that seemed to be the only rules.  The human is not an advanced player, but fortunately the other human with us was.  He realised this was probably his biggest ever audience, since the whole library could hear you! It was lovely being sat right at the top, checking our emails, hearing beautiful piano music being played.

Now, again, we are waiting for the train.  Not first class, but, y’know, a hippo can’t have everything.