This is how it is now

Hello! Did you have a great weekend? How nice was it to have the Bank Holiday!

I was super thankful for the extra day of rest having worked 12 long days, of course being a reporter at the moment means busy days around the country.

We’re now onto the fifth week of having Henry, our labradoodle puppy, and I finally have this sense of ‘this is how it is now’.

It may sound crazy but James and I felt a sense of sadness at losing our old routines and freedoms after getting Henry, it has been quite a big adjustment.

Now he’s older and we’re more experienced, we’re feeling so much happier and settled. I think sleeping through the night has a lot to do with it too!

Anyway, here’s a snapshot into what we got up to this Bank Holiday weekend – you’ll notice how much a certain someone features in our days now.

Saturday

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Henry does this every morning. We don’t let him on the bed but he always seems to want cuddles when he wakes up, so squishes himself against the mattress.

We went for quite a big walk in the morning to Clifton, where we used to drive Henry for his little walks in the first few weeks.

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He visited the beautiful graveyard and met a few old friends, it was sweet to see how much they recognised each other.

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Breakfast was a fabulous mix of banana pancakes, local bacon and berries. It was then time for chores before James and I did some food shopping.

In the afternoon, we picked up Rufus in the car and took both dogs to Ashton Court for an explore.

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Henry really learns from Rufus, he’s so far developed a love of muddy water and stick chewing.

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And Rufus is so tolerant with Henry! We’re just so happy we met Rufus, without him I don’t think we’d have Henry or nearly as much joy in our lives.

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How could you not smile with those two in the back?! They grumble together like two old women when I wait at a red light or drive round a tight corner. So funny!

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Dinner was a fishy mix of mackerel, cod, mashed sweet potato and steamed cavolo nero, asparagus and purple broccoli.

Sunday

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Henry took advantage of our attempt at a lie in and spent the time destroying his cardboard tube.

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The worst part is that we can’t hoover up the cardboard pieces so each one has to be picked up by hand. But he is so happy doing it, I can’t bring myself to take it away.

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Oh the weather was dreadful on Sunday in Bristol! We walked Henry and picked up some bananas and papers, we were all soaked through.

After breakfast, I left the boys to it and headed to Gloucester where my colleague and his wife were (very bravely) having a housewarming BBQ.

I picked them up a few goodies from Gloucester Services, still love that place!

In the evening, we took Henry to Leigh Woods for his evening trundle and checked out Luke Jerram’s new installation, Withdrawn.

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I’d popped into Wholefoods and M&S in Cheltenham post BBQ so we had lots of goodies awaiting us in the fridge, including this lovely pork.

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We have a grilling obsession at the moment, if you can’t tell haha!

Monday

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Another morning, another attempt to make mischief by Henry! He couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t want this lovely plantpot, full of soil, in the house.

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We’d bathed Henry on Sunday night and it was amazing to see how white he was in the early morning sunshine.

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Breakfast was more pancakes, along with the delicious berries I picked up on offer at Wholefoods. We then headed down to Gloucestershire to meet my family.

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Henry met my family horse, Bob! And I had kisses with Bob without any antihistamines, which gives me huge hope for my goal.

Mum put on a great spread for lunch and Henry quickly made friends with my aunt and uncle before we headed out for a walk in the woods.

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The bluebells were stunning, they really did carpet the woods.

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Dinner was quick and easy after the drive home, I left it simmering while we finished up the last of the chores.

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So there you have it: good company, good food and good times. Now if we could just add good sleep in (Henry wakes up between 5 and 6 each morning) I’d be ecstatic!

* Do you use a grill? We’re really obsessed with our new George Foreman at the moment.

* What did you get up to over the weekend?

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Eating mindfully: Getting those fruits and veggies in!

Hello there, how is it going? Hope you’re having a fabulous week so far.

Life has been pretty crazy around here recently. Not only do we have a puppy to contend with, my colleague is off for three months following shoulder surgery.

That leaves all the political fun to me, as well as any Royal Baby news. I’m definitely feeling ready for it having worked a particularly busy weekend…

Eating well is something that is non-negotiable now Henry is in my life – especially avoiding wheat, dairy and gluten – as I can’t afford a flare up with pup and work.

I’ll save you a billion picture of the puppy today because I want to talk about how I’m cramming in those fruits and vegetables despite a hectic work and life schedule.

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Even Henry knows the importance of getting those greens in ;)

I was asked to write about mindful eating and how I eat enough of the good stuff by Legal and General to mark the release of their life insurance calculator.

My general rule is to include a fruit or vegetable at every meal, which is definitely challenging when I’m busy running around after the puppy/news.

This is pretty much how I make it work though:

Breakfast

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If I have time, banana pancakes are a must! I can cram in a banana (in the pancake mix) and berries – that’s two portions towards my five-a-day in one delicious sitting.

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Usually, I’ll grab a couple of Nakd bars. I know it’s a lot of sugar for breakfast etc but they’re my tried and tested favourite – and a portion of fruit every bar!

Lunch

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I am in love with salads at lunchtime, the more greenery the better! I love bulking them up with olives, artichoke, green beans and asparagus – the more the merrier.

Soup is also a fabulous option, I love having it when I’m on the road as there’s different choices in the different locations I’m in. I usually add a salad in too!

Snacks

Of course, my favourite snack is apples and almond butter, another portion of fruit paired with some delicious healthy fats.

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I also love having a pot of Coyo coconut yoghurt, if you buy their fruity versions they do contain actual fruit.

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Then there are the treats I go for to keep me sane! I am totally addicted to Raw Choc Pies at the moment, especially their fruity versions.

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The raspberry and black pepper is my favourite flavour so far, I can’t get enough!

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Of course Rawr chocolate isn’t packed with fruit or veggies but it is totally scrumptious and keeps me away from the dairy chocolate I’m allergic to.

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One of my favourite pre-dinner snacks is a handful of fresh radish! The bitter crunch is so good, especially with some avocado.

Dinner

Every dinner we eat is based around either salad or vegetables, it’s just the way we roll and makes it so much easier to eat well.

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We do need to stop eating quite so many sweet potato fries but they are so convenient and tasty!

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I’m also a fan of using veggies instead of meat as the main, this one had a roasted red onion instead of our usual protein.

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Vegetable packed soups are yummy and really easy to cram veggies into. This one was cod, onions, courgette, bone broth, parsley, garlic and lots of chilli.

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I did a lovely veggie and chicken sauté the other night, the sweet potato chips were a bit of an odd addition but the whole dish was quick and easy.

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Of course, using veggies in place of noodles is a brilliant way of topping up your five-a-day.

This free range pork bolognese featured tomatoes, peppers, courgette, onions and courgetti!

 * Favourite fruit and vegetable? 

* Are you mindful about getting fruits and veggies in or has it become a habit?

I remember when I used to count them each day to make sure I was hitting five, it’s a good exercise if you’re struggling to get them in! Especially if you use stickers ;)

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Back to the miles with heaps of smiles

The weekend zipped by so quickly, I couldn’t believe it when my alarm went off this morning (signally a three hour drive.. sigh).

It was the first day in more than two weeks – we celebrated two weeks on Friday – that I hadn’t got up and taken Henry for a walk and the difference was huge.

I think sunshine and regular walks, especially meeting people and being sociable outside my friendship circle twice a day, is a huge jigsaw piece in my health that had been missing.

My antihistamine routine has been pretty intense but I’ve been toning it down gradually and have now gone pill-free for the past two nights, huge for me with a dog here!

Here what the weekend looked like:

Saturday

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It was the most beautiful sunny morning so we took Henry for a pre-breakfast walk, which he loved – especially as he made lots of friends in the park.

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We picked up breakfast bits on our way home and were chuffed to stumble upon the farmers market – Cornish cod and local free range bacon, yes please!

After breakfast, we cleaned and chored before heading to Ikea for some lightbulbs, then Pets At Home for a new lead and collar for Henry as he’s growing too fast.

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Of course we couldn’t resist picking up some new toys for him, our neighbours love that squeaky ball late at night ;)

After lunch and a food shop, we laced up our trainers and headed out for our first run since the move (so three weeks).

We were lucky to have the lovely Laureen for company, it was so good to have a mini Hill Killer Girls reunion!

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Running felt AWESOME. Both James and I have felt a little angry (!) recently and, although we’re walking our socks off each day, running was the key to quelling that.

Henry needed a walk when we returned home so we drove him to Clifton Observatory and played with him for an hour.

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You can just about spot his new ‘adult’ collar in the pic above.

Dinner was a success and I totally forgot to photograph it, bad blogger! I did the Cornish cod in a broth with mange tout, onions, garlic, courgette and sweet potato fries.

Sunday

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We walked Henry before breakfast then James went to pick up breakfast bits and papers from the shop. Henry sat like this on me and looked out for him, he’s one devoted pup!

There were lots of chores to do in the late morning/early afternoon (my life is seriously cleaning, washing, walking, eating and repeating at the moment).

James and I managed to go for a little walk just the two of us, something we’re finding really important for our sanity!

Then it was time for an exciting moment: Henry’s first visit to Ashton Court, with BFF Rufus to show him around.

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Rufus sprinted straight towards the sheep dip and Henry followed suit before diving into the water after him!

The poor puppy was so shocked at what had happened, we all couldn’t stop crying with laughter as he skipped in a mixture of fear and excitement.

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We couldn’t get over how funny he looked all wet, he looked so skinny and like a little lamb. The sun and wind quickly revived his curls though.

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He scampered round the park with Rufus and tired himself out, so much so that I carried him into the car – he was sound asleep on my shoulder.

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My pre-dinner appetiser of smoked salmon vanished before I could snap a picture but I managed to take one of my latest obsession: radish.

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Yes I ate the entire handful. In about three seconds. They are too good!

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Dinner was a plant-powered plate of goodness! We’ve been going ‘meatless’ for the odd meal in the week, we definitely save money and feel good getting so many veggies in.

* Have you recently found a ‘missing piece’ in your health jigsaw?

* Do you enjoy swimming?

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BFFs, family and the first BBQ

Happy Monday, hope this week is a brilliant one for you!

Things are quiet here because a certain someone was up from 3.45am, when he asked to go out to toilet (no, I’m not talking about James!!!).

Our garden is unlit and – although we’ve installed solar lights – the steps are still really dark and difficult.

James was following Henry into the garden when he slipped up the steps, leaving nasty bruising on a very sore foot :(

I think Henry was upset by James being hurt and stayed up until 7am, when he assumed this position:

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And hasn’t moved since. Hopefully he’ll wake up in time for his puppy class this evening!

I’m not surprised he’s tired because we’d already had a packed weekend:

Friday

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I switched on my computer and reconnected with the digital world, which felt good. There were lots of things to catch up on!

After a quick coffee and snack, I popped on Henry’s travel harness and drove to pick up James so we could take Henry for a check up at the vet.

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He did brilliantly and the vet was pleased! I managed to coax him onto the scales, he’s 10.6kg so no wonder it’s getting harder to lift him.

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After the vet Henry and I chilled in the car for a while, he’s still frightened of travelling so we’re getting him used to it (the front seat is his favourite).

The rest of the afternoon was spent with chores before we headed off for an exciting doggy date.

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We met Rufus and his owners for a walk then headed to a pub for a drink. Henry absolutely loves Rufus and couldn’t get enough of him.

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Rufus was very well behaved because he likes Henry’s sausage treats!

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Dinner was quick and easy, sweet potato fries, salad and avocado in front of Back in Time for Dinner (love this show!)

Saturday

We popped to the shop for pancakes and papers (the essentials for a good weekend!) and I was amazed to spot these Nakd Christmas Pud bars.

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They’re not my favourite (Cocoa Mint has my heart) but I stocked up for the experience of eating a Christmas Pud in blazing sunshine!

After pancakes, I cleaned the flat and my Dad arrived to install fences in our garden.

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We have quite a drop from the grass to the concrete and Henry likes to madly roll around – there have been many heart-stopping moments already so having fences is such a relief!

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 James’s sister, Mum and two nieces came round for a pub lunch, we headed to the White Lion for a scenic view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

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Henry was fantastic with both girls and ended up snoozing the whole way through lunch in a sunny spot.

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After lunch, we said goodbye to James’s family and headed to the shops, leaving a tired man sleeping in his crate for a few hours.

The evening was spent relaxing, James’s Mum gave me a copy of The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook for my birthday and I was excited to dig in.

Sunday

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Oh what a beautiful morning! We headed up to the Downs for Henry’s first trip there, it was a huge success.

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We were hungry after the walk and pancakes couldn’t come fast enough!

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The bacon I picked up from Sheepdrove Organic Farm, it really is delicious. Breakfast over, we piled in the car to drive to the Cotswolds to visit my Mum for a BBQ.

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We stopped off at Gloucester Services to walk Henry and it was soooo windy. It was super windy in the Cotswolds too but our BBQ kept going luckily!

The journey back was an easy one and we all fell into bed super tired (of course you know how our sleeping went already!!).

* What do you think is an essential for a good weekend?

* Favourite Nakd bar flavour?

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Q&A: All about Henry

Before I jump into questions, I just want to point out that this is a long, detailed post about Henry. If you’re more a cat lover, it maybe best to skip to my next post ;)

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What is Henry? How big will he be?!

Henry is an F2B Labradoodle with Tuxedo colouring. For information on the F2B bit, the best place is the Labradoodle Trust page here.

We initially thought Henry would be the size of a small labrador, or a little smaller, but people keep saying “wow, he’s going to be big” so now we’re expecting a little larger!

He’s currently 10.6kg in weight.

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Why did you decided to get a labradoodle? 

James and I both had no interest in getting a ‘designer dog’ and our first thoughts were to get a rescue but it quickly became clear that wouldn’t work out for a number of reasons.

After lots of research, we decided that a labradoodle was the breed for us. You can find out more about our thinking here.

What did you do before his arrival? 

Me: I knew there was no way I wouldn’t have an allergic reaction to Henry so these past few months my diet has been totally dairy and wheat free (my main problem foods).

I worked on stress and sleep, took Magnesium and Zinc, gelatin gummies and bone broth with lots of veggies. I take antihistamines twice a day and have a low level reaction.

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Henry: We asked around then signed him up to a recommended vet, ditto puppy classes.

We asked the breeder for his vet records then booked a puppy check and kennel cough/flea and worming treatment. He was also signed up for a course of classes.

We double checked with our new landlady that we were definitely allowed a dog. He was signed up to PetPlan insurance (free for four weeks) through his breeder.

He was microchipped, vaccinated and toilet trained (though you still have to work on this until 18 months) by the breeder.

We puppy proofed and installed a gate in the back garden.

What did you buy?

From the breeder:

So the breeder did an all in deal with us, which included everything he’d need in her option. We added it up and it gave us a saving on what we’d have paid otherwise.

It included:

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His bed, from Gor Pets.

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His crate (you can spot on of his food bowls in the back! Also included was two Road Refresher bowls)

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Toys suitable for now and the next few months.

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Lead, collar, comb, eco-friendly poo bags (these are the best bags I’ve ever used).

He came with four days of food, treats and a toy for the car on the way home.

From us:

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A whiteboard to document his toileting and feeding times. I really recommend this, it helps you feel on top of both and establish how long you can leave the dog.

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A car harness and car seat belt, which were well reviewed ways of travel for dogs (it’s a legal requirement to keep dogs restrained in the car).

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A hairbrush (he needs daily grooming), Adaptil for his crate and a poo bag dispenser for walks.

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Squeaky toys, a giant football and a soft lamb to snuggle with/use as a pillow.

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An antler (actually the breeder gave us this) and kong for stuffing treats in when we’re away.

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Treats! The breeder gave us a couple of packs from Fish4Dogs, which is where his kibble comes from, and we stocked up on a few others.

Frankfurter sausages are his favourite (we cut them into tiny pieces and store ready-made boxes in the fridge), he loves the thrive chicken liver too.

We also stocked up on his food, which I’ll detail later.

What was it like picking him up?

Mixed emotions! We felt dreadful taking this happy puppy away from his parents, grandparents and friends in beautiful, rural countryside.

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But we knew we could give him love, devotion, time and a great life.

How did the first few days go?

He was really frightened and shy for the first few days, now his personality is shining through!

Luckily he only had one toilet accident in the house, when he weed on some marble shortly after he reached home. He was a little off his food.

He toileted through the night, the first few days were rough. We all felt shell-shocked and exhausted.

What training is he doing?

Henry can sit, lie down, get down, go in his bed and wait on command… but not every time! He starts puppy classes on Monday.

How does he eat?

Henry eats a raw food diet, which he seems to do well on. He has Natural Instinct three times a day, with a scatter of kibble on top.

The food is really inoffensive for me (a non red-meat eater) and has barely any smell. It comes in frozen packs by post and is really convenient. He eats a tub in 1.5 days.

How does he sleep?

Henry sleeps pretty well at the moment, it seems to be getting better all the time!

He sleeps in his own bed in our bedroom, we’re slowly moving it away from us and into the hallway.

His sleep routine starts with chewing a giant cardboard roll (from an Ikea carpet), padding about, then settling in his bed.

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He sometimes gets up to toilet and will come round to my side of the bed, where he sits and maybe whines a little until I’m awake.

He toilets quickly outside then goes straight back to sleep.

How much exercise does he do?

This puppy LOVES playing with other dogs! Last night we took him out to a nearby park and he was running around with two other puppies of the same age.

We play and train him in the morning, then partly walk James to work (this is getting tricky because he’s become frightened of traffic, we need to work on it slowly).

He comes out with me in the garden throughout the day but mainly sleeps. I usually take him for a little walk (5-10 mins) before leaving him in his crate when I go out.

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He has training sessions throughout the day, lasting up to 2-3 mins.

How much grooming does he need?

Daily brushing and of course regular checking of his ears, eyes, condition etc.

What about leaving him during the day/night? 

Henry sleeps 90% of the daytime and we’re currently up to 2 hours in the crate. He is never upset when we put him in or come to let him out, just quietly waits or sleeps.

I feel quite happy that we may have to leave him for up to 4 hours a time while I return to work. His toilet chart shows he is around 5 hours between needing to go.

Night-wise, we’re slowly moving him out of the bedroom. I don’t think he’ll be in the crate to sleep at night, especially not while he’s still needing to toilet through the night.

What about Rufus? 

Henry has a BFF in waiting! They’ve met once and they didn’t dislike each other, so fingers crossed for their future friendship. Their next date is tonight!

* Dog owners: any tips for traffic? Henry is not a fan.

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New place, new puppy

Hello there! It feels oh-so-good to be back at the blogging helm – in a weird way it feels fantastic to be back at my computer too!

The last week started with a hurricane of packing, cleaning, packing, runs to charity shops and bins and more packing and cleaning.

Our big move was on April 1 and it was a beautifully drizzly day, the sort you’d want when lugging items down five flights of slippery metal stairs.

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There really was so, so much stuff. It was amazing what we’d managed to accumulate and kept from our last move (two flats into one).

We were so lucky to have the help of my Mum and James’s Dad, which was very appreciated – especially when Mum deep cleaned the old flat in an hour flat!

And brought me these Easter treats:

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Thursday was spent manically driving between Ikea and wielding screwdrivers. Our former flat was part-furnished, the new one had absolutely nothing.

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In 24 hours we erected: two chairs, a sofa, two storage stools, two storage trolleys, two wardrobes, a chest of drawers, shelves and eight storage boxes. Phew!

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Dinner was very needed and very late! You may work out that I didn’t quite appreciate the power of the new cooker – the chips were a little charred..

Our efforts finished at midnight and we crashed for a few hours before putting up the dog crate and saddling up the car to pick up the puppy.

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Honestly, we were so drained from it all at that point and the five hour round trip was only possible with lots of sweets and coffee.

We arrived to pick Henry up and felt awful seeing him happily playing with his family (he was brought up with Mum, Dad, and both sets of grandparents).

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The noises he made in the car were utterly heartbreaking and we felt terrible driving him out of idyllic countryside and into the urban jungle of Bristol!

We took him straight into the garden and he seemed to relax out in the grass before snuggling up with us on the sofa.

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He had been sleeping in a crate in his earlier home so we tried to put him in his crate at bedtime. Oh the cries :(

We tried a few tricks like moving the crate next to the bed but his distress increased so we picked him up onto the bed, where he immediately snuggled happily to sleep between us.

He was up through the night to toilet, I felt like a complete zombie the next day (especially with the dosage of antihistamines I’m on).

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Breakfast was a sleepy late-morning one with a tired puppy smooshed into me.

The next few days were a whirlwind of family visits, trips to Ikea, midnight, 1am, 4am and 6am “wee wees” and acclimatising to a basement rather than a top floor flat.

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Henry has now been in our lives for six days and he’s progressing so well, he’s such a lovely, calm and well intentioned dog.

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Last night he slept through to 6.10am which felt incredible, I feel so much better to have had a decent night’s sleep.

James and I have both had moments of feeling quite bereaved at the loss of our old, carefree lives and in a state of shock for much of the past week.

However, Henry is a bundle of joy and we are so lucky to have such a wonderful pup in our lives (we get surges of joy when we see his tail wag or him perfect a command).

I’ll do a Q&A on Henry soon for all the dog-lovers and a foodie post for those that want to hear about life as a human ;)

* How was your last move?

* What foods do you eat when you’re crazy busy?

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A patter of puppy paws

The last couple of years James and I have been waiting for life to catch up with our aims. Well, he has now become a doctor with a job, we move into our new place in days and..

We pick up our puppy next week!

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I can’t begin to explain how excited we both are to have a furry friend in our lives – it has been a really, really hard secret to keep.

Everything has seemed to come together at once, which is why I’ve been nervous writing anything sooner, I felt it was all to good to be true.

James scored a three-year position in Bristol, officially became a doctor and found us this beautiful flat, with parking, a garden and permission to have a dog.

It is hard enough to find just one of those assets but he persevered for more than four months, going to viewings, phoning/emailing/persuading landlords and estate agents.

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Like most (almost) 26-year-olds, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak and weeks spent in beds strewn with chocolate boxes, best friends and Legally Blonde on repeat.

I feel so incredibly lucky to be with such a brilliant man, who has worked so hard on aligning our lives to fit what I’ve been hoping for these past few years.

But back to the new man in my life!

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His story goes back to last December, when the heartache of losing Harry-Dog became focused energy into finding our family a dog.

With my allergies to pretty much everything, we researched so-called ‘hypoallergenic’ breeds for weeks. I talked to breeders, breed club secretaries and rescue organisations.

After much thought, we decided the labradoodle was for us. My uncle has labradoodles and I’ve been ‘exposed’ to them over the years with zero allergic reaction, a rarity for me!

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We looked very hard for rescue dogs that we could adopt but ultimately and unfortunately (financially and morally) it didn’t work for us.

I’d found a breeder whose ethics I fell in love with and couldn’t believe our luck when she said she had a litter which would be ready for collection in six weeks.

We tried to find a place but it wasn’t to be and so, very sadly, told the breeder we’d have to wait until her next litter in summer 2015.

In the meantime, we kept up our regular walks with our Borrow My Doggy friend, Rufus the corgi, and read as much as we could on puppy care and training.

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A month ago, James found the flat, which is super close to his work to ensure he can pop back regularly during the day if I’m not working from home, and I contacted the breeder.

Well, it turns out there was one puppy looking for a home from the previous litter, after being returned from his new family (through no fault of his own).

Puppy will be 17 weeks old when we pick him up next week and we are so looking forward to giving him the best life possible: full of love, joy and adventures.

Harry-Dog came to my family back in 1999, at six months old, after his owners could no longer care for him – it feels like it is meant to be a second time round.

* Any puppy tips/advice? Any personal experiences/anecdotes are very appreciated! 

* Any questions?

I could write a 70,000 word post about preparations for puppy/myself etc but didn’t want to bore anyone! If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll write a Q&A post :)

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