jamie goode's wine blog

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Is this the world's smartest dog?

No, it's RTL, and she's actually pretty dumb sometimes, as well as being fairly annoying. (Although the possibility remains that for a dog she's quite smart, and that's why she can be difficult, because like bright humans stuck in confined environments she gets bored.) But we love her. The title of the post is taken from the headline of a BBC news story promoting a Horizon program on the secret life of the dog.

As you can see from the picture, it has been snowing in earnest today in west London. Younger son still went to school, but our plans to go out for a long walk and do a bit of sledging (adults should have fun too) were thwarted by the fact that Fiona was very sick this morning with symptoms very similar to my recent bug. And I now have mild flu-like symptoms which are making me feel a bit grotty. So I took the dog for two shorter walks today, which she enjoyed immensely, and got lots of work done.

Maybe I should turn to a fortifying glass of Port. I have the Noval and Taylors 10 year old Tawnies open. They're both really good, with the Noval having the slight edge. Strangely, the Noval LBV 2003, also open, isn't as good as this wine usually is.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Video: the Labradoodle reunion

So Rosie the Labradoodle had her reunion. Five of her eight puppies joined her for a walk, along with Digglett (the father) and a couple of guests. It was a lovely dog-filled afternoon. Here's a short film of the encounter.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rosie the Labradoodle, an update

Far too much serious wine talk of late. Haven't mentioned Rosie The Labradoodle (RTL) for ages.

She's pictured above on this morning's walk. A crisp, sunny Saturday stroll. I don't mind cold temperatures if the light is good. The problem with our UK winters is that we don't get to see the sun much - the grey, unceasingly overcast skies are rather depressing.

RTL is doing well. She's a pain in the a** at times, but then she's a dog. She has two good walks every day: I don't begrudge her these, because it's good for Fiona and I to get out of the house and stretch our legs.

But I do get annoyed by RTL's evening antics. She wants to go outside at frequent intervals, and because it's cold, we shut the door behind her. Five minutes later, she barks at the door, indicating strongly to us that she wants to come back in. But if we open the door she stands there and barks some more at us. She will only come in if you leave the door open and walk away (and then only sometimes) or if you tempt her with food.

Other complaints:
(1) She smells. Badly.
(2) She wants to eat the cats still.
(3) She wants to eat the postman.
(4) She decides which way she wants to walk when she leaves the house. If you try to take her the other way, she just lies down.

Overall? We're glad to have her.

Next Saturday we are meeting up with seven of her eight puppies, who are now a year old. It should be hilarious. If you follow the RTL tag, you'll be able to revisit the events a year ago...


Monday, October 26, 2009

Walks with the hound

It has been a lovely autumn so far in west London. Lots of gentle late-season sunshine, with above average temperatures. Great for walking the dog.

When I was persuaded that getting a dog was a good idea, just over three years ago, I never realized quite how much it would change our lives. The mutt in question, Rose the Labradoodle (RTL) is a strange creature, loveable and annoying in equal measure.

She has probably paid for herself by having puppies, so I can't complain that she's expensive. But she does take up a lot of time: we walk her twice daily, and in the evenings she craves attention. And she still wants to eat the cats (they live upstairs, where she is not allowed) and the postman.

Actually, we've probably benefited from the walking. Whatever the weather, we simply have to take her. For me, the morning walk is an ideal start to the day. It's time to think and reflect, and when you work from home most of the time, it's helpful for your sanity to get out of the house a bit.

Pictured are two rather poor quality camera phone snaps from walks with the hound in the last few days. One is of Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric. It's hallucinogenic. The second is a view from Hounsow Heath, one of RTL's regular walks.


Friday, July 24, 2009

NWR: are dogs a good idea?

RTL, pictured above on a recent walk with my son and his friend, has gone away for a few days. I dropped her off this afternoon with a dog sitter in Barnes, who already had a motley collection of four rather different sized canines in tow. She was charming, and I'm sure RTL will have fun with her new friends.

But our home seems kind of empty without her. And less smelly. It gives me a chance to reflect on whether dogs are a good thing or not.

In her favour? She gets us out of the house, whatever the weather, twice a day. Dogs need walking, and - to be honest - humans need walking too. A walk is a great way to start the day. It's thinking space.

Also, it's psychologically healthy to care for and cherish something other than oneself. It's quite easy to care for a dog like RTL, because she's always pleased to see you and never seems to get upset or have a bad day.

And she's fun. Animals bring out the child in me, in a positive sort of sense. They fill me with wonder and make me want to play as well.

The case against? She's smelly. She can be a pest, especially when we are eating. She often barks before 6 am demanding to be let out. She chases cats. She is a tie, and the logistics of not leaving her too long and making sure she gets her two walks can be complicated and annoying.

But overall, I'd say dogs are a very good idea.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

RTL reunited with one of her poopies

We had a lovely afternoon, heading over to Brockham in Surrey to meet with Tim and Claire, whose dog, Barney, is one of RTL's poopies.

He's a beautiful labradoodle - much better looking than RTL. It was great to see the two dogs playing together. They seemed immediately to have some sort of bond, although Barney is a young dog with some drive, and tried to engage with his mother in rather inappropriate ways.

We went for a walk. Brockham is just beautiful: a picture-perfect English village in the shadow of Box Hill. At one stage, we'd juggled with the idea of keeping Barney (we called him 'Yellow' - the way we identified the puppies was by the colour of the cotton neck tag each had), but seeing the size of him and how happy he is in his new family, we're glad we didn't, even though he's adorable.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

A beautiful evening with a Portuguese red

Almost a year ago I visited the Dao and Bairrada regions of Portugal; on that trip, Ana Sofia of Viniportugal encouraged me also to visit the Beria Interior, the region that is sandwiched between the Douro and the Alentejo in the east of Portugal. I'm glad she did, because this is a rather poorly known region that's making some great wines. Tonight's wine comes from here.

It's one of those perfect English summer evenings, with temperatures comfortably in the 20s and some gentle sunshine. We don't get all that many of these, so you have to savour them when they come along. So I'm sitting outside, glass in hand, blogging. This is one of my favourite times of year. I wish I could bottle evenings like this up and save them for later.

This afternoon we were round at some friends for lunch. It was a jolly crowd, but unfortunately we had a dog war. RTL, who is in season, took issue with Bramble, our friend's dog, and they started going for each other. We separated them, but it was quite scary, and quite out of character, because these are placid dogs who normally get on very well.

So, my note on tonight's wine:

Gravato Touriga Nacional 2006 Beira Interior, Portugal
From Quinta dos Barreiros, 14.5% alcohol. This deliciously rich Touriga is a sort of half-way house between the aromatic, cherryish Dao style and the lush, ripe Alentejo style. It shows lovely vibrant plum and dark cherry character as well as richer, spicy, slightly tarry blackberry fruit. There's some attractive oak influence, but it integrates nicely into the ripe, dense fruit. Fruit driven, this finishes with some grippy, spicy tannic structure, with a streak if minerality. Good definition. A really well made wine with great appeal. What I particularly like about it is the way that it really tastes of Touriga Nacional. 91/100 (see http://www.gravatoqb.pt/ for more details).

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

A day without children

With older son away at school and younger son off on scout camp, Fiona and I are enjoying a weekend alone. We don't get many of these, and so it feels like Christmas and birthday all rolled into one - a real treat.

The danger is, however, that you feel the time is so precious that you have to do something really, really special or else you are just wasting it away. One one level, the feeling that time is valuable is a good thing. But on another, it means you aren't able to simply enjoy just hanging around, which is sometimes the most rewarding and fulfilling thing to do.

We didn't do anything spectacular today, but it was still a very enjoyable day. A long walk in Windsor Great Park with RTL, lunch out, another walk on Hounslow Heath, and a dinner of tapas and Portuguese (Alentejo) cheeses watching a film. But it's a day I'll remember for a long time. And we still have until 5 pm tomorrow to enjoy!


Friday, May 15, 2009

NWR: RTL's poopies growing up

In the last few days we've had some photos through from owners of two of RTL's puppies. They look so lovely - these were two of the curliest of the eight, and it's good to see them doing so well. On the left is Barney, who's a boy (he was the big chunky one with the yellow tag in the videos) and on the right is Flower, a girl.


Friday, May 08, 2009

RTL update, and a new camera

It's been a while since Rosie The Labradoodle graced these pages. Heck, back in December when she had a litter of puppies, this blog was more about dogs than it was about wine. But since then she's been off the radar.

Well, she's totally back to her normal loveable, full-on, playful, annoyingly hyperactive self. She's like a two-and-a-half year old puppy. It's probably because we are bad owners, but I actually like the way she is so full of life. She's pictured above, with her hair even shaggier, and sporting a beard.

I got a new camera today. While I'm still using my Pentax digital SLR for serious stuff, it's big to lug around. So I have a need for a decent pocket camera. What did I choose? The Panasonic DMC-TZ5. I didn't want to spend too much - around 150 - because then I won't be worried about it getting a bit beaten up. And for that price, the Panasonic rocks, with 10x optical zoom, image stabilization, a 3-inch screen - and it's pretty compact. There's a new version out, which costs twice the price. It means I could pick this one up in-budget by buying a factory refurb. Cool. Pictured below is a Pinot Noir shoot in the background. You can see the potential flower cluster here.
Today was Fiona and my 16th wedding anniversary. We were going to go to the Glasshouse in Kew for a nice lunch, but we got a call this morning saying that older son and another boy had been getting up to mischief and so were excluded from boarding for three days. So Fiona volunteered to do the 6.5 h round trip to pick him up, and our lunch had to be cancelled. We did manage to get a traditional English breakfast in at Wetherspoons over the road, though - 2.69 each. And younger son is delighted that the hire car we've picked up for the weekend to help make some complicated logistics work more smoothly was upgraded to a very sport soft top (and we're paying just 16.50 a day for it). Roof down, CD in, and he's happy.


Monday, February 09, 2009

The puppies have gone!

We're bereft. Our eight little labradoodle puppies have all gone, and the house seems empty. Even though looking after them was much harder work than we'd ever have thought (most of it done by Fiona, I admit), it is sad to see them go. The consolation is that they've all gone to lovely homes. You can review the progress reports by clicking on the tag RTL below.

In just eight weeks they went from this:

To this:


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Two days to go

The remaining six puppies leave for their new homes this weekend...


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Two gone, six to go

Two of the puppies have now gone, a little early - six remain with us. They're off to their new homes next weekend after their first vaccinations.

We'll miss them, even though it has been hard work over the last couple of weeks as they've got bigger, and we've had to try to keep RTL away from them most of the time, otherwise she'll keep feeding them several times a day.

Fiona and I are both really, really tired!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Puppies, Day 50

RTL's puppies are now seven weeks old. The first pup has already gone to its new home, a little early, another is due out tomorrow, and then the rest follow the weekend after. It will be sad to see them go, but at least we know they are going to lovely homes and will bring great joy (and a lot of hard work, at least at first!) to their new owners.

It has been fun to watch them grow, but clearing up after them, feeding them and making sure they're OK has been quite an effort. Fiona has spent gazillions of hours looking after the little darlings - if you worked out an hourly rate for all this work she's put in, it would be about 23 p. It's something you do for the fun of it. An experience.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The poopies, day 38

OK, They're getting bigger. Now they're experiencing short spells of freedom in our kitchen. [But first of all they sleep and feed in this short video.] The poopies are now at the stage where we can tell them all apart without their neck tags. They all have homes to go to, and we're delighted that all the prospective owners are so lovely.


Friday, January 09, 2009

RTL's puppies: a video update

The latest on the puppies. They're now like little dogs, and are cute and playful. They are still suckling, but eating solid food as well. Each is developing its own personality, and it will be really hard to let them go in four weeks' time. This weekend we have a steady stream of new owners coming to select their littl'uns. We aren't sure about whether we should keep one or not. If we don't, there is still a little boy looking for a home.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Puppy update, day 24

Here's a short video of our rather gorgeous labradoodle puppies, day 24. They're growing well, and developing their own personalitites. We potentially have one puppy left, out of the eight - the rest are spoken for.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Puppy update

All the puppies are gone! Well, we still have them, but they're all spoken for now, except for one which we're discussing whether or not to keep. We were worried that because of the economic downturn we'd end up with eight unwanted dogs, but it's been quite the opposite: we've had a lot of interest and have been able to find seven lovely homes for the puppies, which is fantastic. We've been overwhelmed that we can come into contact with such nice people merely by advertising some puppies on the internet.

And the poopies themselves? They're all doing really well and are becoming more adorable by the day.

[Update: one of the puppies is now available again after a couple who'd put their name down changed their mind. So we have a boy spare if anyone is interested.]


Monday, December 22, 2008

RTL's poopies at 12 days, another video

Once again, apologies if you aren't interested in dogs. But here's another short film of the poopies, which are now 12 days old. They're almost walking, and their eyes are beginning to open, but most of the time they spend eating or sleeping. You can see all the posts to date on the poopies by using the RTL tag at the bottom of this post, or at this URL: http://www.wineanorak.com/blog/labels/RTL.html

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

RTL and her pups, another video

[Please ignore this if you are fed up with dogs and puppies. I quite understand.]


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More puppy pics and a video!

Here are some more pics of Rosie The Labradoodle and her Labradoodle pups. They're still less than a day old. I've also added a short video of the birth experience!


The puppies have arrived, and we're exhausted

Tonight we played midwife to RTL, as she finally delivered her puppies. First one arrived at 8.15 pm, last one just before midnight. Eight in all, which is far more than we'd expected. And all alive and seemingly healthy.

It's an amazing experience to witness a relatively large mammal give birth. As the first one slid out, encased in its amniotic sac, Fiona was convinced it was dead. But RTL gave it a few licks, chewed off the umbilical cord, gave it a few more licks and it promptly attached itself to a nipple and began feeding.

All but one came out head first, and even the seventh, which decided to enter the world with its rear feet and tail to the fore, didn't cause too many problems.

I'm going to retire to bed soon. I just hope that they're all alive tomorrow morning. I'll probably still be slightly traumatized - but still in awe, too.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pssst...wanna buy a poopee?

RTL has just a couple of weeks to go before she gives birth to her first litter of labradoodle puppies. If you hold your hand to her tummy you can feel them kicking. It's very cool. Labradoodles are the best dog breed. Dogs are great: if you've never had a dog you are missing out. Dogs love unconditionally. We all want to be loved, and to love. Well, your new labradoodle puppy will love you, and it will let you love it. Sorted.

Let me know how many you'd like. You MUST have a labradoodle. They are cool, and if you are seen walking a cool dog, by extension others will think that you are COOL.

RTL is pictured this evening as she lies sleeping, like a good mother, nurturing those valuable feti (is that the correct plural of 'fetus'?). Contact me by email to place your orders.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rosie finds love

On Thursday Fiona took Rosie for her second and final session with Diglett. Apparently, it was successful, and the amorous couple 'tied', which is, I beleive, a technical term that describes what happens when two dogs want to make babies. Fiona took the photograph above after the event - Rosie is on the right.

If nature works as it should, then in about 9 weeks we'll have some puppies. Now that will be fun.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

RTL update: a big day for her...

As I write, RTL is on her way to be mated! If all goes to plan, she'll have 8-12 little RTLs by mid- December. Of course, it might not work out. She can be a fussy girl, and she might not like this arranged marriage with Diglet (the boy's name, apparently).

As she's a labradoodle, we've chosen another labradoodle to mate her with. I've no idea what the outcome will be. If she does have puppies, they're likely to be extremely cute. And if we sell them, then we should turn a healthy profit! A new business direction?
Fancy a cute puppy? All blog readers are, of course, entitled to 'mates rates'.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

A new addition to the family

We have a new member of the Goode household. After a lot of umming and arring, and after exhaustive research, we decided to get a dog.

What do you get when you cross a labrador with a poodle? A labradoodle, of course. Now don't laugh: this is the proper name for the breed. Fortunately, ours looks more like a labrador than a poodle. She's 12 weeks old, and we've called her Rosie. She's pictured just after her arrival: the boys were thrilled.

There are pros and cons to dog ownership. The pros? You get unconditional love and affection, and unswerving loyalty. You also have an excuse to go for lots of walks (which for some might be a negative, but I love going for walks). The family is enriched. The cons? Going on holiday becomes more complicated (although lots of friends have expressed an interest in borrowing a dog). The smell. And picking up turds (which all socially aware dog owners should do).

To celebrate Rosie's arrival we had a bottle of Roederer Brut NV, which is a very lovely full flavoured fizz with good acid and nice toasty richness. It's one of those fizzes that you really could serve throughout a meal; I also think it would develop with a year or two in bottle.

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