31 December 2014

Meet Rufus

Rufus was a rescue dog and is about two years old. He is a real character, crazy and funny. He is very handsome, all legs, never walks, runs everywhere and leaps over the sofas! He loves to have something to play with, mostly old footballs, he's great at playing throw and catch.
His previous owner had let him sleep upstairs so when he first arrived he bounded upstairs and went to make himself comfortable on one of the beds. We quickly pointed out that that wasn't allowed here and now he knows that upstairs is out of bounds.

His universe revolves around food. Every day around 5.30 he starts asking for his dinner by walking around and looking at one of us as if to say "come on I want my dinner" He keeps this up until he gets fed.
He loves his toys and has had a variety of them since he arrived. During the summer when doors were open all the time he tried to smuggle items inside. He would trot in quickly with a manky chunk of wood or one of his toys that had been rotting in the undergrowth for weeks. We knew by the pace of his trot what he was doing and when he was confronted he would stop with a "oh oh I've been rumbled" look on his face, turn around and take it back outside, only to repeat the performance a few minutes later not realising that someone was waiting for him. It was like groundhog day!

30 December 2014

Meet Buster

Buster was such a cute puppy but he was a little devil in the garden. He used to sit beside me while I was gardening and I thought how sweet was that, watching while I was planting shrubs. However what was really happening was that he was planning his MO. As soon as I had finished, put everything away, gone indoors and the coast was clear he would pull out some of the newly planted shrubs, throw them around and generally have a good time chewing them to pieces! He also enjoyed digging holes in the lawn where the turf had gone brown from his wees. No matter how much I scolded him he just carried on trashing the garden. So we put some small green fencing around the garden borders and covered the re-seeded holes with chicken wire, and as he got a bit older he calmed down and I was able to re-claim a nice garden. Now he’s as good as gold.

28 December 2014

Reached My Target

When I returned from my safari holiday in September I was horrified to see photos of myself, I had put on so much weight, not all of it on holiday, it had been creeping on for a while, but seeing those photos was a shock, so I took myself off to Slimming World and set myself a target of 9st 12lbs by Christmas. On Christmas Eve I weighed in and reached that target, a loss of 1st 1.5lbs. Yipee, I look and feel so much better. Thank you Slimming World, I couldn't have done it without you.

26 December 2014

Meet The Dogs

 Rufus and Buster are Lurchers, Rufus has more greyhound in him, Buster has more terrier. 
Rufus was a rescue dog, we've had Buster from a puppy.

Here is Buster as a pup, the black and white one on the right, with his mum and siblings.

24 December 2014

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas from the dogs (and me). The plan was to get Buster and Rufus to pose nicely together with Buster wearing the red santa hat and Rufus wearing a gold paper crown, my daughter and grandson were going to be just out of view bribing them with bits of cheese. What actually happened was chaos! Buster sits very well when told to, Rufus has never sat (he's a rescue dog and apparently it’s a greyhound thing) but he will lay down when told to. However with the scent of cheese in the air they were on full alert. They would sit for a few seconds and then get up hoping for another little titbit, then sit or lay down on opposite sides of the room. They kept shaking the hats off and the paper crown broke! So although I haven’t got the one photo I hoped for I am pleased with these even though they do look a bit fed up!
I will introduce them properly at a later date.

23 December 2014

The Taj Mahal

And finally for me the Jewel in the Crown of India – The Taj Mahal. The most stunningly 
beautiful monument I have ever seen. Tears filled my eyes. I had wanted to visit for so many years and wasn't sure if I ever would, so stood here looking at it I could scarcely believe I was really there.

In 1631 Shah Jahan was grief stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child. In her dying breath Mumtaz urged Shah Jahan to build a mausoleum for her that the world had never seen before. Shah Jahan granted his wife’s wish and in 1632 construction of the Taj Mahal began. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648. The surrounding buildings and garden were completed five years later.

Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words:
Should the guilty seek asylum here,
Like one pardoned he becomes free from sin.
Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,
All his past sins are to be washed away.
The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs,
And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.
In this world this edifice has been made;
To display thereby the creator's glory

Many people believe it to be the most perfectly proportioned building ever constructed; at 
first glance it appears to be simply white marble, but closer inspection reveals that the surface 
is inlaid with a profusion of semi-precious stones which form stylised flowers and bowers.
The tombs of Shah Jahan & Mumtaz Mahal are inside, but photography is banned.
As the light faded the colours changed.
Words fail to do it justice, only by visiting can you appreciate its exquisite beauty.

It just had to be done!

22 December 2014

Agra, The Red Fort

The Red Fort, built principally as a military establishment it was rebuilt by Akbar in 1565, from red sandstone. Many more additions were made by his grandsons. The massive fort is 2.5 km long and is considered as the predecessor of the Delhi Red Fort. The building and structures inside the fort gives an impression of a city within the city.

The marble pearl mosque inside the fort is one of the most beautiful mosques in India.

20 December 2014

The Garden of Fountains and a Hotel

But not just any hotel
Lake Palace hotel Udaipur
The hotel, on Lake Pichola was the location for James Bond’s Octopussy. It is said to be opulent. We sailed over for afternoon tea, unfortunately we couldn't go inside, only residents are allowed in.

 The Garden of Fountains in Udaipur city was designed and built in the 18th century
by Maharaja Sangram Singh for his queen and her maid to offer them
'Pleasurable moments away from the political intrigues of the court'.

The garden is embellished with numerous fountains in its four water pools,
chiselled kiosks and marble elephants.
It is also celebrated for its lotus pool and bird-fountains.

The lush green lawns, spectacular bougainvilleas and marble pavilions
further enhance the romantic ambience of this beautiful garden.

19 December 2014


Our arrival at Udaipur. Someone said our train was 1 kilometre long!

Udaipur, the Lake City founded by Maharaja Udai Dingh of Mewar, 
after the Sisodia dynasty was driven away by the Mughals.

The City Palace, towering over the lake, is a conglomeration of buildings adorned by various maharajas, but still manages to retain a uniformity of design. Building was started by Maharaja Udai Sing II, the city’s founder. The palace has many balconies, towers and cupolas, and there are fine views over the lake and the city from the upper terraces. The palace is entered from the northern gate, the Baripol Gate (1600) and the Tripolia Gate (1725), with its eight carved marble arches. It was once a custom for maharajas to be weighed under the gate and their weight in gold or silver distributed to the populace. The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum. It includes beautiful mosaics of peacocks, the favourite Rajasthani bird, glass and mirror work, a collection of miniatures and an impressive armoury section.

Beautiful ornate gateway into the City Palace

The Royal Family live in the grounds of this beautiful palace.

There is also a very comprehensive museum.

18 December 2014


26/4/09  Chittorgarh, another lovely welcome

Chittorgarh Fort is seated on a 180 metre hill, covering an expanse of 700 acres. It was constructed by the Mauryans in the 7th century AD. There are seven gates before reaching the fort and there were many attacks on the fort. Legend has it that it was because of the beautiful Rani Padmini that Chittorgarh was attacked the first time. Rani Padmini was the wife of Rana Rattan Singh the ruler of Chittorgarh. When Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji, the ruler of Delhi, heard of Padmini’s beauty, he requested a glimpse of her. However, the Sultan was permitted to see only the reflection of the queen from a mirror that overlooked the palace. Ala-ud-din is said to have been so carried away by Padmini’s beauty that he attacked Chittorgarh  in order to possess her. This led to the first bitter and bloody siege of the Chittorgarh fort.

Victory Tower.
Inside the staircase is made up of short square flights around a central core. Despite a very good view from the top I couldn’t face all those steps in the soaring heat. Whilst we were standing around listening to our guide we were joined by a pretty young calf, some wild boar and lots of monkeys. I wasn’t concerned about the calf but I didn’t like being that close to boars or monkeys, and when they kicked off over an argument about food we swiftly moved away!

17 December 2014

Ranthambore National Park

It was worth the very early start (5.30) to watch the sunrise and the park coming to life. Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest and most famous national parks in northern India. It was once the hunting ground for the Maharajas of Jaipur, and its royal heritage is still present in the hunting lodges, chhatris and fortifications dotted around the park. The name is derived from the historic Ranthambore fortress which lies within the national park. It was established in 1955 and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957, and in 1974 it gained the protection of “Project Tiger”. It got its status of a National Park in 1981. Besides tigers, the reserve has a thriving bird population with more than 270 species. Other residents include wild boar, spotted deer, samba deer, crocodiles, Indian gazelle, black buck, cranes, mongoose, nilgai, dhole, sambar, hares, peacocks, squirrels and chital. It is also home to a wide variety of trees, plants, and reptiles including cobras and vipers. Covering an area of 392km², Ranthambore is also the site for one of the largest banyan trees in India, and several lakes. According to non-government sources the number of tigers in the park were 34 in 2008 when more than 14 tiger cubs were also recorded. This was largely attributed to sustained efforts by forest officials to curb poaching. Villagers in the region were being given incentives to stay out of the park and surveillance cameras were also fitted across the reserve. At the time of my visit there were 38 tigers, sadly we didn’t see one.

16 December 2014

Jaswant Thada

The Jaswant Thada is an architectural landmark in Jodhpur. 
It is a white marble memorial built by Maharaja Sardar Sing in 1899 in memory of his father.
The entire monument is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble.
These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow
when the sun's rays dance across their surface.

Preparations for a festival were under way, lots of flags and bunting were being hung 
around the fort and this charming family trio of father, daughter and son were 
playing, singing and dancing beautifully in the grounds of the The Jaswant Thada.

Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel is an architectural extravaganza and aesthetic triumph. It is probably the ultimate in luxurious living. Furnished with fashionable Art  Deco interiors including one million square feet of the finest marble. It had everything that royalty required – a cinema, luxurious swimming pool inlaid with tiles depicting the zodiac, gigantic suites, a soaring rotunda, ballrooms, a majestic durbar hall, billiards room, banquet halls, libraries, staff quarters....The royal family still live there, probably in that bit on the top!! 

14 December 2014

Howdahs, Palanquins And Baby Cots

The museum has some very impressive items.

Elephant howdahs were wooden seats with two compartments (mostly covered with gold and 
silver embossed sheets), which were fastened on to the elephant’s back.

 The front compartment, with more leg space and a raised protective metal sheet, 
was meant for kings or royalty,
 and the rear smaller one for a reliable bodyguard disguised as an attendant.

Palanquins were a popular means of travel or “cruising” for the ladies of the nobility. 

The covered ones allowed the ladies to see but not be seen!
They were also used by male nobility and royals on special occasions. 
 Brides were also delivered to their grooms in covered ones.

Maharaja Abhay Singh brought this magnificent palanquin to Jodhpur as war booty after defeating the governor of Gujara Sarbuland Khan in Mahadol. It is executed in the rich Gujarati tradition of carved and painted woodwork. The eves of the canopy are of beaten, cast and cut ironwork. The glass panes in wooden casements decorate the walls. Early 18th century AD.

Just a few of the many ornate baby cots.

9 December 2014



Jodhpur, the blue city, so named because most of the buildings are painted blue. Some believe that the reason for this was the Brahmins attempting to denote their caste by painting their houses blue, and forbidding anyone else to do so, thereby everyone would recognise the house of an important person. (Brahmins – law makers, teachers, scholars and priests are the highest ranking members in India’s class dividing caste system). The current widely believed reasoning is that indigo was added to the standard whitewash applied to buildings to protect them from termites and other insects, Either way, the colour scheme caught on and was adopted throughout the city, including buildings outside the city walls.

The Majestic Meherangarh fort is one of the largest forts in India. It is a massive, impressive, impregnable structure sitting on top of a huge rock 400 feet (122m) above the city, surrounded by many miles of imposing thick walls and a series of seven gateways set at an angle so that armies could not charge them with any success. Within the final gate are the casts of 15 hand prints of the widows of Maharajah Man Singh. The widows performed sati by throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of the Maharajah in 1843. Past the gates, the fort palace has huge courtyards surrounded by wings of palatial buildings, part of which is now turned into a museum.

8 December 2014

Showing Off

See how the camel turns round to look at me as I was talking to the guy who was taking the photos

When I first got on the camel I was very anxious and after about 20 minutes I asked if we could go back, but it was a circular route and our coach had already gone to the collection point. So my guide took a short cut over some sand dunes.

The two ladies behind me were concerned when they saw us going in a different direction, they thought he was taking me off to have his wicked way with me in the desert!! Their guide explained what was happening.

By the time we arrived I was feeling much more confident and enjoying the ride and would liked to have done it again!

7 December 2014


Our welcome to Jaisalmer, in the heart of the Thar desert, founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 AD. 
We visited another fort, a Hindu Temple and then had a good walk around the town, mingling with the locals 
which was nice, and gave us the opportunity to browse in bazaars and shops. 

No health and safety here.
This was in the middle of the street, it didn't even have railings around it!

Apparently the lady in the bright green sari was a widow, that's the colour they wear, 
I don't know for how long, maybe until they find another husband. 

Perhaps it's a way of letting suitors know that they are available!

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