Latest from The sticks

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    31 July 2019
    In a previous article I lamented the fact that my parsnips had failed. I spoke to soon or was too impatient. A couple of weeks later they appeared. Not all of them but more than...



Gardening diary

  • Wind and rain
    17 August 2019
    Not much activity in the garden this week with all the wind and rain. Mould is claiming more aubergine victims in the greenhouse although some still doing OK and harvested a...

We knew the time was approaching when we'd need to make "the decision" but when it was time it didn't make it easier. What gave us the right to decide our dog had reached the end of her life? Who'd be God?

We'd been prepared. We'd spoken to the vet about it several months ago. That had been when her back legs started to wobble and she couldn't make it round her daily walk however slowly we plodded along. We'd taken her in for a check up. She was good for her age, he'd said, and he advised we kept her active to fend off the muscle atrophy. Even if her days of long walks were over she could still do the other things she liked: pottering around the garden sniffing, listening, watching the world go by.  But he warned us: she was old and she was getting weaker and dogs weren't keen on wheelchairs and nappies. If we got to the point where, if she were a person, we'd be thinking wheelchair and or nappies then she be at the point where her peaceful old age was tipping over into stressful existence, unappealing and miserable for a formerly active, out door dog. 

For months she was content to plod and totter around in the garden or curl up and sleep in a comfortable spot. She'd come to watch us gardening, still interested in picking up sticks, dragging uprooted brambles and nettles out of the barrow, or tossing around broom heads, pulling at the bristles and shaking it as though killing prey. Though more slowly now, more frequently taking a break and a nap on her mat.

We hoped that maybe she would go quietly in her sleep before she reached that tipping point so we would be spared the agony of the decision if not the grief of losing her. She was a tough old dog but would her legs hold up long enough to see her out? 

By the new year the deterioration in her mobility was accelerating. She'd started to fall and struggle to stand again, increasingly she'd lie for a few minutes where she fell, taking a rest, but still she tottered around following her nose, sniffing her way through the garden, taking an interest in visitors and the cats, eager for food and treats. She was still her own dog, very doddery, hunched and frail, but she knew what she wanted and gave it a go. She hadn't lost her spirit or her dignity but how long would she have the strength to make the effort?

Was she reaching the tipping point? How much longer would the lure of the garden with its smells and noises, cats and birds overcome her struggle to stand up? On Saturday she was still putting in the effort but more often than not she needed a helping hand, a gentle lift, a steadying hand. On Sunday we weren't so sure, she seemed more reluctant to struggle to her feet. She didn't try to make it to the door.  When she was outside she wandered aimlessly, round in circles as though lost. She looked sad.

And today we knew. She was at the tipping point, balancing, balancing and falling onto the wrong side; she couldn't be her own dog. We couldn't ignore it and see her lose her dignity or the pleasures in her life. We didn't want to make the call, but we did. The family gathered, she had one last faltering walk along the garden path and then we all accompanied her on her last journey, stroked her fur and whispered into her ear as she died peacefully under the care of her vet. 

RIP Tilly,  the Old Dog, March 2003 - 7 January 2019


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Maps for local walks

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Selection of our walking routes on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands. All accessible from convenient public car parks 

Then and now


Tracing the  history of the house from early 1800s to the present day using historical documents and idenitying people who lived here before us


William Deakin restored

15 years of family history research available in our webtrees database (over 800 surnames and nearly 5000 individuals) plus a collection of birth, marriage and death certificates.  

Popular series



Transcription of travel diaries made during the last 36 years starting with India and Nepal 1981 and including USA 1983, Syria 1993, South America 2000 and South Africa 2014 together with photographs. This is a work in progress as the diaries are transcribed, so check for updates.

Route to the Soul

Route to the Soul2

Began as a romantic mixture of emotion and practical tips from two young students discovering themselves and life as they recounted their adventures away from home. The Student and her boyfriend shared their passion for each other, travel and their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Now the blog is maintained by the Student who studies and works part time on-line while she and her boyfriend continue their travels to explore the world. Her blog focuses on wellbeing and politics affecting the state of the planet & the lives of its inhabitants.

Seeds & Weeds

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We weren't gardeners, we don't even listen to Gardeners' Question Time very often, but we have a large garden with plenty of potential and since I retired at the end of 2017 we have become amateur gardners. We favour the wild, natural look and like the birds, butterflies, frogs and other small animals but we want it to be looked after and we have recently revived and extended our vegetable patch. This section is dedicated to reluctant gardeners in constant fight against the weeds - solidarity among the nettled and scratched - the caterpillars, slugs, snails and multitudes of insects.

Rooted to the Spot

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Magazine style section with articles about life at the Sticks on a theme inspired by Brexit