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Stately homes, Christmas tree, Coughing, and The Queen
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I wish it was still the weekend! This weekend was lovely. It was our first weekend with Maya. We took her on a long walk in the valley by our house on Saturday and a walk in the grounds of Temple Newsam on Sunday. Maya loved, loved, loved Temple Newsam, and so do I. Lord Darnley, the infamously murdered husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, grew up in the fabulous stately home there; the house itself is incredible; the parkland around it is free to wander through and perfect for long walks; and best of all, the whole estate is owned by Leeds City Council now, so I feel no weirdness at all about any money we end up giving them. (As opposed to Harewood House, another local stately home, which is also supposed to be a great place to visit, but which is actually owned by Lord Harewood. I just can't bring myself to give money to the nobility for the privilege of walking through their land - especially after the profoundly and unselfconsciously arrogant speech I heard the current Howard give at Castle Howard when I went there for a friend's race two years ago. All of my democratic and lower-case "r" republican instincts bristle at the very thought of it.)

Also this weekend we got our Christmas tree! It's gorgeous - and huge (especially by British tree standards). I am very, very happy about it. We decorated last night while listening to Christmas carols and drinking white wine. Very, very nice.

Not much sleep last night, though - poor Maya has kennel cough, and it's always worst at night. (Not so surprising, I guess, since we got her from a kennel in the damp winter season.) I keep reminding myself that it's not a serious illness - the vet prescribed her some antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections from popping up, but the main issue is just a virus very similar to the human cold/flu - but oh, I hate to hear her cough. It sounds so painful. It usually goes away in 7-10 days, apparently...we're counting down the days, and hoping that it'll start to get better soon.

Maya close-up

The worst part is that, because kennel cough is so contagious, we can't let her near any other dogs. Maya loves other dogs. Every time we see one, she wants to go running over to sniff and play with them...and we have to be the Mean People who won't let her. Sigh.

In the meantime, though, I'm really enjoying The Queen of Attolia. Political intrigue, spies, thieves and a hint of possible romance...just perfect. :) I spent the first chapter grouching about the loss of the wonderful 1st-person POV from The Thief, but at this point (200 pages in), I think I actually like The Queen... even better.

Now I just have to get down to my own novel...hmm...

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