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Summer is on its way!

Posted on by sarah

The snowdrops and crocus have been and gone, daffodils are a glow of yellow, the magnolia is about to open it buds and the wonderful aubrieta  looks fantastic as it cascades over the wall in the garden here at Iffin Farmhouse.

Although the aubrieta produces delicate simple small four petalled purple flowers, in an abundance they look stunning. Not only are they beautiful  the flowers have lots of nectar for bees!

This morning we found: Lady birds (5-spot ladybird Coccinella quinquepunctata) – Lady birds help by eating Aphids, Black fly and Green fly; Honey Bees and;  the Garden Bumble bee (marked by the distinct double band of yellow at his thorax) and the red tailed (distinguished by the red hindquarters – they often make nests under stones or slabs).

Bees pollinate crops and flowers and are an essential part of the food chain – no bees no food!  Albert Einstein reportedly said the human race would last just four years in a world without bees. Bees are in danger of dying out. In the winter of 2008, one in three hives were lost. Did you know there are 27 species of Bumble Bee in the UK?  As well as the Honey Bee and Bumble Bee who are social creatures there is also the Solitary Bee (who live in pairs!)in narrow holes in walls and in decaying wood.

All three types make honey by mixing nectar from flowers with enzymes and then evaporating much of the moisture by fanning the mixture with their wings.

They use the honey to feed their offspring and to fuel their wing muscles – a honeybee flaps its wings about 230 times a second and would get about seven million miles out of a gallon of honey!

Gardeners can deploy a range of bee-friendly plants to keep the bees in nectar and pollen throughout the year. You would think nothing of giving a bunch of flowers to a valued friend so why not say it with flowers to a bee!

Lewy Body Society

Posted on by sarah

Life as a dog at Iffin Farmhouse is great – fantastic family, full English breakfast (left overs – not so keen on the tomatoes!), loads of 4-legged friends come to visit (anything from a Dachshound to a Great Dane – but that’s another Blog) and plenty of local walks. All I have to do is just be myself.

Sadly, Grannie has recently been diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease (http://www NULL.lewybody NULL.php) so sometimes I take on a caring role (quietly sitting beside Grannie looking at her with compassion and understanding with my big brown eyes and always being available to have my tummy rubbed). The disease is a sort of cross between dementia and parkinsons so Grannie is rather forgetful and we only fill her teacup half full otherwise there is sometimes fallout!

I always travel up to St Martin’s hospital with Grannie in the car on Thursdays – what fantastic folk they are up there – brilliant (they even spend time chatting to Mum as she needs support too) I spend a lot of my time listening and just being there.

Mum says, we are going to make it our designated charity so look out for any fund raising events or giving boxes. You can of course make a donation directly (http://www NULL.lewybody NULL.php#Donations).

Apparently, it is not a very well known disease so “The more  people who know, the fewer people who suffer”
Grannie says she’s going to donate her brain for medical research (http://www NULL.ncl NULL.htm?id=increase-in-brain-donations-needed-in-the-search-for-a-cure-for-dementia) to help in the search for a cure for Dementia (I dont think mine would be of much use as it is rather small!)

Chris From Iffin to Compete Against Big Bird From Sesame Street in London Marathon 2011

Posted on by sarah

On Sunday 17th April, Chris Wilkins will be pounding the streets of London to complete the 26.2 mile Marathon course in aid of The Pilgrims Hospice (http://www NULL.pilgrimshospices, a fantastic cause!

After months of training in what has been a particularly long and cold Winter, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for Chris, with only a matter of weeks left to go until Race Day.

If you would like to sponsor Chris and help support The Pilgrims Hospice please click on the following link Virgin Money Giving (http://uk NULL.virginmoneygiving NULL.action?userUrl=chriswilkins)

PS I’ve just sponsored Chris from some of my monies from guarding the house (it’s a dog’s life)- She’s a great member of the team and the Charity, Pilgrims Hospice a great choice. Crotchet

Royal Military Canal

Posted on by Crotchet

Great Walk – off the lead stuff and lots to sniff!

We took Grandad, who is 85 next week and not too good on his pins but as it is all on the level it kept us all happy. Looked as though they were working on the cycle path but seemed to be on their lunch break as not much activity.

We started from West Hythe and mooched along on what apparently was the sea bed in Roman times! We could see on one side the left overs of Portus Lemanus (sounds a bit like a monkey drink to me).

Anyway this bit of water was dug by hand (so they say) 28 miles of it! Needless to say we didn’t walk all the way. Of course I would have done but you know what its like! When Grandad’s not with us we usually walk to the pub in Burmarsh, The Shepherd and Crook (never met either of them – I have my thoughts it’s all talk after pints of real ale). Some times we park at the top of the hill and walk down past Port Lympne Zoo (that was quite scarey once – who’d a thought you’d fine a giraffe in Kent! It must take an aweful long time to knit one of them a scarf!)

Sometimes I have been known to go for a dip in the canal – have to choose your moment though cos some of those men that sit like gnomes in the garden along the edge can get a bit upset if you stir up the water!

Good trip out though and only takes us 20 mins in the car from home. All in a straight line too, the other end of Stone street to where we live.

Dog shoot

Posted on by Crotchet

What a busy morning!

My owner had arranged for me to meet her friend Laurie (he’s a dographer). He takes dog photographs. I must admit I thought that I would have to sit still posing on one of those long chair things with a pawtrait of an ancestor hanging above, but no! It was great fun. All I had to do was run around madly and chase a ball. In fact I did anything I wanted to and ….. the best bit of all was Laurie has biscuits in his pocket!

If you come and stay with me at the Farmhouse you can book Laurie to take your photos too!

Albert – The albino squirrel

Posted on by sarah

(http://4 NULL.bp NULL.blogspot NULL.JPG)“Albert” as we affectionately like to call him, is a true albino squirrel as he has not only a white coat but the blue eyes – which can be seen in this photograph I took yesterday afternoon. Albert or Alberta, as we havn’t had an actual identification, has been around in the grounds of Iffin House since September 2009.

He can often be seen from the dining room scampering along the wall by the drive at breakfast time en route to our neighbours bird feeder! At other times in the mature yew tree where he was posing yesterday.

As Albert is becoming rather a feature here I thought I should do some research regarding the albino squirrel – so here goes!

There is no particular species of squirrels, with a plain white fur coat. The change in the colour of fur is caused by variations in the production of melanin and the amount of melanin in the fur, determines its body colour. It is the genes that determine the pattern and control of melanin production and genetic changes that causes a reduction in the melanin production results in a white fur coat and squirrels with such fur coats are called white squirrels. These are not common, as such genetic changes are rare to occur.

However, most of the white squirrels are not albino squirrels, but are those squirrels, who have a white fur coat, due to leucism, which is caused by a a recessive gene found within certain eastern gray squirrels.

Albino squirrels have a white fur coat, and, have pink or blue eyes, due to a genetic condition called albinism. This is a rare condition, when compared to white squirrels. So, the basic difference between white and albino squirrels lies in the eye color. In case of albino squirrels, the absence of melanin in the eyes affect their vision and impaired vision results in falls and injuries, that leads to loss of life.

This makes it very rare to find a true albino squirrel.

Photographic Workshop – Sun 21 March 2010

Posted on by sarah

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Don’t forget to book into the Photographic Workshop at Iffin House on Sunday, 21 March.

Spaces are limited and not many remaining.

If you can’t make this date but are interested in another day, please contact Award winning photographer Tim Stubbings.

For more details see (http://www NULL.timstubbings or email (photo null@null timstubbings"

Dover Castle

Posted on by sarah

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Iffin House is such a great base for exploring Kent’s coast and its beautiful countryside.

Suggested to the delightful French couple staying that they visited Dover Castle (only 20 mins down the road!).

The Great Tower has been recently revamped and is part of the on-going investment in the Castle. Meticulous research and skilled craftsmanship have recreated the lavish interiors of the medieval palace of King Henry II and his royal court.

Welcome Amir & Indah!

Posted on by sarah

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Sadly, our adopted Red Panda died!

Iffin House has now adopted Amir and Indah (Sumatran Tigers).

Sumatran Tigers are classed on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species as Critically Endangered.

For more info contact The Adoption Team at

Photographic Workshop – Sun 21 March 2010

Posted on by sarah

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Don’t miss out on this Camera Skilled Workshop (spaces limited) run by photographer Award Winner, Tim Stubbings, at Iffin House on Sun 21 March 2010.

For more details see (http://www NULL.timstubbings or email (photo null@null timstubbings"