May 11, 2013
You know, we thought we were being pretty clever borrowing the neighbour’s cat. He got all the less pleasant aspects of being owned by a cat – vet bills, buying cat food, litter trays, dead rodents on his doorstep – while we got to share in the perks, like a mouse-free house, blog fodder and, er, a cat stomping about on our heads at 4am.
But then the neighbour got ill and had to go and stay with his parents to recover, taking the cat with him and leaving a cat-shaped hole in our lives. It’s good news for swallows, I suppose, and hopefully she’ll be back before the mice get wind of it, but it’s left us feeling a little bereft.
Although I was slightly cheered by the sight of a red squirrel bounding past the kitchen window early one morning. OK, so they won’t come and curl up on the sofa to be stroked, but they are pretty damn cute all the same.
March 22, 2013
I wasn’t really worried about today’s forecast snow until someone mentioned in the pub last night that rain from the west was due to meet a cold blast coming in from the east. If we know anything about rain from the west round here, it’s that it keeps on coming, and we’ve been feeling enough of the east wind in recent days to know it doesn’t muck about much either. So I wasn’t all that surprised to wake up this morning to snow on the ground; having it piled a foot deep against the front door was a different matter.
Fortunately we had food, power (unlike many), plentiful wood and a roof over our heads so we just hunkered down to sit it out. The hard part was getting the cat fed – we feed her over at the neighbour’s to avoid her moving in on us permanently, so first we had to persuade her out of our house where she’d spent the night and into the cat-deep* snowdrifts. She doesn’t take kindly to being picked up and if there’s anything more squirmy than a cat that wants DOWN I’ve never encountered it. In the end, the other half managed to maintain a grip on her as far as the shovelled path he’d made and we got her safely home. And then the neighbour, bless him, who’d battled down from Fife and got out of his van with a thousand-yard stare when he finally arrived, had bought extra milk and bread for us so we have no need to go anywhere until it’s gone. Apart from nipping out to take some photos for the blog, of course…
We’ve had as much snow before – indeed we’ve probably had as much snow this winter – but we’ve never seen it drifting like this or piled so high. Astoundingly, the council sent a snow plough and gritter round this afternoon, which means it must be *really* bad – and it’s still snowing …
Time to get the ice tyres on again? Or just give up and hibernate till May?
March 21, 2013
… your own stool by the Rayburn
In the interests of strict accuracy, that is supposed to be MY stool by the Rayburn but we’re cat sitting again and the cat and I have been conducting an undeclared turf war over this prime bit of kitchen territory. I think the cat’s won though, as MY stool has had to be moved from a position where I could sit with my back against the Rayburn because the cat had a tendency to fall asleep on it and then stretch luxuriously on waking, pressing her paws against the hot metal. It turns out it takes a little bit of time for the message that your paws are burning to get through to a cat brain (although when it does, boy the cat can move). We wouldn’t want her damaging herself under our care, so we have moved the stool to a safe stretching distance and if that inconveniences anyone else in the house well, she’s a cat, and she doesn’t give a stuff, frankly.
Someone remind me what cats are for again?
January 3, 2013
The walled garden where the veg patch lives is rather quiet these days – and not just because the mice have eaten themselves into a stupor. No, it’s because the landlord has, with commendable ruthlessness, sent the hens off to the big stock pot in the sky. They had not really been earning their keep as the two surviving white ones never really got into their stride – and the two remaining brown ones were getting rather long in the tooth, or beak, or whatever it is with hens. Once they started to moult and stopped what little laying they were still doing, they were for the chop as they’d then spend the rest of the winter eating without producing anything other than manure, of which, frankly, we’ve got enough.
I can’t say I’ll miss the white ones as they never really showed much spirit but the brown ones (Black Rocks, if anyone’s interested) were a feisty bunch, with distinct personalities of their own. They’d always come racing over to investigate what delicious treat I was bringing to the fence (drunken slugs? Chickweed? Baby rabbit?) and they were nice and chatty too when they were happy (obviously their conversation didn’t actually make any sense, they’re hens, but the point of most conversation is to make a companionable sort of noise and that’s what they did). They also laid wonderful eggs, of course, which made our occasional stints of chicken sitting something to look forward to. So I’m hoping that the spring will bring some replacements…
Meanwhile, in other news, the cat is considering whether to forgive her staff for their three weeks unauthorised absence. So far, the jury is out.
December 7, 2012
We had a rare night out last night and I may have consumed rather too many Dark & Stormy Nights* which meant I foolishly let the cat into the house on our return – and by ‘let’ I mean that the cat made a bolt for the front door as soon as she saw us returning and insinuated herself through the gap the moment it opened and I didn’t have the heart to kick her out again. This can only end one way and thus it was that I was woken in the early hours from a vivid dream in which our friends were feeding their dog on fish food to discover there was a cat stomping about on my head saying ‘wakey wakey, it’s four am and it’s a lovely night for a murder so can you let me out please’, although of course being a cat she didn’t say please. I would have just ignored her but that only makes her stomp around on your head harder and I tell you this: don’t be fooled by that ‘velvet paws’ nonsense, cats are not light on their feet and too much dark rum sloshing about the system adds absolutely nothing to the experience.
So let’s just say I was feeling a little under par this morning. Fortunately, the rain yesterday had not only washed away almost all of the ice and snow but had gone leaving bright sunshine and a brisk breeze and I was able at last to get out on my bike and fetch the paper and let the fresh air blow away the cobwebs. I was even accompanied part of the way back by a cheery flock of long-tailed tits who were chirping their way from tree to tree in a charming manner designed to gladden the heart and lift the soul. Which it did. Although on the whole, I could have wished them to be a teeny bit less loud…
*Dark rum and ginger beer; don’t mock until you’ve tried it.
October 19, 2012
A time to enjoy the spectacular colours of nature’s fireworks display …
Or a time to curl up by the fire and hope for spring?
You decide (but given that it’s been raining ALL DAY, I know which one I’m going for…)
July 26, 2012
Sitting out last evening we were joined – briefly – by the cat, or rather she deigned to come over to be stroked, sharpen her claws on the bench, and make sure we weren’t eating anything interesting. Then her attention was caught by the sight of a swallow swooping in through the window of the swallow shed, where the second broods are busy making a squawking racket, and the rival delights of Swallow TV drew her over. She does love to sit on the windowsill and watch them flying around inside but the swallows aren’t quite as keen and have taken to making their displeasure known in an extremely vocal manner so the cat has taken on a bit of a hunted air in recent weeks, keeping one nervous eye on the sky. Even so, it was a lovely evening, the baby swallow racket was soooo tempting, it was getting dark so maybe the swallows wouldn’t fly, if she kept a low profile and didn’t look too much like a cat they wouldn’t attack. And besides they’re only birds it wouldn’t be that …
… frightening. Wrong. Cue enraged mama swallow, and cat bolting for the safety of the car. Perhaps I’m going to have to make her a cap too.
Anyway, we’re off to face a different kind of peril tomorrow – down to That London to see if we can get our bikes across town without being squashed or getting lost or possibly interned for the duration for daring to use one of the Zil Lanes without authorisation. That should give me something different to blog about – and possibly make the risk of aerial attack seem utterly trivial by comparison. If we’re spared…
July 9, 2012
Half way out the window is the place where I sit
There isn’t really any spot quite like it
It isn’t really outside
It isn’t really in
And that’s the way I like it, cos I’m a cat, innit?
With apologies to AA Milne, and the entire physics community
June 22, 2012
It’s not been a good week for the cat (why, what did you think the post title meant?). She has become pretty much nocturnal these days and when the neighbour’s not around and she’s deigned to spend the early evening with us, curled up by our wood burning stove – and yes, we’re still lighting a fire most evenings – come eight o’clock or so she insists on being let out to the great outdoors where there are mice to murder, whether it’s raining or not. There’s been times this week when we’ve woken to the sound of the downpour in the night and wondered just where she is and one morning I did get up to find a forlorn wet cat sitting pitifully on the spare bedroom windowsill, having failed to raise the neighbour, who’s not exactly an early riser.
Yesterday we came home from three days away to find a worryingly undated note asking us to cat sit until Friday. After an anxious hour, madam herself showed up, sprinting out of the bushes and in a more-than-usually affectionate mood which makes walking a bit difficult as she expresses it by rubbing her head against your feet. I managed to get to the neighbour’s without breaking either my neck or hers and fed her although for once she was a bit more interested in saying hello than she was in racing for her bowl. Clearly 24 hours without the household staff around had woken her up to the fact that she needs to pay attention to the people who know how to operate doors.
It didn’t last, naturally. Having eaten, snoozed, and then graciously allowed herself to be stroked, she got up and started stomping around until we let her out into the drizzle. I woke again in the night to the sound of it hammering down but wherever she was she didn’t come to our door until I was up and dressed and then she appeared complaining loudly about the weather and appalling service she was getting, while simultaneously winding herself affectionately around our legs. Or possibly just drying herself off. With cats, it’s hard to tell.
April 19, 2012
We’re back, after a welcome short break in Killin. This morning we were walking here:
an interesting demonstration of what happens when you exclude what my uncle calls the ‘woolly locusts’ (and the deer) from a stretch of hillside for 20-odd years. Those ickle lambs are cute and all, but they don’t half eat…
Anyway, we got home to find some of our swallows were back! They’re late, but we forgive them as long as they hurry up and start hoovering up the midgies. We’d seen a single swallow a few days back, but these ones appear to be ‘ours’ as they were busy checking out their old nesting spots.
And they weren’t the only ones. Lambs aren’t the only things which are cute but have unfortunate eating habits…