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…)
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…
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.
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.
Alert readers may have noticed blogging becoming rather thin on the ground recently (some of you may even care) but the truth is I’ve simply been going flat out. Spring always seems to bring an upsurge in activity as everyone comes out of hibernation and things which had been ticking over in a manageable way suddenly explode into life, usually all at once. Which is one way of saying I’ve managed to massively over commit myself. It turns out getting involved in not one, or two but three simultaneous cycling campaigns may just be one cycle campaign too far. And not only have I been barely able to find time to blog, I’ve not really had time to do much bloggable stuff. Well, maybe a couple of things but you’ll have to just wait for those.
Meanwhile spring has been springing away in a way that’s been increasingly difficult to ignore. Oystercatchers returning, daffodils blooming, days lengthening … and the garden just sitting there making me feel guilty. I was so stressed yesterday the other half even went out and did a bit of digging for me, until it started raining. Other than that I’ve been mostly burying my head in the sand about it but today, cycling down for the paper (and it’s been the first time I’ve managed to do that for over a week) I heard the unmistakeable sound of baa-ing lambs and came across a field full of them, with their mums, all at the adorable pipe-cleaner legs and wobbly cuteness stage. If the lambs are here then spring is here, there’s no getting away from it. I’m going to have to get my act together, and soon because my garden isn’t going to wait for me to be ready for it.
Typically, I didn’t have my camera with me – and I didn’t have time to go back for it either, so you’ll just have to hang on for lamby-cuteness for a while, and with any luck I’ll manage to photograph them before they’re practically mutton.
By way of compensation, I leave you with what happens when I leave the other half, the cat, and my camera together unsupervised. Cuteness of a different order.
I don’t think cats even know what ‘busy’ means…
A bad day on the bike today, and not just because it was drizzling throughout. No, the worst part came when I was almost back to Nearest Village and came across a sad little heap of white and ginger fur on the tarmac. A cat had been run over and who ever had hit it hadn’t even thought to stop to move it off the road. I stopped, checked for any signs of life, then moved it out of harm’s way; even though it was long past caring, I thought its owner might appreciate the gesture. I had just finished writing a note to stick in the letter box of the nearest house when a woman I knew slightly from village events – she always smiles and waves when she sees me on my bike – pulled up & I realised it was her house. As she wound down the window to say hello she was smiling as usual, someone coming home for her lunch, greeting an acquaintance, no clue what I was about to say. The instant my words hit her, she burst into tears, for it was her cat, her beloved old boy. She sat in her car and sobbed and there was nothing I could do but say over and over again that I was sorry, so sorry.
We got a blanket and we picked it up, still faintly warm, and as I left her she was cradling it in her arms and saying goodbye. ‘We thought we might have you a wee while longer,’ she said. Seventeen and still hunting mice, but its reflexes had slowed and no longer able to get out of the way of cars they way it used to. Someone came round so fast and in such a hurry that they either didn’t notice or didn’t care that they’d hit someone’s friend and companion, just left it on the road to die.
It’s only a cat, of course. It’s not as if it was a child – there are no children out on the roads anyway – or even a dog. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter, except to the people who loved it. Not worth being late, just to move a bit of road kill out the way. But really, how much of a hurry do you have to be in not to at least stop? Round here I expected better. And when I opened the door this afternoon to a small wet grey cat – a distressingly road-coloured one – I ushered her in to a prime spot next to the fire. Hopefully we’ll never find her huddled in a heap on the road outside. Even though she’s not our cat, that would be just too much to bear.
*It really did, too. Though it did reach a grand old age, so maybe it wasn’t all that inappropriate.
Those snowdrops must be regretting their imprudence because the frost is back with a bang; we’re not complaining though because it’s dry and sparkly and sunny as well as bitterly cold. Well, maybe we’re complaining a little bit…
Either way, it’s just the sort of weather for snuggling up on the sofa with a warm cat but our days of doing that are over: the neighbour has returned to reclaim his cat, and there’s an enormous (though marginally smaller since the diet kicked in) furry cat-shaped hole in our life. We get visiting rights but it just isn’t the same…
Not ours, but the cat’s. She doesn’t realise it yet, but she’s resolved to eat less and exercise more this year after the landlord pointed out that she was getting a bit tubby under her winter coat and put her on reduced rations. The problem is not so much that she’s eating too much but that with the weather being so miserable – and the sofa so comfortable – she’s barely going out at all. She’s not exactly obese, but there’s definitely a bit more cat there than there should be, especially when she lands on your head in the middle of the night. Her diet was fine for a cat that was happy to spend whole nights out marauding but not really for one who spends them curled up asleep storing up the energy to spend the whole day curled up in front of the fire. So action needed to be taken. We’re not mean enough to chuck her out in the rain all night (although she’s still learning about the kitchen counters the hard way) but, following the advice of this page, we’re trying to get her moving about a bit more. Her legs are too short to cycle, unfortunately, so we’ve got her a couple of ping pong balls which appear to be a hit so far. I’m not sure if the cat’s enjoying them (I think she’s just killing them) but it’s certainly amusing us.
Of course, turnabout is fair play, so we’ve taken action on one of our own long-standing resolutions as well. Nothing so complicated as eating less and exercising more (maybe someone could buy me a fun indoor bicycle toy for when it’s raining?) – but we have finally organised our spice rack*
They’re not in alphabetical order, because that would be absurd. Well, not yet, anyway.
* and not before time. After extensive discussion, sniffing and tasting of some of the unlabelled mystery substances at the back, I’ve a sneaking feeling that the secret special ingredient in my spicy Christmas biscuits this year might in fact have been Garam Masala.
… can I come with you?
Much as I’d like to think that this reflected her intelligence in realising we were leaving, and her desire to come along, I suspect it’s got more to do with the general cat compulsion to get inside anything that she has previously been unable to get into to try it for size. No doubt if we’d been trying to get her into the car with us, it would have been a lot more of a battle.
Be that as it may, wherever you are this Christmas and whoever you’re with, I hope you have a good one.
oh, and in case anyone is worrying, the landlord is looking after the cat.