March 9, 2012
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…
January 20, 2012
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.
January 16, 2012
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…
I don't think much of this episode of Sherlock
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…
January 4, 2012
Are you calling me fat?
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.
December 24, 2011
… 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.
December 21, 2011
I came back from fetching the paper yesterday to find the other half – who professes to dislike cats – lying on the sofa with the cat ensconced on his chest. She interrupted her purring long enough to give me a look that said ‘and you are?’
If this continues, I may come back from one of my trips to London to find the locks changed – and a cat flap installed in the front door.
December 16, 2011
This month we’re in sole charge of the cat, as the neighbour has gone off to Australia and New Zealand, the lucky sod. It isn’t too much of a chore – just a matter of feeding her twice a day and then standing at the neighbour’s front door while she performs whatever complex calculation it is that determines whether a cat wants to be inside or outside at that moment in time. These days she normally opts to spend the day asleep indoors and the night out murdering things but last night, at about ten o’clock, we heard a pitiful miaowing and opened the door to the cat, looking extremely bedraggled and wet, the weather having turned for the worse. Well, we’re soft hearted so we let her in, left her in charge of the fire and went to bed.
Now as the cat’s largely nocturnal you can probably guess what happened next. At five am, realising that the humans had every intention of wasting the WHOLE NIGHT by just blatantly sleeping through it, she took matters in hand and leapt up on the bed purring madly, and reminding us that there were cats to be petted and mice to be killed and possibly food to be eaten and what were we doing just lying about like that? Banished to the far side of the house she spent the next two hours learning how to open doors (a skill completely beyond her when there’s a person around to do it) and then thump thump THUD (she is not a light-footed cat) PRRRRR PRRRR PRRRR miAOWWW!! WAKEY WAKEY! COME ON HUMANS LET’S BE DOING THINGS. IS IT BREAKFAST YET? DID I MENTION I WAS STARVING? whereupon she learned that climbing on the bed and yelling in my ear was the new climbing on the kitchen counter and out into the snow she went.*
Of course, a line must be drawn and standards must be kept up and we can’t tolerate having a dumb animal, however cute, waking us up at all hours, without so much as bringing us a cup of coffee to soften the blow. So I’m going to be firm about the cat staying outdoors at night or at the very least being banished to the far end of the house. Or if she comes into the sitting room she has to stay out of the bedroom. Or our bed. Or the head end of the bed at least. Or if she comes to the head end she has to be quiet and no miaowing. Or at least, no miaowing before 7am. Or no miaowing before 7am IN MY EAR.
And that’s final.
*What? Stop looking at me like that – she has a fur coat on and plenty of sheds to shelter in.
November 28, 2011
We open our bathroom window in the mornings to try and cut down the amount of condensation we get from the shower. The cat has worked out that this is a handy way of getting into the house which is why after a wettish day like today when she spent all day clambering through the window, curling up on a chair for a while to recuperate, jumping onto the kitchen counters, getting thrown out, hunting voles for a while, and then clambering back through the window to reappear in the sitting room with an ‘and your point is?’ expression on her face, our window now looks like this.
We’d put a little cat doormat out for her if we could fit it onto the window ledge. As it is, she seems to have sorted herself out.
November 7, 2011
Despite having failed in our attempt to get it into the cat’s tiny little brain that climbing on the kitchen counters is forbidden, our attempts at – well, training is a strong word, let’s say cat behaviour modification continue. For some reason, the other half’s shed empire has become the place in the world the cat most wants to be, no doubt due to a combination of it not raining in there, it being full of things she hasn’t yet had a chance to climb inside, and it being somewhere we don’t want her to go. Whatever, the minute I slide open the door to get my bike out (I am allowed a small annexe for bikes and/or gardening related equipment) she’s through the gap with surprising speed for an animal that can spend a whole five minutes deciding which side of the front door she wants to be on.* Getting the cat out of an exciting shed full of the sort of miscellaneous junk that accumulates when you’ve got enough space to never have to throw anything away that might possibly come in useful is tedious at the best of times, and doubly so when you’re in a hurry to be somewhere, so we hit on the idea of just shutting her into the shed for a short while and then re-opening the door to let her out, suitably chastened.
All of which has been working reasonably well, at least in theory. In practice, it helps if you remember to actually go back and let her out otherwise the next person who unwarily opens the shed gets a small grey furry streak of lightning bolting past their legs as she makes her bid for freedom…
She’s still in there like a shot the next time the door opens, though.
* a process which I am afraid I occasionally speed up with the application of a gentle toe against a furry behind
September 29, 2011
this was about 2/3 the total
I took advantage of yesterday’s indian summer (which now seems to have vanished up here and been replaced with grey drizzly weather. *sigh*. I can get that in a REAL summer) to harvest my maincrop potatoes.
Digging them up was backbreaking enough, but the real work comes once they’re up and have had their hour or two in the sun (hence the timing) to dry off. They all then have to be sorted into those that will keep and those that need to be eaten up quickly because they’ve been nibbled on or had a fork stuck through them. The perfect ones will hopefully see us through most of the winter, if we can keep them away from the frost and the mice…
Speaking of mice, and the cats who love them, someone else had a better use for the barrow while I went in for lunch, and who can blame her. Get your vitamin D in while stocks last
She was seriously unimpressed when I suggested she might move to make room for more tatties though
The next step? Dig the beds over again and find all the potatoes I missed. There’s always some – and then you dig them over again and there’s some more.