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Sunday, 12 March 2017


I'm in front of the computer, joined by one of our kittens Dixy. She has become so besotted by the computer or more accurately the computer cursor that she will now go into the second bedroom where computer lives and wait for me to turn it on. As anyone with a curious cat or kitten will testify working on a computer and cats don't mix. The reduction in productivity, however, is well worth it. In between chasing the cursor and stamping all over the keyboard, young Dixy is on my shoulder, on my chest, kissing me and purring incessantly. It's impossible to give the kitty the attention she feels she deserves and work: work suffers. Whether she's rubbing up against you, being stroked or having her tummy rubbed she has first call on my attentions. Do I complain? Of course not.

The missus is away this weekend teaching "Wire Beading" at the WI's Denman college in Marcham near Abingdon and I've been entrusted to look after our growing collection of pussy cats.

In order of seniority there's our beautiful ginger tom "Ginja the Ninja" - that's his official name: aka "Billy Bongo". There's our black and white long haired "Silvo". These two are strays that adopted us many years ago. Then there's "Pru" and "Smudge", they're not ours but turn up every morning at our front door. And then there's the newcomers "Pixy and Dixy - now 5 months old.

 The kittens sleep in the front room and are shut in: that's because "Billy Bongo" doesn't get on with them (they love him) and he sleeps on our bed. By the time I'm up "Bongo" has already been let out usually around 5 am. 

The morning routine is as follows. I get up, shut the bedroom door so that when I release the kittens they don't fly upstairs into the bedroom and pee on the duvet. I let the kittens out, and I unlock the door into the kitchen followed by two ravenous adult cats in the making. On opening the cat larder drawer - containing more food than in the rest of the house - Pixy and Dixy have their eyes fixed on me and the packets of food I bring out. This is not a straight forward manoeuvre: it requires knowledge, a good memory and cat/kitten mind reading skills.

There is an abundance of choice, which represents a major test of one's memory. What was the last thing they had before they went to bed? I realise it would help if I left out the previous night's packet on the side; but I always forget. Should I rummage in the waste bin. I do and hope the one on the top is the one they had last night.  In the lower cupboard is the store of plates, saucers, pans etc on which to place their breakfast. A pouch of delicious "lamb, with red peppers, in a shrimp sauce." is opened. I note the approving sniffs from the two bundles of delight and place it before them. By the time I've provided a bowl of clean water, a small bowl of single cream and some biscuits, the plates are emptied and they're gagging for more. Another pouch is opened and its contents devoured .

Now it is the turn of "Billy Bongo" and "Silvo". I shut the kitchen door leading to the backroom, to keep out the Thompson Twins. I then open the kitchen door leading to the patio. The two aged toms are lying on two of the garden chairs we have not sat on for at least 4 years. I greet them with many strokes and for my pains receive a friendly swipe from Billy Bongo with claws. Silvo follows me back into the kitchen suggesting in his mewing way what his breakfast preference is this morning. Billy Bongo has gone off to chase a feline intruder.  Silvo gets through 2 sachets of cat food. Since he's almost toothless his food has to be finely chopped up, but a shovel technique he's honed over the years makes short work of the "Tuna, with a sardine jus" and "Delicious bites of chicken and turkey in jelly." I put a plate of biscuits on the window ledge for "BB" - his preferred feeding station. A fresh bowl of water is placed on the patio for them and any other thirsty feline visitor.

If the smell of kitten poo is overpowering, I will deal with that before any of the aforementioned tasks. Otherwise it's next on the list. Invariably, the kitten will have playfully scattered the cat litter far and wide. After removing any "solid matter" or pee sodden litter I will sweep up and if necessary refill the litter tray.

Now is the turn of the front door "guests". "Pru" belongs to a neighbour across the road, but that doesn't stop her ram raiding our front door. "Smudge" is a recent "arrivee". We don't know where is home, if indeed he has one. He does, however, see us as a convenient and regular feeding halt. The two do not get on; which makes for much spitting and hissing as I open the front door. I, of course, have shut the door between the front and back room to prevent egress for the "Terrible Twins." The two front door guests get what they're given as by now I'm pretty pissed off with my pussy chores.  I've had no complaints, plates are licked clean and I'm allowed to stroke the blighters.

I finish the morning feeding routine with a few handfuls of bird seed for the resident collared doves, and other assorted avians. Now I can sit down to my breakfast of boiled egg and bread, fruit, Greek Yogurt and honey. Leaving me a time slot of a couple of hours before I begin the afternoon feed.

After just two days I'm exhausted. How does the missus manage?

Saturday, 25 February 2017

"We hate mices to pieces"

I suppose it was bound to happen. Our two delightful kittens Pixie and Dixie would show their true colours.

We innocently thought that those wide eyed looks, those pretty paddy paws that felt like velvet, those playful japes meant we'd been blessed with a couple of feline angels. sheer joy to us as we watched them gambol innocently and drink ever so decorously their special kitten milk and biscuits.

What fools we were. The warning signs were there from the beginning. The day they arrived the first thing they did -those little balls of fluff - was to climb the curtains and abseil down. They only did it that once the little deceivers.

The rapid destruction of our sofa, bought when I retired and so lovingly preserved took place while we were mesmerised by the enchanting antic of P&D. The terrorising of Billy Bongo, our magnificent male ginger cat - we thought a passing phase. Until we realised their tormenting resembled the hunting tactics of the two velociraptors in "Jurassic Park".

Then there was the mishap of peeing on the bed. At the time I thought it was an innocent mistake. Looking back I can see it was sheer vandalism and devilment. Pixie or was it Dixie, joined me in bed and promptly and very deliberately pissed on the duvet cover the duvet, the under sheet and the mattress  protection sheet. But it was silent, hidden and deadly.

My quiet Sunday Supp snooze turned into a washday panic as all of the bed linen was bundled into the washing machine.

After that they were banned from the bedroom.

In retaliation they crapped in the second bedroom.

We, foolishly, relented. They were allowed into the bedroom when two of us were there, and as the little blighters planned we were seduced by their oh so careful playing on the duvet. Then they came in unattended.

I should have known mischief was afoot. The other day Pixie had a crap in the litter tray and deliberately missed. She proudly placed a surprisingly large steaming turd on the oak floor. Dixie later stood on the side of the litter tray and propelled all its contents across the living room.

Not one iota of concern, embarrassment or shame, just a quick flick of the tail, a prodding of the dispersed litter and an inspection of the paws and then on to the next blitzkrieg.

This morning I had just eaten my Marmite and butter soaked crumpets - in bed - when Pixie jumped up  and started to attack my toes, then my fingers and finally my phone. I was full of contentment and Marmite and must have dozed off. On waking I felt a slight dampness on my legs. Throwing back the covers, I discovered deep penetration. The little blighter had peed on the bed again: but this time had improved on her technique.

The under sheet, the sheet and duvet and its cover have spent all day in the washing machine and the tumble dryer. Tonight we are sleeping under a tiger themed blanket. The kittens are on the sofa in the front room next to a hot, glowing coal fire with plates of prime tuna and a saucer of fresh cream.

Frankly, we might as well surrender. They have us completely by the short and curlies.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

"I Rather be a Sparrow than a Snail - Yes I would - If I only could"

Having not travelled outside our delightful isle for many, many years I found myself in Svalbard in January ( as regular readers of my blog will know). It has unleashed - there is no other word - the wanderlust in me. Think Phineas Fogg, the Ancient Mariner, Ulysses and Star Lord. Now the world is my oyster and I see unbounded vistas opening up before me. Well as much as a Civil Service pension will allow.

To spread my wings - where? To the East and the lure of the Orient, the ancient Silk Route, the Forbidden City, or the fabulous Pearl Isles of the Java Sea. To the West,  to the Land of Opportunity, to the wide Pacific? North once again to the Arctic and beyond. No South, that is where I want to wander as I wonder.

Places that conjure up adventure, discovery and ice. South Georgia, the Ross Sea, Mordor (aka New Zealand).....Antarctica. I dismissed Australia as being too far north -for God's sake some of it's near the Equator. As for New Zealand, I love their lamb but isn't it just one big "Lord of the Rings' theme park?

I've nothing against South America. It's very big and long, and inspired Simon and Garfunkel, but that was a long time ago. Yet for some reason I felt drawn further and further South until I was at the tip of that vast continent - Tierra Del Fuego. Penguins, Seals, Whales, Polar Bears and lots of other stuff. Perfect.

My hols have been sorted. TdelF in June, via the Ascension Islands, South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands. Now all I need is a suitably large icebreaker.