Day to day musings of a cat minder/ sitter in North Tyneside and Newcastle upon Tyne . For details of services go to

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Welcome to CatMinders

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Pearl " I'm just about to start ...."

Just about to start flicking things onto the floor , waiting for D to come in as she loves to watch him tut and pick up after her .

Kitty , feeling special

Our Kitty , always giving it large .
Hopefully always feeling special .

Feeling Special ....

Very different day to yesterday . Maybe the sunshine and warmth . Late , N and me went to get her a school jacket and then to Borders for cards and a coffee upstairs ( in Starbucks ) . As we were leaving N asked if she could take her coffee away in a cardboard cup and the young man offered to top the coffee up and thus re heat it for her . His comment "it feels like the first day of summer and I want to do something to celebrate and hot coffee for you will be a good start . " N commented on how special a takeaway coffee can make you feel . People hate Starbucks with a passion and I understand the arguments but ... the staff in the two Starbucks I have frequented are amazing . A couple of years ago , I drank a lot of coffee and ate a lot of skinny muffins , and there were days when it was just good to have somewhere in life where everything was always the same . One memorable day when I was carrying too many things , books , magazines , keys , bags , and then on top the tray and right on my back all the cares of the world and the Barista of the Day glanced at me , picked up the tray for me and steered me and half of my belongings to a table in the corner with a sofa attached and indicated I should sit down . Without a word he went back to his coffee making and milk frothing , and though I said Thank you so much , I have no idea if he knew how much that gesture meant .

In 2000 , I became seriously ill over the course of a couple of days and when I finally got through Accident and Emergency and onto a ward , all I knew was the pain in my chest and the difficulty of breathing and the doctor who held my hand when he told me that there was a big shadow on my lung x ray and they didn't know what it was and there were several possibilities some serious but easy to treat and some " more sinister " but he didn't plan on talking through those " yet" . He didn't need to , I had worked out from the line of questioning and overhearing the shorthand " PE" that they were thinking clot ( pulmonary embolism) . I didn't watch Casualty all those years for nothing .
Finally finally finally , a drip was set up and I was lying in a bed and a nurse was standing by me and she asked me if she could try to make me comfortable and she adjusted my pillows and sheets and smoothed my hair and in that moment she was an angel and my fear disintegrated and I felt so completely happy and out of pain and that there was a chance that everything would be ok . Again I thanked her , but her shift ended and I never saw her again and I have no idea whether she had any idea what she did for me .

Scene of Crime...

Scene of crime officer arrived apparently somewhat harassed and not in the mood for conversation and though the large fingerprint which had so excited the officer earlier was too scuffled up to be of any use he was able to capture the big footprint on the side of the door for posterity .
We have been advised that these things rarely happen singly and already number plates have been taken from another car and the windscreen wipers broken off . I open the windows near the bed and contemplate leaping up with the camera should I hear a noise . Alas the camera is downstairs and Toby is too comfortable for me to move so I fall asleep with his paw across my arm .

Monday, 30 July 2007

Grim Day

Grim Day working flat out at the Day Job then home to find D's car has been attacked probably last night . Looks like vandalism rather than a serious attempt to get in or take it away , though who knows . So the RS whatever its called ( with the serious Toad Alarm ) now has a large footprint on the passenger door and the top of the door pulled away from the body and quite badly dented . The Police will be " sending someone round when the shift changes ".
I have been moaning recently about having to park my car at the other end of the street as its always jammed solid down at this end , unhappy about having to walk back from the car in the rain to the house ( lazy git that I am ), but for once I'm grateful that there was no space for mine down here . Its also made me wonder if Colin our neighbour is away as he is an incredibly light sleeper and usually wakes and gives chase ( sometimes in very skimpy attire too , the brave man ) to whoever is disturbing the peace and stealing or damaging things .I'm left feeling a mite depressed , wondering if this has anything to do with the assault on P on Friday and Sat when the girls who attacked also saw the girls coming into this house .
I've had numerous cars stolen and damaged in my time , and not being particularly interested in cars it doesn't bother me much but its scary to think someone might be targetting on purpose . Probably not , but there s a niggling doubt .
Oh well . Tomorrow will be better .

meanwhile the cats ...

Toby and Jessie oblivious to all but their own battles for supremacy

...and the rainbow ....

....the brownies .....

more rain

After a sunny blustery day with great white clouds , finally huge rain drops for half an hour . One of those nights when its great to watch it from behind the glass, whilst making chocolate brownies .

Sunday, 29 July 2007

squabbling cats , chocolate brownies and rainbows

.......Squabbling cats , chocolate brownies , rainbows and falling rain will all have to wait till tomorrow as something is going on uploading wise . User error , possibly . But the photos are all sitting there waiting .


I'm not seeing today's blogs though they tell me they are posted . Are you getting them out there ?


The girls eating barbecue last night on the kitchen floor,whilst Kitty looks on .

Early morning bike ride , and picture showing , if enlarged , our neighbour Sam on the beach near the river mouth , with Jess chasing a ball in the water .

Saturday, 28 July 2007

clear out ?

I habitually wear the same clothes day after day for a number of reasons . I'm sure some of them deeply psychological and which don't bear close scrutiny . There are other factors though . From time to time I ponder the full to bursting wardrobe in my room , and think of a brief foray to seek out a new outfit , perhaps if a night out is on the horizon , or the temperature changes dramatically and I can't wear my pin striped bought-in-winter trousers for a day more in soaring temperatures for the Day Job . (For CatCalls its all much easier . Anything goes really . Cats seem to like me no matter what I wear , and I don't see much of the families really .)

Yesterday was one of those days .. and I tried to gain access to the clothes . First obstacle , Jessie . Open the door and there she is , in before you can stop her , crawling through the piles of shoes bags belts fallen coat hangers and assorted junk, casting her long white hairs over everything and refusing to come within reach so that she can be forcibly ejected . First irritation factor . I feel my hackles rising in a way that is not commensurate with what should be a pleasant task , perusing the belongings and selecting something nice to wear . Second factor . Everything is black . They all bunch together in one confusing horrible dark mass and if you do spot something you like " ooh look a black top " then its the question of the detangling of the coat hangers . Hackles rising nothing . ..As I try to prise out one item without having a nervous breakdown , in goes Kitty to the mix. Two cats at the back of the wardrobe now . I feel sweat begin to prickle and trickle . The room is hot . Thats why I'd rather be downstairs , reading a book , or even out on my bike in the fresh air . It shouldn't have to be like this . I felt perfectly sane before I came looking and now I feel a hundred years old and just want to put my old ( black ) jeans back on . Nothing new there then .

Finally ( for the night out ) , I find a bright green top ( new , and which had therefore not quite made it into the wardrobe along with several other recent purchases , mostly from ebay , and which had joined the clothes-I-wear -every-day -not-to-mention-the-pyjamas hanging over the bannister as the Extension to the Wardrobe threatening to become the main event . And now , happily sorted , I go into the kitchen where the teens are making fairy cakes and N says, with a look of horror on her face , Mum you can't wear that . With a sinking feeling I ask why not " Cos it makes you look fat ". Oops sorry mum . Didnt mean that .
. Too late , its said .
Gutted .
And time to sort the wardrobe , really .

I take a quick peek into D's wardrobe. Its more of a style department really .Tempting just to wear his clothes really , would save a lot of hassle . The doors open readily and with a satisfying clunk . And as they open , a delightful fresh wood smell wafts out . And there , in front of my eyes , perfection in a clothes cupboard .( Admittedly he does have a newly built wardrobe ). I feel faint . Everything is colour cordinated , and length co ordinated , and the hangers all match ( none of this four rusty wire ones sitting alongside three black plastics plus one covered with something fancy which someone gave me for Christmas when I was twelve ) and what is more some of the hangers face one way and some the other to make the distinction between different departments . And it all smells divine . I can't begin to describe the smell . And the colours . And everything pressed and fresh . No balls of junk in the bottom . No cats crawling all over . No shoes in a messed up heap . No hairs . Nothing but choice , and ease . No wonder he always looks as he does . Effortless . It all looks so effortless . Where are the piles of things that dont fit into a proper category ? Where are the things like underpants that surely defy even him . Where the balled up socks ? Where is it all ? I want to lie on the floor and wail .
I long to be different .

So , I ask him to help with my wardrobe organisation . And when I ask ,and he says yes and when , and I say soon , I mean soon . Next week maybe . The week after . Wednesday evening . Certainly not today , this afternoon . I have after all , things to do . Debbie to meet , the paper to read , writing to do . Important things . And aren't we having a barbecue and seeing a film later ? Not now Bernard .

But before I know it , we are upstairs . I am collecting all the extras from the bannisters , chosing a bin bag for the charity shop stuff and he is slinging out coat hangers willy nilly . He deftly pulls out long things short things trousers suits black things cats ( did I say cats? ) rearranges them . I try on three things which I haven't worn which were given me by a friend of my sisters , they go into the charity bag and that's it . Its done . He describes the system he has created . And I have a raft of new things I can wear . And suddenly there is movement between my things . Coat hangers slide gracefully . I can see colours . Different colours .

Fifteen minutes later , N s friend Paige arrives and says " hey ! This is the first time Ive seen you wearing casual clothes . You are always wearing formal stuff normally "
" my mam always wears the same stuff " adds N . "Her formal stuff is also her casual stuff "
Just about sums it up . Not that I'd ever regarded anything I wear as Formal . Its just whatever things I can get at . Without having to open the wardrobe .


Insurance assessor , having walked to the bottom of the yard and scrutinised the roof from there , then perched on the basin in the attic bathroom ( no mean feat ) and pointed his camera out in the general direction of the offending region and taken a few snaps , declares he does not see lost slates and suggests the slates found in our yard ( but Tidied Away and not kept as eveidence ) must have flown off Another Roof . When I ask what the clearly visible hole (which even I can see with my bare eyes ) signifies , he says its just the flashing which has sunk a bit . he suggests we need someone to go up there and clear away the debris and all will be well .

I can't dispute this with any authority as Roofing Man who seemed to think differently , has not sent a quote yet , not have we any actual evidence that he took the ladder and went up to make his own assessement , and as Debbie told me today when we met for coffee , he and his crowd are moving offices and are therefore likely to be incommunicado for some time .

Assessing man may be right , but it was not what I wanted to hear , as now I have to try to organise someone to go onto the roof for clearing debris purposes and I have a feeling this is going to be tricky to arrange as it is likely to be classified as one of those little jobs that no one quite wants to be bothered to tackle . Meanwhile , whilst it remains untackled , we continue to have a seepage problem and thus no point in getting on with the decorating .

Everything is always so complicated and hassling men to do things is not one of my strong points , as preferring to read a book or write for pleasure myself , or even look after a cat , rather than do anything vaguely constructive , chasing others to do my bidding always seems much more time consuming than doing it myself .

Oh well . Something will turn up .

Friday, 27 July 2007

Picture for Matthew and Nancy

Happy memories of your time in the Grand Hotel .
Took this on a lovely warm evening earlier this week . two men at the front of the hotel , taking the air .


Photographing cakes and cups of coffee is becoming a bit of an obsession and its always a sorry reflection when the latte is just not worth getting the camera out for ( luckily a rare event now as coffee production is more and more an art form )
Laid back day with no cats to feed and just a bike to collect ( anyone else have trouble with getting the front wheel off ? the shop men make it look so simple ) and a building society trip to sort out finances , a speed fiends course to book ( Val's course was fully booked , so I will be on my own in September ) and of course the shoe cabinet to clear out so that the thirty four pairs of shoes in the porch , hall, under the bikes , and in D's office, could be safely rehomed . ( Two of these pairs of shoes turned out to be mine , I conclude that N may be developing something of a shoe fetish ). Piles of sand to be vacuumed after shoe clearing , as thanks to our proximity to the beach every homecoming is accompanied by a little heap of sand either in Reception ( hoho) or in the bathroom where divesting for the shower results in a fall of sand as well as a grimy heap of garments on the tiles . Now that Spidery Corners have gone though , I almost relish the crunch underfoot of the sand , making such a contrast to the pristine conditions at floor level . Best not ( yet ) to raise the eyes above the waist though . The ceiling and walls leave much to be desired though there is a sense of Change Afoot . Always promising .


The cats are punching each other like kangaroos but it is always tricky to catch them on camera at such moments . They are cross as wasps and sit squaring up to each other , too close for comfort , faces almost touching , staring and scowling . If I move for the camera I risk pushing them as they are hard up against my foot , fur bristling . I am trapped , tray of coffee , nectarine and bran biscuits perched on the armchair edge , hoping I can hold it together till they are burnt out .The new bathrobe is already sporting a piccalili stain and I dont want that and the laptop awash with strength seven black coffee. the risk being that Toby will panic and retreat in one great backward leap , over the top of me . It's happened before .
Kitty's ears are flat back , like an owl , though she looks manic rather than wise . They are both still , the punching has subsided and I wait to establish whether this is an uneasy truce , the calm before the next bout , or something more . The silence goes on , the ears go forwards slightly and the atmosphere changes . I settle back , the end is in sight and I see Toby's fur soften and his tail subside and shrink . Slowly and carefully he begins to shift backwards , shuffling cautiously until he is right on my foot , withdrawing himself until he is out of range , then he streaks away and onto the table to a patch of waiting sunlight , to contemplate his shortcomings . Kitty raises a paw , examines it pompously and emits a contemptuous sneeze.

Thus the day begins . I return to my breakfast. D is sweating over a court report in the next armchair and I realise that I have no firm commitments All Day . I can plan to collect his bike from its service with perhaps a coffee and muffin thrown in for good measure , if he can be talked away from his desk for an hour . I can chose the next book to get me through the early morning starts ( none for several days though am not sure why this should be. ), the Fay Weldon havi ng been finished this morning at seven . I can tackle the Times crossword . Or , as the post has just arrived ,I can book myself on a speed awareness course .

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Summer ?

N and I have one of our intermittent trips to Debenhams planned for eleven am or at least after Assessor Man has been . She emerges at ten thirty just as he leaves and the three of us debate who might have been in the attic rooms and have moved a heavy trunk and left the light on in the storage room .( All of which I discoverd on accompanying Assessor man on a voyage of discovery leading to him hanging out of the attic window and photographing the Flashing . But thats another story ) .
N and I conclude that it could not have been either of us as the trunk is too heavy and beyond our capacity . That leaves D who insists he would have remembered if he had moved it . He comes back into the room later to point out that his obsession with tidiness would have made it virtually an impossibility for him to have left the storage room door open , light on , and trunk in the middle of the room with duvets cascading onto the floor . I have to admit he has a point . None of us say anything much but our thoughts are all turning towards the Attic Ghost , who has featured from time to time .

N and I both feel under the weather . I have a migraine and have knocked myself into a jelly baby with an Immigran . N is tired . We agree to go back to bed and reconvene at twelve . By tacit agreement we end up resting in the same bed , and Jessie crawls in to join us , though I threaten to eject her if she persists in the claws into my arms routine . She gets the message and we all fall asleep for an hour .
In Debenhams , though my plan was window shopping ( reduced income and all that ) N comes up with eminently plausible reasons as to why we should buy the new school trousers this very day , in the Top Shop dept , rather than Wait . Usually we Wait and all the shops sell out . She tries on a suitable pair but I cannot resist the urge to say " pull them up properly " ( I hear the voice of countless mothers and grandmothers before me , though I manage to sit on my hands to avoid pulling them up myself ) . N gets the giggles and squeals loudly " .... look if I pull them up I ll get a camel toe . " This is another of those phrases of hers which sets me off tittering myself . We buy a pair which would be the right length if she wore them properly but will need two inches hacked off ( how I hate sewing hems ) to enable them to hang nonchalantly at the hips . Which reminds me of Michaela and me and our last hairdressing trip , when we were both fascinated ( perhaps the wrong word but am in a hurry here ; fascinated and aghast all in the same moment , perhaps ) by the young hairdresser and his hipsters positioned below rather than above his buttocks . I digress here . And reflect that I sound about seventy .
And I remember on the way home that during my recent ebay spurt , I ordered and paid for a dress ( for the summer ) . Neither arrived . I must get onto it .


The saga of the bathroom continues . I get excited when something which was supposed to happen , happens . Like the insurance assessor ringing me last night to inform me of his time of arrival today , at between ten and eleven am , as he had agreed he would . I find this hard to believe , accustomed as I am to the old days when people delivering things and assessing things would find it impossible to say even roughly what time they would arrive , so that even walking to the school and back at nine am would be fraught with fears that you would be in all day but for those ten minutes and yes you guessed , back home there 's a grumpy little note on your door, and its up to you to set the ball in motion again ( and book another day off work )

So now I have hope that maybe the bathroom saga will unfold at least to the next stage . I still have no evidence that Roofing Man returned as no quote has arrived . But if the assessor agrees the roof blew off in a storm rather than by some other means ( I stared at the roof myself one day trying to work out what else causes roofs ( rooves ? doesnt look right ? )to disintegrate , when they were only applied quite recently ), he may then recommend a building company other than Roofing Man . Who knows ? And then , when finally the water is not coming in the bathroom window , we can finish the decorating . I've almost chosen the colour . Watch this space .

I should add that Bathroom is already kind of transformed , with skirting boards smooth ( ish ) and dazzling white . Spidery corners and substances adhering to the pipes are a thing of the past . And most of the junk ( toiletries and assorted necessities )are sitting smugly in the new four drawer bamboo cabinet thingy . Why didn't I do all this five years ago ? I think its called Displacement Activity .

Wednesday, 25 July 2007


The Priory as the sun starts to go down , Wednesday eight pm .
Walking round the seafront a strong warm breeze reminiscent of hotter days . Summer ?

Longsands beach complete with kite and boats

Click to enlarge .
Wednesday evening eight pm

Evening view

Love this changing view from the window as summer progresses .
Click to enlarge


Cant resist another picture of Hedgehog as she bustles up and down her domain . Her confidence increases on a daily basis such that when we come into the kitchen after she has settled for the night ( usually she lies down with her feet sticking out the side ) she occasionally eyes us up then decides to stay put . Initially on moving inside for the winter she would get to her feet if we disturbed her , as if ready for action . Now as I squat down by her door to hand her the final snack of the day ( she usually has four grapes last thing ) she stretches her neck towards me and checks the quality of the grapes before getting up to accept them .
Bliss , no more Day Job work this week . Catcalls and leisure pursuits to look forward to , and a visit from the insurance assessors tomorrow .
Phone call from my CatCall last night shortly after I visited little black kitten and we played in the yard for half an hour in the warmth and dust watering plants and chasing butterflies and cat toys . The family ringing to let me know they had returned early from camping so I didnt need to go back this morning . No matter , I will get to see little cat later in the month hopefully . ..

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Blog Envy ?

... further to my earlier post ... Ive just looked again at Neil's post and found myself envious of the fact that he had a comment from "Dana", advising him to join a writers forum online , and wondering whether anyone will ever leave me a comment . Then I notice Tim has left me a comment after all .. Thanks Tim .....and of course D left me one about his legs and the GP s .

blogging , the blogosphere etc

Just been reading Neil's blog ( and thinking what we have in common bloggowise . There are some similarities .... we are both writers at heart , most content with pen in hand , or in my case laptop in situ , probably both using writing as the ultimate displacement activity . Everyone has their favourite( DA) , and in fact it was Michaela who first introduced me to the concept as she described sitting in her mother's bedroom applying layers and layers of make up simply to avoid having to revise for her finals . Mostly folks seem to do "things " in order to avoid having to write , washing the car instead of writing a report being one I was quoted recently ( personally Id rather write the report , all that soapy water up the arms and reaching over a damp bonnet whilst standing in a puddle of soap ) but generally I guess I find writing the ideal reason for generally not just getting on with life , which always seems to me a thing I'd rather think about today and do tomorrow instead .
Driving home today with a literature proramme on radio four I heard numerous novels discussed , including Metamorphosis ( Franz Kafka , I thinkFranz Kafka's THE METAMORPHOSIS adapted by Peter Kuper ) which I read in school , Therese Raquin ( Emile Zola )National Theatre : Productions : Thérèse Raquin and another French novel which I read at A level ( cant remember now ). All this took me back to the books I used to read in my twenties when I was single and as a means of finding things to do after work ( I used to have energy then ) attending courses in French literature with the Workers Education Association and the like . A group of us would meet every week and talk about the latest book , a bit like book groups now ( something Ive never managed to get myself into , for various reasons ), only I suspect we did it in a more academic way as the group teacher would usually be a teacher or lecturer and very serious about it all too . My image of book groups includes a host or hostess , a sitting room in neutral colours and copious drafts of wine , possibly . Ive always secretly envied participants but never quite been able to commit . I digress . The radio took me back , and made me think , I could do that again . Join a group , do a course , read books to order instead of in a slightly sloppy what's next on the pile at the side of the bed kind of way , discarding one after a few lines when I take against it in a fit of pique , picking up another and throwing it back if it doesnt immediately suit . No discipline . I could do a course and discipline myself literarily . Discipline myself in all sorts of ways . Go back to my old habits of cleaning every week , shopping on Thursdays , swim every morning , walk every night etc etc .
But , and this was the point of all this , writing provides the perfect excuse to think about all these ideas , including revelling in the idea of the numerous possibilities whilst in fact putting off taking action until tomorrow as somehow writing has to come first .

Both Neil and myself started writing in support of something else . In his case , to promote his novel and get people interested in downloading a free copy of his book at , or even buying a nice bound and proper looking book with a Greek scene on the cover . Excellent for the summer hols ( summer ? what summer ? Still at least its not flooding here and we have mains water and power still . Well apart from my sister Laura who rarely has water but thats a long story ) .And in my case to get people to look at the CatCalls website . In both cases we seem to have a growing following of readers and in my case thats become reason in itself .........

Monday, 23 July 2007

Cleaning fest

Guinea pig cleaning fest in a mad half hour outside .
Pigs are transferred into outdoor run ( we still have them indoors as still waiting for Summer to arrive ) and they charge up and down unusually for them , wofflings and squeaklings emanating from their general direction whilst we get the hose going and power spray out a large GP indoor hutch and four large cat litter boxes .
As always halfway through the proceedings as I spray high velocity water and pig debris all over myself and any cat poking its nose into things , I notice I am wearing my pin stripe trousers when I have many a pair of old jeans more than suited to this purpose . But no matter . I am always too eager to get on with things to bother to change , though I know in theory it makes sense .
Unusual for the G Pigs to charge about , they are usually all too happy to find a cardboard box to sit squashed up in for the duration , with the occasional foray for a carrot or lettuce . But tonight they seem to be enjoying life , pottering about on their cute legs and making happy chunterings as they find stray hay .
The cats sniff the air gingerly and Pearl makes a mad dash to escape over the wall . We have to grab her as she is stone deaf and we fear she would not last long amongst passing cars and dogs. The other cats are happy to pace around amonsgt the plants and roll in the dust but Pearl cannot settle .
Once the pigs see the hutch appearing clean and dry they set up a loud shrieking , happy to be back in their fresh bed and ready to start the long night's re arranging of the furniture . There is a routine . The hay heck has to be tipped up and all the hay dumped unceremoniously on the bottom . The bed dept has to be fought over and whoever loses that battle then settles for the night in a pile of sawdust out in the open , though there is another covered bed . Hedgehog the large grey roly poly girl usually stays out . Once the house settles for the night she allows herself to relax , and her little feet and legs come out to the side as she lets her belly sink slowly to the ground , sighing as she goes . Something completely satisfying about guinea pigs , especially their sociability . Ours squeak every time we enter the kitchen , especially if we open the fridge door , or come into the house with carrier bags , which they associate with dandelion leaves from outside .
And I swear they wolf whistle at D on the rare occasions when he braves the kitchen in his dressing gown , legs on view .


CatCalls picking up and the little black kitten is a delight , chasing me and everything that moves . One of the advantages of this job is getting to play with numerous cats and kittens with all their little foibles . I prefer houses with good sound proofing , often wondering how the neighbours regard someone like me who goes in and starts an immediate dialogue with the cat , usually in a very loud voice in case they're sleeping upstairs , not wanting to give them a sudden shock if they appear and find me lurking amidst the food bowls and scratching around the litter trays .
Soon after I started I was looking after two cats whilst their family was in Brazil over Christmas and on Christmas Day itself I went in and greeted them loudly with various endearments and wishing them both Happy Christmas as you do , fretting that they were feeling bereft . As I left , after half an hour or so , the door across the landing opened and a smartly dressed man appeared , wished me a good morning , then retreated behind his door . I concluded ( from his bow tie ) that he was a psychiatrist wanting to check me out ,talking to cats and calling them darling and poppet and on a public holiday too . Though on reflection isn't it surgeons who wear bow ties ? The psychiatrists I know usually wear beige chinos and no ties at all .

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Yawning not roaring ....

Pearl, yawning not snarling .
Buzz in the tube on the right .

Disgruntled ....

Called at Blagdon en route to Belsay , and stopped at the coffee shop
there then quick perusal of the various shops . All very well but in the end decided we will enjoy it better when we are older ....or perhaps just when we have grown up .
At Belsay we try to walk round the lake , following a map which unfortunately we have mis -read . We expect the walk to follow the lake in a circle but it goes off in the opposite direction taking us up through the woods ( where I temporarily wonder whether we might get bitten by a tick . I have a thing about deer ticks ) .
The woodland walk would have been just the thing had we not been expecting a lakeside stroll, so we trudge along in silence and I ponder the word "disgruntled " as it seems to fit the bill . A wonderfully descriptive word , it conjures up images of black and pink spotted pigs , with bristly backs , and snorty snouts , rooting in the undergrowth ( perhaps for truffles ) and coming up with nothing more than a grubby nose . And looking around belligerently as they emerge . A bit like we did as we emerged from the woods with " was that it then? " looks on our faces .
Later , as we re enter the grounds , and follow the gardens to the house , I notice the sign advising anyone who thieves plants that they will get their comeuppance . I dont know much about the world of plants and gardens but this one is particularly big and stocked fit to burst with every species of plant I know and I can't help thinking what a churlish notice this is . One of my childhood memories of walks round country gardens was of the women in the party snipping cuttings with their fingers and placing them in plastic bags in their handbags and going home all pleased with their acquisitions ( it wasn't a thing I ever saw a man do . Men in those days didn't have handbags though . Its all different now . )

St Mary's Lighthouse

A flurry of CatCalling this weekend including two visits which take us past the lighthouse . We stop to take pictures and muse about the weather . Floods in various counties west and south , and the news shows cars and people floating .
Later we go out to see a film and bundle up in coats for the occasion. July . Summer holidays . Wierd. Global warming ? Global cooling and flooding .

The cats don't seem too bothered . A wonderful British shorthair with the softest fur and a little black kitten who likes to play hide and seek .

Buzz the hamster , perhaps reacting to the change in environment , has carried a pile of sawdust up to his wheel on top of the cage ( reminds me of Center Parcs with all its flumes and tubes and plastic balls for play purposes ) and settled down there for the duration . A wise move , possibly .

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Bike ride ? Rather have a coffee

Celebratory coffee and ricotta and mixed berry muffin in cafe royal after Bravissimo . Is that an apple or a heart in the froth ? I couldn't decide . Either was it was a thing of perfection .
And the cause for celebration ? Bravissimo had no problem understanding why I was returning two , not one bra , with different explanations for both , and within seconds had credited my account and more to the point scuttled off to find me a replacement in the right colour and style . Result . Bravo .
I attempt to sign up for my speeding awareness course online but lo and behold am premature in my wish to atone . I do not yet have a reference number from Drivetech SAS . I will just have to wait . Perhaps this is part of my problem , this desire to be ahead of myself . Clearly I need to slow down a bit .
Still time to find out which course V is doing ? It must be fate .

hamster , what hamster ?

Kitty , studiuosly ignoring the hamster .
" Those Birmans are pathetic , fawning over a rodent which looks like an animated teddy bear ... cuh "

Thunder ?

Writing late last night I could hear the roll of thunder in the background . Engrossed , I thought no more of it . Half an hour later , as I contemplated a coffee break , I noticed the thunder again . If that was indeed thunder it had now been rolling for some considerable time . It was certainly blustery outside , but thunder over all this time ? Maybe it was the wind in one of the bedroom chimneys ?
Half way upstairs I realised the noise was louder and coming from the Hamster Room . Buzz , our house guest , in her wheel .
I brought her down , and whilst we watched tv , the cats watched her . Like Daisy she seemed to find no fear in being watched by two large cats . They prowled , lay down and tried to draw her towards them by patting the cage , rolled about in sheer frustration at being unable to entice her out and finally retreated across the room and turned their backs .
Kitty studiously ignored the whole charade . This hamster is nothing to do with me . I ignore her very existance . Toby finally extended a paw , Birman style , and sulked .
The police have written to me . I have a choice to make . I can pay the sixty quid for the speeding offence , and have three points added to my licence . Or I can attend a course , pay sixty seven quid and not have the three points added to my licence . I understand my sister s friend V is going on the course . I wonder if I can find out when shes attending and go on the same day . Suppose that's not really the spirit . The course nformation is strict . If I appear late , I will not be allowed admission . I am to allow sufficient time for my journey there ( so as to avoid further offending I imagine . ) I am to present for the course in a fit state to participate . If I appear intoxicated either by alcohol or drugs I will be refused entry or required to leave after entry . Oh dear . It all sounds quite scary really .
Meanwhile the rain batters on and our long ( ish ) planned bike ride is off . So instead D books his bike in for a service and I gird my loins ready to do battle with Bravissimo ( again ) . This time ( have I mentioned this already ? ) the brand new creaking bra which arrived on Thursday , has already come adrift. A piece of fabric has parted company with the " band " ( see how I know my terminology now though ) after two half days of wear . I know in my bones they will be delightful , but they will not have my size in the style and colour I need and will helpfully order me yet another , to be delivered through my door , but sadly in three weeks time , as they will also be out of stock wherever else they hold their stock . And I will be back to wearing a bra-which -doesnt- fit like the rest of the population who haven't yet discovered Bravissimo .
Oh well .

Friday, 20 July 2007

Surf's Up !....

... though you may have to enlarge the picture to see the surfers .
Today we take delivery of a cute hamster and a box of business cards ( free from and some CatCalls post it notes . I don't know which to be more excited about , being confined to the house in the post Immigran aftermath . Apart from two pick -up -the -keys- CatCalls that is , one first thing and another later today . The hamster is our latest house guest and will be staying for three weeks whilst Steph is in Italy . Although she is resident in N's room as safe haven from cats , I resolve to bring her downstairs later when close supervision is possible and she is awake and wanting to exercise . Her size surprises me though N says she is smaller than our Daisy was , and watching her reminds me of Daisy's acrobatics . Kitty is already starting to hang about outside the door . It was her long term ambition to have a closer encounter with Daisy . Time for me to start panicking again about how wise it is to have a hamster in the same house as four cats .....

Last night

A new resolution to revive the habit of walking to the sea each night , and since I was dropping a video at Deb's , this took us past the church . As we returned , and before I went out to water the tomatoes and beans and peppers in the back , I picked up an enigmatic message on the answering machine . A robotic voice ( a text message left in error on a landline rather than N's mobile ) : Tell A Bee that her grand maw is keeping ( pause ) The Dorg . X
I tranlsate this to mean that Nat is to let her friend Abbi know that her grandmother is keeping the dog , but it means nothing to me and later , N explains that the ongoing saga of the dog continues and that Abbi was upset all day as their dog was to be sent to live in Darlington as her hairs were causing a health problem to a member of the family . Finally Grandma had come up trumps and said she couldnt let the dog go .
Sitting watching tv later , I must confess I wasn't seeing a thing on the screen but was thinking " there 's a dog there that needs a home and we need ( want ?) a dog .... isnt there a match here ? " , but not wanting to say anything until this thought has been properly mulled over . I'm trying to learn to be less imulsive here , and look its working . I also know there would be difficulties . The dog would only need a temporary home as there is a plan afoot for Abbi 's mum to move house so that they can keep the dog ( the dog was with dad) . How would it be to have her for a while then to let her go ? I'm not sure this would work . But , the thought was there . And the cats ? Whilst they would boss a small puppy round whilst it was new , a big grown up dog arriving would be a different matter . In the final analysis I don't think it's any kind of answer . Also if Abbi and Nat were walking the dog together , whose dog would it be ? Blah blah .
But , and this is the point here , I go off to bed with a headache , and having taken Immigran at 5 am , have an amazing dream that we get a wonderful dog , a bearded collie . There are two of them in the frame and there is a debate about us having both , but finally this doesnt happen , and this great soft pillow of a dog is lying on a day bed ( another aspiration of mine ) with my head resting on her as she is so chunky .
But we don't want a big dog . We've always had little dogs and the shar pei , though delightfully wrinkled is too big and has been rejected for that reason . Even when crossed with a pug and called an oreo pei or some such ( I may have that slightly wrong ) it's still a substantial dog .
But I remain even more convinced that we don't have to go looking for the dog . the dog is going to come to us .

Thursday, 19 July 2007


My replacement bra from Bravissimo has arrived at last , exactly on the day predicted . I manage to squeeze into it and it makes a strange groaning creaking noise which is slightly alarming , though I speculate that when buying from the shop its probable that any bra has been tried on a couple of times at least and rejected and thus has been slightly stretched in the process. This one however has been delivered straight from the factory or the warehouse or wherever Bravissimo bras begin their lives and is pristine . It feels enormously tight but I know now that this is the key to successful bra fitting so I take the plunge and strap myself in for the day .
Things are coming together . The bathroom is looking good , though I have no evidence that Roofing Man actually climbed up to the roof on Monday morning as there was no one here to witness the event .
Meanwhile Insurance Claim Assessor has arranged to come out next week to survey the scene . The rain continues but less forcefully and there is less water entering via the window . I have almost chosen the colour for the walls . The toilet roll stack is intact and Jessie has taken up temporary residence on the cream bathmat .
And its the weekend , almost , as well as the start of the Summer Holidays . Bliss.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

I go to meet people after work to plan a conference and so pick up an e mail from D , back from Sheffield . He likes the bathroom cabinet but suggests its wrongly placed and makes some suggestions about moving the laundry basket into N's room which leaves her filling that one ( she could fill it daily with her stuff ) , and meaning I will not be able to use that one thus will have to share his which is in our room . As he points out , I wear very few clothes , so this shouldn't present a problem . He has re re sited the bin back to its original place as it matches the new cabinet . A point I had failed to note .
He is clearly not happy with the downstairs cabinet , stating in the e mail that the colour of the wood had surprised him . His comments surprise me , as it seemed fine to me , my only concern being the missing screwdriver and my inability to fix the castors which I had built myself up to . I return home at nine and look again at the wood which looks a very fine colour to me . He points out that it is nothing like the other wood in the room , despite the fact that he had ordered it on the basis that it would match . I see that he is right , and find it hard to see how I could have failed to notice this myself .
The bathroom looks great. We bring his laundry suggestions to fruition and I notice how he has stacked the thirty seven toilet rolls in a perfect three deep tower .
Really , its great to have him back . And as he always says , men can be so useful .

Marketing -his -novel -Neil notes blogging as the perfect displacement activity and really I think he is right . But there's also the life-as-blog syndrome .
I'm almost tempted to photograph the bog rolls .

Tuesday, 17 July 2007


Wonderfully satisfying 10 pm onwards allocating drawers in the new cabinet and clearing off the windowsill which was where toiletries were formerly stored . Some difficulties over fitting the cabinet against the right wall , necessitating some re jigging of the 37 toilet rolls which were lurking behind the door and completely re siting the bin . N favours the sytem in one of her friend's houses where the bathroom is kept clear and family members carry their own toiletries into the bathroom on a need only basis , from their bedrooms . In fact we had quite a companionable chat about all this and some other matters . I know this system would never work for me . Shower would be on , I would be happily under the water , hair dripping , reaching for the shower gel and .... it would be like camping all over again . Queing for half an hour for a hot shower and reaching front of queue only to discover the shampoo was back at the ranch .

The pointy screwdriver ?

Stepped out to get coffee and get caught in a thunderstorm .
Later , the storm catches me unawares at home just as a delivery van brings two large boxes of cabinets ( bathroom and laptop area ) which I had forgotten ( temporarily ) we had ordered .
Thus I find myself composing and typing in a text for D which says " where do we keep the pointy screwdriver " . Im being polite of course , I know exactly where I used to keep two screwdrivers , one of each type if you know what I mean . One with a flat end and one with a pointy end so that no job would defeat me . I go to the drawer and someone has moved the pointy one , and the flat one , which I attempt the job with , has to be rejected as I know in two minutes I will be stripping the screws and the whole job will go t**s up , as all the teenagers round here say , with great regularity and very seriously , as if not appreciating that for me, and perhaps others of my generation , there is a very real image attached to this little phrase.
I don't send the text in the end . I can predict that D in Sheffield will not know what I mean by a pointy screwdriver , and I haven't the stomach after a day report writing and attending meetings and driving round Walker lost ( until I manage to work out that the reason the satnav isn't working , this time , is due to remote control battery failure . ) I am so used to the satnav not working , and trying to figure routes out without it first , that its only when its clear I am not going to find my destination that I make a last ditch attempt to solve the satnav- not- working- thing with the simplest solution , two new batteries .
I then try to add the castors to the new cabinet myself by hand , without benefit of screwdriver and abandon that fairly quickly too .
Now I'm resigned to waiting for the return of the man who won't know where my screwdriver has gone , but will have a boxed set of his own all present and correct . Tense ? Who Me ?


Just read the dooce blog today about hate mail and wondering , again , who it is who is reading my blog ? The records show a startling increase in the daily numbers , even yesterday , a Monday, being higher than the weekend figures . People seem to be coming back . Heather B Armstrong , who makes a living from blogging , seems according to today's blog to attract a high level of hate mail and I have to confess to finding the few samples she had posted highly amusing . Reminiscent of the ungrammatical text sent to D after he refused to trade his MR2 for a very un ok other-type-of-car , the name of which escapes me . ( everything seems to escape me these past days ) . I guess hate mail when directed personally could be deeply upsetting , but for myself I'd be delighted to get some feedback or some idea of who is reading the blog , why , and well Im not sure what else . Any comments gratefully received .

A long and complex dream about cotton wool and puffalumps and woke , finally with a dry mouth and a big fluffed out Toby cat tucked under my arm . The door opening had been done without me and cats were positioned all about the room waiting for me to emerge . 6 30 am and the shower runing already . I squint about trying to make sense of things and see Jessie climbing carefully into D 's overnight bag and everything falls into place . Someone has dropped my glasses onto the floor and there is an odd crunch underfoot as I stand on them . Great start to the day .
I wonder if Windermere is still there .

Monday, 16 July 2007


I hate finishing books . It was hard to get started with Marina Lewycka, Two Caravans though I had loved her Short history of tractors in the Ukraine , and in fact it took me two attempts in between which I switched to something else , the name and details of which escape me it being at least two weeks ago . Something by Nina Bawden I think , who writes brilliantly and whose husband was killed in a train crash not long ago . Again I should know where that took place , but again , Ive forgotten . Paddington maybe . I remember at the time being shocked that bad things happen unexpectedly and just as tragically to well known people too . I digress. I hate it when books end . Having found Two Caravans hard going for about five minutes ( when I tried starting at around midnight probably at the end of a Day Job day ) , I then re tried soon after and found it incredibly poignant , tragic and very very funny all at once . Its definitely not a good idea though if you want to continue eating chickens and conversely could be very useful indeed of you are contemplating the vegetarian lifetstyle.
I see the last few pages approaching and feel myself slowing down . It makes the long nights bearable if I know there are people there by the side of the bed whose lives I am part of in some small measure , to share them with . A friend of mine , who clearly hit the insomnia thing before I did , talked once of treasuring the extra time for reading and I am eternally grateful to her ( thanks Barbara , though I expect she will have forgotten she said it by now ) for providing this take on something which I know many people find troubling , exhausting and indeed a source of anxiety all of its own .
A point is reached as the little pile of pages decreases when it becomes inevitable and my only way to cope is to start foraging for new material , either re reading something old ( with my memory this can be very rewarding ) , ordering something from e bay or Barter Books .
So now that Two Caravnans is done , its over to Fay Weldon .( She may not leave )

The day job

So tricky to do anything at the end of a day job .Today it even starts differently . The alarm goes off and wakes me with a jump at 6 45 , which is odd as for months now I have not slept well and become accustomed to waking several times , reading to send me back to sleep at four am , five am , and sometimes 6 . But in the last few nights Ive been sleeping heavily and waking at alarm time feeling confused and unclear about whether getting out of bed is such a good idea . Usually I'm raring to go ( admittedly often due to boredom and that " might as well get on with the day " feeling when sleep is elusive .I try to post two photos from yesterday and though the blog reports success the blogs fail to appear ( though I manage to get them in the right place later ) .I sit in a long traffic queue and ponder the week ahead .What seems like minutes later in time , but years in how I feel , I'm in the same traffic queue but reverse direction . There has to be more to life than this , arriving home knowing there are more reports to read . Roll on Wednesday evening !I want to be CatCalling , writing about things , out on my bike , not staring into space drained of energy .And shar pei s look like nice little wrinkly dogs .... any advice ?

The walls of keys , yesterday, Belsay Hall

Each of the keys has a separate brown label with script in copperplate describing which room or area the key relates to . The labels themselves are fasinating , the topiary garden , the women's room , the loud room , the dirt room , the boot room and the coffin room ( the coffin room ? How many houses have a separate room for coffins ?)

Making beds

Toby in a pile of bedlinen as the beds are changed .

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Plug holes , pugs and a picnic

Our plan for the day once the usual bike ride has been discounted due to two flat tyres and the wrong valve for the pump for one of the bikes ,is a relaxing morning followed by another day at the Art at Belsay Hall .
We meet at the picnic tables at one and I explain to anyone who will listen about my bilious attack shortly before departure due to a bad smell in the house . This is to do with a Drain Problem which becomes obvious when I step out of the shower and smell bad eggs . I start to explain that although the smell is downstairs and near the back door , I know the problem links to the upstairs drainage system due to a former bad smell in the bath plug area upstairs . Sitting at the picnic tables and passing food extensively between the six of us , my sister queries how I can be so sure and I say "When it happened last time and I sniffed the bath plug hole .....
" Sniffing the plug hole , as you do " , she quips , waving a pork pie in my general direction and we are convulsed with silly giggles .
A family at the table behind us looks on benignly and smiles at our hilarity .
One of the rooms at Belsay has old keys attached to all four walls , hundreds of them all relating to doors around the house and estate . The one above is for " the loud room " .
I have become so obsessed with the possibility of a pug that I imagine I see them at every turn .
Rather in the way of a bereaved person who sees the departed one in ghostly form in unlikely places ( I myself saw my grandfather near the airing cupboard , not a place I could envisage him much in real life ).
Later , after the Art but before the walk in the threatening rain to the castle , as we have tea in the Marquee , L sets herself the task of choosing the perfect puppy for us . The Hexham Courant advertises only farming type dogs eg collies and of course weaner piglets , ferrets , and cockerals . She is keen to promote the Jack Russel terrier but I am not keen , feeling that a terrier would be poorly tolerated by the cats .
" You need something with wrinkles " she announces confidently, and I know what she means , though her suggestion of a Boston terrier is also rejected on the grounds that they are too manic for our household , and that when coupled with the guinea pigs on a loud day , and the cats , and the Teen music , and D s music , it would not do and what we really need is a calming influence . I am thinking shar pei at this point and resolve to investigate them on Epupz. We are talking serious wrinkles here .

pug puppy

Spent hours on google and epupz yesterday trying to find a Suitable Dog . Laura reckons I should try for a smooth terrier and D ( sportingly , given his qualms ) came home with a dog magazine from the supermarket ( he likes dogs but frets that it too will want to sit on his desk and rest the head on the keyboard . I personally fear it may make heavier demands than even he has considered , but it would not be wise for me to rehearse them here ) .
It feels unfair not to give due consideration to the possibility of a pug , given it was N who wanted the puppy in the first place , but I worry about the fact that " the flat faced dog does not cope well in the heat " , and mentions of cleaning its sweaty folds leave me with many questions .
My mind wanders to a pug cross and I look at photos of pugs crossed with beagles ( puggles ) , with king charles spaniels ( pugaliers) , with shih tzus ( there was a name but it escapes me ) which look the most appealing to me , fluffy rather than butch . They all cost loads of money and are situated counties away .
Any suggestions from anyone out there ? I confess I'm stuck .

PS . I myself would like a long haired minature dachsund but when we talked ( in hushed tones , whilst waiting in the posh seats in Bravissimo , N said dismissively , we cant have one of those , theyre too long . )

Morning Pearl

Camera unusually situated near the bed so I catch Pearl resting on the chest after the morning door opening ceremony which preceedes Guinea Pig Breakfast and Cat Swarming in the kitchen .
I find Jessie pawing distractedly at the floor and closer inspection reveals a dollop of something unmentionable which has failed to drop in the litter tray and which she is determined to cover up somehow by pawing at the wood . I deal with that then skid in my bare feet across a wet patch near the doorway . ?? Time for more furr ball treatment, possibly .
Fortunately my stomach is strong and I take a tray back to bed laden with strong coffee , wholemeal bran crackers and nectarine , which I later lean into with my newly acquired robe thus completing its initiation into what passes for life in this house in this place . Having economised successfully for several weeks now in preparation for the reduction in Day Job hours , the arrival of the Prosecution notice led me to a feeling that a purchase was coming on and as N and I had to take ourselves to Bravissimo again ( her this time , not me ) , I dived into M and S whilst she was in La Senza ( says it all really ) . The purchase of such an item is of considerable importance to me , more so than that of Proper Clothes since I spend great tracts of time Sloping Around thus attired . But since my choosing time was limited it felt like something of a rush purchase and as I emerged last night from the bathroom , N stared at me aghast , taking me by the hand and leading me into her room where her friend P was lounging palely on the bed ( the two of them having partied until 4 am the night before ) , Look she said do you think my mum looks like a really posh bathroom or what ?
What ? said P .
What do you mean ? I said I am a really posh bathroom . And left before further comment ensued .

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Northumbria Police

A letter arrives from Northumbria police addressed to me and D pales .
Those longstanding followers of the blog will recognise that his keen interest in performance cars is also linked with a tendency for Speed which has not gone unremarked by more than one police force in the North of England and only last year I accompanied him to a hearing which might have resulted in the loss of licence . However he escaped by promising to turn over a new leaf and indeed selling the WRX Impreza .
Thus his fear that he may have again exceeded the limit , this time in my car .
I opened the letter with curiosity . Anyone who knows me will confirm that my driving speeds are twofold , slow and slower . I reduce obsessively to 30mph when anywhere near houses , streets , shops or people . The advertising campaign with the little girl telling us she dies if we hit her at forty mph worked for me . That coupled with the fact that I was myself hit by a car as a toddler is enough to slow me almost to a standstill at times .
So , what a shock ! the speeding was my misdeameanour , last Friday , when I drove out of Haydon Bridge at 35mph .
D's colour returns and he offers his genuine condolences about my bad luck , how unfair it is that I am to be prosecuted when only five over the limit etc , blah blah . But he can't help grinning with relief that this time its not him and .... even possibly some slight amusement that its Ms Holier Than Thou to face the music .
For half an hour I'm mortified , then I see the funny side . But from now on my driving will be Even Slower .

Cockle Picking ..?

What are the men picking at low tide ? This morning they carry buckets and pick into those . Some days though they are out deep in the water , up to their waists , and they apparently carry nothing . They bend , pick something up , bend again , but impossible to see where they store the catch .. in deep ( wet ?) pockets somewhere , possibly ? Once I sat in the rain for several minutes hoping they would emerge from the sea and I could ask them about it . But they were out there for the duration and I was drenched .
The skies stormy this morning and the seabirds shouting loudly and circling inland . A bad weather sign apparently . Not looking good for the mouth of the Tyne festival in the village today ......
(Enlarge the photo and spot the shopping trolley in the water ? Only in the North Sea ...)

Friday, 13 July 2007

Storm Damage

A tel call to the house insurance about the roof . He starts by asking what the problem is and I tell him the slate has blown off ( storm damage ) and there is water leaking and the ceiling needs re painting and the window is all wet and flaking . ( So far so good ) . He then takes the policy number and asks how I pay my insurance contributions ( with difficulty , I think , smirking to myself , on top of all the other bills ) , then he asks ( and I feel my Grumpy Old Woman irritation start to stir) , reading off a form probably , and how did the damage occur ? I resist the temptation to tell him Ive just told him , but leave a gap in the coversation to indicate my slight disbelief , and say " the slate came off " . This will serve to remind him . " And how did the slate come off? " he asks and I leave another gap . " Storm damage " . Storm damage ? he repeats , sounding slightly incredulous . " And when did this storm damage occur ? In the last storm . And when exactly was that ? No idea . I say . Well when did the slate come off ? Dunno . Deep breath . I am polite again . He has after all to fill in a form .
Later , he informs me that a representative from x company will ring me before the close of business to arrange to send someone out .
Five minutes later the aforementioned company rings , telling me that another representative will ring within four days to arrange an appointment to come out . Everything is going to plan .

Synchronicity revisited

Maybe I just like the word but I googled it this morning , whilst trying to work out why my flame wars blog wouldn't post . Simple really . I wasn't logged in . Everything in life these days involves being logged in . And being logged in is not something I am , for much of the time . Much of life sees me drift by completely unlogged in to anything in particular , except cats of course . I see a cat anywhere and the world changes colour . First entry was a wikepedia analysis of synchronicity , but not far down the list was an organisation called . Within minutes I was meditating along to a "sample pack " of hi tech something or other . A man's voice and some music . The pack was billed to last fourteen minutes. After six , and when the man went silent I found myself glancing out of the window and noticing the stillness out there . No cats in view , all being next door indulging in Desk Wars . No children walking past , it being just after eight and too early for the stream of morning school passers by . No rain . The quality of the light though was too good to miss and meditation or no meditation I had to take a couple of photos , from where I sat . It didn't disrupt the meditation of course . the strangest thing , when I held the camera , there was a wide band of purple light which didn't show at all in the potograph .
Next , five minutes later , I remembered I hadn't texted Debbie about our arrangements for tomorrow .... and there was the phone right on the chair arm . I caught myself texting before I knew I was doing it . Then Laura . I needed to let her know just how tricky things had been this morning . Before I knew it I was thinking of the meditation retreats I went on with Michaela at Throssel Hole Priory and the things that distracted you endlessly from meditation in the hall with the golden Buddha statue . The way your back ached . Your knees ached . That you weren't allowed to wear make up . That your back ached . That you were falling asleep on your feet . Your knees . Your back . Your neck . And the little mouse scooting across the floor in the dining room as you picked your way across the stone flags looking for the lavatory at dead of night .

I force myself to wait until the fourteen minutes are up and google Throssel Hole .Amazing place .
This is meditation after all . The mind wandering and being brought back . Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, Monastery and Retreat Centre in the Soto Zen Tra

test post

my previous post Flame Wars has refused to post .... lets see whats happening with this test one .

Flame Wars

Flame wars rage on the listserv which has over the years given me e mail debate and discussion on aspects of therapy . Until a week or so ago the list was struggling , after several successful years , to maintain itself . Intended initially as a discussion and help forum for those practising in a particular way , so that participants could post a problem or a situation where they were " stuck" and receive help from others more experienced or who could offer just a fresh pair of eyes , recently it has been fizzling somewhat . I blame the rain , though irrelevantly since the list involves people from all over the world . It can't be raining everywhere ?
A couple of weeks ago an ex -participant ( whom I think may have been banned at some stage in the past ) has re appeared , and stirred up considerable feeling . The usual polite , sensitive and careful postings have given way to what can only be described as flame wars .
I confess I open my In Box with more excitement than usual .
And am reminded of something I read in a Buddhist tract somewhere " is it my intention today to make war ? Or to make peace ? "

Thursday, 12 July 2007


Just the day after we place our first adsense advertising on the blog an article appears in The Times about blogging and money.Blogging for dosh - Times Online.
This reminds me that I really need to reread that book about synchronicity and nuclear physics which seemed to make such perfect sense at the time , though when I came to try to explain it to someone I got in a tangle and couldnt recall much beyond what I already believe about synchronicity . And now sitting here I can't recall the name of the book or even the authors name , though it is currently situated beside my bed and I step over it every night and morning . I need an article about How to stem the ageing process or Improving your memory which may be far more useful than making money through advertising .

Roofing Man arrived and looked and prodded a bit and will come back with a ladder early next week . Progress indeed .
SynchroDestiny the book was called ( I've just looked ) and the author Deepak Chopra . How could I forget though I'm now doubtful that it was about nuclear physics . What do I know about them ?

The book which is currently worth waking for at five am is Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka , who wrote the book about tractors in the Ukraine . Highly recommended .

Desk Wars

The continuous battle for supremacy in Desk Wars continues. My Laptop dept is of little interest to them . I write and have always written perched on a squashy armchair and though there are five seats in the room we all favor the same one ( me and the cats that is ). But Birmans are easy to shift without consequence , flopping into the limp position when lifted and replaced , so they can be relocated in the second best chair if necessary .
Not so Kitty .
She has little interest in fighting over chairs with me , preferring to seek out the occasional shafts of sunlight and lie on the floor flat on her back with her belly exposed ( the same belly which appears to make lying like a normal cat untenable ).
She is much more herself in D's office , engaging in the daily tussle for who gets the desk first , and once there , how best to lie the head on the keyboard for maximum disruptive effect . The cats all adore that desk , partly because D is an easy target . His feelings are written all over his face as he returns from a quick coffee break to find the head has pressed Escape and his report is Disappeared . He mutters and comments and makes tutting noises which add to their delight , and in the case of the Birmans he moves and pushes them into place and instructs them on where to sit and which places to leave alone and how to follow the path he has made through his belongings to the window behind the desk in order to minimize the number of paper clips and scissors that go flying .
Not so with Kitty , who is She who must not be antagonised . Say no more.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Pearl Birman , the butter wouldnt melt blue point

5am . My eyes hurting . I wake . Try to sleep . Read . Cant read . Eyes hurting .
6am . I open the bedroom door and the Guinea Pigs squeal hugely . Come down for eye drops and feed them lest they wake the household . The cats start their swarming .
6.30am . Seems pointless to return upstairs . I open the laptop.
Pearl starts her morning routine early . A flying leap onto the high mantelpiece . Lands and slides . Centres herself and stares into the mirror nonchalantly . Looks out into the room for D , who looks on her antics less fondly than we do , not wanting to waste her performance if he is not there to witness it . Ponders a while . He is clearly not there . Is it worth the effort of flicking off a few articles , just so he will see them out of place the minute he enters the sitting room ( left impeccably tidy late last night ?) Or is it better to hang fire till he is there to watch ? She gives a cursory flick with her paw and peers over the edge as the nail clippers fly off the edge , landing with a disproportionate crash on the old Victorian tiles . Hm , perhaps one more thing . A packet of strawberry and cream flavoured hard boiled sweets go flying . Thud . Hardly worth it . A card from William next door . She pushes it hard with an upward movement but it practically floats . A look of disdain . She edges towards a little bottle of expensive cuticle oil , stll boxed for added protection and gives it a slight push . Another glance at the door . No sign of him . The oil would certainly make him squeak , later , and she hesitates , pushes it back into place and lands with a thud of her own on the carpet .
7pm . D enters the room stage left , and heads straight for the fallen articles. Pearl grins from her parking space under the table .

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Overloaded head and eyes

My head overloaded by the DayJob as ever at the start of the week and now my eyes overloaded as well , conjunctivitis plus dry eyes strikes in earnest so I confine myself to looking at the weekend photos and congratulating myself hugely for engaging the services of Roofing Man . At least he is coming to Have a Look on Thursday am which is a step in the right direction . And it would appear that D has ordered the cabinet for the bathroom ( 4 drawers), not to mention a 2 drawer chest for the Area near my Laptop Dept ( where numerous piles of Stuff accumulate ) to calm his OCD tendencies and hopefully curb my untidy tendencies in the process.
The painting remains unfinished but getting there , only a few lengths to go . We're only talking the skirting boards so far though , the colour for the walls not even chosen yet , though a paint chart lurks in the kitchen .
And the really exciting thing ? The blog continues to have a sizeable following and the website is
attracting interest too.....
And now I need to get off here and attack the eyes again with more drops and liquid tears blah blah ( or so I'm told ....)

Monday, 9 July 2007

Saturday 7pm , Waterhead

Look no rain ....

This is the scene at Waterhead at 7pm , we can hardly believe we are in the Lake District and it's not raining .

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Sunday morning

Sunday morning view with coffee, Newby Bridge .

Click on the picture to enlarge and see the birds .

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Mandy and the boat

Mandy , Siobhan , Oonagh, Granny,Eilish and in the foreground , Cate , on the occasion of Gerard's sixtieth birthday , on the boat .
This was to be the last time we spent any time with Mandy . Autumn 05.

Birds squabbling, Painting as therapy

This was last Friday morning , the day we got caught in the rain , this half an hour before the rain fell . Down at the ferry landing , where we stop for a breather , watch the boats and the big ferries and the seabirds nesting and shouting . Click on the picture to enlarge it and the birds are visible on the parapet of the house , squabbling and jostling for best place .
Glad of the painting last night as therapy . More teenage Angst . Wonderful to have the house to myself for a couple of hours , painting rhythmically , covering up pipes and wires and everything that comes in my way . Cover it all up in thick white clean blanket and Magic , everything looking good this morning . But , though we are taking off for the day , the knowledge that the Issues bubble away . The slate is still off , the water still creeping ( and at times lashing ) in .
But there will be a time for fixing , and its not today .

Friday, 6 July 2007

CatCalls .....

.... and a repeat booking from a new customer , for the end of July and some time in August , which is looking wonderfully busy now , and a text thanking me for my last week's services .

The two cats I had been looking after were lovely , changing from shy to inquisitive and playful . They watch as I hoover around quickly trying to leave the house tidy and sweep up the stray litter and leaves and flowers they have brought in to play with from outside . I can almost see in their faces their plans to trash the place the minute I left . I tried .

Displacement Activity

Using the blog as a record of my recent activities and whilst hunting for the date I bought my Bravissimo bra ( as a prelude to returning it yesterday as it is so tight it continues to bruise my skin ), I discovered the statement back in April that the bathroom was ready for painting , and late yesterday afternoon found me still lurking with a book and avoiding picking up the brush .

True , there are Issues ..... the most pertinent being the missing slate and the fact that the rainiest June on record has not helped our leak , and that we still have not tracked down a roofer .
But still , I could have started on the skirting boards. So , with that in mind , I made a start last night . As with all these things you no sooner open the can of paint ( bending a knife in the process ) than you realise you have the wrong paint . So , a trip to Wickes to purchase more . Picking up brochures about bathroom furniture leads us on a wild goose chase in search ( still ) of a floor standing cabinet . I know exactly what I want . Something in stainless steel , three drawers , holding all the toiletries that currently litter two window sills , and no matter how tastefully arranged in bowls and in stylish groups , still ruin the bathroom's " clean lines " . The clean lines I hope to have , I should add , as the spidery corners persist and ... well suffice to say clean lines is a dream .
There is such a cabinet , in John Lewis, but at a price , and I hang onto the belief that there is a far superior one available in a sale somewhere . Hence the wild goose chase and the two hours in town in the morning following the grappling with bra sizes and cups and bands and " How about this in hot pink then since we dont have your size in black ? "
So , when I finally lie on the tiles , paint brush in hand , attempting to reach the far spidery corner under the copper pipes ( harder than it looks ) , I manage only one length of wall before evening activities beckon .
Oh well , there 's always another day .
My new bra has to be ordered , and will take three weeks before its made , out of the warehouse and in through my letterbox . Is it really that big ? Or complex ? I still love Bravissimo though . A truly uplifting exrerience , shopping there .

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Kitty , again

D , on the phone in an intense exchange with a solicitor .

He paces , finding it impossible to engage whilst sitting , or at his desk . This winds Kitty up and coupled with the fact that its after the four o clock watershed , adds to her determination to disrupt proceedings .In her eyes , food should be imminent . She yowls wildly and he proceeds to pace in the general direction of the kitchen , perhaps intending to provide a scoop of food whilst he talks .

I listen from my perch in the other sitting room , where I am lurking with a book , avoiding doing the painting .

As he approaches the kitchen the Guinea Pigs get wind of him and set up an earth shattering series of squeals .

I wonder what the solicitor makes of it . Perhaps we need a phone on a cord , attached firmly to a desk .

Toby , messing in the sink

Strict morning routine . The cats usually wait for me on the landing , unless they've manouvered the bedroom door open and started nipping . The Guinea Pigs either sense the vibrations through the house or hear movement as the very minute I cross the threshold the squealing starts downstairs . They are first to be fed and they woffle my fingers . The coffee machine goes on next and the cats swarm around , Pearl on the benches in defiance of all the rules , Kitty attacking the legs till the food is down , Jessie waiting patiently in another room and Toby at the sink , more interested in water play than in food .

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Kitty , in all her splendour

Kitty , looking almost streamlined . (An optical illusion )
The nurse at the vet 's , trying to get the message across whilst also being tactful , says , when we pick her up after an operation
, " You know yourself, I dont need to tell you , she's a big girl . "
I smile
"And its not good for her . "
Managing to instill the necessary sense of Guilt to ensure we start the diet immediately , and silencing our attempts to explain that none of it is our fault . That Kitty is a law unto herself and that we wouldn't actually dare try to reduce her food intake , or indeed take any action that went against her wishes . That even making her wait five minutes for cat biscuits after she has tapped the food bowl and made her wishes known, results in a frenzied attack on the legs , coupled with loud hissings and spittings and audible yowls and cries of anger which increase in intensity and volume should the offender happen to be on an outside call , particularly of a business nature .
" Is that your cat in the background ?"
Silence as they listen to the anguished shrieks .
"Is everything all right there ? Do you need to check on her ? "
Sharing her space with three Birmans of small stature and with little real interest in food doesn't help . As they stroll around the food bowls and peck like birds , Kitty moves in for the kill and hoovers up the leftovers , swishing her tail angrily as she goes , defying all efforts to slow her progress.
A law unto herself .

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

bathrooms , therapy .

It's that time of week again . The day job in full swing for three days . The bathroom contents remain on the landing , where most of them went on Saturday night whilst the teens were dying their hair . Never wise to leave white towels in the vicinity of dark brown hair dye . Once out , the emptiness improves the acoustics considerably and adds to the air of mystery and decadent Italian crumbling palace . Water enters by the taps and via the missing slate on the roof , into the third window , flooding the sanitary items nestling on the window sill for ease of access. Trying to get a roofer is proving tricky . And tv footage of the flooding in Sheffield and its environs suggests this is nothing . All plans to see art at Belsay went on hold whilst we tried to locate a floor standing stainess steel bathroom cabinet for the mountain of homeless toiletries . To no avail , though we did spend much of the afternoon in traffic queues . Why does everyone go shopping on Sundays now , when they could be at the art ? The wood is sanded , but not painted . It might get worse before it gets better . We tell them that when they come for therapy . Spidery bathrooms , decorating, therapy . Its all the same in the end .Roll on Wednesday .

Monday, 2 July 2007

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Mandy , and Freddie

After the service at the church , for Mandy , and the shorter service at the crematorium , we stood outside and looked at the flowers and stared around and said nothing very much , there not being anything left to say . As we all squashed into Leo's car , Sarah said to me " We can all go home and get on with our lives but they can't , they have to live their lives now without her".

I thought she meant Brendan , and Siobhan , but it was Mandy's parents she was thinking of .

Having lost Jonathon at Christmas , I guess she had seen the impact on his parents . I wonder again about Tim and Rachel , Freddie's parents and how they are living their lives .

Sunday, moving the bath

We eat rhubarb yoghurt and make a plan for the day . Two sets of cats , the new barbecue to try out , a bike ride involving the ferry , sanding the bathroom wood , post polyfilla . Applying undercoat to the wood .
And I have a sudden urge to revisit the art at Belsay . It won't all fit in , but the rain battering in the yard might preclude the possibility of two of the options . At least most of the art is inside . This leads to a conversation about reducing the workload in the bathroom . D notes that I have failed completely to attend to the Area Behind the Bath . I know I tell him , I have a great idea to move the bath closer to the wall so that you cant see any of the wood down there . We can just leave all that as it is ! he looks at me quizically for a few seconds . " Its not that simple . the bath might be a freestanding roll top bath but its still attached to the floor by pipes ". I hoot with laughter but he seems less amused than perplexed .

Meanwhile , downstairs the new barbecue is squatting importantly in the sitting room where it was assembled last night ( rain outside ) . Its dark green cover around it twitches slightly . A large boy cat is resting underneath , enjoying the peace and quiet .
The teens ( three of them today ) , have emerged early and are making pancakes .
I ask if they want to see the art , but they have their own plans . " Mother , how sad do you think we are . Art ! "

Migraine Days

Migraine Days

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

Flower and Bee on a Sunday

art on a sunday

art on a sunday